FRC 5431 Titan Robotics - Open Alliance Thread 2023

Welcome to 5431’s second OA thread! We’re proud to represent Titan Robotics, continuing to be in openalliance for the 2023 season.

FRC 5431 has been running for 8 years out of Plano ISD’s Academy High School. We’ve made it to worlds a few times over these 8 years, especially with our always-excellent Impact Award team! We’re also proud to be one of the organizers for NTX, an off-season competition hosted in North Texas.

We’re competing at Week 1 Dallas and Week 3 Fort Worth, see y’all there!

Relevant links:

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Week 1 & Kickoff Update

1/7/23

After joining the kickoff at Wylie 5431 headed back to our school to start ideation, rule book quiz, and pit designs. We went over the animation and field tours together as a team with alum, mentors, and build members pausing to make notes.

Scouting started practice by reading through the handbook and highlighting any important rules, loopholes, information for strategy, and things to put in the rules quiz. Then with all the info collected, scouting ideated possible strategies, bot components, and alliances. Lastly, scouting planned out this season’s scouting app

Marketing went through previous game reveals and previous merchandise/pit designs to see how previous years took game elements and Incorporated them into the decor. Toward the end of the kick-off, marketing was able to get a zoom call with Lexi and some previous marketing alumni.

The SOFA awards subteam worked with the project managers to construct a timeline for deadlines. This included Impact, Woodie Flowers, and Business awards.

For kickoff, our production teams (Electronics, Build, and Programminng) split off into smaller teams of 3-4 discussing robot designs and components. To answer the question of swerve drive was answered when the drivers ran over a cone to see if it would get stuck under the robot if we had swerve (It didn’t).

1/9/23

Today we got a lot done! We split marketing into three branches: this way we can focus on tasks and achieve desired deadlines.

Social media: These members are responsible for at least posting every Tuesday and Saturday. They will work with SOFA on Impact video, and robot reveal video. These members will be seen going around practice and competitions taking pictures and videos and collecting content for our team. This is a great way to track memories we are making this season!

Digital assets: These members are responsible for designing button designs, banner designs, T-shirt, designs, mini video game designs, and flag.

Physical assets: These members are responsible for completing pit designs, including assets made out of foam, cardboard, etc. These members will also be in charge of assembling the buttons! (Isaac voice)

Afterward Marketing pretty much decided where everybody was going to settle in for build season. They started finalizing our ideas from Saturday, This included thinking about materials, sizes, and possible deadlines.

Scouting started off by meeting with programming rookies to review progress made on the app and planned out what to add. Then we started creating the rules quiz and watched some ri3d vids for some strategy ideas. Next practice we’ll continue to monitor the scouting app, work on the rules quiz, and look at more ri3d.

Today, Programming introduced a new freshman to robotics and programming, and we worked on the pneumatics test bed. After learning the basics of pneumatics and how solenoids work, they made a test project from the 2023 WPILib template and were able to deploy and use code on the test bed. Unfortunately, there were some issues with the solenoid exhausts.

It was our first practice after kickoff so naturally, today was all about prototyping. Firstly, Build began manufacturing a new kind of battery mount for us. Part of the battery mount was aluminum, so we had to restore the orange plasma green which took most of the practice. Secondly, we haven’t used pneumatics in a while, so Build helped put together a test bench in order to get an idea of how they’ll work on the robot. Finally, some of our build ] team members continued designing our new robot via CAD.

Electronics started assembling batteries for this season. The majority of them were completed today some members also worked on the pneumatics panel.

1/10/2023

Social media planned out some ideas for posts in the upcoming weeks, this included new practice times, 1 & 2 competitions details (changes may be made), and a get-to-know-the-team series. They have also finalized some ideas and point to bring up to coaches for getting a TikTok for the team. The rest of the practice continued with constructing assets for the previous ideas.

The rest of the team continued on mini-game assets. This consisted of designing backgrounds, sprites, and additional details for the game’s plot. Our Marketing Lead also got started on some ideas for a new flag for this competition season, they plan to have multiple designs for the team to choose from, this way, the team is included, and opinions are heard.

