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The true raison d'être for FRC is found during build season, not in competition. This is where you learn. Pressure is high. Here you face your biggest challenges, and either overcome them, or are overcome by them. Build season is the lesson; competition is simply the exam.

Students join our team throughout the year, and most see competitions before build season, especially off-season events. Still, these students are rookies until they have passed through their first build season. Trial by fire.

Or perhaps, trial by ice this year. We were extremely fortunate to lose only four meeting days due to weather this build season. The season saw four major storms, including an ice storm which knocked out power for some people on the team (including Kelloms, Weissmans and McKowns) for five days! Fortunately, the TCHS lost power for only a day and a bit, so only one meeting lost.

This page contains a day by day breakdown of what we did. Dates hyper-links go to the corresponding photo gallery.


  • We attended kick-off at Upper Darby High School (home of old friends team 357 Royal Assault)
  • Clem McKown gave a workshop on Practical Pneumatics
  • Returning to TCHS, we went through game rules
  • then engaged in several rounds of Aerial Assist using StudentBots on a simulated field and reviewed the results
  • Made a list of functions that the robot could perform
  • Identified must-have fuctions from this list; also some don't-need functions
  • We assembled the game piece and started getting to know it
  • Decision made to re-use the 2013 pivot design without significant change (and to focus our mind-time on the game-piece handling)

Week One (1/5-1/11)

Sunday 5-January

  • Built and tested prototype air-spring kicker
  • Built and tested prototype catapult
  • Built and tested top/bottom roller frame ball pick-up
  • Started installing LabView software
  • Cleared a lot of non-essential material out of the work area

Monday 6-January

  • Tested prototype slingshot shooter
  • Started cutting Al for pivot cages (4 cut)
  • Made good progress on machinist's rack
  • Continued installing LabView
  • Vision code tested

Tuesday 7-January

  • Completed rough cutting Al for pivot cages, pivot braces and pivot module top plates
  • More work with slingshot prototype
  • Started field fabrication
  • Placed orders with: Rancocas Metals (Al plate); McMaster-Carr (Al & steel materials, tools & parts); AndyMark (Talons & wheels); Bainbots (steering motors & gearboxes); and Vexpro (sprockets)

Wednesday 8-January

  • Completed rough cutting of Pivot Tubes
  • Drilled mounting holes in Pivot Cage plates
  • Revised slingshot prototype to improve operability in testing
  • Started chassis CAD (laminar approach)
  • Machinist's rack nearing completion

Friday 10-January

Saturday 11-January

DEWBOT X Week One Build Season Photo Gallery

Week Two (1/12-1/18)

Sunday 12-January

Monday 13-January

  • Decision made to proceed with "slingshot" shooter as PLAN A
  • But a pneumatic catapult will be pursued for one week as PLAN B (Deaver lead)
  • Chassis frame provisionally designed in CAD - this is a traditional welded 6061 Al frame derived from DEWBOT VII's chassis design
  • 6061 Al stock ordered for chassis frames

Tuesday 14-January

Ball launched from slingshot - at 1/20th actual speed

Wednesday 15-January

  • Stopped work on the pneumatic catapult upon the realization that the forces needed for this device within the frame perimeter will be uncomfortably high
  • Continued development of slingshot with promising results
  • Added a release mechanism to the slingshot
  • Shot some high-speed video (240 frames/s) and 30 still shots/s photos of several slingshot launches
  • Started CAD on the bumper system - also worked on roller-frame articulation & CAD

Friday 17-January

Saturday 18-January

DEWBOT X Week Two Build Season Photo Gallery

Week Three (1/19-1/25)

Alas, the photographer was out of town on business (in Bayonne and Lacq, France) throughout most of the third week. Photos of progress are therefore thin.

