FRC Vector 8177 - Build Thread 2022

Welcome to the Vector 8177 build thread! We are excited to be joining the open alliance for the 2022 FRC season and look forward to contributing ideas to the great community. Our team is based in Tomball Memorial High School from Tomball, Texas. We have over 30 members (which has been our largest group so far!) with many of them being rookies new to FRC.

This is our first season creating a build thread and we are quite new to things still, but we think this is an amazing learning opportunity for us as the past couple of years have not allowed us to have a normal competition season yet. We’ll be posting our main build blog on this thread along with photos and updates on the open alliance discord.

We are super excited for the 2022 season and hope that this thread will be helpful to others!


WEEK 1ish RECAP - Vector 8177

As we wrap up the first weekish (including this Monday) of the season, we have a few things to share!

Kickoff Weekend

This kickoff weekend went smoothly with 30 members joining us to watch the FRC Kickoff Livestream and break down the RAPID REACT game. After getting the game manual, we split into 3 groups and went through it page by page taking notes on field/game element specifications, brainstorming strategies for the game, and noting important rules that we had to follow. After an hour or so, we regrouped to recap our findings and compile them into one document.

We then brainstormed different ideas for what goals we wanted to achieve and here is what we decided on:

  1. Upper Goal Shooter that is able to shoot from up against the fender or from the tarmac. If the upper goal shooter ends up being too inconsistent with bounce out or other issues, we will modify it to be a low goal scorer to help with getting the scoring ranking point.
  2. High-Rung Climber, if the design isn’t feasible within the build season, we plan on transitioning to a consistent mid-rung climber.
  3. Strong/Reliable Drivetrain that is able to play defense and maneuver around other robots easily.

We broke down our robot into different subsystems which were given to different groups of students to focus on. The subsystems include the intake, conveyer, shooter, climber, and drivetrain.

Week 1 Mon-Fri

The CAD team began work on designing different subsystems including the intake and shooter. Being a part of Open Alliance as well as looking at the different Ri3Ds gave us good ideas of what was a good/bad idea. Since we do not have many resources to prototype, these have been invaluable resources for our team during the first few days.

The veterans on our team began putting together a buy list for potential parts we would need to build all the different subsystems, organizing it all into a spreadsheet.

The programming team has also been tinkering with a drivetrain, testing out autonomous routines, and utilizing the encoders from the motors.

Robot Design Details:

  • As for the basic layout of the robot, we decided to have the intake and shooter facing opposite sides in order to have a 2+ ball autonomous in the RAPID REACT game.
  • The shooter will be run by 2 Falcon 500s with 4 in. Colson Wheels with about 1.5" of compression (although this is subject to change once we get our parts and test).
  • The intake will have 3-4 mecanum wheels on either side, with 2" Compliant Wheels 40A in the middle covering around 16 in. It will be an over-the-bumper intake that will feed into our conveyor system.
  • For the conveyor system we brainstormed using different things like polycord, but we ended up going with the idea of timing belts and pulleys after seeing what others have done.
  • The climb idea is to have 2 sets of telescoping arms with one set fixed perpendicular to the robot base and the other set being able to rotate. The rotating set will not be rotated by a motor, and instead, be powered by gravity. We plan on doing high-climb and not traversal so our idea is to lock the rotating set of arms during the match and when the endgame starts, we will hook on to the mid bar with the rotating arm set, release the locking mechanism, winch up, and as we do the robot will angle itself due to gravity. Then we will extend our fixed set of arms to latch onto the high bar.
  • the Drivetrain will be an AM14U5 Chassis from the KOP with the gearbox being swapped with Falcon 500s and a larger gear ratio that will provide us more stalling torque for defense as well as speed for maneuverability.

Week 1 - Saturday, Sunday, & Monday

Unfortunately, we were not able to meet on Saturday or Sunday due to the coaches and many veterans being involved in other events. But we continued work on CAD from home as well as adding to the buy list of things we need.

Although, on Sunday, a few of our team members and mentor went to Spectrum 3847 Bootcamp Build Day to learn about build designs and discuss ideas. Also thanks to them for donating polycarb (we were able to make use of some for our shooter prototype).

Since we were off of school on Monday, we decided to meet today (Monday) and get some work done. Our team finished the drivetrain construction and started work on a shooter prototype. We also had members debugging and testing out the CNC.

The shooter prototype was just a basic test to find the optimal compression and see which one launched the highest. Since we don’t have many parts available, we weren’t able to attach a motor to it to properly test what the shooting would look like. Instead, we used a drill to simulate it shooting and see which compression led to the highest shot.

All in all, it was a pretty eventful week and we hope this post is able to help people out!

