2013 -2014 Season Wrap Up – 4/8/14

We are proud to reveal our 2014 robot, Snapdragon. The six weeks of hard work documented on this build blog led to the creation of this robot.

Over the last 2 months, we have played in 2 regionals, demoed our program at 5 events, and have developed strong bonds within the community.

At both the Central Valley Regional and Long Beach Regional, we won the Industrial Engineering award, along with finishing as Semi-Finalists. We also won the Hard Hat Award at Central Valley and the Pit Safety Award at Long Beach.

In between regionals, we decided to improve our robot and add an intake to our front, making our robot more versatile. Because of this, we were able to program a 3 Ball Autonomous, which we sadly did not have the opportunity to try at LA.

We would like to thank our alliance partners from both events, 2443 and 1422  (CV) and 2637 and 5102 (LB), for being amazing teams to work with. We wish them the best of luck.

We would also like to thank Team 3476, Code Orange, for working with us this build season and for allowing us to use their practice field. They have been amazing friends, and we look forward to working with them more in the future.

Personally, this has been an amazing build season, my favorite so far. Over the last four years, our team has grown a lot, meeting challenges and expectations in ways that I could only dream about in my freshman year. We are very proud of our team and appreciate each and every team member.

Although build season is done, we still have a lot of work to do and a ton of events to attend. We look forward to the 2014-2015 FRC Season!


Day #51 – 2/26/14

Lab opening time: 1:30 PM

The mechanical team has been hard at work testing the launcher trajectory with different adjustment devices and methods.  What we’ve determined so far is that we seem to sail the ball right into the goal, from 18 feet away to 4 feet away, with the launcher as-designed, Choo-Choo forward about 2 inches to allow more travel on the mechanism toward the end of the range of motion, and urethane over the back round bar of the launcher.  We are making the shots with a fair consistency, with some variability due to wind when testing outdoors.  So far, we have not had any serious mechanical issues with the design other than shoulder bolts unscrewing themselves over time.

As of this posting, the limit switch mount design is still pending.  We’re having difficulty coming with something rigid enough that interfaces with existing mounting holes.  The limit switch needs to be rigidly mounted on the Choo-Choo to ensure repeatable and safe operation.

The fabrication team decided that the intake would perform better with a rework of the wheel arrangement, which required removing, cutting, and facing off the VexPro Versaplanetary gearboxes.  After completing the rework and testing, we are pleased with the results, and see a noticeable improvement in intake performance.  A picture of the reworked intake wheel arrangement is shown below.


We also took the opportunity to do some lab maintenance items including organizing drill bits into our new Huot dispenser drawers.  They’re quite nice.


Also, our plumbing department installed a 6-stage reverse osmosis and deionizing filter system to our sink area, to prepare ultra-clean water for our HAAS CNC machining center.  We still need to work out some minor leaks.


Finally, the photography and graphics crew finished the vinyl logos and set up to do the robot photo shoot on the seamless backdrop.  This ended up taking much longer than expected, but we think the end result will be worth it.  A picture of the photoshoot setup is shown below.


Lab closing time: 12:30 AM on 2/27/13

Day #47 – 2/22/14

[Lab Opening Time: 9:15 AM ]

Today, we contacted a music artist to ask for permission to use his work in our reveal video. Thankfully, he gave us the green light to do so.

To list things out…

  • We finished pneumatics for the practice bot
  • Code-work has continued. Vision processing is done, but we don’t know how it’ll play out with the finished robot code. Testing will be needed.
  • We worked on organizing and accounting all the receipts for purchases this season.  Just since kickoff, we’ve had over 80 individual purchases.  This is turning out to be one expensive season.

[Lab Closing Time: 9:20 PM]


Day #46 – 2/21/14 – Pneumatics.

Lab opening time – 2:25 PM

All the pneumatics on the practice robot (except for the ejection piston) were finished being plumed today.  2 new pneumatic tanks were adding, bringing the total air tank count up to 6.

The bumpers started coming together, with the pool noodles being attached to the wooden structure. We also tested our intake with the bumpers, which turned out to be successful.

We have yet to test our practice bot’s shooter, as well as the ejection system.

Lab closing time – 12 midnight

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.