Save the date, June 26! Our recruitment afternoon is coming up and we need people like you to join our team! Join us to find out more about the team, the robot, and learn about our robot’s capabilities in a demonstration! Scan the QR code or go to www.4774recruits.eventbrite.com.au to let us know you are coming.
Have a look at the flyer to learn more about the recruitment afternoon below!
The Drop Bears competed at the Hawaii Regional during 31st March to 2nd April, and it was a blast! The team arrived a day early, spending a relaxing day at the beach and then prepped for the amazing day ahead! The crate was opened, and the pits were set up waiting for the team’s arrival on Wednesday. We set up in the Eagles Pit, a separate area for teams who have earned an award or won at a previous regional. Having won the Controls Award in Sydney, we had the honour to be placed in that pit. A meeting was held in the evening, and we were ready with a plan for the first day.
Thursday was practice match day, and we were able to participate in several matches for the driver to gain the most experience. The swerve modules were removed as additional allowance in Sydney, and were greatly enhanced. These improved modules were fit back onto S. Baldrick in the morning, and functioned without fault, unlike the issues we had at the Sydney Regional. The only modification that was made on the robot was the reinforcement of the Defence Defeaters, after they were damaged from a match.
Friday marked the start of the Qualification matches, and the Drop Bears were the ones to beat! We were ranked near the middle during the start of the matches, but soon enough we rose toward the top of the leader board and were in the top 10. During the matches, Software consistently made developments to the autonomous routine and auto-alignment system throughout the day. Thanks to all the practice on Thursday, we reached a top rank of 2nd! We remained near rank 4 until the rest of the evening. That day we came back to the hotel with our heads held high.
The final day was the most exciting of all! The Drops Bears managed to end the qualification matches at rank 5 and had a Win Loss ratio of 9-3. During Alliance Selections, we became Alliance Captains. We picked the teams 2090 – Buff ‘n Blue and 3008 – Team Magma to join our alliance. The Alliance fought hard, but were overcome by the opponent and we were knocked out of the quarterfinals on our second match. Being a team from overseas, we weren’t going to leave without leaving our mark, and we did so at the regional. Our trusty driver Nathan Brown brought a tube of Vegemite to share with the Americans. We gave them some Vegemite and crackers, and we filmed their reactions on camera. Watch the Vegemite Challenge video below!
The team ended the trip with a relaxing dinner out, and came back home feeling proud, and filled with pride. We hope to have another successful season next year and when it comes, we will be prepared with another smashing robot!
Watch our quick video of the Hawaii Regional below:
From the 17th until the 19th of March the Drop Bears competed in the FRC Sydney Regional. Thursday was all about testing, debugging and driver training. We started out by setting up the pits so we could work on our robot. Then the robot signage was put up by the mechanical section, so everyone could see who our wonderful sponsors are. The software section got to try out their code on a real field for the first time, allowing them to tune vision code and improve the driving experience. The drivers played some practice matches, giving them some experience handling and controlling the robot when in the high stress and low visibility environment in the driver station.
Friday was the first day of the qualification matches. We had some trouble with the swerve modules due to some design flaws from the manufacturing, but once fixed they worked to our needs. Software continued to tune their autonomous code, and on Friday we got close to an autonomous goal… We were one of the few teams in the regional that was able to reliably score goals into the high goal. By the end of Friday, we had 3 wins and 3 losses
Saturday was when things really heated up. In spite of some major problems with the swerve drives, the Drop Bears managed to notch up a couple more wins before alliance selections at noon. We were selected as the first pick on the Team 4537 – the RoboRoos. Though we were eliminated in our second match of eliminations with our alliance, we managed to score our first autonomous goal – a great advantage going into the Hawaii regional. You can see footage of it here:
During the awards ceremony, the Drop Bears took home a major engineering award. The award “…Celebrates an innovative control system or application of control components – electrical, mechanical or software – to provide unique machine functions.” It was awarded to us for our use of a swerve drive – we were one of the only teams at the competition that had the ability to move in all directions – as well as for our autonomous routine, which makes use of some intelligent software that not only gets us points in autonomous but assists the driver with lining up their shots during the teleoperated period.
This year’s build season was the best yet! The night before kick-off many members of the team stayed up until 2 am to watch the unveil video. Everyone was super hyped as the team watched it together the next day. Immediately we all jumped into brainstorming possible strategies to overcome the challenging course. We agreed on a robot that can climb the tower, shoot into the high goals with accuracy, traverse the low bar and defence category A (Cheval de Frise and Portcullis) We then began to come up with possible designs and we agreed on having a “U” shaped chassis with an intake. After brainstorming several ideas and after a few prototypes we settled on a ramp and flywheel design that will allow us to shoot straight upwards from the bottom of the tower. The CAD designing process was started, and as soon as that was finished, we started building. Firstly the chassis was made, then we worked on the shooter. It took a while to fine tune the shooter but we got there in the end.
