Meet Ruby, the Rheumatologist.

Ruby will be competing at the Ventura Regional (March 16-18) and the Orange County Regional (March 30-April 1). See you there!

ENABLING! | 02.07.17


Now we know gravity works because everyone is sitting on the floor. (blurred to make the reveal more exciting)

We're done with our robot! Technically. All that's really left is the pressure pad for the gear manipulator. Other than that, we uploaded the code and wired everything together. So, we were able to enable the robot and get results!

When we first enabled the robot, the air compressor didn't turn on. We first thought that it was a fault in wiring: we attached a red wire to a green wire (which is bad). But when we fixed that, it still didn't actuate. Eventually, we found that something was not plugged in. Even still, we ran into more problems with the motors. One side of the drive worked properly, and the other didn't. We pinned it down to be an electronics issue, but we later discovered that it is a problem with the code. We plan on getting that fixed tomorrow.

Regardless of the brief testing session, this is a really big achievement for us to be done with the robot so early into Build Season! This gives us 1-2 weeks of drive practice and troubleshooting.

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No-Code, All Done | 02.06.17


14 more days left, and we are getting really close to finishing our no-code robot! We're hoping to have a driving robot by tomorrow night.

Our wheels are really are very low on the chassis because there is no varied terrain on field.

Today, we finished mounting the drive system to the chassis. We left it out of assembly for a long time because of the late arrival on the gearboxes. Lift has been installed for days now, and all that's left for the gear manipulator is the pressure pad behind it (which will alert the trapdoor to open, dropping the gear). Previously, we were working on programming a force-sensing resistor which would be actuated by the peg pressing onto the pressure pad, but we decided to switch to limit switches because it is simpler and easier for us to work with.

We wired up the blinky, the lights which let us know whether the robot is on or off. We also lengthened the wires for our pneumatic system..

Before updating the code on the robot, we are looking into our code, double checking for any situations not already accounted for. For example, if the rope travels through the IR Break Beam too quickly and the program speed is too slow to catch it, we need to fix that problem in code. So, we are doing all of this troubleshooting beforehand to save time in the following week to fix for more difficult scenarios.

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Superbowl Sunday | 02.05.17


Just before the Superbowl, we met at K2 in order to get as much as we can assembled before Monday. 

Mr. Dobry dropped off some Robo-Chili for lunch! Fitting for Superbowl Sunday.

We finally finished fabricating the mounting plates for the gearboxes, which we have not yet placed on the robot. However, we did almost finish mounting the gear mechanism. All that's left for it is the trapdoor which will release the gear from the mechanism. Other than that, we are done installing the pneumatic system, and our electronics team is waiting on the gearboxes to be set up on the robot before they begin wiring everything together.

In the meantime, our programming team drove around the modular chassis, trying to align the gear onto the peg through vision tracking. The primary problem was with the oscillation from the linearized drive and how easily the robot turned when the driver was controlling it. So, we tuned some values in code to make it more comfortable for the driver to drive as well as to fix the oscillation.

Ultimately, Day 30 was a chill day. We left K2 early (2:00 PM) with a good chunk of work done, and we're thankful that one of our coaches (Mr. Beal) and a few of our mentors (Mr. Paulson, Mr. Fitzgerald, Mr. Dobry, Mr. Fischbach, Mr. Kalman) were able to open up the machine shop for us.

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Putting It Together | 02.04.17


The final shipment of gearboxes have finally entered the machine shop! So, we're starting to pick up the pace. Surprisingly, even after the (very long) delay, we are still on schedule.

For the lift, we took the entire system off of the chassis in order to paint it. While it was still off of the chassis, we put on the chain for the winch, and it hit the 3D-printed chain guard. So, we used a hot knife to cut out a slot of the chain to move freely. At the end of the day, we a put it back onto the robot, so lift assembly is officially complete.

Fixing and assembling the gear manipulator.

