All posts by Luke Burbidge

Oh, it seems you'd like to know something about me. How amusing. Well, since you're so interested, I guess I should get to boring you to death. I'm pretty much your run-of-the-mill socially awkward teenager who happens to enjoy tinkering around with electronics. In addition, I also seem to have an affinity towards writing in a somewhat-sarcastc/sassy tone (in case you haven't noticed already). Bored yet? Well, that's quite sad; I guess I didn't really do my job well. Anyhow, enjoy my (moderately) glorious creation known as the 2014 build blog.

Day #24 – 1/27/2014 – Connections.

Lab Opening Time: 3:00 PM

As today marked the first day of a new school-week, progress took time to achieve.

As usual, work continued on the two prototypes. The developments, however, aren’t as revolutionary (or exciting) as they have been in the past (to be fair, it’s Monday; mind-blowing developments are unheard-of on Mondays).

Irrelevant commentary aside, one portion of the mech team soldered Anderson connectors to provide a method of wiring power from a battery to the pickup mechanism. Despite being a very basic task, it marked something necessary to complete in order to progress further through the build.

Ah yes, Anderson connectors. (Image courtesy of

The other portion of the mech team mounted the front funnel onto the catapult mech.

In addition, they also improved mounting of the rear pickup motor, and added a plate underneath said motor. They also managed to wire the motor to be able to be controlled by a VEX Pro Controller.


Lab Closing Time: 6:30 PM

Day #23 – 1/26/2014 – Completion, and Testing.

[Lab Opening Time: 1:00 PM]

Despite having a rather small number of students showing up today, we still managed to get quite a lot done.

Today, work was finished on the movement of the pickup arm. Members of the mech team corrected the mounting unit by placing two pistons and the versa planetary gearbox on the back (right side) of the prototype.

The pickup mech that was mentioned yesterday was tested today.

Below is the video of that test.

Two members of the mech team fabricated standoffs, and one mentor made frame rails.

2014-01-26 16.52.05

In addition, another mentor finished drilling and tapping CHOO plates. Currently, 9 of them are completed, with 3 more to go.


An experienced member of the programming team laid out plans for the I/O’s of this year’s robot. He seemed close to finishing it, though the contents of the document would probably be subject to change.

In the media team, members almost done with the script for the Chairman’s award film. They expect to be done in the following days.


[Lab Closing Time: 6:45 PM]


Day #22 – 1/25/2014 – Picking up the pace.

[Lab Opening Time: 9:00 AM]

Today marked the day of our high school’s EXPO (also known as our open house). During this event, we showed off our lab to some high-ranking officials, and they were thoroughly impressed. This took out a small portion of our overall work-time, but we still managed to make some significant progress.

The Mech Team worked on the movement of the pickup mechanism. There are two pistons on the mechanism that allow for 3 positions:

  1. 90 Degrees from the vertical, which allows us to grab the ball from the ground.
  2. 45 Degrees from the vertical, to hold (and attempt to catch) the ball for (and from) the truss toss.
  3. -9 Degrees from the vertical, to hold the ball in the catapult.

2014-01-26 15.48.15

The programming team has worked on setting up the 2014 RobotBuilder files for future use. Discussions took place regarding auto-shifting and drive code, with the outcome being that…

  • Drive code- We determined the angle we will need to go at using the joysticks, figured out the proper use of our gyro, and–with that data, sorted out how it will be utilized.
  • Autoshifting- The discussion of this topic was rather short, though it was mainly regarding how the code would be written.

In addition, a rookie member  of the programming team was told to learn LabView in order to (just in case) assist teams whose autonomous might not be up to par.

In our animation department (where, sadly, as the school’s computers were being used for other purposes during the EXPO, our render farm couldn’t be used), rendering of our gearbox animation took place. However, the crew encountered a technological hiccup during the render, thus making them restart the process all over again. It’s a minor setback that cost them a few hours, but the render will be done by tomorrow.

A member of the mech team decided to CAD some designs of what our robot would look like.

The member's "crayola CAD"
The member’s “Crayola CAD”
Side One of the CAD Model
Side One of the CAD Model


Side Two of the CAD
Side Two of the CAD
Side 3 of the CAD
Side Three of the CAD


Side Four of the CAD
Side Four of the CAD
Side Five of the CAD
Side Five of the CAD


Side Six of the CAD
Side Six of the CAD

[Closing Time: 8:30 PM]




Day #21 – 1/24/2014 – Revisions, and attempts.

[Opening Time:  1:00 PM]

With a rather large turnout today, members of our team got to work almost instantly.

One part of our Mech team decided to remount the catapult with a better system, which consists of four bolts to the bottom plywood and four bolts from the aluminum rods to the actual CHOO-CHOO mechanism.

Unfortunately, while doing so, a chain slipped, thus setting them back to where they were before (if not even more back).  Despite that, they managed to restore their state of progress to where they were before.

The other part of the Mech team continued work on the funnel apparatus by figuring out the proper method of actuation for this mechanism.

In addition, they discovered the correct amount of give that the ball could…well…give, and took this knowledge to their advantage. They found out that using smaller wheels for the front pickup would produce more desirable results.

Moving along, Mr. Black proceeded with his CAD’ing of gears. More specifically, the design of the right CHOO gearbox. (another student modeled the left; but they’re pretty much identical).

