What is the -Simplest- Way to Move a Tote?

The goal of Build Blitz is, and has always been, to provide educational resources for medium-level or inexperienced teams who may need some additional help to get going.  The concepts explored thus far (4-bar stacker, linear elevator, and pinch claw) are solid subsystems that can combine with a variety of other systems to form a complete robot.  These are intended for teams looking to seed or be a solid pick by a seeded robot.

However, we wanted to know if we could go even simpler.  For teams just getting started with absolutely minimal resources, how can literally a few pieces of hardware be attached to a basic robot frame and still create a solid contributor to a qualification or playoff alliance?

The Passive Hook

Theory: Drag a Tote from the top using a passive hook.  The robot can drive up to a Tote in the Landfill and use its natural lip to drag it across the field.  To dislodge, the robot can either drive over the Scoring Platform (if its drivetrain allows) or just turn sideways and slide the hook off.  Angled sides of the rake will assist with this dismount.

Simple Tote Puller (top)  Simple Tote Puller (close)  Simple Tote Puller (front)

Testing: The prototype was built using three pieces of VEX EDR metal clamped to an existing drive base.  It ended up working very well, dragging the Tote along with ease when in the “long” orientation.  The “short” orientation did not work as well with this initial prototype; this will be something to work on for the next iteration.

The Plastic Slider

Theory: Slip a plastic sheet underneath the Tote and drive away with it. Since the Tote is sitting on top of the sheet, it now moves with the robot! To get the tote off, pull the ‘rug’ from underneath the tote.

Plastic Tote Slider

Testing: Similar to the hook, this was accomplished by clamping a spare Delrin sheet (though Lexan would also work) onto a pre-built drivetrain.  (Fans of FRC Team 148 may recognize the X009 concept used here). This test worked, but not as well as we would’ve liked.  The sheet actually had a smaller footprint than the Tote, meaning that the Tote occasionally caught the carpet and slipped off of the sheet.  The next version will feature a larger sheet (#MeasureOnceCutTwice), and we’ll also see how this theory applies to a Recycling Container.

These concepts are true applications of the KISS principle to Recycle Rush.  Admittedly, these robots (by themselves) will probably not be the highest-scoring robots at an event.  However, consistency is key in a helpful alliance partner, and the simplicity of these robots will be a primary contributor to that consistency.  This is a mindset that will help all teams (rookies or veterans) in their quest for Recycle Rush success.