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  #46   Spotlight this post!  
Unread 04-08-2012, 11:31 PM
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Re: The missing feature: A common thread

I understand that there are certain features that powerhouse teams have that can set them apart from other teams, but i think there are a lot of power house teams that do not have the drop down collector. 1717, 148, 118, 399, 987 (Before this weekend), just to name a few, did not have this. I think the reason why a teams robot is "powerhouse" is because of how effective it is at the game. For example 16 did not have a fly wheel, they used a catapult, but because it was implemented correctly (effective), they were "powerhouse". Though i understand your point about common design features that powerhouse teams have.
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Unread 04-08-2012, 11:34 PM
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Wink Re: The missing feature: A common thread

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Originally Posted by DampRobot View Post
Keep in mind that one of the reasons the "elite" teams don't worry about manufacturing is they don't have to. Most elite teams have access to sophisticated CNC machinery, which eliminates most difficulties associated with tolerances, weight and manufacturing weird shapes.

In my mind, the major difference between "powerhouse" teams and the rest of us comes from fast machining ability. It's not like they are all geniuses (or at least not much more so than the rest of teams). They just have more time than the rest of us, more experience than the rest of us, and better tools than the rest of us.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvK-e-13dK0
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Unread 04-09-2012, 03:02 PM
MichaelBick MichaelBick is offline
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Re: The missing feature: A common thread

We are by no means a powerhouse team, but these are things we found out that help, and that a lot of powerhouse teams, and we feel can benefit all teams.

1) The assumption that a CNC makes everything possible is false. I know for a fact that Team 4 Element has a CNC mill and lathe, and yet is not able to use them, because they lost their mentors who knew how to operate them. Furthermore, even 254 uses their regular lathes and mills often. If you read their build blogs, they do a lot of the machining work themselves. http://www.chiefdelphi.com/forums/sh...ad.php?t=95347

2) Something that helped us do better this year, was pushing our motors to the limit. Instead of assuming a certain gear reduction was enough, for example we calculated how fast we wanted a ball to come up our elevator, figured out what gear reduction we wanted, and then figured out if we had enough torque. Do this with everything. DO THE MATH.

3) Build to your teams capabilities. If you have a mill or lathe, then design your robot around those machining capabilities. Also, it is easy to get sponsors if you work at it. Most people would be surprised how easy it is to get a 2D sponsor, and they can really help speed up your build.

4) Design within your teams capabilities. Using 254 as an example again, while many powerhouse teams decided to go with a turret, they instead went with a non moving shooter. Yet they made it effective, and I'm sure gained more practice time from that decision.

5) Gain from the experience of powerhouse teams. Reading the build blogs of 254 and 148, and the New Cool really helped our team to improve. Paying attention to CD also helps. For example, we went into the season not really sure how to build an effective WCD. We searched CD for help, and eventually found 973's CADs. They really helped us build a more effective WCD. Remember, innovations is made by copying and improving.

6) Work with other teams. Both teams will gain. Right now we are developing a swerve with 1515, and it has helped so much. Really, you can see how much this works, with partnerships like 148 and 217. Also, CD is kind of like this. You can get help from other teams.
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Last edited by MichaelBick : 04-09-2012 at 03:07 PM.
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Unread 04-09-2012, 03:39 PM
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Re: The missing feature: A common thread

For anyone who can't make it to Karthik's 105-minute "Strategy" presentation in St. Louis on Wednesday, I'll go ahead and give you the first few lines in my notes from the last 2 years' presentations (summarized):
  • His name is Karthik and his team wins alot. His teams proactively seeks to help other teams as well.
  • When determinining where time and resources are spent, there IS a priority order on every team regardless of whether that priority order is explicitly stated.
  • The #1 priority is the thing that MUST work every match to be able to do anything, and that is DRIVE TRAIN.
  • The #2 priority is the FIRST thing the game piece touches before it can be scored and that is the game pieces ACQUISITION MECHANISM.
  • Robot functions should work 100% and not be some over-constrained half-thought-out almalgamation of metal and motors.
  • This implies that if priorities are out of order, then the pickup function may suffer the most due to spatial and weight constraints.

