All posts by Mika S

Day #35 – 2/6/15 – Remixes

Lab Opening Time: 1:30 PM

Today started with a brief meeting where Mr. Hoard handed out the invoices for the Ventura Regional along with the 2015 team shirt order forms.

Cynthia assembling the swerve gearboxes.
Cynthia assembling the swerve gearboxes.

After disbanding from the meeting,  the team separated into their given sub-teams and tasks. The main few tasks going on today involve wiring the robot, completing the assembly of the swerve gearboxes, and manufacturing the rest of the mechanisms and parts.

Electrical w Alexander (far)

Wiring was working on the PWMs between the RoboRIO and the victors today which involved a lot of elegant wiring work. In wiring, it is extremely easy to make spaghetti, but time consuming to make wiring anything but a pile of mismatched and thrown together wires. The way the electrical team makes things orderly is with time, patience, and a lot of Zip ties.

The robot as of 2-6-15.
The robot as of 2-6-15.

Cynthia completed the assembly of the swerve gearboxes today along with the help of a few mentors and students along the way. After they were put together, the RS-550s on the gearboxes were soldered to some twelve gauge wire and left out for the electrical team to work with. Hopefully, by tomorrow, the swerve gearboxes will be mounted, plugged in, and getting programmed.

The swerve gearbox mid-assembly.
The swerve gearbox mid-assembly.

Manufacturing today included machining the bearing blocks for the elevator and designing the autocanners.

While the main points of today were previously addressed, many things are still going on in other parts of the lab. Business is redesigning the Team Handout paper, a sheet of paper describing FIRST, the team, and it’s intentions as a team, and revising the Chairman’s essay.

Strategy team got to work on the scouting today, pulling Jack (the driver) and Alexander (the captain) aside to talk about how the scouting system should be set up, what important elements need to be addressed in scouting, and what needs to be scouted.

Lab Closing Time: 11:00 PM

Day #30 – 2/1/15 – Constraint Error

Lab Opening Time: 1:00 PM

Today’s lab work centered around designing and machining everything. Mr. Black focused on finishing the elevator design while the CAM sub-team machined the elevator forks.

Bhavin and Alfredo, two members of the Computer Aided Machining sub-team, worked on the these parts for the elevator forks.
Bhavin and Alfredo, two members of the Computer Aided Machining sub-team, worked on the these parts for the elevator forks.

Bhavin, a sophomore rookie member of the CAM sub-team, said: “Today I was CAM programming the inside bearing mount. So this will be on our elevator, and this part required five operations. We started from the back by facing it, and pocketing it, and also profiling the shape. We came back onto the front where we did further pocketing down to its thickness and then we turned it over onto it’s side to drill it’s holes and make some circles so that the bolt head that will eventually go through this will actually fit and we finished it with a Z-level rough on the top to create these curved surfaces for the mount. It was an all day operation. Each piece in total took more than twenty minutes with all five stages of it’s machining. ”

Bhavin and Olivia programming the machining sequence for the elevator forks. and elevator dollies
Bhavin and Olivia programming the machining sequence for the elevator forks and elevator dollies.

Olivia worked on the machining strategy for the elevator carriage plates with the help of Mr. Widholm. Discussion of better better machining techniques occupied much of today’s time, and concluded in the layout below.

The Screenshot of the forks that Olivia and Mr. WIdholm had been working on today.
The Screenshot of the forks that Olivia, my partner in crime, and Mr. Widholm had been working on today.

 

Due to some constrain errors (mainly that the ejector piston was originally prototyped where the battery now is), the prototyping team worked on a different system of ejecting the totes and recycling cans from the forks.

The "kick" mechanism to eject the totes and cans without constrain errors.
The “kick” mechanism to eject the totes and cans without constrain errors.

Above is the “kick” mechanism which was created on the basis of using as little space as possible while still doing the job of kicking the totes and cans from the forks.

This next week is going to be one of the most hectic ones of the season: let’s see what happens next.

 

Lab Closing Time: 9:15 pm

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 #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 #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 #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 #17 – 1/19/1015 – Season Fever

Lab Opening Time: 9:00 AM

A lot of the students today had to work around holes in our team today: people are sick. Welcome to winter, or as us Californians like to call it: weather (we don’t have seasons), the season of getting sick.

