Name: Madhu Velmurugan
Title: Team Member (Mechanical)
Years on Team: 1st year
Areas of Focus and Responsibilities: Actively involved in the build process of the robot.
Impact FIRST has had: FIRST is a fun community and it feels like a family. Not just within the team but the entire organization. Everyone comes together at competitions and we all have our common passion for robotics.
Favorite 4909 memory: Being human player in Battle of the Bay 2018
Plans After High School: Major in computer science
Ideal Job: Software Engineer
This week, the team started to make physical progress on the elevator. They made a small mockup to prove the concept before building. After finalizing the CAD design midweek, parts were ordered. As the parts came in, they quickly began constructing subsections of the elevator with our Bridgeport mill and Shapeoko CNC Router. Over the next week, the team will have their first iteration of the elevator done. This will allow software to test code and debug the elevator code.
Last week, the team was trying to design an intake that could manipulate both game pieces. However, this week, they determined that a specific cargo intake and specific hatch panel intake would work better. The team prototyped and tested their hatch panel manipulator. This design will ideally use a flipper powered by a piston to grab the disc and secure it onto the robot. The team is currently working on the design to ensure that the disc is secure when they grab it. Also, the team still needs to figure out how to make this intake mount on our elevator with the cargo manipulator. For the cargo intake, the team agreed on building a top-roller design and then built a prototype. The team is currently testing the design to see how well it manipulates the game piece. Once these intakes are fleshed out, the team can assemble final designs and put them on the actual robot.
The team also started the do some of the electrical work on the robot. They started to map out the electrical board and zip tie down the PDP (Power Distribution Panel), VRM (Voltage Regulation Module), and Robo Rio to the panel. Then, they wired the drive train to the PDP, and secured the CAN (Controller Area Network) wires. This week, the team will continue to finalize the electrical.
The team has been working on developing Line Follower code for every case in which the robot would approach one of the reflective tapes on the field. This takes factors such as length and width of reflective tape, configuration of photoelectric sensors, and orientation of the robot approaching the cargo ship/rocket into account. The software team is also using LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) code will to measure distance from our robot to the cargo ship and/or rocket. This distance is useful to know so that we can coordinate with our other subsystems, namely our drivetrain and our elevator.
The build team of 4909 has officially finished the chassis of our robot for Deep Space. So, we on software are preparing to push the drivetrain code we have already been developing over the past couple of weeks to the robot and test it out.
The Green Alliance:
Name: Roshan Ravi
Title: Co-software Lead
Years on Team: 3 Years
Areas of Focus and Responsibilities: “Responsible for ensuring the robot software and match analysis platform work effectively.”
Impact FIRST has had: “Furthered my desire to pursue artificial intelligence”
Favorite 4909 memory: “Going to Worlds in 2018”
Plans After High School: BS in computer science and MBA
Ideal Job: Software entrepreneur
For the past week, the team has weighed pros and cons, finalized CAD designs, and has worked on prototypes for our final robot. Here is an in-depth analysis of what tasks each sub-team completed this week:
This week, development of the elevator continued as the elevator sub-group completed the CAD for the original design. They identified the faults in the this design and altered it to make one that was simpler to build. What they are going to use in terms of motors, motor controllers, and sensors in order to run the elevator have been discussed and have been given to the programming team. They will therefore be able to start to write the code required to run the elevator even before the team completes the build. Since the rest of the subsystems are either directly tied to or in some way involve the elevator, the team hopes to begin building next week.
This week the group of students working on intake designs for the hatch panels (discs) and cargo (13in balls) continued fleshing out designs that could handle both game pieces. Once the designs were pared down to two, they made drawing sheets (pieces of papers with several views of parts with dimensions). They used these to begin fabricating the designs. The team used the chop saw to cut metal tubing to size and the mill to drill precision holes. After that, the only remaining parts need to be cut our on our CNC router. This is a tool that cuts out complex precision parts using a side cutting drill bit to remove material until the desired shape is cut out. Once these are cut out, we can build both intakes and put them to the test to see which is better suited to the game.
This same group of students also worked on our drivetrain construction. They assembled pulleys and gearboxes to spin six wheels with only four motors. Once the drivetrain is complete, and the subsystems are assembled, the team can begin putting the entire robot together.
This week, the software team further developed the TGA User Interface. The app has been designed with tabs/sections for each part of a match: auto (sandstorm), teleoperated, and endgame. The app has been designed to be user-friendly and clearly shows all metrics that demonstrate how skilled a team is. They are working on implementing Arduino (a micro-controller that uses sensory input) and I2C (a processor) with LIDAR. LIDAR is a laser-based vision system that can be used to determine distance away from a distance. In our case, we will use LIDAR to line up with reflective tape that will be on the field. We will use I2C to process the data the LIDAR produces and then send this data to the Rio to tell the robot in which direction and how much to move. They are developing code for the robot subsystems the team expects to use, even though the team hasn’t started fabrication yet.