We finished assembling our gear manipulator, off of the robot, so it is expected to be mounted on Ruby by tomorrow. Assembly, however, took the entire day because there are three full layers on the gear manipulator: the lexan piece from which the gear will exit, the metal piece that gives the manipulator enough structure to hold the gear, and the lexan piece with the slot and chute. Unfortunately, when transfer punching the holes which are supposed to mount each layer to another, things got a little unaligned, so a small group spent the entire day doing that. Regardless, it is expected to be mounted on Ruby by day 28, so it is still a big "to-do" checked off.

When we troubleshooted the encoders on our modular chassis, it did not return any values, but then we found that it was not placed on the shaft. Still, it didn't work, but then we found that the pins were not properly attached. Once we fixed all of those issues, the encoders started working, which is a good thing because now we know they work!

The gearboxes are fully assembled, but we did not receive the shipment for the mounting plates (which mount the gearbox onto the robot), so we began manufacturing our own. Before assembling all of the pieces, we tested the electronic and pneumatic system, checking for faults in code or leaks from tubes. 

Tomorrow, we expect the robot to be entirely assembled (gearboxes, electronics, and all) without code.

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Video by Nathan Lee.

Recap: Week 4 | 02.03.17


Last week, we wanted to have a rolling robot by today, but we have not been able to get there just yet (particularly because of ordered parts not arriving as planned). Still, we did the most with what we had left to do, and we pretty much have a fully assembled robot, mechanically (nothing moves).

Next week, our goals are to:

  • Finish mounting gear manipulator (with pressure pad)
  • Finish wiring electronic/pneumatic system
  • Finish assembling the full, untested, driving robot
  • Finish integrating all of the pieces of code into master testing code
  • Begin driver practice
  • Begin autonomous testing

This week, we:

  • Received 3/4 of gearbox shipments
    • FINALLY (kind of)
  • Finished assembling mechanical parts of lift
  • Finished constructing touch pad simulator (for testing lift)
  • Finished 3D-printing guard for lift system
  • Finished fabricating manifolds for pneumatic system
  • Finished board for pneumatic system
  • Finished code for IR Break Beam Sensor
  • Almost done with fabrication for gear manipulator
  • Almost done with forse-sensing resistor code
  • Tested Pixy recognition for gear outtake
  • Began battery box fabrication

Tentatively, we will have our rolling robot complete around Sunday/Monday. Then, we can begin driver practice, autonomous testing. We'll be testing our lift with our touch pad simulator and testing our gear manipulator with our gear slot from Week 1. All of the fun stuff is happening this upcoming week, so make sure to stay tuned!

Who rocks? 'Dox rocks!

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20 Days to Go!| 01.30-31.17

2017 BUILD SEASON: DAY 24-25 (WEEK 4)

Stop Build Day is 20 days away and time is a thief, so trying to do as much as we can before the gearboxes (which we ordered 3 weeks ago) come in.

Assembly for the lift system is mostly complete as we have only the support tubes left to mount. The tubes belong in between the angled bar supports and the vertical bar supports. They are necessary to prevent the robot from stretching when it climbs. We are also making a second butterfly for competition just in case it breaks. The gear manipulator is still in fabrication.

A lot of sensors going on our robot because we want precision. We are currently working on the pressure plate which goes behind the gear manipulator and the IR Break Beam Sensor used for the lift. The pressure plate uses a force-sensing resistor, which is something new to us. As of right now, all we really know is that it uses resistance to calculate the force and voltage, so we are currently doing research on it. The IR Break Beam Sensor uses a beam which goes from one end to the receiving end and returns values when it is broken or unbroken. This action will be extremely helpful in letting our drivers know whether or not the rope has entered the robot, so they can then begin the climb sequence.

The world's most beautiful bumpers, presented by Robodox 599.

The wiring of the electronics is still waiting on everything to be assembled and more importantly for the gearboxes (which are still not here yet) to be mounted. But for the pneumatic system, we made a second manifold for the stored side. For pneumatics, there are two different sides with different psi levels: the working side and the stored side. A few days ago, we created our working side manifold to be less compact than the stored side as the stored side needs to be compact. So, the air from the stored side will travel to the working side where it will be distributed throughout the robot.

Also, we finished our bumpers! They look very nice. The lines are clean and the edges are taut.

Ultimately, progress is slowing down because we anticipated that the gearboxes would come in a couple of weeks ago. But we're doing the best we can with the time we have left.

