Team 4504 is thrilled to join the #openalliance for the 2023 FIRST Robotics season! Blount County Robotics (a.k.a. BC Robotics) is a community team from Blount County, TN dedicated to helping spread STEM skills to students. Our team takes students from multiple schools and school systems from our area, as we hope to attract and unify students from a variety of backgrounds.
Recently, our team was incredibly fortunate to open a new shop in the new Don and Steve West Workforce Development Center at Pellissippi State Community College. It is our hope that this new space will provide our team with the opportunity to develop our skills and continue to grow our impact in our community. Without the generous support of Pellissippi and our other sponsors, we would not have the ability to create the experiences we do each year. We are incredibly grateful for their support.
For the 2023 Build Season, Team 4504 is excited to announce that they will be attending two regional competitions: the Miami Valley Regional and the Smoky Mountain Regional. Smoky Mountain Regional is a regional that Team 4504 has attended every year without fail, and they are looking forward to going again in 2023. Miami Valley Regional, however, is a new regional that Team 4504 is looking forward to attending for the first time. Blount County Robotics is looking forward to the challenge of competing at a new regional and the experience of visiting a new location. We are also looking forward to the opportunity to make new connections with other teams and to learn from the unique perspectives of teams from other regions. Team 4504 is confident that their preparations and hard work will ensure that they are well-equipped for their first venture to the Miami Valley Regional.
We have never participated in a formal open build season. However, we are excited to work with the Open Alliance to foster a sense of inter-team community and cooperation. We plan to use the Open Alliance to help us with our designs, builds, strategies, and programing capabilities. We also hope to use the alliance to build relationships with teams from other areas, and to foster a sense of collaboration and mutual respect. We are looking forward to taking part in the Open Alliance and being part of the larger FIRST Robotics community.
Team 4504 is very much looking forward to the 2023 FIRST Robotics season and we are excited to be part of the Open Alliance. We are eager to collaborate with other teams from around the world and share our experiences and knowledge. We feel that it is a great opportunity to learn from each other and create relationships with teams from different parts of the world.
If any teams have any questions about our team, we would be more than happy to answer them. We are always open to new ideas and would love to hear from other teams and look forward to working together and making the 2023 FIRST Robotics season one for the books.
With much anticipation,
Blount County Robotics
Hello #openalliance! With the launch of the 2023 FRC season rapidly approaching, the BC Robotics Team wanted to share what we have done this past preseason with you. From moving into a new space to training a new generation of FRC students, our preseason has been one for the books. Read along as we take you along our journey into the 2023 year.
A New Home
For the 2023 season, Team 4504 is proud to have the support of Pellissippi State Community College. They generously contributed a workshop space for us, which included a space for us to set up our fabrication shop as well as a potential prototype match field for practice/simulation. After we formally moved into our space, we started organizing it into a fluid environment, where sub-teams and members could navigate and work efficiently. The spacious room and closet is a breath of fresh air, and the abundance of natural and artificial lighting just adds a sense of industrial professionalism to the place that we once lacked.
In addition, Pellissippi allows us to use some of their meeting rooms for our quieter and computer-oriented sub-teams (such as design and programming). We also use this space to kickoff meetings, organize the team together, and to have a place where we can relax and socialize.
This preseason, the team also pushed for a new leadership structure. The mentors and the students both wanted to transition towards a more student-led organization, where the students would be primarily leading and guiding the design/creative decisions with the help of the adult mentors.
We believed this model would work well to accommodate the student-led structure that the team wanted. This reorganization has allowed our team to create a unique workflow that suits our team’s needs, and gives more responsibility and credence to our high school members.
This year, the team gained [TK] members, with students coming from a variety of different schools around the county. These included William Blount High School, Maryville High School, Alcoa High School, Homeschoolers, and more. Recruitment in the off-season was led by our Impact Sub-Team (more on them later), who pushed for community engagement and marketing tactics in order to attract a new generation of FRC competitors. We hope to see continued membership growth as the season progresses and as the team continues to develop into further years.
A strong mechanical team is the backbone of any robotics team. They are the “muscle” of 4504, cutting sheet metal and plywood, and frantically fixing the robot at competition. It takes a certain level of grit to troubleshoot an issue with a gearbox until 10 PM, and 4504’s Mechanical Team has just that. As such, it is always important to grow and expand the next generation of mechanical students for the team. This was the primary goal of the Mechanical Sub-team for the off-season, as they focused on student development of the most essential skills to build, manufacture, and repair a robot.
