1. INTRODUCTION

Congratulations on the start of a new season with Team 2056. If you are back for another season, we hope you can go above and beyond the level you reached last year. If you are new to the team, welcome! We cannot wait to see what you have to offer and how we can help you grow.

This manual is a short guide to how Team 2056 works. It is not everything that you need to know, but it will teach you the essential concepts. By starting the build season with this knowledge you will be best prepared to contribute to the team. If you have any questions, just ask a senior member or a mentor!

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Team Manual

2. DESIGN PHILOSOPHY

Our design philosophy is in the DNA of every robot our team builds. They are the pillars, shown in Figure 1, upon which our team is built. Every time there is a design decision to be made these principles should echo in your head.

SIMPLICITY

pillar

ROBUSTNESS

pillar

QUALITY

pillar

Figure 1 – Fundamental design principles

The best robots in FIRST follow these basic, yet immensely challenging, rules. Here are examples of how each of them are applied:

SIMPLICITY: Instead of designing a shooter turret, simply rely on turning the robot using the drivetrain. Aim for the most basic, functional design.

ROBUSTNESS: Design the robot to withstand collisions and loads many times larger than what is normal. Aim for no repairs and low maintenance.

QUALITY: Design components thoroughly and build them as planned. Make the robot look and function professionally. Work with a sense of pride!

Each game challenges us to find the best solution that meets these requirements. These three main points will guide you through the remainder of the manual.

2.1. IDEAL ROBOT ATTRIBUTES

While the game changes every year, there are some attributes that are always a design priority for our team. These include:

STABLE: This means having a low center-of-gravity (CoG) so that the robot will not tip in a collision or while climbing over things. Weight should be as centred and close to the ground as possible.

STRONG AND AGILE: The robot should be able to get around the field as quickly as possible while still having the ability to push other robots or field elements. The robot should have the necessary traction and drivetrain gearing.

PRECISE: No matter what the design challenge is, the robot should function in a highly accurate and repeatable way. The robot should perform as designed, with precision.

VISUALLY ATTRACTIVE: A clean, well-finished robot will not only be easy to service but also be excellent to present to judges and function as our team’s image on the field. As with our fundamental principles, these attributes aren’t easy to achieve and require discipline in design.

2.2. HOW WE DESIGN

Each design session on Team 2056 has a similar style and follows our team culture. This culture requires intense thinking and dedication from students and mentors alike. Everyone has the responsibility to share his or her ideas and be active participants. Team members should respect all contributions and work to collectively raise our standard of excellence. The team roles in robot design fall into three general groups:

SENIOR STUDENTS: Team members with an exceptional amount of experience and activity on the team are expected bring their knowledge and leadership to the forefront. They should partner with less experienced students and encourage growth amongst the team.

JUNIOR STUDENTS: Team members who are newer to the team are expected to seek out opportunities to observe, learn, and begin to practice the skills of their senior counterparts. They should seek guidance and be unafraid to offer their ideas for consideration.

MENTORS: The mentors serve as teachers and advisors to the students. They share their engineering and operations experience in order to elevate student skills and guide the team in reaching its goals. In design meetings, we use brainstorming, discussion, and prototyping to help the team arrive at its final robot concept. When brainstorming components, students should offer all ideas and grow them collectively. Discussion and prototyping sessions will allow the team to narrow its choices and begin to prove the design of a select set of top design
candidates.

3. BUILD SEASON ROUTINES

Every build season consists of six weeks from the day that the game is announced until the day that we must stop work and bag and tag the robot. The team will work 20-40 hours a week on the robot – certainly not a light commitment! The members who attend these hours and work intensely will be rewarded with personal growth and additional responsibility. The build season’s weekly work breakdown generally follows the schedule in Table 1.

Table 1 – Build season weekly schedule

WEEK ACTIVITIES
1 - Game is released; study manual and analyze rules
- Design sessions and prototyping early in the week
- Deliver design choices and start building the field by end of week
2 - Complete mock field
- Start parts fabrication and continue any additional prototyping
- Initiate programming planning
3 - Examinations week; lighter schedule
- Continue parts fabrication and start planning electronics
- Begin receiving and processing parts from sponsors
4 - Assembly and wiring of practice robot; final parts fabrication
- Base code programming
- First test drive of practice robot by end of week
5 - Fully functioning practice robot; begin competition robot assembly
- Troubleshooting design and part iteration
- Autonomous programming begins
- Drive team practice
6 - Competition robot finished; matched to practice bot changes
- Autonomous programming continues
- Drive team practices; competition robot testing
- Bag and tag robot at end of week
7+ - Final programming refinements for autonomous
- Drive team practices and robot troubleshooting
- Fabrication of spare parts; iteration of designs
- Preparation of pit and scouting materials for event

These work plans are variable as the examination schedule, date of final design choices, and sponsor part turnaround can affect timing. In general, however, a successful season follows the basis of this schedule.

