Posts Tagged ‘ FRC ’

Senior Skip Day?

RoboShock

Sigh.. I procrastinate so much that I even put off blog posts that would take me no more than half an hour if I’d actually tried. Now that I’ve burned a few hundred kilocalories trying to get my head around flight orientation, here’s another summary of an event days past.

May 20th, the second-to-last Friday, was CV’s senior skip day. But instead of going to the beach, I:

  • Attended NCIIA’s Invention to Venture workshop on technology entrepreneurship
  • Attended the OSU Engineering Expo
  • Set up field for Roboshock

Invention to Venture

Given my limited business experience, much of the entrepreneurship discussion was rather theoretical for me, although I nevertheless picked up some concrete ideas I hope I can put in practice in the very near future. As the talks were several hours long in total and covered many different topics, I will summarize what I learned in a separate post (link forthcoming).

I do remember coming away from the talk with the definite impression that entrepreneurship is going to be one hell of a sleep-depriving activity.

OSU Engineering Expo

I don’t know about the others, but the computer science and electrical engineering presentations I listened to did not impress me.

The best of them, in my opinion, were the two seniors who had developed an automated AI class scheduling system for college courses. The system could use a database of courses from any university to organize a schedule for the four years of college around any specific course(s) the user flagged as a must-take, automatically taking care of all pre- and co-requisites. The vivacious senior to whom I talked presented me with a straightforward, working implementation and clearly stated goals. Not a novel idea, but well executed. It’s too bad that the system will not yet be available for use at OSU next year.

The others… had no sales plan (why should I care about your project?), had no obvious applications (you essentially made an RC toy; what are you going to do with it?), had no goals, no direction, lacked expertise (you developed this program; how do you not know what language it’s written in?), and/or was unoriginal (your project does exactly what Amazon does already). Or they just did a bad job of communicating their ideas to me.

I am not saying that OSU Engineering itself is bad. I just know that when I do my Senior Thesis Project, I’m going to do a lot better than that.

Roboshock field setup

The OSU Robotics Club hosts a full-scale FIRST Robotics scrimmage dubbed RoboShock every year. Our team is more or less in charge of the field, so some of our members helped set up the field at Gill Coliseum in the evening.

The actual competition was on the next day (a Saturday) from 10 am to 6 pm. Unfortunately, although our team was scheduled for 9 matches, we ended up doing only four or five due to WiFi interference issues (nearly every team started lagging).

At official competitions, there is a single router to which all teams connect their robots. OSU didn’t bother with that and had each team use their own router. Since the ClassMates are only capable of the 2.4 GHz band and there really are only three channels available for use (1, 6, and 11) for six FRC teams and who knows how many FTC teams (who had their own game going next to the FRC field), interference was inevitable. Hopefully that will change next year.

Raiderbot X, 23 Days to Robot Ship: Lego Minibot!

Minibot proof of concept out of old Lego parts. The purple arms push against the pole, which angles the wheels into the pole to create a horizontal vector just strong enough to keep the bot on the pole. Took about two hours to make.

The bot is climbing up a 40 inch metal pole that is embedded in the concrete floor of our garage (for reasons beyond my imagination). Climb speed is about 6 in/s. Power is provided by a 13-year-old 9V Lego motor that is the wimpiest of the wimpiest Lego motors out there. It is being run on 12V.

The TETRIX motor we will be using in our actual minibot has 21.7 kg-cm of torque. This motor exerts no more than 200 g-cm of torque.

This is the first time in six or seven years I’ve put anything together with Legos. I think I’ve lost one of my tubs—I made this robot out of what few parts I could find. I need more gears!

Credits to my mother for taking the videos!

Raiderbot X, 26 Days to Robot Ship

This is an email I sent to the Raiderbot mailing list. I think it sums up everything that is going on.

Hello Raiderbot,

The bad news:

We are still a week behind largely due to delayed shipping of supplies and bad planning on my part. We have no driving robot, nor do we have a fully functional arm. If we add up all the hours, we have little over 60 hours (2.5 days) of work time left in the season. Also significant is the fact that too few people have been showing up.

The good news:

We have the aluminum tubing required for the chassis and have enough already cut for one chassis, ready to be welded using the jig constructed last week. HyTek has donated more plastic to us than we’ll ever need this year. We received the materials for the arm today and should be ready to start building tomorrow.

The roller claw beta prototype (demonstrated last week) looks very promising. Great job to everyone who helped design and fabricate it!

We have located a machine shop (Viper) that has the capabilities and is willing to manufacture our swerve modules (for the drive base). Spencer Hedrick is currently waiting to hear back from them regarding the cost and time of fabrication. We will know by Friday what the decision is. If the price is affordable, we hope to have the modules (and one robot) finished by the end of next week.

The scary stuff:

We need our first robot finished by the end of next week and our second robot by Wednesday of the following week. Please realize that although next week is only Week 4, it is already Week 4. It was our original plan to have the swerve modules finished first, but because the machine shops will not finish fabricating the swerve modules by the end of next week, we need to have everything else finished and nearly perfected by that time. This includes the:

  • Roller claw,
  • Four-bar linkage lifting mechanism (with milled aluminum tower),
  • Electronics board, and
  • The attachment of every necessary motor, sprocket, wire, belt, chain, pneumatic, and pulley we need on each of the two robots.

