FRC 1018 Pike RoboDevils - 2023 Open Alliance Build Thread

My name is Ryan Blue, and I’m the drive coach and lead mentor for Team 1018, Pike RoboDevils.

We are excited to announce that we’ll be participating in the Open Alliance for the 2023 FRC season!

This year we’ll be competing at:

  • Mishawaka District Event (Week 1)
  • Tippecanoe District Event (Week 4)
  • (hopefully) Indiana State Championship

2023 Robot Code
Robot CAD (Onshape)

I’m a bit late in posting this- the past week has been a whirlwind and I just hadn’t had time to sit down and get it written.

First, a little bit about us:

Team 1018, the Pike RoboDevils, is based out of Pike High School in Indianapolis, Indiana. This year we have approximately 30 students and 4 mentors.

We operate out of the school’s metal and wood shop, as well as a connected classroom that serves as our practice field. We have multiple drill presses, a bandsaw, Bridgeport manual mill, manual lathe, and a brand new Omio router as well as a wood shop with all the things we need to build a practice field.

2022 Season

The 2022 season was a new experience for most of the team - we only had 1 student who had seen a full competition season (2019). Additionally, we lost most of our mentor base after the 2020 season, so for most of the mentors (myself included), it was their first full season mentoring. After some struggles at the beginning of the season, we transitioned to building an Everybot (huge thanks to 118) during week 5 of build season. We managed to crank out the robot and get a little bit of practice before the Columbus event. This was a huge learning experience for all of the students - even though we didn’t design the robot, the problem solving, manufacturing, and machining skills the students learned were phenomenal.

We ended up finalists at Columbus and semifinalists at Tippecanoe - this success greatly increased the student’s motivation for this season.

Summer Offseason

Over the summer, we planned to do a couple projects - a T-shirt cannon robot, and a swerve robot. Unfortunately, due to lack of interest and time constraints, we had to cancel the swerve robot project.

We were also able to purchase an Omio CNC router. Previously, Waterjet Cutting of Indiana had generously provided most of our machining needs, however they are no longer donating services. We needed a way to move CNC machining in-house, and WCP made purchasing an OMIO (and cart, enclosure, and tubing jig) incredibly easy.

Fall Offseason

This fall, we were limited financially by what we could do. We did a couple projects to help us train students and prepare for the 2023 season. We continued work on the T-shirt cannon robot design, practiced prototyping with game pieces from the 2018 game, and our brand new software students worked on learning Java and WPILib.

We also worked on getting our Omio router set up and operational- this was finally completed this week and we were able to test it by cutting some practice field parts.

Shortly before kickoff, we talked about our goals as a team - this is really helping us focus on what we need to get done, and what we can focus less on. Some highlights:

  • Be more efficient. We started utilizing Monday to keep track of projects and so far it’s really helping.
  • Document as much as we can. We have a lot of seniors this year, and I want future 1018 students to be able to learn from previous seasons even if there is mentor turnover.
  • Work within our means. Previous 1018 robots have largely been complex designs using uncommon construction techniques that made it hard to integrate COTS parts. This year, we want to utilize COTS parts and easy construction techniques to fill in gaps in our manufacturing and design capabilities.
  • Have a robot driving with most functionality by week 5. Our plan this season is to build a stupid simple robot and give our drive team 3-4 weeks of solid practice before we show up at our week 1 competition.

I will post more about our work this past week tomorrow, but I wanted to get something posted tonight. I’m really excited to record our progress this season here, and I hope someone finds it useful/insightful/entertaining!


So much for posting Tuesday… time got away from me.


After watching the game animation and subsequent field tour, we broke into groups of 4 or 5 students and everyone read the manual front to back. Students not knowing the rules/how the game works was a real issue last year, so if we only got one thing accomplished on kickoff, it was that all our students could answer most questions about the game so that we could have productive conversations about strategy and design. @ShelbyA 's kickoff strategies presentation (Kickoff Overview: Strategies for a Successful Weekend) was very helpful in focusing our conversations on the key rules.