Saturday 25-January

  • Bored Al steering pulleys to 1"
  • Rough-cut chassis 1x2" channel
  • Started milling lightweighting holes into the chassis channels
  • Pivot assembly
  • Broached keyways into pulleys
DEWBOT X Week Three Build Season Photo Gallery

Week Four (1/26-2/1)

Sunday 26-January

  • Cut down pivot miters in lathe
  • drilled rivet nut holes in chassis pieces

Monday 27-January

  • Started turning transfer axles
  • Milled chassis pieces for Prime
  • Started welding Deux
  • Pivot assembly

Tuesday 28-January

  • Continued Deux welding
  • Installed magnets for drive tachometers in 56T pulleys
  • Gusset manufacture
  • Turned transfer axles
  • Cut stock for slingshot frame
  • Modified the remaining DEWBOT V gearbox to function as a slingshot winch

Wednesday 29-January

  • Preliminary assembly of Prime chassis
  • Turned transfer axles
  • Started cutting stock for slingshot frame gussets
  • Deux chassis welding
  • Tested firing the slingshot from a winch

Thursday 30-January

  • Deux chassis welded
  • Milled Prime chassis gussets
  • Turned transfer axles
  • Rough-cut pieces for slingshot frame & gussets

Friday 31-January

  • Milled slingshot gussets
  • Turned transfer axles
  • Start welding Prime chassis

Saturday 1-February

  • Milled ends of slingshot elements (few right angles here and some complex ends)
  • Completed welding on Prime chassis
  • Completed rough-cutting of chassis and slingshot parts
  • Pivot assembly continues
DEWBOT X Week Four Build Season Photo Gallery

Week Five (2/2-2/8)

Time-lapse video of Keith Williams & Jack welding the slingshot chassis

Sunday 2-February

  • Welded the first (of 2) slingshot frames
  • Pivot assembly progressed significantly (including an assembly race!)
  • Plates were milled for the winches
  • Wires were soldered to angle sensors

Monday 3-February

  • Meeting cancelled due to a snow storm

Tuesday 4-February

  • Assembled the first winch
  • Prepared Prime's chassis and slingshot frame for painting
  • Started welding the 2nd slingshot frame
  • Soldered wired onto steering motors
  • Started mounting angle sensors on pivots
  • Prime's chassis and slingshot frames have gone out for painting

Wednesday 5-February

  • Meeting cancelled due to widespread (including CCIU) power outages following epic ice storm

Thursday 6-February

Friday 7-February

Saturday 8-February

DEWBOT X Week Five Build Season Photo Gallery

Week Six (2/9-2/15)

Sunday 9-February

  • Laser cut Deux's e-panel
  • First carbon fiber layup failed - laid-up second time (success)
  • Started wiring e-panel for Deux
  • Started re-enforcing fiberglass pultrusion for roller frame
  • Milled roller frame gussets
  • Rough-cut new winch plates

Monday 10-February

  • Milled new winch plates
  • Assembled 1st roller frame (x-rollers so far)
  • Assembled (2) 16:1 Banebots P60 planetary gearboxes for the roller drive
  • Drilled and installed rivet nuts for bumper attachment points on Deux
  • Completed Deux's e-panel
  • Assembled Deux's Chassis, epanel, pivots and roller frame
  • Mass of materials & Components for Prime comes to 90.2 lbm - still absent pneumatic system and some other items

Tuesday 11-February

  • Assembled winches excluding pancake actuators
  • Drilled bumper mounting holes and installed rivet nuts on Prime
  • Installed am 9015 motors on 16:1 BaneBot planetary gearboxes for roller drive
  • Cut and installed dams for pultrusion re-enforcement for 2nd roller frame
  • Prime's e-panel laser cut
  • Drilled e-panel mounting holes for Prime

Wednesday 12-February

  • Programming Meeting - reviewed all sensors, solenoids and motors; action sequences
  • Cut, milled and welded winch mounts into slingshot frames
  • Mounted pancake onto Deux's winch and mounted winch into slingshot frame
  • Completed sensor wiring on pivots
  • Completed power wiring to pivot on Deux
  • Installed electrical components on Prime's e-panel and started wiring
  • Started cutting metal parts for bumpers

Thursday 13-February

Meeting cancelled due to yet another winter storm (the 4th this build season, for those inclined to keep track of such things). CAD got done.

Friday 14-February

Saturday 15-February

DEWBOT X Week Six Build Season Photo Gallery

Final Daze (2/16-2/18)

Sunday 16-February

Monday 17-February

Tuesday 18-February

Saturday 23-February - Unbagging prior to Hatboro-Horsham

DEWBOT X Final Daze Build Season Photo Gallery