FRC 2656 - Quasics - 2022 Build Thread

Welcome to the 2022 Quasics #openalliance build thread. Team 2656 is from Gateway High School in Monroeville PA, just east of Pittsburgh. This season we have ~15 students and 4 coaches. Like many other teams, our members are all really new to competitive robotics. Only two of them have attended an official FRC competition. We spent the off-season preparing for the Mahoning Valley Robotics Challenge and then building sections of 118’s Everybot for fabrication practice. We are a 2022 software Beta Testing team and have been experimenting with the NI roboRIO 2.0

Team 2656 is celebrating our 15th anniversary in 2022, and we are scheduled to compete at the Greater Pittsburgh Regional in March. We are a traditional “one-Regional” team. However, we have competed in several off-season events since 2015, playing in 2-3 per year. Our team helped plan and volunteered at ‘Steel City Showdown’ in 2017 and 2019. SCS is a Pittsburgh off-season event hosted by Carnegie Mellon University. We are hoping to bring Showdown back to Pittsburgh in 2023!

Resources

Build space- we have a 10’ x 11’ storage closet inside one of the high school computer labs where we store our robot, parts, and tools. We recently got most of the adjacent closet, getting us additional shelving space. We mainly build in the front half of the classroom, which is roughly 20’ x 10’. The room also has 24 computers, which we use for coding, 3D modeling, writing, and video editing. We bought two new Dell laptops for coding and our Driver Station.

Tools- thanks to a grant from MSA, we were able to replace our power tools this year. Everything we had prior was donated by Penn State’s Electro-Optics Center in 2009. We have a Grizzly bandsaw, Evolution mitre saw, Baleigh drill press, jigsaw, and two handheld drills. We also have a big green Harbor Freight Tools cart of screwdrivers, hex keys, wrenches, and clamps. We bought a Cricut (to make our own robot graphics) and a Creality Ender 3 Pro 3D printer for prototyping and small mounting brackets.

Sponsors- Gateway School District provides our build space and transportation. We also started a Varsity Letter program with their support! Google.org, Bechtel Plant Machinery, Microsoft, MSA, the Hofmann Family, and the MERS Group round out our sponsors.

Fun fact about Quasics: we are a Girl Scouts Western PA Program Partner! We have held 30+ free STEM Badge Workshops all around Pittsburgh. Through our events, local Girl Scouts have earned 479 STEM badges to date!

Thank you so much for reading a little about Team 2656. We’re looking forward to bringing the #openalliance to Pittsburgh!

Social media links
www.quasics.org
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube

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Saturday January 8, 2022
11:30 - 16:00
FRC Kickoff / Gateway High School

Students began to arrive around 11:30 for the Kickoff preshow, and we ended up with 11 students in the LGI for the live Kickoff, as well as our 4 coaches and one 2021 graduate.

We watched the Kickoff broadcast, then replayed the game animation a few times then ordered lunch. After lunch we read through the rule manual, stopping to discuss gameplay and field setup rules as well as what humans could do. We also took note of the robot frame perimeter, bumper zone, height, and legal extensions. Finally we worked through fellow #openalliance member 6328’s kickoff worksheet.

That was the end of our Kickoff day! We asked the team members to review the rules and be ready to discuss a list of potential robot actions at our next full team meeting (January 14).

Sunday January 9, 2022
12:00 - 16:00
Annual game breakdown meeting with Team 4150 / Murrysville

We were able to get back to our annual meeting with our neighbors and Scouting partners, Team 4150 this year! We have been meeting with them on the day after Kickoff since 2016. We read through the rules together then break down the new FRC game to discuss strategies, designs, and manipulators

We have also been working in a Scouting alliance with Team 4150 since 2016. We develop scouting forms together and then collect the data together at tournaments. Each team has full access to the data to look for trends and develop pick lists.

7 of our students and 2 coaches were able to attend this meeting at 4150’s new build space. We are looking forward to stopping back up there soon for practice!

Friday January 14, 2022
18:00 - 21:00
Gateway High School

This was our first real strategy/design meeting after Kickoff due to midterm exams at our school. We spent the first two hours of the meeting reviewing Rapid React and then making a list of robot actions. The kids came up with: drive, collect Cargo from the floor, collect Cargo from the Terminal, Score Cargo in the Low and/or High Hub, play defense, climb each of the Rungs (with High and Traversal needing to start at Mid of course), and then a few autonomous versions of the above.

