Thursday, December 21, 2017

Spectrum Design Concepts

Introducing our Spectrum Design Concepts presentation. This is an accumulation of information to help design FRC robots from physics and design basics all the way to FRC COTS parts. There are nearly 200 slides that were used to teach FRC design each week this fall.

Here is the public google slides presentation link: 

Thank you to all of these great resources and the many more that are used in this presentation.

- Spectrum

“Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.”
― Albert Einstein

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

What's in the Box? - Sensors Case

We are looking at our sensors case today. It's also a bit disorganized. This is a collection of sensors taken from old robots, KOPs, and things we purchased as well. Some it is just used for testing or to lend out at events in case another team needs something. 

Encoders and Encoder Cables

Ultrasonic Sensors

Gyros, accelerometers, and IMUs

Hall Effect and Inductive Proximity Sensors


Light sensors, IR sensors, & IR range sensors

Limit Switches and Buttons

USB Hubs and CNC limit switch

We also keep breakers, 12v-5v DC-DC converters, jumpers, and some other cabling in the case.

- Spectrum

"The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency." - Bill Gates

Monday, December 11, 2017

What's in the Box? - 10-24 & 3/16" Rivet Case

Here is one of the cases we need to organize a bit more. It's are most used case so it's understandable that the bins don't stay perfectly organized but it's still usable.

We use our label maker to label the tops of the cases so we know what's supposed to be under them. 

This case is for our most commonly used fasteners 10-24 and 3/16" rivets. We know there are teams that hate 10-24 bolts but they work for us. We also need to restock some of the rivets and bolts from our hardware bins in the lab.

Here are some close ups of the labels and what's inside them. This case is one of the of the Harbor Freight parts organizers. We'll likely move this one to a Stanley soon as it's getting beat up and the latches aren't closing securely anymore. We've had this for 6 years so it's understandable it needs to be replaced. 

- Spectrum

"If you think of standardization as the best that you know today, but which is to be improved tomorrow; you get somewhere." - Henry Ford

Sunday, December 10, 2017

What's in the Box? - Chain Case

This is a pretty simple one. We keep a case that has our chain tools, master links, and some amount of chain in it so we can make repair when needed. We have #25 and #35 roller chain, master links, & half links in the box.

Theses are the cases that we use for larger items: Stack-ON DCOG-10 cases.  We label the front of each case so we know what's in it and if we leave it at an event hopefully it will find it's way back to us. 

We like to keep the specialty tools that we use for a task stored with the items we use. You'll see this again when we go through our electrical crimps cases that also have our crimping tools stored in them.

We keep several tools inside the box.

  1. Regular roller chain breaking tools.
  2. Small Needle nose pliers for master links
  3. Dark Soul Chain Breaker for #25 chain
  4. #219 #35 Chain Breaker Tool
  5. Chain holders

More information on working with roller chain.

- Spectrum

"A chain is only as strong as its weakest link"

Thursday, December 7, 2017

What's in the box? - TSTAK Toolboxes

Today we are going to dive into the Dewalt TSTAK toolboxes that we take with us to competitions. We have gotten a lot of questions about these in the past. We love them since they are modular and can be transported easily in smaller vehicles. If you don't have the luxury of a team trailer to move around large rolling toolboxes, TSTAKs are a great alternative. We purchase them from

Items we use

Full Stack

We number the sides of each box so we know what order to assemble it in and we can learn to open the right drawer when we are looking for something.

T - Stack Inventory (starting from the bottom)
1 - Clamps/Drill Bits

  • Drill bits box
    • Step bit
    • Burr
    • Hex attachment
  • Clear drill bits case
    • Phillips head bits
    • Flat head bits
    • Pilot hole drill bits (~⅛”)
    • Countersinks
    • Allen wrench heads
    • 13/64 hex bits
  • Speed taps
  • Rivets and bolts
  • Center punches

2 - Grease/measuring

  • Triflow
  • White lithium grease
  • Compressed air
  • 7” orange square
  • 2 Metal square (one with level)
  • 16’ fat max
  • Caliper
  • Angle gauge
  • 6” machining ruler
  • Metal ruler

3 - electrical

  • Red and black electrical tape
  • Both flukes
  • Label maker
  • Battery super crimper
  • Bus flashlight
  • Hand flashlight
  • 10-18 awg visegrip stripper
  • Big red crimper
  • Back up crimps
  • Important wires box

