Monday, January 23, 2017

FIRST Robotics 2017 - Build Season Week Two

So what do you do when you lose two precious, irreplaceable work days to bad weather?

You get a bigger whiteboard for the jobs list!

Although this sort of thing can be anticipated in winter time Wisconsin it is of course quite annoying.  I take consolation in the fact that most of the teams we will be competing against regionally have experienced the identical weather and probably lost the same work time. Also, it was Final's week for the kids and we were anticipating light turnout anyway.  

The hand writing on the board is mine at this point.  Some parts of the team, software for instance, are very "self propelled" and they just do their thing.  But the build team has many separate tasks to juggle and is dependent on arrival of ordered parts, so somebody has to line up the many necessary jobs in a logical order.  As the season progresses I will turn the marker over to the kids.

At the point recorded above we had a basic frame set on top of last year's chassis.  We had the new drive frame (competition machine) partly assembled.  There will also be a practice robot, the frame for that is still in the box.  We have working prototypes for all of our priority systems and are toying with the idea of adding a ball shooter device.  It is not critical to our perceived game strategy but A: it would be cool, and B: we appear to have space, weight and battery power to add this feature.  Also, C: the game may play out in ways we have not anticipated.

On to Week Two work.

Software is making steady progress on the targeting system that looks for reflected light and steers the robot to it.  Evidently it is just a matter of pattern recognition.  Here the camera is "reading" the two upright reflector targets as those tall rectangles.  There is some scatter from the white plastic tip of the spike that will have to be dealt with.

This is our "practice" frame set up with our home brew batch of electronics.  This suffices to let the build team drive the machine around and test basic mechanisms.  Some of these components are over a decade old but they just keep working.  

Parts being turned on the lathe.

With what we consider our "basic" mechanisms well along in development and fabrication the team has taken on the "stretch goal" of a ball shooter.  Here one of the coaches is working with the team on calculating trajectories.  Actual engineering going on!

End of the day.  Final calculations for the ball shooter are up for display.  The job board is set for Monday, with most of the entries now done by the team.  The board now has a count down on it as well.  Right now it reads 30 days to deadline.  On the table next to the job board is a basket of safety glasses.

With about 30% of the build season done we are feeling good about the "hardware" side of things.  Software is also making strides but in their case they can keep tinkering right up to the moment of competition.  Stay tuned for updates.

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