The FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) is an annually held national competition pitting high school teams against each other to see who can produce the best working robot design. This year, PBC Linear re-teamed with the Vikings from Central Catholic High School outside of Pittsburgh, PA (Team: 2641). The team needed help with a new design for a brand new game. For reliable linear travel under extreme impact conditions, the Vikings decided to install Mini-Rail® miniature linear guides in a telescopic lift application. As the team headed further into the competition, they found further uses for the Mini-Rail; including implementing the linear guides as a way to deploy a smaller robot used as another means to score points.
To get started, each FRC team is given a collection of parts and allotted six weeks of pre/design time to build their robot. While the same collection of parts are given to every team, each team is encouraged to go out and find products that meet the needs of the unique contest played each year. For 2011, FRC unveiled Logomotion™, a game where an alliance (made up of three teams) go against another alliance to see who can rack up the most points by placing a variety of plastic tubes onto 10’ scoring towers using moveable robots through some means of raising the tubes. Another way teams can score is to deploy mini-robots that are designed to climb up a 10’ pole. At the end of the 2:15 minute game, whichever alliance has the most points from either method wins the match.
After contacting PBC Linear, the Vikings browsed through our full library of linear motion products and eventually decided that Mini-Rail® best fit the qualities they were looking for. Mini-Rail miniature linear guides are compact and lightweight. Equipped with proven Simplicity® plain bearing technology, Mini-Rail provides self-lubricating, maintenance-free linear motion that glides smoothly over contaminants and tolerates heavy shock vibration – perfect for the crash-heavy environment in the FRC arena.
During the competition, the Mini-Rail was actually used to fulfill two different tasks. At the beginning, the miniature guides were used to provide reliable lift of the telescoping robot; raising it from 5’ to well over 10’ in order for the drive train to position and drop the plastic scoring tubes in place. However, problems with the performance of the drive train led the Vikings to re-design their robot mid-competition – opting instead to use the Mini-Rail for quick deployment of the small climbing robot.
While the re-design fine tuning did cost the team some games, they learned a great deal about the physics of vertical lift and robotics as a whole. Also, the team was very satisfied with the performance of the Mini-Rail product. “The Mini-Rail performed very well in both the lifting and mini-robot deployment tasks.” Allen Nuttle, Team Mentor. Next year, the Vikings will be back into the game ready to meet a new challenge.
For more information on the Vikings including videos and pictures, check out the teams website. http://team2641.com