Frame Finished

Week 5 of FRC ’14 is over, and here’s a quick breakdown of it.

Things are whipping into a frenzy here at the shop as the clock continues to tick. The skeleton for our robot is finished now, and if there’s a robot out there that can break this frame, they’re going to win. With that done, we made good progress on getting our bumpers ready. And, lastly, we’ve also started to become more active on social media, including both Facebook and Google+, the former of which we got set up just today.

Only nine more days left…expect the all-nighters to get here soon!

Frame

The frame is pretty much finished and we’re in the midst of designing and laying out its interior. The electronics have been done for awhile now and, until today, sat on their breadboard in the back of the shop. With the frame complete, we can begin to arrange various elements of the system to fit inside.

Getting everything to fit is going to be a little tricky since we have to make room for the swinging shooter arm. The battery is going to sit in one side of the robot, with the C-RIO and a couple other components in the other side to balance it out. Most of the other electronics are flat enough that we can spread them out along the base of the robot where the arm will swing down and just barely miss them.

Bumpers

With the frame mostly finished, a few team members have begun to work on the bumpers. As most veterans know, bumpers are simply a couple pool noodles that are wrapped in a cloth (the color of which corresponds to your alliance) and attached to the side of the robot. They help to absorb any impact the robot makes with other robots.

Bumpers are a fairly new addition to FRC; they were first introduced in FRC ’10, I believe. They’ve been one of the more controversial additions to FRC, and for a number of reasons.

Some teams like the addition of bumpers because it allows them to expend more time and energy toward creating a robot with better mechanisms–catapults, cannons, and the like. Any hits taken during a match won’t be quite as hard as they were pre-’10. It also means that all the hard work a team puts into a season is a lot less likely to be destroyed.

Other teams (usually teams like us) really dislike bumpers because they think that the bumpers allow teams to skimp on what is arguably the most important part of every robot: the frame. A robot without a strong framework is much more likely to get broken than a robot that has a solid framework.

Personally, I stand in the middle. I can see why a lot of teams like bumpers, but I can also understand the frustrations of the anti-bumpers groups. Bumpers have both advantages and disadvantages, but how you interpret them depends entirely on how you want to build your robot.

Getting social

Our Facebook page has finally been updated! We’ve been on two of the larger social networks for awhile now (Facebook and Google+), but we’ve never really done anything with them.

A couple weeks back, we managed to get our G+ page working. Now, today, we’ve managed to get our Facebook page up and running. And we’ve actually been posting stuff; over the past two weeks, we’ve uploaded over 50 photos.

Our Facebook page
Our Facebook page — updated for the first time in months

For me personally, it’s frustrating when a page is rarely updated or never used by its owners. From a person’s perspective, it shows that the page managers aren’t interested in sharing to people on that platform. If you ever need to create a page on a social network, be sure to update it often lest its frequenters get bored and leave.

Not only is social media practically required to spread the word about your identity, it’s also a blast to simply have fun with, as long as you’re careful. For most of the time we were working today, we had one student who had a camera on him at all times, taking photos of what the rest of the team was doing. A lot of these photos will probably never make it to our social pages, but we can still use them for things like our scrapbooks.

Of course, when you’re on social media, you really need to be careful with what you say. One bad thing will stain that brand image that you’ve spent months on to build up. So just be really cautious when you work with social networks.

That’s it for today! Keep an eye on the blog, as we will doubtless be posting another update mid-week as things come together.