Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Initiating Competition Stance

The state competition is this Saturday, and we've made quite a bit of progress. When we were putting the finishing touches on the robot we realized that it was too long to fit in the 18x18 inch standard for all the robots and finally met the standard for our robot. Mr. Halley built an 18x18 inch box for it to fit in in order to fit the standard, and that definitely helped us reach our goal. We had to refashion the handle that latches onto the top bar of the mountain to make the length of the robot shorter.

We also completed the scoring mechanism after quite a bit of work, and lessened the amount of surgical tubing in it so that the servo that controls it wouldn't be under so much pressure. We gave it a test run, and it worked pretty well, so we decided to try and attach it to the robot itself. We connected it to the extending arm, and we extended it out, and it seemed to work great, despite making the robot a little top-heavy. So, yay! We finally finished it.

Finally, we just tested the robot to see if the plow would work well, and that, too, also seems to work nicely. No more debris will get under the wheels of our robot. :) So, in the remaining days that we have, we're going to pack and ready ourselves for the state competition, and hope that we do well.

Until then, wish us luck!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Some Sad News

I don't know if you know, but there was a snow storm last week, and there were a lot of states that got a lot of snow. Unfortunately, the fears over that snow led to the 2nd Qualifier being canceled. So, we didn't end up going to the competition, or the Friday night meeting right before it, either.

But, this did give us a bit of a breather so that we could continue working on the robot and improving the design. The Qualifier did get rescheduled to this Saturday, but only two team members and one coach could go that day, so we decided against going. And, the State competition would be the following Saturday too, so there really wasn't much reason for going anyway, seeing as a competition right after a competition would be a bit stressful.

The Thursday of last week is when we had another outreach event. Another family science night, to be exact, in which we traveled to Manning Oaks Elementary school and explained what FTC was, and what FIRST did, and how to get involved. The kids really enjoyed the robots and how to drive them, and even the adults were intrigued and having fun. They really wanted to know how to start or find a team, which is really good news to us.

Maybe there will be more FLL teams than ever next season.

But anyway, the news is that we have six more meetings (including the meeting that we're at today) until the State competition, and we have to finish our scoring mechanism, make sure that the new and improved robot fits perfectly inside of the 18" x 18" inch invisible box that represents our size boundaries, attach our plow that will save our wheels from the debris, and make sure we can hang in the amount of time given to us in the end game.

I think that things are cruising very nicely, and that we will be able to complete most of our list, if not everything, that we need to do. We are on track for success, and hopefully the judges at the State competition will see that!

I think that we are slowly contracting Too-Much-Time-On-Our-Hands syndrome, too...

They may need to make a cure for that.

Friday, January 15, 2016

2nd Qualifier Incoming!

The second qualifier of the season is next Saturday, and we are trying our best to be ready. Even though we've already advanced, we still want to take advantage of the opportunity of experiencing another competition.

Since the first qualifier, we've made some changes to the robot that have improved the quality of our runs. In order to make our hanging process faster, we found that there was something in the code that we had to change in order to increase the speed of the motors. It hangs like light speed now, so we'll have more time to do things like the All-Clear. On Wednesday, we were testing the robot and the speed it took to hang, and I think we went a little too fast so the string that held us up to hang completely snapped.

We learned a little lesson there. It's not the first time we've fallen, though. I guess we just can't get too excited when hanging.

We also worked on our scoring mechanism a lot more, but it still isn't done. We were having trouble making a sufficient design for it, but we finally settled on a somewhat simplistic design and began to add to it. One of the problems about the box was that we had to make the arms higher so that the not only the squares, but also the balls could get into the mechanism. The attachment is almost done, we just need to make a few changes that will allow us to hook it into the middle of the robot, so as to actually collect the debris in front of us when we drive.
Our scoring mechanism (: (part of it)

We're going to another family science night next Thursday, so we'll have some last minute outreach cramming, too.

We got some good news from Quintin, though. There was an Apple Internship Camp that FRC and FTC team members could apply for, and Quintin was in the top 75 people to get accepted.

Big news. :D

Anyway, not much is happening at the moment, but we are trying our best to be prepared for the next qualifier, even though we wish we had just a little more time than we already did.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Competition Highlights

Hey, guys! So it's been a while since we last updated, and as you know, the competition happened in the time between then and now. Of course, I'm sure you're wondering how we did, so here's what happened.

On the morning of the competition, we drove to Maxwell, where the competition was being held, and set up shop in our own booth. We had inspection and setup done quickly so that we would have time to look at the robot and make any repairs that would be needed in the future. Before we could start the robot matches, we would have to go into a room for judging. There we would tell the judges all about our season, what we did, and how we did it. We made sure to include as much detail as possible without going over the time limit. They like to see a lot of outreach and creative innovation for ideas on the robot.

We left the judging room feeling pretty okay, and went to start the robot matches. Our first match was a bit difficult because our motor control malfunctioned and stopped working right before it was our turn. We had to work fast if we were going to compete in that match, and we managed to get it working just in time, which was quite serendipitous. We have videos of some of the matches that you can watch.

In our first match, we learned that the debris on the ground was going to be a real pain to drive over. We kept getting stuck on it and it would clog our wheels to the point of being unable to move. Thankfully, we never managed to stay that way, and we managed to finish the match.

