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How important is a machine shop?

Posted by bill whitley at 05/15/2001 4:34 PM EST


Student on team #70, Auto City Bandits, from Powers Catholic High School and Kettering University.



How important do you think a machine shop is? What tools do you think are necessary to build a competitive robot? Can you do it w/o a lathe? a mill? welding facilities? wireEDM? Where do you draw the line between a necessity and a need? Can a compedative robot be built only from hand tools?

My personal opinion is that you need at least a mill to build a compedtitive robot. However, we've never had much access to a lathe or welding. And no access to wireEDM or CNC or any fun stuff like that. Maybe I dont know what I'm missing.

Bill Whitley


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Re: How important is a machine shop?

Posted by Patrick Dingle at 05/15/2001 7:43 PM EST


College Student on team #639, Red B^2, from Ithaca High School and Cornell University.


In Reply to: How important is a machine shop?
Posted by bill whitley on 05/15/2001 4:34 PM EST:




This year on 639, we do most of our work with one mill, one lathe, one drill press, and one band saw. However, we did have a lot of welding done by a third party since our welding equipment needs repairs. However, we do have access to Cornell's machine shops, so we can get just about anything done that we need.

So, from my experience, the ESSENTIALS are:
Mill (preferably one with digital measurements)
Lathe
Band Saw
Drill press

I also think it is VERY HELPFUL to have:
Welding equipment

I do not think it is necessary to have Wire EDM or CNC, although if you have these it can be a big plus, and allow more flexibility in your design.

Patrick

: My personal opinion is that you need at least a mill to build a compedtitive robot. However, we've never had much access to a lathe or welding. And no access to wireEDM or CNC or any fun stuff like that. Maybe I dont know what I'm missing.

: Bill Whitley


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Re: How important is a machine shop?

Posted by Chris Hibner at 05/16/2001 8:33 AM EST


Coach on team #308, Walled Lake Monster, from Walled Lake Schools and TRW Automotive Electronics.


In Reply to: How important is a machine shop?
Posted by bill whitley on 05/15/2001 4:34 PM EST:



I think the minimum you need to have a competitive robot is a mill and a lathe.

As far as welding goes, it's pretty easy to forgo welding altogether. This year our team decided that we would not use welding so our robot can be taken apart if we need to replace parts. We used this feature of our robot quite often as we were able to easily swap gears, motors, and other parts very quickly between matches if we needed to.


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a robot without welding is a day without sunshine...

Posted by Joe Johnson at 05/16/2001 9:06 AM EST


Engineer on team #47, Chief Delphi, from Pontiac Central High School and Delphi Automotive Systems.


In Reply to: Re: How important is a machine shop?
Posted by Chris Hibner on 05/16/2001 8:33 AM EST:



While not absolutely necessary, I would rather do without a mill than a welder.

More than half the competition weight of some Chief Delphi robots was born in the twinkling light of a welding rod melting into a beautiful bead of metal ;-)

Seriously though, I see no reason to shy away from welding. In most cases it is the lightest method to join something, in many cases it is the strongest and in selected cases in it the ONLY practical method give the available space.

Don't give up a very powerful tool: Welding can be beautiful!

Joe J.


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Welding would have killed us this year...

Posted by Chris Hibner at 05/17/2001 9:05 AM EST


Coach on team #308, Walled Lake Monster, from Walled Lake Schools and TRW Automotive Electronics.


In Reply to: a robot without welding is a day without sunshine...
Posted by Joe Johnson on 05/16/2001 9:06 AM EST:



Due to a very boneheaded move, we were 17 lbs over weight after we assembled our robot on the Friday night before the shipping deadline (basically, we forgot to account for the weight of the wiring, pneumatic tubing, accumulators, and solenoid valves). If we had welded this year, we would have been dead. Thankfully, we were able to disassemble the ENITRE robot (every last piece of metal was dissassembled) so we could get the parts back on the tools. We were able to lose the 17 lbs without losing functionality. (As a side note, welding would have only saved us about 1.5 pounds.)

