Hey Brandon, I understand your concerns, but some are without context that we may have failed to effectively supply. Our build and analysis started on Friday the 8th (24 hours before the 2021 reveal). We started a day early due to classes at our university resuming on Tuesday. Had we not started on Friday, rather than Saturday, we would have been forced out of our workspace prematurely, as our build would have gone into Tuesday, instead of Monday (as well as interfering with many members’ classes). With this in mind, we decided on Friday to build a robot to showcase alternative mechanism designs that may be useful to different teams. The idea behind it being that we wanted to build a better Ri3D robot than last year so that teams that are looking for ways to improve their 2020 robots would have some content to watch for this season. On Friday, we determined that the biggest changes that teams with tall bots would likely be trying to do is turn their current robot design into a short bot after seeing how effective low bots were in the first few weeks of competition last season. With this in mind, we set out to find out how to build the simplest, “easiest,” effective short bot to play the 2020 game. This is especially evident in our turret design.
Our turret uses the same shooter as our 2020 Ri3D bot mounted to a simple $20 lazy Susan bearing from amazon and driven by a bag motor and a compliant wheel on the OD of the bearing. Paired with a limelight, this gives you a simple targeting mechanism with minimal effort and modifications to most peoples’ current designs. Is this the “right” way to do it? No, of course not, chain and sprocket or belt and pully would be much more reliable and much more effective, but it would also require much more engineering and access to machines that most teams do not have. This is the reason we went “simple” with this design. Electing to showcase how a team could get “up and running” with a basic turret design without access to any CNC or 3D printing machines.
We watched the reveal, like many FRC teams, and determined that our current path of showcasing mechanisms over covering the “new” challenge was the correct one in our case. We were already deep in the build and did not feel that pivoting our priorities at that point would be wise for our team (there are many other teams that may cover these areas). We have not ruled out making further videos on these subjects and merely ruled out making these videos during our last valuable 48 hours of building. Now that the build has been “completed,” we may decide to go back and address these challenges if there is enough demand for this type of content.
When we went into discussion on how to make a climber for a short bot, we ran into some barriers. Ultimately, we wanted to get up to any level on the bar without having to make any sort of complicated lifting mechanism. We ended up with a couple of enthusiastic and passionate team members who suggested a 2016 118 style grappling hook with a camera mounted at the base of the hook for alignment. This approach has the benefit of being light weight and effective but has the downside of being single use. It is ultimately up to teams to decide if that is a risk they are willing to take. In my opinion, if you make a reliable mechanism and have good drivers that get adequate practice deploying the “harpoon,” it wouldn’t be that bad of an idea.
Our intake was a three-bar intake. This was a simple and effective design that worked well with our robot’s overall design and layout. I believe that many teams may benefit from a lightweight, reliable design like this one. If they are looking to cut weight and would like to get rid of a heavy intake mechanism that they may already have, this is a good option.
Our WoD style hopper was done with the idea that it would be a quick and easy build that would allow us to spend most of our time on the component integration aspect of this design. In the end, this was not a success as we struggled to implement the design how we initially planed (with the turret in the center of the WoD mech, fed by an omni wheel running over the top of the balls). We ended up concluding that rotary hoppers are definitely a good idea, and with enough work put into integration and problem solving, they can be made into successful designs, for sure. Ours was just not a very good example of one, at all, and I will be the first to admit that.
Yes, we did a WCD drivetrain and yes, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Let me ask. When is the last time you used the Andymark KoP chassis? Probably never, if you are going to be honest. Why is this? Why do you rarely see high level teams using the KoP chassis? BECAUSE IT SUCKS! It is inferior to a West Coast Drive in every measurable category. Does anyone remember the 2016 game where FIRST literally designed an obstacle that could trap literally any robot using to KoP chassis? The WCD is lighter, cheaper, simpler, more durable, easier to repair at competition, lower profile, more powerful, and more customizable just to name a few. Every team should do a WCD in my opinion, it damn near pays for itself. Go out to name a few. All a team has to do is fundraise, get sponsors and save up for one year and you can get one yourself for around $1,000, depending on the configuration you want. Then you know what you do, you deny the KOP chassis before kickoff and get the $450 Andymark voucher for the current season, and every FRC season after that. Unlike the Andymark drive base, by the end of the season, your WCD will still be roughly 95% COTS items, with the only thing you will need to buy new is standard 1x2 aluminum box tubing and possibly some new wheels if you wore through yours at comp. After the first year, you are GETTING PAID TO USE A SUPERIOR DRIVETRAIN. I am dumbfounded trying to understand why anyone would discourage the use of a WCD. As a testament to how easy it is to assemble, I had two of our team members that were completely new to any thing FRC or robotics related assemble the whole thing on the first day this year. With one team member stating “it’s literally adult LEGOs,” you just have to follow the instructions on the Vex website.
Now I know this may come off as a curse word to some, but my philosophy in FRC has always been “do everything and do everything well”. If you want to “do everything and do everything well,” you need to be willing to put in the “blood sweat and tears,” as you say. With any team perspective is key, understanding the workload your team can effectively handle in any given season is easily one of the hardest problems team leadership encounter every season. Our goal with this robot was simply to showcase how to build on last year’s design and push your team to an arguably more competitive state.
One thing I strongly disagree with is telling teams that they cannot have creative or ambitious designs simply because they are a rookie team, inexperienced, poorly funded, etc. This rhetoric is so toxically present on this platform and throughout FRC it makes me sick, and it has got to stop. If a team is willing to put in the work, (and I mean a lot of work) they can build ambitious robots that compete at a high level. If you have the manpower and determination, you can learn and do most whatever you want in this world, even outside of FRC, and that’s a damn fact. It bothered me to no end when I was on WARPSPEED and they told me “you can’t start a Week 0 event and robotics hub, build a WCD for the first time, Powder coat your robot for the first time, rebrand the team, and fundraise 2X the amount of money as any previous season, all in the same year” then guess what, we did, and we did it all well, so well in fact that we were first time alliance captains in Duluth that year. The fact of the matter is if you have the drive, determination and willingness to sacrifice a good number of your waking hours to make your dreams and designs come true, they can, and they most likely will.
The point of Ri3D is to showcase what 3 days of hard work and dedication can give you. I’m not saying our robot design is perfect, it’s far from it, but what Ri3D robot is? If you could build a perfectly functioning robot in three days everyone would be building their robots over a long weekend. Obviously with a week of testing, tweaking, and refining this robot could be a decent competitor at a 2021 FRC competition (something that has not yet been ruled out for the 2021 season). Therefore, out of all of us here I believe you are really the one that “struggles to understand the mission of Ri3D” and not anyone on my team. The mission is to showcase ideas, not make “recommended robots” or to tell teams how they should build their robots. It is ultimately up to the FRC team members to determine what is best for their team and how much time and effort they are willing to put in to make a design work. The last things teams should do is go on Chief Delphi to have all the “low number know it all’s” tell them what they can’t do and “how to build a robot for inexperienced teams” while they themselves go have success building ambitious and complicated robots and have much more success doing it. At best, this behavior is done out of ignorance of other teams’ ability to push themselves and at worst its tyrannist act to degrade teams deemed “lower than ones own” in an attempt to keep them designing inferior robots to reduce high level competition. Either way, it is an absolute disgrace.
President- PRi3D of the North
Mentor- FRC Team 8188 Grand Force
Alumni- FRC Team 4239 WARPSPEED