Archive for February, 2016

Week 6 update, part 2

Posted in The Blog on February 27, 2016 by frc3840

Even after the robot was finished, we still had plenty of things to do.

First of all, we went to a scrimmage event on Saturday. It was quite the eye-opener for our rookies, as most of them had not been to such an event before. It gave them a taste of how the competition would be, but I quote the words of our mentor Dean: “The competition is ten times crazier.”

At the scrimmage, it was apparent that not all the teams were exactly ready. Some robots would tip over obstacles, some robots would have trouble shooting balls, and some robots would not budge at all. Of course, that included our robot as well. We faced issues with our shooter, and most of the time it was on the floor, and we could hardly go anywhere as a result. Thankfully, things improved as time passed, and teams, including us, were able to fix most of the problems they had been facing.


But driving the robot was not the only thing our members had to do. Our rookies also scouted for the team. Scouting was not something that we would focus on, as we did not have enough people to scout while working on the robot. As we have several new members this year, we sent them to scout as other teams competed against each other. After being shown how, the rookies took turns sitting at the spectator side, taking notes on the robots’ performances.


We also asked one of the inspectors to come over and take a look at our robot. Our mentors had the rookies to answer most of the questions asked, as we want our members to be able to answer any questions people might ask during the actual competition – and in fact, several teams sent out scouting teams and asked us questions even at the scrimmage. But that was not the only reason why we wanted our robot to be inspected. It is always a good idea to do things ahead of time, and by having our robot inspected during the scrimmage, we could have more time to fix problems. We did not have any major issues, though; we had a few questions answered however, one of them being concerns about the robot’s height as we drive the robot, and we are glad to have them answered.

We continued to practise driving in the next three days. We made minor modifications to the robot on Sunday, and brought it to the town hall for practice. On Monday, we held an open house event at the same town hall, inviting people to come and see how the team was doing.


And they enjoyed our demonstration.


On Tuesday, we brought the robot to Cambridge-Isanti High School. As we could not fit the high goal into the town hall, we couldn’t really test out our shooter on it, and therefore we are very thankful to CIHS and team 5464 Bluejacket Robotics, who lent us the field to practise.

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Shout out to these awesome guys!

Towards midnight, there was also one thing we had to do: the bag and tag process. Basically that means we have to put our robot in a plastic bag and wrap it up, so that we could not work on it anymore, until we go to Duluth where the competition is held.


That marked the end of the build season for this year. But that doesn’t mean we have nothing to do before the competition….


Weeks 5 & 6 update

Posted in The Blog on February 23, 2016 by frc3840

In the past two weeks, we focused on testing and improving our robot. Although it could run and it could shoot, in most situations there will always be issues that come up whenever something gets done, and it was no different for our robot.

By driving our robot, we realized that the robot might tip over when it crossed obstacles, the treads would come off in certain situations, and that there were issues that caused the robot to not execute commands the way we wanted it to. To deal with these problems, we tightened the chains connecting the motors to the treads, we added wheels near the robot’s center of gravity, and we rewrote some of the code, in addition to rewiring parts of the electronic board.


We had to take away our electric board and our pneumatics board to fix issues with the shooter.


Taking apart the treads.

We also had to undo some of the progress made in the previous weeks. Our bumpers were incorrectly made, and we had to redo them. Our first idea for the door opener, which was more than halfway done, was scrapped, forgoing the arm in exchange for more time to focus on other aspects of the robot.


Work in progress.

On the other hand, we have done a lot more test driving. Mentor and founder of the team, Andrew, had designed a drive course for us, in which we have to drive around chairs in a 8-shape. It was not an easy task for all of us, as the robot drives in a manner that is unlike any other robots we have built. But eventually, some of our members got the hang of it, and were able to make less mistakes than before. At this point it still presents a challenge to some members, but others are growing confident in driving the robot, and that is well.


Setting up obstacles at the local town hall.


(PS: We bought a new trailer to carry our stuff around. It’s going to look great.)

Week 4 update

Posted in The Blog on February 13, 2016 by frc3840

In the last week, we completed a couple of things. First of all, our robot is finally driveable! This means that our members can practice driving the robot, including how to cross the obstacles efficiently.


Weighing the robot beforehand.


Testing the robot.

Secondly, our shooter is completed. It’s not attached to our robot yet, but the shooter per se is functional.


Thirdly, an important project was completed and submitted, called the Chairman’s Award.

So what is the Chairman’s Award? It is described as “the most prestigious award a team can win at a regional or at the championship, more so than even winning the competition itself.” It is not about winning the competition of the year. Rather, it judges teams by how they demonstrate commitment to spread their passion for science and technology.

So what’s in it for us? Winning the Chairman’s Award would induct the team into the FIRST Hall of Fame, and would be invited to the Championships every year regardless of performance. But to be honest, winning the award means that we would be recognized by FIRST, and that already is the reward.

In other news, remaining parts of the robot were being worked on, such as the bumpers, and the door opener, which allows us to get past some of the obstacles. But aside from that and small improvements here and there, our robot is in good shape.

Week three update

Posted in The Blog on February 5, 2016 by frc3840

In the third week, the remaining obstacles were built, the electrical board was completed, and the gearboxes and the associated motors were connected to the board.  Some robot code had also been written. So far, we are able to get the motors run in both stages of the game, the autonomous and the teleoperated stages, so that it can move on its own, but can also receive commands from the human drivers. Aside from that, the image processing code was also being worked on, so that we can later see from the robot’s point of view when we drive the robot. Lastly, work has begun on our ball handler, and the robot frame is nearly completed. We expect to begin driving the robot in the middle of week four.




One of the completed obstacles.


Printing out a piece with a 3D printer.


The drive train, nearly completed.