We used our newly built field elements and defences to test out the robot’s drive base and shooting mechanism. Once software had written their vision tracking code we used it on the robot to align and shoot into the goal with almost 100% accuracy. During Week 5 & 6. the robot was tested at a practice field kindly built by Barker College and their Team 4613 Redbacks. We did some driver training and fine tuned some of the mechanisms so they functioned perfectly. Later back at Sydney Uni we installed an additional mechanism to defeat the defence category A. On the last day, we had a vote on a name for our robot and the results were unanimous. This year we would like to introduce S.Baldrick, our proud new robot!
Week Six was all about software development, testing and tuning. We started off by tuning the heading hold PID loop, allowing the driver to set the robot to turn to a precise orientation relative to the field with minimal effort, and to hold its heading while driving. Then we tuned the vision closed loop controller, meaning that the robot uses a camera in order to track “retroreflective” targets on the goal while shining a bright green light on it. This lets the robot strafe to the correct lateral position relative to the goal. To get to the correct range, we use a closed loop controller on a LIDAR range finder.
Combined, these two sensors and their PID controllers provided a way for the driver to quickly and easily align the robot with the goal in the heat of the match. We additionally tuned the intake software which lets the robot detect when it has touched a ball and automatically jams it into the intake, ready to be fired.
Mechanically, the defence defeaters were finished, allowing the robot to traverse Category C of the defences- the Portcullis and Cheval de Frise. In addition, the mechanical team worked to iron out the robot’s final mechanical glitches, so that we do not have any problems at the regional. These mechanical fixes, combined with the automatic alignment, and well tuned control software, will allow our robot to be competitive in the Sydney and Hawaii regionals.
By Arthur Allshire
Watch the crazy conclusion to our build season in our last Vlog!
Week 5 saw the installation of the major mechanical systems, the intake and shooter. After being designed in CAD and then assembled separate from the bot it was relatively easy to fit these modular systems. The distance between the intake and shooter had to to tweaked and tuned to provide optimum performance. After that is was down to testing and tuning the systems code to ensure reliability and find any mechanical faults. The intake roller is able to detect whether it has a boulder by reading the load spike on the motor controller. It then back drives a set number of encoder counts to secure the ball in place. While elegant, this solution required a great deal of tuning to run reliably. The PID loop on the shooter was refined to ensure the flywheel reached the correct speed as quickly as possible. A small contingent went to Barker College to test the robot out on there half field. This was a great opportunity to gain sensor data for the vision tracking and range finder. These systems are used to create the autonomous functions of the robot. We would like to thank Team 4613 The Barker Redbacks for there hospitality. The Robot is now in fighting form ready for Week 6.
Week 4 of build season has been one of our busiest yet. The team finalized prototypes and started to develop the final game piece mechanisms. This was also the second week back at school, so the teams working hours were shorter, but we managed to get a lot done.
The mechanisms that were ready to be made were the intake and the shooting system. Before this, of course, CAD drawings needed to be made. This was the usual tedious process, but it was worth doing a proper job, so that the build phase would be easier. As soon as the drawings were finished the pieces started to be built.
After a few minor setbacks, the team was on a roll and was working well. These parts are not completely finished, but the team has made a lot of progress and are proud of the current results.
In terms of software, we encountered problems with the encoders on the swerve modules, so a lot of time was spent refining that. The Open CV (autonomous vision tracking) code that was written in the previous week was being edited and tweaked so that everything worked smoothly. This was essential for the robot to be able to shoot goals accurately.
Overall, this was another productive week for the Drop Bears and we are all excited to be seeing the robot come together.
The third week of the 2016 build season has been the most intense so far. With school going back, we have less time to focus on the robot. Our goals for this week included the completion of the vision tracking code, as well as having a functioning drive base and game piece. Prototyping for the shooter mechanism went very well, with several solutions being designed and tested, such as pneumatics, although the most successful was by far a flywheel style shooter. In addition to this, our drive base was completed to perfection, and the swerve modules reattached. The vision tracking system was completed and tested and the robot chassis can follow a target at a set distance. This is the first time the team has put vision tracking on a robot, and it will make the robot incredibly efficient during a competition.
At the close of the week, the team has had to overcome many obstacles, such as prototypes not working as planned, bugs in the code, and the return to school, but it was done with skill, and in the end, we achieved our goals. With three weeks down, and three weeks to go, we are starting to feel the pressure, but despite this, we are on track to produce one of our best robots yet!