Silliest prototype ideas

2019 Ball picker upper (didn’t make the cut but was a cool concept)


Back quite a few years now, one of 330’s early ball-shooter prototypes was surgical tubing, a slider of some sort, and the team-version tetra-loading-station from the year before.

It was AIMED high. Tell that to the student who was expecting it above his head, and got it below the belt… the idea didn’t make it much past Day 2 as I recall.

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My team did the same exact thing for this last year and we actually made it work to my surprise. The idea came from our build captain seeing it a couple years ago which is actually what made him join the robotics team (To my recollection of his story).

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From what I heard our 2004 robot climbed that way

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We spent about 75% of our resources in the 2019 build season trying to develop a method of forklifting an alliance partner onto the HAB and then using them as a counterweight to lift ourselves up. We finally gave up after bag day and pivoted to a suction plate system which worked incredibly well for us.

Link to a post from our 2019 Reveal Thread that contains a video:


I love to see that someone else had this idea (and actually built it)! That solution was one of my first thoughts to do for HAB 3 at Kickoff, but we decided against it for reasons I don’t remember.

It was definitely a lot of fun to try and package and I’m positive we could have accomplished it if we placed that higher on our priority list, but I’m pretty proud of how far we got considering that “forklift another robot” was almost dead last on our priority list, meaning we felt we had accomplished everything else on the list prior to trying it. I think that robot is still my favorite robot we’ve built, although our benched 2020 robot is pretty close.


Cube grabber, just bad really bad

While the final iteration of our 2019 hatch manipulator worked very smoothly, the first version… didn’t. In addition to requiring perfect precision in lining up and only sometimes actually grabbing the hatch, the top plate just looked very much like a diagram of a uterus.

Here’s some clips of the testing of the first iteration, as well as some pre-CMP practice with the final iteration to contrast with.


The “silliest” prototyping I’ve ever been involved with came during Ri3D in 2015. If you’ve ever needed somebody to talk you out of forming an Ri3D team, just watch The GreenHorns playlist from that year. The GreenHorns were a lot more effective in the following years… but the first year was absolutely BRUTAL.

The “silliest” prototype from that year was probably the claw mechanism we did…

Here’s a video of it in action… again, brutal to look back on that and think that was helping anybody.

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  1. Uterus or not, that’s a cool hatch mechanism.

  2. That robot rips.

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@Drost do you have pics of the Drostapillar from 2013? I just have the sheetmetal frame.

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“What if, hear me out guys, we grabbed three cans, all at the same time? And then we put them on two stacks cause we can do that” -somebody early in the 2015 season


I can’t find the videos but I have a couple photos.

In 2013 when I was mentoring FRC 11, we had a pretty cool corner-climber design that never made it onto the field. I thought it looked like a caterpillar climbing and people ended up calling it the “Drostapillar”.

Instead of doing functionally three “pull-ups” to climb the pyramid like most other climbers were doing, we wanted to put a mechanism in the belly of the robot that was a linear drive right up the side of the pyramid. Two belts, each with 14 polyurethane feet riveted to them, would engage the corner rail of the pyramid and drive straight up. We pushed for this concept because (for the same motor count and gear ratio) it would climb twice as fast as a team who had to extend and retract an arm every rung they climbed.

We custom molded a lot of shapes for polyurethane rubber feet and ended up with what was pictured in the CAD screenshot as the most effective at gripping the painted steel pipes which made up the pyramid. The pipe would enter and become interlocked by two “tracks” of these feet opposed at a 90 degree angle from each other.

This worked and was incredibly effective for climbing a plain round pipe, but had issues getting over the “knuckle” present on the pyramid every 1/3 of the way up. Having to disengage the feet that were trapping the pipe, get over the knuckle, and reengage the feet was the larger part of the challenge.

We had it all working up to this point during week 3 of build season when I had to go back to college and could only come for Saturday and Sunday meetings. We ran out of effective time to solve the problem of getting over the knuckles during build season. This was still in the early days of bag and tag so teams weren’t so effective and agile at iterating major mechanisms onto their robot after build season ended. We all kind of agreed it would be too big of an issue to solve during competition season so we stuck with a simple 10 point climber all the way through champs.

I still don’t think it was “silly”! It would have worked given more problem solving time. Of course, @SJaladi and @Libby_K would probably argue that my bar for what is a silly idea is a lot different than most…


The true dynamic of 1923 mentorship: A system of checks and balances that keeps our wacky mentor-chat ideas away from the kids, so they can focus on making a robot that’s actually good :stuck_out_tongue:


This is absurd in the best possible way. Do you have any videos of it climbing?

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In 2018 we hit a bit of roadblock on our intake design for powercubes. A couple of weeks until our 1st event of the season this monstrosity of chipboard and wheels appeared.

Each arm pivoted near the back and each wrist pivoted near the green wheels to conform to the cube. 60% of the time it worked every time. This was probably the 5th or 6th major intake design we had tried.

2 minutes into the drive team testing it and the whole thing exploded upon contact with the switch.


I’ve looked everywhere I can think of. Google was much worse at archiving everything you say, do, or take video of back then. I know there was some video taken but it might have been lost forever five cellphones ago. If I find it I’ll post.

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When we used the 2018 robot to play Deep Space, testing whether a ramp would get it on Hab2 (the non-prototype would have swung down). I can’t find the video but 1st attempt the ramp broke off. 2nd attempt with extra strength it bottomed out on the back bumper.

I can’t not laugh about this other Hab climber test gone wrong.