Robotics Education & Competition Foundation
Online Challenges

Perpendicular C-Channel Coupler


Entry ID #: 6954
Created: Fri, Dec 27, 2019 3:01 PM

 The model I have submitted is a perpendicular C-channel coupler. I have been involved in vex robotics for five years now and while designing this C-channel coupler I considered some of the bigger problems I have had when designing and testing robots for the games. One of the more tedious problems is trying to attach these pieces together without adding extra and unneeded metal that negatively affect the robot. This coupler allows teams to connect 2 C-channels perpendicularly, rather than attempting to bind them by laying metal on top of the bars. Since the resulting structure would remain as tall as the c-channels themselves, it means that you don’t have to compromise in the z-direction. The exact specifications of the part relative to a C-channel is 2units x 4units x 1unit. The coupler is simple and maintains the strength of a c-channel without the added bulk of other solutions, as it just slides into the inside of a c-channel.  The main application of the part is to attach 2 C-channels perpendicularly. Though simple, there are many instances this is necessary. For example; Connecting the horizontal section of an H-Drive to the sides. Allowing the center strafe wheel to be perfectly level with the other wheels Relating to this year’s competition, it can connect a thin section of a tray (say, a single c-channel in the y direction) to a wider section of the tray (for example, a c-channel in the x direction connecting 2 parallel angle irons) Though not its primary purpose, it can be used in place of standoffs, with the coupler in the x-direction connecting 2 parallel c-channels in the y direction. The inspiration for this part came really sudden. I was trying to connect a 3 x 15 C-channel to another c-channel perpendicularly. In my head, I had thought it would be a fairly simple task until I realized that there was no way for me to connect the long side of a C-channel to the short side of another without using another C-channel to connect the two from above or below the intended connection. In any other situation I would be able to connect them stacking one C-channel over the other and screwing it together, but that shortens the overall length, and the parameters of my task meant that I could not extend the structure in the z-axis in any way. In the end I had to cut out 2 holes from the long side of one of the C-channels so that I could insert a C-channel coupler perpendicularly and then connect it to the other C-channel.  In many robotic clubs (including mine), cutting C-channels in such a way is inefficient as it would render it basically useless for later users. So I started thinking, “what if I didn’t have to go through the work of cutting metal?”. And this mindset is what lead me to make this part, getting inspiration from the coupler I used in my project. I used Autodesk Inventor Professional 2019 to model this part and took a normal 2x15x1 c-channel as a base and constructed the coupler around/into it. Using the planes of the c-channel, I had extruded the coupler to the same thickness as the c-channel itself and cut the holes in to the exact shape as well to make it seem like an actual VEX VRC part. I enjoyed this CAD experience; as It had reinforced the CAD skills I had learned previously but it still felt like I was learning something new and contributing to my teams success. . I plan on using CAD quite more in the future to test out more part theories and hypotheses. Being on a competitive team, it is not fun when you spend time building a robot only to have such a small, yet important, aspect of it not go as planned. CAD has been, and will continue to be an excellent tool of foreplanning.. I have been working hard toward my dream of acquiring a degree in engineering. These skills I have now in applying CAD to design scenarios will be critical in my success. All in all, this project was truly beneficial. I was able to take a problem my team and club face daily and create a solution using my knowledge of 3D modeling and its relation to the design process.  


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