ORCA3136 Open Alliance 2022 Build Log

Hi!
We are team 3136: Official Robot Constructors of Ashland (ORCA for short) from Ashland, Virginia. We’ve been around since 2010, making it to districts for the first time in 2018! We had a singificant team rebuild back from 2016/2017, and are on our way to becoming a stronger team! Our current mentors are mostly alum or parents of alum, so we are a very tight-knit community over here. We are very excited to join the Open Alliance!

We currently operate out of a small closet in the engine workshop of our local high school. We also have access to spaces like the cafeteria and gyms that we use for testing.

We currently have about 10 members, having lost a lot over the course of the pandemic. In our extended offseason, we developed a multipurpose frame for future use (linked here) that we will be developing and using during this upcoming season.

Our main goal this season is to establish ourselves and rebuild properly. We want to gain new members, pass on knowledge, and learn new things as a team. We also want to create and maintain a robot that is competitive and able to keep up with robots that were created with a much larger budget. We’ve been able to do this fairly successfully in the past, and hope to find our past momentum again this season.

Our events this year are as follows:
Greater Richmond #1 (week 1)
Greater DC #4 (week 3)
(And hopefully CHS districts and worlds!)

We’ll post updates in this thread and in our channel of the Open Alliance discord. We will try to keep it weekly, and may even update more frequently. Here is a linktree that will link to all sources relevant to this thread. If you have any suggestions for what we should add to it please let us know!

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BUILD LOG UPDATE WEEK 1:

Meeting 1: Kickoff (1/8)

Overview:

The team landed on a general strategy and robot design. We started work on our CAD design and opened a GitHub for code. We went through the rulebook as a team and talked in depth about any points we deemed important to keep in mind as the season goes on. We also introduced our new students to the program and watched some videos of past competitions in order to get a feel for what we’re getting into. We especially looked at 2013, as the pyramid ascent looked very similar to the bar climb from this year. Further discussion was done about the strategy and robot as the night went on. Our students did a wonderful job leading a majority of the conversation and facilitating an easy and honest discussion.

Photos!


The turnout!


Our stream setup using a room at the local library.

The Good:

This was one of our most productive kickoff meetings ever! Even though we had low turnout, the students who came were dedicated and really wanted to gain momentum for the season. We landed on a general design and really started to kick off our CAD model (linked here). We also landed on a great strategy, which contains the following:

  • Aim for the high goal. If we find out we cannot engineer a high goal solution, it would be far easier to switch to low goal shooting, rather than switch to the high goal shooter from a low goal shooter. This will almost definitely be done with a shooter similar to our 2020 design, which is a slightly modified version of the Ri3D robot “‘Snow Problem” (seen here).
  • Engineer a solid mid bar climb solution. High bar seems like it could be out of our reach. If we can come up with a solution before we start building our mid bar mechanism, we’ll add it in. If not, we bank on a solid mid bar climb. This will most likely be using an elevator (more robust, however) similar to our 2019 design (seen being tested here).
  • Passive defense. Our robot will primarily be used as a high offense bot, scoring a significant amount of cargo and being a reliable mid bar climber. We’ll be using a chain driven 6 wheel design, with 6” plastic wheels. This should provide us plenty of traction while not tearing up the carpet (of which we did our fair share in 2016), while also allowing us to resist sideways pushing from any robots trying to knock us off course. If there’s one thing we’re good at, it’s traction.

The Bad:

We did not make as much progress as some others. We anticipate running into weight problems and space problems. Our team sometimes has some luck with space problems happening to work out, but when it’s all theoretical we really don’t know for sure. As our CAD develops we’ll be able to see what space we have and what we can efficiently use to make our robot the best it can be. Not a lot of students showed up, and it would have been nice to be able to properly introduce new students and get them ready for the season.

Meeting 2: First Build Day (1/9)

Overview:

This meeting started with a hitch. We were unable to access our shop. This was fortunately remedied within a couple of hours, and we used this time to expand our CAD and start our code. Once we got into our shop, we started disassembling the essential parts of our 2020 robot, Steve. He will be missed. While someone was working on that, we had 2 people helping to clean out our closet and sort some of the loose parts. This was very helpful, and we ended up finding a few things we didn’t know we had that saved us a couple bucks. We also had another two people cutting metal for the robot frame, one person improving our CAD model, and another two starting to code.

Things Achieved:

I am hesitating to call them goals, only because they were not set before the meeting began. But they were amazing to accomplish anyways.

  • CAD improvements! (here)
    • The CAD was improved to show motor placement, floorpan cuts, and general cargo shooter shape. This is a big move in the right direction.
  • Code started! (here)
    • The code was started! We’re about ⅓ of the way through making a drivetrain work, and a significant amount was done in the way of being able to communicate with the motor controllers.
  • Possible name?
    • One of our students noticed a fire extinguisher in the hallway with some of the letters removed, reading “Fire Tinguisher.” This seems to have stuck, and an early contender for the robot name is “The Tinguisher”
  • Frame pieces fully cut and almost ready to be assembled!
    • She’s looking great already!
    • 4 of our 5 students who attended filing down the rough edges of the aluminum.

The Good:
Never have we had a frame in this state this early. This is incredible. With learning CAD in the offseason, we had the opportunity to cut all the metal our first day in the shop. The team also feels that communication is better this year than most. Frustration has been kept at a minimum, and we’re having fun while still staying safe and getting things done. As mentioned early, we found a lot of parts that were presumed missing, saving us some money and grief in the long run.

The Bad:

Another lack of students. It seems that the 5 students who attended both today and the kickoff meeting will be our core group. While I am glad we have students at all, a majority of the team wishes we had a few more students to help with more daunting tasks. Another issue we’ve had is inventory management. We have a lot of stuff and not enough space. Currently we’re doing our best to label and sort the important parts, but it’s tough to keep things organized with such a small storage space. If anyone has suggestions for keeping small spaces organized, please let us know!

