Weighing 40 pounds, this is the heaviest FTC robotbot we have ever built and for good reason: it has to be sturdy enough to lift another robot above its head while being maneuverable enough to hang up rings on pegs. Not very many bots even attempted the lift, because it was so challenging and risky, and those that did either only lifted a few inches off the ground or had mechanisms that other robots would never be able to actually drive on to.
We were able to get other robots on our lift because when first deployed, it would be laying as a sheet of FR4 board flat on the ground, allowing even extremely low clearance bots to drive on easily. The sheet started out firmly attached to our ring grabbing fork lift via two pieces of piano wire secured to a servo motor. When we wanted to lift, we would retract our grabbing mechanism, turn the servo 90 degrees in order to quickly release the FR4 board, and also simultaneously hang a 3 pound weight off the back of the robot to act as a lever arm and prevent tipping. In the Las Vegas regional, we were the only team to successfully lift another robot to the full 24 inches during a match.
Unfortunately, we started working on this amazing lifting mechanism to late in the season, and it was never actually finished in the Arizona regional, which would have provided us with a huge advantage there. After losing that regional due to a broken lift in semi-finals, we frantically rushed to finish it for Las Vegas but when we got there, almost all of the robots in the place looked like mini-fridges just like us! We were lucky enough to be paired with one small robot in the qualifiers though, which resulted in the above picture. We got to semi-finals again, this time with a very good small robot as our ally. We lost the first round, but in the second round were very close in score when we began to lift. Then, disaster struck! The counter balance that deployed every single time it was used somehow managed to jam, and without it our ally proved to be heavy enough to tip our robot while we lifted.
The first design of this robot was incredibly different from what is in this video. At first, we wanted to make a robot that pulled crates into itself, and then pushed them up so that they sat on top of the robot. It would then grab another crate, and push that one up through so that the previous one rested on top of it, essentially creating a stack of crates by loading them from the bottom. Our design worked, but when we showed up to a scrimmage and we observed other teams and found that the design would not score as many points as we had hoped. After the Scrimmage we brainstormed how we could modify our robot to make it score more points. One reoccurring idea was that of another team we encountered at the scrimmage. This team was called Valley X. They had a multi section forklift that would be capable of scoring 130 points. However, their lift was continuously being jammed. Their design inspired us to make one very similar however with reduced friction and capable of scoring ten more points. We knew this would take countless hours to create. Almost immediately after the brainstorm session we began designing. We began by looking at pictures and videos a teammate had taken of their robot. From here we figured out why they were jamming and how we could fix it. We began by machining 8 separate lifting sections using a digital readout, and linked them together with a crossbeam on each section as well as Teflon sheets reinforced with aluminum. We weren’t allowed to use real bearings that year, so we made leg wheel bearings that also acted as our pulley system. The whole apparatus worked using a string looped inside of the aluminum lifting sections that forced them to extend when it got caught. We managed to remake our entire robot in a matter of 4 weeks and on the last two weeks we spent over 80 hours in our mentor frank’s garage designing, building, and assembling the new robot. Thank you for all your dedication frank With our super lifter as our new super weapon, we were able to win the Arizona regional. Our toughest opponent was the team had inspired us to make our new lift; they are the other lift in the video. To prepare for worlds, we decided to focus mainly on driving, and on being able to pick up more than one crate. By the time worlds rolled around, we were able to lift up to three crates for about 400 points. When we got there though, we were dismayed to find that some teams were able to lift crates up to 20 feet! In the end we had placed 28th in our division but we were still all proud of our robot.