The programming rookies paired up into “specialties”, where each pair focuses on a particular part of researching robot capabilities. In particular, one pair is working on vision (Limelight, Apriltags, PhotonVision, pose estimation) and the other is working on auton (PathPlanner, auto-balancing). Also, @Joshua Purushothaman gave a nice lesson on PID controllers. Programming will try to review PID and hopefully be able to program v0 drive base next time!

Our V0 drivebase was mechanically completed right along with our new battery mount. With the V0 drive base, we hope for programming, electronics, and drivers practice for the real thing. The V0 drive base will also give the build team the ability to test our new battery under a load similar to what would be seen in a real competition. Build members were also busy working with CAD in order to design our robot.

Update 1/12/23

SnS finished the rules quiz. It was 50 questions, open notes, and there’s no time limit Travel team must pass with at least 80%. Retakes will be available for the team. Other than that, Strategy also looked at more RI3D and scouted out teams at Dallas.

Electronics worked on the electronics for the v0 drive base. Electronics is almost done with wiring the serve, we just need to sort out a few issues with the cancoders.

Programming delved into PID more today, and we looked at real-world (and game-specific) applications for PID. The programming team also gave a basic introduction to SysID, WPILib’s tool for tuning PID using a predetermined series of tests. They’ll let rookies apply their knowledge of PID to their own specialties!

Each marketing sub teams continued their jobs. Digital assets finished character animations for the mini-game and continued background art. Physical assets listed their needed materials for the pit. Social media followed their schedule and posted.

Scouting made our pit scouting form and started our data master sheet. The next practice strategy will give out the rules quiz and start grading.

Electronics started load-testing some of the new batteries we made. We also worked on can for the v0 drive base and wire-managed it. They will continue testing batteries and working on v0.

Programming split up into specialty pairs - One pair focused on vision using PhotonVision, and the other two focused on auton using PathPlanner. Eventually, programming will use this knowledge and research to put on the actual 2023 robot, and it will also utilize the PID learning that we learned last practice. While this happened, our Lead worked on the v0 swerve drivebase to try and diagnose electrical issues. They will continue looking at PhotonVision and PathPlanner, and hopefully have a working v0 drivebase!

Build began prototyping any subsystem we could. Build started the peg, which rights cones with the bigger side facing us, by sticking a shaft into the back of them and rotating that shaft to right the cone. The shafts were cut, but the t-joint had to be 3D printed and build didn’t have time. Next, was the intake, which due to technical difficulties only had the aluminum plates cut out. Finally, the build team started a 3D print that contains parts needed for the climber.

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Updates Week 3

Build Week 3:
Prototype and v0 were created and worked upon. Later in the week we disassembled V0, cut more parts for the robot, and started assembling V1. We finished assembling the drivetrain and arm for the V1 robot alongside Electronics. Ideas started to be formulated and discussed what needed to happen for V2, as some changes had to be made while assembling V1. For Monday, the agenda includes finishing assembling and mounting the intake and manipulator for V1 as well as starting V2 CAD.

Programming Week 3:
Over these days, we were able to wrap up pair programming and we were able to integrate both PathPlanner and PhotonVision implementations into our main code!
We were also able to operate on the arm prototype, as well as learn about how feedforward works and how that applies to a model-based system such as the arm to work in conjunction with PID.

Later in the week, we were primarily waiting on build for subsystems to program, we kept ourselves mildly occupied today. We looked at and further tuned bare arm PID and explored adding weight to the end, and we also started assembling the Romi Arm Kits.

Finally, we tested PathPlanner with Hermes, and it worked quite well! Although it required a bit of tuning, the tests mostly passed for short distances; long-distance testing will occur Monday. Also, the skeleton code for v1 was started today and will be worked on for Monday as well.

Electronics Week 3:
We finished working on v0 and organized the electronics cabinet. We also helped build with wiring on the prototype arm. We tested pneumatics, organized the electronics cabinet, and wiring v1. Later in the week, there were a couple of sparks that didn’t want to work right, but we replaced them and checked they were working.

