Day #29 – 1/31/15 Welding Day

Lab opening time: 9:00am

Today, the welding of the frame took place. It took Roupen and Mr. Black all afternoon to get the welding done but it looks great! The frame is now in its final stages and should be ready for powder-coating on Monday.

Look at them welds!
Look at them welds!
Batter box is securely welded.
Batter box is securely welded.
The frame fully welded.
The frame fully welded.

While work on the actual frame took place, work on the frame in CAD continued with Shay working on the elevator and Joshua and Cynthia working on the intake rollers. It was decided that it would be best to have sliding forks that could push the stacks away instead of having an ejector piston also. This is partly because it would be tough to mount the piston within the limited space on the robot and also the ejector would get in the way of the electronics. Joshua and Cynthia worked together to get the CAD that Joshua had done on the intake rollers into the master CAD of the robot. Cynthia was also able to finish the base plate for the electronics.

On the CAM side, work was done to get the base plate ready and manufactured today on the router thanks to the new coolant system put together by Mr. Hoard and Mr. Widholm. CAM also began work on the bearing mounts for the elevator. As of right now, it looks as though these parts are going to be at least five operations but are not too complicated to machine.

Mr. Hoard making the other base plate.
Mr. Hoard making the other base plate.

The prototyping team was able to test out the autocanners and make some small adjustments to make the autocanners more consistent so that there are no surprises during autonomous.

Alexander and Meet are testing the autocanner.
Alexander and Meet are testing the autocanner.

In programming today, the team tested the swerve module by mounting it to caster wheels so that they can tune the swerve and make sure that is functions properly. Daniel is also working on a text file that will keep a record of these settings.

The business team and media teams teamed up today to help accomplish tasks. Chris and Karine worked on putting up new vinyl cut out of some of our sponsors. They had to redo Walt Disney Imagineering’s sticker many times until they got Micky Mouse just right. Lauren and Nicole worked together on placing photos for the team 696 flyer.

Christ and Karine work on putting up new sponsors.
Christ and Karine work on putting up new sponsors.

With 17 days left to build, the team has made significant progress but, as always, there is more work to be done and now that the frame is done, it is now time to get serious and finish strong.

Lab closing time: 9:30pm

Day#28 – 1/31/15 – Work Continues

Lab Opening Time: 12:00 PM

Today’s minimum day started off with a feast of chicken and mashed potatoes. Afterwards, the team landed on their feet and started working on finishing up the robot frame, preparing for community events, completing all of the design for the remaining mechanisms, and documenting the whole while.

Media team is constantly working behind the scenes during build season and outside of it too.
Media team is constantly working behind the scenes during build season and outside of it too.

On the more mechanics side of things, Elizabeth and Lousaper worked on broaching the VexPro VersaHubs for the swerve drive pulleys. After that, the two started to learn lathe programming on the Immerse2Learn software available to them. Immerse2Learn is a learning software for the Computer Aided Machining (CAM) class available at Clark.

Joshua, the prototyping lead, along with the help of Leo, Meet, and Devon worked to finish designing the AutoCanners. Joshua mainly worked at the computer designing  the angels and dimensions while he delegated tasks among his small group. The ultimate developement of the day was a properly designed joint for the AutoCanners. Other than that, the only thing that needs to get worked on is the placement on the robot and the length of the hook (which could be easily adjusted either way).

CAD contiunes to work on the overall design and the CAM team also works to finish manufacturing of all the parts needed.

The CAD team working hard to wrap things up.
The CAD team working hard to wrap things up.

An important event that went on today was community outreach to a local elementary school. Lincoln Elementary is one of the three schools that Clark mentors for their Lego robotics program. Today, Lincoln was hosting it’s Science Fair starting from 6:30 PM-8:00PM. A bundle of students got the 2014 robot, Snapdragon, competition ready for the event where everything was checked down to the wires and up to each bolt. After all of that, five students attended the Lincoln event where children were introduced to robotics (some for the first time in their lives).

Kids inreract with Snapdragon at Lincoln's science fair.
Kids inreract with Snapdragon at Lincoln’s science fair.

One thing is for sure: this weekend is only beginning.

