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©2019 by Team 6918 Napa High Cellar Rats

2020 FRC Build-Season Blog

Build Season day #13



Posted by

John O.

This Saturday was a great way to end off the second week of the build season. We are finalizing prototypes and will soon begin our prototype robot. We are moving very fast with our products and we want to keep improving our efficiency. We have two new intakes being made which also gives us more variety when choosing which one to put on our robot.

Our plan for next week is to have a fully operational robot that can interact mostly with every element of the game. Our efficiency and speed are only increasing as our team works hard to push out components and mechanisms that will be used for testing. One of the two new intakes involves a wooden hopper-like structure with a roller on the top portion that rolls the ball in and the hopper structure feeds it out near the center exit. The other intake will have a conveyer on the top to carry it out to the shooter and conveyers on the sides to bring it into the top from the groud.

Hopper-like intake

The end of week two was great. Our team improved working skills and we are making components fast. Week three Saturday we will have a robot that interacts with most field elements.

Build Season days 7 - 12

1/13/20 - 1/17/20

Monday - Friday

Posted by

John O.

Our second week of build season has seen a lot of new ideas, contraptions, and improvements. We have a new mechanism that loads power cells into a shooter by having a conveyor belt carry the power cells up to be ejected out and into the ports. We are mounting it to a frame so we can be mobile and have easier movement. We don’t plan to focus on the bottom port now as we see the higher ports being more beneficial to our overall strategy plans.

Additionally, we have our field elements newly labeled to ensure that we keep calling them by their correct names rather than making up random ones. We also plan to have a student paint them to look more like the actual elements.

Banshee with

conveyer on frame

 Hooks for hanging the robot

One of our biggest projects this week has been testing two hooks with one of our previous robots to know how much weight the hooks can handle while hanging from the Generator Switch. The hooks could handle the weight of our 2018 competition bot, however, we struggled to find the correct positioning for the bot to balance the best. To fix this issue we plan to make a mechanism that will allow the bot to move along the bar while hanging from it. 

Week two of the build season has swept by fast with new prototypes made. We plan to work harder and faster to push out our first prototype bot, also known as a “franken-bot” out soon. We will have this upcoming Monday off of school and plan to meet all day in order to get as much done on our bots as we can.​ 

1/10/20 - 1/11/20

Friday - Saturday

Posted by

John O.

In the past two days our field has been updated, and a loading bay as well as a new power port have been finished and are now fully functional for us to test our prototypes on them. The power port now has the bottom, outer and inner port whereas our temporary cardboard version just had the outer port. While the manufacturing team works on the game pieces, our engineering team has been hard at work prototyping our different mechanisms.

One of the two prototype designs of our shooters is a design with two wheels parallel to each other loading in from behind. It is made out of polycarbonate, with metal holding the pieces together and to stabilize it. Our team has nicknamed it “The Aircraft Carrier” because it sounds like it’s about to take flight whenever we try to run it.

Build Season day #5 & 6

Power Port and Loading Bay

 The other shooter design is a wheel that spins the power cell out into the ports. It has wooden plates attached to the side and a polycarbonate ramp to help the power cell travel up and out. We have nicknamed it “Banshee” because of how loudly it shrieks. This mechanism is currently the one that has been working better, and we are planning to attach it to a drivetrain for testing very soon. 

The business and controls teams have also made significant progress. Draft two of the business plan is complete, and we can now spin the control panel three and a half times 100% of the time, and we can also make it go to a certain color of our choosing from any starting point on the panel. 

"The Aircraft Carrier" Prototype

Another side project that is currently in progress in the creation of a 3D printed miniature version of the 2020 game field. While it is mostly for looks and a way for us to better visualize the full field, it will also be a good way to work on planning out strategies for competition matches.

This was a good first week for us, as we were able to accomplish a lot more than we had at this time in last year’s build season. Time flies fast we will have a full prototype of all of our robot’s mechanisms by the end of the second week of build season. 

Build Season day #4



Posted by

John O.

Today prototypes are moving fast in progression. A new storage system for power cells are being made and nearly complete. Our programmers are working on control panel rotation control and color recognition. Climbing methods and articulations are being discussed and starting to be prototyped. The climbing articulation that is being prototyped is the ability to adjust positioning on the generator switch while hanging the way it works is to have wheels turn on the rung of the switch thus moving the robot.

Adjuster Wheel Prototype

The storage system for power cells we aim to create includes the capacity to store five power cells as that is the max the game will let a robot hold. Also, our goal is to make an efficient way to shoot power cells at a rapid pace making it easier to progress through the stages of the game. The color recognition that our programmers are working with is important because it will make rotating the control panel wheel more efficient.

Storage Prototype

Things are going well for the Cellar Rats as we progress closer to prototyping an entire robot. We move steadily prototyping significant mechanisms so that we may put it all together soon.



Posted by

John O.

