After a pre-season where we have done as much as possible to get ready, the hectic FIRST Robotics Build season begins in just a few days. We have a fabulous work space, but it does have the minor down side of being shared with a community Christmas program that does not clear out until very late in December. It is rather fun to be headquartered in Santa's Workshop but it means we can't really unpack everything and get ready to work until rather shortly before the 7 January Kick Off date, aka The End of the World as We Know It.
As we will be spending a ridiculous amount of time here over the next few weeks and months it behooves us to be both comfortable and efficient.
We have as our headquarters a rather unusual space. All the serious machines - manual and CNC mills, lathe, welding, paint and carpentry shops, are on the first floor. Take the freight elevator (yes, really) up to the second story and there is a big open space. This is a former warehouse. Our little stash of robot stuff was huddled off in one corner.
We expect to set up a mock playing field here. The pillars will make for extra realism in drive practice. The game of course changes every year, and on occasion calls for firing beach balls and such at targets higher than this ceiling. You just never know...
On a recent night we got the team together. As usual there was plenty to do. Inventory parts. Dismantle last year's robot down to a drive frame for future test purposes. Haul desks and work tables into position. We thought we had some storage shelves but these had disappeared...I suspect the Elves nicked 'em. So in keeping with our team philosophy a rugged storage unit was cobbled together out of pallets and scrap lumber on hand.
A few pictures of the last "pre-season" work session.
I anticipate the fluorescent lighting, wide expanses and constant motion will continue to challenge my photographic skills..
One end of the scrap lumber storage system has a wire dispenser. The spools are of differing wire gauges. I think they even organized them left to right by size.
On the back of the storage rack are slots for a couple of robot building staples. The slotted aluminum stock is called 80/20. It is extremely adaptable for building things. Kind of like a giant, sturdy Erector set. The clown colored Styrofoam tubes are "pool noodles". Believe it or not these are standard, required elements for FIRST robotics. Each robot has padded bumpers to prevent damage to humans or other machines when inexperienced drivers get a bit carried away.
Just tidying up. We have the ability this year to leave work out on the benches, but have to be careful not to abuse the privilege. Floor is clean. Our team banner is hung from the rafters. This too is something of a "statement" of what kind of work we do. A home made flag hanging from a century old one foot square wooden beam. It is held on by big metal C-clamps that would easily hold several hundred pounds instead of a few ounces of red cloth!