Week 1 (January 8-12): Getting Started
After a snow day on the first official weekday of the season, groups quickly began working on their projects after a successful weekend at kickoff and lots of excitement all over the internet about FIRST.
The first thing that the drive subteam did in the first week of the season was decide the design for the competition robot. They decided on a 4 + 2 drive, which is a drive frame with four omni wheels and two colsons. There were many factors that contributed to this decision, including the fact that it would increase stability and offer increased maneuverability. In addition, they began to assemble gearboxes but stopped after realizing they were missing a critical piece. Later on in the week, they worked on machining shafts that could be used on the competition robot.
Programming mostly worked on upgrading the code from last year to the 2018 version of the software FIRST provides for teams. Thanks to their layered code structure, only small parts of the code had to be rewritten and everything else was left untouched. They also got the test bed, a barebones robot used for prototyping, up and running. For any new robot, they have to run a series of tests to “characterize” it, or finding a few numbers that describe how it behaves. Doing this on the test bed took longer than expected because of a few bugs, which were quickly fixed. The upside of testing robots like this is that errors can be found before they become major roadblocks.
The first week for electronics was spent building field elements and doing everything to prepare for building the electronics board later on in build season. These mostly included crimping on connectors to motors and motors controllers, as well as testing beam break IR sensors for use with intake. They also purchased a new hydraulic crimper to ensure the strength of the battery crimps and began changing the wires on batteries to 4 AWG to minimize voltage drop. For field elements, an incredible amount of wood was needed, so the team prioritized getting pieces cut out and labeled with the table saw whenever mentors were available. By the end of the week, the scale was finished, and all of the wood for field elements was cut out.
Not much building happened during week 1 for the mechanics subteam. All three mechanism groups, elevator, intake, and launchpad, focused primarily on design and CADing (Computer Aided Design). Elevator made an 80-20 prototype to figure out pulley placement and modified the elevator CAD accordingly. Intake iterated multiple designs and ideas for how to address all three cube orientations. Several designs were floating around, including arms entirely or partially spring-loaded or a kicker-style intake. Launchpad mocked up a quick proof of concept and tested it with a hand winch and several pounds of miscellaneous materials.
Public Relations was busy right from the start. The Chairman’s (the most prestigious award in FIRST) team began filming at Kickoff for B-roll as well as interviews. They spoke to multiple subteam leaders, alumni, and rookies and finished a preliminary draft of the Chairman’s essay. They updated the website and worked on more sponsorship and grant applications. For the Entrepreneurship Award, the team had an editing meeting with Mr. Luthra on the 8th. Noah, Ari, Nate, and Tesia visited Intelligent Automation, Inc, one of the team’s sponsors, o present about 449 and this year’s strategy and design.
With hundreds of messages, posts, and chats floating around on Gmail, Discord, and Basecamp, this week was a great and energetic start to a fantastic build season for Team 449!