Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Our nameless robot has been shipped!!!

Around 5:00 today, as we were wrapping plastic around the outside of our awesome crate, FedEx arrived to collect our robot! Enjoy your day off tomorrow, and get excited for packing stuff for portland on Thursday...

THINGS WE HAVE TO PACK FOR PORTLAND (in addition to tools, etc.)

-the radio for the robot that we accidentally forgot to pack into the crate after taking it off the
-chain tensioning delrin rod system
-grip tape
-emergency ramp kit: rivets, punch (for holes in surgical tubing), surgical tubing (about 3/8" outer diameter, 1/8" ID), box cutters, drill bit (in rivets bag), back-up plates (washers for pop rivets), cable and crimps...
-slides for bottom or ramp supports
-extra signs with school name, sponser, etc. (already printed)
-and more...think about what we need!

-figure out what to do about indicator light for which we're missing the relay...

good night--go catch up on all that lost sleep!

Monday, February 19, 2007

We're 121 lbs!!!...

...with a 12V battery.

After a moment of freaking out about needing to lose 11 lbs, we realized we hadn't removed the battery. The arm wasn't on the robot, however, so as far as we can tell, we're right at 110 lbs. At least we don't have to go through the extreme weight loss program as last year!

Oh yeah, did I mention we have sweet ramps that get released by a nifty flipper?! Ok, so maybe I shouldn't be so excited given we're shipping in less than 48 hrs, but I have to say I feel a lot less stressed than last year or the year before. We also have a gripper that's done, save maybe a few simple improvements tomorrow as we test.

I took some detail photos of the robot tonight, so if any of you readers want to build a copy of our robot...the pictures say it all, so I'll end my post with short list of things we might consider doing before we ship (should we have the time, that is, in some cases):

-color code for different allen key sizes
-spray paint 1700 on bumpers
-signage (sponsers,
-cart (at least get dimensions so we can do after ship, if it comes to that)
-stuff i can't remember because it's too late and my memory is going...


Sunday, February 18, 2007

2 days left (plus a little...)


And (surprise surprise) weight is an issue, though not as bad as last year. We're at about 107 lb without the ramp release mechanism or dampers or a few smaller things. Hmmm...

Ramps are almost done, meaning they're dampened, hinged, and supported; they just need some stronger springs. We made do with bungee cords tonight (to open up the secondary ramp), and it was pretty sweet. We did note the problem of getting the cable (connected to the ramp frame and the ramp support) caught around the ramp support...

A gripper idea in the works (suction-y), and we have a working design already.

To do:
ramp release mechanism
wheels/slides/whatever for end of ramp
finish putting grip tape on second ramp
cross-bracing for tower
(test ramps with paly?)
drill last mounting holes for bumpers

See pictures ;)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

We're getting there

Somehow Jim and being at IDEO make everything work out. We're now done with the secondary ramps and have mounted a main ramp on hinges connected to the chassis (and removed it, so electronics could flip the chassis and drill a couple holes). Our next plan for action is to figure out how to mount the vertical ramp supports and the dampers on the ramps. I think we're sticking to the cable idea for aligning the supports. We also have somewhat of an idea to mount the dampers (we did all of this on our prototype!), but this needs some reworking because the top back chassis rail isn't one piece straight acros the width of the frame. Rather, there's a gap in the middle, leaving no room to mount a damper.

The gap is, however, a perfect fit (as it was intended to be) for the new gripper design that is similar to our previous design, except it has two prongs spaced >10" (the diameter of the spider arm circular plate). We need to finalize this tomorrow and fabricate it, too...and test it on THE RACK! Once this design is set, we also need to add cross bracing to the tower at heights that're appropriate for mounting touch sensors (to prevent the arm from rotating too much in either direction).

The battery mount is also in progress and will hopefully be done by the end of tomorrow.


[OI board? (currently we're using last year's--is this even legal?)
bumpers, signage, flag holder, etc.
crate! contact mr. reichling... (Kersten?)]

Little stuff that I don't want to be doing the night before/the day of ship...

A big thanks to Jim for staying with Chrissy and me these past few days until AFTER 10:00!!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Ramps (cont.)

