“The part where your robot’s disintegrating isn’t so good…”

Frank Slaughter as he watches the Arm Robot at the end of a scrimmage.


Wednesday – Day Five of Break

Wednesday: November 23, 2011

Mock competition day!

We held five mock competitions which were timed with a 30s autonomous period and a 2 minute teleop period. There were three robots on the field – Arm Robot, Little Robot, and Frank’s Robot. Vertical Lift Robot was out of business and remained on the ramp the entire time. This was a very interesting and eye-opening experience. It is so much different to just drive around and move things without a time limit or other robots. Easier!


  • Autonomous mode, though not a great lot of points are scored, is super useful
  • Careening around the field knocking things over is good defense
  • Fixed grabber is better
  • Put FOCUS on the front of the robot (color it a different color, etc.) to make it easier to drive
  • Driving backwards is hard
  • Position bowling ball at bottom of ramp pre-endgame
  • Hold crate and push bowling ball up the ramp at the end
  • Push a crate with a sonotube full of balls on top of it into the homezone
  • Put balls into a crate and push (either up ramp or into homezone)…Little robot with the addition of a ball hopper on the back
  • Grab crate and lift from the top of the ramp
  • Put the bowling ball in the scoring zone on the ramp in the end game
  • Not a lot of space on top of ramp, prioritize accordingly
  • Pushing balls into homezone is fairly pointless
  • Pinning crates to the wall is good defense

Points of Interest:

  • DRIVE A LOT – both with and without pressure
  • Have a defined strategy before beginning the game
  • 70 points as an average is doable and a good goal
  • Driving during a competition is different than driving around as practice
  • Set drivers should practice a good amount with their specific robots

Tuesday – Day Four of Break

Tuesday: November 22, 2011

More join the crew today. Our number was four team members – 50% of the team!

New Additions:

  • Ball sweeper: attached to the Vertical Lift Robot; tested with racket balls
  • Ball sucker-up-er: attached to the Vertical Lift Robot; tested with racket balls (potentially to go on Little Robot and Arm Robot…?)
  • 3rd edition arm: torque on axles severely reduced – hopefully they won’t warp anymore; test driven – can function fairly well

Points of Interest:

  • It is essential to maintain good wiring (and equally annoying to wire everything neatly)
  • Control boxes run in parallel
  • Strategy: is it better to pick up few balls and lift a crate really high, or to pick up a boatload and not lift the crate…?

Mock competition tomorrow. Everyone get prepared, a good dinner and sleep recommended.

P.S. Arm Robot scored 100 points in teleop mode! (without a time limit)

3rd edition arm

Monday – Day Three of Break

Monday: November 21, 2011

Once again, we show up ready to build and design robots. I mean, come on, what better way to spend break than messing with robots??

Most of the work was dedicated to the Arm Robot and the Little Robot. A new gripper and frame was installed on the Arm Robot (it was also completely destroyed and rebuilt), and the Little Robot did a bunch of test driving on the field.

Points of Interest:

  • Don’t become so attached to your part that you can’t modify it or let others use and modify it
  • Practice driving on the field to get familiar with controls and how the robot interacts with the components on the field
2nd edition arm

Mimi’s observations:

  • The team badly needs good drivers.  The drivers need to practice, practice, and practice.  The drivers also need to work with the programmer to figure out the best way to program the joystick.  I have first hand experience.  I tried driving and all we did was go around in circles.  The only way for me to drive effective is if I follow behind the robot…
  • Alex’s ball-sucker-upper:  Frank is using the idea on his robot.  He modified it a bit to work with an arm, but it seems to be quite effective.  Much easier than trying to pick up a ball with a claw.
  • Collin’s super-ball-sucker-upper:  Holds great promise.  If the device can be mounted easier and the balls can be steered into a crate – it will be fantastic.  Frank thinks it may need paddles.  One idea is to attach it to the robot Michelle and Ryan built (the fast little robot).  Suck up balls from one end of the robot, and dump them into a crate that is held on the other side.  Focus on putting balls into the crate and pushing the crate into the home zone.
  • The linear vertical lift robot needs to be tested with Big Ryan crate holding device.  Looks like it has potential, but I believe the motors will have trouble tracking each other and delivering enough power.  To properly fit the Super-Ball-Sucker-Upper, the robot will need to be rebuilt.
  • Melissa’s arm – excellent for lifting a crate with a single ball up very high.  Not great at picking up balls, could use another mechanism.
  • Michelle and Ryan’s little robot – maybe a bit too little?  The bowling ball doesn’t quite fit.  But, the concept shows great potential.  Very strong and able to get the bowling ball up the ramp.
  • Scrimmage, scrimmage, scrimmage!  We did a few practice rounds and learned a tremendous amount – about the field, getting points, what is working and not, how difficult the challenge is, and how fast 2 minutes goes by!  Take advantage of the field and the robots – get out there and try things out.

The team has made great strides!  Exciting to see all of your hard work coming together.  With all the ideas, pieces, and parts on all the different robots, I know you can figure out what works best and how best to configure your team robots.  Good luck!  (And I am cheering all of you on to beat Frank next Tuesday!)

Second Day of Break

Sunday: November 20, 2011

Everyone is back at it. Today we ended up staying 5½ hours at school, modifying and adding to our robots.

Test runs, modifications, additions, subtractions, and complete dismantling and rebuilding. In other words, progress was being made.

Points of Interest:

  • Running over balls is still an issue
  • Engineering takes TIME
  • Completely dismantling and rebuilding a robot is okay
Vertical Lift Robot before frame was added