Beyond that, the day started out as a normal robotics day. Like yesterday, Mr. Black and Mr. Hoard continued to work on machining parts on the HAAS Mill. This time around, they had my partner in crime, Olivia, helping them. While I’m confident in my writing skills to detail what the CAM team has done today, I think Mr. Black has a better understanding as to explain it. Below is a voice recording of Mr. Black detailing his milling for today.

The CAM team finished machining of the 84 tooth gears, which were loaded with 3/16″ diameter steel and Delrin balls in alternating fashion.  Tested under 250 lbs load, our custom ball and groove bearing built into the gear still turns with buttery smoothness.

The 84-tooth gear, with wheel clearance pocket, ball groove, and tube and bearing block mounting holes.  The ball groove was machined with a 3/16" ball endmill to a depth of .074", with an additional .001" of clearance added to the groove.  The frame-mounted plate to go above will feature a similar groove on the underside.
The 84-tooth gear, with wheel clearance pocket, ball groove, and tube and bearing block mounting holes. The ball groove was machined with a 3/16″ ball endmill to a depth of .074″, with an additional .001″ of clearance added to the groove. The frame-mounted plate to go above will feature a similar groove on the underside.

 

Machined Parts for the Swerve Drive
Machined Parts for the Swerve Drive.

 

A line up of Swerve Forces
A line up of the Swerve Tubes.  Approximately 90% of the bar stock was turned to chips to produce these parts.

Sipan finished printing and assembly of the 3D printed swerve module.  It turned out rather well, given the limitations of our 3D printing capabilities.

3D Printed Swerve Drive Module
3D Printed Swerve Drive Module

The CAM team finished up the day by refining the program for the top “left” swerve plate, setting up and making a fixture, and running the first two pieces.  In making the fixture, we tried a 3-flute spiral-flute 1/4-20 machine tap for the first time.  By drilling to .625″deep, we were able to rigid tap to .500″ deep in one shot, with quite pleasant results; no broken taps to report.  We also spent some time optimizing feedrates for the part.  We cut the outer profile of the plate and large circular pocket with a 1/2″ endmill at 154 IPM (inches per minute) and 15% stepover.  It was fun and exciting to watch the machine cut so fast.  The part is uses 8 tools and finishes with a 14 minute cycle time.  A picture of the top plate is shown below, as well as a picture showing how it is positioned in relation to the swerve module and mini-CIM motor.

Swerve drive top "left" plate.  The robot will feature two of these parts, located at the front left and back right corners of the vehicle respectively.  Machined from 3/16" 6061-T6 plate.
Swerve drive top “left” plate. The robot will feature two of these parts, located at the front left and back right corners of the vehicle respectively. Machined from 3/16″ 6061-T6 plate.
Top plate, CIM Motor, and 3D-printed swerve module.
Top plate, CIM Motor, and 3D-printed swerve module.

On the business side of things, the team was happy to have the Kickstarter finally up! A link below will take you to the page. Who knew that Lauren, Mariam, Dylan, and Sipan were such good actors? Props to the media team for their hard work, because this video, I believe, is one of the best videos the team has ever made.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/619584634/team-696-2015-robotics-clark-magnet-high-school

The lathe team was hard at work turning shafts for the swerve gearbox. There are two ladies on the lathe team, and one is a rookie. Whereas in years past there were hardly any girls the  2015 Team 696 includes 12 ladies as part of the 36 member team.

Elizabeth and Luciper lathing shafts for the swerve gearbox.
Elizabeth and Lousaper turning shafts for the swerve gearbox on the lathe.

The prototyping team is continuing work on the alignment rollers along with the AutoCanners. These two works are still in progress, but the the alignment rollers are close to finishing.

Thanks to the rookie member Leo, I got a full report of the goings on for the alignment rollers.
Thanks to rookie team member Leo, we received a full report of the test results for the intake rollers.

Lab Closing Time: 6:00 PM

 

 

 

Day #15 – 1/17/2015 – Blood, Sweat, and WD40

Lab Opening Time: 9:00 AM

Two weeks in and the team is chugging along to the beat of failure and success: both of which are good signs that things are slowly, but surely, gaining momentum into the heart of build season.

All of the whiteboards in the lab are getting wonderful engineering art.
All of the whiteboards in the lab are getting wonderful engineering art.

While we have had awesome success in the past two weeks, we have also had spectacular failures. The team always builds back from failure which is the difference between being a team and being a niche of independent supers. Today involved a lot of failure and improvement.

