Thursday, December 11, 2014

Our First Qualifier of the Season

On Saturday, December 12, we attended our first qualifier of the season. It was hosted by Team LED and took place at Southern Polytechnic University. As usual, we arrived at 7am so we could get our pit set up and get through inspections early.

Our team and our robot
We made it through the hardware, software, and field inspections without any problems. We felt good about our judges' interview.

Hardware inspection

Software inspection
Field inspection
Waiting - and preparing - for our judges interview
However our first three matches were not very successful. In one, a motor controller burned out. We replaced it between matches, by hooked something up backwards. So in the next round, Jackson had to drive with inverted controls. He did the best he could, but it was hard and he turned over on of the goals so we lost those points. In one match, the wrong program was selected on the NXT. Those were dumb mistakes that really frustrated us.

Waiting for our first match to begin
Working on the robot
But it all turned around in the last match. We were paired with team 9160 - Titan Roboteks, and together we scored 236 points. That was the best score of the day by anyone.

Team 9160 finished ranked 2nd and they chose us for their alliance partner.

Selected for the alliance

We won the semifinal in 2 straight matches. Then we won the final in 2 straight matches. In the last match, we scored 239 points. It was awesome!

Preparing for the final match
Blue wins!

Overall, it was a great competition. We won the PTC Design Award for our robot design. We were part of the winning alliance (2nd team chosen). And we were third runner up for the Inspire Award. Unfortunately we didn't advance to the state competition, but it gives us hope for the next qualifier.

Monday, October 27, 2014

TSI Field Trip Day

On Wednesday October 22nd, 2014, we went to see our new mentors, TSI Solutions. We were given a tour of their headquarters and met many of their employees. TSI solutions makes parts that other companies buy to use. Sometimes TSI makes sub-components that they sell to other companies instead of making others build the components. We were able to see some of the sub-components that they were working on. They donated us some T-slot aluminium channel of varying length. We aren't sure if they can be used on the robot, but we might use them for a sign in our booth.

Brandon met their VP salesman, John Post Jr. at a Surface Mount Technology Association convention. They were very excited to help us and they gave us some great pointers.We prepared a small introduction about our team, FIRST, and our robot for them to hear. They also showed us a pneumatic golf ball putter that was self refilling and in sync with itself. Over all, it was a great trip and we hope to hear more from them again

You can find more about our new mentors at

100 Robotics Alliance Outreach

Today Quintin and Brandon went to 100 Scholars Alliance STEM Day at the Georgia World Congress Center. At the event, there were several other FTC and FIRST teams, such as Twisted Axle, Team Genius, and RoBugs. The guest speaker was a NASA representative, and did a great job with the kids! (The kids also did a great job pulverizing their eardrums.) 

Quintin and Brandon spent the time there talking to the kids who came by the booth and working on the Outreach robot while also tweaking some parts on the Competition Robot. One unfortunate turn of events began when Quintin attached the top lift’s motor wires to a battery. The motor struggled to push upwards for a second then started smoking before it blew out. It gave off a terrible grease-motor oil smell that can only be described as the cause of brain cancer. After Quintin and Brandon removed the motor, they tried another with a red X on it. They then thought better of using that one and decided to just remove it and not try to lift the overweight arm. 

On the other hand, the Outreach robot's NXT brick needed a firmware update so that Quintin could compile and download the Tele-Op program. He grabbed the roller dolley, put the computer, outreach robot, and USB cord on it and zoomed around to look for a connection. After he looped around the whole room without a bar, he went out to the main hallway and managed to leech a lobby connection. 

After that adventure, they had a problem that wouldn’t let the robot respond from output from the Computer with USB, Wireless, or Bluetooth. Brandon replaced the DC Motor Controller, tested the motors with the battery, and Quintin fixed a broken link in the battery’s connectors. We got help from Annika from Team Genius, and she figured out that the DCMC was plugged into Port 4 on the NXT rather than the correct Port 1. After correcting this little oversight and getting the robot drive working with USB, Quintin decided to use Wireless. The only problem is that there was no connectable network, and he, Brandon, and a RoBugs member couldn’t figure out how to activate Bluetooth on the computer. After a good while we noticed that Delta had a stand at the convention, and had small, light wooden airplanes that we decided to throw around in our free time while the kids were listening to the speaker. All in all Quintin and Brandon feel like they had a good experience with the kids, and were glad to be able to get a few things done on the competition robot.

Pre-Season Review

Before the 2014-2015 FTC Season officially started, there was much to be done. We had several outreach events. Quintin went to the Surface Mount Technology Association Convention, aka SMTA, where he met several potential sponsors and other FIRST teams. At a local public elementary school, we were invited to the Dunwoody Springs Family Science Night. Elementary students came around to all the rooms to play with and experiment with different labs. We let the kids drive our Minibot Challenge Robot around and sweep up Legos, and even though hey didn't seem very excited, we were most liked out of all the labs.

Quintin set up our booth at the CISCO Stem Day, and was present along side many other FLL, FTC, and FRC teams. Many waves of different aged kids, ranging from middle to high school students, came though the room to see the FRC robots do an awesome ball-catching show, then to come and talk with the FLL and FTC teams. Quintin also brought the Minibot to work on it and to drive it around. Brandon brought the robot to the Georgia Manufacturing Expo. He met with the other FIRST teams present

We had a video conference with an engineering team at Siemens. They were very insightful and gave us many ideas for the oncoming season.We also had a new team member, Brandon. He is in 10th grade and is homeschooled.

(Put Outreach Events in Chronological Order and verify the events at each event.)

2013-2014 Season Wrapup

Our 2013-2014 Rookie Season is wrapped up with exciting news! We won the Connect Award, which is awarded to the team that was most involved with the local engineering community, and in total we had 6 mentors and 5 sponsors. Thanks to all of them! We also placed 12th in the state out of 81 teams. Go us! The State Competition went great, even though our robot broke down. The Samantha Module wasn't working correctly and one of our motors blew out, and they took about an hour to fix.

The next, and final part of the season was the Minibot Challenge. Teams try to design a funny, practical, or challenging robot. They must record a video of it and upload it to Youtube and send the link to FIRST. FIRST makes a playlist, and the team that has the most views and likes wins!

We designed a lego sweeper robot. Watch our video here.

We placed 3rd in the Minibot Challenge. The FIRST announcement is here.

The Challenge is over, but feel free to look at all the cool robot videos here :)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Monday, January 6, 2014

Pregame Rush - Robot Style

Saturday, January 11, is Game Day! That's when we will participate in our next competition, called a Qualifier. To say we are excited is an understatement! We are working hard this week to get everything ready.

We are putting the final touches on our robot, including attaching the mechanism that will raise the flag.

We are double checking our programming, and adding a mirror program of our autonomous program so we can be more flexible during the matches.

We are reviewing our engineering notebook to make sure it is complete. We are updating our team summary and our bill of materials.

We are practicing our judges presentation. And we came up with a new scouting strategy.

If we are ranked as one of the top 4 teams after the initial matches on Saturday, we will move to the semi-final matches and be able to choose a team to be part of our alliance. That means we need to know about how the other teams are doing during the day. So we will scout during the matches. We looked at the ways other teams scout and came up with some forms that will help us. We hope they help us be prepared!

Wish us luck on Saturday! If we do well, we have a chance to advance to the state competition in February. If we don't advance, our season is over. We are NOT ready for it to end!