Our team made our Need/Want List as follows:

Need: drive, collect Cargo from the floor, score Cargo in the Low Hub (also in auto), and Climb on either the Low or Mid Rung
Want: score Cargo in the High Hub

The final hour of the meeting was spent with the students working in small groups to draw different mechanisms that could accomplish our list of tasks, as well as discuss the overall shape of the robot in general.

I have attached a few photos of our workspace and storage closet. This is a regular classroom during the school day, so we cannot leave too much out. We have our 2015 robot Grace on top of a cart, as well as Ada our demonstration robot base. And of course 2/3 of a blue Rocket!

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Saturday January 15, 2022
12:00 - 17:00
Gateway High School

We opened this meeting by discussing how many subteams we would need for our 2022 robot. We came up with four: Programming, Intake, Scoring, and Climbing. While a few coders overlap into mechanical groups, the subteam student counts are as follows:

Programming: 4
Intake: 3
Scoring: 3
Climbing: 2

We’ll also break out students to work on the drivebase once we finalize the dimensions, the electrical wiring, and of course drive teams when we’re ready to practice!

[beginning with this meeting, the students are summarizing what each subteam is doing, and I’ll be posting their notes as well as related photos]

PROGRAMMING

INTAKE
We started to determine measurements for an intake. From the ground it needs to be 10 inches with one inch holder facing down. From the bumpers the intake extends 8 and 1/2 out. With testing, the ball can compress a little when being taken in. The total intake length can be 17-20 inches(this depends on robot mounting). The wheels for intake are 2 inches wide with 3 inches in between each outside part.

SCORING
We started off by deciding how our shooter will work. We thought of different things like the number of flywheels, compression, and angles. We decided on having our robot line up against the hub and shoot almost straight upwards into the upper hub for 2 points. We also decided on doing one flywheel. We were unsure of compression, so our next step was prototyping. For our prototype, we decided to drill 3 different barring holes to test compression- 8.5, 9, and 9.5 inches. We also added a piece of wood on the back for the ball to roll against, and shoot upwards. Another thing we were testing here were various wheels. Different wheels have different textures, density, and compression. For next time, we are planning on adding wood on the opposite side for stability, mounting a motor to the prototype to test more accurately, and drill another barring hole for even more compression-around 8 inches.

CLIMBING
We talked about what we wanted our design to be, however, we decided that we want to use the hook designs from a past climbing mechanism, painted hot pink if time permits. We did determine that the hooks would fit firmly on the Mid Rung and plan to have the climb mechanism able to travel to the Mid Rung due to the height limit also the robot to travel 5.5 ft in the climb zone, only. We were making a prototype when we ran out of time. The prototype could work very similar to a forklift or like the 2015 FRC robot that sits in our room that was used to move Totes around. We were also thinking of not using these designs but discussing if we should instead use a similar mechanism from a youtube video of the 2020 EveryBot.

In robotics we looked up information about climbing. Then we decided to discuss what we could use for the materials. We both drew examples and talked about our robot designs. After we both thought of a design we both were planning what we should do to create our climbing. We went through a bunch of trials and errors to get our plans and ideas together. We are trying to keep it simple though instead of doing two since we are low on time.

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Tuesday January 18, 2022
18:00 - 21:00
Gateway High School

PROGRAMMING

INTAKE
We added 2 bars to the intake to help support the wheels from falling out. 1 next to the wheels and the other on the bottom bar for stability. Additionally , we also tested ball intake utilizing a power drill at varying speeds. We found that we require an additional roller at the top of the bar for ball intake to execute smoothly. We speculate that the roller will be around 4 ¾ inches high, based on ball height within the intake.

SCORING
We started by taking apart motors to find out the gear ratios. We are planning on using a NEO motor and MAX Planetary Gearbox for our shooter. Next, we started planning how we are going to get the ball up to the right angle for it to shoot out. We did this by determining the positioning of the wheels that will feed the ball into the shooter. Next meeting, we will finish measuring and construct the prototype based on our drawings.

