FRC 5414 Pearadox 2023 Build Thread

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I guess this begs the question: Do I add bottles to the shooters category in my mechanism encyclopedia? XD

Good luck on your cone throwing adventures! I really hope to see at least one team decide to do it for the season, it will be so fun to watch!


I don’t know if we’ve conveyed it very fully yet, but my main goal is to test some “shooting” like this. ie, how close do we need to be to eject a cone and reliably get it on a rod. If we don’t need to reach all the way out and keep our cg in close to our robot, then that’s great. If we need to extend like everyone else, then we will! Still lots to test yet though.


To get this post started off I’d like to share my team’s simple 6-step plan for shooting cones that we definitely came up with all on our own.


This year we are using Swerve drive. Because they fill up the corner of each module, we made these 3D-printed blocks (this design may need to be modified to fit your tubing choice). We also cut some top plates out of 1/16” polycarbonate in order to keep FOD out of the top while also letting us mount SparkMaxes. Both of these items can be found in our Swerve Covers document.

The top covers came out really nice and fit perfectly (you need to push a bit to get them on). They are held in place by the encoder guard standoffs. The zip ties that hold on the spark maxes can either be put on before you install the cover on the swerve but it does mean that your guard plates may bow up a little. The alternative is to put the guard on and then put in the zip ties, this is much harder to do but has a cleaner fit and means you will need to cut the zip ties to take the plate back off.


We noticed that our Thrifty Bot (TTB) elevator that we mounted to our alpha bot base was tilting forwards from the overall weight of the elevator and intake combined. To counter this, we used some UHMWPE cord to act as a tensioner to hold the elevator in a more upright position.

Alpha Bot

Our first robot of the season, it has an elevator, swerve, and a dual-function end effector. A “hotdog” pair of thin rollers near the base can grab vertical cones, and in theory, can pry fallen cones facing toward us off the ground (Though we haven’t gotten that aspect to work). Cubes can be ejected a short distance, and the upper roller acts as both an intake and a shooter wheel.

At some point, the intake came off the elevator entirely because we mounted it… shall we say poorly.

“Launchbox” (a.k.a. Alpha bot two electric boogaloo)

As briefly mentioned in our last update we had a small shooter design. We built this shooter system in parallel with our alpha bot, so they finished around the same time. We shot a bunch of cubes, and we made it a few times, but didn’t do a whole lot of tuning with this system because the intake occasionally popped cubes. The inside of the shooter has a lot of edges and seams, so we’ll make sure the final design is a smoother ramp or something.

“Eggbeater” intake

We got a better prototype together of the Eggbeater intake concept. It worked extremely well for cubes because it’s just a giant squishy wheel basically, but we didn’t get it on video. :slightly_frowning_face: For cones, it generally sort of worked for fallen cones in a few orientations, but it gets finicky when it goes in base first. We think making the lower roller larger in order to catch the “middle nubs” of the cone’s base, and also adding more strands of tubing, will let it grab the cone better. In the video, we also don’t have a ramp to guide the cones up so they just shove into the box we were using.
We did manage to get a base-first cone once. Take all of this with a grain of salt because it’s being fed instead of moving the intake to the cone.

Strategy/future plans

We have come to the conclusion that shooting cubes is the fastest way to score. Due to the “Plinko-like” properties of the grid, if we miss a shot the cube has a decent chance of just falling into the hybrid nodes anyway. However, we feel from testing that we can probably shoot cubes accurately into the high and mid

Additionally, it is legal to shoot from the far side of the charge station (in the community’s tape boundary). The “shoot from charge station” strategy reduces driving distance and scoring time. We’re somewhat seriously looking at shooting cones from 12 feet away. Plinko still happens, but it’s riskier as we don’t want missed cones landing in the cube nodes. From chucking a bunch of cones by hand, it seems like “cone base first, high velocity, and spinning axially” might be the easiest way.

Shooting cones isn’t a priority and is unlikely to work without a TON of tuning and tweaking from what we have seen, but we’re probably going to prototype something eventually because if it somehow does work then it could be a really good way to boost our scoring.

Because shooting cones is hard, and we still want to score cones, we are going to do a simple arm and horizontal roller system to nab cones from the double substation and carry them over. We only need to score 2 cones to guarantee the sustainability bonus with the coop bonus. Our long-term strategy is to score cubes consistently and as fast as possible, and then worry about cones later if we’re legitimately filling up the cube nodes every match and that time may never come.

