According to club sponsor George Giltner, the robot ops division of the TechHOUNDS robotics team has been building three robot drive trains during the pre-season.
Norman Noe, robot ops lead and senior, said he is satisfied with the progress the division has made.
“Pre-season hasn’t finished yet, and we’ve already finished one drive train and handed it off to the programmers. We’re now working on our second,” he said. “And our third, which is from last year’s robot, has already been finished and complete. So we’re two-thirds of the way there. (I’m) pretty happy about it.”
According to Noe, the second drive train is a Mecanum model.
“It’s an omni-drive train, meaning that it can move in all directions while facing forward, so it can drive sideways,” he said. “And each wheel is independently driven by its own transmission.”
Giltner said that this year is the first that the TechHOUNDS robotics team and the robot ops division have prepared in this manner.
“Based on last year, the competitions are getting very, very competitive, and we’ve been talking to some of the teams,” Gilter said. “Apparently most of the teams have been building a robot in the pre-season to kind of help practice and model so when the build season starts, they’re not starting from scratch. They’re already kind of using the technology they’ve developed in the pre-season.”
Although the TechHOUNDS robotics team will only end up using one of the three drive trains made during the pre-season, Noe, who works on the drive train in SRT and on Thursday after school with the entire robot ops division, said he feels this preparation will pay off later during the build season and during competition.
“After we’re done finishing each (drive train)—they’re kind of a pre-season sketch of what we want to do with it—and when the game comes out, we’re going to refine it and make it better to the game, adjust to the game,” Noe said. “The two that are going to be unused will be used for next year ‘cause we might use that design next year or the year after that.”
Noe said he plans to finish the second base within the next three or four weeks. In the meantime, Ryan Wilmes, student team lead and senior, said the robot ops and programming divisions have both been working on refining and wiring the first base.
“Programming and electrical has been working with robot ops on wiring the six-wheel that we just finished constructing, and they’ll be teaching all the new members how to program and wire that,” he said.
Though competition restrictions prevent the TechHOUNDS team from directly using the bases it has created during the pre-season, Wilmes said the experience gained is more beneficial.
According to Wilmes, the auxiliary construction division is working on redesigning the shipping crate that the TechHOUNDS team uses to transport the robot to competitions and improving the pit display that the team uses during competitions. The animation division has been training new members by building a Rube Goldberg machine using the animation program, and the website division is updating the TechHOUNDS’ website to include 2012 season information and team pictures. Finally, the public relations division has made a design for team shirts and drawstring backpacks.
Giltner said he is pleased with the progress of the team thus far.
He said, “I think we’re doing really well. I would really like to get my new kids involved more, and that’s what we’re really trying to do, get our new kids involved as much as we can just so that they get more exposure to the equipment and the technology they use.”