A Robot In 14.5 Hours

In the engineering design process, it is important to get a fully functioning robot as soon as you can. This allows you to test your strategy, iterate on mechanisms and improve functionality for a longer period of time. Our goal from the start was to develop a robot as fast as we could, and then spending the rest of our time making small tweaks to improve the robot’s appearance and functionality.

We achieved this by combining all our prototypes and making some minor tweaks to improve system integration. The result is below:


We’re still using the same control system we’ve been using since it works as-is, and also wouldn’t require us to do a bunch of rewiring. We will transition this to a legal FTC control system for the final version.

First we wanted to test the intake:

Next we wanted to test our climber. This was the first time we tried this with an actual robot attached to the climber:

16 seconds to deploy, climb and lift isn’t bad for a first attempt. Obviously, there’s lot of room for improvement, but we’re comfortable with this as a starting point. Here’s some more pictures of the climber:




Next we wanted to do a cycle test. Keep in mind, that we literally took prototypes and bolted them together. There’s lots of optimization that was left out for the sake of getting a robot running:

 

Now that we’ve hit this milestone in the process, lets recap our list of goals:


Drivetrain

  • 4-6 wheel drive (Check)
  • Geared between 16:1 and 20:1 (Check)
  • Can easily drive into and out of Crater (Check)


Intake

  • “Touch It, Own It” (Check)
  • Can pick up both Gold and Silver Minerals (Check)
  • Can hold at least 2 Minerals at a time (Check)




Mineral Scoring

  • Depot-only (Check)
  • Scores from the opposite side of intake (Check)


End Game

  • Can attach and lift robot off ground in less than 30 seconds (Check)



Autonomous

  • Can start on Lander (Check)
  • Can lower robot from Lander (Check)
  • Ability to achieve multiple autonomous tasks (Check)
  • Capable of delivering team marker to Depot (Check)


Misc.

  • Short enough to drive under Lander (Check)
  • Ideally between 20-30 lbs (Check)
  • Can be built with one expansion hub (Check)


Some of these goals, such as “capable of delivering team marker to Depot” hasn’t been done in autonomous yet, but the robot is capable of doing this. Our plan for the Team Marker is to make one that is able to fit inside our intake. So to deliver the Team Marker to the Depot, we just drive up and reverse our intake.

Regarding the robot’s weight, we actually are doing pretty well. This prototype is at about 17 lbs, which is below where we wanted to be. This gives us lots of room to strengthen parts of the robot without worrying about exceeding our desired weight.

The top gear of the climber is right at the bottom of the Lander. We actually fit under the Lander, but the pivot point of the arm is a little high, so we can probably lower that pivot point and give us more clearance under the Lander.

Again, remember this is more of a proof of concept robot than the final product. We’re going to go back and CAD then build a final robot that has better system integration and some more general improvements. Here’s a list of things we still need to improve:

 

1.“Raking” objects out of the Crater when we drive in/out.

Right now we have an issue where the drive motors and gearboxes trap objects under the robot. We think we can fix this by doing some more creative motor/gearbox placement


2. Intake wheels making it hard to drive over the Crater

Right now the intake wheels are too far forward. When we try to drive into the Crater those hit first. While it might look like we can climb into the Crater pretty easily, it actually takes a fair amount of work to do it.


3. Arm placement on the robot

You’ll notice when we’re off the ground that the robot lists to one side pretty heavily. That’s fine, but we can make this a little cleaner and easier on the arm if we try to center the arm on the robot so it balances the CG better.


4.Retaining Objects In the Conveyor Belt

You’ll notice in a couple of the videos that we can lose game objects pretty easily. There’s nothing actually retaining these objects on the conveyor. We figured this would be a problem, but we were aiming to get the robot running quickly. This should be an easy fix.

That’s our 14.5 hour robot. We’re now starting to work on the CAD of the final robot. We’re also going to spend some time implementing some of these minor improvements so we can learn as much as we can about them before we finalize them in CAD.