Objective: Fix the Bump problem
Task: Change the gear ratio from 1:2 speed, to 1:1.6 speed
Problems: Didn’t have materials
-Use different materials
From prior to exam week, we learned that our change to 1:2 speed prevented the drivetrain from going over the bump. We figured out that the loss of traction and force to allow us to get over the bump was too low. Because of this, we decided to stick to normal internal gearing, and avoid external gearing. To do this, we changed our external gearing to 1:1 speed. However, we didn’t have large sprockets to make this change. Instead, we chose small sprockets. Because the small, 6-tooth sprockets are used, we have an increase chance of chain slippage, however analyzing the time we have left, it was a risk we were willing to take.
Objective: Improve Driver Practice
Task: Practice Driving, Tune Robot
Problems: Robot kept on disconnecting, Had Difficulty grabbing Buckyballs
-Add tape to vex net, This will prevent vexnet from wiggling, reducing future damage
-Changed the size of the opening to make grabbing easier
-Raise the lift slightly when grabbing and lower on ball
For today’s meeting, we add extra emphasis on driver practice. We reasoned that if we could monopolize on large balls and bucky balls, we can gain the edge in the critical parts of the match. When driving the robot, we found out that our robot kept on disconnecting. We fear that this is a vexnet problem. Because of this, we added tape to our vexnets to prevent further wiggle, and thus further damage. We also noticed that our intake wasn’t as responsive as we would like it. Because of this, we developed a few driving techniques and tuned the intake to improve grabbing.
Objective: Improve Judging Practice + Autonomous
Problems: Our autonomous is not working as intended, so we changed values involving the funnels and lift to compensate for the errors and get the correct autonomous results.
Solutions: We targeted problematic values within the coding and tested them with other values to achieve the desired results. Also, we did rigorous driver practice today in order to get the driver familiar with the changes made in the code. The Driver mentioned that he had become much more fluent at handling the robot and we had worked our ways to aid his driving capabilities. This is what we aim for when we code our robot, better simplicity of controls for the driver while still maintaining the results needed to compete. That way, we can have an efficient driver without overly complex controls and a robot that performs even better than before.
On a side note, Today we packed up all our materials for the competition tomorrow.
1/25: Competition Day
Competition was Intense as expected, but we ran into a plethora of problems we didn't foresee.
For one, we ran into problems with our competition template. It gave an error around line 13.054 something something something, which didn't recognize anything linked to the LCD screeen. We talked to about 6 teams, each of whom never have seen this problem before. We eventually deduced that the heart of robot C's compiler must have been tampered with. We downloaded the code with a second laptop, and it worked perfectly fine.
Another problem we had was our drivetrain shutting down. We had a 1.6:1 ratio, which is a reasonable speed with an average amount of weight. However, we soon realized that we must have strained our motors too much with our 2:1 speed ratio. With this ratio, we tried going over the bump (and failed), as well as overheating our motors in the prior weeks. Only 1 of the 4 motors worked, so we used our replacement motor on the side of the drivetrain with completely bad motors. With this addition, at least the drivetrain could drive, but with only 2 working motors, the drivetrain would overheat a minute into the game
Our lift system also started to break down. Our central axle was beginning to bend again, which meant our gears were skipping. Due to this, it was difficult to raise the lift. To temporarily compensate, we added more rubberbands to the lift to reduce the motor power needed to raise
Because of these problems, we weren't surprised that we were ranked 14 out of 17 by the end of the day, scored less than 30 points in robot skills, and scored around 14 points in programming skills.
On the brighter side, we had an amazing interview, even for our standards. By the end of the presentation, the judges had no questions, and told us we hit every point hard.
When awards were given out, they said something along the lines of
"this team was a lively group of individuals with a great presentation and an engineering notebook as heavy as some of the robots at competition. They put their heads together to tackle the challenges before them... Team 2425 Hydra!"
I think today showed the power of good timing and load distribution. Let’s be real, half of our drivetrain motors were shot and the lift system couldn’t handle the stress of repetitive use. It’s no wonder we were ranked 14 out of 17 at the end of the day. However, the critical moment was that interview, and we nailed it.
