Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Pre Lone Star Central Update

Quick update, the robot design has stayed the same we have just been finding things to fix and getting subsystems tweaked and ready.

Lone Star Central

We compete next weekend (March 15-17) at the Lone Star Central Regional. It's nice that's its only a few hundred yards from our lab. Infrared will be ready for the big weekend and we are happy to be able to welcome so many of our friends to our campus for the competition. 


The tailgate is out for now, probably won't be made until after championship. It will be fun lifting partners in the off-season but for now we are going to focus on climbing around our partners.

Visit to 118

We got to take the practice bot to 118's shop the weekend after bag day. It was our first time driving it around the full field. It showed some promise, but it definitely need a lot of tweaks before it could reach it's potential. 

Dallas Regional

We split up this weekend with some of our team heading up to the Dallas regional to learn how the game is played and the other half staying at our school to run our Spring Fling Maker Faire and demo our robot.

The Dallas regional is awesome we got to see a lot of friends including 118, 148, 1296, 2848, and 3005 who we won't get to play with this year until South Champs. Congrats to all those teams for awesome performances this weekend. 
We took almost 1500 photos at the event so if you're team was their or you just want to look at cool robots have a look through the gallery. 

Spring Fling Maker Faire

This was our 2nd Annual Maker Faire at our school's Spring Fling Scholarship Faire. We had fun demoing the robot, making art robots, and we also had a police robot to come demonstrate as well.

Robot Demo

Art Robots


The puncher tests have been going well. We should be able to shoot most of the first layer of cubes and it will also help speed up autonomous cube scoring. 

Notes from Allen

Take aways from watching Week 1

  1. This game is about scoring cubes fast, it seems obvious but it's now backed up by match play.
  2. #NoParking, it's 5 points don't park for 30 secs when you could put more cubes in the vault or take the switch or scale for 5+ secs. Also don't park/climb all three when you have levitate, it makes you look foolish.
  3. Partner climbs seed you high they don't win you the event. It's only 30 points (compared to a solo climb) if it takes 30+ secs for 2 plus robots to do it, are their better ways to get those 30 pts during playoffs? If there isn't have you already won the match and now are you risking breaking something by dropping a robot? If we see partner climbs get way faster, this is a completely different story.
  4. Auto is king, again obvious but now backed up with actual match play.
  5. Defense will get interesting but like most years, very few teams will play it well and Einstein will still be won by the best offensive robots but smart defense can turn matches. Stopping a team from scoring a cube is almost as effective as placing another cube that keeps the scale/switch on your side for that same amount of time. Possibly more so if your scale plate is full.
  6. Some penalties just don't matter, assume you are going to get some penalties every match. Pushing multiple cubes into the exchange, a five point penalty that immediately gets you more than that back. Also few matches are won or loss by 5 points. It seems impossible to know what is actually being called for a large percentage of penalties and they aren't being called consistently (yet, hopefully)
  7. 7. All omni drive train seemed to work pretty well.

On that note, Robots I liked this week. (Didn't watch a lot of video since i went up to watch Dallas)1. 7179 was an absolute blast to watch, very sad they won't be at champs. If anyone isn't happy with their robot and wants to rebuild I think this is the model. The thing weighed less than 60lbs, you could probably strip the COTS and carry the whole thing in as withholding. If every 3rd was like this robot, this game would be crazy. They scored 16+ cubes in at least one match. That number is breaking scouting sheets.2. 3538 Robojackets (played at Southfield district) built an awesome robot, we had sketched the side lift, with 180 degree wrist, early in the season and just didn't think we could build it. I'm very glad someone did and got it working well.

- Spectrum

"If you're walking down the right path and you're willing to keep walking, eventually you'll make progress." - Barack Obama

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Day 40, 41, & 42: Starting to sprint

We have been putting together the competition bot and powder coating parts. We also got the practice arm assembled and should have to mounted to the practice bot quickly tomorrow.


 Practice Robot


(Arm Gearbox)

Comp Bot


- Spectrum

"If you have time to whine and complain about something then you have the time to do something about it."  - Anthony J. D'Angelo

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Day 38 & 39: More Parts

Power Switch and connector mounting

We worked on our power switch and battery connector mount the past two days, going through about 4 versions before finally getting a good solid setup.

Version 1 and 2 didn't include the connector mount. This is version 3.

Version 3 didn't actually reach the battery connector so we had to add some parallelogram and make version 4. 
(The breaker is on the wrong side of the polycarb in this photo, it will be turned around and cover will be on it for the real robot.)
The real robot will get at least version 5 that has a few more holes.

Sheet metal Delivery #2

More sheet metal arrived this afternoon, we are able to get more items powder coated as well in our shop. 

Routed Parts

We do make a lot of parts in house in addition to our sheet metal parts. Here is some video of our router doing a couple of the arm gearbox plates from last night. 

Gearbox covers

We also made some simple gearbox covers out of 0.02" polycarb.

- Spectrum

"People say, “Why don’t you give it up?” I can’t retire until I croak. I don’t think they quite understand what I get out of this. I’m not doing it just for the money or for you. I’m doing it for me." -- Keith Richards

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Day 37: Springs on the Intake, Wiring Practice bot, Dog in the Lab

Springs on the Intake

If people are looking for a cheap way to do a compliant intake without pneumatics or as a back up (which is what we are doing so in case we vent during a match we can still intake), adding some torsion springs is pretty easy. These fit right around 1/2" hex shaft and are almost exactly .5" tall so they just replace a spacer. Add some bolts to either side and you're done.