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Halfway There! | 01.28-29.17

2017 BUILD SEASON: DAY 22-23 (WEEK 4)

Two of the four on our electronic/pneumatic subsystem drilling holes into the pneumatic manifold

Two of the four on our electronic/pneumatic subsystem drilling holes into the pneumatic manifold

Two more weeks of Build Season left! The clock is ticking, but we are (for the most part) on schedule.

On Saturday, Day 22, a lot of manufacturing got done, as last week and this week have been, primarily, fabrication days.

We had to change how we planned on mounting the gearboxes for our lift system, which means that we have a few extra pieces to make. The V-shaped hood (aka rope guide, aka "toilet seat") got some changes to it since the last time we mentioned it on this blog. It now looks like a toilet seat, but still serves as a rope guide and is still in the same position as before. That has not been manufactured yet. But other than that, all of the structural elements for the lift have already been manufactured, including our winch hook (we call it the "butterfly" because it looks like a butterfly). As for the gear manipulator, we added a "front cover" to the box, and we are still fabricating pieces for the system. We also began manufacturing our pneumatic manifold because our pneumatic system design is finalized.

Additionally, we have been debugging the encoder drive (driving a certain distance) and trying to make it work with vision tracking. In order to do so, we hooked up encoders on the modular chassis.

Day 23 is dedicated towards working on the bumpers because K2, our classroom, is closed for the day.

The gearboxes we ordered a couple of weeks ago still have not come in. They are scheduled to arrive soon, and as soon as we get them onto Ruby, we can finally begin testing tele-op driving and the autonomous code. We hope to have a rolling robot by the end of this week.

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Writer's Notes:
If you've ever, within the past couple of days, decided to check on our old blog posts, you'll notice that they've disappeared! Unfortunately the website does not allow for a single page to stretch that far down, so it automatically chunked out a number of theblogs. We're unable to salvage said written blog posts, but if you want to check out all of the recap videos, there is a playlist on YouTube.
In the past week, our blog posts dropped from one a day to one every two days. The manufacturing phases of Build Season, it becomes harder to give full, complete updates. Once we go into testing, we can revert back to daily blogs.
Thank you for understanding & thank you for reading.

Video by Carmina delos Santos.

Recap: Week 3 | 01.27.17


In just a couple of days, it will officially be the half way point of Build Season. We're nearing the end, but we're prepared and we're getting a lot of things checked off of our list. We are still doing a lot of fabrication this week, and we're waiting on our gearbox shipment to come in so that we can have a rolling robot by the end of this week.

Next week, our goals are to:

  • Finish wiring electronics and the pneumatic system throughout robot
  • Finish gear manipulator fabrication
  • Finish code for the IR Break Beam Sensor and the lift, combine afterwards
  • Test the electronics on the robot
  • Test precision driving using encoders
  • Begin gear manipulator assembly

This week, we:

  • Finished entire CAD model for robot
    • Still making minute changes as the season goes on
  • Finished CAD modeling pneumatic tanks on the robot
  • Finished fabrication for lift
  • Finished the untested autonomous code
  • Finished programming a solid base for vision tracking
  • Tested motor and pneumatic code off of the robot
  • Almost done with robot superstructure
  • Began fabrication for gear manipulator 

Stay updated by keeping up with our daily (sometimes every-other-day) blogs, weekly vlogs, and posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. See you next tomorrow!

Who rocks? 'Dox rocks!

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Superstructure| 01.25-26.17

2017 BUILD SEASON: DAY 19-20 (WEEK 3)

25 more days left of build season, and we're nervous and excited at the same time.

It's been a really long while, but we're still waiting on our gearboxes to get Ruby on wheels. For the superstructure, we made spacers and the shafts for the climb gearbox, finished the hubs that go in those tubes, and mounted the gusset to hold the climb gearbox, which we just assembled. Manufacturing for our gear mechanism has just started. We're also 3D-printing a part of the robot with our new Dremel 3D-Printer! It will serve as a guard for our lift mechanism, so that when the rope begins to wrap around the winch, it doesn't get caught in the chain.

Ruby's superstructure being assembled.