On mid, it stops being effective to make links if cones take 1.83 times as long as a cube (to score), and on high that drops to 1.5.


After a team discussion we decided on designing an arm for our Belton robot due to its simplicity. In order to better control our own destiny and get all the RP we knew we needed to score at least 2-4 cones depending on the coop bonus. We decided on a max spline dead axle setup to best allow for quick repair and replacement of the arm at the shoulder, and we will share more about this design as we develop and test it.


On Saturday we started our robot layout sketches for our Belton robot which the CAD can be found here. We start with several whole robot 2D layout sketches in order to place important rollers and components of the robot. Once this step is completed each subsystem will go and finalize their designs and make an assembly so we can check the fit of parts in 3D space.

As always I hope you enjoyed your read and have a good week of robot building.


Pit Design

We worked on the Pit Design this week. The main idea was based off of the game theme, energy and how it moves around. One of the students suggested that we could have a battery that could “charge” up our pit. That idea was elaborated on and we decided to have our mascot Peary, charge up the battery. Yet the other side of the pit was not developed. We experimented on multiple of ideas which led to a team vote over what idea was most liked, and it was an idea with different wires charging up a glowing Peary. Over the span of the last week, we finalized and drew out the pit and will start working on it next week. More updates to come.

Beta Robot CAD

Over the past week we’ve been able to fully design and CAD our robot.
(Overview of bot and pictures here)



We have decided to have a one Degree of Freedom (DOF) arm for our first competition (Belton) that can achieve the basic goals that we as a team decided we wanted. Our arm is currently able to reach the Human player station and drop cones to the mid node and the high node and uses one NEO with a 20:1 gearbox as well as uses 2 sprockets - a 15 tooth sprocket and a 60 tooth sprocket. By doing so we were able to estimate that the arm should move between desired positions in approximately 0.2 seconds. After doing our first CAD iteration we found that doing an arm using max spline would be heavier and not really needed for this torque load. So we simplified and are now doing a pivot similar to what we did in 2018 with a 1x1 section of box tube for the arm.


We have chosen to use a separate roller claw to get cones from the far human player station, and we intend to upgrade to a multi-joint arm for ground pickup before our first event at Belton. In theory, the rollers are positioned such that we can grab a cone by driving until it intakes it, so we don’t need to have the claw drop or raise at a certain time to intake. It makes use of two simple, polycarbonate rollers for weight savings.



For scoring corbs we decided to have a separate shooter specifically for corbs. We have a transporter wheel that indexes the corbswith the help of a limit switch inside of the shooter. The corb is shot using two 4 inch wheels. Each wheel is being driven by a neo motor, with a 1-1 ratio. For this iteration we have different possible wheel locations for the top flywheel to test out different angles.


We are using an intake system very similar to all the intakes we have done in the past three years. We are treating the corbs as balls, essentially. It is a simple, pivoting intake with three PC tube rollers and a hopper. There is some concern about whether the hopper will be able to slide the corbs over to shooter (offcentered) so we may end up changing the PC tube to mecanum wheels.


Putting it all together:

At todays meeting we finally got all of the mechanisms in a state where we can dry fit them. As of right now no mechanisms are fully attached to the base but atleast 2 of them are assembled and ready to go on.

Important note: I am not on jersey voltage there shirt just matches the arm tubes and that arm is my baby.

Driver Station

This week, a student has been working on a new driver station for the coming competition

season. Our last driver station was made of painted wood, and was found by our driveteam to be gummy. Because of that, we decided to switch the material to polycarbonate. The design is very simple; it’s essentially a polycarbonate rectangle forming the base, with Maxtube around the perimeter. In the center, another polycarb plate holds up the laptop, while controllers go in the remaining space. In order to carry this driver station, we plan on 3-D printing handles that will be bolted to the box-tube. In the future, we plan on adding the ability to mount monitor poles in several locations on the driver station, and potentially the ability to close the driver station up like a case.


With 90 students on our roster and about 60 coming to at least one meeting a week it is not very feasible for us to create an inclusive environment where everyone is getting hands-on time with a robot and learning the skills needed for building great robots if we were to just build the robot that went to competitions.

