114
| FIRST Robots
IMPROVING ON
PAST DESIGNS
Every year, FIRST teams are challenged to create a robot
completely different from any created for previous competi-
tion. This variance in games levels the playing field for new
and experienced teams as everyone faces a new challenge.
Team
384, from Richmond, Virginia, has seven years of
FIRST history and a record of incorporating improvements
from each year’s competition. The team members name their
robots in succession as a reminder of the team’s progress
each year. Their
2006 robot, Sparky 7.0, is testimony to the
continuous learning process practiced by the team.
IGNITING AN
INTEREST IN
ENGINEERING
WITH SPARKY
7.0
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TEAM 384
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Industrial Design Award
|
Team 384 designed a robot that was
competitive in multiple aspects of the
game, from autonomous operation to
defensive and offensive strategy. The
team’s broad range of strengths
allowed to pursue a scoring method
that complemented its alliance partners.
Throughout the competition, the team
demonstrated that the best route to
success was through teamwork.
Determining the Impact
of the Center of Gravity
One quality of Team 384 was its reliance
on calculations to estimate the robot’s
performance. Such calculations, similar
to those used in commercial engineer-
ing, aided the design process by estab-
lishing limits and identifying possible
errors before they occurred.
Design parameters can often be
established based on estimates. Team
384 estimated the location of the
robot’s center of gravity (from a calcu-
lation) to determine how the robot
would respond when mounting the
ramp. If the center of gravity was too
high, the robot would tip when climb-
ing the ramp.
A graphical method was used to
examine the how the center of gravity
impacted the robot’s ability to climb the
ramp. The robot and ramp were drawn
to scale, and the location of the center
of gravity on the robot’s footprint was
estimated. A weight vector was then
drawn from different heights above the
center of gravity.
When on the ramp, the weight vector
had to stay within the footprint of the
robot to prevent tipping. As soon as the
vector pointed out of the footprint, the
robot would tip. Using this technique,
the team estimated the maximum
height of the center of gravity. By keep-
ing the robot’s center of gravity below
this height, the team could construct a
robot stable enough to climb the ramp
without toppling over, thus safely scor-
ing the extra points awarded to robots
on the ramp at the end of each match.
An efficient robot design is the result of
learning from past robots. Team 384’s robot
is a result of team growth.
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| FIRST Robots
Improving the Drive Train
Incrementally improving designs was
another defining attribute of Team 384.
The team relied on its past experience
for initial concepts and modified those
designs to meet the specific challenges
of the 2006 competition, as with the
chassis and drive train.
The chassis for Sparky 7.0 was con-
structed from aluminum, as was Sparky
6.0, but with angles cut out of each cor-
ner brace. These angles prevented
interference between the chassis’ bot-
tom edge and the ramp. The frame was
designed to accommodate other robot
systems that could be easily bolted on
and still fit within the machine’s allow-
able footprint.
Detailed drawings help the team build an
aluminum frame with angled edges to account
for the angle of the ramp. All other robot compo-
nents are attached to this frame.
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