Day 19, for programming, we modified our autonomous code to be more organized. We also did initial tests for the Pixy code. At first the robot turned the wrong way, but then it was fixed. Today, we played with and debugged the vision tracking code. There was a small code problem where we kept on setting the speed of the drive motors to zero, but that is also fixed now.

As for electronics/pneumatics, we mounted the tanks on the robot and worked on a finalized design and placement for the pneumatics. Even though the only pneumatic parts belong on the gear mechanism and on the shifters for our drive, the gear intake is arguably our most crucial component to score throughout the match. Additionally, in order to be consistent with our full CAD model, we placed the pneumatic tanks on the robot and redesigned pneumatics around the current CAD model.

To wrap it up, today, we had a subsystem head meeting where we talked about schedule updates and deliverables.

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Blurred picture of our final CAD model. Everything yellow is in progress or completed.

Assembling and Assessing | 01.23-24.17

2017 BUILD SEASON: DAY 17-18 (WEEK 3)

Although our gearboxes have not come in yet, we still got a lot done in the past two days.

We completed fabrication for the superstructure of our robot, including the round columns which help with structural support. For the lift system, we mounted the angled member (the support for the rope guide) and motor mounts. About 30% of our robot is completed.

Testing out the Pixy code. The Pixy tracks the bright red tape, and the code realigns the servo to follow the tape.

As for programming, we tested the code for the gear manipulator. Particularly, we tested out the pneumatic pistons for the gear manipulator. At first when we uploaded code to a pneumatic test bed, none of the pistons were actuating. We had to manually fire off the piston to make sure it was not broken, and after a couple of tries, it worked. So, once we then went back to code and tried to fire off the piston, it was successful.

Additionally, with our Pixy code, we combined it with the drive code so we can vision track the reflective gear pegs and potentially the rope as well.

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Build, Build, Build | 01.21-22.17

2017 BUILD SEASON: DAY 15-16 (WEEK 3)

As our progress speeds up during build season, we get to the point where we are manufacturing, manufacturing, manufacturing. In turn, things get harder to talk about in detail. Still, the purpose of this blog is not only to inform you about what is happening in K2, but also to serve as a log which we can look back on and check our progress.

In the shop, our Chief of Operations, Andrew Petrak, and our mentor (and former member), Omair Qureshi, file down the rails for the chassis

In the past two days, the CAD models for the lift and gear manipulator have been completed and are now ready for assembly. The entire CAD assembly for the robot should be finished within the next couple of days. Quickly following should be the fabrication for both of those subsystems as well as for the superstructure. As for the base, our gearboxes have not come in yet, so we are still unable to assemble our drive system.

While the final CAD model continued to get refined, there are pieces we were able to make while other aspects were being adjusted. We have rails, gussets, and a few other small pieces already fabricated and ready to go on the existing chassis.

For programming, we worked on our autonomous, getting game field dimensions and calculating driving distances. In order to drive exact lengths, we are using the inches of the dimensions and converting them into encoder ticks. Our strategy involves seven different autonomous sequences, so ensuring the precision of the distance traveled is crucial to our success. Additionally, we got the Pixy to work, another significant component for our strategy.

Throughout the rest of this week, most of our progress directly on the robot will be coming from manufacturing, so be sure to keep up with the little details here. 

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Video by Carmina delos Santos.

Recap: Week 2 | 01.20.17


With designs refined and CAD almost complete, this week is going to follow with a lot of fabrication, fabrication, fabrication!

This week, we:

  • Finished fabricating and assembling metal chassis
  • Finished code for drive, gear manipulator, and lift
  • Finished constructing and mounting the electronics board
  • Almost done with lift and gear CAD models
  • Finished fabricating and assembling chassis
  • Started fabrication for gear manipulator and lift
  • Confirmed use of IP Cameras

Next week, our goals are to:

  • Finish lift and gear manipulator CAD models
  • Finish untested code for autonomous
  • Finish wiring electronics board
  • Begin fabrication for superstructure
  • Begin fabrication for gear manipulator and lift

And this is when the "Build" in Build Season begins! Stay updated by following our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts and by checking in for our daily blogs. 