We're almost done with mounting the surfaces on one whole ramp (the main ramp is done, and we need to mount one more aluminum sheet, which has already been punched out, on the secondary ramp). Once that is done, we can work out how to mount the two pieces together, incorporate the support, and mount it all onto the chassis.

Along with the list of stuff in my previous blog, these things also have to get done:

Ramp release mechanism--I think we're at a point where we should be able to have it all ready to mount on the tower of power. Let's try to get that done within the next two days.

Gripper redesign--it turns out the design we've been planning to use doesn't work. Chrissy and I stayed really late trying to work something out, but this needs more thought.

We're going to IDEO tomorrow and getting there AT FIVE-THIRTY (5:30!!!! NO LATER PLEASE!!!). Maybe you've noticed we've been getting there a half hour late every time, which is bad because we HAVE TONS TO DO (and we're wasting Jim's time if we're not there)!!!

When we go, we need to take:

-The chassis and arm (if programming is ok with this...if not, maybe they can follow)
-A battery (so we can weld a mount onto the chassis)
-That bag with safety glasses and that 1.5' piece of pvc
-and probably other stuff, too...

Ramping it up...

oh dang. i just lost my post because my internet hung. here's a quick version of it.

main ramps = DONE!
secondary ramps = started! aluminum sheet surface cut to correct size and shape.

to do tomorrow (sounds like lots to easy stuff-but will take time!!! only a week left!!):

-draw grid on ramp material and mark points with the punch (borrowed from ideo. don't lose it)
-arm: determine desired length and angle of gripper
-signage--read the rules
-pvc flag holder
-joystick board--place to put joysticks, oi...
-think about hinges/dampers for ramps

other stuff:
-crate? kersten, are you in touch with mr. reichling? HOW IS THE ROBOT GETTING SECURED INSIDE?
-electronics cover
-battery mount (orientation? placement?)
-cross bracing on tower of power

other other:

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Sunday, Jan 7

A lot of punching went on today.
First, we all arrived at Castilleja and worked on some stuff (like moving tables, sending emails, and making bumpers) and then Monta Vista arrived to use the rack and then Allie and Anne worked on the crate and Jimmy woke up so we went to IDEO, but not before Bud dropped by and we all had a chat, which was great because Bud is awesome. And then he came to IDEO with us and stuck around for a while, and then programming came to IDEO, so there was a big programming/electronics and ramp design party in the shop, and we punched a lot of stuff and the upshot of all of that is that we have a main ramp that holds more than we need it to and that weighs 7.4 lbs! YES!
Weight check:
-4 ramp frames = 15 lbs
-chassis and arm and tower = 65 lbs
-electronics board = really light because thy remounted stuff on a sort of corrugated plastic sheet.
Also, we need an optical potentiometer.
Also also we need to put together (that is, clamp, drill, rivet, punch) the rest of the ramps, and then we need to support them, and then do hinges, and then dampers. So keep cracking, guys! Keep up the good work for the next 9 days (AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Today we wrote letters for a while (which are due TODAY, btw) and then, once we figured out our transportation, headed over to IDEO. Jim has machined us some wonderful stuff, like transmission mounts and the motor mount for Chrissy's arm. We also had him drill holes in the new chassis and we can put wheels and (almost) transmissions on the actual robot. We still don't know what ramp material we're going to use. We still (consequently) don't know whether we'll use a flipper (Free Willy) or some latch and cable device to keep the ramps in (does anyone else think that latches and cables might be a bit iffy if we get run into?). We still might end up buying the Andymark transmissions. We need to go to Alan Steel to buy some stuff (there's a list somewhere... Julia?). If anyone knows anything about where to buy structural bamboo, post a comment here or talk to me or Julia or Chrissy about it.
Thanks to Ms Doerr for the sushi.
Good work on the crate, freshman.

Saturday, February 03, 2007


Today we:
-worked on the crate with our wonderful parent volunteer, Mr Reichling. It's now at the painting stage, and we should be finished very soon (which is good, because the robot needs to ship very soon).
-worked on the whole ramp system
-sent Kersten to Ace and IDEO for hinges, allen keys, and advice
-skyped emily
-ate lunch
-drank tea
-made a mess/ work in progress
-cleaned it up
-tested the now complete (if somewhat flawed in the hinge and damper category) ramp system to see that it (mostly) WORKS! So that was cool. It looks like all our effort to design it has worked out.