Around 4, we started discussing robot actions, and what actions we felt would be most important. The top ones included:

  • Acquire game piece from loading station
  • Score cone on middle row at least (This was also assuming the same mechanism could also score cubes)
  • Balance in autonomous

We took Sunday off, and our next meeting was Tuesday.

Personal Interjection

On Monday, I drove down to Greenwood to hang out/help with the Cranberry Alarm RI3D team. It was really nice to see a robot moving and scoring, and helped me get a better sense of how the tasks are accomplished physically.

Some of my initial impressions, in no particular order:

  • There are a lot of points (and potential for ranking points) up for grabs by anyone who can drive and balance in auto

  • The autonomous game piece scoring bonus is pretty small- autonomous won’t be as much of a match-swinger as in past years. It’s basically just extra time for scoring.

  • Cubes look and behave kinda like balls

  • Cones are super squishy

  • Defense is going to be somewhat hard to accomplish this year- defenders will have to stop their opponents midfield, and can’t directly slow down game piece acquisition or placement.

  • The location of the upper nodes, combined with the extension limits, makes for a really interesting challenge with robot manipulator geometry (#1dofdream). Cranberry Alarm’s robot could blow right through the 48” limit with the arm fully extended and down, but needed that extension to score on the upper cone node.

  • Swerve, as usual, is gonna be really powerful in this game.


My goal for the team going into Tuesday’s (Jan 10) meeting was to nail down our priorities. In the past, we’ve tried to do something similar, but it seems like we’d end up just listing all of the tasks, and the robot would turn out worse for it.

After lots of discussion, we came out with the following list:

Need to do (by week 4/5, minimum viable product):

  • Drive across auto line
  • Dock and engage during auto and endgame
  • Score cubes and cones on mid and low nodes.
  • Score pre-loaded game piece during auto
  • Sub-station pickup of cubes and cones

Want to do (but will not focus on until all of the above is completed/won’t sacrifice above to accomplish these):

  • Keep frame small to allow more robots to fit on Charge Station
  • Score game pieces on high nodes.
  • Automate alignment using apriltags

Will not do/actively develop:

  • Floor pickup*
  • Cone righting/indexing for us to pick up
  • Swerve drive

*This one may end up being accomplished, but only because the geometry of our current mock-up may end up allowing floor pickup of cubes.

Overall, I really like this plan. I think mid placement and substation pickup is very doable for us with a pretty simple mechanism, and is going to be doable by the week 4/5 deadline. I think this style of priority list is really helpful to give perspective and set deadlines, and I highly recommend it to teams that find themselves trying to do everything every year, and not succeeding at it.

Also, we are planning on going to 1741’s scrimmage at the end of week 6, which gives us a hard(er) deadline than me waving my hands and saying “we’ve got to get it done!”. I’m really hopeful for us to be able to practice for a few weeks before our first competition - something we haven’t been done super well since 2017.

Going to post again today or tomorrow, stopping to separate the post a bit. Hoping to catch up this thread on the last week of work, and from then onward, post regularly and on-time…


This post is gonna be a bit of an info-dump- lots of progress over the last week and a half that I unfortunately hadn’t caught up on.

Week 1/2 Quick Summary

  • Mocked up a quick roller claw intake. Determined cubes are very easy to intake with basically anything. We also found out cubes can be shot from a decent distance onto the platforms with very little effort.

  • Decided on our drivetrain configuration. We’re using the AM14U5 chassis with the 8wd XL Performance wheel kit, with a frame width of 24". We discovered that using the performance wheel configuration allowed us to keep the track width the same as the higrip wheel config, while cutting down frame width by 2". This should help us with a little less bulk and maneuverability and allowing us to be smaller on the charging station.

