Friday, December 7, 2012

FTC Robotics 2012-2013 Season

 Not much in miniature modeling is going on in the Lair right now, as my son's robotics team is feverishly preparing for their initial competition on Dec 15th.  The first few pictures show the 'bot in it's starting position.  Per the rules, all robots must initially start a match fitting with an 18 inch cube. We've got 1/4 inch clearance on the sides and 1/16 clearance on the top.

 Here's the other side - you can see the brain!  The robots in the First Tech Challenge use the Lego NXT as a processor.  It's surprisingly robust and the boys have redone the operating system to run Robot C.  We are trying a new drive train this year - 4WD chain-linked drive wheels.  Chains are less finicky than gears can be and should help with our pushing power - in this competition robots do get to push each other around.

 The third picture shows our arm partially extended.  The game involved picking up plastic rings from a dispenser and placing on a central goal that has 3x3 grid of rungs to play "tic-tack-toe"  The rung heights are 20, 40 and 60 inches.  Our arm when fully extend easily reached the highest rung level.  The arm has four points of movement: A shoulder joint (where it attaches to the bot), an elbow, a wrist and a finger joint - the servo driven grabbers.  From an engineering point of view an arm with that many articulation points is very complex, especially because the motor power needs to be varied based on the load and position of the arms - that whole "leverage" thing comes into play.

 Here's a shot of the gearing system for the shoulder.  It's very robust and also does a great job chewing up wires that are not tied down properly.  Hmmm maybe just like the wire in the upper left of the picture....

 The game involves four 'bots on the field (2 red bots vs 2 blue bots).  There are 24 scoring rings for each side which are held in dispensers as pictured.  The robots job are to take up to 2 rings at a time from the dispenser and...

Place them on the rungs.  Teams get points for each level (5 for each low rung, 10 for the middle and 15 for the high rungs).  There is a 30 point bonus for getting three in a row.  Other ways to score include placing a ring in autonomous mode and lifting your partner robot off the ground.

For that last part, we've built a folding ramp (think scissor bridge) that will allow our partner robot to drive up and park on top.  At least in theory it should...




Here's a picture of the team - it was Travis's birthday so we had a little celebration.  You would be amazed at how effective a motivator food is for teenaged boys - who knew?
My son, Sean, is on the far left of the picture.

7 comments:

The Angry Lurker said...

Good luck to them...and you!

John said...

Very impressive Miles!

Anne said...

I have a feeling that your son is going to very successful in life. Best of luck to you!

Der Feldmarschall said...

Fun stuff! and good luck! :-)

jmilesr said...

Anne - that was a very kind thing to say - thank you all very much.

We're not sure where the engineering gene came from but he fascinated with robotics and mechanical engineering. One of the benefits is he is very handy around the house and views fixing things as a reward rather than a chore!

Sir Tobi said...

Hi Miles, I just wanted to tell you I have nominated you for the "Liebster Blog" award: http://tobispaintpot.blogspot.de/
Keep up the great work you're doing. Many thanks and best regards, Tobi

DeanM said...

Wow - Amazing work going on. Good to see your mentoring. Best, Dean