2017 Off-Season

This past off-season, we recruited and trained new members, completed various mechanical projects, updated our electrical system, and acquired sponsorships. To track our journey, we made summer vlogs that show our progress in each of our projects. Below you will find the links to our four vlogs and a breakdown of what we accomplished at each meeting. We are excited for the new season to begin!

Summer Vlog #4

Watch our 4th and final summer vlog! We finish and highlight some of our offseason projects here.


Summer Vlog #3

Watch our 3rd vlog! Highlights include a visit from the old team captain, Alton, safety information on using a hacksaw, and the lift's progress.


Summer Vlog #2

In our second summer vlog, we continue our off-season projects including the drivetrain and the lift.


Summer Vlog #1

We started a summer vlog! Check out our first one here!


9/3/17: Finishing up our summer projects

Kiki spent most of the meeting searching for more sponsors and emailing them. She went onto the PTC Inc. website and found that they give grants to FTC teams, so she filled out the application for a PTC sponsorship. She checked other websites for educational grants, but did not have much success as most companies have already filled up all of their sponsorship spots. She emailed Intuitive Surgical to confirm the submission of our application. She also made a spreadsheet of confirmed and potential sponsors that she will use to organize the sponsors and how much money we have. We confirmed our presentation on the 26th at Synnex, and we are looking forward to this because we need money.

Prateek, Jason, and Max finished the lift. They added more collars to the shafts and they also added a wire like twine. This wire-like twine allowed the cascade lift and the motors to be connected. When the motor was turned on, the twine would pull in the cascade lift, shrinking its size. On the other hand, it can expand the cascade lift and essentially control its motions. We recorded our lift in action and put it in our final off-season vlog.

Sahith worked extensively on the Vuforia code. Leon helped him test if his code worked. The code works, so we will continue developing and planning how to use the code for the real season.

This was our last off-season meeting before kickoff. We are happy to have completed all of our off-season goals. We feel that our new members have gained valuable experiences working with mechanical, and our veterans have gained more experience with other tasks including scouting, sponsorships, and engineering notebook. We are looking forward to kick off next weekend!


9/2/17: Organizing our work area and Vuforia

Max, Jason, Anna, and Pranav spent a good amount of time at this meeting organizing our tools, parts, and materials. We are hoping to keep our workspace neat and clean before the season starts so that we can minimize any time wasted looking for parts. Last year, we wasted a large amount of time at meetings looking for tools. We also spent unnecessary time searching for different tools and parts during previous off-season meeting from this year too. Therefore, we learned our lesson and organized. During our organizing, we found the lubricant for the drill press that we were looking for a few meetings ago. During this organization, we found built parts that we didn’t need as well. Prateek instructed Pranav and the newbies to disassemble these parts so that the team could use the materials for future projects. Jason did most of the disassembling by hammering out shafts.

Prateek worked on fixing the small details of the drivetrain that the newbies have been building for a couple meetings and mounted the newly built lift on it. He mounted the motors needed for power the lift first. Then, he mounted on the actual lift and added most of the parts onto it. While Prateek was cutting a small metal piece using the bandsaw, he felt that the metal piece was getting hotter and hotter. Eventually, Prateek almost burned himself, but thankfully he was okay. He and Sahith concluded that the surprising amount of heat coming from the metal was probably due to the small size of the piece, the pressure and speed of the bandsaw, and also the hot weather today. It reached over 100 degrees Fahrenheit today, which was probably a critical factor towards the overheating of the piece. After that incident, Jason and Pranav joined Prateek in working on mounting the liift after they finished organizing. The two helped Prateek attach shafts to the motors and add gears to those shafts.

Sahith worked on the code for Vuforia, a program that the team will most likely need in the upcoming season’s challenge. This code allows us to sense colors and respond to them during competitions.


8/27/17: Mounting the Lift and Website Updates

Anna, Leon, Max, and Jason finished the drivetrain today. First, they fixed a wheel and some of the chains. The four members fixed a wheel that was screwed on wrong. The screws on the wheel were too short and weren’t sufficient. After fixing the wheel, the four members realized that some of the chains were loose and didn’t have enough tension. The team had to fix them by moving the motors around. This took a really long time because it was very difficult to get the chains on to have the same tensions.

Anna, Max, and Jason starting mounting the lift that Prateek, Max, and Sahith worked on before, and the motors that would power the lift. Anna and Jason started putting the different channels needed onto the robot and mounting the lift onto the robot. Max started mounting the motors onto the channels and extending the shafts of the motors with clamping hubs. Hopefully, the lift can be tested at the next meeting.

Sahith updated the “Our Team” section of the team’s websites. He took headshots of each team member at the meeting today outside Prateek’s house with a natural background. He had a really good quality camera too, so the pictures turned out great. Sahith then put the pictures on the website and updated the biographies of each team member on the website.Sahith started researching how to code for Vuforia. This feature will most likely be needed for the upcoming season’s challenge. Sahith also got the license key for future use.


