With tomorrow being bagging day (if that was still a thing), how did your teams build season go? We are behind where we’d want to be, but our rib is looking pretty good! Looking forward to hear your thoughts on design, the game, fabrication issues, or anything else related to this years season!
Edit: It seems bagging day would have been today! Either way, question still stands.
I think disaster would be a fair description. Half the team size, few experienced members, chose to do swerve on top of a new build system, new machining methods, powder coat and moving to all belt. It’s been a huge learning curve.
With no bag day, that means ours is still ongoing
This year was my first ever as captain of my team, and boy did I not realize how much ALWAYS goes wrong. But in the end holy cow am I proud of what we’ve accomplished. Just glad I don’t have to worry about bag day.
We almost got the robot working…just need to get the arm balance right, so it will go down all the way (gas springs are a bit too strong, pneumatic cylinders are a bit too short). But it drives, takes balls in, raises them to low hub level, and spits them out.
It’s been tough with only 4 students and their busy schedules.
Even with CAD training and fabricating most of an outreach robot in 2021, we’ve found a lot of (lack of) experience issues first hand in 2022. Things that had previously been “solved problems” on our team have to be re-learned all over again. It’s been a steep learning curve, with lots of mistakes/rework and slow progress. But we are making progress. Thankfully we don’t compete until week 3.
I don’t believe in these newfangled ideas like getting rid of bag day. I told my students that they needed to use the bag and Security zips they found in the tool chest and that it had to be in the bag by 10 pm our time, and that they can’t touch it until competition. I also told them, no more orders from the Small Parts Catalog, if they think they need a spare gearbox then they’d better go buy another Dewalt drill and bring it intact to the event.
I’ll be interested to see how this approach works.
My team is pretty small, so we don’t have the manpower to finish a good robot in time, much less the funding to do the second. However, what you are suggesting might be nice, although I would suggest letting programming tune for the competition bot if they haven’t already.
I feel the same way! Our team had only 6 returning members, and our size exploded to 40 or 50 kids. It’s been nice to have the extra hands but the inexperience is also difficult to work with! We just keep learning and teaching and it’s all worked out!
Ours has been different. We normally spend a lot of time on prototyping and have trouble making decisions - this time the team focused very heavily on CAD from the outset. There was a bit of back and forth initially as we tried to work out what the overall strategy was going to be, but once that settled down it was almost constant CAD work.
The problem is that the CAD may be very good, but now we are (literally) two weeks from our first and probably only comp (we compete in AU, so we either get to Worlds from this one or the season is done), and we have a mechanically complete robot with no software, no electrical, and every component - intake, shooter, newly designed swerve drive, climber, telemetry and vision - completely untested. Not so much “untested in final form” as in “none of the motors have been turned on, ever” with the two exceptions that we did test the intake a couple of times while sitting on the table, and we did put a ball through the shooter while it was lying on its back (although never when it had the correct orientation).
It will be interesting. If it works, I guess this approach has paid off. If not, we need to work out how to balance CAD with prototyping next year.
It has been a wild ride. We went from having a brand new team with a big, empty room with no robot parts or tools back at the beginning of November to having a functional workshop and just enough stuff to complete a robot that we are almost happy with.
Despite some COVID delays and weather delays I think we may even be ready to compete in week 2.
We learned a lot from the 2020 season that directly translated to 2022, some of it general knowledge, some due to how similar the games are.
Everything dealing with the 2020 power cells prepared us excellently for 2022 since these balls are so much easier to control.
Additionally, we vastly increased our prototyping chops and only improved on that with the use of 3D prototyping systems.
Structurally, we spun up a separate CNC and CAM substeam from our Mechanical one, in recognition of the quality and quantity of work our self taught CNC team is putting in. I’m ridiculously impressed with these kids.
We also made some changes in design approach that are paying off in spades:
Using thunderhex for every shaft possible. This cuts down dramatically on lathe time we’d otherwise spend cutting snap ring grooves
Standard hole patterns on every tube has been amazing. We can get the basic shape of a subsystem early and just add on complexity as needed with gussets and 3D printed parts
Using 1/16" tube where possible to save weight
Continuing to 3D print all spacers, pulleys, and electronic mounts
Using VBeltGuys to buy any tooth count HTD belt we need at a fraction of the cost
Using mastersketches to layout the robot in 2D with a series of layered sketches allows for far better design cohesion and tighter integrated subsystems
We also invested money we saved during the 2020 and 2021 seasons into the team in a variety of ways which is really improving our efficiency:
Purchased a 2nd Omio CNC Router. We now have designated tube and plate CNCs which has dramatically increased CNC throughput since we machine everything in house
Received MarkForge Onyx One 3D printer. We are really happy with how the strength of these parts arguments with the Omio to allow for a very high level of design potential
We replaced our small knee mill with another larger one, and added a 2nd full sized lathe. We also outfitted them all with DROs
Picked up 3 Uline Part Cabinates which now house 90% of our COTS parts in labeled removable part bins. Finding parts now is super easy.
We’ve been cognizant of our strengths and weakness and have settled on robot design and strategy that we believe we can deliver on:
Intake and conveyor improved from 2020 designs
Simple fixed hooded shooter capable of high and low fender shots, with the capability to add longer range shots with vision assistance later on
COTS telescoping L4 climb
Fast and manuverable 6 wheel WCD with corner Omnis
Despite all of the progress I’ve mentioned above, we have a smaller team than usual. We’ve had higher numbers of students dropping the team in December and January, started with fewer than normal, and COVID has put serveal key members out for weeks at a time. Our Mechanical team in particular in much smaller than usual with 5 students instead of the usual 9-10 students.
Despite that, we delivered a working bot to our Software team this past Saturday and are on pace to deliver the 2nd bot this Saturday (climber to be installed early next week).
Here’s some pictures of the robots from tonight’s build session: