FRC Team 8096 Cache Money is excited to announce that we will be doing a build blog for the 2023 offseason! Each Monday, we will be posting updates on our team, progress on various offseason projects, and involvement in various events, outreach, and recruitment. This first post will summarize our 2023 season, and what we’ve done over the past few months of summer. We will likely also have some specialty posts that cover a specific item or project in more depth in addition to our weekly posts. While we will continue the build blog at more frequent intervals during the 2024 season, we currently do not plan to post that publicly until at least after the build season.
We ended up about a week behind our targeted build season schedule, mostly due to delays in the manufacturing process. Our robot was completed and ready for drive practice and autonomous development about a week before our first event.
Our code was public the entire season, and this will continue in the future. You can access our GitHub organization here, and code for our 2023 robot Piggie Smalls here. CAD from 2023 will be shared in the future; we are currently finalizing some things internally with how we manage our CAD files and ways we can share files publicly (for reference, we use SolidWorks. Unsure at this time if we will release full SW models or just STEP files).
During our qualification matches, we had some issues with our swerve modules. We will have a post later in the fall that goes in-depth about the various issues we had with our swerve modules during the 2023 season, as well as our new version with improvements for 2024. We were able to work through them, but this hurt our ranking. We were ranked seventh. We were the first pick of team 694 on alliance 4, along with team 2022. During eliminations we were strong and very consistent, and were finalists against alliance 2.
We performed better during qualification matches here, but there were still some small swerve module issues. We ranked ninth in qualifications. We were the first pick overall by team 930 on alliance 1 along with team 8029, but ended up losing due to accidentally leaving a wheel shaft screw off of the robot before playing a match, and resulted in us losing the wheel.
We came into the event very well prepared and played strongly in our practice matches. However, our arm was hit very hard by a teammate during the autonomous phase of our final practice match, which resulted in serious robot damage.
We had to spend most of our qualification matches fixing our robot and recovering from the hit, and were ranked 23rd. We were able to get the robot back to working order, but did not get it back to normal performance at this competition. We were the second pick of alliance 8 by 8222, along with team 2228.
At the end of the school year we hosted a banquet for team members and their families. We presented an overview of our season with highlights and various team accomplishments. We also presented each team member with a personalized “paper plate award” (actually etched onto wood) with custom superlatives chosen by the coordinators. This event also served to celebrate the one senior we had on the team.
We also had a long meeting around the end of April where we reviewed all aspects of the team, how things functioned, decisions we made, and how we would like to improve for the future. As a young team we are still developing our team structure and culture, and we want to make sure we are growing and evolving while staying on a track to reach our long term goals and how we envision the team working years down the road. We feel after this past season we have a lot of building blocks set up with more to add and build on going forward.
We applied and were lucky enough to receive a Fabworks sponsorship! We used SendCutSend quite a bit on our 2022 offseason robot and our 2023 robot, so Fabworks was already going to be a no-brainer for us to switch to, and the sponsorship will definitely help us out. We already ordered some parts for the minibot we are building this offseason which we get into more below, and we utilized some of the new bending services that Fabworks added recently. The parts came out super accurate and has made assembly of the minibot that much easier, and eased our reliance on our CNC router. For anyone looking to utilize Fabworks services, you can use code FRC8096 to get 5% off your order!
In addition, we also applied and were awarded a sponsorship from ThriftyBot! We are very excited to join #TeamThrifty and benefit from the sponsorship while also helping Ryan out with testing and reviewing new potential products. Some of us have been connected to ThriftyBot since its early months, so this was a no brainer partnership for us. Can’t wait to work with Ryan and the other #TeamThrifty teams going forward.
At the Rock River Robotics Offseason Competition, Cache Money won our first ever competition!
We had a new operator at this competition to get someone new into the drive team, and will have more new drive team members at other offseason competitions this fall. We had various random unexpected issues that we have never had before during qualification matches (an encoder cable that has never been problematic before came out, for example).
During eliminations we performed almost flawlessly - our only issue was a pneumatic valve popping out during one match, causing us to be unable to intake or score, but this was fixed quickly. No historically sketchy/damaged mechanisms such as swerve modules or our arm had any issues, and auto worked very well the entire day. We did have some issues deploying through the radio, and needed to connect directly to our RoboRio 2.0 directly. This will be investigated further.
We have finally added better internet connectivity and outlets to our build space! Previously, we were working off of a 4G hotspot, but ethernet ports and a router have been added. Outlets are also in the process of being added; we only had one single pair of outlets for the entire room before.
We have bought two Bambu X1 Carbon Combo 3D printers, and have made improvements to our X-Carve Pro, including a new upgraded wasteboard and clamps from Inventables, and a new controller as the original one strangely died.
We are making a new design for our pit, comprised of four standard modular box designs for various storage and supplies:
- A battery box, which can hold four batteries and a three-bank charger.
- A tool box, which can hold a variety of computer rack drawers in 1U - 4U sizes (total of 6U of space per box).
- An organizer box, which can hold four of the 20-compartment Harbor Freight containers, two of the 8-compartment Harbor Freight containers, or a mix.
- A large storage box, which can hold plastic totes for spare parts, larger tools, and other components, or 4 smaller shoe-box size plastic bins.
This modular design allows for flexible packing into different vehicle types, and means that we do not need a trailer. It also makes it easy for us to bring a smaller set of supplies for demos or offseason competitions, while still having an organized space. We are working on finding a sponsor to weld some rolling platforms that the boxes can be stacked on to create pit carts. We have begun to cut the parts for the boxes utilizing our laser cutters, and nail/glue them together; we have many boxes to go!
We are in the process of building a very small Charged Up robot. This allows for build team members to have more experience building a robot and to continue improving and training on our manufacturing processes. It will provide a platform for less experienced software members to have practice with basic programming, and more experienced software members to work on advanced software functionality including AprilTag tracking, game object tracking, swerve control optimization, and PID tuning. We may compete with this robot at Roboteer Rumble in October, along with our 2023 competition robot Piggie Smalls. The code (currently in development) is available here. CAD will be posted the same time the 2023 robot CAD is available once our file sharing situation is completely figured out.
We expect our expenses for the 2023-2024 season to meet or exceed last season, so more fundraising will be required. Our school has confirmed that we will have either the same or possibly a bit more funding from them. So far, we have received sponsorships from ThriftyBot and Fabworks, have been declined grants from Bayer, and submitted applications for grants from TE and BAE Systems. We are currently working on applications for grants from Dow and Ford, and we have many more grants we are planning to apply for.
We have been doing weekly remote training for design and mechanical students on Thursday nights to learn new skills related to CAD and design, and to learn mechanical knowledge about COTS components and engineering principals. This training was derived from the training done last year by Orion DeYoe from team 3005, and is in addition to the building practice on the Minibot.
We only lost one senior after 2023, and most other students are expected to stay on the team. We currently know of 4-6 students that are planning on joining. We are working on various recruitment resources that will be used once the school year starts, both as part of and in addition to our school’s general club recruitment programs. Our target is to complete recruitment before the end of September, so the team can have a parent meeting around the end of September or beginning of October.
This post ended up being pretty long to cover a lot of time and content. Weekly posts should be more concise, and of course if anyone has questions about anything, we will be happy to respond with more details, etc. We are excited to share more with the community and hopefully all of this is of interest and use to some out there. Internally, we wanted to improve our own documentation of what the team does so we wanted to do this regardless, and we figured we may as well share publicly. Only 131 days until Kickoff!