All posts by Olivia B

Day #10 – 1/12/2015 – VEX Swerve Finalized

Lab opening time: 1:30 pm 

Today the final touches were put on the swerve module and the swerve was sent over to the CAM (Computer-Aided Manufacturing) team to start getting the parts ready for production.

The prototyping team was able to place the elevator frame, the elevator carriage and the metal and wooden forks together into one working piece. Unfortunately, the elevator prototype was not very sturdy because it was made out of 3D printed parts but the prototyping crew was able to work around the limitations and got the elevator back up and running. They also worked on re-mounting the intake rollers so that the rollers could pivot outwards instead of up and down so that the rollers don’t get in the way of the forks.

Photo Jan 12, 5 16 00 PM
Meet working on re-positioning the intake rollers
Photo Jan 12, 4 06 05 PM
Elevator prototype.

The programming team was able to make adjustments on the VEX swerve so that the VEX swerve was easier to control and faster (see video below to see the swerve in action.) John, a new programmer, also worked on programming old robots to test out his programming skills.

The business team continued working on thank you letters and a sponsorship booklet. The team also opened a new e-reader that would allow the business team to show potential sponsors a slideshow of what team 696 does. However, the e-reader does not seem to charge well and may not even have a slideshow feature.

Since Cynthia is done with the swerve module, she started working on the frame of the robot and so far the frame is looking great. There are still questions that need to be answered like how far in the tote will go into the robot, whether the intake rollers need to be mounted outside of transport configuration and how the prototyping team can make the autocanner deploy and bring the recycling containers back in just one move.

CAD design of robot frame.

One team that has not been mentioned on this blog but is an important part of the team is Matlab. Matlab is currently working on a document that calculates the torque applied to the elevator pulley when the cable is wound around the pulley and when the cable is loose. Results to come soon.

Lab closing time: 7:00 PM.

Day #8 – 1/10/2015- Swerve-tastic

Lab opening time: 9:00am

The morning started out slow with the organization of the electronics room. Thanks to the programing team and the electrical team were able to clean up the electronics room shelves.

On the prototype drive train, we worked on getting the drivetrain to function with CIM motors so that the robot could actually drive. Work also continued on the elevator prototype with the mounting of the carriage. Unfortunately, some of the 3D printed parts broke and had to be reprinted, so the elevator prototype will not be completely finished until tomorrow when all of the parts are finished printing.

Elevator carriage.
Elevator carriage.

Thanks to Shay, team 696 got some new RC car wheels to use as intake rollers. Joshua, Devon, and others spent the day trying to attach the wheels so that they would be able to hinge for transport configuration, getting the couplings printed for the wheel, and figuring out what was wrong with one of the motors. Additionally, the autocanners were attached more securely thanks the the help of Mr. Dall.

New and improved wheels.
New and improved wheels.

On the 3D printing front, Sipan and Shay spent time today setting up the 3D scanner that will scan an object and convert the scan into a 3D printing file. The scanner is all setup but we are yet to scan a part and have the scan come out the way it looks in reality.

Our new 3D scanner!!!
Our new 3D scanner!!!

Alexander Luke and the programming team worked on setting up the RoboRIO and the LIDAR but the laser was not working when attached to the RoboRIO but worked when plugged into an Arduino. They believe the problem is the variance in voltage and are going to try using 3.3 volts instead of 5 volts. Additionally, the programming team worked on getting the NavX MXP working.

In the CAD department, Shay started on the elevator CAD model. Cynthia has been working super hard over the last 8 days to CAD the swerve module and I am happy to say that the swerve module is 95% done!!!! Today Cynthia and Mr. Black worked on calculating where the mounting holes for the CIM motors should be so that we can tension the belts and finalize the bottom and top plate that will contain the swerve module. Things left to do include reviewing the design, modeling the steering shaft, and finalizing the pocketing on the top and bottom plates.

Swerve module is almost completed
Swerve module is almost completed
Testing out different belt systems.
Testing out different belt systems.  In picture number 1, the belt tension is more prone to causing the mounting screw to slip in its slot.  In picture number 2, a large range of motion in moving the motor results in a small belt tension adjustment, offering a higher adjustment resolution.  In this setup, the screw is much less likely to slip in the slot.


