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Build Season Recipes: Strategy Brownies

These delicious and nutritious brownies have powered many Friday night picklist meetings on multiple teams, and more often than not have led to regional and divisional victories. This past weekend in San Diego was no different.

Strategy Brownies

  • 1 cup butter

  • 1-1/3 cup sugar

  • 1 cup brown sugar

  • 4 eggs

  • 1/4 cup milk

  • 1-1/3 cup flour

  • 1 tsp. baking powder

  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

  • 1 cup peanut butter chips

  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder

  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugars. Add eggs and milk; beat. Mix in flour and baking powder. Divide batter in half. In one half, mix in peanut butter and peanut butter chips. In the other half, mix in chocolate chips and cocoa. Place alternate spoonfuls of batter into a 9-inch square pan, creating a checkerboard pattern. Swirl a knife through batter to create a marble effect. Bake at 350°F for 30-35 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out with fudgey crumbs.

Build Season Recipes: Week 7

After a pre-ship weekend devoid of baking due to lack of time, we feasted on these the weekend after ship. Their comforting home-style goodness helped assuage our sorrow at the underwhelming performance of most of the robot's subsystems thus far.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 7/8 cup butter

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 1-1/2 cups flour

  • 1 tsp. baking soda

  • 3 cups rolled oats

  • 1-1/2 cup chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla; beat. Add flour, baking soda and oats; mix well. Stir in chocolate chips by hand. Drop on cookie sheet and bake at 350°F for 8-10 minutes.

Build Season Recipes: Week 5

This recipe is a couple of weeks late in posting, but these cookies fuelled our manufacturing and assembly activities at the end of Week 5.

Chocolate Sugar Cookies

  • 3 squares unsweetened chocolate

  • 1 cup butter

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1 egg

  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 2 cups flour

  • 1 tsp. baking soda

  • 1/4 tsp. salt

  • additional sugar

Heat chocolate and butter in microwave until melted; cool. Add sugar, egg, and vanilla; beat. Add flour, baking soda and salt; stir until completely mixed. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll dough into balls and roll in additional sugar until coated. Place on cookie sheet and flatten with fork. Bake at 375°F for 8-10 minutes.

Build Season Recipes: Week 4

Our robot this year is looking like it will be very short — much like these shortbread cookies we snacked on while assembling the drivetrain and manufacturing parts for the intake.

Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies

  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature

  • 2/3 cup icing sugar

  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 2 cups flour

  • 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Beat butter, icing sugar and vanilla until very smooth. Slowly add flour, mixing only until it disappears into the dough. Stir in chocolate chips by hand. Roll out dough between two sheets of parchment paper into a 1/4" thick rectangle. Refrigerate until solidified (about 2 hours). Cut dough into 1 1/2" squares and place on cookie sheet. Bake at 325°F for 18-20 minutes until golden brown around the edges.

Day #26: Practice Robot is Driving

Much progress today was made in manufacturing and assembly, and near the end of the evening the practice robot was driving for the first time.


Abhi and Richard M worked on detailing the intake assembly, with the goal of releasing all parts for manufacture by the end of the weekend. The gearbox design is still in progress, but gear ratios have been finalized and gears and timing belt pulleys selected to yield surface speeds of 17 fps on the first (top) roller, and 18 fps on the second (bottom) roller and conveyor. The higher second roller speed is necessary to clear discs from the intake more quickly when multiple discs enter simultaneously, and the conveyor must move discs back through the robot as fast as the second roller feeds them in.


Students and mentors continued working on the shooter and conveyor parts that were released to manufacturing yesterday. Josh finished the conveyor frisbee back stop pins by adding a radius using the “CNC lathe file” technique. Connor, Chris and others started the conveyor middle hex shafts and conveyor bottom standoffs. Many other students cut stock material to rough lengths on the horizontal bandsaw throughout the day to keep the lathes and CNC supplied. Pat made the two different shooter shafts on the newly-functioning Monarch lathe, while Cory manufactured square plugs on the CNC to be inserted and welded into the square tubes that span the width of the intake.

An issue was discovered with the VEX ½” and ⅜” hex shafts received near the start of build season; many of them are visibly crooked, which is causing runout on the machined parts. E-mails exchanged about the issue with the President of VEX Robotics led to the conclusion that this was possibly an isolated incident due to the way the shafts were shipped (in a flat package instead of a round tube). More shafts are already incoming from VEX and the existing ones can be sent back for exchange.


Although not all the parts that will be used in the competition gearboxes have been received yet (a few anodized gears are still missing), a few gearboxes were partially or fully assembled using substitute parts. It was discovered that the CIM output shaft spacers already made were not long enough as the WCP pinions do not have hubs like the steel pinions used in previous years, so new spacers were made.

New wheels have not been made yet, but as they will be the same size (3.5”) as last year, new tread was riveted to old wheels and they were installed in the practice robot to enable it to run. Once two gearboxes were assembled, they were installed into the practice robot and chain was run from them to the wheel shafts.