Who rocks? 'Dox rocks!

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Piston Problems | 01.19.17


The 'Dox at things from a different angle to finish the gear manipulator CAD model.

According to our written calendar, today's is the deadline for the gear manipulator. But calculations, the two-day break, and last-minute changes set us back.

On SOLIDWORKS, measuring angles made on the box by the piston.

To recap, our gear mechanism is essentially an open-faced box which tilts (with a piston) to catch the gear. When the piston retracts, the box returns to a vertical position.

For a couple of days, we have doing calculations for the placements of the pistons. Initially, the pistons would be mounted on the inside of the robot so that it could push the gear manipulator forward from the top. But we came across a less space consuming (and easier to calculate) solution: pulling the box down from the bottom.

Instead of having the pistons far from the point of rotation, we can put the pistons on the front of the box, pulling from the bottom. The calculations for the tilt, with this solution, is much easier than before because it is closer to the pivot point.

The trade-off is time. Our schedule for the gears manipulator is pushed back by two days. We are hoping to finally finish our CAD model by tomorrow, and beginning of fabrication should quickly follow. As for the other subsystems, the metal chassis has been assembled and painted, the electronics board is being assembled, lift fabrication started, and programming for the manipulators is still in the process.

We pushed back the clock, but we're pulling this together.

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Minor Changes, Big Impacts | 01.18.17

Post-meeting. The CAD model used to be on the projector screen but was cleverly blurred and edited out of the picture.



With ~75 % of the entire CAD model complete (confirmed by the CAD team), there are only a few details and changes which need to be made to each subsystem before manufacturing begins. Today, we had a brief meeting between all of the subsystems, and it brought about a few alterations.

Small, yet significant changes have been made to our lift design. Initially, what we had was a structure towards the front of our robot, opposite of the gear manipulator, which held up the V-shaped hood from its tips. Because it will be made of Lexan, there is no support which prevents it from bending when it hits the touch pad. The fix to this issue is to move the structure from the front of the robot to the back (the same side of the gear manipulator) so that we can trace the back and the sides of the V-shaped hood with L-bars, ensuring that it does not bend.

Additionally, instead of aiming for a directly vertical climb, the back of the V-shaped hood, where the stronger support is, will travel higher than there rest of the robot. Although the shift of the hood structure to the back seemingly alters with this strategy, the battery, gearboxes, motors, and air compressor negate and even surpass the weight added, allowing for the tilted climb.

Even though these changes might set back lift fabrication by a few hours, much progress has been made with the drive subsystem. The gear subsystem is going through calculations as to where to place the pistons, but with our dedicated mentors around, that shouldn't be an issue. The metal chassis was completed today, with the electronics board already mounted. And most importantly, the robot's CAD model is ~75% done, which means the machine shop will get busy and the real building begins!


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To preface: the room where we keep all of our computers is called The Cave.

Cave-fessions | 01.17.17


 NOTE: the title was confirmed by 75% of the Veteran Programmers.

Yesterday, we might have decided to finally take a break from Build Season... But don't worry—it was only that day (as of now)! Today, even though we do not officially meet on Tuesdays, we are in K2, making up for lost time. Our chassis should be assembled by the end of today, fabrication of the lift and gear mechanisms should begin today (the CAD models should be complete by this upcoming Saturday), and the electronics board is being made today.

In order for any of these systems to work, we need to tell it what to do with C++. And that's what our awesome, hardworking programmers do! For the past week, while the other systems were still finalizing their designs, they've been working on the different sensors that Ruby will use:

  • Cameras are perfect for the drivers to be able to see what's on the field from a different point of view. Still, the biggest problem is that most cameras use the RoboRIO to process video and send it to the driver's station. What ends up happening is the processing of the videos slows down motors, hindering efficiency. However, if we use an IP Camera, we can bypass all of the computing by plugging it in straight through the mesh router, and through Wi-Fi, the video is sent directly to the driver's station, ultimately meaning less work for the RoboRIO. We have yet to find out if using an IP Camera is against the rules and regulations, so our use of it is tentative.
  • Gyroscopes track specific angles of orientation. By utilizing this information, there are endless ways to autonomously correct the drive. Using PID, we can adjust the drive by ensuring the robot drives in straight lines, reduce jerking, self-correct orientation, and auto-turn to specific degrees. Not only will the gyro affect the tele-operated period, it will also be especially useful for perfecting our autonomous.
  • Encoders convert the angular motion of a motor into code. With encoders, we can program an automated stop which will help particularly with our lift mechanism. Although the encoder tracks the angular velocity of the motor, the Talon SRX is the real MVP of the program. By tracking the change in current from the Talon, we can set a threshold at which, when the motor experiences more and more resistance, it knows to stop, locking the robot at the top of the rope without continually spinning the motors.
  • A Pixy identifies images, which will be vital in situations which require precise driving (aligning the gear deposit and acquiring the rope for lift). By using x & y-coordinates of the image, we can program the robot to adjust its position so that it orients itself the same way for the same task every single time. For gear deposit, the peg is reflective, so the Pixy can easily identify it. For our rope, we can alter it (within regulation) to have a distinct color so that the Pixy can recognize it and realign the robot around it. Another great thing about the Pixy is that it is not data-intensive, so it does not stress out the RoboRIO as it already has so many tasks to take care of.

A++ for C++!

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Sam Dobry, our 599 Co-President, making the bumpers while on break.

Sam Dobry, our 599 Co-President, making the bumpers while on break.

Bumpers | 01.15.17


No rest for the dedicated.

This weekend, because of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we have a 3-day break (Saturday, Sunday, and Monday). Yesterday, we were able to work in K2, but for the remainder of the weekend, the doors will be closed and Build Season is paused for us until Tuesday. 

Still, there is no rest for the dedicated! Our Co-President, Sam Dobry, and our hardworking mentor, Mr. Dobry, are spending their "break" making the bumpers for Ruby in their own home. Although it doesn't seem like much is going to be done this weekend, this means two things: our members don't know the definition of a "break" and we have the dimensions for our robot finalized! So, make sure to check in with our blogs daily for updates because there is always something being done.

Our work is our play.

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Lift Off! | 01.14.17


The 'Dox have survived a week of Build Season!

The SpaceX-Iridium-1 rocket hurdling through space in K2.

To celebrate, we started Day 8 by watching SpaceX launch the Iridium-1 rocket. We watched as the concepts we practice daily in robotics come to life and soar into space. A great way to start off the day.

Yesterday, we ran our lift proof-of-concept, and it seemed a success! We mounted the mechanism onto our modular chassis, underneath the V-shaped "hood", and we tracked the motor strength and time that it would take for the robot to escalate until the hood touched the roof of our lift-testing structure.

First, we ran the motors at 30% power, and the robot climbed the distance from the floor to the touch pad in about 9-10 seconds. No motors stalled, and the climb was stable for the most part (it spun slightly). Additionally, when it climbed, it tilted backwards because of the uneven weight distribution, so that will affect the way the robot applies force onto the touch pad. Ultimately, it was a confident run. Afterwards, we wanted to amp it up. We were skeptical of running the motors at 100% power... so we ran them at 99%, just to be safe. It scaled the distance in about 3 seconds, and all of the effects (no stalling, slight spin, backwards tilt) were the relatively the same as the 30% power run.

Our altered run for the lift was much more unstable than the previous. We are making alterations to fix this.

However, as we entered Day 8, things changed. We added our prototype gear manipulator to the front of the robot, changing the weight distribution, and as the new features added more force onto the structure, the way the robot climbs is affected greatly. It tilted a lot more than before, and the chain even fell off of the sprocket.

Despite the negative changes, we decided to cut testing for the lift as we already have all of the information we need. For the aspects we need to test, our modular chassis is not fit to perform them. Our debates on more torque versus a faster climb can be solved by ordering the gear sizes needed for both and testing it on the actual robot, with all of the components assembled. Additionally, the solution of weight distribution is restricted by the amount of clamps on the prototype; there is no space to place weight where needed to change the center of gravity. That, too, will be tested on the actual robot.

There's only up from here.

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Video by Carmina delos Santos.

Recap: Week 1 | 01.13.17


Only Week 1 of Build Season, and we already have so many of our objectives completed!

