When you’re issued safety glasses at the door, you know it’s going to be interesting. As promised, I’m checking out the FIRST robotics regional in Kansas City today. The competition is pretty fierce – not quite flame throwing battle bot action, but the kids have put together some pretty serious robots.
Read on for more pics from the competition.
Most of the bots share the same basic design features – mainly because each team is issued a kit of stock parts to start out with. I spent most of my time visiting the teams in the pits – checking out their designs and asking them what the favorite part of their bot was.
[Team 2385] – Wright Christian Academy was one of my first visits. They built their own high torque steering system (and winch drive) using some power door motors from a van. They look about the same as older windshield wiper motors. They added a linear potentiometer to the linkage to create their own super servo. I’ll probably re-create this on one of my future projects.
[Team 1996] came up with this interesting gripper for their bot. The arms lever up and down, but the gripper has a static chain drive to keep it level the entire time.
[Team 1108] built one of the most entertaining bots to watch compete. The arm is a catapult, but it’s tipped with a trash can lid with a hand sewn rubber seal. Just underneath is a fan assembly from a shop vac – but the AC electric motor was replaced with a DC unit. It did a fantastic job of picking up the giant ball – and launching it with the arm.
A while later I caught them tuning the catapult. It just launched the ball, just about nailing the guy standing directly in the path.
[Team 1775] put together this sweet control board for their bot. The controls are standard fare, but most of the teams settle for mounting them on a piece of wood.
[Team 1981] had to scrap their pneumatic arm at the last minute, so they settled for making their bot short and solid. Last time I checked, they managed to score pretty decently by just pushing the ball with their bot and making around the track as fast as they could.
For the autonomous round, one team needed a bit more range for their IR remote. Commands 1-3 tell the bot which slot is needed for the target ball. Sending a 4 kills everything. (off, not all humans.)
[Team 2164] built this aluminum hand shaped gripper. It looks fantastic, but I haven’t seen it in action yet, but it looks awesome.
I liked this little construction trick. The frame is built by pop-riveting aluminum plates to join the structure. I’m not sure how durable it will be, but it looks like a nice way to speed up construction.
I didn’t get a chance to talk to every team I wanted to – they’ve all been working pretty hard. When they’re trying to solve a problem or get the bot ready to roll, you can’t miss the activity. If you get a chance to check out a FIRST competition, take advantage of it.