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Thread: Robot Body As Attachment

  1. #1
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    Default Robot Body As Attachment

    I was lucky enough to have a team put together some solid performances and move beyond regionals last year. As we progressed through the levels we saw some amazing robots.

    One idea that blew our minds is where some teams had basically a very stripped down robot body that just clicked into these massive robot bodies that served as basically one massive attachment. Instead of removing one part here or there the "basic" robot body just popped out and was inserted into a much larger robot body.

    Our team has been tinkering with this idea and I was just curious if anyone else has used this method. Robots have not been our strong point in past year and we are working on bringing that up to our other strong points as a team.

    I don't know if anyone has any suggestions or ideas, but just thought I would see what would come of it.

    Thanks and best of luck to everyone. I really like the board this year.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Robot Body As Attachment

    Quote Originally Posted by aarmau View Post
    I was lucky enough to have a team put together some solid performances and move beyond regionals last year. As we progressed through the levels we saw some amazing robots.

    One idea that blew our minds is where some teams had basically a very stripped down robot body that just clicked into these massive robot bodies that served as basically one massive attachment. Instead of removing one part here or there the "basic" robot body just popped out and was inserted into a much larger robot body.

    Our team has been tinkering with this idea and I was just curious if anyone else has used this method. Robots have not been our strong point in past year and we are working on bringing that up to our other strong points as a team.

    I don't know if anyone has any suggestions or ideas, but just thought I would see what would come of it.

    Thanks and best of luck to everyone. I really like the board this year.
    Personally, I'd prefer if there was a separate contest or category for teams whose "attachments" outweigh the "robot".
    FTC Judge: 2010
    FLL Volunteer: 2011-2013
    FLL Mentor: 2011, 2012
    FLL referee: 2012, 2013 (QT-head)
    FRC judge (Chairman's Award): 2014

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Robot Body As Attachment

    Quote Originally Posted by aarmau View Post
    I was lucky enough to have a team put together some solid performances and move beyond regionals last year. As we progressed through the levels we saw some amazing robots.

    One idea that blew our minds is where some teams had basically a very stripped down robot body that just clicked into these massive robot bodies that served as basically one massive attachment. Instead of removing one part here or there the "basic" robot body just popped out and was inserted into a much larger robot body.

    Our team has been tinkering with this idea and I was just curious if anyone else has used this method. Robots have not been our strong point in past year and we are working on bringing that up to our other strong points as a team.

    I don't know if anyone has any suggestions or ideas, but just thought I would see what would come of it.

    Thanks and best of luck to everyone. I really like the board this year.
    The question is not "if anyone else", but "how many this year will". There are some teams who don't have what could be thought of as a robot, but rather a "module" with a controller and motors that provides motive force to platforms. There are teams that have split the definition of robot in two and have a motorized component that functions independently from the main (and often smaller) robot.

    What you describe is not easy. If your team has weak building skills they may not be up to completing that challenge before your tournament. I have a very difficult time conceiving, designing and building such things and I do it both professionally and with LEGO for far longer than any of your team has been alive.

    A first step could be design an "attachment" for some of the missions that is not physically attached to the robot. Something you just push into position. There are a lot of points in the NE corner and I can think of a few ways where many of these could be solved simultaneously with some clever mechanics. That lets you get your feet wet working on advanced mechanical solutions while allowing you to use methods you're more comfortable with to solve a majority of the missions.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Robot Body As Attachment

    Thank you for your thoughts. I too am not equipped to build something of this caliber, but the whole engineering process that goes into intrigues me greatly. I agree with the sections of the board. We have begun to brainstorm how to break the board up into sections which is always the hardest part in my mind. We also have a team of 10 with all levels of abilities so giving everyone a chance to build and learn is where the real fun and also headache comes into play. I love it! I just had to throw this idea out there to see what others thought. I would love to one day be able to think of myself as advanced enough to build something like this, but that probably won't happen anytime soon and in the end it would not matter as my team has to build it all themselves. Perhaps I can make it a personal professional development challenge on my own!

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Robot Body As Attachment

    I've never worked with a team that used this concept, but I've always thought it looked like fun. There are some pictures on this page that show a Dutch team that used the MOT, or "Main on Top" concept:
    http://thenxtstep.blogspot.com/2009/...l-benelux.html

    Picture 1 - the NXT brick just with motors

    picture 2 - the NXT brick with motors combined with big attachment

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Robot Body As Attachment

    aarmau

    You have actually referring to two separate design concepts that are sometimes used together. One is the "power/control module" concept. The other is the large, multi-function attachment.

    We have seen a (small) number of videos of teams using the power/control module approach used with fairly small robots that allow the team to switch between two forms of locomotion, say a fast wheeled chassis and one with tank treads for climbing. It takes a lot of fore-though and planning to make a concept such as this work well. It is not necessary for the power/control module to not be able to drive around on it's own.