Next Week:

We’re meeting on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. We have no goals for this week. Almost everyone on the team is new or inexperienced, and we want to learn our limits and average pace before we set any goals. We are happy with our current trajectory and hope to keep our momentum going into the coming weeks!

Please let us know if there is anything we should add or if you have any questions/comments! We are always willing to help.

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BUILD LOG UPDATE 2:

Meeting 3 (1/11/22)

Overview:

This meeting was shorter than the past 2, as a majority of our weekday meetings will be until crunch time near the first competition rolls around. Progress was made in code, CAD, and closet organization.

The Good:

Progress was made! Here’s a little breakdown from each department:

  • Code!
    • Drivetrain code finished! Glad to have it knocked out this early. We will of course continue to develop and test it.
    • I realize the github link leads to an empty repository, I’ll try and get our coders to upload something this weekend!
  • CAD!
    • CAD for the drivetrain has started. Lots of tedious placement and duplication. Goal for this is to be finished with drivetrain modeling by the end of the week.
  • Organization!
    • We cleaned out some cardboard boxes and sorted into their proper tupperware tubs. Not much more to be said here.

The Bad:

Really not much. We’ve found that a smaller team has been somewhat beneficial so far. We can only hope it stays that way.

Meeting 4 (1/13/22)

Overview:

Progress was made in code, CAD, design, organization, and fundraising. We landed on a few very important ideas for our robot.

The Good:

Some possible new members! We’ll see if they stick around.

Progress! Here’s a breakdown:

  • Code!
    • Development has started on getting a limelight working. Good progress. Hopefully we can use it to assist our autonomous this year.
  • CAD!
    • We continued work on the drivetrain modelling and worked out some interference issues.
    • Started significant work on the shooter CAD. Glad to see it coming along.
    • Drill guides for precision drilled mounting holes are finished and are being 3d printed as I type.
  • Organization!
    • Found a few more parts we wanted for this upcoming season, and sorted even more to make finding them easier in the future.
  • Design!
    • We found a pneumatic cylinder used for our 2020 robot climb. Could be useful for this year!
    • Started to finalize a climber design as we finalized our drivetrain. The two are very close in our design. Tolerances will be tight.
  • Fundraising!
    • An email was drafted to send to prospective sponsors!

The Bad:

Incoming inclement weather means no meeting this Sunday, and a longer one on Saturday. We cannot fully make up for the time loss, but hopefully it’ll be something.

Please let us know if there is anything we should add or if you have any questions/comments! We are always willing to help.

BUILD LOG UPDATE 3:

Meeting 5 (1/15/22)

Overview:

This was our longest meeting yet. We’ve written off Sunday the 16th as an available meeting time as the weather is not looking great in our area. Not all is lost, however, as we will be cutting prototype parts at home and continuing our CAD work while stuck at home. Today was not as productive as originally hoped, but the work done today provides a really solid ground for us to continue with confidence and efficiency. Progress was made in code, CAD, organization, and design.

The Good:

We had a monster 10 hour long meeting today. Everyone was kept happy and productive a majority of the time, and we worked out a lot of kinks. As stated earlier, the progress done today provides a solid baseline for the next few weeks.

Here’s our department breakdowns:

  • Code!
    • Drivetrain code tested and working on a Romi! Should be easy to transfer over to the full robot once we have a drive base constructed.
    • Limelight code was continued and in progress.
    • We no longer have an empty repository!! - but the code that is there isn’t quite working.
  • CAD!
    • Shooter design was integrated into the frame assembly and interference issues were worked out.
    • Drivetrain is farther along than previous
    • An intake design was modelled! (more on this in the design section)
  • Organization!
    • We FINALLY got our closet more organized! Everything is PROPERLY labelled and sorted. Bins that need to be accessed more often are able to be accessed with minimal movement. Very nice.
    • We finally disassembled our 2020/2021 robot, Steve. All his parts have been put away and will be passed on to future robot generations. RIP Steve, you will be missed.
  • Design!
    • New intake design!!!
      • As seen above, L-shaped bracket will flip up and out from the robot.
      • We will have minimal front bumper (6” on each side only) so this will simply help pull the cargo in
      • Trying to create an intake that lets us extend a little bit past our bumper perimeter, as that seems to be necessary this year. We will add wheels and belting as the CAD comes along and we actually build it and test it. This is only the start of an idea for now.
      • This will most likely be deployed with pneumatics!
    • Shooter design!!
      • We will be shooting BACKWARDS!
      • This is to help with autonomous shooting
      • A conveyor-belt-like system will accept the cargo from the intake and v-funnel (not yet modelled) and pull the cargo first further in, then upwards. Then a two-neo-powered wheel will provide adequate speed at the proper angle (we found this to be roughly 60 degrees if our robot is pressed against the fender) to launch the cargo into the high goal. Testing to come!
    • Drivetrain!
      • We hear your comments about our thick-wall aluminum!
      • For now, we are leaving it as is. If we find we need less weight and switching some parts to a thin wall is the way to do it, then so be it. Until then, we’re content with our beefy thick-walled frame. We also intend to use our inner drivetrain rail as a mounting point for things like our shooter, climber (TBD), battery, pneumatics, and electronics boards.

What a monster list of good things. Very glad we were able to get all this done!

The Bad:

The lack of a meeting today means we must wait until Tuesday for our next opportunity to work. Unfortunate, but sometimes that’s just how the cookie crumbles.

Now, the really bad:

We cadded our robot incorrectly.

