Friday, May 10, 2019

2019 - Woodie Flowers Award

As many of you know our mentor, Allen Gregory, won the 2019 Woodie Flowers Award. The support that both the team and Allen has gotten these past few weeks have been phenomenal. Thank you to everyone who has congratulated us and shown support. Many people have requested to see the Woodie Flowers Essay that the students of our team put together so we will share it here.

You can read the winning essay that our fellow Spectrum team members wrote here: Allen Gregory - 2019 Woodie Flowers Essay PDF

We have put together a gallery of some of the photos and video here: Woodie Flowers Award Photos

You can also view Allen's Thank you note on ChiefDelphi: Allen's Woodie Flowers Thank You Note

- Spectrum

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Ready for El Paso District Event

We compete this Saturday and Sunday at the El Paso District.

You can watch the live stream here:
We have been driving with our practice robot for the past week and getting ready. On Sunday we were able to go practice with 118 at their practice field and actually play on a full field.

Sometimes it pays to be lucky.

- Spectrum

Saturday, February 16, 2019

2019 Day 41: Hatches are scoring

We have been making progress. The practice bot is operational but all the mechanisms are still getting tweaked. The competition robot is getting wired and the competition cargo mechanism and hatch mechanism still need to be built. The climber is also undergoing some improvements for the competition version as well.

- Spectrum

Friday, February 8, 2019

2019 Day 34: CAD Update

We are progressing nicely though our design and build. The practice bot is just about ready to have its first test runs after we bring up all the electronics (assign CAN IDs, update firmware, etc). The wooden plates will become plastic as we finalize our geometry.

We also have updated our public CAD release to the current version of the robot. The hatch mechanism is still undergoing revisions but the majority of the rest of the robot is there. You can view and download the STEP file at the link below.

You can also see a lot of our newer photos and videos on our photo gallery.

- Spectrum

Monday, February 4, 2019

2019: Week 4 Recap

In  week 4 we received our first sheet metal parts of the season. Huge thank you to our sponsor Solarcraft Inc, for their continued support of our team with their generous donation of sheet metal parts each season.

We have more photos and video of the robot and prototypes on our photo album.

The practice bot is almost wired and it still needs the climber and scoring mechanisms attached to it.

- Spectrum

Sunday, January 27, 2019

2019 Day 19, 20, 21: Cargo stuff is Changing

The theme of our two Cargo manipulation groups for the past two weeks has been "EVERYTHING IS CHANGING!"

This has been said at least once every other day about both our intake and the mechanism that wills store it and spit it out in to the rocket and cargo ship.

We have posted it about some of these changes from the our original concept of an extending intake that stayed down on the frame.

To a lower pivoting intake that mounts on the side of the cargo mechanism that is on the elevator.

We have built complicated contraptions like this one to try to test out concepts and prove the functionality of certain designs.

We made some crude hacks to see exactly what really works to try to force this ball into the center of the robot.

Over the past few days we have gone back to reevaluate some of our assumptions. Phrases like "What if they were both bottom rollers?", "The only thing changing is gravity". "This is the same really complicated sketch we have been looking at for 2 weeks, I just remade it and added colors.", "Who's spring is this?", "Everything is Changing!", and "What if we just flipped it all upside down?" have all been said and have been pretty important to the design process.

This is the sketch in question

Most of the robot gets designed in 2D like this before moving to 3D for the prototyping. This morning that was all we had after a lot of discussion last night about the changes and yes "flipping everything upside down". After about 2 hours of really fast CAD this afternoon we had a plan to build this.

This lets us put the prototype on the floor at the height that it will actually be on the robot when in this tipped down position.

It took another 4-5 hours to get it built and fully functional. That included laser cutting the panels, getting the rubber on too the polycarbonate tubing, pressing in tube connector nuts, and more.

