Hi! I’m Ian (any pronouns), and I’m a captain and lead programmer for 3926. While I am mainly a programmer, this year my personal goal is to take a step back from just coding and help lead the team overall, and to help in the design area of the robot.
Over the summer, we met two times a week, with the goals of preparing for our first ever summer camp, and to reorganize our lab. Our goal reorganizing our lab space was to make it easier for communication between subteams to happen. To do this, we moved where code and design team operated to be on a sidewall in the lab, closer to each other, and moved shelving from the center of the lab, which created a makeshift wall between the build and technical areas of the shop. We wrapped up our Summer by participating in the Minnesota State Fair, demoing our robot.
We began our fall slow by finishing cleaning our lab, and rewiring our 2022 competition robot, Permafrost, and our test-bases. Rewiring these bases was incredibly useful, as last year our primary electronics member graduated, and there was minimal knowledge of wiring on the team. The main event of our fall offseason, however, was The T.E.S.T., a fall mock season held in Minnesota similar to Bunnybots or ORRCA. The T.E.S.T. was an invaluable training tool for us, teaching all new members (which comprise about 1/3 of our team this year), the basics of prototyping and design in a condensed FRC-like season. From the code side of things, it was extremely successful, allowing the entire robot to be programmed by rookie programers. In previous seasons, our offseason training was minimal, and as we only have one dedicated programming mentor, who also mentors in build, design, and electronics, often times coders have been expected to teach themselves on the team, which has led to many not being able to get over the extremely steep learning curve for code. This is the first year in a while in which we have a high number of coders all able to contribute to robot code, in part due to me being able to help train new coders in the context of the T.E.S.T. competition.
Now, onto the on-season:
While last year was the first full kickoff for a majority of the team, this year much of the team had previous experience. We started by watching the kickoff broadcast, followed by reading the rules in small groups to fill out a basic rules questionnaire. After sharing the rules we thought were important, we followed this by filling out strategy questionnaires in the same small groups. These helped groups determine what they thought would be valuable in the game. This followed by us playing a mock version of the game, with humans being placed on rolling chairs to LARP as robots, to help us get a feel for the game.
Finally, we went back into our small groups to create a list of priorities, of what we thought we wanted to accomplish. We would bring these back into a larger group on Monday.
On Monday, we regrouped to discuss team strategy. As we discussed, there was one question that lingered overhead? How does a team be competitive in such a swerve friendly game, without swerve? As we learned with our mock game on Saturday, Midfield defense seemed to be incredibly powerful in this game, and swerve helped to get around it. Unfortunately, we did not receive our SDS modules until late in the offseason, and ran out of time to work on it before a main season, so we will be running some form of tank drive this year.
There seemed to be two ideas of strategy forming. One was to attempt to place cones and cubes onto the high goal, with a single degree of freedom arm, with design inspiration from 1503 and 179’s Logomotion robot. Pictured Below is 1503’s 2011 robot:
The other strategy proposed was to be a low goal cycle bot, which would be simpler to build, and would prioritize cycling game pieces from the substations to the hybrid nodes, or potential alliance partners by being, small, light, fast, and highly maneuverable. We saw this being a strong potential second pick at our regionals, especially if being small would increase the chances of a triple climb.
In the end, we were unable to decide on either strategy before prototyping, so we created a prototyping/strategy priority list for both:
For both strategies, we emphasized the need to have a slim drivetrain that could be easier to fit onto the charge station, as well as easily drive over it, as an advantage of tank drive is that it will be more suited to constantly cycling over the difficult terrain of the charge station (especially if retrofitted with pneumatic wheels, which we are looking into testing), and this would free up the two lanes that could easily get congested.
Today, we started by finalizing our decisions for our drivetrain. While we have built custom drive trains between 2019-2022, this year we decided to use a modified KoP drive train to save time, and because the configurations it allowed were suited to the robot we wanted to create. The kit base will be in the slimmest configuration possible regardless of design. We will most likely power it with 4 or 6 Neo motors. After making our drivetrain decisions, we began to research and prototype in 4 groups: Low Goal bot, High Goal Arm, Intake, and Cone Uprighting (a priority of the low goal feeder bot)
I was lead the intake group (the leaders of the other groups will share what they prototyped soon):
After researching, we came up with two concepts that we were interested in prototyping. The first was a setup with four powered compliant wheels, with two at a wider distance in front and two with a smaller distance in back. The wider opening of the front wheels would intake the cubes, while the smaller wheels in the back would be able to grab the cones. While we ran out of time before being able to test both sets of wheels at once, we were able to find the most effective distances for the black compliant wheels that we used. We found that 7 inches from inside edge to inside edge proved most effective for the outer set of the wheels, and are still testing various distances for the inner set of wheels (as well as vertical heights to mount them out as the cone diameter changes). Overall, we learned a lot about how these game pieces interact through the prototyping, and hopefully we will have a complete prototype by the end of tomorrow.