Lab Closing Time: 10:00 PM

Day #27 – 1/29/15 – Robot Frame Layout

Lab Opening time: 1:30pm

Today, manufacturing of the actual robot frame began. We started out by cutting the diamond pattern on the base plate. This operation alone took an hour and half to complete because we were running the part on the techno router and had to constantly keep spraying the bit with coolant.

Roupen de-buring the base plate
Roupen de-buring the base plate
Claire was in charge of making sure the base plate had enough coolant.
Claire was in charge of making sure the base plate had enough coolant.

After the base plate,  manufacturing on the battery box took place and all that is left is to weld the sides of the  battery box together. Thanks to Mika and Alexander Luke for cutting all of the material for the robot frame.

Machined parts for the battery box. Some assembly required.
Machined parts for the battery box. Some assembly required.

Joshua, Meet, and Leo worked of the CAD model of the intake rollers for the back of the robot and on the pneumatics for the autocanners.

Prototype of the intake rollers.
Prototype of the intake rollers.
CAD model of the intake rollers.
CAD model of the intake rollers.
CAD model of the autocanners.
CAD model of the autocanners.

Shay and Cynthia continued to make minor changes to the frame and on finalizing the design of the elevator.

Layout of robot frame.
Layout of robot frame.

Alexander Luke and Devon worked on getting Snapdragon working to take to the Lincoln Elementary school science fair tomorrow. As it turns out, the compressor on Snapdragon was not working and needed to be fixed before tomorrow’s demonstration.

The lathe team finished making the shafts for the swerve module and worked on some spacers that will be used for various parts of the robot.

Lab closing time: 10:00pm

 

Day #26 – 1/28/2015 – Taking a Step Back

Lab opening time 12:30 PM

Today was the second unscheduled meeting of the week,  it began like any other Wednesday during build season, a few members trickled into the lab getting ready to continue design on the base plate, and getting ready to cut the rest of the frame. Only one thing was missing, the 1″ by 2″ 1/16″ wall 6061 aluminium stock  was supposed to get delivered today, but because of multiple mistakes made by multiple people, we did not get our material.

This entire situation caused a lot of frustration for many of us, we did not want to make any critical mistakes while frustrated, so we decided to call it a day at 3:00 PM.

Lab closing time: 3:00 PM

Day #25 – 1/27/15 – Quiet Tuesday

Lab Opening Time: 1:30 PM

The day’s unscheduled meeting was all about completing needed-to-do-last-week projects. Shay, Cynthia, and Jack spent their time in the lab finishing up designing. Shay is working on the elevator and forks while Cynthia and Jack are working to finish up electrical placement.

The stock for the robot frame after cutting.
The stock for the robot frame after cutting.

On the other end of the lab, the pieces of the robot frame were finally being cut with the material’s that had already shipped in.

Mika cuts rectangular aluminum tubing with precision on the Dewalt Miter Saw.
Mika cuts rectangular aluminum tubing with precision on the Dewalt Miter Saw.

We determined that pocketing the frame rails would result in enough weight savings to be worth the modest time investment to do so.  We drew and programmed a truss-style pattern, which was machined to a depth of 0.090″ in the .125″ walled tubing, leaving .035″ at the bottom of the pocket.  We estimate the pocketing will save approximately 1 full pound when done to both sides of the side and back frame rails, and approximately 2.5 pounds when done to the elevator uprights.  The pockets were not machined through so that the entire surface could be uniformly powder coated, and so the rivets inside are not seen.  The machining operation was done with a 1/4″ 3-flute endmill at 6000 RPM and approximately 106 IPM, with a 20% stepover.  We ran a chamfer mill around the edges at 80 IPM to debur.  To pocket one side of a frame rail takes about 10 minutes on the machine.

This part just barely fit in the Haas Mini Mill, and had to be done in two halves.  Can you tell where the split is?  We can’t.

 

Frame side rails, pocketed for weight reduction and appearance.
Frame side rails, pocketed for weight reduction and appearance.

The long back rail and elevator uprights will likely have to be pocketed on the router.

Tomorrow, the rest of the 1x2x.0625 rectangular aluminum tubing will arrive and work will continue with the frame, baseplate, and battery box.  It will be extremely difficult to meet our goal of sending the frame to powder coat on Thursday morning, and we will likely have to spend Thursday evening finishing construction of the frame.