We powered it using out prototype electrical board and our test pneumatics system that now uses our portable 60v Dewalt Compressor. The electrical board runs each motor off of a 20A breaker which is very useful because we did stall them a few times but the breakers did their job and prevented the motors from overheating.

Here it is in action.
Animated GIF

The roller system we are using is new to us this year. We have been trying to avoid having hex shafts go through bearings as much as possible because those systems always seem hard to maintain when you need to remove or add something.

Our roller system this year uses a 7/8" dead axle shaft with a 1.25" OD polycarbonate tube around it. The polycarbonate tube is running on two needle bearings and it's driven by a 3d printed pulley that has an integrated clamp to grip the tube.  This setup lets us install and remove the roller with only two bolts going into the tube connector nuts pressed into the ends of the 7/8" shaft.

This version of the intake still has a lot of testing to do, and it's very possible that everything may change again but we made a lot of progress today.

Painting our practice field

The past few days we have also been working on finishing up our practice space and adding a dash of color to the elements.

- Spectrum

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

2019 Day 18: CAD release

We are releasing the STEP file for the 3 subsystems that we sent off to be laser cut this morning.

Spectrum 2019 CAD Progress 1-22-19

You can view it online in the grabcad file viewer. Grabcad doesn't interact with native Solidworks 2018 files like it does 2016 so it's harder for us to share the native solidworks file but if anyone is interested in those we can release those as well.

- Spectrum

2019 Day 16 & 17: CAD and Drawings

We spent the long weekend getting the drive train, elevator, and climber ready to be sent off to our sponsor Solarcraft Inc. for laser cutting and bending.

For each part we have to make sure the part is created properly with the correct bend deduction and bend radius, and then create flat pattern dxfs, part bend drawings, and pdfs for each part. We sent off about 30 unique parts on this run and that doesn't include mirrored parts. 

- Spectrum

Sunday, January 20, 2019

2019 Day 15: Cargo Intake Prototype

We have spent some time putting together a more complete intake prototype. Our protopipe system has been a huge help with this. The same frame we used for the original prototype has been able to be rapidly modified in multiple ways to continue it's usefulness in our testing.

We have been able to build the intake mechanism to the same angle and heights that we have in CAD and even be able to add multiple moving and hinged parts. An old set of bumpers were set on 2x4s to mimic this year's bumper height and the prototype was placed inside of them at the right distance and height. 

We found that we can easily add constant force springs to the protopipe setup by just sliding them over a section of pipe and screwing them in to the moving arm.

- Spectrum

Saturday, January 19, 2019

2019 Day 14: Elevator


The elevator on this year's robot is a simple two stage cascading chain lift. Nothing too complicated. The cargo floor intake raises the ball to 15" from the floor with the elevator completely down so that we only need to lift ~63" to get the cargo centered with the highest rocket opening. 

- Spectrum

Friday, January 18, 2019

2019 Day 13: Cargo Mechanism Protopipe

We have been successfully using Protopipe this season to test our cargo designs. It has let us make rapid iterations.

Today we quickly added a bottom roller to help eject cargo further than we were before. On the real design this bottom roller may be accuated to help us intake cargo from the floor as well.

- Spectrum

Thursday, January 17, 2019

2019 Day 12: CAD Updates

CAD Updates

We still have a lot of work to do before this design is ready for production but we are solving a lot of the problems and getting closer to production. None of our subsystems have made any large changes it's just more and more development at this point.

- Spectrum

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

2019 Day 11: Climber Development


The idea for our climber came from sforbes' youtube video below.

Since then he has posted another video that is actually closer to what we are really working on.

Here are some of the current sketches of our climbing mechanism.

We are planning for the main central arm to be sheetmetal and for the two rear arms to be round tube with tie rod ends since those members are mostly only experiencing forces in tension.

Protopipe Cargo Mechanism

We have an updated cargo mechanism prototype that is helping us solve for some of the variables for that mechanism.

We are able to change the height of the roller, the length of the bottom plate, the locations of the rear stop bar and more.

