PBC Linear provides a competitive edge in the First Robotics Competition (FRC)
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 competition provides hands-on design/mechanical physics and engineering experience to high school students, along with valuable teamwork building and project management skills. PBC Linear has lent product support to the Pittsburgh Central Catholic High School team (the Vikings) for two consecutive years. 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 is given to every team, each team is encouraged to go out and find products that meet their specific needs.
The PBC Linear solution
FRC varies their games each year. For the first year of collaboration between the Vikings and PBC Linear, FRC rolled out Breakaway, a game where teams are grouped into alliances (3 teams and 3 robots per alliance). The robots use varied student-made designs to toss soccer balls at targets, or elevate and suspend climbing towers in order to score points.
The Vikings accomplished this utilizing our Uni-Guide controlled design. We were able to implement our Uni-Guide linear slide for a reliable operation of their robot’s “kicking” mechanism. Installed into a system they designed, the Vikings took the Uni-Guide through a host of competitive events throughout the country, pitting their design against other high school teams.
For the next year, FRC unveiled Logomotion™, a game where an alliance of three teams competed by attempting to place a variety of plastic tubes onto 10-foot scoring or deploy mini-robots designed to climb up the poles.
PBC Linear teamed up with the Vikings to help with a new design for this new game. the Vikings decided to install Mini-Rail miniature linear guides in a telescopic lift application. This would offer the team reliable linear travel under extreme impact conditions. 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 gain points.
Results / ROI
At the end of the first competition, the Vikings’ robot excelled in mechanical performance due to the team’s innovative design and hard-working components; such as the Uni-Guide. The Vikings were even recognized for their design, winning an award for Innovation and Control at the Long Island Regional (at which they also took first place).
While the re-design fine tuning of the second year, 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.