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January 18, 2012

Today, we finished building the team version of the bridge. Turns out, our bridge is just over 60 pounds, while the official bridge is calculated to be over 200 pounds. (We used the battery test given by FIRST to help calculate the weight.) This means that our bridge will not act like the official competition bridge. We haven't decided how we are going to make our bridge more like the official bridge. We will probably end up placing some weights in specific places on the bridge, after we learn more about the real bridge's characteristics. On the other hand, Mr. Peake, a mentor, mentioned that it may be to our advantage to practice using the lighter bridge. A lighter bridge would make it harder to balance.

At night, we had, once again, a design meeting. First, Brian showed the team a new tasks system, called "Trac." This is a system for keeping software projects on track, but we will be using it to keep track of the entire build process. Next, we went over interesting things that were found on Chief Delphi. One was a ball intake system that would give the robot more space to suck up balls (found by Miles). Currently, because of the bumper rules, robots would only have ~12 inches to suck the ball up. However, with this system, the balls in front of the robot would automatically be moved to the intake area by three sets of deployable rollers.

Then, we had a discussion about our robot design. We are still debating whether to have the robot's shooter point forward or to the side. Pointing it to the side would make it easier to fine-tune when aiming, since we would be using the driving system. On the other hand, if it were pointed forward, we would need to aim by turning in place, which, for us, is not as precise. Also, we looked at good positions, or (as we like to call them) "sweet spots," that we would like to shoot from. Ideally, we would need more than one zone where we can consistently score from, so opposing teams would have a harder time defending. Mr. Xie also brought up the idea of having a basket/hopper to allow other teams to feed us balls. However, some people had doubts, since other teams would probably not aim for us, and instead aim for the hoop. Also, the robot-to-robot interaction could easily lead to robot damage, whether it is from the fired ball or from a collision.

After the meeting, some of us played around with the bridge to get an idea of its physics and properties. We ended up trying to stay between "balanced" and "unbalanced". It was fun.