Lab Closing Time: 8:00 PM

Day #24 – 1/26/15 – Rainy Monday

Lab opening time: 1:30pm

The goal of today’s work session was to finalized the robot base and the placement of the electronics. The CAD and prototyping teams worked closely together to help finalize some of the ideas that we have been working on for the last few weeks. The first item that needed to be finalized was the actual size of the robot. It was determined that the length already determined was good but that the width of the robot would depend on the width of the elevator and forks.

After some testing and discussion, it was decided that the drive base should be 39 inches wide in order to accommodate both the can and totes being lifted by the forks. We also tested to see that the intake rollers could intake a can to help the can be positioned correctly for the forks to grab.

Much discussion took place regarding whether the can should intake over the forks in a lowered position, or whether the can should intake with the forks in a raised position, and then forks lowered over the trash can, then raised again to lift the can.   Due to intricacies of the “hinged-flap” mechanism used to lift the totes, and differences in size between the two game objects, we determined that the simplest way to proceed forward would be to intake the can onto forks in a lowered position.  We saw no significant benefit to lowering forks down over a can, and we were concerned about the potential of bending the elevator forks in the process.

Another design aspect that was discussed was having intakes on the back of the robot that would be able to take in totes from the human player station back. By intaking the totes from the back, we could take in totes from the human player station and then drive straight to the scoring platform without having to turn around. This idea was later replaced by having a “door” style intake with wheels on top and on the bottom. The top wheel would be for speeding up the intaking from the feeder station, and the bottom would be for normal intaking.

Rough prototype of back intake system.
Rough prototype of back intake system.

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In the process of testing the idea, we needed to know whether or not it would be worth it to invest the time and materials in making a power-assisted intake system. After many tests of loading totes from the human player station, it was determined that we could theoretically build a stack of six totes in 18 seconds from the human player station. After determining the advantages of a back intake system, we started on the design of the mechanism. Our idea was to have doors that would open and close to help guide the totes and to also keep the totes from sliding out the back and then have intake rollers on both the top and bottom of the doors.

We discussed the benefits and downsides to loading totes through the elevator from the rear of the vehicle.  We determined that the benefits did not outweigh the downsides, and decided to stick with a front-loading design.  A rear-loading design would likely be heavier, requiring additional motors and structure, and would significantly alter the design and construction of the elevator.  Furthermore, an additional structure or mechanism would be needed to keep the totes in a repeatable position within the vehicle while rear-loading.  Therefore, the rear-loading idea was logically eliminated from any further progression of the design.

The decision to make a front-only loading robot means that the robot may have to rotate to place the totes on the scoring platform, but we see this action as only a minor inconvenience.

Today the business team, web team, and media team, joined forces and decided to enter the Media and Technology Innovation Award that is offered through FIRST. They are hoping to win by having a good branding style, awesome website, and an up to date website.  The business team also updated the Kickstarter with pictures of Clark’s Expo and Mountain Avenue’s Science Fair.

Programming worked on mounting the swerve module to a piece of plywood with caster wheels to that they could test out their code with only one working swerve module.  We were able to drive it around the floor with some degree of direction and control, but a robot with all four modules will handle much better.  There were some issues with encoder mounting that need to be resolved.

Devon, Alexander, and Daniel working to put together the swerve mount.
Devon, Alexander, and Daniel working to put together the one-wheel-drive swerve robot.

Hopefully by the end of tomorrow, we will have box tube cut, a finalized robot base, and will be ready to start on manufacturing.

Back intake drawing.
Isometric view of the overall robot concept “CrayolaCAD”, drawn in Microsoft Zoomit.  Believe it or not, this software is used for a majority of our design work.

We developed a concept to have both high and low intake wheels.  The lower wheels would be used for taking in totes from the floor, and the higher wheels would be used for accelerating the intake of totes from the human loading station.  Each pair of wheels would be mounted to a pivoting “wing” or “flap” and be driven by a VexPro VersaPlanetary, BaneBots 550 motor, and hex shaft.  A slight spring tension inward would give the wheels grip on the object they’re pulling in, while allowing outward movement to contour the shape of the surface and angle that the vehicle approaches the object.  We believe we can save 1 second per human-loaded tote by using the upper intake wheels to assist the tote in making a quick exit from the loader chute.  These wheels and their associated frames would be located outside the transport configuration, but capable of folding back into the transport configuration.