According to the judges, the two main things which led to our success was the engineering notebook and interview. In specific, they loved the detail of the engineering notebook (“their notebook was as heavy as a competition robot”), the enjoyment we experience during the season, teamwork, and the mix of preparedness and fluidity. This was the first time the judges couldn’t ask us questions simply because we answered all of them in the interview.
Now, if we didn’t recover from our tensions just before the interview, we wouldn’t have gotten this award.
Now for those who thought we got lucky with that award, which may or may not be true, we do know a few things. We were told we got a near perfect score on that interview and by far, we had the most elaborate engineering notebook (+131 pages in size 9 font was our notebook, the next closest I know of was 66 pages in size 12 font). We can guess that we had one of the highest programming skills run with 14 points, which is higher than the standard autonomous. We also probably had a decent robot skills score simply because many teams had poor strategic decisions, or decided not to do programming skills. As for match play, though we were ranked close to the last, we had an exhaustive autonomous which occasionally scored all the way, and showed off the innovation of the funnels. We also possessed the ability to grab large balls, an ability which half of the robots lacked. Because of this, you can reasonably argue that the excellence award was earned, and wasn’t just the result of our connections to Andrew, Mr. Howard, and Jason.
As for competition, the very beginning was well executed. We got the area ready, we focused on passing inspection, and we overcame an issue which no one has even heard of. For some reason, the LCD display command is not recognized in robot C. Because of this, we’ve been told that the compiler of the compiler of the compiler has been tampered with, and as a result, we need to reinstall robot C. To fix this, we simply used the other laptop (Red), which didn’t have the error. We came to this conclusion because we determined that the competition code was made properly, the competition include code was correct, and the files of robot C is correct, but because a phrase was unrecognized, something went wrong in the very cells of Robot C. We passed inspection after our second try (we failed because an axle was too long). We also quickly determined that the reason the robot wouldn’t run with competition code was because the robot didn’t have a competition switch. Essentially, we solved about 4 problems in about 2 hours under pressure. We even had a bit more time to do some skills challenges. To close this up, we picked the perfect time for an interview slot: right at the end of lunch. The transition from the early competition to middle competition was bad though. The drivetrain shuts down and we couldn’t figure out why, and the lift was approaching its breaking point. In this period, communication turned sour, and conflict halted all progress. Eventually, by semi solving the drivetrain issue, we realized the motors went bad. The biggest hypothesis we have was that the 1:2 speed ratio killed the motor. After our continuous bump tests and failures, we bogged down the motors. After prolonged use, the motors just died on us. We found this problem after we realized the motors started to squeak, rather than sizzle from turning gears. We eventually found that our motors were damaged and dislodged in the inside. Having only 2 motors on the drivetrain wasn’t sufficient. Because of this, we continually triggered the heat sensors in the motor and the robot would shut off after prolonged use. Time skip to and past the interview, mid competition. After the success with judging, I think we all just became yolo. We knew we were walking away with an award. It’s just a question of what award. The next few matches passed, and we accepted the difficulties the robot faced. As time passed, we started thinking ahead for states. We determined that the next few competitions are just surrogate competitions, to ensure that we don’t fall behind on our robot or judging. The design award will be our safeguard at states. We have a few ideas of what we can do, but nothing is set in stone. Right now, we just need to figure out what to do based on our situation.
The options we have for the robot are:
-Repair the Lift, add reinforcements to the problematic axle
-monopolize strategy, driver control, and autonomous with only Bucky balls and large balls
-Cannibalize a system to create a hanging system + hanging autonomous
-Redesign the Lift system with shorter axles
-Tune the intake
-Increase Large Ball Capacity
-Focus on Robot Skills Challenge
-Focus on Driver Skills Challenge
-Optimize robot for meta-4 Gameplay
Long story short, we came to competition with great drivers, great autonomous, and great strategy. We had the materials we need to run smoothly. Problem is, the damaged robot couldn't support our capabilities. As a result, the team started to fragment. In the end, we need to work on keeping our cool and focusing on the problem at hand, not what will result in the future if an action isn't made.