CLIMBING
We continued working on the design for the climber: no prototype built yet. One of our mentors helped with math to determine the dimensions and design of the climber. We did determine that for the outer sides [stationary and will be 2 of them], made out of 1" aluminum, and the height would be ~39", and a width as yet undetermined. There would be a 6" stop [on the stationary rails] and would guarantee that the inner and outer bar would not become separated during the competition. For the inner stage, it would be 24in high (not including 5.25" of the drivebase and the 2" hooks that would be use). It would also be made from 1" aluminum square tube. When the climbing gear is extended the inner rail would move 20" high to become 44" tall.

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Thursday January 20, 2022
18:00 - 21:00
Gateway High School

PROGRAMMING
January 18

Summary

David worked on the lighting system whereas Josh worked on the controller fixes. David connected the 14 LED strip to port 7 on the RoboRio port. He then expanded the lighting system controls. When the Robot is first turned on and enabled, the LED strip will turn on Green (For Quasics). When one of the LED manipulators is toggled on it will change the LED to that color. The colors changeable are Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, White, and turning the strip off. When the LED manipulator is toggled again, it will return to the default color of green. If another LED manipulator is toggled on when another is in use, the other will toggle off and the newly toggled LED manipulator will set the color. Josh made changes to the controller. The new controller being used, Logitech F310 had triggers as analog inputs as opposed to digital so the constant IDs need to be shifted in order for controls to work correctly.

January 20
Some training was done which will allow the code for the 2022 drive base to be started this weekend!

INTAKE
We completed the position of the first roller and are finding the place of the second roller. We have created a CAD file and are doing a little geometry on where is the best place for that second roller. We know what type of wheel is going on and how many but do not know where exactly.

SCORING
We built the MAX Planetary Gearbox for the shooter. Because we had to put a 4:1 gear stage into it, we plan on installing the motor into our shooter prototype with a pair of 1:4 ratio gears to keep the ratio at 1:1 for now. We also cut out and drilled all of the necessary holes into the sides of the prototype. Next meeting, we will finish constructing it and begin testing.

CLIMBING / DRIVEBASE
We talked a little bit about the climbing and we talked about the dimensions. We took advice from the intake team and we liked their suggestions. Then we took a break from that for the rest of night and started building the AM14U5 drivebase. The length is stock at 32", while the width was cut to 26". These dimensions match up with the Everybot, which was an option for us. The end rails were attached to the inside rails. On Saturday we’ll assemble the AndyMark gearboxes and the outside rails.

Curious to know the logic/reasoning behind this. My first thoughts are that the planetary gives you a 1/2" hex to work with right away so you can put a wheel on it, but then you’re going to the trouble of adding gears (which need at least a little bit of precision to be able to get the spacing right on). Is there a reason you didn’t use an 8mm shaft to 1/2" hex shaft adapter straight off the NEO here, or perhaps a VP with a 1:1 setup?

Just seems like a lot of work and inefficiencies (as in the extra gear stages are inefficient and cause power loss) by going this route.

Like many of the Open Alliance teams, the students wanted to run their shooter rollers from a NEO with a 1:1 ratio. We ordered the new REV Robotics MAXPlanetary system thinking we could do so, only to find it doesn’t fit together right without a reduction stage between the two ends. REV suggested we could order the 8mm-to-hex adapter you mentioned, or cut down the NEO output shaft by about 0.5".

As of Thursday night when their summary was written, we didn’t know either of those things though, so the girls wanted to gear it backwards 1:4 to match the 4:1 reduction they installed in the MAXPlanetary. (IIRC using the VersaPlanetary also needed a trim of the NEO output shaft. They were nervous to do so with the NEO being brand new.)

So you’re right, the gearboxes do give us 1/2" for the flywheel. We were just having a hard time on Thursday night figuring out how to get the NEO (with it’s 8mm keyed output shaft) into a gearbox but keeping a 1:1 ratio. I think we have some better ideas after hearing from REV’s product support on Friday evening.

Thanks for reading our build thread!

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A fantastic and thorough response. Much appreciated! That all makes a ton of sense now, and I totally can relate to working out a way to “just make it work” for now, and finding a better/more proper solution later.

Keep up the awesome build thread, I’m looking forward to more updates!

