“Black Mamba” is more than fun nickname. At 10.9 ounces, the Mamba’s lifter arm may well be the lightest functioning manipulator in all of FRC this year. Composed almost entirely of carbon fiber tubing and advanced machinable plastics, the mamba is light but strong and formidable. Essentially a telescoping finger and opposable thumb, the Mamba performs tasks with amazing accuracy, and is able to pick up any shape with ease. Like its namesake, this innovative construct is effective against any and all opponents.

While considering possible design directions during Build Season, we looked for the lightest arm material possible in order to minimize the amount of torque required for the pivoting mechanism. Lightness would increase our versatility in terms of positions to retrieve and place tubes. We experimented with a variety of more traditional materials, but in most cases, lightness corresponded with lack of rigidity. This led us to consider advanced materials, and settled on carbon fiber and advanced machinable plastics. The modern synthesized material, carbon fiber, is stronger than steel, with little to no flex, and perfect for the Logomotion game, allowing us to reach our goal of light & rigid.  The weight of our entire arm is less than 11 ounces, and its stunning accuracy has been proven with countless hours of testing.

The telescoping system is composed of two carbon fiber rods inserted within one another mounted in a polypropylene wheel, designed and machined by students under mentor supervision. The telescoping extension is powered by a Banebots motor winch assembly, and the elevation of the arm is controlled by a pair of window motors. Our claw is made of hand-shaped Lexan, and the thumb was made from a section of a carbon fiber arrow. In order to prevent our arm from extending beyond the limits of the bounding box, we have attached magnetic reed switches at various set positions and the extension is controlled at all times by our software.

After a long period of discussion and research, various concepts the students thought of came together in this concept. With round after round of testing and improvement, we moved from a broomstick mounted with pneumatics to the advanced, skillfully-crafted technology we are using today. On the Mamba itself, we have no metal except a handful of screws in our connecting blocks themselves. Every part was custom-designed and machined by students, and have been improved by testing and modification to be ideal for our robot.

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