FRC 2013 "Best Designs" Log

Hello once again Chief Delphi!

Now that the 2013 FIRST Championships have passed, I’m going to try and continue the chronicling of what people think are the best robot designs for the given year. Here is a link to the first edition of what I hope to become a long standing tradition: 2012 Edition.

I’m a little shaky on some details for how this log will turn out, so I’m hoping a lot of interaction from the CD community will help round out the edges! In addition to designs, I’m also looking to see if anyone has any categories they think should be added!

And without further adieu, the FRC 2013 “Best Designs Log”

Honestly, I have no clue what to start with here. Open to suggestions from the community on where to start!

Ball Acquiring System:
Vacuum Style Floor Pickup, as seen by 33,1538,2054, 2056 and others
-This floor pick-up variant consisted of a series of rollers around an opening in the robot’s mechanism that would suck in discs as soon as they came in contact with it.
-Floor pick-ups are always advantageous in FRC; however, the apparent difficulty of picking up discs had most teams opting out of it, in lout of a solely feeder fed robot. The Vacuum Floor pick up was a fast system that allowed teams to reduce their shooting cycle time by acquiring discs from around the pyramid. And, most importantly, gave a team access to impressive 5-disc autonomous, and the even more dominant, 7-disc autonomous.

Disc Scoring System:
Circular Shooter, as seen by 610, 118, 180 and others
-This variation of the wheeled shooter consists of a single wheel surrounded by a curved path. The disc enter the path, and is swing around by wheel, giving it greater contact time with the wheel as opposed to a linear shooter. This allowed the disc to build up greater speed before being shot.
-Because the Circular Shooter design only required a single wheel to power (whereas most linear shooters use 2+), the design was just as effective when shooting, but required relatively fewer resources.

**Linear Path Shooter, as seen by 2791, 399 and many, many others **
-The linear shooter is similar to the curved path shooter, except its path is straightened out. Commonly using 2 wheels (though 1 wheel, 3 wheel, and belt driven variations have been seen) in a linear path, using the first one to accelerate the disc before the second one brings it up to top speed and fires it out.
-The linear path shooter is somewhat simpler in nature, being just a straight path for the disc to follow.

Climbing Mechanism:

Passive Slid Hangers, as seen by 2587, 1716, 868 and many others
-A very simple design, these slanted slides sat at the height of the 1st bar, allowing a robot to simply drive into the bar for a quick 10pts. No power, no mechanism. As long as the drive system worked, the robot could be good for 10pts.
-The best solution is the simplest one that works, right? Well, let’s be honest. Climbing for 30 points is hard. Many teams had plans to do it. Only a few succeeded. So, some chose (some were forced) to implement this simple design, as a fallback. Simple, reliable, effective. Does it get much better?

THE BIG CLAW, as seen by 67, 1114 and others
-The big claw was used by several teams this year, with 67 and 1114 standing out among them. The big claw is as it is named; a big claw that shoots out from the robots body, grabs hold of a rung, and lifts it up to the 20, then the 30 point mark. An impressive engineering feat to be sure.
Info on 1114’s Robot: Simbot B.A. Baracus
-The claw was such an effective design because, when engineered properly, as 1114 and 67 often do, it offered an amazing fast climb and, just as important, put the robot in an optimal position to dump 4 alliance disks into the pyramid goal for an extra 20 points.

The rules are simple! If you feel a design that is not up here should be up here, say so! Tell us what design it us, what teams did it (if you have video or pictures, that would be fantastic) and explain why you think it deserves to be on the list!


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Team 254: The Cheesy Poofs for their 30-point climb.

While it isn’t as reliable and consistent as say 1114’s climber, it was wicked fast and looked really, really cool at the same time.

While most of you have seen it before, it’s basically a ladder-type climber. Here’s a video.

118’s shooter at championship actually used two “wheels” made of packing foam.

And was more linear that it was curved

What about 254s level 3 climber? It could reach the 3rd level in 6.4 seconds. I was talking to one of their students in St. Louis and he told me that all the robot motion all the way to the 2nd rung was completely autonomous. After that drivers manually reached the 3rd rung and pulled themselves up. It was a very common design, however the level of engineering, innovation, and skill really demonstrated why 254 can year after year crank out amazing robots. They really perfected the most generic level 3 climbing style!

Couple of things

  • 10-pt “passive” hangs still had to manage c.g. and ground clearance. Plenty of passive hangers couldn’t hang reliably because their c.g was too far towards the back, or the rear of the robot was too close to the ground for the minor tipping action. So I’m not sure this one merits a specific section. I think we’d be better off seeing motor vs pneumatic 10-pt hangs.