Not much wiring work was done on the competition robot as some parts (new cRIO, ribbon cables) are still missing, but enough was done on the practice robot to enable it to run. The ribbon cable going between the digital sidecar and the cRIO was added, and power was run to the analog breakout. Additionally, to enable testing, a D-Link radio and 12V-5V converter were hacked on (but will likely be moved to different locations later). Nagy and Francisco also crimped and soldered terminals to all the CIM motors.

Human player training

The team received a visit today from Matt Pasienski, who works at one of the team’s sponsors, Ooyala, and has coached Ultimate Frisbee at the national college level in addition to holding a PhD in Physics. He spent time with the primary and backup human players, Aaron and Nagy, and helped them refine their hammer-throwing technique.

Robot driving


As the pneumatics are not yet plumbed or wired, the shifters were locked into high gear with a couple of zip-ties each. After a few false starts (the cRIO was wired to a 12V power source instead of the 24V, the analog breakout wasn’t receiving power properly, and the joystick trim tabs weren’t centered), the programming team quickly got the drivetrain running with the robot in its stand on top of a table. After calibrating the Talons, the robot was put down on the field at about 11:15pm and taken for a test drive by Abhi and a few others.

The drivetrain seemed very quick and responsive, and the improved linearity provided by the Talons was very noticeable. However, as the robot is currently far lighter than it eventually will be, today’s testing isn’t an effective indicator of its handling once complete. Tests were conducted with a radar gun to attempt to determine the top speed, but they were inconclusive (the gun reported 25 mph, which is too high to be correct).

Action items

  • Complete manufacturing conveyor middle roller shafts and bottom standoffs

  • Cut all aluminum tubing needed to be sent out for superstructure/subsystem welding on Monday

  • Make drawing for superstructure plugs and machine them on the manual mill

  • Begin driver drills with the practice robot

  • Wire and plumb pneumatics on both robots

  • Continue competition robot wiring

  • build

Lab closing time: 2:00am

Build Season Recipes: Week 3

The nutritional benefits from the intake of these brownies helped us finalize our intake geometry over the weekend.

Non-Strategy Brownies

  • 1 cup butter, melted

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1 cup brown sugar

  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder

  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 3 eggs

  • 1 cup flour

  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

Mix melted butter, sugars and cocoa. Add vanilla and eggs; beat. Add flour and baking powder and mix well. Pour into a greased 9"x13" pan and bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out with fudgey crumbs. Best enjoyed served warm with vanilla ice cream.

Build Season Recipes: Week 2

These award-winning cookies fuelled our continued designing, prototyping and drivetrain-manufacturing activities this past weekend.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1/2 cup butter

  • 1/2 cup Crisco

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 2 eggs

  • 2 1/2 cups flour

  • 1 tsp. baking soda

  • 1/4 tsp. salt

  • 1 handful rolled oats

  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Cream shortening and sugar. Add vanilla and eggs; beat. Add flour, baking soda and salt and mix well. Add oats and chocolate chips, stirring slowly. Drop 1" balls onto a cookie sheet and press flat with a fork. Bake at 350°F for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown.

Build Season Recipes: Week 1

This is the second post, of a series of posts, related to the delicious baked goods eaten at the lab. We love baked goods and yummy foods. In response to this, we will be posting the recipes of some of the treats brought to the lab. The second recipe is a delicious (and questionably nutritious) way to start off the season.

This delectable cake is specially formulated to enhance the prototype-making areas of the brain, so that's what we snacked on this past weekend.

Chocolate Chip Cake

  • 1 cup butter

  • 1 1/4 cup sugar

  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 3 eggs

  • 3 cups flour

  • 2 tsp. baking powder

  • 1 cup chocolate chips

  • 1 cup milk

Cream butter and sugar. Add vanilla and eggs; beat. Add flour and baking powder and mix well. Add chocolate chips and milk, stirring slowly. Bake at 350°F in a large circular (cheesecake) pan or a 13"x9" rectangular pan for 35-40 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Part Management System

To help manage the robot parts in CAD and their manufacturing status, there is a new web-based part management system located at This system assigns official part numbers, stores information about parts and the materials required to make them, and shows the current manufacturing status of each part.

Parts currently in the manufacturing pipelineParts currently in the manufacturing pipeline

Build Season Recipes: Week 0

I received a couple of requests for the cookie recipe from Kickoff weekend, so I'll just post it here on the build blog. Stay tuned for future weekly deliciousness and nutritiousness!

Double Chocolate Cookies

  • 1 cup butter

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 1 egg

  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder

  • 2 tbsp. milk

  • 1 3/4 cups flour

  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda

  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips

Cream butter, sugars and vanilla extract. Add egg, milk and cocoa; beat. Add flour and baking soda and mix just until blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop on cookie sheet and bake at 350°F for 12 minutes.