Saturday January 22, 2022
12:00 - 17:00
Gateway High School

INTAKE
During our time in the shop, we implemented a second stage of the intake for additional stability and accuracy when intaking game pieces. We tested ball intake with our second stage intake and found that the ball intake functions as intended. We will keep these measurements with little modification. We then sketched out a drawing of the intake for a visual representation of the measurements.

SCORING
The second prototype of the shooter was finished today. A 2D CAD model was first designed and then built. The second shooter consists of two intake wheels, a flywheel that is turned through a 4:1 MAXPlanetary by a NEO motor. The Flywheel compresses the game ball by 1.5 inches. The intake is rotated by a drill. The intake geometry itself works perfectly, allowing the ball to smoothly transition to the flywheel, but when the motor is turned on the gears begin to skip. This is possibly due to partial misalignment of drilled holes. Thus, the flywheel was unable to gain any substantial speed. For the third prototype the NEO motor will be shifted and a 1:1 gear ratio will be switched in. This will allow for a gear belt to be installed in order to prevent any skipping from occurring, allowing the flywheel to spin unhindered. (We did order the proper parts from VEXpro to get the motor mounted directly into the side plate, including an 8mm to 0.5 hex adapter, as well as timing belts and pulleys.)

DRIVEBASE
We followed the directions and continued assembling the frame of the robot. There were times we were confused but eventually, we figured it out through trial and error. We even had to cut and measure some parts and pieces so they could go on our robot. We didn’t have time to start drilling and assembling the parts on the robot but we are hoping to do it Tuesday.

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Tuesday January 25, 2022
18:00 - 21:00
Gateway High School

We opened up this meeting with a Design Review to make sure everyone can see what each subteam is working on, and how they’ll need to integrate.

INTAKE

We were just trying to figure out how to bring the balls from the intake to the shooter. We considered using flywheels in a funnel to shoot the balls through it and bring it up to the shooter. We were then trying to decide how to bring the intake into the robot while being inside the bumpers. We could not figure out how to do this so we are gonna discuss how to on Thursday.

SCORING

We changed our motor mount for the flywheel to accommodate the motor (now excluding a gearbox for a 1:1 ratio), from gears to a belt. Because the ½ in. hex adapter hasn’t arrived for the motor, we just drilled the holes using a portable drill, but we ran into some alignment problems, which we had to fix by drilling the holes out slightly larger for flexibility. We also prepared the prototype for some 3D printed slopes to mirror a 3 degree slant for the shooter, and we’ll install those, along with the motor adapter, next meeting for further testing.

DRIVEBASE

We mounted the NEO motors and started to add the Churros, belts, and wheels onto the robot as well. We are assembling everything and making sure the pieces are correct and that we follow what the rules tell us to do. We hope to finish it by Thursday evening!

Let us know if you like the collapsed details or you want to see everything full screen. The arrows can hide the photos.

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Thursday January 27, 2022
18:00 - 21:00
Gateway High School

Continuing our tradition of naming our robot after a female STEM superhero, we chose to name our 2022 Rapid React robot after Sally Ride! Sally was the first American woman in space!

INTAKE

During our time today, we move from our prototype to our second using wood and have the holes of the bearings go to the exact parameters that were CAD-ed for and stated to create a larger one.

SHOOTER

We started by removing the gears and added the adapter onto our NEO motor so that we could have a 1:1 gear ratio. Instead of gears, we put a belt on. To add a shooting angle, we attached 3D printed wedges to give about a 3 degree angle. We are planning on testing a little more of an angle next time. We also found that we have a lot of backspin, so we might consider adding an extra roller to limit that a little. Lastly, for a more realistic set up, we hooked up the prototype and spark MAX to an older robot of ours that we have been using to power the shooter prototype. This way, the speed can be monitored wirelessly from the code. We successfully tested shooting the ball into a lower height at about 50% power to test a shot as it would into the lower hub, and we were testing a higher height at about 80% power.

DRIVEBASE

We put on the rest of the wheels on, and put in the new REV Robotics PDH. We also added Anderson connectors and connected four Spark MAX motor controllers. We put power through them to see if they worked and they did power up properly. We are done with the mechanical part of it and we just need it to be programmed and for other things to be added to it. On Saturday we will work more on the climbing again.