Ergo, if the first thing a team designed on the robot this year was a shooting mechanism then there's a good chance the intake mechanism was a secondary priority. That means there was less brainstorming time and more constraining factors given to that mechanism overall. I know that as Week 1 progressed, this is what wound up happening on my team.
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Unread 04-09-2012, 03:56 PM
MichaelBick MichaelBick is offline
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Re: The missing feature: A common thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by JesseK View Post
For anyone who can't make it to Karthik's 105-minute "Strategy" presentation in St. Louis on Wednesday, I'll go ahead and give you the first few lines in my notes from the last 2 years' presentations (summarized):
  • His name is Karthik and his team wins alot. His teams proactively seeks to help other teams as well.
  • When determinining where time and resources are spent, there IS a priority order on every team regardless of whether that priority order is explicitly stated.
  • The #1 priority is the thing that MUST work every match to be able to do anything, and that is DRIVE TRAIN.
  • The #2 priority is the FIRST thing the game piece touches before it can be scored and that is the game pieces ACQUISITION MECHANISM.
  • Robot functions should work 100% and not be some over-constrained half-thought-out almalgamation of metal and motors.
  • This implies that if priorities are out of order, then the pickup function may suffer the most due to spatial and weight constraints.

Ergo, if the first thing a team designed on the robot this year was a shooting mechanism then there's a good chance the intake mechanism was a secondary priority. That means there was less brainstorming time and more constraining factors given to that mechanism overall. I know that as Week 1 progressed, this is what wound up happening on my team.
If you look at the original post, all the "missing features" related to game piece acquisition. Actually, that makes so much sense.
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Unread 04-09-2012, 04:13 PM
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Re: The missing feature: A common thread

While 95 is not really a power-house team, lately we've been coming up with pretty good mechanical designs I think. I.e. the double roller claw in 2011 and an over-the-bumper collector this year. What we ask ourselves is "what would make it easiest for the driver?" We knew that reorienting the tube for placement, and having the widest possible mechanism to pickup balls, would make the drivers' life easier, so we implemented them. It's the question that we ask ourselves that generally results in a good design I think.

We did not miss the 'stinger' balance assist mechanism idea, but we did undervalue its importance and therefore did not build it
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Unread 04-09-2012, 04:37 PM
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Re: The missing feature: A common thread

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Originally Posted by JesseK View Post
Ergo, if the first thing a team designed on the robot this year was a shooting mechanism then there's a good chance the intake mechanism was a secondary priority.
Alas, if only our shooter had worked as well as our drive train and ball acquisition mechanism...
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Unread 04-09-2012, 06:02 PM
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Re: The missing feature: A common thread

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Originally Posted by pfreivald View Post
Alas, if only our shooter had worked as well as our drive train and ball acquisition mechanism...
Your robot is only as good as it's weakest piece.

Your team is only as good as it's weakest resource (students, materials, tooling, mentors, time, money, space). Powerhouse teams are alike in that they have all managed to have enough of these resource. Stuggling teams are short some place but each team may have a different resource that they need to try to increase.

Teams that know that they have all the resources need to succeed, can work to build a robot that can do what is needed to win. Those that don't focus on being able to show up.

Powerhouse teams aren't powerhouse because they build great robots, they are powerhouses because they build great teams.
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Unread 04-09-2012, 09:47 PM
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Re: The missing feature: A common thread

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Originally Posted by couvillion View Post
Your robot is only as good as it's weakest piece.
Absolutely. This was a case of us thinking we could pull off something that ultimately we failed to pull off. On the bright side, we're overjoyed with our drivetrain as a base for future robots -- with some redesign and tweaking we think it will be applicable to almost any situation.
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Unread 04-10-2012, 08:02 AM
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Re: The missing feature: A common thread

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Originally Posted by pfreivald View Post
On the bright side, we're overjoyed with our drivetrain as a base for future robots -- with some redesign and tweaking we think it will be applicable to almost any situation.
If you have a good general design approach for your chassis/drivetrains that can quickly be adapted to any game, that frees up a lot of time and brain power to focus on the "top end". It also lets you start building shortly after kickoff, which spreads the fabrication schedule. Chassis/drivetrain prototypes are great pre-season projects. I doubt many powerhouse teams build a chassis/drivetrain that isn't based on something they had previously worked with.
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Unread 04-10-2012, 08:38 AM
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As a senior on a five year old team, I can vouch that our "powerhouse" status (we aren't, but bear with me) came when we a) started collaborating with the other powerhouse teams and b) started building two robots. We have been lucky to go to championships every year, and we went to IRI last year. The networking and collaboration with other teams has allowed us to use their ideas, and coop them for our robot.

So! As a member of a not-really-powerhouse team, if can build two robots, do it!

Also, try to move away from the kit gearboxes and frame. Doing that forces you to design what you want, rather than what you're given. Big difference in attitude with that shift.

