555 Montclair Robotics - 2023 Build Thread

Mid week 6 update
While this wasn’t part of the plan, i think it’s important to post this.

Really bad stuff has happened in the past 2 days.

  • Rev elevator bearing blocks have updated to restock in march (as opposed to end of januray) so we have to redesign our elevator. We are planning on thrifty ones but they don’t fit the grid maxtube we already machined, so that has to be redone.
  • somehow, we shorted our limelight 3. we were powering it over the power port and saw a spark between the two cables. It no longer receives power over that port or POE. We reached out to limelight for help and are weighing what to do next.
  • We’re currently 15 meetings away from competition and have a robot that drives right only sometimes and that’s it. (that’s the good news, we got it sometimes driving right)

If anyone has advice on how to fix the limelight or address any of our other problems any help is greatly appreciated. We’re a very student led team so unfortunately we often have these kind of problems that may seem obvious to most others in FIRST.

Wcp clamping bearing blocks may work for you. they have a very similar footprint to the rev blocks, and work with maxtube. Use an old limelight for vision if you can, if you can’t get a limelight by competition, a webcam hooked up to a coprocessor(think rasberry pi or nvidia jetson) works well for vision(photon vision is a godsend, more info can be found on frc discord). “drives right only sometimes” sounds like a wiring issue, check all power and can connections. Good luck with the bot

thank you for the advice!!
we looked a lot at the wcp stuff but decided on the thrifty ones because simply they’re cheaper and fit on our frame perimeter better (even though they do come with a bunch more issues).

We may try using photonvision for our system because we do have some raspberry pis i think and a coral accelerator.

With regards to the driving, we found what we think to be the problem. We forgot to push the working code from lunch and then tested a bunch of bad code during the meeting. :man_facepalming:


what about the wcp inline clamping blocks?(https://wcproducts.info/files/frc/drawings/Web-WCP-0897.PDF) they’re the same price as ttb blocks, work with maxtube, and are the same form factor as ttb blocks

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thank you so much!!! we completely missed this product in our review and will likely use them now


Week 6 Update!

While the beginning of this week was really bad, the end was actually quite good so we’re still on track to have a robot for competition. Our CAD was fully completed this week, we began assembly of the intake and the elevator, and we got a lot of good code work done.

The really good news right now is that all remaining parts (including spares) are ordered and should be delivered next week! Also limelight is giving us a replacement for the one we shorted!

Thank you @Brandon_Hjelstrom and everyone else at limelight!
Also thank you to @Connor-8177 for the advice this week, it really helped us a lot!

Anyways, here’s the info!

  • This week, CAD reCADed the elevator for a third?(fourth?) time to fix the bearing block issue (see previous post)
  • Good news, it’s almost done!
  • All that’s left is the battery mount we forgot to do in the beginning
  • Here it is:


  • We have to remake a few parts due to the change in bearings however everything is moving quickly and have been quickly churning out parts


  • Our electronics division has been helping with assembly and setup a bunch of gearboxes:

  • Otherwise they’ve also been working on the grabber and have a near finished version:

  • This week the focus has been finding the proper materials for the plates that go in between the two arms. Right now our prefered setup is pool noodle with sandpaper covering it. Next week, we plan to experiment with squishy 3d printed pieces.


Robot Code

  • We got it driving!!! Also we got auto balancing on the charge station:
    Auto balancing!
  • Since assembly had to begin though it’s going to be a bit until more robot code can be tested so the code team has begun doing basic simulation which will continue until the robot is good to test agian.

Vision Code

  • If you saw the midweek update you’d know that we shorted our limelight. Before that though we began using apriltags in 3d space and it was working great. The good news is we reached out to limelight and they sent us a replacement which was delivered friday so we should have more vision stuff next week.

Main takeaways of the week:

  • Sometimes you can get lucky and sometimes you can’t, you just have to be prepared and roll with it. Midway through this week we didn’t know if we’d have anything. Now, it’ll be a bit of a grind bit it looks doable to be able to test a bit before comps.
  • Also, thank you to all the good people (and vendors) of FIRST. Just this week we’ve had three or four really good interactions with people of the OA community, people in the FMA discord, and the great folks at Thrifty Bot and Limelight. Thank you all for making FIRST such a collaborative supportive place.

That’s all for this week, we’re targeting an intake and hopefully elevator for next week, stinger the week after. We first compete at FMA mount olive in week 2!