Intake concept, showing upper and lower intake wheels.
Intake concept side view, showing upper and lower intake wheels.

Lab closing time: 7:45 PM.

Day #23 – 1/25/15 – Lazy Sunday

Lab Opening Time: 1:00 PM

After yesterday’s haze of the EXPO, the team came back today with less than half of the members. Even so, the team worked hard in all aspects to continue work with the absence of some members.

Joshua, the lead of the prototyping team, was happy to report that ALL prototypes were completed today with the finishing of the intake rollers. The intake rollers needed a lot of work on them, but after today, everything is looking well. The prototyping team added joints so that the intake arms could be tucked in to fit in the transport configuration parameters. After placing the arms, the team gave it a new set of wheels.

Working on the intake design.
Working on the intake design.

Continuing off of yesterday, the swerve gearboxes where hooked up by the electrical team to their pseudo robot board for the programmers. The programmers got to work with the real-deal parts to better program the encoders that went with the new gearboxes. Tomorrow, we want to have the gearbox on a set of trolly wheels to test out driving.

Programmers working with the swerve gearbox connected to the electronics board.
Programmers working with the swerve gearbox connected to the electronics board.

Business has continued work on mailing out sponsor letters, chairman’s, adding up all the revenue from yesterday, and all other functions that are keeping the financial side of things rolling smoothly.

The Business team meeting to talk about sponsorship.
The Business team meeting to talk about sponsorship.

The electrical team placed orders for servo wires, contacts, housings, 12 awg zip cord, powerpole connectors, and CAN wires.

Lab Closing Time: 8:30 PM

Day #22 – EXPO DAY!

Lab opening time: 8:30am

IMG_9583

Today was Clark Magnet High School’s expo which is our words for “open house”. The team got to the lab early to make sure that everything was in ship-shape for when the expo started. While most members help to set up tables for selling light bulbs, getting computers ready, and sweeping up the leaves that had collected inside the lab because of the wind, the CAM team spent some time setting up and running the second operation of the groove plate.

IMG_9498
Mika explaining Snapdragon to visitors

This task proved to be harder than we thought. While running the part we realized that the first pocketing we were doing was plunging too fast and was going the wrong direction. We went back into to OneCNC check our profile and found that the stock size we had inputted into OneCNC was a quarter too short so we increased the size of the stock, re-picked the tool path, re-posted the code. When we got back to the machine, and tried to load the program, the Mini-Mill was unable to read the flash drive and crashed on us giving us blue text full of hex code. After a restart, we were able to run smoothly.

After a few more minutes, we noticed that the machine did not do a finish pass at the bottom because it was a high speed open pocket and OneCNC does not do finish passes on open pockets so we had to go back in and do a mill profile. When we posted the mill profile, the profile plunged right down into one of the washers that was holding one of our fixture screws. This causes one of the teeth on the endmill to get nicked. After finding the problem, which was that the wrong profile was selected, we were able to complete the operation. After doing a final measurement, the part was 40 thousandths too thick after lowering the offsets, we were able to finish just the first of eight groove plates before the expo started.

The ½ inch end mill before it is chipped. That is close to the bolt. This was a very noisy part.
The ½ inch end mill before it is chipped. That is close to the bolt. This was a very noisy part.

After that one plate was finished, it was time for expo which started At 11:00 am, the lab opened its doors to community members, students and prospective students. The expo was a huge success. The robotics team placed prior years’ robots around campus along with students to talk about the robot and help people find their way around. We also had lightbulb tables set up in two locations to help maximize our sales. In the robotics lab, we had HAAS simulators running, 3D printers running, the Techno Router engraving the Clark seal, Daniel driving the VEX swerve robot, and Snapdragon(2014’s robot) running. It was quite an impressive sight.  We even had some Clark alumni come back to see how the lab has changed, prospective students come in, and current Clark students interested in robotics. The turn out was good and many lightbulbs were sold. Most people who came into the lab were blown away with the advanced machines we have and the program in general.

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After the expo ended at about 1:00pm, it was back to work as usual. The CAM team finished the left groove plates without any more problems, prototyping team helped to clean up after the expo while Mica, Daniel, Lauren, and Karin went to Mountain Elementary School’s science fair.