4 - Zipties/Velcro

  • Purple zipties
  • White zipties
  • Zip tie holders
  • PVC cutter
  • White gaffers tape
  • Box cutter
  • Metal snips
  • 2 scissors
  • Velcro roll (hook and loop)
  • Bumper adhesive
  • Super glue

5 - wrenches/Allen wrenches/blades & Vice grips/Big wrenches

  • Wrenches/Allen wrenches/blades
    • Metric Allen wrench set
    • Sawzall blades
    • Loctite

    • 2x ⅜ wrenches (1 ratcheting)
    • 2x 7/16 wrenches (1 ratcheting)
    • 1x ½ wrench
    • 1x 5/16 wrenches
    • 1x 11/32 wrenches and 5/16 wrenches
    • 1x ¼ wrench
    • 2x ¼-20 L Allen wrench
    • 3x 10-24 cap/ ¼-20 button (2 L, 1 T)
    • 2x 10-24 button L Allen wrenches
  • Vice grips/Big wrenches
    • Vice grips
      • 2x flat teeth vice grips
      • 1x Round vice grip
      • 1x visegrip channel lock
      • 1x visegrip pliers
    • Wrenches
      • 2x 9/16”
      • 2x ⅝”
      • 2x 11/16”
      • 1x ¾”
      • 1x 1” crescent

6 - Sockets/pens/files/deburrers & Screwdrivers/Pliers

  • Sockets/pens/files/deburrers
    • ⅜,7/16,½ deep well socket
    • Pens
    • 2x Deburrers
    • Flat file
    • Round file
  • Screwdrivers/Pliers
    • 3x Needlenose pliers (1 medium and 2 small)
    • 1x snips
    • Tweezers
    • Stanley precision screwdriver set
    • PDP screwdrivers
    • 2x flathead (1 long 1 short)
    • 2x phillips head (1 long 1 short)

7 - Chest

  • Top
    • Yellow rivet gun
    • Silver vertical rivet gun
    • Alcohol wipes
    • Loctite
    • Measuring tape
    • 3x can straws
    • Aircraft shears
    • Tether
  • Bottom
    • Pancake tool
    • Table vise
    • Allen wrench screwdriver set
    • 2x 4” clamps
    • 2x 8” bar clamps
    • 2x red clamps
    • Bolt cutters
    • 8” vise grips
    • Small black mallet
    • Small hammer
    • Table vise brake teeth

- Spectrum

"The best investment is in the tools of one's own trade." - Benjamin Franklin

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

What's in the box? - Pneumatic Fittings Case

As we organize our lab in preparation for the 2018 FRC Game Power Up. We are going to detail what we keep in all our cases and bins. Every team has their own way of organizing things but we feel like giving teams an example would be helpful. If you have a system or tip that you think might help us let us know in the comments.

We are going to kick this off with our "Pneumatic Fittings Case". Freshly organized after purchasing new 5/32" tube fittings to use where we don't need the air flow ability of 1/4" tube. 5/32" tube is smaller and easier to route through the robot.

1. 10-32 to 1/4" Tube Elbow
2. 1/4" Tube coupler
3. inline regulator & flow controls
4. 1/8" NPT to 1/4" Tube
5. 1/8" NPT to 1/4" Tube Elbow
6. 1/4" Plug
7. 10-32 to 1/4" Tube Straight
8. 1/8" NPT to 1/4" Flow Control
9. NPT couplers
10. 1/8" NPT Plugs
11. Pressure Relief Valves & noise reducers
12. 1/4" female to 1/8" female NPT reducer
13. 1/4" T- Fittings
14. Miscellaneous
15. NPT T Fittings
16. Tubing Cutter
17. 1/4" Plugs
18. 1/8" NPT Female to 1/4" Tube T-Fitting
19. 1//4" to 5/32" Tube Fitting
20. 5/32" Inline Flow Control
21. 5/32" Plugs
22. 1/8" NPT to 5/32" Tube Straight
23. 10-32 to 5/32" Tube Elbow

We need to find a place for a roll of teflon tape, as well as add in the 5/32" T-Fittings when we get those in.

- Spectrum
"For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned. ~ Benjamin Franklin"