The Programming lead Aleksandr debugging code
The Programming lead Aleksandr debugging code

After a few hours of work at the beginning of the meeting, the prototyping team threw all of the prototype mechanism onto a pair of wheels and called it a prototype.  However, the team came back with the faults in our design. On the prototype, the elevator carriage and the actual forks are two separate pieces: they should be one piece. In a one piece design, much of the problems in stability and weight would be less than or diminished. It was also pointed out that the alignment wheels needed to be attached properly. The alignment wheels were two linear box tubing with motors and wheels at the ends and parallel to each: however, they should be angled to be supple enough to snatch onto a tote at any angle.  In a sense, much of the work already committed need to be redone or refined. So, the team landed on their feet and went straight to designing the new pieces for the prototype.

On the CAD side of things, work continued on the robot frame. Jack and Cynthia worked through much of the electrical placement goings on concerning space needed and even the way to lay the motor controllers.

Students cutting stock for milling
Bhavin cutting stock for milling the swerve tubes.

Mr.Black , Mr. Hoard, and Mr. Widholm worked on CNC milling the swerve tube which is the outer case of the swerve gearbox. Cutting bar stock, setting up the mill for cutting, trouble-shooting, and even a final product was pulled from the mentor’s constant work today. Thank you mentors for your amazing work!

Business team worked on the Chairman’s award along with  fundraising and outreach to the community. Anna and Karin, two business rookies, are both elbow-deep in Chairman’s research along with learning the history of the team.

Anna setting up the Kickstarter
Anna finishing up the kickstarter

Tomorrow is another long day of work with things that need to be accomplished to keep up with the schedule.

Lab Closing Time: 9:00 PM

Day #13 – 1/15/2015 – Autocannical

Lab Opening Time: 2:18 PM

Today’s work consisted of finishing up the prototype, CADing up the frame of the real robot, and CNCing parts.

The prototype needed a lot of improvement on the intake rollers, the Auto-canners, and the forks for the elevator; which became the main focus for the prototyping team.

The prototyping lead, Joshua, comparing 3D printed parts to the CAD model.
The prototyping lead, Joshua, comparing 3D printed parts to the CAD model.

The AutoCanners, the mechanism to pull the two center-most cans into the auto-zone during the autonomous period, were switched from an upward hooking design to a downward hooking design to grab into the hole of the can instead of the handles. This design change was made because the top of the can is easier to hook than the handles.

Elizabeth and Luciper working on the Autocanner
Elizabeth and Luciper working on the Autocanner.

For the intake rollers, after a few debates and rethinking ideas, the intake rollers were moved back and raised slightly above the drive train.

The forks for the elevator were improved by changing out the previous wood model into an aluminum one with properly working hinges. This also lent the prototype to  be better, lighter, and to work with both cans and totes.

Jack and Josh discussing design aspects of the prototype and robot
Jack and Josh discussing design aspects of the prototype and robot

For the CAD team, they continued their work on the robot frame now that they had finished CADing the swerve-drive gearbox which the CAM team was working with. The CAM team with the help of Mr. Black worked to CNC parts of the swerve-gearbox.

Claire CNCing Swerve gearbox parts.
Claire CNCing Swerve gearbox parts.

The swerve “top-hat” piece, although a simple piece to machine in theory, gave us great difficulty when it came to the deceptively-simple second operation of facing off the back.  While we gained an absolutely perfect fit on the bearing in the first operation, after multiple attempts, we just were not able to hold any decent tolerance on the thickness of the part on the second operation, and we could not figure out why.  Our first work-holding technique using parallel bars was flawed.  We didn’t have enough grab on the material (only about .080″) and the part was lifting up somewhat during machining.   To remedy that issue, we machined softjaws to get a better hold on the part, but we still were not able to hold tolerance.  The part was not flat, up to .013 out of spec on overall height, and had a gouge near the bearing flange seat area.  After much trial and error, and a handful of scrapped parts, we finally determined the root cause: overtightening the vise.  While the part appears strong, in reality, the aluminum does flex.  When the vise was tightened, the part bowed upward, causing it to machine deeper and inconsistently in the middle section.  We attribute this issue to being unfamiliar with the “feel” of our new Kurt 4″ vises.  Additionally, stresses in the material were being relieved as the material was being machined away, potentially causing it to bow upward even higher under the pressure of the vise jaws.