We are all on the same team, we all want to succeed, and together, we can take the team to a level far greater than what we can do alone.
VTU week 35
Objective: Tackle mechanical concepts and attempt make them better and more efficient at performance. Basically, we began to make the robot better at it’s job and fix any problems previously identified.
Task: We began with fine-tuning the intake by making a variety of different rollers. Each roller was a prototype to grabbing buckies and large balls in a certain way. We figured the easier it became to grab game objects, the faster we could execute our game plan and focus on disrupting the opponents plan.
Problems: Problems that arose were that not all the types of rollers would work with our intake. We had limited space available so the big bulky rollers were scrapped in favor of smaller trollers with more traction. Large ball rollers actually got smaller and more rubber bands were added.
Solutions: The variety of ideas we came up with helped in giving us lots of options to chose from. We encouraged the new members to come up with the rollers, and our large ball intake actually came from one of their ideas. Over the course of the day, we tested the various rollers and settled on designs for the standard bucky ball intake and the large ball rollers. We settled with a medium sized bucky ball intake with rubber across the middle plus non slip padding along the sides for the greatest traction and small large ball rollers with gaps in between the sides to better grabbing.
Objective: Come up with a way to separate the large ball and bucky ball storage to allow better control of both individual pieces while manipulating both at the same time.
Task: We brainstormed ideas to make this division of storage better.Both senior members and newer members alike proposed their ideas, and needless to say there were interesting suggestions. We all decided to a division which would least alter our current intake to keep things from getting too complicated. We reinforced the extra level above our bucky ball storage that would hold the large balls and therefore allow us to interact with the large balls and bucky balls separately even while they’re both in the actual intake. This design would be beneficial to our game plan since we could then quickly manipulate the various balls in certain zones and move or even stash them for the point advantage regardless of what we had in our intake at the time as well as being stable enough to withstand the rigors of competition. It would also make for a very quick stash and topping combo where we stash our buckies and follow up with a quick large ball topping.
Problems: Getting the extra level within dimensions was a problem we had to address. the robot still had to be able to go under the barrier, so we had to keep the dimensions under 12 inches. We made a makeshift barrier out of PVC pipes to simulate the height we had to stay under. We also had to make sure the could keep the intake flexible enough and not have it too rigid. We used rubber bands and standoffs as connectors for the old intake and this new level. After a days work, we managed to build and install the mechanism on the robot.
Solutions: Flexibility was maintained with rubber band connectors being used, so the intake remained flexible and we successfully avoided the rigidity issue. The intake worked as intended in that it did successfully divide the large ball and bucky ball storages so the main goal was accomplished. We faced new issues with keeping the buckyballs in the intake though, since the gaps in between levels were big enough to allow buckyballs to fall out of the intake when the lift was raised.
Top View of improvised Intake
Objective: Our objective today was to solve the issue of buckyballs falling out of the intake when the lift was raised.
Task: We discussed how we could address this problem, we settled on using single strips of metal and rubber bands as a way to prevent buckies from falling out. We added the strips of metal as dividers between the standoffs that separated the buckyball storage and large ball storage. This provided a wall of metal across the intake until the very back of the intake. To fix the back, we bent 2 small strips of metal into L’s and attached them to the back of the intake. They would help stop the buckyballs from falling out due to inertia when the lift was raised.
Problems: A problem we had to address was the fact that we wanted to make sure our intake could hold 3 buckyballs at a time for maximum efficiency in stashing. Our current intake was too small, however, and could only hold two. We could just barely fit in three buckyballs and we couldn’t hold onto them reliably.
Solutions: The solutions we came up with where adding rubber bands to the strips of metal we used to close off the back of the intake as an extension to the intake, allowing us to reliably get that last buckyball into our intake without it spilling over and out. This rubber band extension was successful in extending the intake just enough to let that last bucky ball in,allowing us to store 3 buck balls proved that we left one halfway through the intake rollers. This ability to hold 3 buckyballs at a time greatly aided our game plan since we could now conserve much more time by grabbing 3 buckyballs at a time instead of only 2 and having to go back for that last one. It really sped things up and gave us much more time to tackle other issues that could appear on the field.
