State of The Robot (Week 4)
Super Blue Blood Moon
Earlier this week, on the 29th of January to be precise, took place a very rare and unique occurrence on our planet: a Super Blue Blood Moon showing itself in the sky for the first time in over 150 years. The moon, really is, just a keeper of time, repeating the same 8 phases one after the other, the same way a clock repeats the same 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in a hour and 24 hours in a day, every day of the week, every week of the year. Today as I went around interviewing team members, there was a underlying shadow of doubt among my peers faces. The optimism I had observed last week had come to an abrupt standstill. Many had expected, and highly hoped, for the Mechanical team to finish the building of our robot by today, the 3rd of February marking the start of week 5 and the 2nd to last week of build season. Just like the moon, the team (as well as each sub team) has its own phases, going through periods of light and dark similar to the moon. Although the Mechanical team had it’s clear downturns this week, This week was fantastic for the other sub teams: Electrical and Programming
My first interview this weekend was Sierra, a first year member on Electrical
Super Color LED Lighting
This week, the Electrical team still ahead of schedule worked on “decorations” for the robot, creating for the first time in our team’s history a functioning, color changing under glow on our robot. The LEDs will match the color of whatever alliance we happen to be part of (red or blue) and will change throughout the course of the tournament. As a member of this team for 4 years (this being my 4th), this is the first time I’ve ever heard of electrical being ahead of schedule to work on the “extras” of our robot. According to Sierra, as the Electrical team worked on the LEDs this week they, unfortunately, ran into a problem. When they tried to turn on the LEDs they started clicking and flashing in an uncontrollable manner, To extend their formal thanks, The electrical team as a whole would like to thank Mr. Fletcher (referred to as simply “Fletcher” on our team) for being able to help them through this problem which they wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. This upcoming week the Electrical team expects their biggest challenge to be implementing the electrical board on the finished robot at the end of this week when the building aspect of the robot is hopefully done. Sierra would like to extend her personal thanks to Electrical team lead Holly P (Interviewed last week) for being a great teacher for her this year and leading the team confidently and thoroughly.
Super Programmer Team Work
Next up was Eric, the second-in-command team lead for Programming. Programming, as Eric wanted to make clear, involves significantly more teamwork than the other sub teams. Instead of working separately on different projects like Mechanical (i.e Climber, Cube Manipulator and chassis) the Programming team works together on one aspect of the robot. This week, that aspect of the robot happened to be setting up the Encoder. The Encoder is a sensor that goes on the end of each motor, monitoring and keeping track of each rotation of the motor. The encoder is crucial during the Autonomous period of the match. When the robot is tasked with completing point scoring tasks without a human player. The hardest part of this week, for the programming team was figuring out, simply, how to accomplish the task of setting up the encoder. Eric claims the main resource in doing so was with the help of the mentors. The worst case scenario for this upcoming week, according to Eric, is that the encoder is found to have a flaw, in which case the Programming team will have to either restart a segment of the code or, depending on the severity, start the whole thing over entirely. Eric would like to give his thanks to Ronan (also interviewed last week) for his dedication to the team during the last week
Super Resitant Wrinkles and Bumps
My next series of interviews have to do with the source of the doubt mentioned earlier. The mechanical team, has probably had the toughest week of all sub teams. Due to a newfound overwhelming amount CAD (Computer Aided design) , the team was pushed far behind schedule behind. According to one team member, the events of this week resulted in the Mechanical team seemingly having “to start from scratch” for some parts of the robot. Although this comes as a great disappointment to many of my peers, I defer to say that this is what robotics is all about. This is what people mean when they say Robotics is more than Robots. Robotics isn’t just smooth sailing from start to finish, It comes along with many challenges that the participant is forced to go under: Cooperating and communicating with team mates, bouncing back after setbacks such as the one the Mechanical team faced this week It’s all just part of the experience. Resulting in why so many kids on our year come back year after year. It’s not easy. It never has nor will it ever be, but that’s what it’s all about and why I think Robotics is one of the best experiences anyone can go through during High School. It’s unlike any sport. Never on my experience on the football team was there a time when we counted on each other’s ideas as much as we do here.
My first interview was Ash, an overall supervisor to Mechanical overseeing the development of all projects while helping along the way when possible
The biggest challenge of the week was the same culprit causing all doubt within the theme: The development and design of the Cube Manipulator. The Cube manipulator, now dubbed the “S-Beam system” Is in charge place the cube on the platforms scattered throughout the playfield. Despite this major roadblock in the way of the Mechanical teams way, Ash continued to help with the development of other systems, making sure all of Mechanical’s progress isn’t stalled by the setback of one mechanism. This strategy resulted in the biggest achievement of Mechanical this week: fully completing the design and building of the Cube Intake. As a member of all Mechanical sub teams, Ash foresees the integration and final building of all parts of the robot being the main challenge for this upcoming week. Ash, too would like thank the mentors for their work this week, taking countless hours out of their busy lives to guide the team.
We got deeper to the source of the problem when we interviewed Nayal, a first year member that is super dedicated to the building of the robot
Though Nayal had spent the week working on every system Mechanical is working on, his primary focus was the Cube Intake, The mechanism responsible for holding the cube in place during all maneuvers the robot undergoes. The Cube intake, was also the only mechanism that Mechanical actually got finished getting built this week. Nayal claimed the actual building of the part was easier than the design, something he hoped to be true of the S-beam system as well. A problem Nayal faced this week was the gear box. The gear box, though overall easy to build, ran into a problem with the spacing meaning the originally expected to be a 1:20 ratio was turned into a 1:1 ratio. For now, while they find a formal solution, they’ve tuned down the power down to a mere 5%. Like Ash, Nayal sees the same problem in this upcoming week: building the actual robot itself
Shaq, had spent most of the week working on the very source of the problem itself: The S-beam design
Working tirelessly throughout the week, Shaq was working on creating an effective CAD design for all parts of Mechanical, especially the now infamous S-beam design. Shaq’s biggest challenge this week, which he also sees for next week is creating the S-beam design, first on CAD then in reality. According to Shaq, the main problem with the S-beam design is finding a proper location for the mechanism, as of now he expects it to be in the center of the robot but is still very unsure of that and says it is subject to change. I believe our team as a whole thanks Shaq and Zikun (interviewed last week and pictured above) for their commitment this last week. Although many may not be as confident as they have been, this, like the moon every night, is just a phase, bound to pass.
I would like to take a moment extend a hand of thanks to all our sponsors. Nearly all members that I interviewed spoke of parts they ordered this week. All of which wouldn’t have been possible without our sponsors. To any sponsors reading this thank you. Everything said above wouldn’t have been possible without you.
Thank you all for reading, tune in next week for more!