1 Like

WEEK 2 RECAP - Vector 8177

We’ve made a decent chunk of progress over the past few days, so this will be a breakdown of what we’ve done so far.

Week 2 Tues-Fri

During this time, we managed to finish our first buy list which includes things for our drivetrain, intake, shooter, and feeder subsystems. Our CAD team also continued to design the different subsystems and flush out the details of what we wanted everything to look like (compression, specific parts, etc). The programming team worked on updating all the software for the RoboRio and motors so that everything would work properly.

One of the big things that got done this week was getting the CNC to work. We were able to start cutting out custom parts which will be really important once we get all our parts and materials together to build the robot.

Week 2 Saturday

Today was a super long workday from 9am-5pm and we managed to get quite a few things done!

  1. A few of us went to Home Depot and bought supplies and parts to build all the field elements. After securing the supplies, we fabricated and cut out all the necessary parts, and all we need to do now is put everything together.

  1. We build a pneumatics protoboard and wired it up to a robot electronic system so that we can test all the components and make sure everything is in working order before we attach stuff to the robot.

  1. We worked on CAD and have a rough draft of all our subsystems mocked up and designed. Our intake design will consist of 3 rollers with a four-arm attachment method.

  1. We used the CNC to cut out some of the parts from wood to prototype the intake subsystem. It was also a good test to see if the CNC worked properly and could run multiple cuts.

  1. Our programmers were hard at work today coding the pancake bot we had made during the off-season. We mounted a NavX and used the yaw information to make perfect 90 degree turns. We also worked on autonomous driving based on the encoders of the Falcon 500s since we previously had never used them for the drivetrain before. Here is a video of our infinite square autonomous, it still needs a bit of tweaking, but the methods we coded up will help when we design our autonomous routines.
  1. We also reorganized and took inventory of our storage closet space which has a lot of shelves. We marked the shelves and created a corresponding spreadsheet where we could input all the things on each one. This will help when trying to find where to put new things or just find where certain parts are.


WEEK 3 & 4 RECAP - Vector 8177

Here are the updates from the past couple of weeks.

Robot CAD

We finished our CAD design for our robot! Our final robot design consists of the following:

  • Retractable intake that is powered by pneumatic cylinders. It is powered by a 775pro motor that runs 3 rollers, the front one has a few mecanum on each side to prevent cargo from getting stuck and the rest are compliant wheels, the second roller is all compliant wheels, and the third roller is just a plastic tube.
  • Elevator system that is powered by a single pulley mechanism that is running 2 15mm wide HTD belts.
  • Shooter is comprised of the main flywheel and also a top roller. The top roller acts to reduce backspin which should prevent bounce-out and make our shots more consistent. The main flywheel is 2 4" Colson wheels and the top roller is 2 3" Colson wheels. We plan on shooting from a 75-degree angle which should easily allow us to make shots from the tarmac & also farther away.
  • The Climber is comprised of dynamic and static climbers. The dynamic climbers are 2 AndyMark climber-in-a-boxes that we plan on modifying to be able to rotate around a bearing. The dynamic climbers will be angled by two pneumatic cylinders that will angle it at about 30 degrees to the vertical. The static climbers will be slightly taller than the dynamic ones and the hooks at the top will be spring-loaded to easily clip on to the rungs.

Here are more detailed looks at each of the subsystems:

(Peep the Open Alliance engraving on the shooter, looking pretty snazzy)


As for updates on the actual fabrication process, we are a bit behind schedule, but we’ve been making quick progress over these last few days. We currently have around half of the stuff we need to build the robot and the other half is ordered and on its way (hopefully arriving in this upcoming week).

We have completed the chassis and also cut out all the superstructure parts (2x1 and 1x1 aluminum tubing). Today, we put a coat of spray paint on them as well!

We used the CNC to cut out the final parts for our intake as well today. The intake will be made out of 1/4" Lexan for the side panels and the arms.

Besides the robot, we have also completed building the hanger as well as the upper and lower goal! They took a little bit, but now we can practice climbing and shooting once the robot is built. When we finished building, we immediately had our human player practice the 30ft shots, and it seemed fairly easy to make (when there was enough ceiling space).

Here are a couple of pictures of the finished field elements:


Our programming team has also been hard at work figuring out autonomous code over the past few days. We’ve made a lot of progress on vision tracking with the limelight which will eventually be used to gauge distance from the upper goal and power the motors accordingly. Right now, we are testing the vision tracking with the cargo balls.

We are also working on programming the autonomous paths for the start of the match and designing the routes. Since the competition robot isn’t built yet, we’ve been using an offseason drive train that has the same falcon motors and kit bot chassis.


We’ve also done work on mocking up and testing our electrical system. And this year that includes the pneumatic system which we’ve never done before.