So now we need to:
-see what sort of surface we want on these ramps
-see if we want to change the ramp release mechanism (cable and latches?)
-go to allen steel for possible ramp material and the aluminum axle rod for the arm
-figure out what we're going to do about our transmissions. The options are to buy the Andy mark ones, use last years' (which may not be legal, so we need to see what the rule book says about that), see what the authorities are going to do about the ones from this year, or ask Jim if maybe he can help us modify them
-go to IDEO monday at 5:30 to talk stuff over with Jim
-build the robot and win regionals and nationals

so get to work, everybody! (and if that isn't motivation enough, talk to Julia and see what phrase she uses)

Mostly ramps

The coil springs definitely seem to be working at the joint b/w main and secondary on our 80-20 ramp! (note: depending on the final surface material for our ramp, mounting them may be a little more challenging, but doable, of course).

The dampers are also showing promise; we used some L-brackets to mount them onto our 80-20 chassis and ramp and slowed down the 20 lb ramp significantly (not necessarily enough, but the real ramp won't be 20 lb...). Unfortunately, even with a less significant crash into the floor, the end piece on one of the dampers (with a ball and socket joint) broke. It's still usuable, but this is a problem we have to address.

The mesh seems to be strong enough to hold a robot, provided there is no hole cut out for the ramp release mechanism. If we go with the mesh (possibly two layers of it?), we'll have to:
1) rework the release mechanism (not completely, but I don't think what we currently have will work since it requires a hole...)
2) consider the sag-factor: will the robot stay above 12"? will sag prevent robots from being able to climb up the secondary ramp and onto the main part of the ramp?

To Do:
•plot out location of transmissions and electronics board (keeping in mind the arm has to fit "inside the chassis" at the beginning of each round, before it flips "open" to be in front of the robot)
•consider whether our arm/gripper is going to work with/fit over the black flexible-ish tube on the spider arms
•calc exact distance on either side of robot in home zone when ramps are deployed, and possibly get a max secondary ramp length based on this number
•continue work on ramps: SUPPORTS (either buy hinges from mcmaster or pick some up from ACE; make supports from wood?; cable...possibly buy for crimps for when we need them eventually)
•buy more transmission sprockets if we decided to run two loops of chain from each transmission (one to the middle wheel, and one to the back wheel). (but we don't need any more chain! just possibly some master and half links)
•Mr. Reichling will be here to help construct crate! maybe paint it, too....

see ya! (and don't forget your HOMEWORK :D )

Friday, February 02, 2007

JIm is a welding master

Duh. Ok, we all knew that. Still, he continues to amaze me! Tonight he welded the main platform for one of the ramps. In addition, he welded the two sides of our tower of power, complete with homemade L-brackets that will allow us to adjust the placement of the tower on our chassis. Our real robot is still looking pretty skeleton-like, but it's beginning to take form!!!

In other news, we got our 72 tooth sprocket today. Some funky stuff going on with a couple of teeth, but according to Jim, "the chain doesn't care," so we're ready to proceed on that front. Some folks also worked on prototyping with wire mesh on the ramp. Jim has also suggested a thin sheet of aluminum (for Kersten, preferably one that makes cool sounds).

To buy (this is also in my notebook, which isn't with me, so I may be forgetting something):

ALUMINUM ROD (to replace the steel one we're currently using for arm)-3/4" diameter, I have a part number (mcmaster)

Hinges for Ramp--Kersten and I started working on this, considering what kind we want at each joint on the ramps ("leaves lay flat" hinges, etc.)

Two 1/2" shaft collars (I think we may have some of these, so let's check first)

To find out:
-Do our current coil springs on ramp work without a pin in the spring hinges at that joint (in other words, would the coil springs with springless hinges provide sufficient ramp-unfolding action)?
-What's our status on weight? (the main platform of a ramp that Jim welded for us is 3.8 lb, so we're already at a total of about 40 lb for the welded frames of both ramps, the tower of power w/o the arm, and the chassis frame).