Do you plan on adding any tubing to your modules up front?

Are you concerned at all about your chassis flexing without that frame member between your modules? Do you have any crossmembers through the rest of the frame?

Can’t quite tell but is your gripper all printed? Otherwise are you CNCing those parts?

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yeah we do plan to add tubing just in the width of the modules to prevent the flex you mentioned. To support our drivetrain we have two steel bars running across near the front shown here:

For our gripper it is entirely 3d printed out of carbon fiber infused hdpla (this stuff: Black Carbon Fiber HTPLA | Carbon Fiber PLA Filament – Protoplant, makers of Protopasta)

This was tested greatly by us using prototypes made of standard pla and was decided to be 3d printed for the low weight as the gripper is on the end of our stinger (a giant cantilever)

Week 7 Update!

Well this was quite the [insert any strong negative adjective here] week.

A short sidebar

Our team does daily progress reports which include 3 emojis to describe the day and here is the string of 15 emojis in chronological order for the week.

:camera_flash: :pushpin: :smile: (tuesday) :mag: :package: :drop_of_blood:(wednesday) :battery: :nut_and_bolt: :mending_heart:(thursday) :pencil2: :hammer: :hammer_and_pick:(friday) :x: :skull_and_crossbones: :rotating_light:(saturday)

Some bad things happened this week (especially saturday) the key one is that we learned the folding mechanism for our intake cannot work. We visited another team (shoutout @roxbotix 4361, thank you for all the advice and opening your space to us!) and we were testing our pnemautic intake there. The cylinders failed to deploy the intake so we got to talking with some of the Roxbotix’s engineer mentors who quickly saw that our intake was “physically impossible” to deploy.

Here’s an in-depth explanation of why it cannot work and our thought process during a meeting the night after we learned this horrible news.

We came up with a plan to use a roller bar with wheels similar to our robot last year and with the compression we tested our other intake with.

(here’s our 2022 robot’s intake because you all haven’t seen it:)

Additionally, we plan to make a ramp shaped out of sheet metal to funnel the cones and cubes into our collection area where they can be stored and grabbed later.
While we did try really hard to find a way to use the intake we already made (but can’t deploy) we simply couldn’t find a way and decided that spending our time tuning our robot’s code is more important than getting a perfect intake over a really simple functional one.

Also we’ve gotten pretty good at vision and in our robot last year had it tracking balls with a camera (not shown in the image) and auto aligning to them so we can use that code to help our drivers a lot.

Our goals for week 8 are to have the elevator and intake mechanically done wednesday, everything else saturday.

Here’s the rest of the standard weekly write up, everything else was kinda ok this week at least.


So CAD finished up last week with the battery mount. This completes our vertical electronics system and helps to counterbalance our robot when extending.

Our plan for the intake CAD wise is to get enough of it done that build can eyeball the rest and make it fast because we need to finish asap.



  • nearly done! just finishing up the battery holder pieces


  • the elevator is on (mostly)! we still have to rig it and redrill some holes because the springs collided with some bearings. This was an error in the CAD made after the great bearing debacle of last week in which we didn’t check for collisions again.
  • A photo will be added tmrw (i forgot to take one, was more focused on the intake)
  • All that’s left for the elevator is attaching the springs, rope, and chain
  • Began final wiring of the robot, also tested the intake with pneumatics (if you didn’t catch it earlier, it failed (badly))
  • Also researched having 2 pressures go into 1 cylinder for our grabber, we think we found a way to do it based off a CD post from earlier this year, we asked a Q/A about legality.
  • another limelight broke.
  • But they sent us a replacement and we got photon vision working really well.
  • Additionally, we have a system to swap our vision between limelight and photonvision just by changing a few variables. Also built shuffleboard.

Our code division has reached the point where it has thousands of lines of untested code and is in a bit of a stall until there’s a finished robot.

Main takeaways:

  • See the 1st takeaway from last week
  • test, test, test. The one piece of our robot that we had no experience with and did not create a prototype for didn’t work. That’s a pretty clear indicator to test everything.
  • Thank you to @roxbotix for having us over this week and helping us with this entire crises. Also thank you again to limelight for sending us another replacement.

We’ll see what happens, we’re going to go into overdrive this week and pray nothing else goes horribly wrong, we’re in do or die now.

