Friday, February 5, 2016

FIRST Robotics Progress Report Four

Well we got a little off track.

There are so many fussy little things to consider in this business.  For instance, after we tore apart the proof of concept version of our robot and rebuilt in metal we noticed something odd.  Forward and reverse were backwards.  The software team offered to fix this on their side but after a bit of head scratching we figured out that when we cut the frame down and rebuilt it our 30 inch by 30 inch drive base simply had the front and back panels put on in reverse.  Simple fix, just switch the red and black wires going into the drive motors.

We also lost a day to.....snow.  Yes as a school related activity when school is cancelled we don't meet.  As a consolation the blizzard was pretty wide spread so one assumes most teams we are competing against (and in FIRST fashion cooperating with) also had to stand down for the day.

But work goes on.

Problem.  Drilling aluminum makes nasty little shavings.  You must have your electronics elsewhere when you are creating this sort of debris as it will make expensive things like speed controllers go up in smoke.

Solution.  Turn the robot over.  Kick it a few times.  Run the dust buster.  Wipe the inside clean with paper towels.

In our new Dark Age so few kids know how to use even simple tools  I enjoy turning them loose with a new one.  "Have you ever operated an angle grinder before?"

We have not actually used our shop capabilities fully yet, but have started to fabricate a few parts with our CNC mill.  This fairly simple hub needed to be made because I did not get around to ordering the pre made version.  So, lets make us some...

I mentioned our electronics.  They are competition ready and mounted on a board that is easy to drop on and off the robot thanks to some easy quick connectors going to the battery and motors.

So overall things are going well.  Except, well except for the bumpers.

For safety reasons all robots are required to have bumpers of specified size and construction. Because you have to be able to change "team colors" quickly you need to have one set in red and one in blue. There is no creativity in their design or construction.  It is a tedious task to build them.  And sometimes bored workers do less than perfect work.

We have had no end of problems with these darned things.  In part it was because we built them before we had a clear idea of the exact size of the robot.  Kind of like buying clothes before your child is born I guess.  They were sloppy work and our attempts to fit them with what looked like a clever mounting system....just fell apart.

I think tomorrow the old bumpers go into the dumpster. I shall laugh gleefully while tossing them.  If the kids are supposed to learn things perhaps one thing to learn is that on occasion a project can get so messed up that the best thing to do is scrap and start over.

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