FRC 2881 Lady Cans - 2023 Build Thread

Hello and welcome to the 2023 build thread of FRC team 2881, The Lady Cans! We are honored to be participating in #openalliance this season, and to share our ideas with the FRC community. Our team was founded in 2009, and we currently have around 25 team members. We will actively post photo albums, software, and CAD weekly, along with sharing videos of the prototyping and testing process throughout the build season. We will be competing in Waco during week one and San Antonio during week three.

During the off-season, we pivoted our focus and designed and built a swerve bot with a turret (the complete opposite of our competition robot), as well as an FRC legal mini bot. We traveled to TRI, The Remix, and STEM Gals/NTX to compete with our competition robot and test our new swerve bot.

CAD to our 2022 Robots
Flamboyance -
Swerve Bot -
Mini Bot -


Super excited to see yall (and maybe alliance w/ yall) at Waco again.

Absolutely love Lady Cans! Cant wait to see y’alls progress over the season!
See you at Waco :).

Kickoff weekend has come to a close, and everyone has been very busy designing and prototyping different parts of the robot! After watching the video and reading the manual, all team members began to CAD/draw possible robot ideas, and formulate a needs-wants-wish list. On the second day, everyone began prototyping different intake ideas with any/all available parts laying around the build space. Programmers tested the off-season swerve bot to make adjustments to the code & pathway software, as well as beginning to look at the usage of AprilTags in field navigation.

We have also begun working on a multi-roller floor intake for both cones and cubes (wood prototype & CAD model), as well as a pivoting arm with suction cups/a claw on the end to grab and score game pieces. Photos will be added as time goes on, and as the robot begins to take shape.

Kickoff Photos -


Looks Awesome!
What is the material covering the 1/2 in hex in the videos of the cardboard prototype? Thanks!

We ordered that tubing from McMaster for our 2017 off-season gear pick-up. Can’t find the part number in our order history right now. We’ll take some measurements when we get to the shop tomorrow and try to get a better answer for y’all.

Here’s the tubing we are using for the roller material. It seems to grip the game pieces really well this year.

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Week 1 Progress:

The CAD team has been working to finish designing the robot in Solidworks, before the manufacturing process begins. They are currently working on the swerve base that will be used, as well as the arm and intake mechanisms. The swerve base has been fully designed, and will be added upon during the coming few days, until the CAD is complete. The arm uses two lead screws to run; one will move the arm up, and the other will move out to extend the arm’s reach. The intake is made of silicone tubing around hex shaft rollers, so that the robot can intake the cone/cube and properly orient it inside the robot. This was the most effective method during intake prototyping, when combined with the silicone rollers. Additionally, there will be a funnel inside of the frame perimeter, to hold the game piece before scoring.

The team has been/are training new people to use the power tools/mill & lathe, but nothing is being manufactured quite yet.

The build team has been testing numerous prototypes this past week, in order to determine the most efficient method of scoring each type of game piece. One idea was to construct a claw with compliance wheels to grab and score the game pieces. This was turned down however, after the build team found a more efficient way to achieve this same goal while prototyping. Instead, the team has decided to use two suction cups towards the end of the arm so that it will carry less weight. In practice, the suction cups were able to hold onto the cube/cone while the robot maneuvers across the field. However, there was an issue with the cube wrinkling from the effects of a vacuum, but that has now been solved. The plan for the intake still involves rollers wrapped in silicone tubing, although slight iterations might be made throughout the build season.

The programming team has been working diligently to program the off-season swerve bot before the swerve modules need to be removed. After testing the trajectory following software on the swerve bot, the programming team decided to set it aside after realizing the program wasn’t working well. This is the first year that the team has used swerve drive for an official FRC competition, so almost everything is being done for the first time. They have mostly been spending time designing different utils and subsystems for the robot code, and mapping out how they will interact with each other. Plus, a small group was focused on making the swerve drive work correctly, and have all wheels moving in the same direction (finally!).

Week 2 Progress:

The CAD team is done with the majority of the robot, although the intake plan was completely redone halfway through the last week. The group of people busy prototyping different ideas took some inspiration for a much better way to accomplish the same task, except more efficiently. So, the intake is currently being completely redone to function similarly to the everybot’s intake. It will be able to pick up both game pieces, and dump them inside the robot for the arm to grab and score. This way, we won’t need to have any part of the intake resting on the floor, to better avoid having it be hit and broken during a match. The plan is to use a four bar linkage, so that the part of the intake with rollers will always stay parallel to the ground.

Since the main parts of the robot haven’t changed, certain pieces of the arm structure are currently being made. Using the mill & lathe, team members are manufacturing parts that will soon become the 2023 robot.

The build team is mainly focused on testing the suction cups attached to the arm, and how to assure the robot will function efficiently during every competition. The build team currently needs to figure out what to preload and score autonomously, since the robot currently can’t double-check that it has a cargo before scoring. However, all members of the build team are split between Build, CAD, Manufacturing, and Prototyping, so not much progress has been made to assemble the final robot quite yet.

After much work, the programming team has the swerve drive working and has moved onto trajectory following and vision tracking. For vision tracking, the team will be using the AprilTags for the first time, so there’s a learning curve. So far, the cameras have been able to recognize the AprilTags and output an estimated position, but there is still a lot of tuning to be done before competition, when the actual robot is up and running. Currently, the plan is to have the robot working with the odometry to get the most accurate position possible during the match. There has also been work done on the subsystems and the basic commands over the past week, as the team has many new people.

Running photo album - sorted by week

Q&A Segment

At almost every competition that the team went to in 2022, many different teams commented on the bright pink coloring of our robot (Flamboyance), and had questions about what we used to achieve that color. Well, the answer is vinyl!

We used vinyl from and vinyl both our polycarbonate and metal parts, and it’s super easy to apply. One of the unsuspected advantages to vinyl over other coloring methods is it is also super easy (and not noticeable) to patch stuff at competition when the robot gets beat up.

For work holding, we roll a piece of tape to hold it to the table. Just slightly wet the face of the part you plan to vinyl with soapy water so you can make slight adjustments as you place the vinyl and make it easier to squeeze out bubbles. Use a card to smooth it down working from one side of the part to the other, peeling off the backing as you go so the vinyl doesn’t stick to other things. After the vinyl is stuck to the part, go back with an x-acto blade and clean up the edges and poke out any holes that are needed. The vinyl won’t be completely stuck to the part until the water evaporates so you are able to work bubbles out using a card, but we have been able to attach it to the robot even when the part is drying. Any small bubbles and patches are virtually unnoticeable on the robot since you are rarely close enough to see them.

We use the fluorescent outdoor vinyl because we are looking for our team color (neon pink), but there are regular colors as well so you should be able to find whatever color you want. We recommend using the outdoor vinyl because it doesn’t fade in the sun as quickly and it sticks in various temperatures and weather better so the robot doesn’t become a sad sticky mess when the robot is in the trailer and it’s over 100°F outside in Texas where we are.

We vinyl cut a silhouette of our robot to put on our trailer, which is parked in the shade, every year in the same pink vinyl we use on our robot (the brighter pink ones in the picture, the muted pink ones are from the company who wrapped our trailer) and they are still holding on well. You can see some fading on the ones from several years ago on one of the mentor’s cars who had the vinyl cutout robots on their car that was parked in the sun. Overall the vinyl is still holding on and hasn’t goo-ed up or started peeling or anything, and our trailer is parked outside all year, so the outdoor vinyl should easily last a season without issues

Pictures of vinyl application -