Starting in 2020 we started building an EveryBot as many of you know this is the low-resource robot developed by FIRST alumni and mentors for team 118 the Robonauts. Since then we have built at least one EveryBot each year excluding 2021 and in 2022 we actually built two EveryBots. This year we are back to building just one EveryBot but we have added the rev starter bot to the list of robots we are building this year.

Building these simpler robots gives us a cheap and effective way to teach hands-on technical skills. Once these robots are built up we drive them into the ground to find what breaks and develop solutions, in 2022 there was hardly a day where both EveryBots had unbroken climber hooks. Building these robots shows our students what the common issues are for teams who build these designs so that when we get to a competition, we are poised to help these teams meet their definition of success. That may come in the form of helping them wire their robot, giving them tools and resources to make bumpers so that they can get through inspection, and a whole list of other problems that new, inexperienced, and underfunded teams might have.

The following post was written by the students who worked on these robots, and I can say as one of the team’s co-captains that we are extremely proud of the effort put forth by these students to build their robots.

Here are our 2022 EveryBots:


The most basic thing to get started on the EveryBot is the base. There were a lot of problems that we encountered while making the base of the EveryBot. Some of the things that we encountered were the wheels were worn off from the 2022 EveryBot. We re-used and cut down the 2022 base because it would save us time instead of waiting for AndyMark to ship us one. They needed to be replaced due to them being mostly flat. We were not looking at the chassis guide all the way through, so we had to redo some steps since some of it was not in the right order. After encountering a variety of problems including placing the outer base brackets in the wrong direction and misplacing the battery holding area (we thoroughly learned to triple-check placement before beginning construction). We managed to have the base complete and the electrical attached. We spent way too much time building a base than should have been needed to be allotted due to the errors stated previously which are all things we would recommend watching out for other teams building the EveryBot.


We made a decision to take off the motors to add Neos in order to be able to work in autonomous modes. With this, we had more struggles but learned important lessons. As we were testing the Neos we need to make sure that the battery and the Sparkmaxes are in the right way or else the Sparkmaxes will have an interesting reaction. We also learned that when the motor wires are touching one another, they will have a reaction where they will essentially be put in brake mode, something we have not seen really because we just made the switch from Andersons to Wago lever nuts. Through hard work, some cuts, and dedication we were able to successfully make the EveryBot base.

Said interesting reaction of a spark max plugged in backward:

At the beginning of creating the electric board, we had to remake the belly pan because the one that was on a different bot was in bad shape. We had two different boards to put the roboRIO, The Radio Power Module, the radio, and the motor controllers. Then we found out the boards wouldn’t fit on the base so we had to take everything off and remake 2 other boards. Once we got everything back on, we assembled the two boards onto the base and connected all the wires together, using zip ties to make the wires look neat. We did spend some time working with the electric board. We made a few modifications by adding the RSL so we had to add it to the base. After taking everything off and putting it back on, we finally completed the electric board.


We had originally begun working on bumpers right after the electrical board was finished, but it took a bit longer than expected. When we first made the bumpers, we had cut the wood slightly too short, and it was getting caught on the frame of the robot. We had already almost completely assembled the bumpers when we realized this though, and remaking them wasted a lot of time and manpower that could have been useful somewhere else.


Once the base and electrical were complete, we began work on the superstructure. Fortunately, we already had all the 1 by 1 and 2 by 1 metal tubing cut to their correct lengths. We began by getting all of the gussets made on our team’s CNC, we did this because we did not have them on hand and this was the fastest way to get them, make sure you order your parts in advance. We then match-drilled and riveted the gussets in the correct places on the structure. Halfway through this, we noticed that one of the 1 by 1 bar had been cut incorrectly, so we had to remake it. Once most of the superstructure was assembled, we attempted to mount it on the base. We found that we had the bottom bars of the superstructure flipped, so it was essentially inside-out. We fixed this by drilling out rivets and flipping the bars. Once this was fixed, we finished assembly and mounted the superstructure to the base. Overall, this experience showed us that we must pay very close attention to detail, as all of the problems that came up were from small issues that we had thought were insignificant.