And if you guys need anything, just ask 2415!
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Unread 04-10-2012, 09:31 PM
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Re: The missing feature: A common thread

When I look at a robot, I divide the mechanisms into 3 categories. Drive-train/Grapples/Hangers/Ramp-wedges, devices which manipulate the entire robot. Conveyors/Lifts/Arms/Indexers, devices which manipulate the game piece indirectly, or when it is isolated from the field. Grippers/Intakes/Shooters/Ramp-arms, Devices which actively control the game pieces while in contact with the field, as well as portions of the field.

High quality robots always have an excellent drive-train, usually a high traction skid steer drive. I don't think many high rate teams work too much on a drive-train during the season, they build something similar to what they have done in the past, and make it as light as possible. The drive-train is something that shouldn't take much time to do because it should always be an iteration of a previous robot. Devices which manipulate the entire robot are typically focused on delivering as much power as possible, and being as sturdy as possible.

Middle manipulators on high rate robots are usually simple and fast. The primary design goal of the middle manipulator is to avoid hampering the ability of the end manipulator in any way. The middle manipulator on most high rate robots avoids using available motors, power, weight, and time needed for the end manipulator without being sub par.

The end manipulator/manipulators is what really sets the high performance robots apart from the average robots. The end manipulators for both acquiring and releasing the game piece have few design constraints with regards to weight, space, work-time, complexity, and motors due to the minimalistic nature of both the drive-train and middle manipulators.

Many robots also have a special feature which adds design constraints not stated by rules. These design constraints are usually delt with using clever manipulation of the drive base and Middle manipulator, so that the end manipulator has as few constraints as possible.

Last edited by Hawiian Cadder : 04-10-2012 at 09:39 PM. Reason: Adding clarity
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Unread 04-11-2012, 02:10 AM
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Re: The missing feature: A common thread

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Originally Posted by Tomcfitzgerald View Post
Also, try to move away from the kit gearboxes and frame.
At least one powerhouse team might disagree with you.
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Unread 04-11-2012, 03:26 AM
Mark Sheridan Mark Sheridan is offline
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Re: The missing feature: A common thread

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Originally Posted by Tomcfitzgerald View Post
Also, try to move away from the kit gearboxes and frame. Doing that forces you to design what you want, rather than what you're given. Big difference in attitude with that shift.
I also disagree with this statement. A team should only move away from the kit of parts drivetrain if they if they have the wherewithal. This is going to different for each team. Do they have the technical knowledge? Do they have enough mentors to guide them? Do they have time in the pre-season to develop it?

I believe the kit of parts allows all teams to leapfrog many steps and start running closer to the elite teams. I am from the pre-andy-mark era, so remember how much resources went into getting a working, bullet-proof drivetrain. With the kit of parts, every team can have a rolling chassis in week 1. If a team is struggling finishing the build season with a working robot, the kit of part drivetrain makes a lot of sense. A team can focus entirely on their scoring mechanisms.

What is the penalty for the kit of parts chassis? Perhaps is weights more. however , you can get the custom gearing you want. You can even add a two speed gearbox.

A working drivetrain wins games. A well tested scoring mechanism wins games. The pitfall for us non-elite team is not being able complete enough design iterations. When a robot is first tested on the final day of build, you know not enough testing will be done.

By going with a kit of part chassis, a non-elite team can get more time to go through the design iteration process, more time to come up with that genius idea. I would argue, time shapes ones willingness to explore ideas. When time is scarce, attitudes quickly change, people become more narrow minded from the stress and the looming deadlines. Ideas are not fully developed because people don't have time for the research, prototyping, modeling and building. By focusing less on the drivetrain by using a proven successful design used by many, one has more time to focus on other aspects of the robot.

My old team 766 frequently did drivetrains based off of kit of part drivetrains. It was a good tactic for an early start on the build season.
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Unread 04-11-2012, 08:07 AM
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Re: The missing feature: A common thread

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Originally Posted by Mark Sheridan View Post
By going with a kit of part chassis, a non-elite team can get more time to go through the design iteration process, more time to come up with that genius idea. I would argue, time shapes ones willingness to explore ideas. When time is scarce, attitudes quickly change, people become more narrow minded from the stress and the looming deadlines. Ideas are not fully developed because people don't have time for the research, prototyping, modeling and building. By focusing less on the drivetrain by using a proven successful design used by many, one has more time to focus on other aspects of the robot.

My old team 766 frequently did drivetrains based off of kit of part drivetrains. It was a good tactic for an early start on the build season.
The kitbot is also an excellent thing to build in the first couple days and give to your programmers. Many autonomous modes can do something useful simply by driving (2009, 2008, 2006, 2004, 2003), and if they have a few weeks of the drivetrain to themselves, they can work out control systems for the drivebase. Line-tracking, gyro-centering, dead-reckoning can all be worked on with just a kitbot base and a couple sensors c-clamped to it.
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