Yeah, you read that right. We made it a half an inch too large in both horizontal dimensions. This would have been just fine if we were going for a smaller, more streamlined approach. But that’s not the ORCA way of doing things. We push it to the max. And so, our frame perimeter was 121” around. One inch too large. This meant we had to spend HOURS shrinking our robot in cad (since CAD is new to the team and a learning process for us, so we took the time to make some adjustments to make it easier in the future) and cutting down our frame pieces. In the end, we got it done. But we are learning from our mistakes.

Another build log comes to an end. If you have ANY questions do not hesitate to reply to this thread or send a message in our Open Alliance Discord channel. We always appreciate feedback and options.

Meeting 6 (1/18/22)

Overview:

Another short meeting where not much progress was made. We found that a few of our frame rails were cut too long (easy fix), but unfortunately this resulted in a few holes drilled in incorrect locations.

The Good:

We found some kinks and some solutions for such. We started cleaning up plywood parts for a prototype shooter.

The Bad:

The aforementioned kinks make themselves known in the form of miscut metal and improperly drilled holes. Nothing we haven’t dealt with before. An easy fix for the next meeting when we have more time.

Meeting 7 (1/22/22)

Overview:

After a longer-than-anticipated break from meetings (school closing early for weather prevented a meeting on Thursday the 19th), this meeting started out slow. We ended up having to recut some frame pieces twice due to drilled holes being out of tolerance. After this was resolved, it was full steam ahead. We finally got our KOP as well, and spent some time sorting through that as well as comparing our official game pieces to our cheap dog toy substitutes. We got a prototype shooter working! Progress was made in code, CAD, and finally, testing. Boy oh boy. Let’s dive into it.

The Good:

Oh man what a list. Let’s do our usual bullet point breakdown.

  • Code!
    • Code was copied from our 2020/2021 bot (very similar in style to this one) and work was started on adapting it to this year’s bot.
    • Little testing was completed, but as soon as we get a driveable frame we will be testing.
  • CAD!
    • CAD was further improved to represent the true state of the robot.
    • Modifications must be made before our next meeting to add a backplate to our shooter (so the ball doesn’t go flying out the back of our robot before we say so)
    • Brackets and custom parts modeled for creation
  • Design!
    • We have a tentative t-shirt design!
    • We also have a recruitment poster design!
      • Maybe this will solve our low turnout problem.
  • Testing!
    • WE HAVE A SHOOTER PROTOTYPE!
      • It is FAR from perfect, but a solid proof of concept.
      • Videos here!
      • Some findings:
        • Our angle of attack is too shallow, aiming our cargo more towards the side of the high goal instead of over and into it. This is a combination of imperfect cuts in the plywood and us simply having it wrong.
        • We need a backstop of some kind. We knew this from the beginning, but testing has made us think. Should we put wheels along the back? Should we ditch our vertical tubing elevator along the sides? The current thought process is to ditch the vertical tubing elevators and add two sets of motorized compliant wheels to the back of our shooter to assist in pulling the cargo upwards to our flywheel.
        • We were only using a drill to power this version, but seeing just how far it went (or rather didn’t go) is a clear sign that this will need power. We are confident in our proposed double neo setup, but will be cautious.
        • Friction on the cargo is not as much of an issue as we (or rather I) thought. Our rubber flywheel and compliant wheels seem to be gripping the cargo just fine. The cargo, however, is brand new. We will continue to monitor grip as the cargo becomes worn from use.
        • Other small modifications to our backplates and flywheel positioning to add more compression while increasing launch angle.
      • We are VERY excited to have a working prototype shooter this early in the season. We are typically the type of team to either never prototype or do huge testing rounds at the end of build season. I am very glad to see a functioning prototype this early on. Well done everybody.
      • Here’s some photos of our prototype frame and shooter
      • Front View
      • Rear View
      • Overhead view from rear right corner
      • Gearbox setup (will be mounted and completed properly)
      • Looking inside the shooter from the rear of the robot
    • Drivetrain!
      • We found that any gearbox output shafts we have are simply too short to support our very spaced out drivetrain.
      • We are finding someone to custom-make us some new output shafts that we have designed.
      • Since our driveshafts are only supported on one end, we must use steel. Our scale will be crying for help in the late season.

Wow. Just wow. It’s amazing to be able to put THAT many good things into one build log. I’m incredibly proud of this team.

Now, the inevitable;

The Bad:

Almost none of our mentors will be available for meetings this week. This means we have to call off today, Sunday the 23rd, and Tuesday the 25th. We will also have a late start on Saturday the 29th. Unfortunate circumstances.

As stated earlier, this meeting started off somewhat rough. We miscut some metal, had some holes drilled in the wrong spots, and had a shocking lack of clamps for a while. All of these issues were solved with time, however, and we got back on track for a great meeting very quickly.

Another build log comes to an end. If you have ANY questions do not hesitate to reply to this thread or send a message in our Open Alliance Discord channel. We always appreciate feedback and options.

BUILD LOG UPDATE 5

Meeting 8 (1/27/22)

Overview:

This meeting was mostly for fundraising and sponsorship efforts, as one of our main build mentors could not make it. Overall we were fairly successful in reaching companies and local businesses.

The Good:

While we did not get many companies to immediately agree to sponsor us, we had a significant number say that they were interested and would call us back. We also reacquired our main plastic sponsor for this year, which we have missed for the last two seasons.

We made some adjustments to the CAD to further represent our design choices and necessities. Angles were adjusted, holes removed, and clearances added.

The Bad:

Our long-time t-shirt sponsor is not on board this year. This is no fault of theirs, as the pandemic has hit them hard. Unfortunately this means we must pay fully out of pocket for t-shirts, or must build a relationship with a new print location.

Meeting 9 (1/30/22)

Overview:

This was one of our most productive meetings as of recent. Unfortunately, we were unable to meet on 1/29 due to weather. We made a lot of progress this meeting in the way of CAD and building!