Once the superstructure was finished, we could work on the arm and intake. We got the gussets needed for this build made on the CNC, then match-drilled and riveted the arm together. But problems arose when we found out that the hex shafts we used for the arm were not properly aligned with the bearing blocks, so they wouldn’t attach to the superstructure. We solved this by spending an hour or two filing down the inside of the holes we drilled to give the blocks a little wiggle room. This let the shafts fit much better, and we were able to continue. Once the arm and intake were finished, we attached them to the superstructure. The intake was more difficult to finish though because we struggled with getting spacers into some of the tight spaces.


Most of what we learned from this experience is the importance of using given resources. Many of our problems occurred because we did not pay close enough attention to the CAD or build documentation, especially the seemingly small and insignificant issues. Fortunately, we made sure to think ahead and get all the parts from the “cut list” machined while not all of us were needed for a project. This helped us save time and be completely efficient with our time. Overall, we learned a lot from building the EveryBot, and we believe it was ultimately successful in further educating us on teamwork, engineering tactics, and proper tool and machine usage.

Editors note

In the time it’s taken me to proofread, edit, and format this they have made a scoring robot!!!

Here’s a sneak peek of our comp bot. Hopefully, we’ll have a post ready to go in the next day or two about how the integration went.


Just want to chime in to say thanks @beter for helping to organize some of our younger students who wanted (/needed) to write this up!

Also, for those that are curious, some of why our younger students were motivated to write this up is because we expect our students to fill out at least 1 T.I.G.E.R (Team Improvement, Growth, and Education Records) form in order to be eligible for competition. A TIGER is anything that helps improve the team, Grow Pearadox or FRC, or Educates the public about FRC, Pearadox, or STEM. The TIGERs also serve as a great way to document and remember things for our impact submissions
we want to make sure to remember all the great things we’ve done and be able to back up what we say we’ve done. I told some of our younger students that hadn’t yet completed a TIGER that writing blog posts documenting a process or contributing to the Open Alliance could certainly count as a TIGER, and suddenly everyone wanted to help with the Open Alliance blog… :slightly_smiling_face:

A copy of our TIGER form can be found here


Been awhile since our last update as we’ve been working hard to get ready for the Belton competition this weekend!

Here’s a sneak peak of our robot Pearadox FRC 5414 2023 Charged Up Robot Reveal - YouTube


Robot looks great. Good Luck.

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Long time, no post – so I wanted to drop a few things in here. gonna do my best to not make this just a wall of text as I share some updates and thoughts on the competition so far

Belton Recap

Gonna go way back in time to 4 weeks ago for a Belton recap first. First off, we’re so excited to break our finalist streak. While it’s obviously a big accomplishment to be a finalist, we were ready to no longer be the team with the most finalist finishes without winning an event yet. But, we certainly didn’t make it easy on ourselves! We left plenty of ranking points on the table for missed balances, had a match we tipped over a match we were disabled for making contact outside the field perimeter, and a match we lost our arm capability from a bolt shearing on our arm pivot. The students did a great job repairing that in a very quick match turnaround

Did you see our behind the bumper segment from Belton? It was also really cool making the “clips of the week” FUN segment for our 4 cube auto – fun fact that was written in the hotel room by our programmers Friday night, so major props to them for getting that working on the fly.
Huge thank you to 3802 for trusting us enough to pick us first overall and both 6155 and 3743 for being great alliance partners. We were thrilled to not only come home event winners, but also come home with the impact award!

I also want to share an experience where I hope I recognized and corrected an issue before it was too much of an issue. We were helping a team with an issue where one of their drive motors wasn’t driving, and I discovered it was because of a crimp that needed to be redone. At one point I said something along the lines of “alright, I think we should put the robot on it’s side so we can watch drive wheels” and instantly had 4 Pearadox students touching the robot. I called out to pause and for Pearadox, including myself, to step back and we needed to get the teams students in there and that we were overstepping in our help. I did get a chance to speak with one of their mentors and apologized for it. I particularly want to emphasize a point in that thread that I do think it’s important for teams offering help to utilize Akash’s excellent advice, I hope that my recognition, correction, and apology to the mentor helped prevent any lasting bad experiences with our team, but if any other teams have a similar experience and didn’t get that I want to publicly state that I want teams to come up and let me know if we’ve overstepped bounds and it’s especially appreciated if it can happen in the moment.