Different classes in the code correspond to different parts of the robot, and the software team is coding what they can without testing directly. They have also began the development of drivetrain code, which is very similar to last year’s.
Name: Bryan Mathews
Title: Build Lead and Drive Coach
Years on Team: 4 Years
Areas of Focus and Responsibilities: "Make sure the robot will be able to carry out strategies that will help us succeed"
Impact FIRST has had: "Solidified future plans improved communication skills"
Favorite 4909 memory: "Experiencing the World Championship in 2018"
Plans After High School: Masters in Electromechanical engineering at Wentworth Institute of Technology
Ideal Job: Walt Disney Imagineer
On the first day of build season, the team discussed ideas for our drive train and later discussed way to climb or rise up to level 3 of the habitation zone. At the next meeting, the team split up into four groups: elevator, hatch panel manipulator, cargo manipulator, and drive train. Our three build leads took on these tasks. Meanwhile, the team’s two robot leads worked on the drive train.
The main task of the elevator sub-group was to determine how the robot would lift the game pieces in Destination: Deep Space. This includes the cargo (13 in. balls) and hatch panels (19 in. circular cutout); the cargo and the hatch panels must be placed at various ports on the rocket ranging from about 2 ft. to 7 ft. We brainstormed basic ways to score in the highest goal, as that would be the most difficult. Having the ability to score in the highest goal would mean the robot could score in the two goals below. As a group, we came up with 3 major ways to complete the task. Shooting the game pieces, lifting the game pieces with an arm, or lifting them with an elevator. We quickly eliminated a shooter because it is not logical to launch the hatches into the air, so an elevator or arm was required to place the hatches. In addition, using an elevator or arm would be more accurate for scoring the cargo into the hole. We then discussed the pros & cons of both options. We ultimately chose the elevator due to the fact, we have built an elevator before. As a team we have an idea of what works, and what doesn’t. In addition it is faster than an arm, and more realistic to build. After our final decision of building an elevator was made, we began getting specific and putting our ideas in CAD (Computer Aided Design), a program that allows users to create accurately dimensioned models and manipulate them in 3D space on a computer.
Hatch Panel Manipulator:
This week, a section of the team worked on designing the “Hatch Panel Manipulator”. This is a subsystem of our robot that will be responsible for picking up, holding, and depositing hatch panels in a designated area. A hatch panel is a big circle of lexan; it is 19 inches in diameter, 3/16 of an inch thick, and has a 6 inch hole in the center. The task is to move these from specific pick-up areas to designated ports, thus plugging holes in game field elements. To come up with ideas, a tactic called “Brainswarming” was used. This involves large quantities of ideas being written down and discussed; after a large sum of ideas are presented, the group begins to pare down on the number until only a few remain. These are then weighed for pros and cons and a final design is then fleshed out. In order to pick up the hatch panels, we decided to go for an approach that includes the manipulation of the hatch panel using mechanical arms. This idea will continue to be refined, prototyped, and finalized over the next week.
This group began with brainstorming ideas to intake the cargo by drawing in the engineering notebook. We came up with an idea which included two arms with wheels at the end of each intake the cargo. Our sub-system group started to CAD our design on the computer.
Over the past week, the software team has been working on writing basic code for the robot and began to delve into some of the team’s more complex goals as well. In order to be on schedule with the mechanical team, the software team has written the drivetrain code for the robot so that when the chassis is completed, the code can be tested right away. Similarly, after analyzing the game during Kickoff, it was clear that line tracking and vision processing are going to be vital in order to be an elite team. As a result, members started to test around with various sensors to see which would help the robot stay in line with the white tape on the floor. The software team was able to configure a photoelectric sensor which could detect if the robot was on the carpet or on the white tape. Through this, the team is prototyping with a practice robot so members can later implement this into the competition bot.
Name: Ashwin Chitoor
Title: Co-software Lead
Years on Team: 3 years
Areas of Focus and Responsibilities: "Make sure everything software wise is working"
Impact FIRST has had: "Showed me my future passions, introduced me to my future career interests"
Favorite 4909 memory: "Programming LED strips at 3 AM"
Plans After High School: Degree in computer science
Ideal Job: General Manager of an NBA team
This past Saturday’s kickoff event that we hosted, joined by the DevilBotz (Team 2876) from Burlington and the Titans (Team 1474) from Tewksbury, marked the beginning of our Build Season journey. After some delicious breakfast, all the 40 high school students and many mentors eagerly entered the cafeteria to watch the live stream of the new game animation that was to be released; we were even joined by many of our alumni to guide us through the process. We then split up into several different groups to analyze the components of the 2019 FIRST Robotics Competition game, Destination: Deep Space; we discussed the game manual, the field which the game will be played on, scoring, and even potential strategies to win with the most amount of points possible. This year’s game will require the robot to intake, manipulate, and lift cargo (balls) and hatch panels (discs) into rockets and cargo ships. More information and a game analysis will be posted next week, so stay tuned for that! Until then, here are links to the video of the game animation and the main web page which includes details about the game.
Click here to access the FIRST Web Page
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