I'm not saying that everyone should not weld. I just think that if you plan your design right, it's not necessary. (Not to mention - if a welded part breaks at a competition, you are more or less done - ask Truck Town Terror at Great Lakes.)


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Re: a robot without welding is a day without sunshine...

Posted by Tom S. at 05/17/2001 10:05 AM EST


Student on team #177, The Bobcats, from South Windsor High School and International Fuel Cells.


In Reply to: a robot without welding is a day without sunshine...
Posted by Joe Johnson on 05/16/2001 9:06 AM EST:



Joe,

This year's bobcat had fewer welds than we did any other year... we built the frame out of 80/20 aluminum... (http://8020.net), and we can assemble or dissassemble it in about 2 hours. Although there were still a few welds (for the arm brackets etc), for the most part our bot was simply a bolt together frame.

Welding isn't always neccesary for a competitive robot...

Tom Schindler
Team 177

PS: most of our welding came on our ball/goal grabber mechanism...



: While not absolutely necessary, I would rather do without a mill than a welder.

: More than half the competition weight of some Chief Delphi robots was born in the twinkling light of a welding rod melting into a beautiful bead of metal ;-)

: Seriously though, I see no reason to shy away from welding. In most cases it is the lightest method to join something, in many cases it is the strongest and in selected cases in it the ONLY practical method give the available space.

: Don't give up a very powerful tool: Welding can be beautiful!

: Joe J.


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Sunshine is great - in moderation

Posted by P.J. Baker at 05/17/2001 11:06 AM EST


Engineer on team #177, Bobcat Robotics, from South Windsor High School and International Fuel Cells.


In Reply to: a robot without welding is a day without sunshine...
Posted by Joe Johnson on 05/16/2001 9:06 AM EST:



In his post below, Tom correctly points out that we used much less weld than usual this year. He is also right that it gave us the ability to quickly assemble/disassemble the machine. It was also probably the biggest factor in deciding to build a second robot. But...

There is still a decent amount of weld in the machine. And it's used for exactly the reasons that Joe gives: It is the lightest, strongest, and fastest available fastener for those situations.

It is true that welding can get you into trouble. However, if you make good choices and build spares of parts that might break (I think we had as many as 4 complete ball grabbers, although we never needed a spare), welding is a great tool for robot building.

So, go get some sun. Just make sure that you don't get burned.

P.J.
Team #177


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Re: How important is a machine shop? "very"

Posted by nick237 at 05/16/2001 3:09 PM EST


Engineer on team #237, sie h2o bots, from Watertown high school ct and sieman co.


In Reply to: How important is a machine shop?
Posted by bill whitley on 05/15/2001 4:34 PM EST:



Bill. The need for a tool shop and access to machine equipment is paramount in the building proccess of a robot. Part of F.I.R.S.T. is learning all aspects of the robotics competition, Having some one else build your robot is not a learning experience.
Not all schools in the F.I.R.S.T. program are able to have the equipment needed to build but there is some thing you can do. We the Sie H20 Bots, Team 237 were in the same situation as you are.
We had no support from the metal shop teacher, in fact he went out of his way to harm the team.
So what do you do........
Well what we did was knock on doors. we went to every factory and company in the area, we introduced our selves and gave them some info on F.I.R.S.T. We gave them a video of some of our games and then explained we were in need of upgraded equipmen.
We asked them if they had any equipment that they were not using or were up grading. as we are a school we would be a Tax deduction for a higher amount than theywould get if they sold the equipment.
Soon we had 3 Lathes, 3 Brigeports, 3 Band saws, a multitude of hand tools and then a Tig Mig welder. It was a struggle and a lot of hard work but all these things were given freely to the team.
As we were still having trouble with the school and the metal teacher so we went off and looked around some of the factories and found an empty space, we asked the owner if he could donate an area to us for building, now we have not only a full machine shop with all the tools and equipment but a room for driving and testing, a design and electronics room and a kitchen area with a lounge. All this is free including the electricity.
The only thing we get from the school is an insurance policy to cover liability. Oh and a Phone.
It took a year to do this and now were settled in we find out the metal teacher is retiring "Whoo Hoo", GOOD RIDENCE.
Bill it can be done, Just go out and ask....
Nick237


: How important do you think a machine shop is? What tools do you think are necessary to build a competitive robot? Can you do it w/o a lathe? a mill? welding facilities? wireEDM? Where do you draw the line between a necessity and a need? Can a compedative robot be built only from hand tools?