The CHOO gearbox, from a side view.


The CHOO gearbox, with a view from the top.


We plan on making 6 CHOO gearboxes–4 for the actual robot, and 2 spare ones: just in case.

Oh, and on a side note, we got 4 VEX PRO planetary gearboxes.

[Closing Time: 10:45 PM]


Day #20 – 1/23/2014

Alright. With regards to the Cycloidal High-Output Operation mechanisms (CHOO), a member of the Mech team decided to attempt to mount it. Unfortunately, it didn’t really turn out the way he hoped (it wouldn’t mount). The aforementioned member of that team plans on working on that tomorrow.

The rest of the Mech team decided to finish the assembly of the side-funnel mechanism. They added a piston to complete both sides of the funnel and moved on to aid the pickup mechanism.

As a side project, another member of the same team decided to test out a motor for intake purposes. He concluded that it wasn’t powerful enough, so he’ll explore other options in the following days.

Today marks the first day of our Kickstarter being launched. Go on, take a gander at all of its moneymaking glory.




Day #17 – 1/20/2014

Lab Opening 9:00 AM

Mech Team made an mechanism, aptly dubbed “the choo-choo mechanism.”

As you might’ve guessed by how it moves in the animation, the “choo-choo” mechanism is intended to launch the catapult (which is what we’ve settled on for a shooter; it seemed to be the most consistent).

Tired of visualizing the effectiveness of this in a rendered 3D-environment? Look no further!


Before connecting this mechanism to the catapult itself, members of the mech team detached the catapult from the overall prototype chassis.

Beyond this new-fangled contraption, the funnel mechanism for the prototype was finished, with all of it being installed (save for pneumatics).

Additionally, the CAD team finished the design of the baseplate, which was sent out for waterjet cutting. We ordered a 4×12 sheet o 1/8″ 6061 aluminum plate to be delivered directly to the sponsor’s shop.

The manufacturing team completed cutting 1x2x.125 6061 rectangular extrusion for the frame side rails and front and back members.  We hope to CNC machine the pockets and rivet holes later this week.  Additionally, the manufacturing team was able to complete 20 gearbox spacers to a length tolerance of +/- .001 inch, and complete the CNC machining operations of the 10 gearbox plates.  All that remains on the gearbox plates is some tapping of 2 or 4 holes on each, and drilling out two holes on each of 5.

We concluded the day with a visit from the editors of [REDACTED], a popular website dedicated to folks who do neat projects with electronics, programming, and mechanical things.  They’ll be posting a story on our lab soon.

Lab closing time: Approximately 7:45 PM

Day #16 – 1/19/2014

Lab opening: 12:55 PM

Despite the fact that not too many students showed up today, we still managed to get several things done.

Some students re-tested the intake mechanism that was shown in prior days.

In their most recent iteration of the pickup mechanism, there now is a method of actuation (finally), and there’s an overall method of insuring the integrity of the apparatus.

They’re some small steps, but the overall product of these efforts prove that this intake mechanism might make it into the finished bot.


Electronics layout

2014_base_isoIsometric View of Base

Lab closing: 6:45 PM

Day #15 – 1/18/2014

Lab opening time 8:55 AM

Quite a few students showed up today, allowing us to work at quite an excellent rate.

Alright, today’s workflow involved the completion of several tasks that were started in earlier days.

To start things off, members of our Mechanical team have finished milling wheel axles.


Two mentors decided to make a coolant system for the horizontal band-saw. It seems to work well, but time will tell if it needs to be improved.

The coolant system. Gawk in awe.


In addition, some members decided to make preparations for the final CAD models of our gearbox and cut stock for the gearbox plates.

Lab closing time: 6:30 PM

Day #14 – 1/17/2014 – A day of FIRST™s

Lab opening time: 1:45 PM

Members of the Mechanical team said, “Hey, let’s actually try this intake mechanism out!” This was the product of their experiments.

They spent all day perfecting this mechanism. Needless to say, several people were impressed with how well it worked!

More preparations were made for the electrical team to lay out wires in the following day.

Many members of the team are incredibly excited for the potential developments that could…develop…in the next day.

Lab closing time: 10:45 PM

Day #13 – 1/16/2014 – Minor Tweaks

The doors opened at 3:00 PM, though several 12th graders—who happened to be available at that time — came early.

Needless to say, everything went along quite swimmingly.

In the mechanical team, well…they’re still working on the three main prototypes that we have in the works (hooray for redundancy).

Here’s what they refined:

An intake mechanism- Polyurethane wheels were added as the main method of rolling the ball in. (As defined by the above term “prototype”, this system isn’t really final.)

Catapult Springs- Well, this is a pretty self-explanatory addition to the shooting mechanism in one of the prototypes.

The Catapult
The catapult mechanism after the springs were added.


An alternate intake system (funneling)- Yet another experiment that they happen to be working on. From word that has been going about, it’s going along quite well. (however, the build is still in an early beta stage).

Our CAD/D team was continuing work that they had already queued up, which includes making a base plate model, and laying out electronic components on the aforementioned base plate. In addition, they also re-drafted our custom gearbox.

A new draft of our custom

The Business Team continued the risky business (minus Tom Cruise) of editing our kickstarter video, and then publishing it.

The page is still pending approval.

Closing Time — 8:25