The Mechanical Sub-team worked on basic tool training with the rookies, teaching them how to use impact drills, bandsaws, and a variety of other mechanical tools. They learned essential workshop skills such as filing, tapping, and general shop/tool safety (led by the Safety Sub-Team). Mechanical eventually brought all of these manufacturing skills and let the rookie members construct basic parts.
After this was done, the Mechanical Sub-team worked towards building a mockup shooter. Although the shooter was not successful, the sub-team learned a valuable lesson: it is better to “fail” sooner rather than later. Problems are inevitable when building a robot, and it is better to encounter those problems in the first week of prototyping rather than face them on competition day.
Electricity is the lifeblood of a robot. Our electrical technicians are vital in bringing all the different components together; the code, the motors, the mechanics all join together harmoniously with the power of electricity. This year, the Electrical Sub-team had an unprecedented amount of interest from our new members, leading to our Electrical Sub-Team having to train our newbies up in basic electrical design.
The goal for Electrical was to teach all of its current and new members the complete electrical system and how to properly build one using the correct methods. Last season, the Electrical Sub-team faced an issue where only the Sub-team lead knew how to properly build and troubleshoot the electrical system. Due to this, the team lead decided for the offseason plan for Electrical became training all the sub-team’s members to have an effective sub-team. The sub-team lead created lesson plans (which can be accessed below) and taught the new members. The training resulted in Electrical members now fully understanding the electrical system, having the ability to help build the electrical system by using the correct tools and connectors for each part, and being able to properly wire the robot using the skills they have learned. But because of the limited number of meetings the team had during the offseason, members were taught only an overview of the pneumatics system. At the end of the training session, the electrical sub-team was able to create an electrical system on a chassis (ESOC) with limited help from the sub-team lead. This training has prepared the electrical subteam for the upcoming season.
Electrical Sub-Team Lesson Plans:
Programming is the brains behind the robot. This year, our programming sub-team is dedicated to teaching its members not only how Python works but also how the robot works. Programming started this offseason by preparing our new members with the basic programming skills they will need to be successful throughout the build season. From “hello world” to drive train basics, our new members are now learning how to become Robot.py programmers.
Our programming sub-team hopes that during our build season they can further improve our robot’s autonomous period to be more efficient and successful. Programming also wants to consider trying out both tank and arcade drive this year. Their biggest hope for this year is that all the members of the programming sub-team will become capable programmers who can use their extremely valuable skills not only in the FIRST Robotics community but also in their future lives and career paths. The programming sub-team plans to post their code and ideas throughout the build season to Chief Delphi over the course of our first season as a part of the Open Alliance community.
Design is one of the most essential parts of any engineering effort, and our design sub-team is no different. The Design Sub-team is tasked with jointly leading the prototyping efforts with Mechanical and Electrical, as well as producing and documenting CAD and drawing files for our designs, parts, etc. This is the first year for Design to play a direct role in the prototyping and creation of the robot; in the past, 4504 has not formally had a design team lead in these areas. We hope that the inclusion of the design team can continue to improve the efficiency and workflow of our team’s processes.
Design decided to switch to using Onshape this season, so the main focus of Design this offseason was to train all of our sub-team members Onshape. The switch to the new CAD software was easy and all our members quickly caught on. Design also focused on using different resources to make CAD much more efficient. Our Design Sub-team was very lucky to have Chris from Team 2393, who works with their CAD team, meet with us. During the meeting, the sub-team discussed what featurescripts are, how to install them, and applying them, as well as how to organize parts and assemblies and the process to number them. The use of calculators to reduce the guesswork of a lot of systems. A large portion of the time was spent going over design choices: lightening parts, keeping things practical, and what to purchase versus manufacture. Design looked at countless other powerhouse teams and their approaches to that year’s challenges. With the information Chris provided for our team, we were able to start properly getting ready for the upcoming season. We spent the remainder of our time planning out the path Design will take during the season and researching on ways to make Design well integrated into our team.
This year, we launched our Impact sub-team. The newly developed sub-team is strongly dedicated to creating cohesion within BC Robotics and bringing Team 4504 to our community. Our Impact Team is also going to be responsible for contending for the Impact Award and is looking forward to partaking in a new challenge at competition.