: My personal opinion is that you need at least a mill to build a compedtitive robot. However, we've never had much access to a lathe or welding. And no access to wireEDM or CNC or any fun stuff like that. Maybe I dont know what I'm missing.

: Bill Whitley


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Thanks for GREAT Counsel, Nick 237

Posted by Dodd Stacy at 05/18/2001 7:37 PM EST


Engineer on team #95, Lebanon Robotics Team, from Lebanon High School and CRREL/CREARE.


In Reply to: Re: How important is a machine shop? "very"
Posted by nick237 on 05/16/2001 3:09 PM EST:



: Bill. The need for a tool shop and access to machine equipment is paramount in the building proccess of a robot. Part of F.I.R.S.T. is learning all aspects of the robotics competition, Having some one else build your robot is not a learning experience.
: Not all schools in the F.I.R.S.T. program are able to have the equipment needed to build but there is some thing you can do. We the Sie H20 Bots, Team 237 were in the same situation as you are.
: We had no support from the metal shop teacher, in fact he went out of his way to harm the team.
: So what do you do........
: Well what we did was knock on doors. we went to every factory and company in the area, we introduced our selves and gave them some info on F.I.R.S.T. We gave them a video of some of our games and then explained we were in need of upgraded equipmen.
: We asked them if they had any equipment that they were not using or were up grading. as we are a school we would be a Tax deduction for a higher amount than theywould get if they sold the equipment.
: Soon we had 3 Lathes, 3 Brigeports, 3 Band saws, a multitude of hand tools and then a Tig Mig welder. It was a struggle and a lot of hard work but all these things were given freely to the team.
: As we were still having trouble with the school and the metal teacher so we went off and looked around some of the factories and found an empty space, we asked the owner if he could donate an area to us for building, now we have not only a full machine shop with all the tools and equipment but a room for driving and testing, a design and electronics room and a kitchen area with a lounge. All this is free including the electricity.
: The only thing we get from the school is an insurance policy to cover liability. Oh and a Phone.
: It took a year to do this and now were settled in we find out the metal teacher is retiring "Whoo Hoo", GOOD RIDENCE.
: Bill it can be done, Just go out and ask....
: Nick237

Nick,

The pitch that "obsolete" machine tools can be donated and written off for a tax benefit equal to selling them should be an inspiration to all teams struggling with the resource issue. We experienced similar lack of interest, bordering on hostility, from the school shop staff.

We have been most fortunate in having a non-school workplace made available to us with a lathe, drill press, and wood and metal band and cutoff saws. Not to mention the wonderful help from welders, technicians, and machinists at our sponsoring outfits. But for the struggling teams, the suggestions to go out and hustle donations of equipment for business/tax writeoff is spot on. THANK YOU, NICK. (where are the other 236?)

Dodd


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That all depends...

Posted by Carolyn Duncan at 05/16/2001 3:58 PM EST


Student on team #495, The Pack, from Jamestown High School and VBEP/Raytheon/Saic.


In Reply to: How important is a machine shop?
Posted by bill whitley on 05/15/2001 4:34 PM EST:



It all depends on the people you have on the team. Team 495 had 1 band saw, 1 drill press, and many hand tools. If the people on your team are unwilling to use hand tolls or work a little harder to do something beacuse you don't have the tools to make it easy, you've got a problem. We had VERY limited access to William and Mary's equipment, we had one welded piece on the robot which was not a key part. The biggest difference tool availability makes is what material you use to build. Our robot was a wooden platform with a metal frame and manipulators. The metal was easy to cut through with a hand saw. The bottom line is you make do with what you have or you don't do.
C-ya,
Carolyn


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Re: How important is a machine shop?