As the matches progressed, we realized that the amount of time that it took for is to hang was far too much  for us to do it in the two minutes and thirty seconds that was there. But every single match brought us closer and closer to hanging, and in the very last match we were so close that we would have only needed about three more seconds and we would have hung.

The extremely cool part about all of that was that everyone there began to watch us, in hopes that we would hang. They began cheering us on, and even the judges wanted us to hang so badly. I'm being serious when I say that we were the only team there to come as close as we did to hanging. And that fact really encouraged us to keep going and to not give up.

Finally, the matches ended and it was time for the final alliances to unite. Unfortunately, we weren't chosen, and we didn't participate in the final rounds. However, during the awards ceremony, we were met by a surprise. We won the Motivate award, and we were third place for the Inspire award! We were so happy, because this allowed us to advance to the state competition in February! Normally, our team doesn't advance from the first qualifier, but this year we did, and it was awesome.

After the awards, everybody cleared out and we followed the yearlong tradition of going to dinner with everybody after competition. We went to a Mexican place down the road and had dinner there, and I think it's safe to say that we were so tired that we didn't need desert that night. We had a great time, and everyone went home.

The perfect finish to an awesome competition!

Now we're back at the garage, trying to figure out ways to make our hanging faster, finish our scoring mechanism, and also hopefully find an easier way to shoo debris out of the way so that we won't get stuck on it. The real competition has only begun.

Here are some pictures and videos of the competition from the 12th.

Crash coding - am I right?!!!

Rehearsing judging lines

Our banner. :)

Outside the judging room!

During the judging period.

Done with all the presentational speaking, WOO HOO. :D

It's robot time.

So far, so good.

Inspection time.

On the practice field.

Trying to fix our motor controller right before the first match.



Winning the Motivate award. :)


Friday, December 4, 2015

One Week Away

We are one week from the first competition on Saturday, December 12th. And, like any other team before a competition, we are scrambling to finish things up.

A lot has happened since the last blog post. First of all, we went to EIS and presented what we were doing with robotics and technology, and they took a great interest in FTC. They then proceed to pull a big check of $2,000 out of their pockets and give it to us. We are absolutely so grateful to them and all they've done for us!

Another thing that's happened is that we went to the Alpharetta Library and did a collaboration of presentations with the Chattahoochee team Taco Tuesday for kids and their parents.  The kids loved it and they got to drive the robots and ask questions. It was a amazing to see their faces light up!

We have created a scoring mechanism that is going to allow us to dump the debris into the buckets on the mountains. We've improved the wheels and their rubbery surfaces, and we've attached the hanging mechanism (the t-slot). These are some pictures and videos of how everything is working so far:


Sorry this wasn't a very long blog post, but we have a whole lot to do and only a short amount of time to write about it!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Major Progress!

It's been a while since we've updated, but a lot has happened since then! We've had major progress in getting up the mountain, and that's mostly because of a new type of wheel that we tried. When we removed the rubber from the normal wheels, it gave us lots of traction for grabbing onto the bars and propelling us forward.

We also received our T-slots that we're going to use as an arm to hang on the top bar of the mountain and also score debris! We put it together and it's working perfectly. We couldn't have asked for anything better right now.

On the topic of outreach, we went to Ocee Elementary school for their family science night. We taught them about FIRST, and what they do, and what FLL and FTC and FRC are like, and what the important aspects of all three are. The kids got to drive the robot, as well as a lego FLL robot, too. They really enjoyed it.We also hosted the Chattahoochee High School team in our garage so that they could use our field.

We also had a build day a few Saturdays ago, in which we went to a large gathering with other FTC teams where there was a full field where we were able practice, and try trial and error. This was where we had the robot get the highest then it had ever gotten. There's a video on that near the end of the post. ;)

Things are progressing quite nicely, and we learned that we are one of the few teams that have found a way to make it up the mountain that far and well. Hopefully our progress will only get faster and better, so we're keeping our fingers crossed as we continue to work.

Hosting the Chattahoochee High School Team

Experimenting with the wheels

Experimenting some more...

Our T-slot contraption :)

Ocee Elementary schoolers driving our robot

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Middle of the Season

It's in the middle of the season and we're all trying our best to stay caught up with where we're supposed to be. The robot game this year is turning out to be even more difficult than we'd expected.
Some of the ideas that we thought would totally work have totally failed. So, we're trying to our best to fix these errors and create new ways around other problems.

We are primarily focused on being able to climb our way up the mountain that we showed you a few posts back. If we are able to do that, then we will be able to get high enough to be able to hang from the top bar of the obstacle, and receive a great amount of points.

The treads that we thought were going to work and help us up the mountain only reduced our traction and damaged the frame of the robot. To be honest, we were pretty shocked when we saw the results, but we knew that we had to create another solution to climb the red and blue monster.

We tried taking the treads off, and that helped a bit, but our wheels were getting stuck in between the bars of the mountain, so we decided to replace the middle wheels with gear-like wheels that would be able to catch on the bars and propel us up higher than before. It worked, but only once. So, now we are improving this strategy and adding weight to the robot so that it is less likely to spontaneously flip over when climbing.

This year is definitely a challenge, but we are definitely doing our best to overcome what we can. As long as we have the confidence and perseverance that is required, we're sure that we'll be able to overcome all of these flaws.

Experimenting with the wheels

Some of the new ideas we have: chains

Researching for needed parts