Today, we tested and updated the software on the Falcon 500 motors we had to make sure they were up to date and still running at top speed. We also tested the pneumatic system and made sure all the connections were secure/pressure was correct.

We’ve planned out the wiring diagram for the competition robot, so once the mechanical build is done, electrical should be fairly simple/organized to put on the robot and get it up and running.

Alright, I hope this has helped and I’m looking forward to the competition season as this game seems really fun!

-Roland 8177


Any new updates?

I am impressed how much your team has grown
since your 1st rookie event in 2020 (Rookie All Star)

Look forward to seeing you guys at Channelview & Pasadena


Hi, thank you for the compliment!

We’ve made pretty good progress over the past couple weeks, I just haven’t had the time to make a proper CD post since my schedules been packed. But I have some time this week, so I should be able to make a post detailing our progress soon. Our team has mainly been giving updates on the Open Alliance discord server.

Look forward to seeing y’all there as well, super excited!

So a lot of stuff has happened since our last post…with spring break + our first competition, we’ve been pretty busy, but here’s a run-down of everything has happened.

We finished the robot. This was a complete turnaround from last year, as we finished a couple days before the competition, and actually had driver practice and programming being able to do their thing before being at the actual competition.
Here are some pictures of the finished robot.

We’re really, really proud of how it turned out.
Let’s start with individual systems.

First off: ball transport. We found a 4-bar, easily collapsible intake worked best to be quick and effective in sucking up cargo. This was the first thing we finished and tested on the bot, and it worked pretty well. Some iterations we had involved changing the third bar from a roller to a row of compliant wheels, as we found it was contacting the balls a lot more than we thought it would and the compliant wheels would work better for this. This intake worked well through our first competition, but we noticed that those VIW at the front usually didn’t really pick up the balls as much as we wanted them to, and didn’t vector that well at the front. So, after the competition, we switched the 1st and 2nd bars, and have found much increased performance of the intake. Our elevator system also worked really well to both raise the cargo and bring them up to speed to shoot. The passive singulator performed as well. Here’s a video of our intake in action.

Next: shooting. The eventual goal with our shooter (fixed angle dual wheel) was to adjust both wheel speeds and change the trajectory of the ball in real-time using the limelight to measure distance from the hub. This would let us shoot from a decent range. For Channelview however, we thought it was more realistic to go with a fender upper hub shot, and this worked well. It took an hour or so to get the right values, and then after that we just had a single button that started a shooting “sequence”: reversed the elevator (to get the balls away from the wheels as they spin up), spin up the wheels, and then shoot the elevator back up.
This can be observed at about the 40-second mark in this match video.

Lastly, the climb system. This was definitely both the most problematic and impressive part of our robot. So initially, upon testing the climb, we noticed that swinging from one bar to the next would hyperextend the climber arms backwards. Because we didn’t have any sort of hard stop, and because the support going from the climber arm to the pneumatic cylinder (see below) was connected with a small T-gusset, this connection completely deformed under the hundreds of pounds of force from the swing.

The other issue was that these bars coming off the climber were riveted into the tube, and these rivets were interfering with the telescoping of the tube. This is when we decided to scrap that bottom tube.



To fix this, we added some redundancy because this would decimate our chances at competition. We added giant triangles that were clamped on with bolts on the outside instead of rivets (to allow for smooth telescoping), and added hard stops that should prevent force from ever even going to that connection. These can be seen in the robot pics at the top of the post.

Finally, as far as autonomous goes, we had a somewhat jank 3 ball autonomous before the competition, but we decided our super reliable 2 ball was more appropriate, especially because it would aid super strong alliance partners with 5 ball autos.

With all these upgrades and working systems, we had a really, really good competition. We won every qualification match save 1, and ended ranked 2nd behind team 118 Robonauts. In alliance selection, we were first pick of the robonauts, to which we graciously and somewhat humorously accepted (see recap video), and went undefeated in the playoffs to our first ever blue banner victory in the finals. This was an amazing experience for everyone on our team, and we definitely celebrated afterwards. What made the whole experience even more insane, was that winning + only losing 1 qualification match + winning the industrial design award left us with 67 + 5 = 72 district points, tying us for SECOND in the extremely competitive state of Texas. But it got even better. Being a second year team, we got a 5 point bonus to our score, actually putting us as rank #1 in the state of texas. We basically couldn’t believe our eyes for a solid week, and walked around in a daze.

Overall, our second-ever complete competition was an extremely gratifying and rewarding experience, and it felt a little surreal to be the team that everyone was trying to defend in matches.

Here’s a couple of pictures from the competition along with the recap video.

see you guys at pasadena #2!


This topic was automatically closed 365 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.