4458 Infernobotix - 2023 Open Alliance Thread

Team 4458 welcomes you from Long Island, New York!

This upcoming season Infernobotix is proud to partake in the openalliance where we will give insights on all of our team’s processes. We hope that other Long Island teams take the initiative towards making this season even better and join the openalliance too!

Team History

Our team is based in Center Moriches High School, Long Island, New York and has participated in FIRST since 2013. We have been both regional finalists (2017) and regional winners (2018), as well as the recipients of the Rookie Inspiration Award (2013), two Dean’s List Finalist Awards (2015, 2019), as well as the Entrepreneurship Award (2018).

Rebuilding in 2022-23

Due to the major impacts of the pandemic in 2020 and 2021, our team came to a standstill with few activity and left newer members with limited knowledge going into 2022. Despite this, we were able to perform within our expectations at our two regional events and all of our members have used resources online, such as the openalliance and ChiefDelphi to help understand the goals of FRC and its specifics.

Until this year, our team has only used brushed CIM and 775 Redline motors with Spark PWM motor controllers, which has severely impacted the way our robots are built. Heavier weights and less efficient power usage (not to mention the spaghetti bowl of cables) has brought about too many brownouts and lost matches for us to remember. This past summer we tested a NEO motor and Spark MAX motor controller on our robot and used it at the HHH Offseason Event and it has convinced us to buy into the CAN and brushless ecosystems.

Our parts collection and tools have been an unorganized mess and we have also worked on purchasing new equipment as well as organizing components from years before. As a matter of fact, we have not gotten a new set of batteries or motors since the pandemic. This year we purchased 6 MK batteries to replace the worn down Interstate batteries from yesteryear and plan on replenishing this supply yearly.

What you can expect from us this season

  • Public CAD models created in Onshape
  • Public code written in C++ using the Command-Based structure
  • Weekly updates throughout the build season

This year will proudly be our first year taking advantage of creating a CAD model of our robot to assist with the construction and interference issues, which is something we were unable to do in the past due to a previous mentor’s lack of knowledge and understanding on the benefits. This will be extremely helpful in the creation of our robot especially along with the help of one of our sponsors, a major steel fabrication company with many cool CNC machines.

Additionally, our lead programmer who has learned ins and outs of WPIlib is actively working on improving our C++ Command-Based structure to help make competing with our robot more effective and simpler for our drivers. Automating common driving tasks and simplifying controls is now a more focused priority going into seasons to come. Also, this year he will not be alone and will have another programmer working with him.

Onshape and Github links will be posted once available.

Conclusion

This concludes our first update and begins one of many more updates to forsee in the future! Best of luck to all other teams and we will be watching live with you all January 7th!

4458 Open Alliance Update 1 - 12/19/22

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Week 1 Summary

Kickoff

Kickoff this past Saturday was exciting to see both new and familiar faces. We bought pizza and drinks and watched Blair lay out Charged Up for us on Twitch. Then we printed out a copy of the game manual looked for important restrictions like weight, frame perimeter, extension limits, and so on. We were more than excited to not be working with a ball this year, but nervous too since all of the current members have not participated prior to Infinite Recharge. Unfortunately we had to leave our work area early due to our district closing the building for other events that were going on that day.

Business

Our Business team has worked hard booking buses and hotels for our regional competitions later this year. This year we will be attending 4 events:

Event Week Dates
Regal Eagle Rampage 0 March 5th
First Long Island Regional 1 4 March 20th-22nd
New York Tech Valley Regional 5 March 30th-April 1st
Half Hollow Hills Invitational n/a TBD

The Business team started dismantling our far outdated display case in the hallway and began updating it with the latest information for other students to see. T-shirt designs for this year along with our sponsor’s logos on the back was drafted as well. We hope to post photos of this as soon as possible! Also, we brought the 2022 robot to the gym to give a demonstration to some middle school students who have the opportunity of joining our school district next year.

Build

This week our Build team continued to organize our storage room by building shelving for some storage totes we recently purchased and removing the old cabinets that were otherwise taking up space. We fortunately were able to acquire a tools budget this year, so we will have all of our tools separate from the technology department that will live in our new Harbor Freight tool box.

This year we opted out of the KOP Chassis and the Black Tote in return for parts from years prior for vouchers at Andymark and Rev Robotics. We started gathering components to create two identical 24x28.3" chassis which can be used for our competition robot and for programming. We’re also working on constructing practice field elements that are hopefully not nearly as complicated as the ones provided by FIRST.

