WildStang and Plus One is pleased or announce our 2023 season build blog! While not an official #openalliance team, will be posting updates about our team, things we’ve learned and our build progress throughout the build season. While we greatly appreciate the efforts of the #openalliance (and have benefitted from their findings over the years), we are opting to not fully participate as we feel that the full unfiltered information on our strategies, code and build is not entirely beneficial without proper context. However, we will attempt to post as much information as we can for the broader FRC community.
111 CAD: Onshape
112 CAD: Onshape
(Software links coming soon)
Who We Are
WildStang Robotics Program consists (WSRP) of two FRC teams, Team 111 WildStang and Team 112 Plus One. We also have multiple FLL teams at our affiliate school MacArthur Middle School in Prospect Heights, IL, which is also where our FRC shop is currently located. Our 2023 FRC teams tops out at 75 students hailing from all seven Township High School District 214 high schools on Chicago’s NW suburbs. Our programs has 12 technical mentors from the defense, communications, coin-op, automation and broadcasting fields. Additionally, we two non-technical mentors from the communications and healthcare fields. One point of pride in our mentor staff; 11 of these mentors are FRC alumni. The student → mentor cycle is a big part of our success.
WSRP is a credit-bearing program at our high schools. To facilitate this, five teachers oversee most of the administrative tasks of the team as well as ensure that the program is meeting or exceeding the education requirements of our school district.
We assign students to team 111 or 112 based on their years of experience in WSRP. 112 primarily consists of underclassman while 111 is primarily upperclassman. The choice for two FRC teams was one of the big takeaways from our very successful 2021 intramural season (link). We found that our limited engagement in underclassman was mostly due to their not being enough work for 75 students on a team that was only building one robot……so the natural conclusion was two robots with dedicated work for each age bracket. 112 made it’s re-debut during the 2022 season.
Both teams will be competing week 2 at the Midwest Regional and week 5 at the Seven Rivers regional.
How We Are Organized
WSRP teams follow what I call the ‘old school’ FRC format. We attempt to mirror real world industry department structure onto our teams as best as possible. Mentors serve as the ‘senior engineers’ or department leads, while the students act as the intern/junior engineers on a project. We meet for four, three-hour sessions on weekdays and Saturdays for 6 hours. Over the years (and through several different hour requirement structures) we have found that this organizational structure helps to ensure that students can participate in the team to the level of their choosing. Lower attendance students still have a place to come 1-2 days a week and have something productive to jump in on, while high-attendance students can treat this with the time commitment of a varsity sport and own larger portions of the robot design. Mentors are in charge of overseeing that all work is being done in a timely manner, and is productive towards completing the robots.
WSRP is a year round program, however, we scale back meeting hours during the fall semester, meeting only on Mondays for class and optional Wednesdays for things like driver practice, FLL mentoring and shop organization.
During these Monday classes, 112 students attend two, six week mentor taught courses in two of the WSRP sub teams. These are intended to expose students to as much of the FRC knowledge base as possible outside of the build season. Having them attend two sub-teams classes also empowers them make more informed decisions about the sub team that they will participate on in the spring build season. One other (slightly intentional) effect of this formula is students tend to be more aware of how their sub-team will interact with other sub-teams during build. Things like the reason for creation of our motor ID sheet and pre-assigning CAN ID’s become more obvious when you see for yourself how that information can expedite robot bring up for the software team. The mechanical team getting to see what parts of the control system are required and best practices for wiring and layout can help them make more informed decision during the robot design process.
While not strictly ready/documented for third parties to teach from, I’ll release our fall mechanical class slides here: Link
Students in our fall mechanical class will get exposed to everything from strategic design, fasteners, materials, COTS vendors, as well we several hands on activities in the shop. We also have them setup OnShape accounts and work their way up to designing a full WCD chassis by the end of the six weeks.
111 students spend the fall classes working on what we call ‘thesis projects’. These are projects of the students choosing that must be in some way beneficial to the team. This year we had projects that involved developing new robot sub-system designs(more on that later) to investigating things about our team such as equitability in our enrollment process and alumni outcome research. We’ve also had multiple service projects created and executed through our fall these project program.
What We’ve Been Working On
One of our top priorities each year is to choose our drivers for the coming season. We do this as early as possible to maximize the amount of stick time our drive teams have before competition. Waiting for a complete robot often means that they will only have 1-2 weeks at best on a robot before hitting a real match. Of important note, our 2021-22 111 driver also graduated last year, meaning we are in need of replacing the 100’s of hours he had driving swerve. Drivers are selected through evaluation against criteria that isn’t entirely skilled based. We have created this document to outline what we look for in a driver. (It’s largely based on an old 254 document, but has been updated to better correspond to our team’s requirements.)
Driveteam selection document: Link
On the mentor side, most of our work has been pre-buying many of the COTS components we expect to use for the 2023 season. Stocking up on things like Spark Maxes, NEOs, PDH’s has been the entire game this fall. Supply chain has still been rough, so being on your toes to click buy when things go up for sale is half the battle. Right now we are running an inventory of electronics that will let us build two entire PDH’s worth of robots with full sized NEO’s. Some level of this inventory was harvested from our 2022 robots, converting those to demo or display-only robots.
We are also fully stocked on our most of the extrusion, sheet and axle stock will anticipate needing for 2023. We can usually go 2-3 seasons between restocks, but 2022 was our year to buy. We usually hold about 100ft of 2x1x1/16, 100ft of 2x1/8 and 50ft of 1x1x1/8 in stock at max capacity.
111 is anticipating going with swerve for this next season and has purchased five Rev MaxSwerve modules. We ran SDS MK3 modules during 2021 and 2022 and had no issues with them, but given the uncertain supply with the MK4i’s for 2023, we opted to go to the REV modules. Had we received them before the fall classes ended, we would have built up an entire development base with them for our software team to migrate our swerve framework with and begin auto-pathing, but now that work will have to happen during week 1 of build season. The goal is to have the dev base entirely built and wired by the Tuesday after kickoff for delivery to the software sub-team. One of our students has created a full scalable swerve chassis that will let us create the shop prints for this drive base within a matter of minutes letting us get that build team off and running on the Monday after kickoff.
Configurable MaxSwerve Base CAD: Link
112 is anticipating going with with a WCD style drivetrain. We have spent much of our time learning about the new Rev gearboxes and how they would best integrate into our design language.
Much of our fall these project involve creating ‘template’ designs for things like intakes, lifts, drivebases, etc. We are betting on 2023 being a lift game, so this year we tasked a fall thesis project group to design a multi-stage lift system. We were pretty unsatisfied with the rigidity of our 2019 lift system, but now lacked the sponsor resources that we used to construct our much more sturdy 2018 lift. This team’s project involved adapting this design to better match our 2023 construction capabilities. Expect a write up on this design in the coming days from one of our junior students.