Friday, February 12, 2016

FIRST Robotics - Progress Report Five

For much of the build campaign we have been in an odd cycle.  We have a great session, lots gets done and the robot progresses.  Then we have a lousy one.  Kids fussing around doing poor quality work that needs to be scrapped and done again.  And when kids are not working productively they are harder to supervise.  Is the goofing off a cause or an effect of a frustrating lack of progress day?

But as we dig into our last couple of weeks the progress has become more consistent, more good days than set back days.  We figured out which kids work best in certain roles.  And they surprise you.  A couple turn out to have decent welding skills.  One who has a hard time explaining his work is nonetheless very accomplished at the autonomous programming elements.  Although "the guys" tend to be more hands on with the mechanical work a call goes out often for one of our more petite team members as she has hands that can reach some difficult corners of the frame system.

As it turns out there are more tight corners and hard to reach spots than you might expect...

And as we get into the home stretch we are finding out that each system impacts all others.  The way we mount the pulleys driving the sweep arms impacts where we can mount electronics.  Removing a support element to make that easier allows the belts to loosen up, etc, etc.

But if belts, and time, are slipping away a bit it is important to note that some things go very well indeed.  We had the horrid realization the other day that we had been testing our climbing system on a wood mock up.  In the tournament it will be steel. Have we misjudged our ability to crawl up a smoother surface?  Two of the team were detailed to make a steel mock up.  Fifteen minutes later they had this done.  And we were able to climb right over it.

It is a talented group of kids.  And a young bunch.  Effectively we will have them all back next year with lots more smarts.

As for the robot it looks as if we will have to give up any notion of the Grand Finale wall scaling mechanism.  It is more important to get the basics down first.  Without the %%##** bumpers mounted this is approximately its final form.  All systems on board...we just need them to work together well.  The same of course applies to the team.

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