Accident Prone: Team Members’ Updates

As we progress into the design stage of our robot, new members have had a great opportunity in learning new things and took a part in designing parts of the robot. Here are their thoughts about our team thus far!

This semester in iRobotics I learned a lot about the practical applications and design challenges that come with using pneumatics in a robot. I am a part of the Sophomore Combotics team’s weapons division, and am working on a robot that will use a pneumatic flipper as its weapon. When working on the initial conceptualizing and designing of the weapon we had to consider lots of different factors that would affect where we placed our piston, how we oriented the piston, what size and pressure piston we used, and what mechanism we used to refill the piston. We have not fully finalized all of these individual details but I have still learned a lot in the process of thinking about these issues. For example, I learned about how the basic system of using a pneumatic piston works. We are using a single acting piston to propel our flipper. It will use a fraction of the compressed air stored in the tank to propel the flipper arm with plenty of force, and then return it back to its resting position using a spring. We have had to consider the optimal angle between the piston and the flipper arm in order to not only generate the amount of force we need, but to ensure that force is in the proper direction. A main goal of ours is to flip other robots of the side of the arena. We at one time had a potential sketch that would have had most of the force flipping other robots upward. Our actual design not only has the flipper arm angled more steeply, but also has the piston applying the force more outwards than up. In addition to learning about the set up of pistons, I have also learned about how pistons work. Each match our piston will dispel most of the compressed air stored inside of it. We then need to be able to refill the piston in between each match with compressed air at the same psi for the next match. The two ways to do this we have considered are either using a pressurized air tank to refill the piston, or a hand pump that would compress the air in. The former method is much more efficient, however it will cost more money. The second method would save money but take up lots of time and physical effort. We will likely resort to using a tank, but learning about the different methods was interesting to me. In conclusion, this semester I have learned a lot about all of the different considerations that engineers need to be aware of when using pneumatics.

This was my first year joining a Combots team so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I didn’t really have much prior experience in robotics so it was a little daunting to join in on the meetings not having much knowledge on what the people were talking about. However, everyone on the Sophomore Combots team was super chill and they taught me a lot so I picked up things pretty quickly. It was cool learning every step that comes to designing a quality robot. As a member of the controls team, I was responsible for helping plan out all of the components that were used to control the robot. We used SolidWorks to design all of the parts and visualize the layout of the components inside the chassis to make sure everything would fit properly. I never thought about all of the things required to allow the robot to run. I learned Inventor before so I was able to get the hang of SolidWorks pretty quickly. There are some variations between the two softwares like the UI, but they are pretty similar for the most part. I still prefer Inventor, but it’s useful to know more skills. I helped design a pulley that will be used for the motor and wheels. The purpose of the pulley is to adjust the speed of the wheel so it’s at a manageable speed for the driver of the robot and to reduce the stress on the motor. By using a pulley, the force that gets applied to the wheel and motor gets redirected into the pulley we designed so it does less damage on the motor which means the motor will last longer and will be stronger.

I learned a lot in my time on Combots this semester. I learned a lot about robot design for Combots and how different it can be from the experience I have with MRDC and FRC. One big difference was building a robot that was built rugged and would be dealing with a lot of wear and tear. In FRC there is minimal contact but in Combots we obviously had to take into account the different physical interactions between our robot and other competitors and decide on the design and metal to use. Overall, my first semester on Combots has been a great experience and I look forward to finalising the design, building our robot, and competing next semester.