Lessons learned – Komplete Kaos’s FRC 2017 season

KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid!

Your design doesn’t need to be complicated, simple designs are easier to maintain and fix. Creating and building a simple but highly effective, well build design is harder than it seems but is better than a complicated and poorly built design. When your robot breaks during comp (it will), a simple robot is much easier to fix than a complicated one. Simple and smart over complicated. 

Learn CAD and use it

We created parts of our robot using CAD software to design custom parts of our robot. This was essential in manufacturing our custom parts and was integral in us being a competitive robot. We didn’t custom make everything on our robot but it certainly helped us to compete at the level we did.

Be ambitious

As a rookie team we were not seen as a competitive robot at our regionals and the championship. We needed to learn to become independent as we became a competitive robot and ended up coming 4th at one of our regionals. As a team we had to be ambitious as we went into the finals.

Display gracious professionalism always – there will be many curve balls

As many teams do, we faced challenges at the competitions and difficult calls made by referees. A controversial call was made against us however we had to get up and keep going, as a team and an alliance at our regional we accepted the call the head referee made. The way we handled ourselves earned us much praise and respect from teams, volunteers and mentors at our regionals.

Get sponsors

It may sound silly, but talk to everyone you know about FRC; someone will help. Most of our sponsors came from personal contacts; for example my sister’s best friend’s dad that has a plastic manufacturing company – everything helps!

Dedication

FRC takes a lot of time and some money! You need to be prepared for some late nights and intense weekends, particularly if you have a small team like ours.

Be open and direct

Learning to communicate effectively is one of the big life skills that everyone should know. Communication is vital both within your team and externally. You need to be prepared for judges, sponsors and teammates to ask you question you hadn’t even thought of. Within your team it is vital to have important communication to ensure that everyone is on the right page and there are no miscommunication (which we have definitely had).

Repetitive prototyping

This was a really important skill; learning how to have an idea, create the basics for it, test and then improve. It was how we developed our climber and gear intake. We need to test all of our ideas fast; “Fail fast in order to succeed sooner.”

Get your finances sorted as early as you can

As a team we spent what seemed like ages going round and round on finances. Eventually we didn’t come up with a system and we are still working things out. It would have been better if we had put the time into developing a better financial plan to make it smoother going into the intensive build season.

Mechanical, software and other build skills

We learnt how to build and program a robot for the competition. This involved learning to code various different things, from the basic getting started project to vision tracking and use of sensors. We also learn about forces, torque and motor loads, and how to work out the right motors and materials to use for different components and modules of the robot.  

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FIRST CHAMPIONSHIP HOUSTON

Komplete Koas Inc. FRC competed at the FIRST Championship in Houston and had an awesome time. We competed in the Galileo division and after some tough matches we ended up being the first picked by 4537 (RoboRoos) on the seventh seed alliance. Our alliance partners were 3005 (RoboChargers) and 4499 (The Highlanders). Once again we would like to thank our sponsors for helping us get here. A huge congratulation goes to team 3132 (Thunder Down Under) who won the Chairman’s Award. This is the most prestigious award in FIRST and 3132 are hugely deserving. 3132 continues to expand FIRST across Australia and the world. They have done an incredible job to be where they are, we hope to be seeing them for many years to come.

Southern Cross and South Pacific Regional

SOUTH PACIFIC REGIONAL (16-18 MARCH)

This regional was also a success as we met more people, had just as much fun, and also won two awards, the Highest Rookie seed (4th seed) and the Safety star of the day (Jonah). As the fourth alliance captains, we picked 5087 (Marsden Ramjets) and 5988 (Roborebels) to join our alliance.

SOUTHERN CROSS REGIONAL (13-15 MARCH)

The team was very successful and came out from the regionals with the highest rookie seed award and the rookie all star award and the pit safety award, qualifying the team for the FIRST Championships in Houston from the 19-22 April 2017. The team did very well, ranking 8th overall and being picked into the third seed alliance by team 5985 (Project Bucephalus) and third pick 6525 (Ultimo TAFE).

HOUSTON!

We’re going to Houston! As we won the rookie all star award in the Southern Cross regional, we have been invited to compete at the World Championships in Houston, TX from 19-22 April 2017.

We have also gained the help of our three new amazing sponsors, Blackbird Ventures, Ford and AARNet. All of these wonderful sponsors have contributed greatly in assisting our team in competing overseas, as well as our other sponsors

BAG AND TAG

Today was bag and tag. We finished our final design with the assistance of the scrimmage to find the problems of our robot that we needed to fix. We also completed our two pairs of bumpers which we plan to bag with our robot. We also worked on finishing up the rest of our essays. TODAY WE ALSO HAD TWO BIRTHDAYS Josh’s and Nathan’s we celebrated by going out to have Thai food. 

Almost there!

Its getting super close to Bag and Tag day. Over the weekend we did alot of work on the robot, cleaning things up, polishing off and getting ready to bag our robot.