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Saturday January 29, 2022
12:00 - 17:00
Gateway High School

PROGRAMMING

The drivebase subsystem was tested. A tank drive command was also implemented and tested. After that the coding subteam started making refinements to the drivebase subsystem and the tank drive command in order to expand the functionality of the programs.

SCORING

We started by adding two new flywheels onto our shooter prototype, so we now have four. Next, we worked on some design specifics for our robot. We needed to finalize the height, and decide how our intake and shooter will work together to bring the balls through the robot. We originally wanted to do an angled lift up to the shooter, but after looking at some cad of our robot, a vertical tower will be a lot better for spacing. Next, we worked on finishing up some electrical work for the drive base. We plugged all the Spark MAXs in, and got everything ready for coding to start. Lastly, we tested our shooter prototype again. We now added a piece to provide a 9 degree angle. There is a lot of backspin, but the ball is definitely moving forwards a little more now.

CLIMBING

The climbing team talked about the climbing and worked to figure out the dimensions. We learned how to assemble the telescope mechanism, from Thrifty Bot, by watching it two times and now we have a better understanding on the climber.

DRIVEBASE

The drive base had four NEO motors and four Spark MAX controllers installed prior to today, as well as the new REV Robotics PDH. We added the Radio Power module, a RoboRIO II, and a radio so we could test the entire thing. Everything passed and we now have working tank drive thanks to the Coding team!

Tuesday February 1, 2022
18:00 - 21:00
Gateway High School

We worked on the ball intake and the shooter angle tonight. Read on for more details!

PROGRAMMING

On 2/1/22 the coding subteam refined the drivebase subsystem. We also created and populated a shooter subsystem. Additional functionality will be added on Thursday. A wiki page on how to generate access tokens was also created.

INTAKE

We moved the motor to the top of the intake because the ball kept running into it. We then made a chain and added it to the intake. We also added a wood piece for the structure because the intake was shaking. We made a tunnel out of cardboard to move the ball after getting in the intake. We then started making a 4 bar linkage system to move the intake into the robot, and we will finish it on Thursday.

SCORING

Today we added a 3D printed hood on our shooter to create a 9 degree angle instead of using a wedge. We tested this, and we marked off where the hub width would be. We did this for the lower and the upper hub, and it seemed to work well. We also started our 2D CAD for our final shooter tower and hood. Since there is a lot of backspin, we want to test adding an extra roller before the ball shoots to try to eliminate some of the backspin. But, we do not quite have enough wood to fit another bearing hole to do this, so we are attaching face bearing mounts to attach it. We will also be attaching a 2x4 to help fit this as well. We will complete this next meeting. If the roller seems to help, we will add this to our final shooter hood.

CLIMBING

We cut and measured a box to act as a tube so the ball can travel from the intake to the shooter.
We also investigated the idea of having an automatic safety pin release system on the telescoping climbing mechanism, so, when the match starts and the motor is not activated we do not have to worry about a misfire on the climbing gear. More research is required. Note: if any other teams are using something like this, please reply. Thanks!

Saturday February 12, 2022
12:00 - 17:00
Gateway High School

Team 2656 graciously apologizes for not posting our updates over the past few meetings. We had some missing summaries and Coach Sean got busy with a VEX event and … Build Season right? Anyways, here is our progress from this past Saturday and a few meetings before where noted!

PROGRAMMING

The Software subteam tested out some basic autonomous code for the robot. The team also created the conveyor and climber subsystems. Commands to test the intake subsystem were created and tested. The Conveyor subsystem was populated and commands to test it were created. Populating the Climber subsystem was almost finished.

INTAKE

(2/10/2022) To begin, we determined where to mount our arms of our intake to our mounting plate using CAD to visualize. With visualization, we were able to determine where to mount the mounting plate itself, and determine where to drill holes. We then proceeded to drill those holes and began drawing on the mounts to figure out where to make holes for bearings. With markers, we drew on the mounting plates using a square. We found that we need to move the bottom bearing in a few fractions of an inch in order for it to mount with ample clearance to the end of the plate and maintain structural integrity.
(2/11/2022) We cut wood to a possible design for the intake and we were successful in cutting and started to mount the new frame sides one.
(2/12/2022) We mounted our new mounts on the intake rollers. We also transferred the motor over to the new mounting hole on the adjusted roller holders. These new mounts provide far better stability when spinning the rollers. In addition to the mounts, we also found that the intake clearances ended up being a couple inches too wide. Therefore, we loosened the shaft collars and shifted the adjusted mounts over to meet the ~24 ¼ inch internal length of the robot frame. At this point, the metal side mounts fit flush with the frame of the robot and are ready to mount. We then mounted the robot and found out that it’s not sticking out far enough for the ball to fit under it and that the 4 bar linkage is at an angle and not leveled out like we planned it to be.