The Good:

Let’s knock out some developments from the last meeting. We got a few calls back from businesses interested in sponsoring us this year! Very exciting news.

Here’s the bullet point breakdown:

  • CAD!
    • Further changes were made to reflect the true state of the robot, such as adding holes to the bellypan, adding an additional hex shaft to our intake, and adjusting tolerances.
    • Significant changes were made to the shooter. We “ran the numbers” and we need to launch our cargo at an angle no shallower than 60 degrees from horizontal in order to make it into the high goal. While doing this, we also adjusted our backplates to provide slightly more compression to the ball (about 1.5 inches total). These new parts were cut and tested.
    • Since we will only have hex hubs on one side of our wheels (problems with fitment and attachment), we created a 3d-printable support for the non-hubbed side that will sit flush with the surface of the wheel. This is purely to spread the force from the wheels out along a longer area of the shafts. It will not provide any assistance in rotation.
  • Testing!
    • We were able to test our newly-designed shooter!
    • Here are a couple videos.
    • Some findings:
      • We will need as much grip as possible on this cargo. We want as much power as possible transferred from our flywheel to our cargo in order to get optimal launch conditions.
      • Our “assister” wheels will need to help get the ball up to speed before it makes contact with our flywheel.

The Bad:

Unfortunately, we do not have our custom length driveshafts made yet. We were anticipating having them made by this past weekend so we could assemble our drivetrain, but no such luck.

We are also having some problems with battery placement. It fits behind our shooter, but only just barely. This, however, will cause significant weight distribution problems. With all that weight in the back, we would be even more rear-heavy than we already are. Our only other option would be to place it high up on our robot, which could cause stability issues when climbing.

Our only coding student was unable to make the meeting today, so no progress was made on that front. While we do not have a driveable frame to test with, it would have been nice to further develop our code and test it on our romi.

Another build log comes to an end. If you have ANY questions do not hesitate to reply to this thread or send a message in our Open Alliance Discord channel. We always appreciate feedback and options.

Build log 6
Hey there, I’m Noah, I’ll be taking over the build logs from now on as Aidan has headed back to college.

Unfortunately, because I am a new member to Chief Delphi, I’m not allowed to upload any images or have more than 2 links in a reply, making it hard to post a build log. Until I get this sorted out, I will use a google doc for the build log.

I am very sorry about this, hopefully we can get back to our normal build logs soon! Anyways, here is the link!

As always, let us know if you have any feedback or questions!

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Build log 7

Meeting 14 (2/8/22)

Overview:

Our meeting was spent mainly testing code and attempting robot characterization

The Good

We made some code adjustments for issues that appeared during testing. After that was fixed, we started to attempt robot characterization.

The Bad

Robot characterization didn’t end up working for us due to some issues that we weren’t able to fix at the time. Another issue we found was a bolt head that interfered with the chain that drives our wheels. Unfortunately, because of its location, we would have to disassemble most of the robot, so we decided to hold off on fixing it until we disassembled our robot later. Sadly, we weren’t able to get a lot done besides testing.

Meeting 15 (2/10/22)

Overview:

We made small CAD updates, prepared posters for printing, and followed up on potential fundraising.

The Good:

As always, small CAD updates were made. We prepared more posters for printing so we can put them up around the school in hopes of getting new members. We followed up on more sponsors as well.

The Bad:

Not much bad happened today really.

Meeting 16 (2/11/22)

Overview:

We had an extra meeting today mainly focused on building our intake. We also added a few extra things to our frame and our CAD, as well as made many code improvements.

The Good:

We got our first iteration of our outer intake done, as well as progress on our inner intake. Unfortunately we ran into some issues with our intake after we built it and made plans to update it in the next meeting. Lots of code progress, the code for our flywheel to shoot the ball, our conveyor to get the ball to the flywheel, and intake all got finished and is ready to be tested in the next meeting.

The Bad:

The issues with our intake meant the arms for it had to be recut for the next meeting.

Meeting 17 (2/12/22)

Overview:

We built our intake after the arms were recut, we got enough wiring and code done to start testing further.

The Good

We made a ton of progress on our intake, as well as lots of wiring progress and code updates. By the end of the meeting, our entire robot was working, we were able to pick up balls and shoot them. Here are some videos of the tests.

The Bad:

During testing, we realized that our outer intake was completely useless and we removed it. It ended up complicating our robot more than it helped, our overall intake worked perfectly fine without it. We also found a few spots where the compression on the ball was too much for the ball to move, so we started brainstorming ideas on how we could fix it. Our meeting for the 13th was canceled due to possible weather, so we can’t make many more changes until next week.

This build log comes to an end, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask us by replying to the thread or sending a message in our Open Alliance Discord channel. We always appreciate feedback and options!

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Build Log 8

Meeting 18 (2/15):

Overview:

Today’s meeting was focused mostly on quick tests with shooting the balls, CAD additions, and limelight configurations.

The Good:

We started CADing our climber and made adjustments to our robot to fit our battery better. We got our limelight configured, then we tested it by putting a piece of reflective tape on the wall and shooting the ball at it. Unfortunately, we didn’t get any videos of it shooting at the tape.

The Bad:

We didn’t have our hub built so our testing wasn’t exact, but it still worked well for now.

Meeting 19 (2/17):

Overview:

Not too much was done, but we had the sides of our 2nd prototype shooter cut in between meetings, so we started assembly. Also a few CAD updates as usual.

The Good:

As stated above, we started work on the 2nd iteration of our shooter, still made from wood. We didn’t get very far unfortunately, but we stopped at a good spot to continue next time. The upper hub hoop was also built between meetings, and we got reflective tape put on it. We didn’t have enough time today to get started on the rest of the hub.
(Image of upper hub before reflective tape)

The Bad:

We didn’t really get a lot done today, but we set up our next meeting well so we could pick up where we left off.

