FIRST Robotics Blog
Team 254, NASA Ames Robotics "The Cheesy Poofs", proudly presents our 2014 robot: Barrage.
Barrage will compete at the Central Valley Regional, Waterloo Regional, Silicon Valley Regional, and FIRST Championship.
Team 254 is sponsored by NASA Ames Research Center, Lockheed Martin, The Mercadante Family, Ooyala, TR Manufacturing, Qualcomm, HP, West Coast Products, The Magarelli Family, The Yun Family, Google, Modern Machine, The Gebhart Family, Aditazz, Cisco Meraki, Vivid-Hosting, Nvidia, BAE Systems, Gilbert Spray Coat, Pacific Coast Metal, S&S Welding, Good Plastics, Team Whyachi, Applied Welding, World Metal Finishing, The Jimenez Family, Hy-Tech Plating, and Bellarmine College Preparatory.
Shockwave, a promotional t-shirt shooting robot, was awarded the Abbott Invention Hall of Fame Award at the 2011 FIRST Silicon Valley Regional.
Team 254 is willing and able to bring our T-Shirt cannon to many events, including but not limited to:
- Sporting Events
- Spirit Rallies
- Community Events
The T-Shirt Cannon can be branded to meet the promotional requirements of any sponsor.
To Request to have the T-Shirt Cannon appear at your event, please contact our PR Director, Godwin Vincent.
On August 7, several members from our team had the opportunity to participate in NASA’s Diversity Day. As a NASA house team, Team 254 was able to present three robots; Overkill, Skyfire, and Slipstream to NASA engineers and staff who stopped by our booth.
Mani Gnanasivam, James Holden, Andrew Torrance, Namit Mishra, Nick Gunady, Jack Lee, and Chris Sides attended.
After setting up the booth, the team members fielded questions from curious onlookers. Many NASA engineers were asked what program Team 254 used to design the robot, which programming languages were used, and other technical questions. All the team members answered questions asked by the dozens of people who stopped by the exhibit. After lunch, the members demonstrated Overkill’s frisbee and hanging abilities. Andrew Torrance explained multiple times to the crowd the the rules of last year’s game and Overkill’s scoring abilities. After presenting, we packed up and relaxed at the lab.
Over the past three days, Team 254 has had the opportunity to visit two of its Gold level sponsors, BAE Systems and Ooyala, and demonstrate the fruits of its labor.
On June 5, a multicultural group of five students and one mentor celebrated diversity with BAE at the BAE Systems Diversity Fair. The students participating were Nagy Hakim, Scott Cardona, Richard Lin, Abhi Kumar, and Louis Lin. Mentor Dennis Jenks provided Team 254 with the amazing opportunity to come to the fair. People in the event included many BAE engineers and programmers, who added excitement because students had a chance to talk to others who work in the same fields of interest.
Students transported two robots, Overkill and Shockwave, to the event to exhibit the team’s work and extend appreciation for BAE’s consistent support throughout the years. Many of their employees came out to visit the team’s pit and talk about the robots’ designs and controls. After opening ceremonies, Shockwave fired a barrage of T-shirts into a crowd. Later, drivers and operators demonstrated Overkill’s driving and frisbee shooting capabilities.
At the conclusion of the fair, Dennis led the students on a private tour around BAE’s impressive facility. Four tour guides exhibited the workings of BAE, including military vehicles, machines, simulations, and controls.
Today, the team visited one of our Gold level sponsors, Ooyala. Our programming mentor Patrick Fairbank, who works at Ooyala, set the day up so the team could demo Overkill. The team visited their office, located in Mountain view and set up. There were about 40 or so members of the company that gathered around asking questions about the various subsystems and function of the robot.
Many members of the company also played Ultimate Frisbee after work on a team. These members lined up on one end of the space set up while Abhi Kumar and Richard Lin drove the robot around, picking up and shooting frisbees towards the employees(At a much lower, catchable speed). Meanwhile, Nagy Hakim answered questions about the robot. At the end of the demo the team members stuck around for pizza and presented the award to Patrick for Ooyala’s sponsorship.