Marketing Week 3:
We finished organizing the 3rd-floor closet, social media put up a green screen for a playlist idea for social media, and we also continued the game assets such as backgrounds and final asset modifications.

Social media continued with taking pictures of our leads using a green screen and began a template for the planned series. They also started working on templates to introduce the leads and prepping for posting on Saturday.

We began cutting foam and cardboard for the Talos (3-headed Titan) cutout for the pit design. Then members who are focusing on digital assets continued on mini video game backgrounds and season T-shirt designs.

Scouting Week 3:
For scouting, we finished pre-comp scouting and continued to work on formatting the datasheet. We also reviewed some quiz retakes and set up the SnS surface pro. Towards the end of the week we revisited our pit scouting form and made some edits, explored excel, and continued to work on our datasheet.

SOFA Week 3:
Throughout the week we worked on the essay for Impact Award. Additionally, we trained a new rookie in Sponsorships

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Late Updates. Week 4:

Week 4 took place during most snow days here in North Texas. That Monday our leadership discussed the plan for transporting our robot to continue work. After deciding on a house to continue practice at we created a spreadsheet with the needed supplies and manufactured parts.

We organized everything we had in the living room, while also rearranging an area for us to work on the robot. The electronics members focused on the wire management of V1 during this time. Afterward, we tested the motors and discovered multiple problems. The first problem was that the bevel gears were slipping as one of the hubs melted causing the hex profile to become cylindrical and spin freely. Second, the nylon carbon fiber gears at the elbow of the arm are experiencing more wear than we thought they would have. However, it was temporary at the time since we weren’t at school. The plan was to switch the carbon fiber gears to metal when we got back. We also found some spare sprockets to replace the worn hubs.

The pneumatics were implemented as the swerve was tuned. We finished the wrist of the arm and we started wiring the arm while the manipulator was being built. Finally, after the manipulator was attached we wired everything together and hooked up the final parts of the pneumatics. We finally started testing all parts of our robot, the arm was able to disconnect from power, so we gave the wire more slack. We found out that our manipulator design had a problem where the “fingers” slipped off the track as there was only a bearing in the rail. With our v1 robot complete, we could start writing code for the arm and start designing our v2 robot based on everything we learned.

Late Week 5 and 6
After the winter weather, we moved all of our equipment back to the school. Electronics started and completed the v2 electronic panel and build started the process of the fabrication of V2
Marketing and building both needed to spray paint parts and objects however due to weather we had to make a hut to spray paint in. marketing started paper mache for objects. V1 was scrapped for parts. The falcons were taken off for v2, however, we found an issue where the PDH on v1 was damaging our spark maxes and caused a whole can issue. This issue took some time to fix yet we put a new PDH on the electronics panel and mounted it onto the drive base. We fabricated a new component. 2 dead wheels mounted on plates and attached to pistons. The goal of these new components was to help push down the charge station to assist the robot onto the station. We ended up taking them off because they were unneeded. While waiting for the arm to be fabricated we started preparation of the arm by assembling gearboxes and tubes. While practicing balancing on the charge station we ran into constant can issues. Later on, in practice, we soon realized that 2 of the cancoders were dead while one more not being able to cooperate and we switched that out for a v2 cancoder. Marketing finished painting a pit sign and our scouting team completed our master data sheet that works with our scouting app to organize the data we collect. That practice fabrication of the arm was completed and the presets were added. We did end up having an issue with the spark maxes where 7 of them died. We emailed rev and eventually got 2 of them replaced. The manipulator has gone through major changes to keep the claws tight but the rest of the practices until Dallas were mostly driver practice.

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Dallas
The Dallas Event took place on March 4th and 5th hosted by our feathered friends where we placed 19th in quals and were chosen by Team Alpha 2689 (Alliance 6) during alliance selection. For strategy, both of our teams had faster cube cycles than cone cycles so we needed our third robot to do consistent cone cycles. For that reason, we choose 8858 Beast from the East. We ended up making it to the Semi-Finals or match 13 before we lost to the second-seating alliance. We ended the event by being 25th in State by the end of the competition with the Gracious professionalism award.