Houston District

Might seem strange to go from the last paragraph to now talking about how proud I am of our “pearatroopers” (our students that go out offering help), but at our Houston event we had our Pearatroopers out in full force, and I heard many thank you’s from teams that we helped. There were at least 2 teams that we had a handful of students pretty much adopted into their team to assist with programming and/or hardware issues and several other teams that I know our team helped too. My interactions when checking in with those teams was always one of appreciation for their help, and I’m immensely proud of our students who were able to carefully balance providing help and assistance in a way that doesn’t overstep boundaries and helps enables those teams to have a better event experience.

We also bumped into a former Pearadox student that was running AVR at the event! So cool having alumni at our events

This was a very tough competition, and come alliance selection time I believed that all 4 top alliances would be able to put up a good fight against one another. Pearadox had some inconsistencies again – we had some matches that were great and some matches where we didn’t put up as many points as we should have. Huge thanks to 2158, 4332, and 7312 for being great alliance partners. With a little bit of luck, some amazing defense from 7312 and 2158 carrying the offensive aspects of the alliance at times we were able to make it to the finals. The first finals wasn’t super exciting, but we kept the 2nd finals match close. I might be biased after playing with them, but I think 2158 could be the best Texas team not to make it into worlds (yet…hoping for the waitlist for y’all!) We decided to recreate 118s photos after this event, because it’s just fun

District Champs

Now finally on to District Champs! What a whirlwin of a weekend (is it a weekend when it starts Weds?):
First, this is likely a good preview of world championships. I was very happy with our performance and consistency in matches, but we still finished ranked 27th out of 40. We did make some mistakes that impacted that, but also some of it is just that at this level of play, it’s very easy to get 3 “middle of the pack” robots on an alliance that can put up an incredible score. I don’t even think we had a particularly brutal schedule – it’s not like we faced 2468 three times like some other teams. I was particularly happy with our on field performance considering we had much more major pit work than at any other competition. We had our bumpers nearly explode one match, which also caused some bumper mounts to rip out of our base rail (the bumpered twisted and just torqued it right out) which ended up causing us to replace 2 base rails entirely and change out our bumper mount method on a 3rd rail. The pit crew did an amazing job getting the robot ready for every match, I didn’t hear any complaining, and I didn’t see anyone trying to take shortcuts or say that things would “probably be fine” if we didn’t (which has become one of my least favorite phrases next to that something is “done”).

Here you can see our frame rail missing as it’s being replaced

And here you can see how brutal we were to our bumpers

Looking at OPR and average match score, I think we were somewhere between the 5th and 10th best robot on the field, and we were selected as the 1st pick of the 5th alliance captain, 5431 and asked 9140 to join us. Our playoff path was hard; our first match was against 8177, 6800, 2789 (side note: “Two V’s make a W” might be the best alliance acceptance ever) and our second match was either going to be against 6672, 2468, and 3679 or against 3847, 5427, and 2582. It’s not hard to think at that point those could be the best 3 alliances in Apollo, so we were definitely worried about an early exit from playoffs. We lost a close first match where 5431 was down briefly for a radio reboot. Our second match, was also very close, but we pulled it off in part due to a missed engage from the number 8 alliance. At this point we knew we had a chance to get to our division finals, and in SF10 we were only 3 game pieces away from a full grid once we had everyone cooking as the kids say. Unfortunately in the lower bracket finals, we missed the charging station engage and lost to a very capable alliance of 9128, 8019, and 324 by 1 point.

I want to call out how amazing some teams are. In between our first and second match, which I will remind you was against Spectrum, we had a Spectrum alumn/mentor helping our alliance prevent the radio reboot. Additionally, we had some bolts sheer off into some standoffs and Spectrum provided us spacers to reinstall our ballast/skid plate on our robot, which helps keeps us upright - other than when certain teams bump us…

Aside from Spectrums amazing helps, we got bumper wood from 118, brackets/support from numerous teams as we did major bumper repair, went shopping for bolts at 3005 and 3802 frequently as we changed some bolts from #10s to ¼-20s. At the Houston event, 2158 gave us a uSD card after it appeared ours on the Rioi2.0 was corrupted. We don’t talk about it much, but we give hundreds (I haven’t kept track, so that could very well be an order of magnitude short) of dollars of components away to teams throughout any given year, between motors, sensors, IMUs, material, whatever. A lot of times, younger/newer teams are worried about “paying us back” and I can’t stress enough how much of it is us paying it forward. The Houston area is filled with teams that make an Impact, and I can’t stress enough how much of an impact teams like 118 and 3847 in particular have had on us.

