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MODIFYING
A DESIGN
TO REACH
PERFECTION
The final version of a FIRST robot does not always resemble
the original plans. In fact, it is actually rare that the final robot
exactly resembles the original design. Changes must be
accommodated as more is learned about physical, material,
feasibility, and programming restraints. A lot of new informa-
tion is gathered throughout the build process, and designs
need to adapt to modifications and changes.
Design changes require the team’s constant attention. Every
member can contribute creative ideas that improve the design.
With the motto “Student Designed, Student Built, Mentor
Approved,” Team
1510 from Beaverton, Oregon, stated their
preference for student participation in the process.
The hands-on experience of building a robot requires that
the students persist through the entire process, including all
changes and modifications that led to the end product.
EVOLUTION
AND
ADAPTABILITY
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TEAM 1510
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Initial Designs and Initial
Discoveries
Team 1510s original design for the
robot included standard features found
on many robots: a chassis and drive
train for mobility, a ball gatherer to col-
lect balls off the playing field floor, a tur-
ret-mounted shooting mechanism to
score in the high goal, a hopper to store
balls, and an electronics and control
system to integrate each device. Once
each component had been defined and
planned, prototyping commenced, and
three-dimensional computer models
were created.
The first two mechanisms designed
and constructed were the shooting and
gathering systems, deemed most
important for the robot’s success. When
the final parts of these systems were
dimensioned, the team realized its origi-
nal plans for the ball-storage system
would have to be modified, as the
space for such a component was very
limited. A new system would need to
take up less space, as well as be
simpler and lightweight.
Several ideas were originally consid-
ered to collect the balls off the playing
field floor. Some of the suggested ideas
were a ridged conveyor belt, a front ball
catcher using a wedge ramp, and a
dual conveyor belt to squeeze the balls
from each side. To store the balls,
external baskets, cloth bags, and verti-
cal tubes were proposed.
When they discovered there would
be limited room to incorporate a full-
hopper structure, the team had to
return to the drawing board. A mecha-
nism was needed to unite the ball gath-
erer and the shooter. The physical
restraints of the systems left only 9
inches (22.9 cm) between the ball gath-
erer and the ball shooter. The new col-
lector would have to include the turret-
mounted shooter, be able to load balls
into the shooter, regardless of the posi-
tion of the turret, and not cause the
balls to jam.
Some designs presented for the collection
of balls were a cranberry conveyor belt, a front
ball catcher with a wedge ramp, and a front
ball gatherer.
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| FIRST Robots
Designing a New
Solution
The final composite ball-manipulation
device resulted from a simple re-design
that incorporated all of the newfound
constraints. The resulting ball gatherer
served the dual purpose of gathering
and storing balls. The gatherer was built
to extend nearly the entire allowed width
of the robot, permitting maximum room
for ball storage. A front roller was
designed and machined from
PVC pipe
that pulled balls from the floor onto a
small flexible ramp.
A wide, front gatherer maximized the number
of balls that could be collected off the playing
field floor.
A sketch of the front roller was used to
machine the device out of PVC pipe. The rotation
of this roller pulled balls into the robot with the
help of a small ramp.
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transported
After exiting the conveyor belt, the balls were guided by a curved fender into a semi-circular bin
which channeled them into the shooting mechanism.
A drawing of the wide conveyor belt that
transported balls to the top of the robot shows
the front roller and ramp at the bottom.
The transported balls were pulled up the
robot and were sandwiched between the moving
conveyor belt and a clear polycarbonate sheet.
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