  • 1538’s linear shooter had 2 wheels in the “standard” fashion. It also had a horizontal roller that spanned the width of the shooter that gave it LOTS of oomph and made it very consistent. Probably worth putting them in the linear shooter category as well.

  • Many robots had large rotary arms this year (like 1538 & 842). A section fully devoted to how these machines were able to maintain great accuracy under high torque situations would be great. I know 1538 used a pancake cylinder that shot into an early-stage steel gear to act as a brake. Not sure of the particulars of the design, though.

  • Unique actuators for slot feeding could be very useful in the future. Any active intakes, or redirect-style intakes (like 118) would be awesome.

  • There were also GREAT designs for overall game strategy. Like 1425. It’s one of the most ingenious & strategic overall designs I’ve seen employed in recent years. You need to see a video to believe it. They were 60" tall, were a FCS-only type of bot, and strafed when someone tried to block them. It looked like they could shoot THROUGH the opponent’s pyramid and still make shots. A few times they strafed all the way over to the unprotected feeder and resumed FCS from there.

  • There should also probably be a section on compactness of design. I know I learned a lot this year simply by enforcing the “go under the pyramid” design while also attempting a floor pickup & slot feeder. I’d love to see how other robots were able to efficiently save space.

I didn’t see many teams picking up balls this year…

I don’t know what this would fall under category wise but 1718 had an elevator system that lifted our entire shooter up to decrease the distance and angle we had to shoot from. It also had to double as a blocker in couple matches. I saw another team with something similar but I don’t remember the number.
a video of our robot that shows the lift system can be found here:

Additionally, I thought 1503s shotgun style shooter was very innovative and effective.

Spatula-style floor pickup, as seen by 1986:
-This floor pickup system is designed to ram under disk(s) and lift them up over the robot to a hopper.
-Could be extended to robots like 1918, though they qualify as a hybrid vacuum/spatula

Both 1114 and 254 had climbing some issues at Championships. 1114 climber stopped working during eliminations. 254 had issues with their arms extending during a few matches. So I think that they had equally good climbers.

Just out of curiosity, did any other team use a clamshell-like design for combining their shooter/climber like us? While we used a radial shooter like many teams and a ‘big claw’ telescoping corner climber similar to a few others, I think we were the only team to combine the two in such a unique way. Personally, I thought that made us pretty unique and distinctive, but I just might not be aware of another team that used a similar idea/concept. Anyone know?

Here’s video for anyone unfamiliar with our design:

I can’t really picture this in my head. Could you share some photos or videos?

FRC 2468 had a curved path shooter with a custom made flywheel. We were put in the category of full court shooter most of the year but we could shoot from anywhere on the court with our lead screw lift system and custom made string potentiometer for reading deck angle of the shooter.

We also fall in the category of passive hanger that required an accurate center of gravity on the robot for the hanging.

Our hopper mechanism of delivery for the frisbees did not jam all year long in any of the matches. It is very simple but effective in delivery of the disks to the shooter wheel.

Just edited the above post with video. Sorry, just forgot it in the original post.

118 actually has a foam wheel linear shooter, with a small back wheel and a large front wheel:

We (3476) used a curved single-wheel shooter. Shooting speed, accuracy, and distance for the frisbees are a boon with its design.

My eyes must not be what they used to be :o Standing next to 118 in queue their shooter looked rather curved to me. It must just’ve been everything around it that made it look different to me.

The to-do list right now is:
-Add the ladder climbing design, like 254 and 1986 (ish) have. Anyone else want to submit a team for this category?
-The robot superstructure used by the likes of 33, 1538 and 469 (a large, wide rotating arm that acted as intake and shooter) doesn’t really have a specific category. I guess it’ll get it’s own little section.
-A little bit on feeder station loaders. Any teams you see have a notable feeder station loader? Most teams just had a long chute that the discs dropped to.
-Changing the embarrassing mistake of a section called “Ball Acquisition System” :o
-Still looking for suggestions for drive systems. Anybody?

I’m short on time now but I will be able to update this, hopefully tomorrow.


Kicky roller:
3476 and 696 used this design to acquire frisbees.
As opposed to the spatula (1986) or polycarb/roller (987, 1538), this design doesn’t have anything dragging on the ground in order to pickup disks. We have a small belt-driven roller wrapped in silicon tape that “kicks” the frisbee from the ground, while rollers on the other end of the frisbee pull it onto the roller while keeping just the tip of the frisbee pressed against the floor. Here is a video of a prototype I made of this design:
And a CAD screenshot:

I want to second 1503’s slingshot cannon as a “Best design” for its uniqueness and surprising effectiveness of use.

For the drive, how about 254’s 6 CIM shifting with power take off for the climber?