Lastly, DO YOUR ROBOTICS HOMEWORK!!!! IT'S *REALLY* IMPORTANT. We need a letter from EVERY one of you!

Here is the link to the specifics of the assignment, again, just in case:



Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Wednesday 31.01.07


started off a bit slow, but then we took the stock over to IDEO to weld!!
yay for Jimmy!
so by the end of the night, we have a FRAME! that's right. a frame...w00t!

meanwhile back at casti, the freshmen designed and put together a bom for bumpers. a much needed and neccesary task :)

mounting transmissions from Rosie onto 80-20 prototype so programming can run code on a robot whose transmissions aren't likely to lock up at any moment....yikes.
more welding-specifically ramps, maybe arm structure
drilling holes in chassis frame--so we need to take SPROCKETS AND CHAIN TO IDEO
prototype with ramp material that ed brought over tonight (metal mesh)
use 80-20 ramp to test with extension DAMPERS and COIL SPRINGS
finalize bumper design--keep it up, freshmen!



See http://www.usfirst.org/community/frc/content.aspx?id=4066 for specific details on what you should include.

PLEASE submit your letter to Chrissy, Hannah, or Julia by SATURDAY AFTERNOON, and we'll send it off for you. If you don't care who you write to, just leave that part blank and we'll fill it in or get back to you.

See you all tomorrow--remeber to be there on time (3:30) so that we can get started :) LOTS to do before ship date!!!


over and out

Monday, January 29, 2007

Monday 29.01.07 (a lesson in floss)

quick recap...

went and got 33 pounds of aluminum today. quite fun. w00t! saw 114 there. quite exciting. the allen is doing well...and so is the horizontal band saw :)

more designing stuff
the ramps are ramping up (haha) and we found some SWEET springs that do the job of the hinges very neatly...though at the moment they are secured rather precariously...but we covered them up and put a nice "do not touch this without safety glasses or else" sign on it so we are good to go.

as for the arm, it is also looking good. more finalizing of design, so basically all we need to do now is put it together. YAYNESS!

tomorrow:IDEO at 5.30. we will be welding a frame, welding an arm, drilling some stuff, laithing some other stuff, and doing generally exciting things.
(vague stuff to be exact)

get EXCITED! the ACTUAL robot is coming together!!!!

over and out

Sunday, January 28, 2007

We Have Hit the Halfway Point

Yes, it's true. Something like 21 or 22 more days to go. Eek!

Firstly, thanks to all the freshmen who show up consistently (even for the supposedly nonexistant Sunday meetings) and are ready to help (or be patient when we don't have much for you guys to do). Today was one those days. But while not much progress was made on the building front, Chrissy, Kersten, and I were able to reassess our design and determine the mechanisms that still need figuring out for our final robot.

Here are the lists we came up with.

Little tasks to do:
- Drill new holes/fix existing holes in transmission mounting plate so they actually line up with the holes in the transmission!
- Make pillowblock bearings similar to the ones we have on Rosie (the black boxes--we should remove these tomorrow so we can show Jim). I (Julia) have the new dimensions for these.
- Hollow out the 3/4" diameter arm shaft that weighs a ton (it doesn't need to be completely indestructable)
- Weld the other end piece of the ramp release flipper to a shaft collar so that's it's removable
- Weld a battery mount
- Make Delrin wheels or slide for the end of the ramp so it doesn't snag on the carpet
- Drill holes in gears in transmission adapter for weight loss (we'll hold off on this until we're mounting them on the real chassis)
- Maybe mount electronics board (I said electronics could do this, but we should probably just ask them what they want and maybe drill holes based on where we want them on the chassis)
- Make a cover for the electroncis board or perhaps just cover the front face of the chassis with a sheet of polycarbonate
- Signage (1700, sponsers, too!)
- Bumpers (maybe later...)

