When most people think of robots, they think of teenagers sitting at desks programming code for hours, or workers assembling the bits of metal that make up the structure. One of the most important positions, but constantly overlooked, is the electrical team. They create the link between the lines of code and the metal, enabling the robot to move and perform tasks.
This year, we at Team 3673 chose not to incorporate pneumatics into our robot, hoping to avoid last years weight fiasco (we were 12 pounds over the limit the night of bag and tag). Currently, our electrical team is currently engaged in creating and formulating our electrical board.
This year, we made our job easier and built a board that could be unhooked and allowed to slide out of the robot. This change is a huge improvement over previous years. In other robots, the board was directly installed inside the robot and immovable. The problem that this presented was that the electrical team would be forced to work at the same time the build team was trying to work.
Austin C. is a freshman and is one of the key members of our electrical team. It helps that he grew up working with electronics and construction. While electronics might stymie an average student, Austin excelled at his job. “I redesigned the entire electrical board with ease” he said. Austin is only a freshman, which means Team 3673 will have a qualified builder and electrical worker for several years.
While our Mechanical team has been busy tinkering away in the halls, the Electrical team was at work wiring in the classroom. For most of the past two weeks, Sarah W., Vince B. and Ryan B. have been struggling with the driver station and the D-link connection. Team 2542 will not be using any pneumatic systems this season. There were only a few instances where the proper sized wires were not used on accident, but with the help from mentor Tim K. from ON Semiconductor, rules were clarified and the problem was resolved. The only challenge that the Electrical team faced, according to Ryan B., was the driver station. The problem was that the team had forgotten to add our team number in, which resulted in not being able to communicate with the robot. Besides that, there has not been any problems at all, according to Sarah and Vince. Everything else, from the coding to motor controls, have been going quite smoothly. As Ryan mentioned earlier, as soon as the team number was entered, the code and motors worked perfectly and in sync. Mentor Tim has been quite helpful by troubleshooting the D-link connection and reviewing the rules of the game while keeping them on track.
We are on week 4 now and we’ve finished wiring a Hall Effect sensor which will be able to sense whenever a wheel has made a full rotation. We’re also in the process of figuring out what type of system to tie down the robot’s wiring that will be the most efficient this year because we want to avoid using zip ties wherever possible. We’ve created wires that are in the process of being put on the drive base at the moment, which will connect the Jaguars through the CamBus connection instead of the five-pin connection. The blinky lights are being designed as well, though they are still in the thought process at this point. The pneumatics are coming together well. The team may have went a little over board with the amount of air tanks on the prototype, but finding all the leaks was the fun part. Overall the electrical team is doing well.
There are a lot of things that go into building a robot; creativity, passion, teamwork, build teams, programmers, CAD people, electrical, and pneumatics people. These are all essential to a good build season, and a good robot. But just for a short while I’d like to shine some light on the electrically talented people as well as the pneumatics fanatics.
The electronics team must have the patience of a saint for the electronics board must have been redesigned at least five different times. It seems as soon as we have a lay out that looks like it will work, the mentors tell us otherwise. I feel their pain when I see the frustrated faces and the sighs of defeat as they start sketching up a whole new idea.
Now the pneumatics team is quite interesting, I see them playing with all sorts of colored tubes. Trying to find ways the attach gauges and all sorts of other things in the smallest of places must be painstakingly difficult. I remember helping them make a sketch to scale of the entire robot just to figure out how put three cylinders in an eight inch space. Trust me it takes a lot of rearranging to make things work.
Like I said our team is full of amazing people (mentors included) many I admire. And I hope to see this team work hard up until the last day possible. So thank you to everyone. And for this week that thank you goes mostly to the electronics, and pneumatics people.