8/19/17: Rev Robotics and Sponsorships

Kiki worked on getting sponsorships for the 2017-2018 season. She wrote an email to Copenhagen to ask for pastries for our robotics events. Last season, they gave us a box of pastries for competitions, robot in 3 days, and other events. We hope to continue our relationship with Copenhagen because they provide us valuable(and delicious) resources. She also researched how to apply for an Intuitive Surgical sponsorship. For the previous two years, Intuitive Surgical has given us $500. We hope to get this same amount of money this year, as we are low on money currently. Kiki plans to call Pancho Villa on Monday to ask about donating burritos to our events. During competitions we need meals, and last year Pancho Villa sponsored a meal per month for us. We are hoping they will continue this sponsorship. We are still waiting to hear back from Synnex for a potential presentation date.

Frank worked on the new Rev Robotics expansion hub system. He sent a forum note on chiefdelphi asking if other teams experienced lag when telling the robot to stop. He continues to work out the kinks and issues with this new electrical system. Frank spent a large amount of the meeting scouting for rumors and hints for the upcoming game challenge. From his research, he found predictions and comments hinting at picking up relics scattered on the ground, of the right color (blue/red) and possibly of different point values, possibly having to assemble the relics together, and moving/lifting the relic to a certain pedestal to score points. These are all just predictions, so we won’t really know what the game will be until September 9th. See a prediction of the game field in our picture section.

Pranav, Max, Jason, and Anna continued working on the drivetrain. They replaced the NeveRest 20 motors with the NeveRest 40 motors. Then, they started the electrical part of the drivetrain. They first mounted the CPDM and two motor controllers. Then, they connected the 4 motors to the motor controllers. After that, they connected the motor controllers to the CPDM. Finally, they connected the battery to the CPDM and built a simple stand for the battery from three poles.


8/15/17: Wheels on the drivetrain and testing the lift

Prateek and Sahith worked on testing the required amount of tension on the new lift. They were able to finish stringing the new lift with steel cable. Our new lift has 3d printed parts which fit in between standoffs of the AR3K400 slides. On the 3d printed parts, there is a hole in which a long bolt with a v-groove bearing fits into. To string the lift, we used 1/16” steel cable crimps and configured a loop which can be wrapped around the long bolt. After stringing the lift, Prateek and Sahith worked on completing the structure we used to test the load required to extrude the lift.

Frank and Kiki completed the Synnex presentation. They played the slideshow several times to edit animations, pictures, and text. They added some speaker notes at the bottom of the page, but they are waiting to hear back from Synnex on the exact date before they assign people certain slides. We are hoping to have Sethmi, a veteran, come to our presentation to help us present because she is good at conveying our points.

Pranav, Anna, Jason, and Max continued building the drivetrain. Prateek found and ordered more of the D-boar clamping hubs, so the team was able to use those instead of the normal ones. After putting on the wheels, the four started putting the motors on. They were finally able to do this because the motor clamps that Prateek ordered finally came. It was quite difficult putting the motors into the motor clamps, but the four got them in. After that, the team chained the wheels and motors like they did the other side. Jason, who learned how the chain at the last meeting, taught Max (another newbie) how to chain. Max picked it up quickly and they were able to finish the drivetrain off with the chaining. At the next meeting, the team is going to replace the motors. They are going to replace the Neverest-20 motors with Neverest-40 motors because it gives it more torque.


8/9/17: Chaining the drivetrain and summer vlogs

Anna and Jason continued building the drivetrain. Unfortunately, Anna and Jason had to take off the wheels and bolts on the set screw hubs to take off the unnecessary nuts. The set screw hubs have threaded holes, so the bolts could have gone on without nuts and in the opposite direction. Later, Anna and Jason realized that the nuts were not the ones blocking the chain, but the set screw hubs themselves. The hubs had to be replaced by clamping hubs. Therefore, Anna and Jason had to take off the first two wheels (that had to be chained together) and replace the set screw hubs with the clamping hubs. This took a very long time. Then, they put on the chain for the front two wheels. Then, the two put on the chain that went on the two motors and the back two wheels. The chain went between the two motors with an S shape so that the chain could have the most surface area possible on the motors. This type of chaining connects the two motors to the back two wheels. The front wheel is able to turn because it is chained to the middle wheel which is one of the two back wheels chained to the motors. Finally, Anna and Jason started working on the other side of the drivetrain. The motor clamps that Prateek ordered had not come yet, so the two started putting on the wheels.

Prateek and Sahith worked on the cascading lift. They attached a piece of channel that had a flat piece of lexan connected to it to the opposite side of the lift. This channel and flat piece of lexan are going to be the platform that the capball will be picked up on. The lexan will be the piece parallel to the floor that will scoop under the ball, while the channel connected to the lexan will be the piece that connects the lift to the lexan, raising the cap ball as it extends. In addition, he finished the construction of 3 stage lift and the structure that he is building to do a test on the lift to see how much force it will take to extend the lift.

The team started filming a summer vlog to upload on the team’s Youtube channel. The team filmed different clips of them working throughout the meeting and gave thorough explanations. The team hopes to continue these vlogs throughout the summer off-season meetings.