To figure out:
- We'd like to make the secondary ramp longer so the angle robots have to drive up isn't so steep (30° is last year's angle and it wasn't ideal), but a big issue is weight! We weighed our prototype (which is missing a fair bit of parts) and it's about 100lb. YIKES!
- Ramp material: how does poly carb weight compare to expanded metal? (we're already planning to build a frame with bracing using aluminum extrusion)
-Where are we going to have spring hinges, regular hinges, dampers for our ramp? Are there dampers that prevent both extremely fast extension and compression? How are we going to position and deploy the TWO supports for each ramp (K, C, and I are thinking just cable to both the main ramp and the secondary ramp that'll force it into one position)? Ideally we'll make progress on this MONDAY AFTERNOON/EVENING AND BE ABLE TO PLACE AN ORDER!! :)
-ASK JIM/ED ABOUT TORSIONAL SPRING DAMPERS (for ramp) (and post pics of sketches for em)
- Make any necessary changes to prototype chassis dimensions and then have Jim weld it for us (as well as the tower of power and the ramp frames)

What we figured out:
-The transmissions mounted generally as they are on the prototype will work on the actual robot (so we only need one chain around the back two wheels--saving weigh, an extra support someone for mounting elsewhere, and messy chain tensioning stuff)
- We don't want to have two-level arm-motor gearing. Remember, KISS (keep it simple, stupid)! A 10 tooth sprocket on the motor and a sprocket with about 70 teeth up on the arm shaft should do the trick, though it'd be good to talk this through with Jim and/or Ed once more.

Tomorrow let's set some deadlines and then jump right in. Kersten is gonna start us out by picking up a whole bunch of aluminum extrusion from Alan Steel tomorrow. How cool would it be to finish our robot 2 weeks before ship date?!

Right, so as I see it, these are crucial things to focus on tomorrow (I may have missed something, so read the other lists, too!):
- The ramp: joints, materials, springs, dampers, cable, height (based on the height of the chassis) ,etc. Ed will be here, so we'll be able to get his input in this area. PLACE AN ORDER!
- Also ORDER a sprocket for the IFI arm
- Contact Jim about a session on Tuesday (and others this week, too)
- Along with the ramps, work on the arm. We don't even have this prototype yet, so let's make sure this is a priority!
--question I just had: can our current design hold a keeper?

See you all tomorrow!

Saturday, January 27, 2007


Lots of progress today!

The prototype chassis is ready for some code and an electronics board! We finished mounting the transmissions and putting chain on and also mounted the motor for the ramp release mechanism! Kersten and I also rigged up a battery mount for the prototype chassis made out of good old wood and angle iron :)

Thanks again to Jim for the hollowed-out Delrin "chain tensioning" rods and for taking Kersten, Chrissy, Anne, and Melissa to the shop to help us:
-Cut chain to length
-Get some polycarbonate for the electronics board (if any of you programming/electronics people are reading this, all you have to do is mount your stuff onto this sheet, which has already been cut to size)
-Mill a slot for a key in the arm shaft
-Drill holes for set screws in the transmission sprockets
-And probably other things I'm not aware of since I didn't go

Meanwhile, Nandini learned about putting chain together with half-links and master-links. yay!

See you all tomorrow at 11:00 (get ready to work on the arm and the crate)!

ps--PLEASE reply to my email re Portland by tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon if you haven't already!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Thursday 25.01.2007

hey hey hey!

while the programming team had commandeered the transmissions, we worked on designing a motor mount for the arm mechanism (there are some very nice drawings in GENERAL 2), as well as putting together the new wheel and putting it on!

Sent j-rock on an ace run for washers and shaft collars (we never seem to have enough...hmmm...who has been eating the shaft collars???)
so now we have washers so the shaft collars are not as hard to install on the wheels.

made a list of very important measurements. arms stuff. chassis stuff. other stuff.

and now we are about to mount the transmissions on the robot! yay for chain!

Doug, Richard, and Beth are working on the RACK! w00t! go them!