On a more fun note we should have the name of our robot by the end of next week!
see you next week, hopefully our robot exists by then. I’ll comment a photo of our assembled elevator and former intake tomorrow.


Here’s a photo of our robot and intake (separately) from today. We’ve taken off our intake after many attempts to find a way to make it work and have begun making a new one.

(note the ropes and chain are no where near taught yet and still need a bit more work)

Week 8 update!

lots of progress this week but it’s still going to be very close going into Mount Olive (our week 2 comp).

Starting with the good news, we’re driving, are mechanically done with the elevator and the intake, and are almost done with the stinger (2 more parts have to be machined). Additionally, the electronics is nearing completion and we’re prepared to grind this out as early as possible this week to maximize code testing time.

The slightly bad news is that we had to change how we actuate the scissor mechanism but we think this will be better and will lead to faster extension/retraction times.

Here’s the full rundown:

  • With the exception of today where CAD made new parts for the new scissor actuation, CAD members have been helping build the robot.
  • They assembled the scissor and began making bumpers this week (neither of which I have a photo of)
  • also some learned a bit about electronics
  • completely built a new intake with no CAD in 1 week (crazy!)
  • Also rigged the elevator and helped with electronics
  • quite a bit left but it’s coming together and we have a plan
  • began wiring the entire robot
  • drivetrain, intake, and elevator are hooked up
  • also pneumatics has begun and many components are mounted
  • began testing and refining the code
  • also made a photonvision/limelight interface that allows our vision to swap with just a few variable changes
  • this was because of all the limelight issues we’ve had
  • rn it’s working though after being hooked up to our new electronics system


Main takeaways:

  • iterate faster? idk we’re working as long and hard as we can but are still going to be cutting it very close for mount olive. I think we have to speed up our prototyping and CAD processes for future years. Also investing in CNC machining could really help cut down manufacturing times but that’s really expensive
  • Special thanks to Roxbotix again for having us over this weekend! that time really helped us get a lot done

It’s gonna be close!
if you want to see us compete next weekend here’s a link to the livestream:
Saturday: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBmmzfrSEfw
Sunday: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHPPzGQP03Y

We might do a post competition debrief post mid week after the event.

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Are you sure this part is legal? For this to be legal you need your frame perimiter to be a tiny bit smaller than max size. On one of your first posts I read it said you were thinking of doing 25X30, Is it still that way? In that case you should be fine

We think it is? i’m not sure what rule it would be breaking. our perimeter is currently 27x30 and the part is purely vertical and contained within our frame perimeter (with the exception of screw heads under the minor protrusion rule)

from the picture it seems like the plate is mounted on the outer side of the profile, which would mean it is outside of the the frame perimeter. However since your frame perimeter isn’t max size you can define your frame perimeter using the plate, which would make it legal.

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Here’s our competition report from Mount Olive!
It didn’t go well in short but by the end of the competition our robot had more functionality than when we entered the competition.


We just competed this past weekend at the FMA Warren Hills event and we won it(and picked up the auto award for the pretzel)!!

here’s our competition report for that event
Hopefully we’ll qualify for district champs and will have at least one more competition report this season


Congratulations and good work!

Congratulations from Team 3142!!!

We were really glad to have picked you up with the 14th pick of the draft. You were absolutely clutch! It’s remarkable that a team with a reliable mid cube auto that sometimes scores a bonus low cube fell to the second pick of the 3rd alliance! At a 31-team event, no less.

The toughest match of Playoffs was definitely Match 8, when we faced against a 2nd seed alliance that seemed like it was firing on all cylinders. I mean 834 seemed like the best bot at the event! We needed everything to go right for us, and it did! 7045 got their 2 high links, we completed the mid link, you hit your amazing 2-cube auto, and a flurry of low cubes sealed the 131-128 victory.

I hope you qualify for the District Championship at Lehigh! With 53 points, you are right on the cusp. Last year’s FMA district rankings show that both 293 and 484 were able to qualify for Lehigh with 52 points. However, @SoftwareBug2.0 's district championship projections give you only a 7.6% chance of qualifying. Talk about harsh! I’m not sure that these predictions make that much sense though. Anyway, once again on behalf of Team 3142 Aperture, thanks for helping kick bot at Warren Hills, and we hope to see you at Lehigh.

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Thank you so much! We had a blast at WH playing with you and 7045 (thank you so much for picking us!!!). Fingers crossed around here that we’ll see you at Lehigh.

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