Tuesday, February 19, 2008

End of Build Season

The crate, with robot inside, was picked up by FedEx at 2:30 today. I'm very proud of our team, we had an amazing season. Last year our robot went to the semi-finals. This year's robot (the Bobcat) is faster, stronger, more durable, and better at scoring points. We went to two practice events and outperformed all the competition. There is a lot of luck involved and very high standards, but I know our robot will be very competitive in Milwaukee. Check out our upcoming page about the Bobcat for more information.

So we're done, right? Think again - the most exciting part hasn't even come. No matter how great of a robot we build, it still needs to perform at competition.

We still have two five-hour "Fix-It" windows. We need this time to create an improved hybrid mode. At competition, we are going to do some quick improvements on the drive system, including gearing up the sprockets and installing omniwheels. And don't forget the most important part of competition - scouting. We are going to have lots of fun in Milwaukee!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Week 6 Build Update

Friday night we finished installing a stronger cylinder (cylinders extend when air is pushed through them) that would pick up the trackball (this year's playing object, a 40" ball). At the time we were apprehensive; last year we finished the robot 2 weeks before ship date and needed the remaining time for improvements, this year we only finished 4 days in advance!

It was amazing to see our robot pick up that trackball the first time we tried! With very few modifications, we were in business. Today, we went to a practice competition hosted by Simley High Robotics. Our robot was able to complete all 4 tasks: knocking a ball off the overpass, herding/capturing the ball, lifting over the overpass, and placing on the overpass. Out of the 12 teams present, only our robot was able to successfully place a trackball on the overpass for the 12 point bonus.

All that remains is for our software engineers to fix the bugs in Hybrid Mode (at the beginning of the competition, robots are controlled semi-autonomously). On Monday we will go to another practice competition, then immediately pack the robot for shipment on Tuesday!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Week 5 Build Update

The robot is almost finished; we finished the gripper and bumpers today! The infrared sensor still needs to be installed. It will be used to recieve a limited set of commands from the "Robocoach" during the Hybrid mode. Our calculations on the amount of force needed to grip the Trackball were off, so we need to buy a larger pneumatic cylinder.

On Saturday and Monday we are going to practice competitions hosted by Simley High School & Eagan High School. This last week is the critical phase during which we modify our existing systems to make a robot that works in practice, not just theory!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Week 4 Build Update

Today we used the pneumatic cylinders to lift the arms 7' feet! Our robot is already capable of herding trackballs and knocking them off of the overpass, we've just got to finish our gripper. I'm confident that our robot will be finished before the ship date, it's just a matter of having enough time to perfect the design and debug!