Build Season day #3

This morning in the Cellar Rats are working hard to continue the intake prototype as yesterday the shooter was tested and worked, but still needs more improvement. The shield generator switch that was being manufactured in our woodshop yesterday has now been transported and is stationary in the robotics lab. Today, it will be tested to ensure that it can hold the amount of weight it needs to for our robots. Our programmers are starting to discuss and code different functions of the robot. Such functions include climbing for the generator switch, rotation control for the control panel, driving methods, and shooting and intaking power cells. Plans for our next game element, the loading bay, are progressing and will soon be constructed.

Generator Switch

The intake method that our members are currently working on consists of mecanum wheels which are multi-directional due to small rollers around the wheel. The reason for the use of these wheels is to drive the power cell into the middle of the intake to try and improve efficiency. The shooter works sort of as a pitching machine, two wheels are put next to each other and the power cell is loaded into a small polycarbonate ramp that feeds it into the wheels, shooting it out. 

Today's casual mood was great in proportion to our productivity made and we have much more planned going into the season.

Shooter Prototype



Posted by

John O.

Build Season day #2

Today in the Cellar Rats robotics lab, everything was running smoothly as the control panel was finished and painted, along with a rough version of the outer port so that we can test the prototypes that we develop. The control panel wheel, or Wheel Of Fortune as our team nicknamed it, is a wheel used for activating Stage 2 in the game by scoring 20 power cells and then rotating the wheel three times then selecting the color in the next two rotations. If this is done incorrectly, then the counter resets to zero and we must start all over again. If done correctly, then Stage 2 will activate and then progressing the game further.  

Painting the Control Panel

Additionally, the shield generator switch that began being built yesterday is near completion, and will likely be up and running very soon. The switch is important because, in the Endgame portion of competition matches, robots are required to climb onto the switch while also trying to balance it within 8 degrees horizontal in order to be able to earn fifteen additional points. 

Making the Generator Switch

A lot of prototyping was done today along with more progression on the field, moving us forward for competition and experience. We are looking forward to having all of our field elements done by the end of the week, and to having some strong prototypes that we can begin to build off of to create the best robot we can!

Our first-draft at an outer port

Putting up the Outer Port

Prototyping and designing an intake



Posted by

John O.

Build Season day #1 and Kickoff

On the first Saturday of January, the video announcing the challenge for the 2020 game Infinite Recharge was released. At Napa High, our team got to work on brainstorming and building for the game. The team's main focus for our start to build season is studying the game and starting to assemble the field early on. By accomplishing this, we will have a better understanding of game pieces and elements we will work with. This allows us to develop strategies that will  soon be incorporated into our future robot.


In our computer lab, most members spent the day observing and studying the game manual. As part of our team standards we expect our members to have a basic understanding of the rules for Infinite Recharge, and to ensure that team members know the game rules and aspects, we will have a rules quiz at our next meeting. Some members are in our wood shop, building and putting together game mechanisms for the assembly of the field which we will have completed by the end of the week.


Build season was off to a great start because we did a better job of managing and prioritizing our work than we have in previous years. Our members and mentors are progressing greatly and more seasoned members are giving advice to newer members to help improve our quality and efficiency.

Today's meeting started in joy as a piece for the control panel field element has been prototyped by a team member over the weekend and is nearly ready for testing and use. In order to ensure that everyone understood this year’s game, the team took a quiz about the game manual’s rules and concepts for this year. The highest scoring members recieved chocolate bars as a reward. Following the quiz, we split into groups to begin brainstorming ideas for the important parts of our robot. The projects worked on by the groups consisted of input and output mechanism ideas, the drive-train we will use for our bot to traverse the field, and the climbing method.

Rules quiz Kahoot!

Additionally, a new method of planning known as Agile was introduced by the team’s student leadership and a parent volunteer. Agile consists of Epics, Stories, and Story Tasks, where Epics are the overall tasks that will take weeks to complete, such as writing a business plan or programming a method for working with the control panel, stories are the things that need to happen for the Epic to be completed, and story tasks are the individual

 things that must happen in order for the story to be completed. The incorporation of AGILE is a great strategy to improve productivity because everything is laid out clearly in a place where it is fully visible to everyone on the team, and people are able to choose tasks and accomplish them. It also allows us to see who completed what task if there is any confusion surrounding a project. We hope that this new method of planning will allow us to better plan out what projects we need to be working on, and will ensure that nobody has nothing to do.

Our AGILE project board

Also, in a surprise notice, we learned that we are off of the waiting list for the week two San Diego Regional, and now have a place there to compete. Our leadership team met and decided to take the opportunity, adding that third regional to our list in addition to the Canadian Pacific Regional and Sacramento Regional. This will be our second year going to San Diego for a regional, and we are looking forward to attend that regional for a second year in a row!

Today's productivity level was high, and the team’s ideas are progressing well from what they were on kickoff. The newly introduced AGILE method will greatly improve our work ethic, and will allow for greater levels of productivity among team members as the season becomes more intense.