The impact team started off the year by optimizing our new team organization and communication capabilities. Impact hopes to have a task manager program up and running shortly after kickoff through ClickUp, a task-manager application to optimize workflow. They also have worked in the off-season to develop team synergy and communication skills within the team through team-building exercises and fun team events like our Holiday Party. Impact also brought BC Robotics to the community by volunteering to teach kids STEM projects at our local library. This is a new aspect of robotics that our team is ecstatic to venture into. We cannot wait to teach future generations of young bright minds to love STEM. The team members have also made contacts to develop relationships with sponsors and businesses in the area. Once build season starts, the impact team plans to advertise Team 4504 further to get any new members who could not join last semester. Impact also plans to keep close contact with the local community and the FIRST community throughout the season, carefully documenting all the progress the team makes. This has been an unprecedented season for the impact sub-team, and we hope to continue this through the year!
Here are some articles from our local new source that document our involvement:
This year, our safety sub-team has been hard at work making our new shop a safe space for all our members to work in. Safety started off the year strong by sending out safety forms and collecting important safety information from all of our members. Safety also gave presentations and short safety quizzes to ensure that every person in our shop knows how to handle tools from saws to soldering irons safely. First aid stations have also been set up in the shop, and our members have also been taught how to use the new safety features built into our space at Pellissippi. This sub-team plans to closely monitor the goings-on across our shop and can’t wait for an amazing season!
With the launch of the season right around the corner, we would like to thank all of our sponsors and community for getting us to where we are today. It would not be possible to have the resources we do without their support. But, most of all, we would like to extend our thanks to the FRC community, to the teams, mentors, students, FIRST organization, #openalliance, volunteers, and the several other thousands of supporters that offer their hard work to creating the world’s premiere STEM competition. As Dean Kamen, founder of FIRST Robotics, said, “FIRST is more than just robots.” Without you, there would be no BC Robotics, and no community of loving and intelligent individuals working for a better world.
We look forward to competing with you all in this 2023 season. Best of luck!
Our first week has just come to a close and we would like to update everyone on the Open Alliance/openalliance on the progress that BC Robotics has made. This week consisted of general preparation for the season from the team as we discussed and researched strategies, (sub)systems, and designs we wanted to incorporate into the 2023 season. After our kickoff, members quickly came up with intuitive designs to tackle this year’s challenge. As such, the focus of this post will be on the prototyping we have begun and are planning to develop, although we will include any significant progress that our sub-teams achieved for documentation.
One of our objectives this season is to optimize the workflow for the entire team so that we can efficiently create and test our robot. One of the ways we have opted to do this is through a physical Kanban board. On the board there are several categories for the status on tasks, as well as a color-coded system to denote what sub-team is responsible for achieving said tasks. We update progress for our Kanban board every day on a dedicated Discord channel to ensure that people not at the shop can stay updated.
Field and Game Piece Mockup
We began designing a mockup of the field as well. Our team cut out and completely finished the loading station. They started working on the cube station and the cone station. The charging station is posing a challenge for our team, but they have created the top layer of it and are working on the math for the balancing mechanism on the charging station.
The design sub-team started out by defining the optimal frame perimeter for the tasks ahead. We initially went with a 30” X 30” frame but decided it would be too wide when fitting three robots on the 96” Charger. We have settled for a 25” X 30” frame perimeter which leaves us enough room for the 4 six-inch wheels that will be on each side rail. 6” wheels, rather than 4”, will reduce our chances of getting banked when climbing the Charger ramp.
Each side of this West Coast Drivetrain will contain two conventional wheels in the center and two Omni wheels on the outside to reduce drag when tank steering. There are two supports running down the inside of the chassis, but they are stopped early to allow extra room for any future intake system. There is a 1” X 1” rail running around the perimeter to attach the bumpers, battery holder, and any additional subsystems.
Our mechanical team was focused on getting a chassis built and ready for prototyping and other sub-teams:
A conventional pinching claw and a motorized compliant claw seem to be the most common end effector in virtually all Ri3D builds. Due to their relative simplicity, we will be rapidly prototyping these mechanisms until we feel it is optimized to fit our robot. Although the lack of game pieces has made it hard to determine measurements, we have begun to design several contenders.
