Day #31 – 2/04/2014

[Lab Opening Time: 2:00 PM]

The majority of the day was spent cutting and welding stock for the super structure of the robot.

We also modified our design slightly to allow for a wider funnel system, by sloping the side of our funnel sideways, then going up. We called this the “dog-leg” piece.

[Lab Closing Time: 11:00 PM]

Day #30 – 2/03/2014

Despite today being a Monday, we still had a plethora of members show up today.

Kicking things off, members of the mech team replaced the CHOO mechanism on the prototype with a quick release valve (Not FIRST legal, but we want to push the limits of our prototype). In addition, members improved the supports of the prototype by replacing the wood supports with 2- 29 in. long x 1 in wide box tubing.

Regarding the prototype, most of us figured out that the pistons were causing too much drag. We disregarded this minor nuisance, as it launches well enough, and it’s one of the only ways of automatically bringing the catapult down.

In the programming department, the leader continued work on RobotBuilder by adding more functions, and by touching up drive code by adding shifting.

CAD members figured out the overall geometry for mounting the intake mech/pistons.

A member of the CAD team described the composition of the intake:

I used TWO SEPARATE Versa planetary gearboxes, each with two stages at 4:1, so the final gear ratio for each is 16:1. The motors used are banebots RS-550’s, and the two gears on each side are 30 tooth gears, both together making a 1:1 ratio.

Pictures are below.

Angle 1 of the new Intake Mechanism.
Angle 1 of the new Intake Mechanism.


Angle 2 of the new Intake Mechanism.
Angle 2 of the new Intake Mechanism.
Angle 3 of the new Intake Mechanism.
Angle 3 of the new Intake Mechanism.
Angle 4 of the new Intake Mechanism.
Angle 4 of the new Intake Mechanism.


Our head mentor, Mr. Black, got fan caps welded on during the day. He intends to finish welding bumper mounts and the “super structure” for the launcher (with the help of two students) by the end of the evening.

Day #29 – 2/02/2014

[Lab opening time: 1:00 PM]

Sadly, not too many students showed up today.

Despite that, worked continued as usual.

In the programming division, the leader set up robot-builder to its fullest potential. After doing so, he set up a function for solenoid shifting, and worked on setting up drive code.
The solenoid-shifting function will have two different speeds: one for the left and one for the right side of the bot. (this function will handle the shifting portion of all of the code)

In the mech team, well…they had it a little rough today. They had to let the CHOO prototype rest in peace, but the CHOO concept itself will be present in the final robot.

RIP CHOO mech.
RIP CHOO prototype. You will (read: won’t) be missed. P.S. We want our broken master links back.

In the pickup prototype sub-division, they installed not-so-first-legal components just to test various aspects of the prototype itself. It was fun to push the limits of the actual prototype, but the illegal components are obviously not going on the final build.Anyhow, members of the mech team braced the corners of the pickup mech so it is more structurally sound.

[Lab Closing Time: 7:30 PM]





Day #28 – 2/01/2014

[Lab Opening Time: 8:45 AM]

Today was quite an eventful day.

In terms of events spontaneously occurring, our horizontal bandsaw thought it was a good day to die rather dramatically. First, it blew a puff of white smoke, then it caught fire. Thankfully, no one was hurt, and the fire was extinguished within seconds. A replacement motor was purchased, and then installed afterwards.

In the mech team today, they improved the funnel mechanism. As stated by a senior member, “We made everything less sketchy.” Less sketchy indeed. They replaced materials with “better wood”, and metal plates. While doing so, they also managed to adjust the entire prototype to the “correct height”.

As for the people working on the CHOO mechanism, well…things didn’t go too well for them today. A rope broke, but when they replaced it with a stronger rope, the chain happened to break.

At the moment, the head of the CHOO project believes that the use of a chain just isn’t possible at the moment. Time will tell.

The CHOO mech, in all of its chain-less glory.
The CHOO mech, in all of its chain-less glory.

Mr. Black, the head mentor of our team, with the help of some students, finalized the bumper mount design. Senior members of the team will be welding tonight.

In other news, inventory of the newly-shipped VEX PRO items. Metal was purchased for the making of launcher side, intake, and wing plates.


[Lab Closing Time: 6:45 PM]

Day #27 – 1/31/2014

[Lab Opening Time: 2:25 PM]

In the mechanical team today, members worked on finishing up the pickup mech by completing some final tasks: adding pistons to the final mounting place, and adding stoppers for the pickup.

The finished product was a pickup mech that could lift up (with the pistons at 60 PSI)

Here’s a video of it in action.

Another part of the mechanical team worked on reducing the gear ratio of the CHOO mechanism. Unfortunately while doing so, a master link broke, rendering the chain unusable.

In other miscellaneous news, progress was made in the welding of materials needed for the robot (I need to be specific here).

The beautiful weld.
The beautiful weld.

In addition, the battery holder was being finished up.

2014-01-31 17.57.46

[Lab Closing Time: 9:25 PM]

Day #26 – 1/28/2014 – A Solution.

[Lab Opening Time: 2:25 PM]

As today’s meeting was held in (arguably) the middle of the week, not too many people could make it (what a shame). Anyhow, here’s the rundown of what…well…went down.

In the Mech Team, they worked on finding a solution to the pickup mechanism’s main problem: bumping into the funnel mech.

In order to solve this problem, they had to remove one wooden support, which reduced the overall frame of the pickup mech down to what is pictured below.

The one support that was removed (right).
The one support that was removed (right).

In other miscellaneous news, members of the business team and our team leader set up a proper file hierarchy for photo storage, thus making the photo-finding process much more streamlined. This development allows the business/media team to be much more efficient when it comes to media management.

Our team’s leader has been working on a new scouting system that will come into play this FRC season. According to him, “progress is coming along swimmingly.” Details TBD. *suspense intensifies*

[Lab Closing Time: 6:45 PM]

Day #25 – 1/28/2014

Lab open time 1:30 PM

Today was not an official meeting day, but we got the baseplate riveted to the side rails, for both frames.  A little bit of “match drilling” was required, but it wasn’t too bad.  Also, we cut and drilled 6 holes the longitudinal member that spans the center of each robot frame.

riveted_frameLab closing time: 4:30 PM

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]