The teaser for this year's final competition has been released in a painfully long live stream by the good people over at FIRST Robotics, which you can watch here.The theme of this year's competition is deep space.
We are also working on our entry for the annual Let's Solve Water competition. The Let's Solve Water competition involves our robotics team to design and build a machine that, this year, acts as a water cannon that shoots water in a laminar flow into a bucket. A laminar flow means that the water flows out in a perfect stream, like a tube of glass. We are doing this competition to put the prize money that we hope to win towards the expenses of running a robotics team, such as tools, parts, and fees for entering competitions. The prize money for the Let's Solve Water competition is $1,000, which should pay off half of what we need to get to finals. However, the school, as well as local businesses and other donars, also support us, and you can, too!
Fri, Feb 2
As the end of build season approches, we are close to finishing our robot. All that is left is completing our final robot, which will compete in late March!
Tue, Jan 23
Our claws had to be redesigned several times, due to the fact that they did not intake crates at a certain angle. In addition to this, we've had problems with our drive train. As of now, we are unsure if it is a software or hardware problem. See our January 9th entry for more on our robot design!
Fri, Jan 19
The robotics season has been going phenomenally well so far! The biggest problem that we have encountered was that our robot was about four inches too big. We solved this by cutting two inches off of each side. We also had a bolt on our intake claws (the claws that grab the PowerCubes) that sheared from all of the pressure put on it.
Tue, Jan 9
After hours of brainstorming, we've decided that instead of trying to do every job, we will focus on only two: scaling and climbing. Our reasoning behind this is that if we concentrate our engineering skills on a single task, our robot will be better. As of right now, we are thinking of building a robot with a claw mounted on a cascade lift with flexible wheels that can grab the PowerCubes from all sides. We are also currently building a prototype for the claw.
Sat, Jan 6
Mr. Freivald will be the only person going to kickoff due to weather. Here's a breakdown of this year’s rules:
In the center of the field, there is a see-saw-like scale. This Scale can be tipped when robots place "PowerCubes" (yellow 13x13x11 milk crates weighing about three pounds) on either platform. Teams have "ownership" of the Scale when the scale tips down in their favor, which earns their team one point per second. At the end of the game, robots must climb the Scale to be ready to "Defeat the boss", or win the game.
In addition to the main Scale, there are two other scales, called Switches. These are similar to the main scale but it is surrounded by a fence.
The third element of the game is the Powerups. These Powerups will give the alliance an advantage over the other. The three Powerups are Force, which gives the alliance temporary ownership of the Switch, Scale or both depending on their amount of Powercubes; Boost, which temporarily doubles the rate of points earned when that alliance has ownership; and Levitate, which gives robots a "free climb". Powerups can be gained by placing PowerCubes in the "Vault". Robots pass PowerCubes to human players via the "Exchange", a polycarbonate wall with holes in it.
Still confused? Click here to check out the FIRST Robotics manuals for dimensions, rules and more.
The Robotics kickoff will be held on Saturday, January 6th! Buses will leave the high school bus loop at 7:00 that morning. The kickoff will reveal the challenge and theme of the game.
Think of the Robotics season as a sports season. The beginning and end of the year are a bit like the off-season of, say, a football team. We sign up, sell merchandise at the Naples Grape Festival, and complete a few minor projects. The kickoff begins the six-and-a-half-week build season, which is like the intense training of a football team before they begin larger games against other schools. At the end of the build season, we have the competitions. Think of the competitions as a game whose rules and theme change every year. In these competitions, we go against many other schools from all over the country. Some of these schools are much larger than ours and have tens, even hundreds, of teachers and students on their team.
The theme of this year's competition was hinted at in a 52-second competition trailer released in September. The trailer depicts a teenage girl walking into a basement and finding a game machine, much like Pac-Man machines found in arcades. The game powers up and prompts her to insert a coin. When she does, the machine scans her into the game and she transforms into a pixel-style version of her on the screen. No one really knows for sure what the game's rules will be or what it will be about, but we do know for sure is that the competition will be called POWER UP, and its theme will probably revolve around 80's or 90's vintage games or pixels.
The mecanum wheel is a wheel that can move in all directions due to the unique angle of its treads. Originally designed for use in military warehouses by cranes and similar machines, the mecanum is now often used in robots. For our robot design, we are using both mecanum wheels and smaller traction wheels. This compound design is called the Octocanum Drive. While not the most efficient of systems, we have found that it is the most reliable.
We chose to not participate in the Ra Cha Cha Ruckus this year due to unpreparedness. Instead the projects were changed to assemble a test drive train, participate in the Xylem Let's Solve Water competition, and to construct a telescope stand for the Earth Science teacher.
The Let's Solve Water this year had the toughest competition yet. Unfortunately, for the first time since the competition's creation, we did not win a prize.
The current projects for this off-season is to prepare for the Rah Cha Cha Ruckus this October and to come up with more efficient designs for storage.
Due to the outcome of the season the robot will be worked on for hopefully a better success at the ruckus. It will be a great learning experience for new members and practice for new drivers. Using the knowledge we learned from the season we will make a better robot for this off-season event.
We also want to develop a more efficient way to keep our batteries. The current design is dangerous, old, and confusing which is an old, flat-tired hand truck with an organizational box on it for the batteries. This design is unstable and unhelpful in keeping track of a battery's charge/condition.
The design for the robot was to have a high boiler shooter, rope climber, gear manipulator, and swerve drive. That design ended up being changed at competition slightly due to unknown problems.
After creating the swerve drive in the off-season, parts were easier to be tweaked and remade for the game season without as much testing in-season, but they did not work as tested in competition.
In the off-season, students developed a new drive train and worked on football manipulation.
Throughout the summer and into the school year, a group of students and mentors developed a new swerve drive to use in the upcoming competition. They mastered the design for the upcoming season.
Students also worked on football manipulation. Team members believed that the 2017 game would involve an american football due to the inclusion of dirigibles in the teaser. Students researched throwing and collecting techniques for the footballs and developed prototypes.
We also participated in the Let's Solve Water competition by Xylem and McQuaid High School. The competition was to build a water pump using a tiny given motor to pump water as high and as possible and to fill a gallon jug as fast as possible. Our centrifugal pump won the most ellegant design award.