To remedy the issue, we tightened the vise with a much lighter hand, and to our delight the parts consistently machined flat, and to within a .001″ tolerance on the overall height, as verified using a granite surface plate and digital caliper.

A picture of the troubled (and corrected) parts is shown below.

Swerve drive module "top hat" pieces after finishing machining.
Swerve drive module “top hat” pieces after finishing machining.

We completed five perfect pieces, and two pieces that while slightly out of tolerance, will still be acceptable for use as spare parts or demo pieces.  The two out of spec pieces have been marked with a single center-punch mark on each. In hindsight, we probably should have done the four circular pockets on the part as the very final operation, as it is the least critical feature in the entire part geometry, and prone to disrupting machining of other features, due to flexing while in the vise.

The next stop for these parts will be the photoshoot, then on to the tumbler, and off to anodizing.  We decided this year to save time by tumbling all the pieces as opposed to chamfering or corner rounding. We’ll see if we’re happy with the results.

We rounded out the night by verifying our recently received VEXPro order against the packing list.  All pieces were present.

Massive pile of soon-to-be-robot, all in little VEXpro bags.
Massive pile of soon-to-be-robot, all in little VEXpro bags.

Lab Closing Time: 8:45 PM

Day #9 – 1/11/2015 – Sore Thumbs

Lab Opening Time: 1:00 PM

Knee-deep in the second week of build season, the team is working hard to keep on schedule. The prototyping team has met with many problems, from broken 3D printed parts to bad mechanisms, and the team is working it’s hardest to approach every problem with an open mind and a solution.

Shay and Cynthia hard at work in the Computer Lab CADing
Shay and Cynthia hard at work in the Computer Lab CADing.

On the CAD side of things, they are close to finishing the swerve gear boxes :  an amazing feat all on it’s own. From what Mr. Black’s posts have detailed, many an after-dark CAD clubs have occurred in these last few days. Thanks to their dedication each day and night, we are keeping to our schedule.

3D Printing is a vital prototyping tool
3D Printing is a vital prototyping tool.

Out in the lab, all available space was cluttered with work ranging from the elevator to the AutoCanners, the system to grab the two center-most cans during the autonomous period, with everything and anything in between. As shown, the team is branched out on all levels attempting new mechanisms and new ideas daily.

Prototyping working on fixing a problem with the pick-up mechanism
Prototyping working on fixing a problem with the pick-up mechanism.

Downstairs in 5302, Daniel and Aleksandr, two programmers, are working on the swerve drive. This is the first time that these programmers have ever had to work with a swerve drive, as we’ve always used a West-Coast drive, so it’s vital that they get their sea legs (or is it swerve legs?) now rather than later.

Daniel and Aleksandr testing out the swerve drive.
Daniel and Aleksandr testing out the swerve drive.

Hand-in-hand with Electrical, Programmers are also working on the LIDAR, as they like to sum up a “radar with a laser”, which had been causing them a lot of problems yesterday. They had gone home, problem unsolved, only to come back strong and figure out the electrical and programming problems that they were having. By two, they had it working.

Alfredo and James working on milling pieces for the elevator mechanism
Alfredo and James working on milling pieces for the elevator mechanism.

For Olivia, Shay, James, and Alfredo, a little mixture of several sub-teams, worked to finish the elevator mechanism. The frame for the elevator had been welded yesterday, and so at this point, they are working on the small pieces to get them to work together like they should. A mix of aluminum, 3D printing, and wood from the router, the prototype is chugging along.

Olivia working with router pieces for the elevator mechanism
Olivia working with router pieces for the elevator mechanism.

On all ends, many of the challenges we’ve faced are ones that have made us better engineers. For example, the video below shows the intake/aligning motors running on a recycling can to see how it would work. It served it’s purpose and did pretty well until we broke it. However, that was our fault for making it out of something flimsy. So, today the team went back and created a much sturdier part that didn’t shatter. While that was summarized in a sentence, much of that involved printing and reprinting different designs, different angles, and sometimes completely different ideas. Much of what is skimmed over in these blogs detail hours of close work to make everything fit together like a puzzle piece. The gear boxes didn’t happen overnight, and neither did the ideas behind them. There are bloody, sweat, sore thumbs, and tears that detail every bit of our design and robot: that is what makes the robot ours.

Lab closing time: 8:00 pm