On Saturday we met and continued polishing off the different sub-systems. The gear sub-system was completed, we recieved the new climber frame and mounted it, the perferated sheet was cut and mounted meaning that the bumpers could be started and the fuel tray was completed!

We also prepared for the week 0 scrimmage hosted by Barker Redbacks (4613). This was the last full day of the build season we would have beacuse we had the scrimmage then school.

Early sunday morning the team drove up to Barker College ready and keen to see how our robot would cope with the rigours of competition. We arrived with good time and were very excited. After dropping our robot off at our ‘pit’ for the scrimmages we did a robot check and felt ready to have a practice run. We talked to the other teams and throughly enjoyed seeing all of the different approaches to the same challenges.

During the practice matches, while everyone was still making adjustments, we relised that our gear receiver was at the wrong angle. We must have made our one a different angle, we relised this just in time. With 30mins until our first scrimmage we made some adjustments to our gear system. Which involved putting tape of the eyes we had on the robot. Oops.

We continued on with the scrimmages without an issue and really enjoyed the opportunity to do some driver training, see the there robots and have some fun being the pilot. Only two whole days until bag and tag now.

Week 5 progress

A lot has happened this week to say the least, leading into the bag and tag sprint, particularly around the new production robot. Over the weekend, the production robot chassis and circuit board were completed to high standards, allowing the rest of the subsystems to progress throughout the following days.

Gear intake

Polycarb! A lot of work went into drawing up the final shapes of the different components in our passive gear system, including a backplate of 12mm polycarbonate, 10mm polycarb landings and bent sheet metal acting as guides for the gear to fall into the right place. One production subsystem down, the rest of the robot to go!

Fuel system

Similarly to the gear intake, the fuel system received a lot of attention from the people doing the CAD drawings to send off to the people at B.A & N Whipp plastics, who found us some good plastics to use as well as using their CNC routers to cut out some brilliant components for us. We now have a clear PVC fuel tray with our logo etched in, as well as a fuel flap with the team name in font, also etched. The final place for the limit switches and cams have been confirmed, as well as the snowblower motor position. Looking good from the fuel perspective!

Climber

A new frame built, and also a new frame concept design in progress, so the CAD team got to work and sent off files to our friends at TAFE Illawarra and All Source Aluminium to cut the plate out for us. Hopefully we receive this tomorrow to finalise the design for attaching the climber to the robot.

Code

Some major refactors happened throughout the week, with a new package being made for more effective organisation of code. This however did expose some issues in the code which were soon fixed. Joystick mapped, and code refactored for that also. The whole thing ended up being a huge refactor, then adding some new functions to the drivetrain, then another refactor. Also managed to expose an issue in the joystick, fix in progress.

Bumpers

We have a concept, a very good one, and hope to implement it as soon as possible. This requires the fuel posts to be mounted, the gear intake finished and the perforated sheet mounted (after being cut).

All in all, it has been a very productive week in lead up to the last weekend before bag and tag! We’ll be at the Barker Redbacks (#4613) scrimmage on Sunday, but we’ll keep posting.

Crunch Time

Its now the 2nd last weekend before build season and things are looking good. Now we are into the final few days of build before bag and tag and mother nature has turned up with the hottest couple of days we could have endured. Suffering through 40 degree days we decided to split our work days into the morning, before the sun fully comes up, and the night, when the sun starts going down.

Our current aim is to build the production robot. On friday after school we worked on the production chassi and finished that on saturday morning. Now we are working on creating our polished sub-systems.

-Nicola

Everything is coming together.

This weekend marked the end of our prototyping and we began manufacturing the production pieces. It was a very hot weekend however I think our team should be commended for their excellent perseverance while battling the 40 degree C heat (104 F). We still managed to get most of our goals completed.

By the end of the weekend we had most of our programming done and tested (YAY!). The code only now needs final iterations until it is competition ready. We finished our fuel system and we are sourcing the production materials this coming week. This weekend was a huge success in terms of our climber though, the production climber is started and we made great progress. Some mock bumpers were also made to test final distances.

It was very exciting to be driving round and testing all the systems together!

To escape the heat of the day, our team headed down to the beach to cool off. After that the team split up and worked on their separate parts during the week

-Theresa

Day 15 of Build Season

Because the team had a big discussion the day before every one knew what they where doing, so the team picked up the tools and started working.

The coding team was straight into the work experimenting with the code. By the end of the day they had made two working codes for two different robots allowing them to drive.

The climbing team built a base to mount the climbing mechanism firmly into the robot so that it could be tested while on a driving robot.

The electronics team started by planing out where they wanted to put the electronics once they were pleased with what they had draw up they put it together and attached it to the robot.

the fuel team started by drawing up their measurements  onto a long wide piece of wood. Then they started to cut out the markings they had drawn on the wood. They made supports to hold up the fuel tray. Finally they designed a flap to open and close so that the fuel can leave the fuel tray

At around three everyone went home for some rest but today was a very successful day with lots being done by the whole team.