(Warning: Long Post)
I’ve been doing FIRST for 11 years now and I must say that this year will always be remembered. I started out with 1126 in their rookie year and moved on to mentor other teams like 229, 1930, 2228, and 3181. I have only come back to 1126 these past two years. When I was on 1930 and 3181 I was either the lead mechanical person or was one of them. Now back to why I will remember this year; I only missed about 3-5 days total (mostly Sundays) from kick-off until we played at FLR. It was the most hours I have ever put into a team and I worked my butt off, so did the students and a few other mentors. The reason was that we were not done and I was not satisfied with the robot yet.
I was part of the climbing team. We had a design VERY similar to 118’s corner climber. Wheel, cog and ski pole idea. We scrapped it week 4 (saturday morning integrations meeting). By the end of that same day we already had a 10 point passive 1 second climber designed and went through a few iterations. It took a few more days and meeting to button up all the small things we bypassed with the quick design and build.
The shooter/elevator team was struggling with their designs. I was coming in on the voluntary meeting days to provide support for them. I did not want to see the team fail and I was going to be there every second to make sure it didn’t happen.
As you know of our past we always strive to improve upon our designs.
Luckily for us this year, we had a whole month gap between FLR and Buckeye.
We competed with an alright robot at FLR. We were not able to get our shooter/elevator/floor pickup to work at all together. We worked until the last hour within the rules and brought in an exact 29.8 lbs of parts into FLR. We ziptied the elevator cables to the top and only acquired from the human player.
We did somethings different in the first few meetings of the year where we picked our strategy. The strategy team broke up the items that wanted to achieve into levels.
Level 1 was to be able to acquire from human load, level 2 was floor load. Sadly, our floor load was developed much earlier then the human load. This was only due to the human load being connected to the shooter assembly which was developed very late in the season.
The floor pickup was truly the best part of the robot. We actually had the floor pickup in the robot the entire time, just was ziptied up and out of the way because we couldn’t use it yet.
As you noticed, we had a sub-par shooter at FLR with a so-so mechanical build of a shooter and software issues until saturday morning. There was continuous improvement and finishing throughout FLR. We got away with smart strategy and quick changes to the robot and a bit of schmoozing to make our way into the eliminations where we found our real calling. Massive Defense. Going away from FLR with a Silver really made it all align into perspective. We all knew the robot had potential, but we were always missing the little keys to make it happen. We saw glimpses of the potential it had and I wanted a gold.
In between FLR and Buckeye was a whole month and an intense extension of build season really.
Once again at the end of FLR, we took off the shooter/elevator and brought it back to our shop. We used one of our old bases and mocked up the robot with our spare floor pickup and our real shooter.
In between FLR and Buckeye we designed a new shooter system and 2 different elevator systems. We also upgraded our floor pickup and a few other things on the shooter/elevator system. Once we had the floor pickup working out too, we also had our programmers develop a 5 disc auto. Sadly, we ran out of time and were only to be able to get the elevator system to only be able to pick up 2 discs at a time. This once again changed our strategy.
All these changes were done well because of the amount of CAD done. Because we all know hands off once the robot is in the bag, we must trust that the CAD is 100% and go with it. We ran into a few problems when we needed to move the entire shooter over 1/2" in the robot and cost us about an hour in the pits one of the thursdays.
In the end, it is hard to foresee problem areas in the short span of build and even harder to see them during competitions. The usage of CAD has really helped in the improvement between regionals.
One of my favorite teams that I always look up to is 67. Adam’s posts is spot on and the reason why they are successful on the field.
Good enough is never good enough.
If there are any other questions or ideas, I’ll be happy to post/answer them.
Hope you had a blast and learned while in STL. IT was hard to sit home and watch it through the computer. I will try even harder in the upcoming seasons to not have to feel that pain again.