If all 46 members of our team meet and work consistently, this is entirely possible to accomplish in less than a week. At the current rate of attendance, however, this will not happen. Please also consider the fact that I haven’t even begun to describe what we need to do regarding the business plan, T-shirt design, battery cart, robot cart, scouting, pit build, pit panels design, minibot design, etc. There are too many jobs and too few people who come to meetings!

I am fairly happy about the attendance of the longer (Monday/Friday/Saturday) meetings; we got a lot done last weekend. However, attendance of the shorter meetings has been disappointing at best and unproductive at worst. Because we end two hours earlier, we need more people and dedication to maximize the use of our time in the shop.

It is our (me and Lipi) job as program managers to keep track of what resources we have to work with and keep the team on track for a successful season. Here, a “successful season” means we have completed the following (among other things) by Monday, 2/21, which is 26 days away:

  • 2 Robots
  • 2 Minibots
  • New website
  • Pit
  • Battery cart
  • Robot cart

The request:

We hope we are doing a decent job, but in being effective leaders, we depend on each of you. Regardless of your individual jobs, regardless of how small it is, regardless of how much it may or may not seem related to robots at all, everything you put into the team brings us closer to success.

We would like to go to every meeting knowing everyone will be there, but this has not been happening. We completely understand if you have other commitments (we do, too), but please let us know (by email, word of mouth, phone call) if you will not be there—then at least we can plan things accordingly so we aren’t caught short at the end.

Currently, the programming subteam is the only subteam that is (far) ahead of schedule. (Mechies, are you seriously going to let the proggies outdo you?) Congratulations. :)

Again, the roller claw is looking great. Please be there tomorrow to help finish building the arm and test it on the kitbot.

Cheers,

Lipi Gupta/Soo-Hyun Yoo

Raiderbot X Meeting 3, 41 Days to Robot Ship

Meeting time: 15:00 to 19:00.

We will have budget discussions every Tuesday after meeting.

FIRST Choice parts ordered, including the FTC Mini Kit for the minibot.

Talked more about end effectors, spent 30 minutes prototyping. Kushal and Damian made a pretty sweet prototype of a four-bar linkage arm.

I messed up here again and completely forgot that we’d planned to finish design decisions by end of the day today. Didn’t happen. Where’s my todo list? I need to make a Gantt chart soon.

Raiderbot X Meeting 2, 42 Days to Robot Ship

Meeting time: 15:00 to 19:00.

Continued talk about end effector design. We built prototypes and tested them in the shop, but just as Will was showing the old triangular scissor lift and I was wondering why there were suddenly so few people, my sister ran in and told me Mr. C (my youth symphony director) was looking for me.

Okay, major slip-up on my part.

Panicked, I promptly ran out of the shop, simultaneously realizing that I had left my violin in my locker and that that was why I felt something was awry as I walked away from my locker earlier today. In the orchestra room, I grabbed and opened a random violin case off the shelves only to discover a long-neglected violin with all four pegs loose and strings going everywhere (and collapsed bridge, needless to say). Fortunately, the next violin was in decent condition, albeit I had to play without a shoulder rest. It wasn’t my first time. It probably won’t be my last.

Halfway through rehearsal, I realized there was a (robotics) team budget meeting at 7:00 I had assured Will I would be at.

I hope never to be so stupid again.

Raiderbot X Meeting 1, 43 Days to Robot Ship

Meeting time: 15:00 to 21:00.

Printed 73-page game manual. Everyone should read the rules!

Reconsidered different drive designs (swerve, mecanum, simple, treads, omni, casters) and decided to go with swerve over mecanum in a 10-7 vote. Note the total number of votes. We have 46 people on our roster. Granted, the five PR people and some others who were working on the battery cart were not counted in that total, but I should’ve called for mandatory strongly recommended attendance for these first few days.

Also started talk about end effector design and minibot ideas. We need to nag people to come to meetings.

One thing I’ve now noticed is that if I have an idea and put off implementing it, I eventually argue myself into thinking it’s a stupid idea or other things turn up that distract me. The greater the time passed, the less likely I am to actually do it. Obviously, if I neglect to write such ideas down, I simply forget them.

I need to execute.

Raiderbot X Meeting 0, 45 Days to Robot Ship

Meeting time: 9:00 to 14:00.

Read the rules.

We hosted a team from Canby, OR per their request for a place to brainstorm after the Kickoff. Our classroom was packed.

Will wanted to set up a mock field using tape and play the game using human robots, but as LogoMotion is a very three-dimensional game, that plan was scrapped.

We identified the three parts of our robot: the drivetrain, the end effector, and the minibot. The chassis will simply be anything to hold the system together. The team was split into three groups to come up with ideas. At the end of the day, these were presented to the team.

Here are some pictures:

Design process

Design process

Minibot ideas

Minibot ideas

Drivetrain ideas

Drivetrain ideas

UPDATE 1/15: In retrospect, playing the game would have been very useful. At least, I can see now what Will was thinking by suggesting we play the game before doing anything. Before designing, we needed to identify the functions of our robot, and to do that, we needed to decide on a strategy. Strategy is a lot easier to explore when we can watch (or play) the game.