No official meeting... but nothing stops the CAD. Parts of our design team gathered at IFI to start making this robot real.
At some point during the build season a terrible thing will happen. It is inevitable because of the way the Robowrangler process works. It may be sometime during week 2, or week 3... or maybe even week 4. At some point the entire team will be waiting for the designers...
"We're designing as fast as we can! I'm sorry it's not done yet... there's a lot of nonagons to draw!"
As someone who has been on the Robowrangler design team for years, I will personally attest how terrible this feeling can be. To prevent this, the design team adds some extra optional meetings throughout the season, starting as early as we can.
To prevent the feeling of "why is everyone waiting on us"... On Day 9 a few Robowrangler Designers gathered at IFI to start detailing out some of the concepts we've been discussing...
One of the subsystems that is moving full-speed ahead is the drivetrain. The team had a brief discussion on Day 8 and with just a few decisions the designers are now able to press forward.
This game is going to cause some PROBLEMS (with a capital "P") for a lot of teams.
On first glance, it looks like a "flat-field" game - but it is anything but. That "cable bump" is almost 3/4" tall. The platform has some tough implications for a drivetrain.
Are you planning on crossing the "bumps"? Are you going to do it in autonomous mode?
Are you planning on driving onto the platform? Are you going to do THAT in autonomous mode?
At some point in my life, some wise FRC designer told me: "You should make sure your robot can drive anywhere on the field. This isn't necessary ALL the time, but it is more often than it's not. So by default... be able to drive everywhere." I personally think this is really good advice.
Drivetrain Design Advice
The other day the Robowranglers were talking about this challenge. We were discussing Angle of Approach / Angle of Departure and I was trying to remember a whitepaper I'd previously read which did a good job of explaining those terms.
Then I remembered it was actually a whitepaper I WROTE for BuildBlitz 2015.
(No joke, this isn't some false modesty thing... I totally forgot I wrote this paper. The rest of the 2015 Batman + Robin excitement totally overwhelms my memories of the 2015 Build Blitz.)
Many of the lessons from the bumps in 2015 apply to the platform in 2018. If you're designing a drivetrain for this year's game you should consider flipping through it. Some of it is total junk, but there are some useful passages, which I'll snip below:
Did you check your drivetrain clearances? CAD can be a GREAT form of prototyping. Don't wait until it's built to see how it will interact with the bump. In general I always prefer the robot to be able to smoothly and slowly cross the obstacle. If it can do it slow, it can probably do it fast! If it can do it slow... it can probably do it consistently in auton. I've never been a fan of the "Dukes of Hazard" style crossings.
I forgot to mention something we did on Day 8 - to help test the turning dynamics of our potential drivetrain we modded one of our old robots to make it similar to the new design. We then drove it around to see how the handling changed. Good news: it still handles great! We plan to add some weight on it (up high to simulate a cube being held up in the air by an elevation mechanism). We'll see how it does then. I'm optimistic.
When people think about "prototyping" they think of building mechanisms. Strap a weight to a post and attach it to an old robot: that's prototyping. CAD up a crude drivetrain mockup and drag it over the CAD model of the field: that's prototyping. Do anything where you learn something about the game: that's prototyping.
EDIT (1/15/2018 @ 3:40PM):
The WCP folks released their side-hustle MCC Robot for the 2018 game. Part of the video (1:18 to 1:37) highlights the exact "stuck on the corner" problem I mentioned. Or more accurately... highlights how their robot has NO problem at all with the corner! Love it!
(I hope all 148's partners perform as well as this MCC. The WCP MCC robot gets picked as an elimination robot at the Championship this year for sure.)