Meeting 20 (2/19):

Overview:

Tons of build progress, that was pretty much all of what we did. We spent the entire meeting finishing the shooter, finishing the hub, and testing.

The Good:

Like I said before, lots of build progress! We finished the shooter, made adjustments, and noted/CADed changes for our next iteration. We finished building the hub, we didn’t build a bottom hub ring as we are mainly shooting for the top goal, but we arranged our cross beams so that one set of them is where the lower hub will be. Although we are aiming for the high goal, we have configured a low speed option for the bottom goal.
Testing! Here are the videos! One of the videos shows us shooting 2 balls at once. When we are shooting for the low goal in the videos, keep in mind that the hoop extends past our cross beams, so the balls would still go in if we had a full hoop, even though it bounced back during testing.
We had the highest turnout of any meeting so far, making it extremely productive.

The Bad:

Overall, today was extremely productive, but during testing we found some glaring issues.

  • Some small peanut extrusion was twisting out of place
  • Because of lack of support and the weak wood, our robot sagged in the middle, causing lots of compression issues, but fortunately, we started working on fixes and we hoped that the final polycarbonate version would be more sturdy.

Meeting 21 (2/20):

Overview:

After yesterday’s meeting, we got the (hopefully) final versions of both our shooter and belly pan cut out between meetings! So we went in ready to get those on. All build progress again, we completely disassembled the robot, then started reassembly with the polycarbonate parts. We also made a lot of progress on graphic design.

The Good:

The meeting started off with complete disassembly, everything was completely taken apart, and any issues we had before got fixed.
We went from a completely working robot, to this:


After a quick lunch break, we began to rebuild, or as we called it, “The Great Reassembly”. After a long stretch of only build, we ended up with this:

We originally wanted smoked polycarbonate, but we had to go with clear, and it honestly looks really cool. Once we eventually take off the belly pan’s protective cover, it’ll be a completely see-through robot. The shooter did not get attached to the frame, and we’re missing a few things like wheels, but we’re almost there!
I usually dont talk much about the graphic design aspects of the meetings, because it’s usually just working on our T-Shirt design, but today we got our shirt design completely finished! This is our design on the template for the company we are ordering from.

It was originally pink just to differentiate our design from the background, but we think it looks really good, so we kept it. We also decided on making extra hoodie designs since our team is so small and we can order a few for our members who want them.

The Bad:

I don’t think anything noteworthy really happened, we got a ton of progress done and we’re really proud of how far we made it today.

Meeting 22 (2/21):

Overview:

We had school off today, so we had an extra meeting! We finished building our almost final robot! We also started to work on our climber, for now we just have 2x1 aluminum on the side of the bot, but we hope to get the climber finished next weekend. We did a bit of testing before we started drive tests to hopefully figure out who’s going to drive our robot this year, and who will be the backup driver.

The Good:

We have a working robot! It looks great in the clear polycarbonate, and because of that, we got a new name for the bot. “The PHantom Tinguisher” or just “The PHantom”. Our old name, The Tinguisher, came from a fire extinguisher box with the E and X peeled off so it just said “fire tinguisher”, we joked about it being our robot name and it stuck. But because our robot is clear, someone suggested The PHantom. The capitalized PH comes from our school, Patrick Henry (PH), naming things with PH, like PHamily instead of family, and it seems on brand for our school. We just combined the names and now we have a new robot name.
We also got the chance to weigh the robot, it’s sitting at around 90 pounds right now, and we expected about 100, so we might have some underweight problems rather than being overweight.
Here’s a video of us driving our newly rebuilt robot in our driving test course!

The Bad:

We had some more compression issues, this time being too little compression. Because of some extra structural support and the sturdy polycarbonate, it didn’t sag this time, which was good, but we based our changes off of the sag. Fortunately, we implemented a quick fix for now that’s working perfectly.

Another build log comes to an end, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask us by replying to the thread or sending a message in our Open Alliance Discord channel. We always appreciate feedback and options!

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Build Log 8

Meeting 22 (2/23):

Overview:

As always we had some small CAD updates to do. We also did more driver’s tests, some driving practice, robot characterization, a robot shake out, and we thought of some ideas for fixing some compression issues.

The Good:

We made some more progress on driver’s tests, and we did a quick robot characterization and shake out.

The Bad:

We found more compression issues with dead space in our shooter, but we started brainstorming ways to fix it.

Meeting 23 (2/25):

Overview:

More progress on driver’s tests again, made some fixes to problems found during the tests, and started gathering parts to finish the climber.

The Good:

As stated above, we made a good amount of progress in our driver’s tests, made some fixes, and gathered parts.

The Bad:

The compression issues from the previous meeting were more annoying today, but we would wait until the weekend to start implementing the fixes we brainstormed. We also had some issues with our flywheel pulleys, the center was beginning to melt and not turn right after we used it a ton, but we had printed keyed pulleys to replace them with later, so we decided to replace them now. They worked out fine after that.

Meeting 24 (2/26):

Overview:

We started off the meeting by fixing any issues we found while driving the past few meetings so we could continue driver’s testing and select our drive team. After everything was built we finished driver’s tests and started practicing.

The Good:

We worked on fixes for compression and a couple other things that were found earlier, and got them all fixed. We also put our climber in place, we didn’t get it working yet, but we ended up having to change to 775 motors so we could get enough power. A weight was added to our flywheel which gives us tons of extra power. We then finished up the driver’s tests and got our drive team selected! We then used the rest of the meeting as drive practice time, as no member on our team has driven a robot outside of the tests.

The Bad:

Unfortunately, our fix for compression didn’t end up working. We originally added small wheels on our elevator, but they weren’t big enough and we started looking for bigger wheels we could use.

