On January 7th, the annual FRC (FIRST Robotics Challenge) Charged Up was released. The  challenge includes picking up traffic cones and cubes, placing them on poles and shelves of various heights, and balancing three robots on a seesaw-like charge station. As always, we are competing with three robots on the opposing alliance on a field somewhat smaller than a basketball court. The game is designed to make extending our arm to reach the highest scoring location almost impossible! We encourage you to check out the 2023 season overview for more info! 

Since Kickoff, the team has been hard at work understanding the constraints and designing our competition robot. We are prioritizing our cone and cube scoring potential and currently are focusing on designing an effective robot arm and gripper mechanism. 

Mechanical 

In week 1, we utilized computer-aided design (CAD) to sketch out our grabber designs. This week, we prototyped them to test feasibility and determine how easy it would be to repair during competition. Our new build team members have been applying their shop skills building game field elements – our veteran members love seeing the rookies gaining confidence in their abilities! 

Programming

With the implementation of April Tags (or oversized QR Codes for vision systems) into the 2023 Game, our team reconfigured the robot vision system to be able to identify April Tags for autonomous alignment and positioning. We also calculated the inverse kinematics to add software stops to our code to prevent our arm mechanism from extending past the legal limit. 

Business 

We have finalized our video essay script for competition awards and are working with the Minnetonka Film Production Club on producing a high-quality video for judging. This is the team’s first time competing for this award. 

Organization 

This year, we are implementing project management structures to better define our manufacturing timeline and goals. So far, we have implemented the use of cloud-based project management software (monday.com) to add in our necessary tasks and deadlines, as well as assigning them to students ready to take initiative. This allows other members to know what they can do and whom to go to on getting involved. The team has been very receptive to this change, and it has allowed students and mentors to be on the same page.

Design Review 

Our team recently had a holistic, concept-stage design review with external engineers and our technical mentors where we presented our overall robot design and the prototypes that have been fabricated thus far. We received useful insight to ensure that our plans for software and hardware align and that our subteams are coordinating, in addition to input on our analysis and designs. 

Next Steps

  • Mechanical: machine chassis, plasma cut skid plate, and install drivetrain elements
  • Code: testing control software and PID controls (balancing system) 
  • Business: Complete video essay for awards.