GOALS: end of the week (saturday at the latest) have a running prototype. yay!


over and out.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Monday 22.01.2007

welcome to the third week!

got the new transmission adapter in the mail today, along with some 80-20 and some other cool stuff. w00t!

we started by cleaning the project room (a much needed action)
we can actually walk in in now without tripping over things (mostly) and melissa organized boxes and pens while kersten, nandini, and anne worked on inventoring the shipment as well as designing more ramp stuff.

then it was off to IDEO for a transmission-putting-together-taking-off-random-stuff-from-the CIM-motor-delrin-cutting-shaft-widening-laithing-filing extravaganza with jimmy (thank you!)

after getting back, and eating (wonderful dinner supplied by the macewan family), we worked on ramp stuff with ed, while doug and mr. crone worked on the rack downstairs.

currently working on ramp. more later.


over and out.


Sunday, January 21, 2007

Sunday 21.01.07

ok so today...

jimmy came over to casti and talked about arm stuff (mostly sprockets and gearing down that monster of a CIM motor) and ramp stuff...
we tested the ramp stuff...and the hinges aren't really working, so we are going over to ideo tomorrow with a to-do list and a bunch of stuff to check out! yay!
thanks to trae for working with the programmers today! they worked a bunch with the electronics board that emily made.
speaking of emily, we also skyped her around 3. she says good job and keep up the good work!

Doug and a bunch of the parents were working hard on the rack...sawdust flying everywhere! the crate is half-finished and the rack is all ready to put together! yay!

see you all tomorrow at the new meeting time, 3:30

be there or be not there (and tell us)

Saturday, January 20, 2007


Hey everyone!
Today we worked more on everything. We split into teams, so Chrissy and Nandini worked on the arm prototype and then the batteries, Julia and Anne worked on the 80-20 version of the ramp prototype, Kersten and Melissa worked with Doug on the flipper things to hold in the new ramps, and the freshman all worked on the crate or rack at some point during the day.
So the ramp people still need to attach the ramp and figure out how the springs should work, the arm people need to see what sprocket they want to use, and the flipper people are mainly waiting on the order to arrive so they can start work.
And the crate is doing well- the back half is attached to the base.
Meeting tomorrow is from 11 to sometime before 6 (probably around 3 or 4).

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Do it.

Chrissy and Julia made a run to Ace Hardware during period 6 today and bought door hinges, wheel axle/bolts (6") and nylon nuts to go along with them, steel (?) cable, washers, and maybe a few other things... When Ed came, he brought more steel cable, crimps for the cable, and eye-bolts (I don't actually know what these are called).

The proto chassis now has wheels and a ramp (pictures coming)! The ramp is made out of foamcore mounted on spring hinges and has a damper/support-component, too. Watch the magic unfold...and the foam core break apart. It's not a big deal, but it means we've entered the next stage in the ramp prototyping process: creating an 80-20 frame for the ramp. Not only will this give us a much more realistic sense of weight, it also will make for a much more durable product.

There's also a lot to be done in every other area of the robot--the arm/tower and chassis. Ed helped us break these to-dos into separate tasks with deadlines (see the white board), and we'll each be focusing on two of these for the next while.

And, finally, Kersten learned the importance of "saftey".

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Oh man (good stuff and not so good)

-holes for wheel axles and delrin rod chain tensioners drilled through bottom 80-20 chassis rails by jim
-IFI wheel and treads purchased
-2 banebot transmission adaptors purchased
-chassis and arm 80-20 structures completed (almost--see pictures by following "Build Team Photos" link and selecting Prototypes album)
-some foam core cut for ramps

-Something went weird with our predicted axle lengths. The ones we've used in past years weren't long enough, so Chrissy and I are making a trip to Ace tomorrow during p. 6 to buy some (and other ramp, etc. parts, too)
-L brackets are too long for the planned 3.5" between the chassis rails around the wheels (L-brackets are 2"-see pictures). We used L-brackets cut down to 1x2 holes, but only had 3, so we need to cut another tomorrow.

To do/buy/figure out:
-Do we have enough chain for our chassis? (When we hand it over to programming, it should have motors and chain, so we can have a working chassis)
-everything ramp related
-washers so the spring hinges aren't floating around on bolts prevented from screwing into nut plates further because they're hitting the 80-20 on the other side of the nut plate
-cut a hole off an L-bracket for the chassis
-Comment if you think of anything else that needs to be done soon!