Kids interact with Snapdragon at Mountain Avenue Elementary School.
Kids interact with Snapdragon at Mountain Avenue Elementary School.
Fully assembled swerve module.
Fully assembled swerve module.

The web team did a “soft release” of the team website: www.team696.org. The web team is still updating the website but has done a nice job of adding continuous scroll and a new font and color scheme for the website.

Media team also helped the web team by editing a video that will be playing as the home screen to our website instead of just our team picture.

Business team was able to design and print team business cards for potential sponsors and visitors. Speaking of visitors, during the afternoon, a Disney Imagineer stopped by our lab to visit and see what he and his company could do to help support our team.  We are pleased to announce Disney Imagineering as a new “Gold Sponsor” of our team!

The prototyping team worked on another new intake roller system that would be able to hinge and close in for transport configuration but would be able to open wider to load a tote but not collapse in on itself. Joshua and Alexander worked on the pneumatics that will help to keep the recycling can in place while lifting it up.

Some of the many swerve parts necessary for assembly.
Some of the many swerve parts necessary for assembly.

The Matlab group worked on finding the maximum speed in which our robot can travel before falling over. The have determined that our speed should be no more that 6 m/s.

Shay worked on the CAD of the frame and placing of the electronics while Cynthia was out. Anthony, one of our animators, worked on an exploded view of the entire robot.

The CAM and CNC team worked on the right groove plate. The right groove plate was also tricky because the tool offset was not set correctly which meant that 30 thousandths were left in the machine and had to be taken off after lowing the offsets by about 30 thousandths. We think that the offset was wrong because the tool moved up in the spindle while under the pressure of making the deep cuts in the groove plate. It was difficult to get the 30 thousandths in the middle off and in the process, we chipped a flute again, now on our new ½ inch end mill.  Such is the cost of making parts in a hurry, without proper fixturing.  When we did the next plate, the depth of the cut combined with the chipped tool caused the spindle load to near its peak output on the Mini Mill. So, to help fix this process, we decided to do some clean circles before our pockets so that the machine would have less to cut. This seemed to work and the rest of the groove plate came out fine.

The naughty groove plat finished complete with bearings 10 thousandths above the surface.
The completed groove plate shown with VexPro 3/8-inch hex bearing installed.

The CAM team also worked on assembling the swerve module, which turned very slick and smooth. The steps to assemble are as follows.

First, we start with the 84-tooth gear and insert the screws into the gear that attach the wheel system to the swerve tube. Next, we assemble the wheel. The process is: bearing, bearing holder, spacer, 44-tooth gear, wheel, bearing holder, bearing.

Wheel assembly with 84-tooth gear.
Wheel assembly with 84-tooth gear.
Wheel Assembly
Wheel Assembly

After the wheel assembly, we assembled the swerve tube with a bearing, shaft, bevel gear,spacer, 30-tooth gear, and then a bearing to finish it off.

Swerve tube assembly.
Swerve tube assembly.

After the swerve tube, came the groove plate. We needed to put in the bearings and the bottom bearing did not slip through like we wanted it to but after a press in the arbor press, the bearing was only sticking out 10 thousandths and we did not want to go through the trouble of redoing the bearing bores. We then placed the bearings in the ball groove alternating steel bearing balls and Delrin bearing balls and then attached the wheel assembly, the swerve tube and the groove plate together.

Photo Jan 24, 4 48 39 PM (1)
Top hat assembly

We then worked on the top hat placing two bearings in the top hat, a shaft, and a bevel gear.

Photo Jan 24, 5 39 48 PM

Isn't she a beauty?
Isn’t she a beauty?
The almost finished swerve module!
The almost finished swerve module!

Photo Jan 24, 5 39 53 PM

Finally, we drilled and broached the 14 tooth timing belt pulley for the CIM motor, and installed the top plate, which also includes the 49:1 VexPro VersaPlanetary.  A picture of the completed module is shown below.

Fully assembled swerve module.
Fully assembled swerve module.

Lab closing time: 8:00pm

Day #21 – 1/23/15 – GET TO THE EXPO!

