We handle all the manufacturing capabilities, design new mechanical parts or systems, and ultimately make the robot what it is. We use the design process by employing critical thinking and designing skills, along with developing custom parts for the robot through CAD. We also adhere to the safety program, maintain inventory of materials, and overall keep the workshop clean and organized.
Safety is our main priority. Our team members comply with all of the FTC safety regulations. Before someone handles a tool, each member of the team is trained on how the different power tool works along with the proper use and maintenance of the tool. When the power tools are used, the operator ensures that everyone in close proximity has their hair tied back, sleeves rolled up, jacket strings tucked away, and safety glasses on. By following these protocols, the team is able to construct the robot in a safe environment.
When fabricating the robot, our team goes through an iterative design process in order to plan and construct the robot efficiently, as well as to inspire creativity in our members, and prevent miscommunication. We consider how the robot will mechanically and structurally take on the game tasks and apply the design process throughout the construction of the robot.
When we install the electronics onto the robot, we ensure that all electronics are placed in a safe area, ensuring that no damage will occur if the robot hits a wall or another competitor. However, we place the electronic in an accessible and practical area to allow us to exchange batteries and check on the wiring. Before every match, we charge all the batteries in order to ensure that the robot can perform properly.
Occasionally, custom parts have to be made to meet the specific needs of the robot. One way the engineering division tackles this is by 3-D printing parts after they have used Computer Aided Design to create the part. The engineering division also 3-D prints prototypes of different systems or parts of the robot to better envision and determine whether the part or system will be successful and compatible with the robot. The current software programs being used are Fusion 360 and Solidworks.
To begin the process, the team identifies the type of game and capabilities that the robot is required to have in order to be able to compete. We further our research by observing past FTC games as well as the robots that were successful in those games, in order to get a clear sense of what important qualities and functions are necessary for success.
The team begins to brainstorm the different mechanisms that the robot can possess. We collaborate with each other and exchange theories on what mechanisms would be optimal to the function of the robot. We draw our visions to better understand how it would work as well as identify the pros and cons of each design.
Before we start the fabrication of the robot, we do prototyping as a way to test different designs and see which one works the best for our scenario. The prototypes may vary in complexity from simple cardboard pieces to complex designs using extrusion and bolts. Each design helps us enhance our understanding of the different mechanical functions of the robot. The more prototypes we construct, the clearer the picture we have on which components should be incorporated and why.
This is the physical construction of the robot that happens after we decide which designs work the best. As we fabricate the robot, we communicate efficiently with one another in order to work proficiently and diligently. We express our ideas on different problems that arise during the construction and work together to come up with a good solution. We handle various tools to construct the body of the robot. Starting with the drivetrain, we build the robot into the functioning mechanism that will compete against other teams.
As we construct the robot, we test each of its different functions to ensure that they operate as intended and that there are no flaws. We run numerous trials to see how effient, effective, and consistent the components are and what aspects affect the robot’s performance during a match. We discuss the ways that the component worked as intended as well as where it was inefficient.
We brainstorm different ways a component could be improved upon. Then we work to minimize the flaws of certain parts by exchanging them for different constituents that have an enhanced functionality. After exchanging a part, we always test it again in order to ensure that it improves the performance of the robot or if it still needs to be altered.