- Spectrum

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

2019 Day 10

Cargo Mechanism

This will hold the cargo on the elevator. The mechanism will intake it from the over the bumper ball mechanism. The tilt of this mechanism lets us start the cargo on the elevator higher reducing the amount of height we need to in our elevator to reach the 3rd level of the Rocket.

Hatch Mechanism

This is the intake for hatches from the loading station. It's mounted above the cargo mechanism and flips into the correct orientation when the cargo mechanism is pointed down. This allows us to start the match while holding a hatch and still flip it down closer to the edge of our frame perimeter.

- Spectrum

Sunday, January 13, 2019

2019 Day 9: Inspiration

As we start bring our ideas to life in CAD there have been a few robots that we keep coming back to for inspiration.

GUS FRC#228 - 2011

CAD Download

GUS' 2011 robot featured a great chain driven cascading lift and a simple wrist intake. We have been heavily looking at their lift and power transmission for the elevator to get ideas for our elevator for this year.

Simbotics FRC#1114 - 2011

Simbotics' 2011 robot also had a cascading lift but there design was based around sheet metal manufacturing which more closely mirrors how Spectrum builds it's robots.

Robowranglers FRC#148 - 2011

The Robowranglers' 2011 robot features an awesome extending link for the top bar on it's 4 bar arm. We have been looking at this CAD as an example for how to do a simple extension that we will be using on our Cargo intake.

Here is the current state of one of the intake extensions.

- Spectrum

“A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be patched up to make it work. You have to start over, beginning with a working simple system.” - John Gall

2019 Day 8: Allenless Part 2

Progress Report

The team spent the majority of their time in the lab today tuning their subsystem designs.

Sheet Metal Deadline

The subsystems that require sheet metal are really trying to meet next week's deadline and are hammering out the last big chunks of the design before lightening.
  • Drivetrain
    • Access and mounting holes have been added, and the encoder mount is underway
  • Elevator
    • The carriage is starting to come together. Bearings have been added to the side rails of the elevator as well as being sandwiched in between the plates on the carriage.


  • Cargo Intake Box
    • Part of today was also focused on intake geometry. The cargo box carries the ball to different positions on the elevator without obstructing the hatch mechanism.
  • Hatch Subsystem Version 2
    • The hatch intake has undergone an upgrade, including a new feature. While still in the prototyping stage, we had implemented a 'finger,' a 1/4" thick piece of Lexan placed above the (duck!) beak. A pneumatic cylinder actuates the finger and allows it to grab and secure that hatch so that any jostles by other robots do not impede the hatch from reaching the intended deployment zone.

Allenless Again...

The team has divided into two warring tribes who are battling for control over the name of the 2019 robot. Not really, but in all seriousness, we are diligently working while we await Allen's return from the blizzards of the north tomorrow morning.

- Spectrum

"There is no substitute for hard work" - Thomas A. Edison

Friday, January 11, 2019

2019 Day 7: Allenless


Today was no ordinary day of build season for Spectrum. It was our first of two days without our Lead Mentor, Allen Gregory. Sadly, FIRST Headquarters has claimed him for the weekend for LRI training. Despite Allen’s absence, we were still able to make progress on our subsystems.


This year we positioned our gearbox at the front of our robot to create space for our climber. Each Side Panel will feature two traction wheels in the middle and an Omni wheel on each outer edge. Our Drivetrain has progressed rapidly and we are hoping to send it to our sheet metal sponsor, SolarCraft, sometime late next week.

Hatch Panel Intake
We continued to add to our hatch panel ‘DUCK!’ intake by designing in a pneumatic actuated ‘finger’. The ‘finger’ will keep the hatch panel in place during pickup and transportation until it gets scored.
Cargo Carrier

We made a prototype out of protopipe for our cargo carrier mechanism with a simple roller and dustpan design. This cargo mechanism will be attached to the inner carriage elevator and will spit out the cargo to score.