SCORING

(2/10/2022) We cut four 2 x 1 aluminum bars to 32’’ for the second part of our shooter prototype. We have decided on a design that is 10’’ x 10’’ inside the towers where a pulley (or multiple) will guide the ball upwards to reach the shooter wheels. We drilled holes on both 1’’ sides of the four pieces and used gussets to attach T brackets to them.To attach them to an old robot, we also cut two 7 1/8’’ bars of the same size where the brackets will attach to. Our frame is coming together.
(2/12/2022) Final shooter angle testing was done. We have settled on 13 degrees. The 2D model fro the side plates is nearly complete.

CLIMBING

All of the parts finally arrived from Online Metals, The Thrifty Bot, and West Coast Products to complete the TTB Telescoping Tubes. We now need to figure out how to install motors for the winch mechanism to open/close the lift during matches, as well as install the climbing hooks.

Thursday February 17, 2022
18:00 - 21:00
Gateway High School

Seven members of our team ran a demonstration for a STEM Night at one of our four elementary schools on February 17. Remaining students worked on the intake and coding. Here are their reports:

PROGRAMMING

PID for the shooter was being tuned and still requires tuning for the next meeting. Feed forward, Proportional, & Integral have been partially tuned and the RPM drop is between 200-400 RPM when a ball is being shot at 65% speed of the Spark MAX.
We also finalized the lighting subsystem. The subteam also created a series of commands such as breathing, to enhance the robot’s appearance. A command that changes the light color based on Alliance was also added.

INTAKE

We unscrewed the green hooks off of the old climber, then helped work on the intake. We drilled holes for it as well as fixed the placement of it.

We ran into an issue with how the intake was actually going to move along its 45 degree four-bar linkage path. Pneumatics don’t seem viable, at we’re not sure where to put a motor. We are going to investigate a winch-typed mechanism similar to what 3636 is using!

Saturday February 26, 2022
12:00 - 18:00
Gateway High School

We’re back with another Open Alliance update. We have chosen our 2022 FRC robot name! She will be named Sally, after Sally Ride - the first US woman in space. She is the latest in our series of women in STEM serving as robot namesakes. Sally’s predecessors include Dr. Mae Jemison, Hedy Lamarr, Katherine Johnson, Grace Hopper, and more!

Here’s what our subteams have been up to lately:

INTAKE

We dismantled the intake to replace the wheels and kept some spacers in between them so they wouldn’t constantly move. We also found out that the chain that connects the motor to the wheels was broken when we wanted to test the new intake so we made a new chain and tested the intake. We also worked on a winch prototype, similar to 3636, to raise and lower the intake as needed.

SCORING

The main Cargo tower was assembled and riveted together. We also added the feeder rollers and yellow polycord to lift the Cargo balls to the flywheel. Assembly was completed on 2/26 and we were able to fire a few test shots and do some minor motor tuning. The mounting holes were all drilled and the the tower will be mounted on 3/1.

CLIMBING

We measured, cut, and drilled the 2x2 and 1.5x1.5 to the correct lengths. Also we were able to attach a NEO motor / MAX Planetary to one of the 2x2 towers. The climber motor ratio will be 60:1.

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Here are a few photos from today!

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Tuesday March 8, 2022
Gateway High School

Quick update: Sally is coming along! All of the motors are in and the wiring is complete. We took a test drive late last week. The climbers are pretty much done, but still need final mounting.

We are hoping to finish mounting everything during meetings tonight and Thursday night, leaving Friday and Saturday for practice and debugging. We’re also hoping to shoot some footage of Sally in action for a ‘reveal video’ of sorts.

Next Tuesday night we pack, and then Wednesday March 16 is load-in night at Cal U for the 2022 Greater Pittsburgh Regional.