We are also playing around with the idea of a deployable intake similar to those of the 2022 season which would be a prerequisite to the end effectors previously mentioned. A deployable intake would increase versatility with the ability to pick up several cone orientations with little time loss. It would also increase the speed of cone pickup because of the broader region it can cover. We designed a four-bar linkage that would attach to pneumatic cylinders and articulate out and in front of the bumper to scoop up the nose of a cone. This model uses twelve of the 4” 40A compliant wheels mounted to two ½” Hex shafts. We have not yet determined the motors and motor mountings.
Pneumatic Gravity Grabber
One of the prototypes we developed was a Pneumatic Gravity Grabber, or PGG for short. Using the frame of the Claw prototype, we attached a churro with a free rotating gripper onto each of the claw’s pads to see if we can get the cones to reorientate themselves. We realized that the cones were hitting the arm of the claw. We are now redesigning the PGG to fix that issue.
This season’s game also indicates a strong need for an elevator system to move the game pieces into their appropriate places to maximize scoring. As such, Team 4504 opted to work on one. Any elevator system will have to be incorporated with our intake mechanisms.
We are using the Thrifty Elevator Kit for vertical movement. As of now, there are three main configurations: completely vertical, fixed slanted, or pivoting elevator. A vertical elevator is mostly out of the question due to the necessity of an extremely long articulating arm. Therefore, we will most likely design and prototype both systems.
This week, the programming sub-team worked to upload our 2022 code to an old prototype (pizza) bot and to make sure that the code was uploading properly to the RoboRIO, which they just reimaged with the 2023 image. This will allow our drivers to start practicing and will help our programmers upload code to the 2023 bot more easily. Programming also wrote code to identify the AprilTags on the field and began to write code to gauge the distance between the camera and the AprilTags.
Our official team website also went live this week! We will continue to develop it as the season progresses, so make sure to keep an eye on it.
Though our design has changed since that CAD was posted, I can give you the general layout. Our current design uses 4 inch compliant wheels on 1/2 inch ThunderHex shafts. We started out with a larger center-to-center distance of the two shafts at around 12 inches (what you see in the picture), but through testing realized that a distance of approximately 9 inches was good for both cones and cubes. The bottom wheels are roughly tangent with the bottom of the chassis. The top wheels are further out of the chassis by about 4 inches on the horizontal axis. The four-bar-linkage will most likely need a complete makeover to be compatible with our chassis and pneumatic cylinders. Hopefully that answered your question, and I’ll try my best to knock out any more should they arrise.
Team 4504 has made significant progress over the course of this past week as we enter into Week 4 of build. As we come to a close with the prototyping stage of the build process, the team looks forward to working to build our first competition for the Miami Valley Regional. The team is really excited to continue to share our progress as we progress the build and look forward to seeing openalliance teams at competition.
The mechanical team has made a massive amount of progress throughout the week, starting with the finishing of our prototype chassis to fully test all of our intake/claw/placing ideas before landing on our competition choice. Our chassis and drivetrain showed significant improvement from last year. In terms of mechanisms, we completed our elevator for high-row placement on the field; we hope to have a strong ability to score “high” in the competition. Alongside all of our baseline development, we have continued to iterate our many designs for intake and vectoring and will continue to do so in the coming week.
In design, we decided to focus on getting a workable end-effector up and running, meaning we spent less time on the deployable roller intake. We designed and laser cut out of wood a motorized compliment wheel claw. Though we are waiting on belts to ship, we will continue to focus on this design as parts arrive.
We finished fabricating the first stage of our elevator this week. We still have to complete the second stage and then set up the rigging. Though the decision of a fixed versus pivoting mount is still in the air, we have messed around with the location and type of fixed mount. We want to be able to clear the battery mounted at the back, but we also want to be able to fit any end-effector and arm within the front of our chassis. We will probably end up lowering the elevator mount to keep the center of gravity as low as possible.
If we were to go with the fixed, slanted elevator, we would need an actuating arm to extend the couple of feet remaining to reach the top scoring. This past week we have been experimenting with the use of virtual 4-bar linkages. They provide the motion we need without the weight and limited mobility of conventional 4-bar linkages. The design we have come up with weighs a little over 3 pounds and has a center of gravity roughly 15 inches from the rear when extended. For now, it will use a Neo 550 attached to a Versaplanetary gearbox. The 9mm belt powers the first ½ inch shaft which is fixed to the middle stage. The two larger 42T pulleys attach to the outer stages via their hub mounting holes.