Meeting 25 (2/27):

Overview:

We got our climber built! A small hanger was built between meetings to be used for testing. After testing the climber we made a few more fixes to the robot so we could start practicing driving more. We also got our autonomous working.

The Good:

Our climber is built and fully working! Here’s a video of it! Our climber can latch onto both the mid and low bars. We do end up slowly falling down because of weight, and our motor brakes just can’t keep up. You only need to be hanging for 5 seconds after the match ends, and we can hang up there for about 25 seconds, so everything is good there. We also got our autonomous going, it can score 2 high goal balls as long as we start with a ball. Here’s a video of it working! Unfortunately, it’s not completely consistent right now. After that we got more practice done.

The Bad:

As said above, our autonomous is inconsistent, we have not yet managed to get 2 working attempts in a row. All that needs to be done is more testing and tweaking though.

Another build log comes to an end, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask us by replying to the thread or sending a message in our Open Alliance Discord channel. We always appreciate feedback and options!

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Build Log 10

Meeting 25 (2/28/22):

Overview:

This was our last week before competition, so we decided to hold meetings every day this week besides Wednesday. During today’s meeting, we:

  • Put our numbers onto our bumper fabric
  • Changed out some wheels in our elevator
  • Designed and printed a limelight mount,
  • “ORCAnized” for our competition.

The Good:

For our bumpers this year, we used heat transfer vinyl that had been cut outside of meetings, and today we were able to press the first set of numbers onto one set of our bumpers.
To fix a compression dead space, we added new wheels to the bottom of our elevator, this eliminated the dead space issue we were having. The balls now have no dead space or significant compression issues when moving throughout our shooter.
We also designed a limelight mount that we would print in preparation for the next meeting, as well as ORCAnizing a toolbox with any tool we would need for repairs at competition.

The Bad:

Nothing notably bad happened at today’s meeting.

Meeting 26 (3/1/22)

Overview:

Today we:

  • Did more ORCAnization,
  • Added more tools to our competition toolbox,
  • Prepared a box full of smaller parts for repairs,
  • Complete more drive practice and
  • Added numbers to our second set of bumpers.

The Good:

Our bumpers are nearly finished by this point, all that’s left is to add a way to fasten them to our frame in a way that’s easy to undo. More ORCAnization for competition was done, we have our toolbox and parts box pretty much done. More drive practice was also done so our drive team can be as prepared for the competition as possible.

The Bad:

We weren’t as productive as we would have liked to be, especially being this close to competition. Also, the limelight mount we printed didn’t end up working and we had to go with the design we were using before.

Meeting 27 (3/3/22)

Overview:

Even more orcanization for comp, we began discussing plans about getting to comp and what it will be like, we added retractable lanyards to our climber, we did more autonomous testing, drive practice, and we watched and took notes on the driver’s meeting.

The Good:

More orcanization and preparation for comp was done, as well as we planned how each person would get to comp because of the long drive it is from our school. We added retractable lanyards to our climber to keep the strings it uses out of our drive train. We used to use zip ties that would break off once enough pressure from the rope was put on them, but after rereading the manual, we realized that we couldn’t have any parts that intentionally break off. These lanyards extend far enough to allow us to climb freely without the rope getting caught in our drive train. We did more work and testing on autonomous, and we were able to get goals semi consistently. To end off the meeting, we watched the driver’s meeting and took notes on how competition was going to play out

The Bad:

We had plans to stagger our member’s arrival times, but because of rules explained in the drivers meeting, we had to get our entire team to the school by 5:50 am, which we weren’t super excited about.

Meeting 28 (3/4/22)

Overview:

This was our last meeting before comp so we spent almost the entire meeting on getting us completely prepared for comp, we also spent some more time on autonomous.

The Good:

We got everything completely ready for comp so we could just hook up our trailer and leave. We decided to bring as little as possible because all 10 members at the competition had to stay in the 8x8 pit. We ended up bringing the robot (obviously), a table to build on, a single cabinet, our safety bin, and our comp toolbox. We also brought an extra table and coolers to set up outside with food and drinks whenever people needed a break. We made some quick adjustments to our autonomous routine to make it a bit more reliable.

The Bad:

Our code was based on voltage rather than RPM, so different batteries would affect our robot’s consistency, and we had just ordered new batteries that would be unused until comp. This could cause some major problems because the new batteries will have more voltage and change how powerfully we move and shoot. We started learning a way to change it to RPM but that couldn’t be changed until the next competition.

Competition (3/5/22)

Overview:

I’ll keep this overview brief, we were part of the WINNING ALLIANCE!! We’re all extremely proud of getting our program’s first ever blue banner. Although we were on the alliance with the top 2 ranked robots, we still feel like we pulled our own weight and we learned a lot to take home and improve on in future events. Thank you to Triple Helix (2363) and Spartan Robotics (5724) for selecting us to join them.

The Good:

We are so proud of how well we did despite our small and inexperienced team, to give a perspective on how small our team is, our entire team was able to make the comp, we have 10 people including mentors. We pretty much rebuilt our team from the ground up, so no one on our team had a lot of competition experience other than watching from the stands. Our drivers were both completely new to driving as well.
Here are some good things that we found out during the competition:

  • Our robot is extremely sturdy, towards the end, a ton of robots were breaking and ours didn’t break besides some wires coming unplugged.
  • We have an extremely consistent middle bar climb, every time we used it, both in practice and in comp, we made the climb. The only time we couldn’t climb was in one match where we went for the low bar and because we had to extend our arms outside of the hanger, our climb wasn’t counted (yet we still made the climb).
  • We found a better spot to shoot from that got us even more consistent to get balls into the high goal.

We are still extremely happy that we won our team’s first blue banner, and we really think that we can make it to districts after making some edits to our bot in the next few weeks.

