With no official meetings on Days 12 & 13, individual Robowrangler sub-teams had a chance to catch-up. In particular the design team has been moving full speed ahead on robot systems in anticipation of the team making some final decisions on Saturday (Day 15). The meeting on Day 14 was split: some designers at IFI CADding, and the rest of the team at the shop.
Day 12 & 13 were very similar meetings. I'm trying to figure out the best way to express how they went down. How about a haiku:
While we still have some conflicting philosophies at play when it comes to the robot design, there is still a lot of work the design team can get done. So, we had marathon CAD meetings where the detailed design of the drivetrain, lift system, and climber moved forward - forward - forward. The intake made design progress also, but is still going through prototype tuning, so most of it's progress was outside of CAD.
We vary the amount of prototyping done before we move to manufacturing with the amount of iteration done after the initial "drop". Some items go basically from concept to CAD to manufacturing to iteration, while others spend a looooooooong time being tuned before ever being CADed with any real fidelity. It depends on the season, the type of mechanism, and the designer who "owns" that subsystem.
I really really really love the camaraderie that comes from being under the gun on a design project like this. The "late night CAD" meetings are a special experience that only some Robowranglers will get to experience. The entire atmosphere shifts, and I feel like these kids get a sense of what it's like to be on a real-life "crunch time" design team.
If you've experienced "late night CAD" you know what I mean.
The musical selection during late night CAD changes dramatically. It includes a lot of the songs we WISH could appear in Robowrangler unveil videos. #BallSoHard #Renegades #TheChampIsHere #AllBlackEverything
Day 14 was a very special day for the Robowranglers - NATIONAL POPCORN DAY! While we don't typically celebrate fake holidays which were only made up for social media purposes, POPCORN has a special place in our hearts. You see... for a reasonable price the Greenville movie theater will sell you a giant trash-bag full of FRESH movie theater popcorn if you order in advance.
The Cheesy Poofs promise bacon, cookies, and brownies but if you join the Robowranglers we promise unlimited access to a FULL TRASHCAN of Popcorn!
Day 13 at the shop was incredibly productive. We didn't JUST eat popcorn. The intake prototyping groups made a lot of progress. We now have one of our "Rogue" drivetrains running around with a cube intake. It's made it much easier to do time-studies while learning about the intake itself.
We realized we haven't actually done a lot of testing (we haven't done ANY testing) of how hard it is to score the cubes onto the platforms. We kind of just assumed we'll drop them off using our intake. On reflection... that seems like a dangerous "hand-wave" for us to have made. So tonight we tested it! Of course, we don't have any lift prototypes - so we just put the platforms on the floor and used the intakes at ground level. Lots of lessons learned. Some good news, some concerning news, but "All solvable."
Side note on (another) Robowrangler Inside Joke: in 2015 James and I were having a conversation late in week 4 or 5 of the season. I asked him how he thought we were doing and he rattled off a long list of problems we were having. I looked at him and said: "All solvable." He looked at me like I was out of my mind. Those two words turned into an inside joke between the two of us. The fact that he immediately "got it" didn't make it any less ridiculous.
From my perspective, the scarier problems with higher risk (like getting 3 robots under the weight limit) had already been beaten - all that stuff left on the list was just "plug and chug" tuning. "Who cares that the lift isn't working... that's an easy problem to deal with." I guess the lesson is - if you've got a long list of problems you know how to solve - it's not a scary list.
On Day 14 we'll discuss tradeoffs, and if everything goes well the design team can release some of the work they've prepared. Until then... we'll keep learning, keep prototyping, and prepare ourselves for the next steps in the process. Building, testing, and... ITERATING.