Next week, our goals are to:

  • Finish gear manipulator prototype
  • Finish lift CAD and gear manipulator CAD
  • Finish fabricating drive
  • Begin lift and gear manipulator fabrication
  • Begin drive assembly

This week, we:

  • Finished game strategy
  • Finished lift prototype
  • Finished drive chassis CAD
  • Almost done with gear manipulator prototype
  • Almost done fabricating drive
  • Started modeling lift and gear manipulator on CAD

We're all excited by how quickly things are moving, and we hope you are too. Even still, as we continue to check things off of our to-do list, we run into many more tasks. So, we still have so much more in store for you! Make sure to stay updated by keeping up with our daily blogs, weekly vlogs, and posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. See you next week (as in, tomorrow)!

Who rocks? 'Dox rocks!

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Wired Up & Fired Up | 01.12.17

The projected layout of the electronics arrangement.


Tune into watt's happening with electronics and programming.

FIRST Steamworks permits two different size restrictions: 36"x 40"x 24" tall or 30"x32"x36" tall. Because our strategy involves the lift, we decided on the taller size restriction (36" max height) because it would mean we would have to travel only 26" off the floor as opposed to 38" with the 24" tall design. Additionally, having a smaller base helps our drivers with maneuverability on the field.

The trade-off for having a taller robot, however, is compromising the base area, so our electronics team has very little room on the robot to work with. Other things that have to be taken into consideration before wiring up the robot are the pneumatic systems and the lift and gear manipulators. Because of all of these restrictions, we have to carefully design the electronics board in order to maximize the amount of space given, and to do so, we model the arrangement of our electronic components on CAD.

Regardless of the size restrictions, we are striving towards an efficient robot, so our robot will be running many sensors in order to enhance driving and perfect its performance. To make gear manipulation easier, we are attaching a Pixy which will use image recognition in order to align the robot with the peg. An IR Break Beam Sensor will autonomously sense that the rope is inside the robot, aiding our lift mechanism. For precise turning, a gyroscope can detect specific angle measurements and adjust the drive as needed. Encoders identify motor rotation, which will help with the autonomous sequence.

We're powering through this Build Season.

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Gears On, Rotors Running | 01.11.17


As Week 1 comes to a close, the 'Dox shift gears.

Yesterday, at the end of the day, each subsystem head (drive, gears, lift) met to deliberate and map out the design. The amount of space on the robot has already been allocated for each subsystem, so now know our dimensions. Today, we begin manufacturing a functioning winch, similar to what would be on the final robot, and attaching it onto the modular chassis for competition simulation. Overall, the center of work in K2, our classroom, has shifted from the whiteboards to the machine shop, and the machines whir nonstop as the lift subsystem works on the proof-of-concept and the drive subsystem begins to fabricate major components for the chassis. 

Our kickin' CAD station provided by our awesome sponsor, Cooler Master.

The only subsystem working outside of the shop is the gear subsystem. At our Cooler Master CAD Station, we are modeling the gear manipulator, which has already been prototyped and tested, on SOLIDWORKS. The gear manipulator CAD is scheduled for completion on Day 13.

Initially, we had a passive manipulator which required only one moving part. But having a passive design leaves room for variable mistakes in its intake that cannot be fixed midgame. For example, in our initial design, if the gear dropped into the robot in a position other than vertical, we would have had no way to fix the alignment, and a gear would have been wasted.

Our final design, on the other hand, is refined for consistent and accurate performance. On the front of our robot is a piston-actuated ramp which collects the gear from the retrieval zone. If at first the gear drops onto the ramp at an angle, the piston retract to align the gear vertically so it drops into a narrow chute. To score, we simply drive up to the peg, maneuvering it through two spokes on the gear and through a slot in the chute. Once we drive far enough, the peg will trigger a pressure pad which releases a trapdoor to deposit the gear.

The first week of Build Season is quickly coming to a close. The chassis is scheduled for assembly Day 10, and on the same day, gear and lift fabrication begins. Everything is happening quickly and we have a lot in store for you, so make sure to stay updated through our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and our blog!

Hold on tight, this Build Season is taking off!

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