3.1. WORK DISTRIBUTION

During the build season, it is important that the sub-teams break down the task of creating the final robot. Members may belong to more than one team, but everyone should understand their role. All teams participate in the initial design phase. This requires good coordination and communication.

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3.1.1. MECHANICAL TEAM

During the build season, it is important that the sub-teams break down the task of creating the final robot. Members may belong to more than one team, but everyone should understand their role. All teams participate in the initial design phase. This requires good coordination and communication.

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3.1.2. ELECTRICAL TEAM

The electrical team implements the electronics, controls, and pneumatics systems for the robot. This includes wiring, troubleshooting communications and power, and maintenance of the robot. They must work closely with the programming team to coordinate system configuration and with the mechanical team to match changes.

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3.1.3. PROGRAMMING TEAM

This team designs the software and controls for the robot’s teleoperated and autonomous modes. This includes coding, driver interfacing, and troubleshooting – especially for autonomous programs. They must work closely with the electrical team for system configuration, seek feedback from the mechanical team on performance, and design the controls with the drive team.

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3.1.4. DRIVE TEAM

The drive team is responsible for learning to operate the robot at a high level and translating that into successful robot performances at events. It is their responsibility to give feedback to the engineering teams about the robot and test changes. They should know the robot inside and out.

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3.1.5. STRATEGY TEAM

The strategy team works alongside the engineering teams to ensure the robot design choices meet our game strategy. They also work to prepare scouting resources, study rule changes, and pre-scout the competition. Their communication is periodic with the engineering team.

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3.1.6. OPERATIONS TEAM

Operations team members play key roles on the team by taking on tasks such as finance, outreach, website design, awards, and team management. They must communicate with the other teams in a wide variety of ways and prepare the team to be successful on and off the field.

3.2. USE OF SHOPS

Power tools and machines may only be used in the presence of an adult supervisor. Students should not be in the shop rooms with the power enabled unless there is an adult present. For some machines a safety test is required. At the end of work sessions, the shops must be left cleaned and organized so that the next day’s classes do not notice our presence. It is recommended that you keep a spare set of clothes in your locker; it gets messy in the shops!

4. MECHANICAL DESIGN

Thoughtful mechanical design of our robot’s most critical parts directly affects how we drive and complete the other important tasks of the game. While the other systems of the robot are no less important to being functional, mechanical design helps to distinguish the good robots from the great robots.

4.1. DRIVETRAINS

The purpose of a drivetrain is to give the robot mobility; this is the most basic necessity in FRC. It allows us to move between the different areas of the field and accomplish the game’s challenges. Drivetrains define how well we can interact with both objects and other robots. They also define how we climb over things or manoeuvre around obstacles. The drivetrain must be durable and reliable. If it fails, the rest of robot is essentially useless. We must balance key attributes including speed, pushing force, and agility with our desire to be simple and robust.

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4.1.1. TYPES OF DRIVETRAINS

There are three categories of drivetrains that are most commonly found in FRC. These include:

TANK: This drivetrain, also called skid steer, is the most common in FRC; see Figure 2. The right and left sides of the robot are driven independently. By changing the direction of each side you can go in all directions. It is simple, cheap, and easy to program. Tank is also very easy to drive and can generally give the highest speed and/or pushing strength outputs found in FRC. It is slightly less agile than the other options, however this is balanced by its effectiveness in other areas. All Team 2056 robots have been tank drive, giving us considerable experience in working with this design.

tank

Figure 2 – Tank drivetrain

swerve

Figure 3 – Swerve drivetrain

SWERVE: This drivetrain, in Figure 3, uses independently powered wheels that can be rotated. Wheels drive forward and backward in unison and the wheel modules are rotated to move in each direction. It can have the same high speed and/or pushing power of the tank drive, but increases agility substantially. However, it is far more complex and expensive to design and requires much more weight to be dedicated to the drivetrain. Generally, it is also harder to control and maintain than tank drive. We have not previously experimented with this drivetrain.

MECANUM: This is a variation of tank drive that uses special “mecanum” wheels; see Figure 4. These wheels have small, diagonal rollers around the circumference that allow the robot to move in all directions. It does so by powering each wheel independently and in special combinations for each direction. While this improves upon the agility of tank drive, it is both expensive to design and hard to program and drive. There is also has very little pushing force and adds weight to the robot. This drivetrain adds mobility at the cost of power and speed. We have not previously used this drivetrain.

mecanum

Figure 4 – Mecanum drivetrain