The Blair Robot Project

The Official Website of FRC Team 449

Week 2 (January 13-19): Prototyping Away

Many team members started off the week early on Saturday with a one hour test on the rules of FIRST Power Up. Drive team hopefuls sat with a pencil, eraser, and multiple pages of questions in an attempt to show off their skills, as well as to gain a coveted chance to operate the robot.

During week two, the drive subteam began to cut pieces for the final drive frame and began receiving orders for different parts. They marked and cut many pieces of the frame and cut the gusset holes using the team’s new CNC. They also came to the decision that a second chassis would be built in order to let drivers maximize their practice time and still have a robust, well designed competition robot by the end of the build season. The team also collaborated with other students from the mechanics subteam in order to ensure that the mechanisms mounted on the chassis could be smoothly integrated.

The programming subteam finished tuning the test bed and updating to 2018 versions of the robot firmware. They quickly moved on to perfecting the robot’s vision on the field, where they identified neural nets as the best way of detecting this year’s game piece, the power cube,. They decided to put augmented reality markers on the side of the final robot to be able to know where on the field it is at all times. The team then split into sub-groups, with one working on code for the elevator, another working on a post-match analysis script that would alert programmers to potential robot issues before they become critical, and the last working on a design calculator for the elevator, which would use Euler’s Method to simulate how the elevator would work with different motors and gearings so they could pick the optimal setup.

Testing for IR sensors continued into this week for the electronics subteam. Unfortunately, they were unable to get them to work and could not find a reliable datasheet, leading them to order more reliable sensors. They also visited IAI’s laboratory in Rockville, Maryland to fix the port of a broken roboRIO thanks to Gordon, a team mentor from IAI, graciously allowing them to use the tools they had there; they were sadly unable to fix it. During this week, they spent the majority of the time assembling most of the field elements, including the platform, switch frame, switch arm, and fence.

The elevator group of the mechanics subteam focused on finalizing the CAD and began CNCing parts for assembly. Furthermore, brakes were discussed, designed, and fabricated as proofs of concept. A decision was made to use a pneumatically actuated belt segment to lock a timing pulley coupled to the elevator drive shaft. Intake fabricated multiple designs to determine the optimal configuration and began designing carriage for cube storage and interface with the elevator. Launchpad focused on finalizing their CAD model as well, drawing from information gathered from their week 1 proof of concept.

They Chairman’s group began transcribing interviews, continued to edit the script, and selected useful quotes to incorporate into the video, all while continuing to film for B-Roll. They also finished a first draft of the Chairman’s essay and began editing it for content. Entrepreneurship finished revising the essays to incorporate Mr. Luthra’s edits. Mrs. Reinhart also gave further comments on the document. The presentation for Maryland Space Business Roundtable, one of Team 449’s longest sponsors, was completed.

As more challenges arise during prototyping and testing, 449 members continue to take their work home and online. It is rare to find a robotics member doing anything but robotics during these first couple of weeks! The entire team is excited for the weeks to come.

Laura Espinoza • 2018-01-27

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