-New meeting times (see side bar)
-We're meeting 3-4 on Friday, and on Saturday (10-4) AND Sunday (starting 11)

Bad news:
-um, let's just say everyone should read the game manual (but don't freak out, please)
-get ready to do some brainstorming...

on that note, see you tomorrow and get ready for a productive meeting :)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Our order arrived from Mcmaster today! Lots of fun stuff :)

Chrissy and crew piled into a convertible bug with the 8' and 6' long pieces of 80-20 (what a sight) and made a visit to IDEO. Jim cut the 80-20 to length (thanks, Jim!), and the assembling has begun.

Accomplished so far:
-80/20 for arm, tower, and chassis cut to length
-Chassis assembled except for bottom layer (with the wheels, etc)

To do:
-assemble arm/tower
-drill 3/8" holes in pieces of 80/20 for wheel axles (I started drilling 1/4" pilot holes, but stopped when I realized that the shape of 80/20 means that they won't actually be able to function as pilot holes). Plan 2) Make another visit to Jim tomorrow or Thursday to get this holes drilled. If he's unavailable, do it in our shop... Whoever does this, remember that the holes for the middle wheels have to be 1/8" lower.
-assemble bottom of chassis with wheels/axles and put together with the rest of chassis
-tape together sheets of foamcore to make a thicker piece to use as a ramp

Other decisions made/things to purchase:
-We're going to buy the adaptor that allows us to use 2 CIM motors with one transmission box (we have the additional 2 CIM motors already from previous years)
-Buy one 8" dia, 1" wide IFI wheel, but we do NOT need any more sprockets (and we're not going to invest in larger sprockets either to gear down anything--Ed says we'll be ok)
-Buy seven 1" wide wedgetop treads for IFI wheels (fyi, website doesn't work on macs...sheesh)

Last comments:
-Our Friday meeting is going to be shorter than usual...exact time tbd.

That's all for now. Hope you all don't have too much homework!

ps-Ed was here tonight, if I didn't make that clear. thanks, Ed.

Monday, January 15, 2007

One more day...

Word has it that our order is arriving tomorrow! If it does in fact come, at least a few of us will be making a trip to IDEO (arriving at 5:30) where Jim has agreed to cut it for us.

In the meantime, we've been sending out emails and all that good (but not so interesting) stuff. We also took a look at this year's new transmissions, and we're hoping to use 4 cim motors, 2 per side, to drive our robot. Each gearbox FIRST provided in the KOP only hooks up to one motor, so our two options are:
1) buy 2 adaptors that'll allow us to run one transmission with two CIM motors
2) buy 2 more transmission gearboxes so we have a total of 4 (this poses some mounting issues...)

Ah yes--and thanks to Allie and Nandini for starting in on estimating the weight of our prototype! We're definitely going to need to keep track of this throughout the season!

Please check your email if you haven't recently and respond to my email about travel. I (Julia) need answers from everyone by tomorrow morning at the latest--thanks to those who already replied!

see ya!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Stuff ordered

Today we met and ordered the stuff we need to prototype from McMaster. It should be here in a day or two, and then we can start building.
We also skyped Emily, who answered some or our questions about general stuff.
That's about it. See you tomorrow!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Crate and FINAL BoMs

YAY! Our drawings and BoMs for the prototypes are done, we will order the materials tomorrow, and we can finally start building them when the parts arrive this week... only a few days behind schedule.
We also sent an expedition to buy the materials for the new crate, after which Mr Reichling and George Schnurle helped the freshmen with building. If any of you freshmen reading this want to elaborate on that or can say what the current crate situation is, feel free to comment or post.
We'll send out an email later tonight saying when we're meeting tomorrow.