For the robot, the major issues include arm adjustments at the beginning of the competition where we were unable to use our arm during the first few matches. Other than that our sponsor panel broke so we have been testing more durable material and finding a better placement for it. Additionally, after the first couple of matches, the pneumatic fittings needed to be replaced on the manipulator due to breakage.

Fort Worth
The Fort Worth arm was working pretty well the only robot issue during the competitions was with a couple of pneumatics fittings breaking and our gyro needed to be fixed. Other than that there were a couple of miscommunications during matches that were resolved after the competition. Titan Robotics ended qualification matches at rank 15 and was the first choice of the 5th alliance with 7506 - WILDCARDS. In a similar situation to Dallas we needed a team with fast cube cycles so we chose team 9088 - NASA’s Mark Infinity with our backup for match 5 as 7535 - Purple Poison. 5431 lost during match 10 of the playoffs to the third alliance captain. We ended the competition by being around 25th in the district and we got the spirit award.

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Fight Like a Girl Tournament and Texas Talon Throwdown
On September 9-10, we participated in the Fight Like a Girl Tournament and Texas Talon Throwdown hosted by 5411 RoboTalons, 5417 Eagle Robotics, and 9105 TechnoTalons. It was a great off-season competition to give our all-girl drive team time to drive and compete. During Fight Like A Girl, we encountered issues with the new controller disconnecting which was fixed. During the alliance selection, we were the first pick of Alliance 2. We then lost to Alliance 5.

During Texas Talon Throwdown, our RoboRio stopped working when we were making some last-minute changes on the field. The repairs forced us to miss out on two matches, after which, we were finally able to get a working RoboRio onto our robot and push code to it. Then the integrated encoder cable controlling the intake got disconnected during our match, resulting in an unfortunate loss. After that got fixed, we were selected first by Alliance 1! We made it to the semifinals but lost to Alliance 2 in a well-fought match. Despite not winning the competition, we still had fun playing in the competition after a long summer. This competition also provided our new rookies with a little sneak peek at what real competitions feel like. While we didn’t win, the event was a great experience for the team overall.

For those interested, here are the CAD files for our current V8 design: Onshape

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Oh dear, those poor hex shafts.

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STEM Gals and NTX
On October 7-8, we hosted the annual off-season STEM Gals and NTX tournaments. It was an amazing event as we were able to see teams from all over Texas come together and compete.

On the first day of the event, we had our STEM Gals tournament where all drive teams were comprised of girls. This gave our all-girl drive team more time in the spotlight which they deserved as both our driver and operator did incredible. Their performance in the qualifications got us to the second seed alliance captain where we chose to gear up with 6377 Howdy Bots, 8874 The Cybirds, and 4192 Jaguar Robotics. Unfortunately due to a motor being knocked out of place, we were unable to properly move the arm and lost in the playoffs. However, we still placed in 5th place. Our all-girl drive had a great time and were able to end on a high note as it was the last event they could compete in. When our drive team was competing on the field, our team in the stands cheered them on. Our team showed amazing team spirit and was awarded the Spirit Award.

On the second day of the event, we had NTX where our normal drive had just a bit of trouble. One of those problems was that the drive train was not operating at full capacity which might have been because the back-left steering motor was having some issues. The shoulder gearbox also “exploded” so that needed to be replaced along with the REV parts we kept breaking. In the playoffs, we were the first pick of the 5th alliance captain, 2714 BBQ. The rest of our team was comprised of 8874 The Cybirds and 9997 Howdy Bots’ Offseason Mini Robot team. We were not able to troubleshoot the drive train problems so we went into the playoffs with effectively 3 swerve modules. Despite the handicap of the swerve modules, our drive team continued to perform exceptionally well. Our alliance fought all the way to the semifinals where we unfortunately got knocked out. We were able to secure 3rd place and everyone had a fun time.

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