Frame Assembly

With Week 4 of FRC ’14 drawing to a close, here’s a quick recap.

We’re two-thirds of the way through FRC ’14, and things are beginning to fall into place. Brandon’s original five-week deadline may be pushing too hard, but we’re going to have some serious stuff going on by the end of this week.

Weight

Last night (Sunday), we finished the frame for the front pair of wheels. As per our reputation, this thing is solid. You could hit it with a semi and it would survive. Only problem is that it’s also fairly heavy, as is our entire robot. Looks like we’re going to be drilling holes again at the competition this year.

In case you don’t know, we build robots that are rock-solid but weigh in at 120.049 pounds. (Only math nerds will get that joke.) Sometimes, we’re the first team to pass inspection. Last year, we passed inspection as officials shut down the facilities for the night. We had to remove a mechanism that picked up discs to get through!

We’re looking pretty good on our weight for this year, though. We’ve budgeted correctly and we’ve run into no major hiccups thus far.

Frame

The frame is coming together quickly. As I mentioned previously, we assembled the frame for the front pair of wheels on Saturday, and our welders are working on more frame parts as I write this.

Building a strong frame is critical for any robot, but it’s especially importantĀ in an FRC environment. One thing that a lot of people don’t anticipate is how much physical contact there is on the playing field. Bumpers (which are fairly new, actually) do help, but they can’t solve everything. If two robots hit each other head on, each going 7ft/sec, both will crumple unless they have strong frames.

And joints are another issue. The weakness of every design is at the joints. Smooth lines are strong and look nice; the joints are the key to success. Bolting pieces together works, but it’s pretty heavy and is somewhat liable to breaking. Welding is both lighter and stronger, though it requires some more expensive equipment and takes longer (and is harder to undo in case we make a mistake), but it really pays off in the end.

Brand image

I’m sitting next to Ethan and Noah right now, and they’re discussing how our driver station will look. With very loud words, too. It’s got to look cool, see? And that takes a lot of work…more than you’d think.

Blogging
Blogging has gotten a lot more important to us recently.

Brand image has become a lot more important to use over the past couple of weeks. We decided to start with our website. It’s got a cleaner, more modern look, and it looks better on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets as well. Smaller screens now fill our world, and websites need to adjust to fit that demand.

We’ve started to make better usage of social media as well. We’re actively sharing on Google+ and we’re working on getting a Facebook set up. For various reasons, we’ve elected to stay off of Twitter for this year…but there’s always next year. Instagram is also a viable option.

We’re also taking a lot more photos and videos to share them with our audience. After all, that’s what you guys want. You want to watch us as we build this awesome robot, right?

Several of my team members here are interested in how branding works. I’m considering making a separate post just for it; if I decide to do it, it’ll probably come out in a couple days.

That’s it for now! I need to get back to work on stuff. More photos coming, including some epic panoramas.