Lab closing time: 8:00pm

Day #6 – 1/8/2015- Swerve-Drive Prototyping and Design

Lab opening time: 1:30 pm

After a nice break for some of us, it was all hands on deck today. The media team started working on the chart on “How Engineers Think” to put up in our lab. In addition to working on the poster, the media team also finalized their kick starter script.

Web design, work continued on the iPad scouting app along with working on a demo page of the new and improved team 696 website.

Business team was busy today even without their mentor Mr. Hoard to guide them. They worked on the design of the team 696 key chain which will be used for the Kickstarter and rewards program. Work continued on the writing for the Kickstarter and the brochure is getting finalized. The business team also worked with the web team on the team’s brand (fonts and color scheme) and complied a list of everyones contact information.

Programing worked on the programing of the VEX swerve module which is harder than it looks. Also working with the programing team was part of the CAD team working to put together a prototype of the swerve module so that the programing team could practice working with a swerve module.

Sipan, Daniel, and John all hard at work on the VEX swerve module. (Not pictured Leo)
Sipan, Daniel, and John all hard at work on the VEX swerve module. (Not pictured Leo)Photo Jan 08, 4 04 27 PM

On the swerve module front, the CAD model of the swerve module is in its final stages and should be ready for manufacturing right on schedule. Great job Cynthia!!!




For the rest of the team, they continued work on the prototype robot. The autocanner arms were put onto the robot along with the intake rollers. The belt system for holding the recycle can in place was completed and just needs to be mounted.

Robot complete with autocanner, intake rollers, and belt system
Robot complete with autocanner, intake rollers, and belt system

Photo Jan 08, 5 39 56 PM

Work also continued of the elevator frame and Shay 3D printed the pulley wheel and some bearing mounts along with the help of the lethe team who helped to make the bearing holders for the elevator design.

Photo Jan 08, 6 05 57 PM

In addition to all the progress made, we got a shipment today with six noodles, one recycle can and some victors.

Lab closing time: 6:15pm

Day #3 – 1/5/2015 – Noodleing Around

Lab opening time: 10:07 AM

Today started out with the team setting goals for what needed to be done today. Our goals for today were:

  • Check the practicality of the swerve drive
  • Start on VEX Pro order
  • Check the Versa Planetary Inventory
  • Create the “expo” CAD of the robot
  • Check the Kit of Parts Inventory
  • Start on FIRST Choice order
  • Revise build blog
  • Start on VEX swerve drive

After setting our goals, the build team began discussing what robot systems and functions we needed to start working on. We came up with:

  • Swerve Modules
  • Elevator
    • Forks
    • Static Frame
    • Tote System
      • Fork Clamp
      • Ejector
    • Recycle Can System
      • Grabber Pneumatic
      • Carriage
  • Frame
    • Intake Rollers
      • Versa Planetary
    • Electronics
    • Pneumatics
  • Autocanner
    • Possibly hooks
    • Possibly actuators

After breaking up the robot into different systems, five different teams were created to tackle separate projects. Joshua, Alexander Luke, and James worked on the “expo” CAD of the robot. Mika, Olivia, and Claire worked on the tote-can elevator,  Bhavin and Roupen worked on the intake rollers that will help guide the tote into the robot in the correct orientation. Lastly, Devon, Lousaper, Elizabeth, and Meet worked on the auto canner which is basically a mechanism that will grab the two recycling cans during the autonomous period.

Roupen and Bhavin work on the intake rollers.
Roupen and Bhavin work on the intake rollers.

The team expanded on the elevator idea that they had yesterday which was to have two different stages on our elevator, one that would lift the totes and one to hold the recycling can. On further discussion, some member realized that the same effect could be done by putting on doors at the front of the elevator that would keep the can from falling out. However, Mr. Black thought that the doors would not be much more effective because they would still need motors and gears and the difference between the doors and the two stages was not very big.

Testing the design for the autocanner.
Testing the design for the autocanner.

