March 2021

Hello and welcome to the meet 5/March 2021 newsletter. This newsletter is relatively short and robot-oriented due to a full robot redesign for meet 5. With meet 6 and the league competition quickly approaching, the next newsletter will be primarily documentation and judging oriented as we switch gears from robot progression to preparing for the league competition. For now, enjoy the new robot :)

Meet 5 Robot Recap

Since last meet, the robot has been fully stripped down and rebuilt for the 3rd time this season. This new design is set up to be a platform for the rest of the season oriented around speed and consistency. Although it was successful in the speed portion as you'll see later, we have a long way to go with consistency as we do with any new design which will be the main focus for the rest of the season.


The most substantial improvement in robot performance can be attributed to the intake. As we hoped, it provided consistency in performance that the previous design was lacking. We accomplished this by adding a series of rollers that widened the reach of the intake. These rollers allowed us to pick up rings by scraping them along the ground instead of having to force them inside the robot by ramming in to walls. We also added belts on the side of the intake that shift rings into the center (as demonstrated in the video) allowing us to intake rings from virtually anywhere along the front of the robot rather than the 6-inch space we had previously. Overall, the intake has transformed our cycle times cutting about 3 seconds off of the previous 12 seconds by itself. Due to the success of the module, we don't have many planned changes for it other than some basic structural changes to the front roller to make it more rigid.


Although the changes made to the shooter ultimately simplified it, it's performing drastically better than it did previously. As shown in the video, the arc the rings take when shot is straighter and more consistent than previous modules. This new arc makes both our software team and driver's life much easier as they can now point the robot at the goal and shoot rather than having to consider whether or not the shot may bank and any other strange ways the rings may behave. It also gets up to its target speed faster and more consistently due to having two motors on one wheel. All of these improvements have made the shooter near perfection and we don't have many improvements in mind for the future.


One of the biggest reliability issues we had with the previous robot was the string that pulled the transfer up either coming off the spool or snapping. To mitigate this issue, we went from a string to a belt drive making the module more difficult to break from basic usage. Additionally, we changed from a flicker to a linear push mechanism due to space constraints and for speed. While we haven't seen a huge performance benefit out of it yet, we should see a pretty substantial speed increase with more optimization. This module as a whole has likely the most revisions to come as we still have a lot of optimization to do all around. We've had issues with rings jamming when coming in from the intake which has caused nearly all performance benefits to vanish. Therefore, we are testing all sorts of different configurations for meet 6.


We are proud to say that our wobble mechanism is now the most over-engineered module on the robot! The main reason for the full redesign of this module was to allow for a super-wide grabbing mechanism that has nearly 5 inches of range making the drivers' lives easier. The new geometry of the arm also folds into the robot better and was designed specifically for dropping the wobble over the field wall which is something we had issues with in the past. Although this module was the least in need of a redesign, the new version came out really well and the benefits it provides are nice to have.


With the new modules, we've been able to build a faster and more consistent auto. We were able to raise our maximum autonomous score from 83 to 107 points due to these new modules behaving in a more predictable manner which has been a huge help in increasing our overall scores. In the future, we are working on increasing the autonomous score but more importantly focussing on getting those high scores consistently and trying to find ways that we can enhance our drivers' abilities by automating their tasks.

Robot Summary

Overall this robot has set a fantastic foundation for us to work off of the rest of the season and we are excited to see just how far we can push this design. While this robot did have issues as we'd expect with any first iteration design, it performed better than many of us expected and we are happy with what worked well and what didn't. The platform really does show a lot of potential and pushing it to its limits, breaking it, and fixing it is going to be a fun way to finish off this robot for the year.

Match Video

With our 107 point autonomous, we were able to get 342 points in a match! Our drivers also did a fantastic job and didn't miss a single one of the 25 shots we took! In meet 6, we are aiming to see scores like this consistently with more driver practice and slight tweaks to the robot. With this being a first iteration design, our consistency wasn't spectacular with an average of 222 for the meet but we are fairly confident that we can reach a near 300 point average for meet 6. Check out the match video!


Since this summary was robot oriented and the League competition is just around the corner, the meet 6/late March entry will be primarily notebook and presentation-oriented so be sure to stay tuned for that!

For now, here is the full summary:

  • Full meet 5 robot redesign

  • Intake - worked to near perfection with a wider reach and more consistency in performance than the previous design

  • Shooter - has a faster and improved shooting arc that has been near perfection with consistency

  • Transfer - belt drive has increased reliability and the new linear push mechanism has shown potential for faster cycle times

  • Wobble Goal - now has a wider range the drivers can grab from and folds into the robot better for. Likely the final design for the season.

  • We had a new high score of 342 points!

  • First Flight Crew has officially begun and we are currently recording interviews for publication

  • In preparation for the league competition, we are currently switching gears to work on our notebook and presentation

  • If you are interested in judging or helping us with our presentation, contact us!

  • We are looking for new members! If you know any students 7th grade and up who would be a good candidate for the team and live locally, be sure to let us know!

  • After delivering our videos to SendCutSend, they generously gave us an additional $1000 to help us build the robot for the rest of the season and to enable us to do off season projects for freshman training!

As always, thank you to our sponsors, family, friends, and mentors for your support. We are now entering a part of the season where we are focussing on documentation and presentation. If you have any experience in this area, please reach out for us. Thank you for your everlasting support and stay tuned for more!