This ties into my next thing which is we are thrilled for 118 to win District Champs Impact as they are incredibly deserving of it, a huge congrats to 2714 as well for being district champs Impact the first year they won a District Impact award, and also we are eso honored to be District Champs Impact winners as well! If I’m allowed to brag on my students for a moment, this is 4 years in a row of winning at District Champ culture changing award (Chairmans in 2020/2021 and EI in 2022) and I am so proud of my kids, especially because our Impact speakers this year were a brand new group of speakers. There are so many incredible teams in Texas, so it is humbling to represent the state at the world champs.

Last topic, and maybe it’s a doozie to end on. I was very excited and proud to see Pearadox alumni at District Champs in so many roles; mentors for our team, volunteers for the event, and even 2 judges. It was tough to see one of our alums had to be paired up and sent to our pit however. They were required to just stand their silently, and I’m not sure if he’s even allowed to remind the other judge later of things our students said. I brought it up to another judge when I saw it happening, he went over to confirm that the JA knew the potential conflict and that our alum was still sent to our pit to silently observe the other judge ask us questions. I did have the JA come to our pit the following morning and she explained that they only had 25 judges when they really needed 40 for an event this size. If you’re an alumni (or are going to be an alumni) of a team and thinking about getting back involved – maybe consider being a judge in future years! If we had more judges at the event, our alumni wouldn’t have been sent to our pit, and he could just recuse himself of discussing us in any capacity for an award in judge deliberations.

Sorry for the huge block of text! I’m not great about taking pictures at competition and lost steam in hunting down pictures and no motivation to make some gifs. But so much has happened this season and wanted to capture some of it here!


With all that your team does for the community, the string of Impact and EI Awards is no surprise. Your team is one of the ones we RI’s can count on when we need help getting a team in shape to get on the field.

We are very sorry that we did not have the opportunity to play with you all this past week. It would have been fun no matter the outcome. Hopefully we can get to play with you all next week.


Amazing season out of 5414 so far and cant wait to see what yall do at champs :muscle: !


Figured itd be good to post in here when some conversations with other mentors reminded me of it. Probably the biggest factor in most teams success isn’t a machine, team size, etc but quality and quantity of drive practice.

This year we put an Andymark time on meter on the switchable port of our PDH and turned it in teleop init and turned it off in teleop disable. This allows us to have a reasonable guess on drive practice, though certainly captures some programming tuning/development too.

  • After our Belton event, we had about 9 hrs of teleop.
  • After Aldine we had about 16 hrs
  • After district Champs we had about 23.5 hrs.

We certainly wish we had more! We’ll see where we get to before worlds.

Who else tracks practice time? What are you at?


That’s a great idea I should steal…

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We did the same setup with the timer on the switchable port. Going back through some photos these were the numbers I got for our time enabled:

  • Before Blacksburg (Week 1): 10 hours
  • Before Glen Allen (Week 3): 16 hours
  • Before district champs (Week 6): 22.5 hours
  • Currently: 30 hours, should be above 40 hours before Houston

Absolutely. We set up a schedule of major milestones back in late November. We knew that the field would be complete around the end of Week 2 after Kickoff. Our driver started learning the routes and learning how to get on the Charging Station to balance at the beginning of Week 3. Our driver probably got somewhere around 20 to 30 hours of practice running cycles, balances and mock matches. Our Comp bot was finished 1-1/2 to 2 weeks before our first competition so the driver and operator probably got between 5-15 hours of practice with it.

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Feel like I still haven’t slept enough since champs to put together a recap, but I did want to share this POV video of our highest scoring match with our awesome champs alliance of 1868, 8177, and 115: Curie SF10 M1 - YouTube


Awesome video! Why is your intake always running?

Our intake is always running because early in the season, during events and competitions, we would intake cubes that would enter our robot but take extra time to index. so we would retract the intake before the cube is fully indexed, because of how small the robot is the intake rollers act as part of the indexer so we need them running to index cubes.