Category Archives: 2014 Build Blog

The 2014 Build Blog for the FIRST Robotics Competition, game Aerial Assist.

Day #45 – 2/18/14 – Bag Day!

Lab opening time: 1:30 PM

We weighed the robot on a large accurate digital scale, and it weighed in at 124.3 lbs with all parts including Odroid computer and cameras.  Oops.  We debated for 10 minutes on ways to remove the weight, then ultimately decided to just pull out two of the six CIM motors in the drive system.  The robot will still be plenty fast with 4 CIMs and 2 speeds, and this puts us comfortably 1.3 lbs under the maximum weight limit.  As a bonus, it took only about 1 minute to pull them on both robots.

We got all the pneumatic hoses finished up and side funnels mounted.  During the pressure test, the robot leaked like a sieve due to several hoses not being properly installed.  After correcting all the leaks at 11:25 PM, the robot held pressure just fine.  We got it down to the testing area, and tested the function of all mechanisms as much as we could.  Everything seemed to work, but brake mode is set on the Talons, causing the robot to abruptly come to a halt from high speed, causing it to topple over on its face.  It should be better with bumpers on, but it’s still somewhat concerning.  we were not expecting the CG to be as high as it appears to be.

We bagged at 11:56 PM, with 4 minutes to spare. Here a photo of the robot from about 10 minutes before bagging.

IMG_20140218_233935And here’s a picture of it in the bag. Note the time on the clock on the wall.



Lab closing time: 1:00 AM on 2/19/14


Day #44 – 2/17/14

Lab opening time: 9:00 AM

Today, we assembled the intake and funnels, installed pneumatic cylinders, and mounted additional air tanks, and began routing pneumatic tubing.  It’s not too far from completion now.


Lab closing time: 11:45 PM (school tomorrow 🙁  )

Day #43 – 2/16/14

Lab opening time: 1:10 PM

We assembled and installed the drive and choo-choo gearboxes. We had to rework the gearbox bearing block by putting it back in the HAAS and taking off about .004″ around it, to fit in the hole in the frame.  The powder coat was thicker than expected in this area.

We made chains, which installed very nicely without issue.

The gearbox JUST BARELY fit into the cutout in the baseplate. Had to bang it in.  All I can say is that if it ever has to come out, “not it.”

We tested the launcher under power and going full speed.  It rewinds in about 0.6 seconds as expected.  With no ball, it launches so violently the battery jumps out of the battery box and unplugs itself. Also, the breakout boards on top of the cRio modules unplug themselves.  Good limiting straps are a definite must, and we should “dry fire” as infrequently as possible.

On the trajectory, the ball was peaking at about 12 feet high, and 12 feet away.  It needs to fly further and not as high (flatter).

Here’s a picture of the robot from 1:00 AM on 2/17/14

IMG_20140217_004308Also, we have underglow:



Lab Closing time: 3:00 AM on 2/17

Day #42 – 2/15/14

1-2014-02-15 15.13.05

With the deadline nearing, the mechanical and electrical teams have been hard at work–trying to finish the robots.

Electrical team members wired up encoders and spikes (one for each bot) on both robots. The pressure release valve was also set up, though only on the main robot: the other one will be completed tomorrow.

Two members of the mechanical team were hard at work with the making of spacers. This component (we’re making a sizeable number of them) is vital in order to assemble the drive train gearboxes, which will be done tonight.

2014-02-15 17.14.42-2


In less notable, albeit still team-related news…

  • A mentor picked up a parts order. According to him, we should have exactly enough parts to complete the robot.
  • Two other members of the mech team cut treads for the wheels.
  • Programmers continued work on vision processing for the robot. Currently, they’re fixing bugs that they’ve found in their code.


Day #41 – 2/14/14

[Lab Opening Time: 3:00 PM]

Today marks yet another Friday, which means that members have more time to complete the robot and its sidekick counterpart.

On the pickup mechanism, we were able to drill holes in for grommets, which assisted us in the wiring process.

A grommet. (the black ring)
A grommet. (the black ring)

Members finished the practice bot after doing the last finishing touch: remounting the pistons on the outside. At the moment, they’re working on the actual robot.

Over in the wiring department, members finished crimping and routing PWM’s, and began crimping solenoid wires [edit: he finished wiring all the solenoid-esque stuff.]

