Week 6 was spent getting everything ready before for the end of build season. During this week, our main goals were to finish all mechanical aspects, which needed quite a bit of work, and spend time calibrating our code.
While we were able to learn from last year’s mistakes and improve our lift mechanism by making it stronger, we made a mistake in the fabrication of it. As a result, it ended up slightly crooked. Fortunately, we were able to fix the unevenness during this week, and the lesson of “measure twice, cut once” was reinforced to us!
Eventually, the robot reached the point where we could test our code. In doing so, though, we found a few mechanical problems. With less than a week left until the end of build season, this caused quite a bit of concern. Instead of panicking, however, we evaluated the situation and set to work.
The day before Bag and Tag, we were able to have a longer meeting because it was a Teachers’ Work Day. Because we were quite behind in the design and fabrication of our collector mechanism, we used the longer meeting to work on it extensively. We made good progress and got it to a decent place, but we knew there was still quite a ways to go.
On Bag and Tag, we met at a student’s garage after finishing up a few things at Magrathea, our build space. There, we had a few of the field elements and much more room for us to test our robot! The space was also conveniently located as it was only 5 minutes away from our build space.
At the garage, our Drive Team got practice with our collector and endgame mechanism while our programmers were able to adjust the presets as needed. After testing for a couple of hours and noting what worked well and what needed to be improved, we bagged and tagged our 2019 robot, Deep Thought!
Over on the business and marketing side, we continued to steadily make progress! The new pit banners got printed and are now pit ready with the grommets put in them, and the computer stickers we designed were printed and cut out in order to give them out at competitions. We also submitted our team avatar, made more bumper hats, and finished up our robot cart design. The light-up cubes on the robot cart now have hand-drawn designs in them, and the new side side panels got printed and added to the robot cart.
Overall, it has been quite an eventful build season, and we are getting super excited for our first competition at the Wake County District Event on March 8-10!
One of our main focuses of Week 5 was to finish fabricating our lift mechanism. Mechanically, we were able to accomplish that goal and more! Our endgame mechanism is mostly finished and mounted to our 2019 robot, and our collector for the hatches and cargo was worked on more. We have also finished the electrical layout and wiring.
For business and marketing, we completed quite a few things! All the magnets and mice have been made, the Woodie Flowers write-up submitted, and after some last touch-ups, the team shirt design got finalized. We then started to work on printing out our new pit banners and robot side cart panels and began the design process for the light-up cubes we have on the robot cart.
During Week 4, our Mechanical Team finished attaching our lifting mechanism and the battery holder to our chassis and have begun to build a few things for the mechanism we are using for manipulating the cargo and hatches. On our Programming Team, they worked on fine-tuning our vision system on our practice bot, Frankie, and are currently waiting to test their code on our actual 2019 robot.
Over on the business and marketing side of the team, the Chairman’s write-up was finished and the designs for the back of the shirt, cart panels, and the banners were completed. The front design of the shirt are in its final stages, and the fridge magnets are almost done. This week, they also started to work on the mice we hand out at competitions.
This week, we also had one of our alum visit us, giving us the opportunity to sit down and catch up with a nice cup of tea!
Week 3 was full of building and testing stuff! It started off with a bang by drinking some tea and driving our completed chassis around, and for the rest of the week, our Mechanical Team focused on building the mechanism to get the balls and hatches into the rockets and cargo ships, and prototyping other ways to grab the game elements.
Our Programming Team has also continued to make great progress toward getting our robot code done. They have completed code for our collector and our mechanism to move the balls and hatches. Additionally, they have continued to work on their vision system and fixed the issue with the cameras not displaying due to networking problems.
As for our business team, we focused on putting the final touches on our cart and t-shirt designs in Illustrator. In addition to the 3D printed thumb pins, we have begun construction on handmade fridge magnets. The designs we are creating are little 42s and Babel Fish. We initially tried to make thumbs and dolphins, however, it did not work out as expected. We also have continued to mess around with designs for computer stickers.
At the start of Week 2, we were hard at work making a CAD (Computer-Aided Design) model of our robot and continuing to prototype different robot mechanisms, including the hatch and cargo collector. After a few days, we had a more concrete CAD model of this year’s robot with space left for improvements and design changes. On our Programming Team, they finished updating our practice bot, Frankie, and tested driving code. They also spent a lot of time working on our vision system.
On the business and marketing side of the team, our team focused on finishing a draft of the Chairman’s write-up and updating our pit banners and robot cart. Continuing from the first week, we also spent quite a bit of time playing with ways to replace the buttons handed out at competitions with items that are cheaper and more unique to our team. Right now, we have decided to go with 3D printed thumb pins and handmade (but cheap and easy to make) fridge magnets. We also started to play with the idea of designing computer stickers to hand out.
Near the end of the week, we were able to go to Hangar6’s facility to construct parts of our chassis. Getting to precision cut our belly pan using a laser cutter was definitely a highlight of our visit! At the end of the week, we completed the main frame of the chassis, and we hope to get our gearboxes and wheels connected to the frame in the next few days!
This 2019 season, FIRST NC invited our team along with Team 7763, Carrborobotics (our mentee team), to attend a special Kickoff at Hangar6 sponsored by Caterpillar. At Kickoff, we were able to talk with and learn from NC FRC judges and Caterpillar while bonding with Carrborobotics more. After an hour of networking, it was finally time to reveal the 2019 game, Deep Space.
Deep Space is a game where two teams composed of three robots work to deliver disks (called “hatches”) and balls (called “cargo”) to either a cargo ship or two rockets. Unlike previous games, there is no dedicated pre-programmed autonomous period. Instead, teams may decide to let their drivers control their robots like in teleop. The catch is that the drivers’ vision will be limited due to a black screen that covers the driver station view for the first fifteen seconds of a match. This is called the “sandstorm period.” During the last thirty seconds, robots may pick one of three platform heights to climb to earn extra points. The higher the level climbed, the more points the alliance gets.
Shortly after the game reveal, we took a break for lunch and then met up at a mentor’s house to continue Kickoff in a quieter and more focused place. After gathering together at our mentor’s house, we broke up into several groups (which helps eliminate groupthink) to read the rules, discuss game strategy, and come up with a basic robot design. Once every group had a basic plan in place, we all got together and had each group present their strategy and robot design. By the end of the day, we had a basic idea of how we wanted to play the game!
Continuing our momentum from Kickoff into the start of build season, we spent the first week refining our game strategy and robot design. Once we had a better idea of how we wanted to play Deep Space, we started prototyping a few of our ideas. The main things we worked on testing were our cargo and disk collector and mechanism ideas for end game. So far, we have a general design for our robot and are eager to see how the rest of the season goes!
Our Business and Marketing Teams were also hard at work during Week 1. They started the process of designing new team shirts for this season. By the end of the week, they finalized a shirt design and started to draw it in Illustrator! Additionally, they began to work on the Chairman’s write-up and experimented with different ideas to replace the buttons handed out at competitions.