Team 254 thanks BAE Systems and Ooyala for their continued support in the robotics program.
Yesterday, Mark Leon and Drew Price arranged for the current Zero Robotics Winners to tour the NASA Ames Facilities. Team 254 represented the NASA Robotics Alliance as part of the tour. The 20 or so members of their winning team filed in to the lab and were given a presentation by Abhi Kumar and Richard Lin as to the history, function, and current robot of the team. Afterwards, Abhi and Scotty Cardona demonstrated the robot’s shooting capabilities and hanging prowess. To finish off the tour, Mark took the group upstairs and talked more about the NASA Robotics Alliance and the summer Robotics Academy. As the members left, we brought Shockwave out onto the field and answered final questions for the group.
This afternoon, NASA Administrator Mr. Charles Bolden visited the Ames Robotics Exploration Lab with Congressman Mike Honda and several other NASA executives. Mr. Bolden is a former General in the U.S. Marine Corps and a former astronaut, having taken part in Space Shuttle missions. The team last spoke to Mr. Bolden in the pits at the 2010 FIRST Championship.
Mark Leon led the group through of the robotics education programs supported by NASA which included demonstrations of BotBall Robots, FIRST Lego League, VEX Robotics and the FIRST Robotics Competition. Team 254 leader Jonathan Chang described the VEX game to Mr. Bolden and then introduced Goutham Gnanasekaran, Luis Guevara, Andrew Torrance, Eli Wu, Eric VanLare and Van Tran, who drove four of our World Championship-caliber robots.
Later, Team President Nagy Hakim spoke about our FRC team and introduced Scotty Cardona, Abhi Kumar and Jonathan Lee. Finally, Abhi and Scotty demonstrated our famous 6.4 second climb. After Mr. Bolden left, one of the NASA Ames Directors, Donald James, thanked the team members for the presentation and talked to them about the impact such demos could have on future legislation for education and STEM.
The team is very grateful for the support we have received from NASA over the years. We are pleased and honored to be asked to showcase our program to those who make what we do possible.
Students started organizing new parts into their respective bins. Most of these parts will be spares for competition. In addition, a few mentors and students worked on deburring, polishing, and touching up parts which will be sent in for powder coating and anodizing.
Students contine to fix the drivetrain. A dog gear broke yet again. Students worked on taking apart the drivetrain gearbox to replace it.
Students made new parts for the intake, including new mount side plates. Additionally, students began assembling the intake support gearbox.
Students designed a one way valve in the shooter. This stop, made from a simple piece of bent polycarbonate, will allow the frisbee to leave the shooter in only one direction and prevent it from falling backwards. This stop is a simple mechanism to further eliminate possible jams that have plagued the robot for the better part of the season.
Teams 973 and 846 stopped by to the lab for practing and tuning in preparation for the World Championship next week.
Students and mentors worked diligently to replace one of the intake rollers with a BBD. Students also worked to troubleshoot an issue with the new intake hardstop that was causing hang-ups on the intake system.
Working diligently to manufacture new intake gearbox plates to save weight, students cut stock metal to be milled in the CNC.
Wooden blocks were added tonight to the practice robot to keep the polycarbonate base of the intake from touching the ground. This is one of a series of adjustments to the intake to make it more efficient, fluid, and functional. The polycarbonate base often gets caught in the carbonate causing jams and reduced mobility.
Even though the Frisbee hard stop was working last night, it was not today with the pin having trouble sliding the stopping plate up and down. This was solved by changing the hard stop to delrin and maintaining the mounting plates to aluminum. Also, students and mentors created two cross bars for the indexer. They also worked on shooter wheel mounting plates. Lastly, the team added temporary air tanks to the practice robot to allow for more shooting cycles and less refilling.
Abhi and Jonathan Lee continued driver practice in preparation for the upcoming competition.