Posted by Jeff W. at 05/16/2001 7:06 PM EST


Engineer on team #419, RAMBOTS, from Boston College High School and Don't think we actually have a sponsor.


In Reply to: How important is a machine shop?
Posted by bill whitley on 05/15/2001 4:34 PM EST:



lets see.... Machine shop eh?? It really depends on if you have access to a machine shop or not. As for the Rambots, we build our arm n alot of the stuff without using a machine shop. We didnt have access to the shop the weekend before shipping and we built the whole arm with the shop. It worked perfectly until a student on our team fooled around with the robot and messed up the arm. So a robot could actually be built with limited access to a machine shop.

Jeff "so-call Engineer" Wong
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Re: How important is a machine shop?

Posted by mike oleary at 05/17/2001 4:16 PM EST


Student on team #419, rambots, from bc high and...oh wait just bc high and hmmm...sponsors...thats a good idea.


In Reply to: Re: How important is a machine shop?
Posted by Jeff W. on 05/16/2001 7:06 PM EST:



: It worked perfectly until a student on our team fooled around with the robot and messed up the arm.

i notice that you very carefully avoided mentioning names...and a follow up: how bad an idea is it to spray paint a robot (on a part that needs to be welded not-so-periodically)?

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Re: How important is a machine shop? - Not much at all

Posted by Gui Cavalcanti at 05/17/2001 5:01 PM EST


Student on team #422, Mech Tech, from Governor's School (GSGIS) and Verizon.


In Reply to: How important is a machine shop?
Posted by bill whitley on 05/15/2001 4:34 PM EST:



Bill,
A machine shop is not necessary to a large scale; we (Team 422) only used welding once, to build our claws, and the rest was pretty much assembled by hand tools and spare pieces of aluminum/lexan. We took modularity to the max this year, however; we attached our pneumatics and electronics board (on a cage) by VELCRO to the undercarriage/drivetrain of our robot. It works really well, and two people can take apart the entire robot in under 1 minute, including all electrical and pneumatic connections.
We've never had problems with this modularity, and our top has never fallen off. We probably could've done without the claw welding, and would've been fine. To combat all arguments that we were not competitive, well, we were 17th out of 335 at Nationals and 7th out of 83 in Galileo.

By the way, I've never even heard of a lathe, wireEDM (I should've, though, because I helped out a lot with the electronics), or CNC. Anyone care to explain?

Gui Cavalcanti

PS: Our robot weighed in at 129.5 pounds this year, and would've probably weighed less with welds. Nothing lost, though.
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Re: How important is a machine shop? - Not much at all

Posted by Matt Reiland at 05/18/2001 6:31 PM EST


Engineer on team #226 from Troy, Troy Athens and General Motors CRW.


In Reply to: Re: How important is a machine shop? - Not much at all
Posted by Gui Cavalcanti on 05/17/2001 5:01 PM EST:



Gui

Lathe is used to turn down a cylindical piece by spinning the work then moving a cutter into it, great for making shafts

Wire EDM is Electron/Electronic Discharge Machining and involves discharging electricity to remove material and it is used on high precision parts, gears being the perfect example

CNC is the ultimate cool tool, Computer numerical control, you take your parts designed in CAD, pop them into a cutter path planning software and let the machine make it in record time (The milling machine has stepper motors with encoders to follow positions kind of like a robot). Not only is it extremely accurate it is incredibly fast and you can make the same part over and over. I am saving to get my Smithy upgraded this summer which will make next years machining much more fun and cool

For CNC you definately don't need it but think about it: You make one side of wheel on a mill and it takes you say 6 Hours now you have to make 8 more and hopefully you get them all within a close tolerance. If you did have access to the CNC, you take a little extra time to get it in the computer then let the machine rip out as many as you want in about 30 minutes and they are all exactly the same. You can even put in patterns like turbine spokes that would drive a machinist insane trying to duplicate over and over.

Is a good machine shop necessary, NO, but it makes everything more accurate, faster, and lets you get closer to having a robot that looks like chief delphi's

:>

Later


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