VTU week 36-37
Winter Break (12/21 through 1/5)
VTU week 38
Objective: Today, we regrouped on what we did prior to the break and hat the next step should be. We had to discuss what our strategy for the game would be and the parts we ordered before break would be arriving any day now so we could finally get back to testing and driver practice.
Task: The first thing we did was talk about our game plan and how things would be expected to play out. We all agreed that our seperate storage that we made before break as well as the ability to control three buckyballs at a time would be our main form of scoring points. We incorporated topping as a viable endgame strategy since we still couldn’t hang plus we had watch videos of other teams across the world designing shooters into their robots, so we needed a viable counter to these new robots being designed. Topping during endgame would allow us to control 20 whole points, which was a significant amount and would likely be more influential than shooting bls across the field as we saw other teams doing.
Problems: A problem with using the topping strategy was that topped large balls were very easy to descore. We couldn’t expect our opponents to simply let us score 20 free points without some kind of descoring attempt being made, so we had to get together and come up with a way to defend both goals at once.
Solutions: Many ideas were suggested by both senior and newer members, and we decided on using an expected event as a possible form of defense. Our design has the distinct advantage of having a huge range extension when we tip over. Using this range, it could be possible to defend both goals against approaching robots if we intentionally tip. Tipping over as a strategy was a strategy many of us were wary of, but we all agreed that it would probably be a strategy that most opponents would not expect. Plus, since this strategy would have to be done during endgame, the opponents would not get a whole lot of time to come up with a counter to it until the next match if we had another match against them. In that case, we could then successfully throw off their own endgame.
Objective: Parts we ordered arrived. We immediately had to begin testing and getting the driver practicing with the new systems, as well as troubleshoot any new problems that may have arisen from our previous tinkering.
Task: We immediately got our brand new controller and put it to the test with VexNet. Thankfully, things worked as expected and we could finally start testing after our long hiatus due to faulty main controllers. Our driver tried out the new intake and noted difficulties to grabbing buckyballs and large balls. This was an issue we had to address immediately. Our driver practiced on a new form of grabbing buckyballs with some success. Driving had it’s rigidity and we had to address this issue as well. We made sure axles were in all the motors and connections were right and connected and the driving got a lot better. the lift was tested and proved to be the most stable of all the systems except the funnels. the funnels were much faster after we shortened them and could now reliably be used in autonomous, giving us that distinct advantage many other teams would lack.
Problems: We had to address all the various problems that arose from testing the robot. Intake needed to be worked on to make sure grabbing was easier and more efficient. Driving faced problems when going over the bump, abd could have been a problem caused by us gearing our drivetrain for speed over power. Lift was stable but we still decided to change the old axles with the new ones we got today so that it would be even better.
Solutions: We fixed up the lift with new axles and made it tip top. The intake was the next issue we tackled and we tried widening the intake for easier gripping and well as having the drive practice his new form of intaking buckies with having the intake fall on the buckyballs. The widening of the intake did help in grabbing buckyballs, but proposed a new problems with that buckyballs began to fall through the wider grab in the front of the intake when we turned around. We gave thought to changing the angle of the intake to make things less steep.
Objective: Test internal gearing to make sure the drive train is still going over the bump.
Task: Stress test the Drivetrain to see how much stress the robot can take under the new internal gearing.
Problems: We could not drive over the bump with the new speed, so we figured that we would need to change the external gearing as well.
Solutions: Lower the gear ratio. We suggested a gearing of 1:1.6 instead of 2:1.
VTU week 39
exam week 1/11 through 1/19
Due to exam week, the team did not meet. However, we stuck together to help each other prepare for exams. Together, we practiced on math, science, english, history and even more exams. We would quiz each other on vocabulary words or explain to each other specific topics we had difficulties in. Because of this, exam week was an easier process to go through