Brute

Brute was designed from the outset for the Clean Sweep game. Brainstorming early in the season indicated that the ability to score as quickly as possible and overwhelm the opposition would be a hard tactic to beat. Kent McLeod became the principle designer and builder of this robot. It was realised that if the balls could be corralled into the corners and against walls with a big scoop they would have nowhere to go except into the scoop. This would require a fast powerful robot to pick up and dump quickly. A simple tank drive on the rear wheels was utilised. While the scoop idea was a very simple concept, getting it to work well proved difficult and the robot was not ready to compete seriously until the end of the season.

The Scoop was optimised for size and front opening which resulted in a complex structure. The soft 'grippy' balls proved to be challenging as they frequently jammed in the scoop or between the robot and the walls. Of necessity the robot was also big, heavy and required considerable power which pushed motors, gears and batteries to the limit. Power expanders helped here.

The robot was under development for most of the season. Many things were tried to optimise the design such as movable tines that divided the scoop vertically to enable two scoops prior to dumping. Flaps to channel the balls to one side or the other during dumping to negate opposition blocking was tried with some success. Many combinations of front wheel arrangements were tested and tried to maximise ball uptake. Various combinations of gravity actuated flaps were tried to knock the high balls from the tower when dumping and to maximise blocking.

The final configuration of a simple scoop with gravity actuated side flaps finally achieved success winning the Programming skills at the VEX NZ Upper North Island Regionals This was particularly pleasing as programming performance was not considered the main strength of the robot. Reliability was still a problem with breakages. Disaster struck on the set up day for the NZ National VEX Robotics competition when Brute fell from the top of the pit trolley entering the arena. While it appeared undamaged it would not lift reliably and closer inspection revealed a slightly bent top rail. This resulted in a frantic strip and rebuild of the entire lift mechanism taking 5 hours and robbing the team of its programming practice time. It was decided to focus on game play and robot skills which were considered to be the robots strengths. 2919B and Brute won through to the finals in an alliance with Glenfield College (2918) and 2919 where they lost in a well fought final. Brute also went on to narrowly win the Robot Skills from their alliance partner Glenfield College.

Unfortunately Kent, along with the principle designer and builder of K-Forces other robot to qualify for the worlds, Nathan Allen, had a long standing school commitment in the form of a trip to Nepal for two weeks. This meant that they were away for two weeks, arriving back in time to depart for Dallas the next day. James Davis, Christian Silver, Vassily Schumane, and Michael Shafer put in considerable time redesigning, building and trialling the drive chain, gravity activated flaps and a latching pre-load table in the two weeks prior to the worlds. Christian spent considerable time with the programming skills achieving excellent scores of 120 or more. In his week of available preparation time Kent and Micheal focussed on Robot Skills.

At the World Championships the team had considerable problems with their programming which appeared to be a combination of factors. It was decided to focus again on robot skills and game play. Brute's drive team of Kent McLeod and Michael Shafer achieved fourth place for the tournament in robot skills and were chosen as second robot in the 6th alliance in the Maths division. They went on to reach the maths division final where they lost 2-1 to the alliance with our other team in it. This was a bitter sweet match to watch for the K Force team in the crowd.

During the competition the judges visited and questioned Team 2919B at length on three separate occasions which later proved eventful. The team received the Maths Division Think Award and the overall Judges Award for the tournament for their programming knowledge.