We found that two spring on each side of our intake worked well enough but the pneumatics definitely are better for adjusting the compression to get it just right. Having them work together means we will still be able to score cubes even if we accidentally vent during a match (or start a match without air, etc). We will also be able to use less air to squeeze the cubes then if we only used air. They will be mounted much cleaner on the real robot, this was just for the quick tests to prove the concept and figure out how much force we needed. We tried a few different bolt placements since that changes the lever arms on the springs and the intake arms.

Lab Dog

We heard all the good teams have lab dogs so we had Cream visit the lab today. We even got one in our color scheme so we didn't have to talk about how to make it white.

Practice Bot Wiring and Assembly

The production on the practice bot continued. We found more little things to tweak to make working on the robot that much better in the future (you know like not having rip out large structural members just to change some wires, things like that).

We added some nice wheel guards so our internal wheels don't start grabbing stray wires. These are made out of 0.020" polycarbonate (0..015 seemed a little thin, and 0.030 seemed like overkill).

- Spectrum

"If you want to be incrementally better: Be competitive. If you want to be exponentially better: Be cooperative."

Day 36: Drive Train, Belly Pan, Hook Test

The practice bot drive train has begun assembly over the past few days. There were a few minor tweaks to it as it went together to get everything spinning nicely but it is nice and smooth now and the competition robot drive train should go together quickly once it is done being powder coated.

The belly pan will go on tomorrow and we can wire up most of the robot. 

Belly Pan

We have used 1/4" (6mm) Baltic Birch belly pans on all our robots since 2015. They are very rigid and light weight and allow us to easily machine in mounting holes and add other holes when needed. We can lighten them if we need to later with just a hole saw and painting them is easy. This year's was a little tricky as they are 23.25" wide and our router is only 24" so it just barely fit.

Hook Test

We tested a new version of the hook that held 300 lbs without breaking.

- Spectrum

"Practice is not the answer here. Practice, the 10,000 hours thing, practice alone doesn't produce work that matters. No, that only comes from caring. From caring enough to leap, to bleed for the art, to go out on the ledge, where it's dangerous. When we care enough, we raise the bar, not just for ourselves, but for our customer, our audience and our partners." - Seth Godin

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Day 34 & 35: Puncher Test

We were able to bench test our puncher concept today. 

This is uses fast McMaster solenoids, two 8" stroke 1.0625" bore cylinders, and an air tank before each solenoid. It shot the cube about 6ft above it's starting height. 

Note this setup doesn't currently have a way to retract the cylinders as nothing is plumbed to the retract ports which helps make the cylinders extend faster.

- Spectrum

"Imagination is the air of mind." - Philip James Bailey

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Day 33: Demos and Award Submissions

We had a demo at Neff Elementary Science Night tonight. It's always fun inspire younger students to get excited about STEM.

We got our Chairman's Award submission in tonight. Now our attention turns to our presentation and deliverables.

The robot progress was limited, mostly CAD. We did get some test fits finished for  slot and tab lexan construction. This will be used on our intake and hooks, we were inspired by 148's 2017 Gear intake.

- Spectrum

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Day 32: Sheetmetal Delivery 1


Reminder your Chairman's Award and Woodie Flower's Award essay's are due Thursday afternoon, get them done and submitted tomorrow night so you aren't worried on Thursday trying to do it.


We have our sheet metal for both our drive trains and both sets of A-frames. Solarcraft Inc. is the awesome sponsor who has been supporting us for 6 years now and doing a fantastic job. 

The robot looks tiny. It's 29.6" x 25" so it's smaller than max dimension by a lot and that's part of our strategy be small and agile. But when we see it in person it seems even smaller than we knew it was in CAD.

Now the real race starts to assemble all the parts, get our belly pans, router and the robots assembled and running by the end of the weekend.

- Spectrum

"Failure is only postponed success as long as courage 'coaches' ambition. The habit of persistence is the habit of victory." - Herbert Kaufman

Monday, February 5, 2018

Day 29, 30, 31: Intake Updates, Robot Update, CAD Download Reminder

Intake Updates

This is intake version 8 for us. We modified the arm angles to improve the geometry and moved to smaller pulleys and smaller pneumatic cylinders. We did have to increase pressure in the cylinders to keep the closing force the same. With the smaller 9/16" bore cylinders we need 40-55psi to be able to intake like this.

If you are using parts of our intake to help inspire your designs please let us know.

Robot Update

The whole robot is coming together nicely in CAD. This means very little for how the robot will work in real life.

We get our first sheet metal parts back tomorrow so our drive trains can finally be assembled this week. Sheet metal for the arm and arm gearbox will be set out tonight or tomorrow.

Download our CAD

Reminder all of our CAD from the season is avliable to download on our GrabCAD partner space.

- Spectrum

"is a great deal like life in that it teaches that work, sacrifice, perseverance, competitive drive, selflessness and respect for authority is the price that each and every one of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile." - Vince Lombardi