Lab Opening Time: 12:00 PM

Today’s banking day at school was taken full advantage of by the team. This next weekend is the most critical point of the season and will probably tip the balance on whether the team has a robot by bag day or not.

Firstly, the team met for a brief few minutes at 1:30 (giving a lunch break between 1:00 and 1:30) and discussed the Clark Magnet High School EXPO that was fast approaching tomorrow, Saturday 1-24-15. The EXPO is a huge opportunity for the team to connect with the community, meet sponsors, and to welcome potential incoming freshmen for the next school year. This year, the team will branch out all over campus; some to sell light bulbs, some to stay in the engineering lab to give in-lab tours, and others placed around campus to guide people around Clark.

A rookie programmer working to fix troubleshooting problems with past-season robots that will be placed around campus during Clark Expo.
A rookie programmer, John, works to fix troubleshooting problems with past-season robots that will be placed around campus during the Clark Expo.

 

Much of the work in other sub-teams included preparations for the EXPO. The business team is doing the final call for printings of brochures, light bulb posters, along with FIRST and Team description hand outs. Below is a link to the team store where we can process credit card orders during EXPO day.

http://shop.team696.org/

A sub-team that is very much behind the scenes: the web team is pushing to have the new Team 696 website launched by the upcoming EXPO.

Although the team is preparing for the EXPO, all hands are on deck to finish robot design and prototyping. Today, it was decided that the alignment rollers (or the intake rollers as they are being referred to now) would be completely redone to achieve a better and more cohesive quality mechanism. This decisions were made on the basis that the intake rollers previously made were lacking in consistency with intaking the totes , the inability to grab the can well, and the overall design. Now, the prototyping team is rethinking the mechanism behind the intake rollers to be better and more efficient than the first generation of rollers.

The CAM is working to finish machining the swerve gearboxes.
The CAM team  is working hard to finish machining the swerve gearboxes.

CAD is still working to finish up designs. The robot frame, along with the elevator, elevator fork, and electrical placement were all the focus of today’s designing. The team hopes to be cutting and welding the frame by this weekend.

The student welder of the team waiting to start welding the robot frame.
The student welder of the team waiting to start welding the robot frame.

Lab Closing Time:  10:30 PM

Day #20 – 1/22/15 – Experimental Physics

Lab opening time: 3:00 pm

Build season is almost half over.  As scary as that is to think about, we have made significant progress on our prototype, swerve module, programming, website, and media.

Cynthia, our head of the CAD department, worked on finding the best places to put the electronics for wiring and worked on the design of the base plate and Shay worked on the elevator bearing blocks.

The business team worked on printing the sponsorship brochure and getting flyers and other papers ready for the Clark expo on Saturday.

The prototyping team worked on finding the exact positioning of the intake rollers so that the tote can be brought into the robot in any orientation. The team has realized that it is easier for the intake rollers to pull in a tote when the tote is angled towards the fixed intake roller because intaking in the other direction causes the intake roller to have to move in and out to find a point of contact with the tote. The with the added adjustments, the intake rollers seem to be able to bring in a tote no matter the orientation. It is wonderful what physics and math can do to help solve problems.

Different markings on the side of the intake rollers.
Different markings on the side of the intake rollers.
Data collection for different intake roller positions.
Data collection for different intake roller positions.

Alexandr figured out how to use multi-threading which means that the robot can run at 50 hertz but we want to be able to run faster so that multiple threads can be done at the same time.

Web team worked on updating the website with more recent photos and took video to use on the website. The web team is still hoping to release the newly design Team 696 website in time for the expo on Saturday.

The CAM team worked hard on trying to get the groove plate ready for manufacturing tonight but, the groove plate is a much more complicated part than expected so, manufacturing of the groove plate will happen tomorrow. CAM spent the day trying to figure out how to hold the groove plate onto the fixture plate. They are going to use the same fixture plate that was used for the top plate and then when it comes time for the plate to be flipped, the plate will be held in place by screws in holes that have already been drilled and tapped in the fixture.

Finally, we placed the Coast Aluminum order today for delivery tomorrow, so we can begin making the frame over the weekend. Unfortunately, the 1x2x.0625 6061 square corner tubing is out of stock in Santa Fe Springs, and has to come from their Phoenix warehouse.  That piece will arrive on Tuesday.

Lab closing time: 7:15 pm