Ri3D - FIRST at Michigan State 2023

FIRST at Michigan State here! We are 4 hours into our Robot in 3 Days Challenge. After hosting our Kickoff Event, we rushed to the shop to begin the design phase. We start our design phase by covering a table in paper and brain storming as a group, with one of us searching the game manual.

This is the method to our madness:

  • Draw out game objectives
  • Draw out main game elements/structures
  • Assign the points values
  • Sketch out all our robot ideas
  • Make a list of constants (drive train, electrical board, etc).
  • Write out our concerns/pros on each design
  • Whittle designs down to two to further explore and discuss

At this point, we needed a brain break. We put some music on and began disassembling our previous Ri3D robot. We debated doing it prior to the season, but it didn’t take too long to disassemble the components and eye up our scrap material. After a dinner break, we came back together as a group and continued workshopping.

For this game, we discussed several gameplay strategies and looked at their maximum (solo) point value. Initially, we disregarded Mid/High cube delivery using a projectile or pincher method, since in order to earn the 5 extra Link points we would have to rely on our alliance for both cone nodes.

Then, mechanisms for manipulating cones were discussed. The robot could have a pincher arm that could pick up both cones and cubes from the double sub station. To get the pincher out to the medium and high goals, we discussed a telescoping arm or an expanding frame. All the designs could be great in a build season, but with our time limit, we like to limit our robot to 1-2 strong, simple mechanisms. With our designs, the cone manipulation would contain a pincher, vertical, and horizontal motion. We hesitated on pursuing these designs and the team returned to the cube scoring strategy.

To score a cube, we’re planning on doing pneumatics for the first time! Some of our members built pneumatic systems during their time in high school and are teaching the others. The robot will receive the cubes from the single sub station and launch the cubes into the middle and high levels.

Additionally, one of our original five designs is coming to the robot. We wanted to manipulate cones in a helpful way without committing to high-rise design. The robot will have a single motor driven arm that will be able to pick up tipped over cones. The robot will be able to score cones in the low level and move cones around the field with ease.

With our robot down to the drive train and our mechanisms designed, we look forward to hit the ground running tomorrow and build an awesome robot before classes start. Keep everyone posted!

Bonus: Here’s strategy brainstorming papers from today!


Good Morning! We got in the shop at 8:00 am and started with making a time line of our day. We left the afternoon timeslots blank and will fill in our plan as we go. Two team members started working on the code (using the Command framework) for the robot while the build team started planning our robot layout. We realized there were a lot of unknowns: how tall to make our frame, how long to make our launcher board, and where to mount our piston. After going in a few circles, we decided to build the mechanism off the robot. This has some advantages. First, we don’t put unnecessary damage or extra holes in our chassis. Second, we can easily adjust angles and structure. Third, we can use scrap pieces in the build and then remake it stronger when we’re ready to move on to the robot. For the morning build session we split up into three tasks: find our hinges, make a mock basket, and build the launch board.

More updates will come later!

Note: this post is actually from yesterday night, but I forgot to actually post it so here it is now :sweat_smile:

Good Evening! Three trips for parts and lots of blinking lights later, the robot has moved. Unfortunately, we forgot to grab the CAN connectors for our Spark MAXes, so we set them up using PWM instead. We ran into a very strange issue where one of our Spark MAXes refused to work over PWM, so we used the one CAN connector that we did have for that one instead. We should be able to pick up some CAN connectors tomorrow hopefully, which will also enable us to use the encoders on all our NEOs!

On the build side, we have been designing and troubleshooting along the way. For our cone pickup mechanism, nicknamed “Pole Cat”, we have the NEO Motor mounted to a cross beam with a hex hub. The pole is going to be a yard sign with a stopper and is ready to be cut down to size based on the depth of the motor in the robot.

For the pneumatics, it took a bit of troubleshooting to get everything to work. At first, we didn’t realize that the PCM had to have its CAN ID set to 0 in order for WPILib to automatically detect it. Once we solved that, the compressor shorted a couple times. The compressor wires are stranded and quite firm, so we decided to crimp on some Anderson connectors and use a more flexible wire to make it easier to connect to the PCM. We spent a bit longer troubleshooting after that didn’t seem to fix the problem, but we really just needed to clear the sticky faults in Phoenix Tuner, and our pneumatics were working!

Once the piston was active, we held it in place under our launcher board. The cube did shoot out of the basket; not as far as we envisioned but it sparked some changes for the final design. The final board was skinner and made of Polycarbonate to have less weight fighting against the piston. The build team fixed more cross bars and supports for the launcher board, electrical board, and air compressor to be mounted.

For our final hours, the drive train issues are going to continue troubleshooting and the build team is hoping to assemble the uprights on to the robot. Once the uprights are mounted, the rest of the pneumatic system can be added.

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Will you be releasing a Robot Reveal Video? Would be awesome to see what you have come up with!

We won’t have a “Robot Reveal Video” per se, but we will be releasing a video showing off some of the robot’s capabilities sometime this week hopefully!

Just don’t ziptie your superstructure :flushed:

Hi all, here’s our Ri3D recap video!

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