Late in the afternoon, after one of the elevator ratcheting prototypes was completed, several members of the team got into a discussion about making an  elevator that would have more torque at the bottom and more speed at the top. They realized that they would need some sort of pulley system that would increase the diameter of the bottom pulley as the elevator comes down. The member soon began to wonder how many rotations it would take to wind up rope on a pulley given that the length of the rope was 72 inches. After coming up with a mathematical equation, several members tried to solve this problem by hand. Mr. Black was convinced that a problem of this complexity would only take about 20 lines of code in Basic. After many more attempts on paper, Mr. Black decided to solve this problem using excel. For those of you playing at home, the answer to this question is approximately 10.9 rotations.

Math equation
Math equation
Jack and Elizabeth work on the math for the pulley system.
Jack and Elizabeth work on the math for the pulley system.


While work continued on the prototype, the CAD team worked on a prototype of the swerve drive for the programming team to practice with.They also worked on the CAD model of the elevator.

Cynthia working on swerve module.
Cynthia working on swerve module.

The business team was hard at work today. They were able to organize the business cabinet, print the team 696 brochure, and write more sponsorship letters. Late in the afternoon, more discussion began on whether or not to place the recycling can on top of the totes before stacking the totes or to place the can on top of an already existing stack.

The team decided that it would be best to start with the can and then build a stack because the robot would not run the risk of knocking down the stack when trying to place the can on top of the totes. Finally, near closing time, after members started to experiment with the human player station and the advantages or disadvantages of placing the can on its side rather than vertical. Once four totes were stacked, we realized that the can was at the same height as the litter chute. This meant that we did not have to try and feed the noodle into the can from the ground but could instead just be pushed into the container from standing height. After many trials and a few looks at the rules, we came up with a strategy for placing the pool noodles into the can.


Lab closing time: 8:15 PM

Day #1 – 1/3/2015 – Kickoff

Lab opening time: 7:00am

Team 696 arrived at the engineering lab bright and early to watch the live webcast of the 2015 FRC Kickoff. With the limited space in the robotics lab, some of the team went down to the downstairs engineering room.  After the reveal of the 2015 game, Recycle Rush, all members of the team took time to read over the game manual, discuss the rules, and talk about strategies. Some of the strategies and questions that were asked were:

Is it better to place the litter on top of the recycle bin or to place the litter inside of the bin?

Dose it matter whether the litter is placed inside the bin before the bin is placed on top of the totes?

Which is the best scoring station to stack totes on?


We then moved on to what we wanted our robot to be able to do and what a winning robot would be able to accomplish. After a team-wide design meeting, we had two basic strategies for the autonomous period: the first was to grab the two center green bins from the step in the center of the field and bring those back into the auto zone and have another alliance partner push the last recycle bin into the auto zone for eight points. The other option was to stack all of the yellow totes and bring those into the auto zone. This option allows us to get twenty points and give us easy access to the step to get the coopertition points.

Strategy discussion
Strategy discussion.

During the teleoperated period, one strategy is to pick up the two bins in the landfill and then the two bins of the same orientation and so on down the step and then place those two stacks of four onto the scoring zone. Another option is that we pick up a recycle bin and two or three totes and place them on an already existing stack. The team all seems to be in agreement that getting the recycle bins is crucial because there is a limited amount and adding a bin on top of a stack triples the score of the stack. Additionally, we thought that we could use the litter chute to place the litter into the recycle bins so that we would not have to build another mechanism for the litter.

However, the design is still in its early stages and we are still researching how to keep the recycle bin stable on top of the totes and how to be able to lift up the recycle bin and totes without having to build two different mechanisms.

On the design side, the CAD group began research and modeling of team 696’s first swerve module.

Working on the swerve drive.
Working on the swerve drive design.

Work also began on the construction of the field. During the strategizing meeting, a question was brought up on whether or not two totes could be stacked on each other from the tote chute. After testing several times and several different ways, we have established that the box usually falls on its face and is not in position to be stacked.

Claire and Alfredo building the step
Claire and Alfredo building the step.

Our goal for tomorrow is to have a clear idea of how to play Recycle Rush, an idea of what our mechanism will look like and to have a completed “expo” CAD model.

Lab closing time: 5:30pm