Our team sadly didn’t make it to worlds this year . I want some tasks/projects that can keep a team busy during the off-season. We are in need of training a bunch of new/freshmen members about the bot since most of the team were senior members this year. We have access to a CNC/Woodshop and are wanting to focus on CAD and electrical areas of improvement. Any suggestions on new projects that won’t cost too much?
Turn your comp bot into the most amazing robot for off season events
Related: turn your robot into a great demo bot, c/w lights and signs, some kinda fun cargo shooter
Build new competition infrastructure: pit or robot carts, driver stations, banner stands, battery box, shelving, whatever
Run tutorials in CAD, CAM, programming, video editing, graphic design, anything that might help in season
Write a business plan and plan a sponsor blitz or fundraising drive (car wash, bottle collection, grocery bagging etc)
Pick a fun non-robot project out of a make magazine or something
Go on a field trip to a local business or technology school
And so on
What are some things you wished your robot could do that you were not able to get done? Now’s the time.
We added on a level 2 climber when we arrived at the Ontario DCMP, but we actually had plans for a level 3 that we had prototyped on our practice bot but didn’t quite get working. It will be an off season project to get that working.
We would also like to experiment with better, faster elevator setpoints, better pathfinding on the drivetrain, getting our vision assists to work more consistently, etc.
We are also losing a bunch of great software students this year as they graduate out, so it will be a conscious task to train up some of the newer students to take their place. That means basic mechanism code, autonomous commands, etc.
Don’t start by picking projects. Start by picking objectives.
Take a look at the last year and figure out what didn’t go well, why it didn’t go well, and what you could have done to do it better. Find a project that lets you work on those issues so that similar ones don’t mess up your 2020 season.
Look at your people, knowledge base, funding, facilities, and procedures. Find the weak points and figure out how to strengthen them.
Chess tourney. Then Smash Ultimate. Then Mario Cart. (If you’ve got too much time and 0 money)
I’m trying to come up with a bunch of CAD projects to use as training for the students that haven’t used our system before. Most of the projects so far are about creating a chassis with drivetrain.
I would reference https://content.vexrobotics.com/vexpro/pdf/217-8000-6WD.pdf and have the CAD students try to create the chassis. One of the steps is to create a wheel shaft that’s 3.963" long. I’d like the CAD students to see how much time is used by our fabrication team to get a part to match their drawing. I’d also like the CAD students to learn what happens if instead the fab team made a shaft longer, say 4" or shorter like 3.9" or 3.8". I want them to learn that line to line dimensions in CAD lead to longer fabrication time and also longer build times.
I think the CAD students should learn about sprocket spacing, using both the same sprocket and different sized sprockets. The same for pulleys.
After the CAD students get a frame/drivetrain finished then they should think about where they are going to put all the electrical components. You can tell when a team takes the time to layout their electrical system in CAD and when they just let the electrical team place their components after the structure is built.
For a CAD student to really help the team they have to have some knowledge in fabrication, some knowledge in build, some knowledge in electrical and a lot of knowledge in CAD.
Just thought of another thing. I think that CAD greatly helps a team in the first few days of build season by doing 2D sketches like what is seen here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8fQK6IWulSI and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_XzdzE0L3HY. While CAD can come up with a sketch for an intake for cargo this year, it’s still up to your prototype team to figure out the dimensions that the mechanism should be so it works the best.
You can have the CAD team draw up 2D sketches of robots for past years.
Whatever it is, the #1 thing is that it is something that engages a critical mass of people so they show up and keep showing up and participating. Last summer, 3946 did the “machine gun” approach with this, coming up with about ten or 20 ideas, having people vote (ranking/degree of interest, not one vote) on them and indicate how much time they anticipated having during the summer. We then selected the four most viable to do*, and three of them actually worked. One project (a class) failed when both of the instructors took unanticipated work. Another class started larger but just sort of fizzled down to three people, but that was enough for them to keep going. The “offseason event robot” did quite well, averaging at least a half dozen people per weekly build session, and we captained the third-place alliance at one event (five alliances in round-robin plus a final) and were first pick of a finalist alliance at the other. The really successful project was converting a used golf cart into an air cannon, suitable not only for football games, but Mardi Gras parades; we averaged about eight to ten people per weekly build session.
* plus a number of one and two day projects, including some demos, fun technical stuff, and field days to find more sponsors…
Designing, manufacturing, testing, and coding a swerve module (or entire drivetrain) is a serious engineering task to get right, and will challenge every technical member of your team. It’s great practice, and helps you a lot for the future as you should NEVER do a swerve for the first time during an actual season.