As we come into the final week of our build season, the Robowranglers' 2018 robot took the field. It entered the arena for the first time not as a lab rat undergoing testing, but as an athlete of the sport: ready to play. Perhaps a better way of expressing it would be: IT'S ALIIIIIIIIIVE!
< INSERT EVIL LAUGH HERE >
No official meetings on Wednesdays... unless it's week 5 and the robot is not done.
No official meetings on Sundays... unless it's week 5 and the robot is not done.
Weekend meetings end at 10PM... unless it's week 5 and the ROBOT is NOT done.
On Day 33 we added a meeting.
Day 35, and 36's meetings went looooooooooong (as expected).
On Day 37 we added a meeting.
During the Day 31 / 32 update, I talked about the ups and downs of the process, and ended things on an optimistic note. Where did we go from there?
Day 33 - The thrill is gone...
When we first start testing something, the bar for success is very low. "Okay, so the intake didn't pull in the cube very well and it bent the crossbar in half, but at LEAST the motor didn't catch fire. We can build on this!"
The initial tests are there to see if "the bones are there." IF we make it past that stage feeling good, it means we're probably saying the problems left are "All Solvable". The highest levels of engineering risk are gone. (Read my Day 12 update to understand the concept of "all solvable").
Then, on Day 33 we come into the shop, and suddenly it's our job to solve them.
These problems may be "plug and chug" engineering, but they're not going to solve themselves! What do good Robowranglers do in this situation? Roll up their sleeves and get to work.
...and complain about it. Constantly.
Day 32 brought the elation of: "This is going to work!"
Day 33 brought the despair of: "This isn't good enough... yet."
The power is to remember that little word: "yet" and... well if you've been reading this blog all season, you get it by now: Trust the Process. Blah blah blah.
Day 35 - It Plays the Game!
Very late on Day 35 the Robot did a full "scoring system" test. Our drive-team took control, drove the robot around on the field, picked up cubes, and scored them in the scale. Over, and over, and over.
- The first run lasted about 2 cubes before something broke.
- Second run was 1 cube, before we noticed something else.
- Third run, they scored 12 cubes before we decided to make a control "tweak".
- Fourth run, 1 cube -- decided the "tweak" was too far, and scaled it back a little bit.
- Fifth run, full battery worth of cubes, then we decided to swap some wheels around on the drivetrain to adjust the handling.
- Tenth run, did a full battery worth of cubes, then the intake group decided to make a small mod.
- Intake Mod. Control Mod. Drivetrain Mod.
- Intake Mod. Control Mod. Drivetrain Mod.
By the time the meeting ended, we'd probably scored hundreds of cubes, and made almost as many tweaks to the robot.
"Emotions run high. Emotions run low. There are moments of levity. There are moments of tension. The robot is on the field scoring cubes. The team is doing an admirable job of pretending they're focused on their work, and not on that beautiful piece of junk running around the field..."
Day 36 - More, More, More
Day 36 began with another Iteration Frenzy.
We did an intake iteration frenzy on Day 32 with a "handcart pushed" robot. Now that the robot plays the game we can get a more "real-world" testing. After about 5 hours of small tweaks, we had the detail ready to move to the Mk6 intake.
GHS "Favorites" Dance
Another Robowrangler tradition - every year on one of our Saturday's, we're going to have a bunch of kids leave the meeting for a few hours to go to the Greenville High School "Favorites" Dance. This year, "Favorites" fell on Day 36.
We don't typically get to see our "grease covered, robot building, prototyping, iteration loving warrior" teammates when they're all cleaned up like this, so it's kinda cool when they stop by for pictures. It's also always fun to find out which of them will inevitably be unable to keep their hands off "the work" during their visit.
Rebuild of the #2 Robot
For the second half of the Day 36 meeting, 148 took the #2 robot "out of service" for maintenance. The team stripped it down, inspected for damage in key components, and generally searched for anything which might indicate a design flaw that would lead to later failure. We also did a mod to the #1 lift which we didn't have the parts for when it was originally assembled.
This process... went on... forever. The original estimate for this rebuild/inspection was "about an hour" but that stretched out, as it always does.
Since the robot was getting rebuilt, it gave the climber team a chance to integrate their latest version. (Now with 100% less 2x4 screwed to the bottom of the robot.) By the time the meeting ended on Saturday night, the robot was ready for an even bigger test...
Day 37 - Climber Test
"Yeah, it probably won't twist itself apart." - Sidoti (commenting on how he expects the climber test to go... after a very pregnant 30 second pause.)
Right when the Day 37 meeting started, we drove the #2 robot over to the bar and fired up the climber. The test was a stunning success. This robot plays the game. Now... we just need to finish it up, and make more.
Production is full speed ahead on the #3 robot, and all eyes turn to the programming team.
The rest of the meeting on Day 37 was spent on production of the other 2 robots, spare parts, and autonomous programming on the #1 drivetrain and #2 robot. (This is likely how we'll also spend Day 38... and likely Day 39).
As week 6 begins, everyone is putting their head down and pressing towards the goal line!
Week 6 Failures
As we're speeding into week 6, remember to trust the process. Failures are harder to "celebrate" at this point in the season. Don't despair. Keep moving forward!
A few teams have recently shared some failures worthy of celebration:
Thank you for sharing not only the good, but also the bad.
I wish I could show you some of the cringey moments 148 has had this season, but I don't think "the boss" has approved that yet (plus...thankfully, we don't have video rolling for most of them).
Today's Stupid Mentor Trick is brought to you by the marketing team at RackSolutions.com in collaboration with the Robowrangler videographers. (I'm not sure how I feel about people from my job collaborating with people from robots to make fun of me.)