After the Mechanical sub-team finished the chassis, the Electrical sub-team wired in an electrical system onto it to get the chassis moving. The design our team is going for this year is to have an underbelly electrical board for easy access. It will keep all the components centralized on the robot without being in the way of any other mechanisms. The Sparkmax’s for our Neo Motors will be located near each motor, so going into the future we will need to design mounts for the placement of our motor controller.
In furthering our creation of the practice field for training, we have finished one set of each game set, which includes the cube/cone linkage, both mechanisms to distribute game pieces into the field, and a true-to-scale charging station to test and develop a potential self-balancing mechanism on our bot with a gyroscope. Having built all the field elements needed for this season, we will be making adjustments to ensure that the mock field is as true to the actual competition as it can be.
This week, our Impact sub-team spent time sending out emails to elementary and middle schools in our community. We hope to bring our robot to these schools and show kids how awesome STEM is while bringing them closer to the FIRST community. We also continue to work on attracting and working with potential sponsors to acquire finances and resources for the team.
We have successfully finished coding important sub-systems for the robot this week. This includes drivetrain, camera, and any claw functionality code we will need. Note that we utilized ChatGTP to create camera code, which might be a strategy that our programmers continue to use. We also worked on configuring the AprilTag detection code that will be critical to our bot’s success this year.
It’s time for Team 4504’s weekly recap for the openalliance. As the prototyping stage of our robot comes to a close, we would like to update you all on the progress we have made this week. Most of the team shifted focus to designing the mechanical components of the robot, so that is what the post will be focusing on. As always, if you have any questions about designs, strategy, etc. please reply to this thread and one of our team members will contact you as soon as they can. We can supply build documentations (CAD files, videos, pictures, etc.) if need be.
End Effector Mechanism
As we finished up prototyping, we wanted the entire team to have a say in what end effector we would use. So, we constructed a poll between our current four options:
The group decided to prioritize the pneumatic gravity grabber, because each prototype would have to use that system. For now, that is the primary mechanism we are focusing on. We have shrunk the original design to be smaller in both of the horizontal directions, allowing for more room to work with when the claw is inset when starting a match and transporting cargo. We are still messing around with the angle at which we should mount the claw to provide the greatest versatility with pickup, storing, and scoring. As of now, the claw is mounted perpendicular to the arm, meaning it faces straight downwards.
Currently, we have stuck with the default base height of 37” for our elevator mechanism. The second stage carriage has been completed this week, enabling the attachment and testing of any scoring mechanisms. We have also begun to rig the chains that power the stages, so hopefully we will have elevating capabilities within the coming week. The height will likely be reduced in future iterations of the elevator to provide for a lower center of gravity and a steeper lean angle.
We finished assembling the base prototype of the virtual four-bar linkage arm mechanism and have decided to continue to pursue the virtual four-bar linkage as our primary form of a horizontal motion for the end-effector. It will be attached to the second-stage carriage of our elevator.
In contrast to the original plans, we have decided to go with a combination of two arms working in unison for durability and strength. Though there are two arms, we are only planning on using one virtual connecting belt and one Rev Neo motor to power the movement. Note that this CAD still needs to be updated to the current configuration we are hoping to use, but the original design is one we might fall back onto if all else fails.
The programming team focused on creating functional AprilTag code; we should now have the capabilities to detect and use AprilTags. We also worked on some general drivetrain code as the rest of the team are finalizing prototypes. We have linked some of our prototype bot code and camera code below for you all:
This week we had completed the field pieces and measured out how we are going to lay out our half field. This week, the safety sub-team has started reading the first ‘23 safety manual to determine the procedures and beset practices at competition and in the shop.
Hello Open Alliance! Since we did not do a post for last week, we will be combining prior week’s news with this week. As always, please feel free to reply to this thread and start a discussion with our team.
Last week, the mechanical sub-team continued to work on our elevator system. We decided to shorten the elevator so it will fit into the height limitations during the start of the game. We did shorten the carriage and then realized we made it too short. We will be making it bigger so the four-bar can retract inside of it. We currently do not know what the height of the four-bar will be, as that will be a decision that is made after we conduct further tests and analyses of the elevator system. We also made the four-bar more stable and tightened the belt, making the four-bar move more smoothly. We also attached 80-20 on the robot to support the elevator from the sides and then attached the elevator to the robot using a piece of 80-20 mounted to our frame. We did this so the elevator would not sit on the gearboxes, instead it would sit over them.
