The Linear Puncher is going to be a great option for launching balls this year, since it is precise, doesn’t need to warm up to start shooting, and requires less power to shoot per ball, given the low possesion limit. However, the most popular design, the slipgear puncher, can only shoot at one power. Plus, there are many other optimizations that are to be discovered, and I wanted everyone to discuss their ideas here. The goal is to engineer new, different, and useful designs that can be classified in the puncher category. New and exotic ideas are welcome: we are brainstorming here.
I’ll start off with some of my ideas:
Improvement #1: Release the power after desired windup power
The reason why the slipgear puncher is such a good design is that it allows the mechanism to release all of the potential energy that was built up over a long period of time in a short period of time. This is why it is necessary to suddenly isolate (specifically, unmesh the gear teeth) the power delivery from the puncher so it is free to release the energy all at once. However, you can’t change the amount that the mechanism winds up before releasing from shot to shot. A solution is to make a mechanism unmesh the teeth in a user or code controlled fashion, instead of a built in, periodic, and unchanging fashion with the slipgear.
You can accomplish this the same way a transmission does ( example ), by shifting the axle so the teeth don’t mesh anymore. You can activate it with a motor, pneumatics, or even a passive mechanism influenced by another part of the robot, like the lift. Paired with sensors and code, you can make a puncher mechanism that can shoot at any power in a continuous range.
Improvement #2: Make the mechanism more compact
A typical slipgear puncher can get long and bulky easily. I wanted to find ways to make it more compact, due to the nature of this years game. One idea is to scrap the gear racks and wind it back with a rope and winch system. This way, the puncher arm doesn’t stick out the back when the mechanism is being wound. A slipgear can then be used to wind up the winch and release it to shoot (you could use another release mechanism, like the one I suggested above).
I suggested a few improvements to certain problems with the puncher above. But, I know that they aren’t the only ones. So I think it would be really great if we all found awesome ways to overhaul the puncher design.