The Bad:

We got unlucky with a lot of our matches in the beginning of our competition, and we were ranked 17 for the first half of the competition, the only team below us was a team that wasn’t even able to participate for that portion of the competition as they hadn’t passed inspection. We ended up getting to 15th by lunch, then up to 13th by the end of the qualifiers. Overall we didn’t do super well in the beginning, but we picked up speed after lunch and kept that momentum going.
Here are some bad things we found out during the competition:

  • Although we got the ball into the high goal consistently, we had too much power and backspin so the balls bounced out a lot of the time, losing us a ton of points and ranking points.
  • The same issue with bouncing out persisted in our autonomous as well, and we figured out that there is only one spot that our 2 ball auto works in.
  • We had 3 times where wiring came unplugged and disabled a part of our robot, once with our flywheel, once with the right side of our drive train, and once with our roborio power. We need more stable wiring because if we can fix that, we should have very few problems occurring during matches in the next comp. It was all part of learning how to best wire the new boards.

All of these are improvements that we hope to work on before the next competition.

Meeting 29 (3/6/22)

Overview:

We decided to have a short meeting today after our judging so everyone could go home and rest. Unfortunately, we had the first judging slot, so we had another early morning.

The Good:

We feel like we made a great impression on the judges, we did something for them that we call “orca squats”, where we get in a circle, and do squats while chanting “orca”, and they definitely enjoyed that. We also did a couple rounds of orca squats during the competition. We made some quick changes to our hub that helps account for the funnel which a lot of the balls bounced out of. We also changed our sprocket ratio on our backspin reducing wheel, and after some code edits, we had almost no backspin on our shots. After we cleaned up the shop, we started work on autonomous and switching our code to be RPM based instead of voltage based.

The Bad:

During our work on autonomous, we found out that our 3d printed pulley was getting caught on it’s key and slowing our flywheel down considerably. After a quick replacement, we had too much power and hit the roof a lot. The replacement will most likely get jammed again, so we ordered some parts to switch off our 3d printed pulley with a metal one. This issue caused us to have less time to work on autonomous than we hoped we would have.

This build log comes to an end, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask us by replying to the thread or sending a message in our Open Alliance Discord channel. We always appreciate feedback and options!

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Build log 11

Meeting 30 (3/8/22):

Today was a longer meeting than usual for a weekday meeting due to the awards ceremony that happened that day. We:

  • Replaced 3d printed pulleys with normal metal pulleys. Originally, we 3d printed them because the Neos had a circular shaft, and pulleys we needed didn’t come in variants with circular shafts, so we made our own. These pulleys started getting caught on their key and it took a lot of power out of our shooter. We had some parts that could convert the circular shaft to hex shaft, so we added those on and put on the new pulleys.
  • Replaced a motor that was getting too worn out, it smoked occasionally and lowered our power so we replaced it with a new one and added a couple other motors to our competition cabinet in case it happened during competition.
  • Started working on a PID version of the code so we could fine tune the RPM rather than using inconsistent voltage.
  • Have a possible new member and mentor, which is exciting due to our small team.
  • Got more driving practice in.
  • Watched the award ceremony, and we won the spirit award! Our orca squats during the competition and for the judges paid off!

Meeting 31 (3/9/22):

We had a normal length weekday meeting today so not as much was able to be done. We:

  • Tested some of the PID code that we had made, because of how much we can fine tune it, and now that different batteries don’t affect the power of our shots, our shots are much smoother and hardly ever bounce out.
  • Did more PID work was done based on the results of our testing
  • We changed the power and direction of our upper flywheel to remove as much backspin as possible and give us a better angle when shooting.
  • Did even more drive practice!

Meeting 32 (3/10/22):

  • We decided to have a meeting today due to us not being able to have a meeting on Sunday as our head mentor will be away for a while. Today we:
  • Did more PID work and testing. We ended up creating 2 ways to shoot, one from outside the blue marker near the hub, and one from inside. The one from inside is a lot smoother, more consistent, and bounces out less, and the farther one bounces out slightly more often, but it’s quicker to set up and makes the hub less congested for any robot that needs to be close to the hub to shoot. Our drivers named the closer shot “Jazz” for how smooth it is, and “Dazz” for “Distance Jazz.” Everyone else on the team finds it confusing, but it works for the drivers and that’s what matters.
  • Worked on general limelight code to make an auto aim function more useful and consistent
  • Worked on our autonomous to make it mostly consistent, it still misses the second ball every once in a while, but it always gets the first ball in and it works very well in general.

Meeting 33 (3/11/22):

  • We usually have 10 hour meetings on Saturdays, but because there isn’t much left for us to do besides practice, we decided to hold a slightly shorter meeting instead. Today we:
  • Added a ring shaft collar to one of our gears to parody the other side, we missed it in construction a while ago, but because of how we built the robot, it didn’t become an issue. We decided to put it on anyway because it could very easily become a problem if something goes wrong.
  • Got in lots of drive practice, it took up a vast majority of the meeting. Our backup drivers also got some practice just in case something goes wrong.
  • Did a lot of general code and autonomous testing. We found a strange issue with our autonomous where it sometimes goes towards the hub instead of away from it to pick up the second ball and secure taxi points. As of right now, we have no idea what is causing it.
  • Made small repairs to anything that broke during practice and testing
  • Had a ball bounce into our breaker and turn it off. We have had this happen intentionally and we knew it could happen, but this was the first time it happened accidentally. We started planning a guard we could 3d print to make sure that we don’t lose power mid match in a competition from it.

This build log comes to an end, I tried changing up the style of the build logs to make them easier to type and more streamlined, let me know if there’s anything I should change. As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask us by replying to the thread or sending a message in our Open Alliance Discord channel. We always appreciate feedback and options!