We also worked on making bumpers for the competition last week. We made them U-shaped so we are able to intake from the front without having to go over the bumpers. One of our goals is to optimize our work flow, and part of that involves using CNC to machine our parts. To achieve this goal, we started learning and teaching CNC essentials. As of right now we will be CNC-ing the elevator as a back up for competition or, if we have time, to add it to our robot before the first competition. We will also be CNC-ing the four-bar and any custom parts we might need.
This week was more about tweaking everything and finishing mechanical projects. We cut down each elevator stage length by 1.5 inches, so our elevator would fit within the height constraints. We also replaced bottom piece of aluminum on the elevator that mounts the elevator to the 80–20 hinges, because that is the most prototyped piece on our elevator and the motors fit within that perimeter.
This week, the programming team continued working on the vison system with PhotonVision. They were able to get the limelight operational. They also finished up the code for the intake and elevator systems of the robot. Programming is currently investing all its resources into autonomous functionality. Specifically, they are currently focused on positioning using AprilTags. Finally, programming began to fully utilize GitHub to increase workflow efficiency. Here is the link below if you need access to our code:
This week, the Impact sub-team had a middle school day to bring interest in STEM and in robotics to 4th-8th grade students. The team showed the students our last season’s robot Atlas, gave them a tour of our shop, and engaged them in an engineering challenge to build the tallest paper tower that could hold a roll of soldering wire. Impact is also working to arrange three local elementary school visits for next week.
This was a very eventful week for BC Robotics! As our competition at Miami Valley Regionals approaches, we look forward to working with other teams and to showing what our robot can do. In steadfast preparation, we have finished the mechanical components on our robot and have moved on to add the electrical components to our bot.
This week, the mechanical team put finishing touches onto the robot. They added more supports to the elevator in order to ensure its stability and minimize its movement on the chassis. This will let our robot operate well under stress. They also put stops on the 4-bar to let the mechanism stay fully extended without falling under gravity’s influence. Finally, they added rubber grips to the grabbers to make sure that the pneumatic gravity grabber can hold the game pieces tightly and securely as our robot moves around the field.
After the team finished building their portion of the robot, the electrical team got straight to work. They mounted the remaining motor controllers and pneumatics components for the robot. Next, they plan to wire the robot and put their pneumatic tubing into place.
The programming team continues developing the autonomous framework for the robot. They focused on using AprilTags for autonomous navigation and control. They were able to assign a button to make the robot ignore user input and perfectly align itself with the AprilTag, which will be very helpful in the autonomous period of the game. Programming is also working on developing systems that allow the robot to move a specified distance and refining control over the elevator and pneumatic gravity grabber.
This week, the impact team visited three local schools in our area, two elementary schools and one middle school. They talked to third, fifth, and eighth grade students about BC Robotics and about growing a future in STEM. The students asked a lot of questions and really enjoyed seeing the robot and meeting some of our team. We love opportunities like this because they allow us to bring STEM a little closer to young students that we hope will pursue STEM careers someday.
We are now one week away from our first competition: The Miami Valley Regional (miamivalleyregional). We are beyond excited to compete for the first time in the 2023 season and hope to see many of the teams in the Open Alliance there to compete with us. Let’s see what FRC Team 4504 achieved this week.
This week the mechanical sub team added a tensioner on the 4-bar belt to keep it tight. We also worked on making sure that the 4-bar was a centered as possible. If the 4-bar is not centered, it will be more difficult to pick up the game pieces. It is also important for our 4-bar to be centered so the elevator runs smoothly and binds on one side (due to the weight imbalance). Then we started adding our logos to a piece of poly-carb, which is connected to the back of our elevator supports. We have also started making a back-up 4-bar and a back-up pneumatic gravity grabber, due to concerns that if anything breaks on our robot it will be our intake and scoring mechanism. Every year we make back-ups because we believe it is critical to be able to replace something if it breaks, especially during the heat of competition. We do not want to have to forfeit any matches or the entire competition due to a lack of materials.