8/6/17: Lift and Sponsorships

The drawer slide that had to have a bolt drilled out became very difficult to move, so Prateek sprayed white lithium grease in an attempt to reduce the friction. The grease helped a little bit, but the slide was still somewhat difficult to move, so Prateek decided to use a different drawer slide for the new lift. The construction of the new lift with 3 stages was finally finished, and Prateek began work on a structure that will allow us to perform tests on it.

Frank started working on a powerpoint for our presentation to SYNNEX Corporation. Before he started, he watched a video on sales pitches in order to make his powerpoint more persuasive.


8/2/17: Drivetrain and Programming

Prateek, Frank, and Sahith worked on the ongoing project of replacing the electrical system of the Velocity Vortex robot with the REV Robotics expansion hub. The REV expansion hub mounts that Prateek purchased earlier arrived. Prateek and Frank used these to mount the two REV hubs to the Actobotics channels of the robot. Then, the two connected all the necessary wires from the hubs to the motors. After that, Prateek and Frank connected the two hubs by using a 3 pin JST communication cable. This is the ideal way of connecting two hubs to one smartphone. When Sahith, Prateek, and Frank were preparing to test the new electrical system with the robot, they realized that the phone somehow didn’t recognize both hubs. The three were very confused and had to figure out why this happened and how to resolve the problem. Later, the three decided to use two mini USB cables to connect the hubs to the phone. This allowed for both hubs to be recognized by the smartphone and the robot was ready to be tested. Prateek and Sahith took turns driving the robot and realized that there was a slight lag. This may be a problem in competitions, so the REV robotics hubs might not be used for the robot during the season.

Sahith worked on some new programming for the new electrical system while Prateek and Frank were busy setting it up. Sahith changed up the coding to run the drive motors, shooter, and intake for testing. He also transferred the code to the newly installed app called Android Studio STK from Github. This was so that the Robot Controller phone on the robot was able to communicate to the electronics correctly.

Jason and Anna continued building the drivetrain for the pushbot that Pranav and Jason started. The two added two motors on one side of the drivetrain. They didn’t add any more because they were running low on motor clamps. Since they didn’t have enough motor clamps, Jason and Anna decided to just finish one side of the drivetrain. They also attached sprockets on the motors. After that, they put on two wheels.

The team started filming a summer vlog to upload on the team’s Youtube channel. The team filmed different clips of them working throughout the meeting and gave thorough explanations. The team hopes to continue these vlogs throughout the summer off-season meetings.


7/30/17: Slack, Electrical, and Lift

Prateek introduced the new team members to Slack, our team’s communication platform. We discuss meetings, scouting, electrical, and mechanical concepts on this platform.

Prateek, Sahith, and Anna continued working on replacing the old electrical system on last year’s robot for Velocity Vortex with the new REV Robotics expansion hub kits. Each hub can only support 4 motors and our robot had 7 motors, so the robot needs two REV hubs. First, the team members took out the two motor controllers left in the robot and the USB ports. Then, they took out the loose wires. The team members were planning on finishing replacing the electrical system today, but then they realized that they did not have enough converters to connect the motors to the new hub. Therefore, all they could do in the end was purchase more converters and attach the REV hub to the side of the robot.

Prateek and Sahith worked on testing new drawer slides from Sugatsune for the robot’s lift. These new slides are a lot lighter than the old ones. The team used to use drawer slides from Home Depot. One part of the new slides had a bolt in that was resisting movement. Prateek and Sahith had to drill a hole through it to get the bolt out. It took a lot of time and efforts to get the bolt out. The two kept drilling and hammering until the bolt finally came out. Once they were done, they found another bolt that was restricting movement, However, this bolt was easier to take out and the slides were finally able to move freely!


7/23/17: First Meeting With the New Members!

This was our first summer meeting. We invited all of the new members and introduced our team. Prateek reviewed basic mechanical and electrical concepts to the new members of the team. He talked about torque, different motors, intake, and drivetrain. Frank introduced electrical parts to the new team members. Kiki showed the engineering notebook to the new members and got Anna to work with her on the notebook with her. Kiki sent various sponsorship emails in order to get funding for the new season. Frank did extensive research on the discussions about next year’s challenge Relic Recovery. He compiled different lists of information from FIRST and other social media sites.

Prateek, Max, Jason, Frank, and Anna worked on testing the new REV Robotics expansion hub kit on last year’s robot for Velocity Vortex. This hub is very useful because it consists of a core power distribution module (CPDM), motor controllers, servo controllers, and core device interface all together; this hub is very compact and helps save a lot of space. Since the REV robotics hub only allows for 4 motors--in comparison to the former CPDM that allowed for 8 motors--the team members used the REV hub to test solely the drivetrain which only requires 4 motors. To do this, the five team members removed the two original motor controllers and the CPDM. Then, they installed the new hub and connected it to the drivetrain motors. They are planning to test this new hub during the next meeting. Overall, this was a great first meeting for the new team members and the off-season. We are excited to continue our off-season projects and look forward to kick off.