We purchased 6 new MK ES 17-12 batteries to be used for this year along with another Andymark triple charger. Last year we used Interstate batteries likely from 2019 and 2020. Additionally, we received our FIRSTChoice round 1 order which contained 2 Spark Max motor controllers, 1 OM5P-AC radio, and 2 TP-Link TL-SF1005D network switches.

CAD

Team 4458 Onshape

Our CAD team kept their eyes glued on ChiefDelphi to look at manipulator mechanisms for this year’s game pieces and what we are able to create. We have two 2-Stage Climber in a Box arms leftover from last year that we are considering to use as linear extension, either with the use of a pulley and constant force springs or a gear rack mechanism. We have yet to receive our Season Specific tote (which unfortunately costed $200 for shipping) since were were unable to attend a Kickoff location this year but we will be asking our physical education department to check out if any of their cones match the specific requirements of this year’s game piece.

The CAD team also modeled a battery cart that would sit perfectly next to the tool box we purchased as well as extend the countertop area. We are hoping this will be constructed sometime next week. Finally, we created our main document on Onshape fitted with variables for this season as well as an outline of the AM14U5 chassis.

Battery cart - 4458

Programming

Team 4458 Github

The Programming department has continued to work on robot simulation and integration with the Ramsete Controller within our C++ Command-Based framework. The Build team should complete the test chassis by next week so we can begin differential trajectories, odometry, and vision localization while the Build team works on the competition robot. Our switch to brushless motors this year should alleviate issues we’ve had with old CIM motors in the past with bad kV and kVA values. Also, we are brainstorming feedback methods for the robot and the drivers in order to communicate across the field.

4458 Open Alliance Update 2 - 1/14/23

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Week 2 Summary

Business

This week the Business team mainly focused on keeping everything in check. We set up a spreadsheet for our 2023 sponsors and created a list of pre-competition tasks, including discussing future fundraisers and outreach events. For competitions we started preparing our team avatar for scoreboards at events this year as well as drafted pin designs that we can hand out to other teams. Pictured below is a small 3d printed keychain that the CAD team designed that we are also considering handing out at competitions but also possibly selling at our school store.

We also wrote a first draft for a letter to send to our school district’s parent teacher organization which should be finalized by next week. Payments for FIRST Choice orders, buses, and hotels have also been signed off by out treasurer. Finally, we updated our website to display all of our current sponsors.

Email confirmation on FIRST Choice round 2 also came in and we will be receiving 2 additional cubes and cones, a multimeter, 2 ToughBox Mini shafts, more cable carrier links, 4 CIM motors, and some electrical and duct tape.

Build

The Build team worked diligently on constructing one of two AM14U4 chassis for this year’s competition. One chassis will be used for our competition robot and one will be used for driver practice, programming practice, and as a defensive robot. Since most of our current members haven’t built a chassis before, we opted to create the practice robot first to be mostly identical to our competition robot, and to learn the correct procedures for assembling it. This robot will help develop the mechanical and electrical knowledge of the build team to make sure that our competition robot is built with few flaws. We’re using 4 leftover Mini CIM motors from seasons past, partly because the CIM motors we do have are from 2017 the earliest.

Despite this, we’re happy to say that we received our order from Andymark for REV Robotics brushless components! We purchased 8 Spark MAX motor controllers, 10 NEO v1.1 motors, and 4 NEO 550 motors. Together with parts we received from our FIRST Choice round 1 order, we will have plenty to use on our robot and have spares this season.

Additionally our Lowe’s tool order came in and now we have separated all of our tools from the technology department. We are still waiting on some cordless drills, but the bulk of our purchase is happily living in our new toolbox.

CAD

Our CAD and design team this week have decided that we want to use a dual stage Andymark Climber in a Box as our extending arm for our robot this year. After cleaning the inner stages and applying a small amount of WD-40 lubricant, the constant force springs provided in the kit are more than capable of lifting the load of our manipulator to the scoring locations and the double substation.

Our season specific tote came in with a cube, a cone, and plenty of stickers to put everywhere! We reached out to our athletic department but unfortunately none of the cones they own are similar enough to the official cone. On the bright side, we’re happy to hear that most other teams got their game pieces this week.