    We have most often seen the large, multi-function attachments used by the higher scoring teams since it allows them to reduce the amount of driving to and from base and increase their points scored/second ratio. Some expand to cover a large part of the playing field, further reducing the amount of driving they have to do. If memory serves me correctly, the 4-6 highest robot game scores at the World Festival this past spring were from teams using large, multi-function attachments. These are often difficult to make work reliably and can be very difficult for the team to set up or change-over. If it is not done right, using a large (and heavy), multi-function attachment may actually be slower than using a number of small (light and manouverable) attachments and making several trips to and from base. It is not surprising that you see a lot of these being left on the field during a match. This approach is probably only worth pursuing if your team is using up all 2 1/2 minutes but still has proven solutions for many of the remaining problems and is unable to speed up or combine their missions further.

    Twice, in the past, my boys have built these large, multi-function attachments. Both times, they ran into the logistical challenges that I mentioned above. Both times, they handily won the Design Inovation award due the many sophisticated (and sometimes very simple) mechanisms they used to operate multiple manipulators using just one attachment motor and the sophisticated software they used to control it all. Both times, they did poorly in the robot performance. They have also made many new friends from the many people who have asked them for demonstrations. What your team does should depend on what your team wants to accomplish.

    Best of luck to your team.

    Phil

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Robot Body As Attachment

    Quote Originally Posted by philso View Post
    aarmau

    You have actually referring to two separate design concepts that are sometimes used together. One is the "power/control module" concept. The other is the large, multi-function attachment.

    We have seen a (small) number of videos of teams using the power/control module approach used with fairly small robots that allow the team to switch between two forms of locomotion, say a fast wheeled chassis and one with tank treads for climbing. It takes a lot of fore-though and planning to make a concept such as this work well. It is not necessary for the power/control module to not be able to drive around on it's own.

    We have most often seen the large, multi-function attachments used by the higher scoring teams since it allows them to reduce the amount of driving to and from base and increase their points scored/second ratio. Some expand to cover a large part of the playing field, further reducing the amount of driving they have to do. If memory serves me correctly, the 4-6 highest robot game scores at the World Festival this past spring were from teams using large, multi-function attachments. These are often difficult to make work reliably and can be very difficult for the team to set up or change-over. If it is not done right, using a large (and heavy), multi-function attachment may actually be slower than using a number of small (light and manouverable) attachments and making several trips to and from base. It is not surprising that you see a lot of these being left on the field during a match. This approach is probably only worth pursuing if your team is using up all 2 1/2 minutes but still has proven solutions for many of the remaining problems and is unable to speed up or combine their missions further.

    Twice, in the past, my boys have built these large, multi-function attachments. Both times, they ran into the logistical challenges that I mentioned above. Both times, they handily won the Design Inovation award due the many sophisticated (and sometimes very simple) mechanisms they used to operate multiple manipulators using just one attachment motor and the sophisticated software they used to control it all. Both times, they did poorly in the robot performance. They have also made many new friends from the many people who have asked them for demonstrations. What your team does should depend on what your team wants to accomplish.

    Best of luck to your team.

    Phil
    Thank you for the response. I think we are going to keep things basic. Our programming and building skills are nowhere near a level to build something of this caliber. I am just fascinated by those robots and would love to get to a point of understanding where I could potentially build and teach kids how to do something this complex.

    Best of luck to everyone.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Robot Body As Attachment

    This year I have challenged my older team to build a modular design, where the NXT Brick and 3 motors are swapped out to different chassis, and each chassis can do multiple missions.

    It is definitely daunting. We have seen many videos and examples of this posted by other teams, but when the kids started working on it they ran into TONS of problems. They finally have a module and basic chassis design, and the are going off and building different types of chassis depending on their missions.

    I can see a lot of frustration with trying to solve some of the major issues, like how to interface the chassis with the motors in a way that won't cause gears to strip/skip. There is also an issue of attaching/detaching sensors with each chassis swap.

    However, the challenge has been great for the kids. I have finally convinced them to try and solve some of their issues with pneumatic parts, which I haven't been able to do before. They are willing to take risks when they haven't before, and I can see some real out of the box thinking this year.

    I think the biggest issues with doing this is a resource issue. Having access to all the parts you need is a challenge.

    But definitely pushing the kids to attempt something hard really allows them to take pride in their work.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Robot Body As Attachment

    David

    Your team is to be congratulated on their accomplishment. No doubt, your team members learned a lot. I wish the other engineers I work with could do as good a job. Please do post a video at the end of the season. My boys and I love admiring work like this.

    "Having access to all the parts you need is a challenge"

    For Smart Move, my boys built two 3 foot long arms that expanded and reached across the short dimension of the table to grab a bunch of game pieces without leaving base. After a long interview session with the Technical Judges, the judges congratulated me on my boys performance. I told them that they wanted to build an arm to reach over the long dimension of the table but I was not willing to buy all the parts required

    Phil

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