In order to properly manufacture our gearbox output shaft, we had to take it over to a team sponsor to get it milled. The product was made swiftly and without flaws.




[Lab Closing Time: 1:41 AM]




Day #40 – 2/13/14

[Lab Opening Time: 1:45 PM]

Today, we unpacked the parts we got back from anodizing and began assembly.  We completed one full launcher, as shown below.  Plenty more assembly still ahead. Glorious.


Our team’s vice president decided to create a spreadsheet that logged all progress made by the team. It’s only editable by a select few (mainly mentors and division leaders), but it serves as an excellent method of logging what needs to be done while promoting efficiency.

The Spreadsheet.
The Spreadsheet.

Members of the mechanical team cut some shafts, and made a few standoffs on the lathe.

Making standoffs on the lathe.
Making standoffs on the lathe.

In addition, they mounted pistons and remade parts for the practice bot. Members also decided to grease and construct some of the VEX planetary gearboxes.

In terms of wiring, members…

  • Routed PWM’s   (Half-way done with on main bot, done with on practice bot)
  • Routed encoders (Half-way done on practice bot, done on the actual bot)
  • The ribbon cable for CRIO to sidecar done on both bots.
Ribbon cable to the CRIO
Ribbon cable to the CRIO

[Closing Time: 1 AM, the following day]

Day #39 – 2/12/14

Lab opening time: 1:30 PM

Although today was not a scheduled student meeting day, work still progressed during class and into the evening.  We assembled bearings and standoffs to the Choo-Choo gearbox plates, machined the Choo-Choo output shafts, and cut stock for the launcher shafts (enough for 4 complete launchers).






Over at our sponsor shop Daveco Industries, work proceeded until 11:00 PM where we finished facing off, turning down, and drilling and tapping all 12 launcher shafts.  Polishing is now in process, as shown below, and will be finished tomorrow afternoon.

IMG_20140212_230505We also checked on the status of the gearbox output shafts at another sponsor shop.  They’re coming along quite nicely, and we hope they’ll be done before Friday afternoon.  A current picture of the gearbox output shaft in-progress is shown below.

IMG_20140212_185753Lab closing time 6:00 PM

Extended hours at Daveco – 8:30 PM to 11:00 PM.



Day #38 – 2/11/14

Lab opening – 1:30 PM

Today we took parts to anodize and took a look at all shafts on the robot.  We modified the intake shaft to properly interface with the bearing blocks.  We produced print drawings and cut stock for all shafts except for the catapult.  We machined the full quantities of the first and second choo-choo gearbox shafts.  Tomorrow, we’ll try to machine the remainder of the shafts.

Here’s the Choo Choo second-stage shafts:



Lab closing – 7:00 PM  (Oh so nice).



Day #37 – 2/10/2014

Lab opening time 10:00 AM

We welded the front funnel assemblies and took all the welded parts including 4 H frames, 3 intakes, 2 front funnels, and 4 side funnels to powder coat.  Powder coat will be done on Wednesday.  On the way back from the Powder Coat shop, we stopped and picked up the launcher plates from our waterjet sponsor.  We drilled, deburred, and scuffed them to prep for anodizing.  Also, we machined the choo-choo link bars, and cut the big launcher tubes in preparation for anodizing.  The launcher solid rods didn’t make it in time for anodizing, so those will have to get polished.

We put in a McMaster order totaling about $1,000 that should include the majority of the remaining fasteners and pneumatic cylinders for both robots.

Here’s some pictures from today:

IMG_20140210_175526IMG_20140210_140216 IMG_20140210_124433 IMG_20140209_195412 IMG_20140209_005530  IMG_20140211_005844IMG_20140211_005949

Lab closing time: 1:30 AM on 2/11/14

Day #36 – 2/9/2014

Lab opening 1:20 PM

A good part of the day was spent welding the intake frames and side funnel H frames, to be ready for powder coat on Monday.

We ran the pivot clamping mount pieces on the CNC, and finished all 32 of those, including the 4 with the 696 logo.

Other details from Sunday 2/9/14?

Here’s a couple pictures of the clamping pivot mounts:

IMG_20140209_184015 IMG_20140209_170523

Lab closing: 1:30 AM on 2/10/2014