We haven’t modeled our arm yet in Onshape, but we are planning to use a dead axle setup with two large sprockets that will be clamped around the tube to run #35 chain to motors below. Our superstructure is not finalized yet either, as we are still considering geometry and overall placement of the pivot point on our robot. Our arm will extend past the pivot point to provide stability and possibly a counterweight to help the movement of our arm.

Below is the continually improving main document with the addition of bumpers and the frame itself for us to model structure on top of. Because we do not generate the chassis from a sketch since it is imported STEP files from Andymark, we instead generate our main sketch based off of the chassis import. These are not linked but with some double checking and measuring within Onshape this was ultimately a simple task to line both up.

In terms of construction, our biggest challenge most notably will be working around the wheels and gearboxes to find anchor points. We also put together a mockup belly pan to help visualize how much space the electronics will take up. Unfortunately we can only seem to purchase 2x2", 1.5x2", or 1.5x1.5" tubing, so we’re waiting on confirmation of what sort of tubing we will use to construct this year. Our 3D printer will also get a small makeover with new nozzles and thermistors for our dual extruder. 3D printing last year was awesome to have on our robot, and we’re excited to use it again this year too.

4458 - CAD Week 2

Programming

The Programming department has finished up a simple program to follow a trajectory. The main issue we had was with the gyro – we had never really looked at the gyroscope output with our own eyes, so it had never occurred to us whether or not the gyroscope was clockwise-positive or counterclockwise-positive. We are planning to update to WPILib 2023 at our next meeting along with firmware for Roborios and radios. Our new programmer has begun to look more closely at C++, but still has a bit of a way to go with getting a grasp of object-oriented programming. In the next week we plan to attempt to get our Ramsete Controller to be more precise, and then experiment with PathWeaver and possibly PathPlanner. We will hopefully be able to deploy code onto a test chassis next week.

4458 Open Alliance Update 3 - 1/21/23

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Week 3 Summary

Business

This past week was a busy week for many of our members and other teams alike due to the end of the first semester as well as midterm exams and other commitments. We sent out our check to the bus company that will be taking us to the NY Tech Valley Regional. Our T-shirt design for this year needed some last minute changes so those are being made and we will send the final design here as soon as they are ready. We also focused on our glass display case which is little by little being updated in order to show the progress of the team and attract new members. We also began our drafts for the Deans List Award and the FIRST Impact awards applications. We are hoping to finish up the show case and the application essays by next week!

Build

The Build team finished our protobot base and handed it over to the programming team to begin wiring the control system on a plywood belly pan. Additionally we cut and prepared all of the components for the competition robot. Along with this, we worked on painting the frame for the robot with a few quick coats of spray paint. Unfortunately the two new shafts we received from FirstChoice were victims of the KOP wobbly shaft so we put those off to the side and dug up old shafts in our gearbox bin.

In terms of our manipulator mechanism, the base stage was painted (not pictured here) and our dead axle sprocket pivot was assembled. Our MAXPlanetary gearbox for our pivot was assembled along with it. We also began more extensive work on our game piece gripper, although mostly still in the hands of the CAD team. Additionally, we began constructing a cube node and a cone node out of plywood for driver practice in the coming weeks.

Here's a sneak peek of what we assembled in our most recent meeting

CAD

The CAD team made steady progress on our robot design thanks to some pointers from the FIRST community Discord and their suggestions regarding structure. We sorted and moved a lot of aluminum extrusion and sheet into our storage room and6 evaluated what materials we needed to purchase. By this week we hope to have finalized the geometry of our pivoting arm to make sure it can reach all of the nodes on the field and then later focusing on smaller developments such as 3d printed cases for electronics and nice-to-haves. We did finalize our belly pan dimensions and layout and send drawings to be manufactured next week. A more in-depth CAD update should be available later this week as well.

Programming

The Programming team achieved its goal of updating all its software this week as well as wiring the protobot. We are now on 2023 software and firmware, and after some brief issues refactoring code dealing with the geometry library, past robots and new code is running as expected.

We updated all of our Spark Max motor controllers to their latest firmware version as well as prepped the leads with wire strippers and the newly popular WAGO 221 inline connectors. We also succeeded in refining our trajectory follower for use with the NEO v1.1 integrated encoders. Next week, we hope to get a program running on our frame for this year while the build team works on developing infrastructure on top of it.

4458 Open Alliance Update 4 - 1/30/23

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