    • For our gearbox, we’re going with the 10.86:1 EVO Slim 2 motor gearbox with NEOs. This was the best ratio available for a sprint distance of 20ish feet. Drivetrain calculator we used.
  • Saturday we also constructed our chassis. Still waiting on a gearset replacement and to mount motors but I think it’s looking pretty slick:

We also started our CAD:


  • One of our CAD students has been working on a roller claw intake. I will post pictures and cad as soon as I can. We were hoping to utilize it to grab both cones and cubes, but we didn’t quite get the cone compression right (those things are squishy)


We were really excited for the Everybot reveal last Tuesday, and were sort of holding off on deciding on a final architecture before seeing it.

Our thoughts:


  • Accomplishes more than all of our desired tasks with a fairly simple 1dof linkage
  • Intake is awesome. Will likely be utilizing it in some form.
  • The video showed it crashing into the driver station wall, which gave me more confidence in it’s durability/robustness


  • Center of gravity seems to be higher than we’d like. Even with the weight in the bottom, it seemed to have issues rocking when accelerating, which can be exacerbated by impacts with other robots.
  • The upper structure seems to be pretty shaky. Not that it’s a bad thing, but it’s a lot of vibration and flex that worried the team a bit.

After a lot of discussion, we determined that the Everybot wasn’t quite what we were looking for in our robot this year. We’ve also been looking at 7461’s overall architecture, and really like the simplicity of the single joint dead-axle are.

Robot architecture

Currently we’re decided on a “Sushi arm”, with a to-be-determined intake. We’re going to optimize for low and mid scoring, as well as pickup from the substation shelf.

Because design/cad is one of our weak/bottleneck points, some students mocked up a wooden arm on a kit chassis to try to figure arm geometry. We’ve been assuming the wooden arm is the arm and end effector combined for simplicity:

It was really helpful to be able to play with different arm lengths and axle heights, as well as front-rear bias distances- I really recommend this type of physical design assistance if you don’t have many students able to CAD.

Something we may pursue if we have time is integrating the pneumatic extension Sushi Squad used in their Alpha bot- it’s a pretty quick and easy way to score on the high cone, with only a few minor modifications to the design. We already have a climber in a box bearing set, so we may even include this in our design for our first version.

Passover/through or no?

One of our initial ideas was to be able to have the arm pass over the top to be able to pickup and score on both sides to avoid turning around. Obviously, we would only be able to utilize it for cubes (presuming no wrist “pronation” joint). We spent a lot of time using the wooden arm to figure out how to do this while still obeying the height limit as well as the starting configuration.

We were able to get it into a configuration that allowed for passover, but it required the stow position be on the opposite side of the robot as the scoring position, with the arm tower being biased significantly towards the “front” of the robot. This meant that each scoring action would take a ~230 degree motion of the arm- not something we wanted to do every time.

We’ve since decided to do limit the arm to a single side- this will give us the reach we need to score on the mid goals.

Everybot intake

After the everybot reveal, a few mechanical students mocked up an intake based on the dimensions used. It was really effective at picking up cones at all sorts of weird angles (Unfortunately I didn’t get much footage, I’ll try to get some more.)

Goals and schedule

I was hoping we’d be a little bit further along in the design phase, but we’re still ahead of where we’ve been the past few years. I’m hoping for us to get the arm/superstructure cad nailed down this week, so we can start manufacturing this weekend and into next week.

We’re probably going to lose Wednesday due to snow, so we’ll likely end up meeting an additional day this week.

This week our programming students will be working on auto-balance as well as determining what functionality each subsystem needs to have code-wise. We’ll also be working out how the driver/operator will control the robot.

Mechanical/electrical students will be finishing up the drivetrain with some motors and new gears, and will put terminals on all the NEOs and Spark MAXes we’ve received. They’ll also be continuing working on how to integrate an Everybot style pinch roller into our robot. We’ll likely also play around with another roller claw design- we really like the ability to shoot the cubes into the goal instead of having to drop it in from overhead.

My goal this week is to finish up the arm geometry- CAD isn’t my strong suit, but I’m figuring it out as I go along.

Current progress:

We’re getting a little close to behind on time, but I think we can catch back up a bit this week. Still hoping to have a semi-finished product for the scrimmage on Feb 19th…

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