Lee Szuba About

FIRST Team 3590

January - May 2011

In my final year of high school, our school received the funding for a second FIRST robotics team. My teachers at the time gave me the fantastic opportunity to run a very small team of students independent of the other school team.

At the competition we had a fantastic group of students that worked together incredibly well coordinating everything fixing problems as they came up. We performed very well, winning Highest Rookie Seed, eventually getting knocked out by the formidable Team 2056 in the semi-finals.

Many of the parts of the robot were constructed on an old CNC machine I updated with EMC and a new stepper drive system a few months prior.

Overview 1

Overview 2

Overview 3

Overview 4

Part of the competition included a “mini bot” which was deployed to climb a pole for extra points in the final seconds of the match. Ours worked somewhat well, making it up the pole successfully roughly half the time. When the main robot launched the mini bot it would hit the post, starting the drive motor and clamping the wheels on.


The elbow gearbox is machined directly into the arm to save some weight and make everything more compact. Shafts were machined on a bench lathe from steel hex stock.

Elbow drive gearbox (integrated into arm)

The shoulder joint utilizes the only welding; we didn’t have aluminum welding equipment in our shop, so we tried to avoid it where possible.

Front shoulder detail

Back shoulder detail

The shoulder drive gearbox is a little more simple, but with a higher reduction ratio and more powerful motors. The gears are also machined out for weight savings. An encoder along with a limit switch on the shoulder itself provides position feedback.

Shoulder drive gearbox (with feedback)

The main drive uses two speed pneumatic transmissions (purchased than modified for weight) to maximize speed. The compressor, solenoids, and tank for the pneumatic system are pictured as well.

Drive and pneumatic system

All six wheels are driven, using a simple chain setup. The center two wheels are slightly lower, giving the robot a point to pivot on.

Drive chains and wheels