We’re happy to be bringing you our third installment of PCH Check In, a series where we invite FRC teams from around the district to share their statuses, updates, and thoughts on the game.
Today, we’re going to be checking in with FRC 2974, Walton Robotics. Regardless of how you look at it, Walton has the best all around FRC programs in the district. If you look at their outreach program, you have to look no further than the four consecutive Chairmans they’ve won over the past four years. They’re not a slouch in the robotics department either, with Walton laying claim to 2 finalist appearances and 3 event wins, which, by the way, includes the title of reigning PCH State District Champions.
Team Number: 2974
Team Name: Walton robotics
Team Age: 9 years
At a high level, how do you guys feel about Steamworks?
Steamworks is an interesting game that has elements that can be approached in many many ways. Each element of gameplay can be made as simple or as complicated as the team wants. The gear mover can be fully passive or fully autonomous. You can push balls around and be a defensive robot, or you can shoot into the high goal. There are also a wide variety of ways to get balls into and out of your robot. Overall, Steamworks is a varied game that has ample space for teams to generate out-of-the-box ideas.
What do you guys think is the most important objective in the game?
We believe the most important objective of the game is placing a gear during autonomous. Based on our game analysis, this action generates the most points for least effort and time. We’re confident our mechanism to deliver gears because it relies only on the drivetrain. It is a fully passive system that will allow us to devote more resources (i.e. space, time, electricity) to other aspects of gameplay.
What do you guys feel is the most challenging part of the game?
We feel that maximizing the utility attained by each mechanism while remaining within the volume boundaries is the most challenging aspect of this game. We are using CAD in order to design the mechanisms to fit together in a more condensed fashion.
Another aspect of this challenge is maximizing our ball storage while keeping them in a useful configuration. As many teams must have already discovered, the balls do not like to be funneled, and will clog up very easily.
What objectives is your team building for?
Our team has designed a robot that can place gears, pick up balls from the ground, shoot into the high goal, and climb in end game. We’re working towards an autonomous that will place a gear and then shoot the 10 balls into the high goal in order to maximize our points during autonomous and give us a great start to the match.
We want to be able to do it all, both as a way to perform well in the competitions and as an engineering challenge.
It’s currently week 4, what’ve you guys been up to so far in the season?
We have modeled 75% of our robot in Autodesk Inventor. We have also finished our ball intake, gear intake, and shooter subsystems. Now we are in the process of putting it all together on our practice robot. We will begin building the competition robot within the next week..
We have finished writing the long and short essays for Chairman’s and are currently working on the Woodie Flowers essay and Chairman’s video and presentation.
What kind of challenges has your team faced so far in the season?
One of the greatest challenges our team has faced so far were the icy snow days that occurred during kickoff and the following days. This took away 3 full days which the team could have benefitted from brainstorming and designing. This necessitated having only the core build team design the robot. Even then, the actual construction of the prototypes was delayed. The snow days completely threw off the whole build schedule. Our team has benefited from having full team brainstorming sessions in the past because it allowed us to gain ideas from people not directly involved in build.
During brainstorming it is incredibly important to have as many perspectives as possible so that the outlandish ideas that would never even be considered otherwise can surface. It is these very ideas that result in a winning robot.
In order to maintain some aspect of this process, we implemented a google drive folder which acted like a suggestion box. Team members were able to deposit any idea they had for the robot, and we used some of the ideas generated during this process in our final design.
The snow days have also created challenges regarding awards, specifically Chairman’s. The awards crew was unable to meet up during the snow days to work on the essays and video for Chairman’s and the other award submissions. However, the awards team was able to catch up somewhat considering a lot of the work such as writing the essays can be done offline.
Is there a message that you’d like to send to other PCH teams?
This year, defense will be crucial, so you should plan on making your robots robust enough to handle rough robot to robot contact. Make sure your bumpers are solid and that they will be able to hold up during matches. Also, if anything is protruding from your robot, it would be a good idea to make sure that is structurally sound and is of robust construction.
Quick reminder: this bumper rules have changed this year so make sure to familiarize yourself with the new rules and construct your bumpers accordingly.
In regards to awards, make sure you keep up with the different deadlines. All of the award submissions are not due on the same days. For example, Chairman’s and Woodie Flowers are due February 9th, but Dean’s List and the business plan for the Entrepreneurship award are due February 16th.
With financial support from GAFirst, our team members and parents have spent over 600 hours building field elements so teams can come to our build site to practice. We have one steel airship that will have the capability to allow robots to climb. We have two boilers and multiple ball dispensers. We are excited to offer open field hours on the field and hope many teams will take advantage of our field elements. This will make Georgia teams more competitive at Worlds!