Since the mechanical sub-team finished working on the main components of the robot, electrical has been able to implement the electrical and pneumatic sub-systems onto the robot. We will continue to finalize it this week as we work towards finishing the robot.
This week, programming continued refining the robot’s codebase. We developed a GitHub markdown page so they can better document the team’s code. They also did a bit of electrical work and got a deeper insight into the electrical functionality of the robot. We were able to finally get hands on with the competition robot and have already begin the debugging process. For competition, we are currently working on updating all of the electrical components with the latest software. This week, we plan to continue debugging and testing the competition robot.
This week, safety created a presentation of expectations, rules, and roles for our team members at competition. We also set up the half field we have been working on so that we can start driver training next week.
This week, Team 4504 leaves for the Miami Valley Regional in Ohio! Everyone on the team is incredibly excited for the trip and the first competition of the 2023 season. If you are a team going to Miami Valley, let us know by replying to the thread.
This week the mechanical sub team replaced our vertical bars on the pneumatic gravity grabber. We did this to fix a few bends that we had noticed in the box tubing. We also packed our extra pieces for competition. We wanted to make sure we have extras with us just in case of an emergency. We also made a new robot cart to accommodate this year’s robot, as we needed to make a lower deck for the robot to sit on to make it easier to transport the robot around competition.
We have finished up the electrical and pneumatic systems on our robot. We had to make a vision system attached to our 4-bar. It includes a limelight, camera, Raspberry Pi, and a VRM for power. We had some trouble running wire and tubing from the 4-bar to the electrical board due to the elevator moving the 4-bar up and down. As such, we might switch to coiled tubing instead of the straight tubing we are using for the long 4-bar run.
Everything on the electrical side of the robot properly works, except for an issue we ran into with the 4-bar motor. When we when to run the motor, it sounded like the gears were grinding in the gearbox, but when we when to fix the problem, we realized it was an issue with a faulty Sparkmax. We replaced it and it properly works now. For the pneumatic system, the robot wasn’t building up pressure. We traced down the problem to a broken pressure regulator, which we ended up replacing. We added some LEDs to the edges of electrical board since we had some time to do so. They don’t have any functionality yet besides making the aesthetics of the robot look cool.
This week programming began finishing up programming the competition bot. We were in quite of a time crunch, so some of the planned superfluous features had to be cut. Considering these time constraints, programming powered through and made some major progress. They began to finish the grabber and elevator systems, debugged the drivetrain, and they got the robot to drive a certain distance autonomously. They used the encoder in in to convert rotations into meters. Hopefully, we have done enough debugging to there will be no late-night debugging at Miami Valley!
This week safety presented a presentation on how we act at comp and what comp is like. We also started packing and organizing the shop, got ready to pack up the trailer, and started the pit design. We were able to finish the design and placements for the pit on Saturday.
Here’s a mockup of our current pit design:
This week the impact team worked to get ready for Miami Valley Regionals. We provided travel information to the team and other general competition information. We also worked on our 2023 Scouting sheet so that we can gather more insight on the other teams’ robots during competition (plus look for potential alliances). We worked with the rest of the team to develop pins, signs, and team shirts to show our BC Robotics spirit at competition!
We had so much fun at Miami Valley Regionals in Cincinnati, OH. This well-run competition was an amazing experience for our team and great preparation for our upcoming Smoky Mountain Regionals.
During our practice match day, we spent a lot of time troubleshooting our robot code and allowing our driver time to hone his driving skills. We scouted some of the other teams and told other teams about our robot as well. The chain on the right side of our drivetrain broke during the first match, however, so we were unable to compete for most of the day. Once we got the chain fixed, we were ready to start off strong on our day two competition.
After winning our first qualification match, we were immediately faced with challenges once more. The chain on our robot had broken again, but we still had to send Mantis out to all the qualification matches. At one point, we had only two functioning wheels (one on each side), and at other times, we had no functionality at all. Once we got the chains working again, though, we proved ourselves as a powerful defense team. Mantis’ low center of mass and strong tank drive drivetrain allow us to prevent other teams from scoring efficiently and effectively.
Overall, we finished 48th with a record of 2-8-0 and were not selected for an alliance. However, we are so thankful for the experience and practice we gained from the competition. As this was our first traveling competition since 2019, we all enjoyed getting to meet other teams and showing them our BC Robotics spirit.
