Off season projects

As a team, we have been looking into good off-season projects to educate new members in STEAM and increase our team options in future games. We have a couple of ideas at the moment. 1- a telescoping climb system that is powered by roller springs on the way up and wenches on the way down. We got this idea from a recent comp (Bordie Recharge!!) we went to where 4911 cyber knights and 2910 jack in the bot had these systems. 2- a compact cascade lift system that was common in powerup and deep space. 3- a good pit/robot cart that has tool and battery storage. Any suggestions for other ideas are welcome as well as any help on the ones we have already.

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Some time spend on a good robot cart with BIG wheels is well spent! I suggest installing some cheap tool boxes on both sides! You can zip disc the top till off a cheap home depot tool box and then rivet it into the corner. Also worth doing: adding a place to put an old robot battery, and inverter (for powering the laptop), and some fancy LEDs.

We are going to make some fancy number signs with lots of LEDs and some ESP32s to make them dance.

BTW, on the constant force springs; please stress to your students that they bite! Its -really- easy to be playing with one, pulling it out, and slip. This launches the spring along with it’s extended fangy end. I first saw this with a group of engineers, 20 years ago :frowning: There was blood and a dent in the wall…



All of those are good, as are any kind of playing piece manipulator.


When our group of mentors was talking about possible off season projects I made this quick graphic to represent how I thought we should approach it. I find it is very easy for our group to throw out tons of suggestions of things we could do or think we should do, but trying to tackle too many propjects won’t be productive.

This is mainly through the lens of mentors, but I find that it is very important that the mentors are available and excited to support the off season project(s) that you tackle. This Venn diagram is recognizing that you need time/money/focus, mentors excited about possible projects, a subset of those projects overlap between mentors, an aspect of the team you are trying to improve, and then you need to select the intersection of all of those. I would encourage you to at least attempt something like this, because you may realize that your possible suggestions aren’t the best fit for what your team needs.

For us, we have thought up similar tasks, like telescoping climbers, elevators, outreach robots, etc. but we took a look at what we thought we wanted to improve for our in season ability, and it was really the speed at which we could test concepts and build a mostly working robot. We settled on designing and building two mule wcd chassis (of different wheel sizes), in order to have prototyping platforms ready to go for kickoff, and to have a tried and true chassis template that we could build very quickly after game day (assuming the game does’t require a more extreme chassis design).


One more circle to add:

“Projects students are excited about”.

It’ll be like pulling teeth to get something done if you can’t get the students fired up about it.

That said, one of our more successful offseason projects was a few years ago when we spent the summer playing with intake designs (after having issues picking up game pieces in the past). We learned a lot.


thanks for your response, we will definitely be putting LEDs now we hadn’t thought of that. I’ll make sure that students are aware of the springs.

lol thanks for catching that!!


Thanks thats really helpful and we will be using this for every off season now!

I agree students are a key factor in the team and their opinion is just as important as the rest.

Oh, a semi-crazy thought on the robot cart. You might want to use a pair of plastic BMX bike tires on the pushing end of the cart. That way, if you need to get over something ridiculous you can do it backwards. That will make it go forward more smoothly (like a shopping cart), but it won’t go sideways. Whatever you do, you REALLY want big casters. We upgraded to 8" diameter polyurethane casters. In orange, to match our team color :wink:


Choose something simple. Maybe an intake, maybe a one wheeled shooter. Something you can knock out quickly. Then, find a way to improve it just the tiniest little bit. Keep doing that.
What most teams fail to realize is that the true skills they need are not in fancy designs, but the ability to pump out designs incredible fast and then make them better.

Also, if you can’t build an entire drivetrain (mechanical, electrical, and code) in one 5 hour meeting, you’re taking too long building your drivetrain. Practice that as well.

Other Ideas:
Practice bots that are always available for programming/drive team to use.
Building a drive practice space for robots to be tested (Whether that be permanent or temporary)
PR Stands for demos and judging


Thanks this is really good advise. Me and another experienced member have drive train experience but newer members should learn. We have a couple of practice bots that we use fro drive practice and we have drive bases that we use for prototyping ideas quickly.

We also have thought of bike or pneumatic tires. We are also considering using 8in or 10in omni-wheels so we can push the cart directly sideways to get out of the way or avoid obstacles

I wouldn’t use omni-wheels for your robot cart. Casters are a better choice. You want something with some rubberiness to it. Omnis are not very difficult to damage. Here’s what we are running now. We started with 4" wheels, which we, um, might have ripped off the cart…
Polyurethane Casters Wheels PU Swivel Wheels 8’’ x 2’’ 800lbs x4pcs Heavy Duty, $72 on Fleabay.


We will keep this in mind during our design process.

Our team is splitting into groups and doing drive bases as well as a secondary project (Elevator, roller claw, etc.). It helps get the process down and learn all of the fundamentals as well as start to specialize into areas we want to do.

thanks that is a good idea esspecialy because we are a small team we need to have lots of chemistry.

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