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Build Log 12

Meeting 34 (3/15):

Today was a shorter than usual weekday meeting, so not much got done. We:

  • Searched through our old spirit box that was named “Spirit Stanley”, we found a lot of fun spirit things that we used at earlier competitions like orca hats, signs, inflatable orcas, and more.
  • Made a presentation for judging that went over what we did this year.

Meeting 35 (3/17):

Lots and lots of drive practice today! Our drivers were able to get a few solid hours of drive time as well as make last minute checks/modifications.

Meeting 36 (3/18):

Today was all about getting prepared for the competition that was the next day, all we really did was packing up and some minor testing and practice, so I won’t make a list for what we did today.

Competition 2 (3/19):

We got 2nd! Not as awesome as winning like we did last time, but we feel like we earned this placing much more than we did last time where we got picked by the top teams to be on an alliance. Thank you so much to 1262, The STAGs, and 1793, The Aviators for being on an alliance with us!
Here’s a list of everything of importance that happened at comp:

  • Our bouncing out issue was completely fixed, the only cargo that didn’t get scored were just plain misses, our new PID code worked perfectly
  • Because we were scoring more without bounce outs, our driver’s had more practice, and we fixed some other small issues, we did much better overall. We were placed 4th by the end of qualifiers as opposed to 13th last time.
  • Part of our intake bent while driving, we have no idea what caused it, and we can only assume it was because we hit something. We got it fixed but we started brainstorming ideas for a bracket to help stabilize it.
  • Orca squats! We did plenty of orca squats during competition, we even did some during playoffs which got our alliance members involved, it was awesome!
  • Orca hats! We used the orca hats that we found in Spirit Stanley during the competition.
  • During the finals, our robot was tasked with defending against 2363, Triple Helix, the strongest bot in our event. We still ended up losing to them, but they scored in the 100s consistently during playoffs, and during finals, we managed to get their alliance’s score down to 70.
  • As I said earlier, we really feel like we pulled our weight so much more than last competition, and we’re really proud about how much of an improvement we’ve made.

Meeting 37 (3/20):

We had early morning judging again, and we decided to have a nice and short meeting so everyone could rest after the eventful competition. We

  • Did our judging, and we think we did well! Of course, we did some more orca squats for them, but after preparing for judging with the presentation, we felt we were more organized and ready for their questions.
  • Did some small repairs to some worn down parts of our robot.
  • Designed the brackets for our intake.
  • Started making designs for pins and business cards that we can give out during districts, we have some great ideas that we can’t wait to show at districts.

This build log comes to an end, as always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask us by replying to the thread or sending a message in our Open Alliance Discord channel. We always appreciate feedback and options!

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Build log 13

Meeting 38 (3/22/22):

Today was a slightly longer meeting as we wanted to watch the award ceremony as well as have a meeting for our team member’s parents to discuss how the trip to districts would go, since we are pretty much locked into districts at this point. Today we:

  • Found out that our fender for our hub was way farther out than it should have been, it was about 20 inches off, we cut off some wood and got it to the right measurements, but that difference has been affecting our shots the entire time.
  • Got in a good amount of drive practice
  • Started clearing out a display case that we were given! We didn’t finish getting it ready today, but we made some good progress.
  • Watched the award ceremony, we got the spirit award again! We added some orca hats to our ORCA Squat routine to get the award this time.
  • Started some work on some really fun “business” cards to hand out at districts.
  • Showed off a practice match for the parents before the parent’s meeting

Meeting 39 (3/27):

There wasn’t a Thursday meeting as our head mentor couldn’t make it, and anything we would have done Thursday, we could have just done today. We:

  • Did lots of drive practice as always
  • Continued to work on business cards as well as start some designs for buttons to hand out at comp
  • Had some limelight issues at comp that apparently is a common issue, so we found and implemented a fix from this thread.
  • Fixed some code issues, as well as any repairs for things that broke during practice and testing.
  • Started working on a long distance shot from the launch pad, unfortunately, the roof in our space isn’t tall enough for us to test it properly, so we’ll have to come back to it later.

Meeting 40 (3/29):

Not a whole lot got done today, we:

  • Finished cleaning out and setting up our display case! Here’s an image of it!
    We started off with just putting awards in there, but we’ll put more things in there as we find them.
  • More drive practice of course.

Meeting 41 (4/2):

A tornado warning in our area caused after school activities to be canceled on Thursday, so there was no meeting that day. We were planning on printing our buttons that day, so we may not have the buttons ready for districts, but our business cards came and we are ready to hand those out to everyone. Today we:

  • Replaced all of our climber’s strings and a few worn down pulleys, the strings were showing signs of wear and tear so we decided to replace them now so we don’t have a problem during districts.
  • Had lots and lots of practice.
  • Added a function that allows us to suck in balls through the shooter, we had a function before that was used to keep cargo off our flywheel so it could rev up, but that was inconsistent and it wasn’t it’s intention. We tested and added a function specifically to collect cargo from the top of the bot as a just in case sort of thing. The function sort of sucks balls in, so we named it “Kirby suck”.
  • Got our launchpad shot working. We were able to go to our school’s gym to test it. The cargo has to be shot very high to make the distance, so we are sure that it will bounce off most of the time we use it, but it shouldn’t be used that much compared to our regular shots.
  • Had a strange issue with our RIO not working at all. We were using our backup RIO due to some previous issue, and one of the ethernet pins looked out of place, so we switched it back to our normal RIO, but the problem persisted. We eventually managed to fix it, it was just some bug with our laptop being closed at a bad time.

This build log comes to an end, I combined this week and last week’s build log due to a lack of meetings to cover. As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask us by replying to the thread or sending a message in our Open Alliance Discord channel. We always appreciate feedback and options!

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