We are now taking what we learned from this competition and have hit the ground running in preparation for Smoky Mountain Regionals. We are working hard to make the following adjustments to our bot before the next competition:
The mechanical team is working to add cam chain tensioners to the drive train. They are also fixing the chain and replacing wheels on the drive train. They have added bearing blocks to the arms for strength and stability and replaced the arm with our backup arm in preparation for our competition.
The electrical team has replaced our belly pan with polycarb so that the electrical components in the belly pan are easily accessible and visible. They have also worked to fix pneumatics and adjust the placement of pneumatics near the arm of the robot to make sure that the tubing does not interfere with the robot’s functionality.
The programming team has switched the robot from driving with joysticks to driving with an Xbox controller, in accordance changing the drive train logic to support the controller. They have also used concurrent operation to tune the arm to be faster and more responsive. The arm now has multiple automation states so that it can go from any one state to another instead of moving in a choreographed sequence of movement. They have also rebuilt our autonomous code to score a high level cone and then exit the community.
Our team visited a local elementary school’s third grade career exploration night and let the students drive our last season’s robot Atlas. We showed Mantis off at a surprise visit to a group of middle school students involved in an electrical engineering camp at the college housing our shop. In the week leading up to competition, the impact team is trying to send out as much information about Smoky Mountain Regionals to our community as possible to try to give everyone a chance to be involved in STEM.
Overall, we have our work cut out for us before Smoky Mountain Regionals and can’t wait to see how the competition goes!
Hello #first:open-alliance! Team 4504 participated at Smoky Mountain Regionals and it was an exhilarating experience. This was the first time we made it to the elimination matches since the start of Covid-19.
Our team loaded-in at the venue on Wednesday night and set up the pit. We set it up the same way we did for Miami Valley Regionals, except we did not have the sides to our tent so we could have better air circulation.
Our scouting was set up a little different at this competition. We’ve found that figuring out how to use our scouting information efficiently has been one of the hardest things to figure out. Although it will never be perfect, we established a more efficient way to organize our scouting. We created a scouting team, people that will go around to other teams pits during practice matches and take down the basic information about their robot. After we have the basic information on the teams robots, our scouting team will go back to those teams during playoff matches. The catch is our scouting team will only go to our opposing alliance team members and take down bolt points on things that have changed in their robot. For example, if their intake mechanism has broken or they were having code issues. We found this to be beneficial because we knew what teams we needed to focus on if someone on our alliance was playing defense or if someone on our opposing alliance was playing defense we were able to expect it. We had one sheet for our general information and another one for our updated information. We placed each sheet in a binder that had binder sleeves. Each sleeve would have a general information sheet on the front and an updated sheet on the back for each team at the competition. This was very efficient because the drive team coach and driver could walk up to the binder and find all the information they needed about their opposing alliance during that match. Below I have linked both sheets: General Information Scouting Sheet Update Scouting Sheet
Playoff matches went great for us! We got paired with great alliance’s and built relationships with different teams. We won 5 matches and lost 5. We ended up ranking 22 after play off matches. During alliance picks we were second pick by alliance three. Our alliance captain was team 1466 Webb Robotics, and we were joined by 2614 MARS. As we went on in the day, we learned how to communicate effectively with our alliance partners and how to make the most of our individual strengths to achieve our alliance’s goals. We also gained valuable experience in problem-solving and troubleshooting, which helped us to overcome challenges and setbacks along the way.We are very grateful to have had the opportunity to work with such an amazing alliance!
Our first elimination match went well with a 131-91 win. At the start of teleop in our second match, our alliance partner, 1466, tipped over when coming off the charge station. We were able to flip them back over near the end of the match using the charge station. Unfortunately, by the time we flipped 1466 back up right, we were behind in points and we were unable to catch back up. Our last elimination match was a hard fought match with it ending with a tie of 130 to 130. Due to the other alliance scoring more charge station points than us, we ended up losing due to the tiebreaker.
Overall, the Smoky Mountain Regionals robotics competition was an incredible opportunity to showcase our skills, collaborate with other teams, and take part in a fun and enjoyable experience for everyone on our team. We improved our teamwork and leadership abilities. We learned how to delegate responsibilities, listen to each other’s ideas, and support one another through the ups and downs of the competition. As a result, we became a stronger and more cohesive team, capable of working together to achieve our goals. We’re grateful for the experience and all of our support from our mentors and families.