Friday, January 12, 2007

BoMs, blueprints, prototypes, and mechanisms

Today we worked more on the prototyping process. The design for one of the gripper ideas was finalized, and we managed to actually build a working model. It looks like a nice, simple gripper that could work well for us. The ramp-holding mechanism was ironed out and sort of sketched out (to be completely blueprinted tomorow). Since most of the BoMs are done for the three big prototypes (chassis, arm/tower, and ramps), we started compiling them and figuring out what we already have (esp in the 80-20 dept) so we can send in an order tomorrow.
Ed stopped by and reminded us that our drawings were actually rather insufficient (and so were our design specifics), so then we went and worked on them. We now know how we're going to hinge ramp stuff (like, the alignment and mechanisms for the support and secondary ramp), what the tower will look like (that's been modified), and what our prototype chassis will be (80-20) (it was under some contention earlier).
If you want to know the exciting changes that we made, come to the meeting tomorrow from 10-3!
Also, crate materials shopping will be starting at 11, so hopefully we will have fun with that and have some of the crate finished by the end of the meeting.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Blueprints continuing to progress

Today we met with Mr Reichling to talk about our crate. It's looking pretty good and we will go buy stuff and maybe start working on it on Saturday.
After that we worked more on blueprints and BoMs for the arm idea (having nixed (for now) the elevator idea), the ramp idea, and the various grippers. Melissa now knows all we will ever need to know about solenoids, Ida, Anne, and Alecia worked on modifying our 'harpoon' gripper and started a BoM for that, Julia worked on the chassis sketch and BoM, and Nandini and I worked on this ramp thing that we're going to do.
Everybody, try to keep thinking of gripper designs that we can put on the end of our rotating arm. If you're lying awake tonight or eating lunch tomorrow or bored during tomorrow's meeting, try to think of ways to manipulate inner tubes that don't require any motors- we're all for simple, passive devices that don't require as much designing and are more reliable.
That's all for now- see you tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Blueprints in progress

Today we inventoried the 80-20 parts we already have and made progress on blueprints. In the process of doing so, we decided on the following dimensions:

27"x 37" with the top at a height of 12.5" (so this includes wheel radius)
(for the prototype, we'll still use the slightly large welded frame we have and mount an 80-20 frame of the right dimensions on top)

rotating arm "tower of power"--
44" from the top of the chassis to the height at which the sprocket is mounted (near the top of the arm-frame tower). We estimated a sprocket of max diameter 5", so presumably as much as 2.5" will extend beyond this height). This gives us an estimated robot height of 59" (12.5"+44"+2.5").

Don't forget to draw a blueprint (with dimensions and the 3 perspectives we talked about) of one of the grippers we want to prototype (or a variation on a design we've discussed that you think might work well)!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Before we Prototype...

We now have two major arm designs--rotating arm & elevator-forklift--ideas that we plan to now prototype (if reaching the floor with an elevator-forklift design doesn't become to much of a problem) and grippers to test with those arms. We also have 2 ramp ideas we want to try out.

So, stuff to prototype:
- hi-mounted rotating arm
- elevator/forklift
- grippers to test with above arms
- 2 ramp ideas

Before we prototype, there are some important things to do first:
- Create blueprints (not Kersten-Julia-Chrissy sketches) for the two arm designs with side, front, and top views (dimensions and all that good stuff, too)
- Also make blueprints for the different grippers
- Come up with BoM (Bill of Materials)--stuff we need to build prototypes
- Inventory parts we have (like 80-20 L-brackets, bearings & steel rod for the rotating arm?), so we don't spend $ unnecessarily
- Enlarge our calendar, so that we can coordinate with Prog/Electronics on the same calendar.

Other robot info:
- The length of a rotating arm will be roughly 5' (we have better numbers than this)
- To build our prototype chassis, we're going to use our pre-season welded chassis frame for the lower level. The rest of it will be 80-20 (to be purchased)

Ed showed me (julia) some Solidworks basics last night, so we'll be able to model our robot this year. (A cool thought from Ed: if FIRST has modeled the rack, we can get an idea for how our robot design will interact with the rack all on the computer).

Lastly, we still a parent to help us build the Rack (field element). We're pretty sure we've found a place to put it (the cafeteria), so please reply ASAP if you can help out (an email also went out to parents about this). Students, please ask your parents if they can help out!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Sunday, Jan 7

So today the build and programming teams met. The build team did some brainstorming and prototyping, and we've clarified and narrowed down some of our design ideas. If you haven't seen the project calendar with all the deadlines, take a look. It's on the board in the project room.
We also talked with Emily today and discussed our designs.
See you tomorrow!