Sensors & Programming
Students and mentors tested hall effect sensors using Slipstream as a power source, because of drivers using Overkill to practice. The hall effect sensors would detect the presence of a magnetic field. When magnets are placed on the indexer mechanism, a feedback mechanism is created to determine whether or not the indexer mechanism is completely engaged in the correct position. On the programming side, programmers fine tuned various code for indexing and shooting.
Today, students built a pallet to ship large items to St. Louis. They packed some very crucial items needed for Championship, including the robot cart, pit shelving, batteries, and lights for the trussing.
Lastly, programmers debugged some issues with the pit lights. The color effects no longer spawn new processes and overlap each other. Although pit lights are not a priority at the moment, students are making strong effort to make these functional to give the best appearance at the Championship event.
Today, students and mentors worked together to design new subsystems of the robot. For instance, a new gearbox was designed for the intake lowering and raising, which would replace the current VEX planetary gearbox. The VEX planetary was very inefficient and quite heavy. The new gearbox with its motor will be marginally heavier than the previous setup, and it has the benefit of a more favorable gear reduction. After the design work was completed and verified, the team went online to sites like AndyMark and McMaster to order these new necessary parts. It is essential that these parts are ordered and arrive quickly, as time is running out before World Championships.
The team is scrambling to find places to trim weight on the robot. The new shooter wheels and intake gearbox are adding some weight to the robot, so the team trimmed some fat by removing the side panels, removing the pressure gauge support plate, and other areas. The 1/16″ side panels will eventually be replaced by side panels made of 1/32″ polycarb. Together, all the weight reductions will put us under weight. Although we are cutting it very close, we will eventually get to where we want to be.
Programming and Sensors
The programmers experimented with VEX bumper sensors as a means of detecting whether or not the frisbee is fully loaded in the indexer, and thus ready to transfer up to the shooter. They attached two bumper sensors via double stick tape on either side of the hard-stop plate. The next step of this is to wire the sensors to the digital sidecar and write up some codes. When completed, the bump sensors will allow for increased speed of rapid fire. Tests will determine the reliability and durability of this setup to ensure it can survive the stresses of competition.
Students worked to carefully repair the intake when it broke this morning. They had to pause momentarily to remove the intake and fix it on the side.
Due to the fact that there are only two weeks remaining before World Championships in St. Louis, a lot of the team’s new redesign ideas needed to be reconsidered realistically. While the progress of designing a bucket indexer seemed promising for spectacular scoring, it needed to be put on hold so that the team could focus on other important design tasks. In addition, it would require a major redesign or would bring up weight issues easily. The team decided to refine and work out the issues it currently has. The benefits of the major redesigns are not worth their risks, and it will be a much better use of time to work out the small issues the robot currently has.
Currently, the team is using Solidworks to design a new intake gearbox that would not make the motor burn out as quickly as the Banebot motor does now. In addition, the new gearbox will eliminate a VEX planetary from the robot.
Another important task includes making indexer hard-stop mechanism to prevent frisbees from jamming and stacking inside the indexer. This addition is a major improvement that is a top priority. This hard stop needs to be simple, passive, and reliable. Most likely, the stop will be mounded to the conveyor side plates. The stop itself will be lowered as the indexer mechanism is lowered. As the indexer is raised, so will the hard stop to forbid the frisbee from moving forward.
Abhi Kumar and Jonathan Lee practiced driving the robot around to improve positioning consistently and prepare for competition scenarios.
Students finally finished unpacking from SVR. All of the competition crates were unpacked and bins were restored to their original places. The lab is now fully equipped and ready for robot iterations and improvements.
The bucket design was worked on today in great detail. Parts from the indexer, shooter, and conveyor were changed in CAD today. The conveyor side plates were shortened to reduce weight and accomodate the large bucket. The indexer side plates(butcher knives) were made longer to account for the buckets new position in the robot. Finally changes were made to the shooter parts to accomodate the width of the buckets and frisbees that currently fit from wall to wall of the insides of the hanger. These design changes are still being considered and evaluated.
Brogrammers know what was done.