Week 5

Feb 3 2024:


Today we combined all our skills learned on the CNC router to both engrave and lightweight a piece of aluminum extrusion.  The CNC router is capable of intricate designs that we can use to both add cosmetics and decrease weight on our robots. We can also repeat complex designs efficiently by repeating one preset program. 

Feb 5 2024:

Our Bill of Materials has been finalized. We have been reviewing our inventory and submitting purchase order requests for our parts. The finance team will review the requests before purchasing parts. In the meantime we are using our Quality Assurance system to manufacture parts. Each subassembly is assigned a color code. 

When the CAD model is completed for an assembly they will publish a drawing package. A drawing package includes an assembly drawing, bill of materials, and parts drawings. The parts drawings are then given to the manufacturing team and put into sleeves to match the assembly's color code. 

Blue - Base

Red -Acquisition

Orange - Articulation

Green - Climb

Yellow -  Launcher

Feb 6 2024:

The programming team worked on vision tracking systems. Using the vision targets on the field, and the field simulation tool, the robot will be able to align to set positions such as square up to the amp as we approach. 

Feb 7 2024:

The intake parts have been manufactured and the assembly pieces have started to come together. We've begun to notice subtle changes we need to make in order to make the assembly work better. We've noticed our plates were incorrectly modified in the CAD model. The wrong side plate was shortened so now our motor mount, belting, and pulleys don't line up as we originally expected. The update to both side plates will be made soon so we can get the changes made and mounted to the robot. 

Feb 8 2024:

The intake subassembly was added to the base. We got to see the intake bring in and center a game piece of its own. We've considered adding additional structure to help center the game piece. With the promise of our initial installation test, it may not be as influential as we originally thought. We are waiting for a few commercial parts to come in to complete the assembly. 

In the meantime we are continuing to manufacture parts for our climb, articulation, and launcher mechanisms.

Feb 9 2024:

Notes for future team leaders

Our team progress is well behind our originally planned schedule. As we enter week 6 we still haven't seen our machine drive under its own power and controls system. Lead mentors imposed an ultimantum. If the alpha version of the robot was not running by the end of the day Saturday we would resort to building a second kitbot for the Greater Pittsburgh Regional Competition. 

Our programming team has been focused on advanced concepts before establishing an outline of the basic operations the robot will need to operate. The mentality for the future should be crawl, walk, then run. Basics that go along with crawling involve establishing a plan for each motor allocation including a name and control that will cause it to turn on and off. The controls plan should be documented then built upon. We can set up motors on a test base and change the names and addresses for each one as needed. The walk should be driving the robot under power with bumpers on the field in the context of the field of play. We should have planned auton paths, and a selector so we can change between each option. We run when we can automate the machine to complete functions based on sensory input such as break beam sensors, camera feedback, and gyro feedback.

While this is far from what we expected, our CAD team has been making modifications digitally and not finalized parts and sent out drawings to manufacturing to work.  Due to the lack of production on the manufacturing side, the manufacturing team wasn't fully participating in after school meetings as they were mostly just waiting around for part drawings. The quality assurance spreadsheet should be something all team members are familiar with and know how to access. The seniors should model how to use it and emphasize its important for the means of communication. There were moments in the season where students didn't understand the color coding of each subassembly that was planned by the seniors because there was a lack of training and communication from the student leaders. 

If the CAD team was able to get their assembly drawings with the Bill of Materials (BOM) then we would have also been able to get  our commercial parts ordered sooner so we are able to assemble when parts have been manufactured. This year our hardware inventory was not ready for the demands of the build season. 

What the team should do in the future is give the manufacturing team projects such as the robot cart, battery cart, drive station, scouting system, and pit display for them to focus on while the CAD team works on finalizing the design. We have had plenty of resources to do the projects but lacked the organization and focus to see the big picture of what we needed to accomplish before a Week 1 event. We didn't have a good routine of scheduling team meetings for design reviews and work session briefings to include juniors in the updates from senior class time. The lack of communication has caused juniors / 1st year students to prioritize other extracurricular meetings and social gatherings instead of working toward completing our robot in time for a week 1 competition. 

Things that we should improve for next year is designing a building projects to simulate rapid prototyping in the preseason. We have been hindered significantly because our prototyping skills are too slow based on a lack of skill, rather than a lack of access to equipment. We should be able to design in CAD within a day, output a prototype within 24 hours of the concept being presented.