The team has grown a lot since the start of the school year. Covid has not stopped the interest in STEM. We have received 21 new members, doubling our team in size. The new members along with the veterans have been hard at work over the past few weeks. After kick-off, we identified new ways to improve communications with each other, had a change in our meeting schedule, and divided into different subsections. With our new meeting schedule, the team meets four times a week; two days that are fully remote, and two days that are in person. For these in person meetings, members have the option to be remote and are still able to participate in the meetings. These in-person meetings invite all team members to come in and work with everyone else on the team. With this, we have introduced new safety measures and protocols to ensure that every team member will be safe. This allows us to safely roll into a strong start to the build season. Each member has the option of what area they would like to go. There are six different subsections of the robot. From there, each member has been assigned into a specific subsystem, a model that the team has used in past seasons.
Team operations talked about rebranding the team, and some of the members have created sketches that may replace the current logo. Although we will not be changing our team logo this year, these designs may be implemented next year for future seasons. The team has worked on setting up the Mooyah fundraiser and making it official. Check out our previous blog post for more information. Along with rebranding, team ops has been writing handwritten letters to send out to our sponsors. These handwritten letters are more personal, and will let our sponsors know that the team is still active and that we appreciate their support. We have also been updating the layout and information on our team website so it is more up to date and fresh. We have also been working on coming up with ideas for the innovation challenge which we mentioned in the 2021 Kickoff Blog Post, as well as working on making the team t-shirts for this season.
Since the start of the new FIRST Robotics season, the software team has been especially hard at work. We’ve focused on onboarding the new members by involving them in peer programming and planning. Additionally, our highest-priority goals are completing the team’s main build project (the swerve drive) and excelling in the at-home challenges offered by FIRST this year. This means learning the basics of swerve and the mathematics required to implement it, as well as the programming logic behind it. We’ve also been working to integrate computer vision into our robot in order to complete the Galactic Search challenge, where we seek out Power Cells randomly placed on the field.
The shooter group has been reading and discussing the game manual for this year’s competition. We went over rules, regulations, dimensions, and penalties. Then, broke off and discussed possible strategies for gameplay, like field maneuvering, cycles, possible shooting positions, and different ways to score lots of points. Then, we started to make needs, wants, and nice to have lists so we can prioritize what needs to be worked on. Now that the team is able to meet in person, the group started some concept sketches after looking at last year's robot, considering the pros and cons. Then, discussed values of these concepts, and looked into materials for certain parts of the robot. We began training the new members on Onshape (CAD Software) for practice before designing the shooter. With the guidance of our mentors, students created a simple drivetrain. Then we started a CAD sketch of the shooter, while referencing the one from last year’s robot. To do this, the group used a graphical simulation to test different shooting angles with different heights, and velocities.
Since members are participating both virtually and in person, the intake/indexer group used zoom to include the virtual members so everyone was able to collaborate. Together, we came up with designs on a white board for moving a power cell from the floor to the shooter. With new members, the group did some training on CAD. Using that training, designs from a whiteboard were transferred to the CAD software.
The control panel group has started planning how they would like to build the manipulator while staying under the trench run height. The plan we ended up choosing was a pneumatic piston that will push a motor that has a stack of wheels attached to the top of it. The motor would be attached by a pivot point, so it can stay in a rested state until it is ready to be used. The group has started discussing locations it could be mounted on, such as the intake or the shooter’s hood. The location may change the design and their idea on how they would like to do this. After discussing possible mounting options, the group is waiting to begin the design process of mounts and locations. Since we don’t have a solid mounting spot yet, the group built the chassis in the CAD software and attached the new swerve drive modules, then designed new bumpers to attach to the chassis. The dimensions of the wheel pattern, height, and speeds to run the manipulator were tested and after inserting a motor with additional wheels to it, the group applied it to our 2019 robot for testing. Sadly it didn’t work out so we moved to the next option, which was to attach it to our most recent robot and retest the patterns to optimize the situation. The group has determined the ideal wheel pattern and height with a combination of 2-3 wheels and a height of approximately 31 inches from the ground. Motor speeds will be recorded soon.
Since the build season began, the swerve group has been focusing on getting each student caught up on the progress of the swerve module, and focused on design skills to begin modifying the CAD model. In the process, the current design has been tweaked, and some of the components have been tested to see if they work or if they need to be changed. A full scale 3D printed prototype of the main component stack of a module has been assembled to use as a test-bed. Unfortunately, testing has shown that significant design improvements are necessary in order to ensure the module and overall drivetrain will work. Now that the group is comfortable with the internals of the system and how it works, we are able to continue to push forward and make improvements that will ensure the longevity and efficiency of the drivetrain.
Come support Team 4909 at our MOOYAH fundraiser in Billerica MA on Wednesday February 17th from 3:00-8:00 PM. The team is excited to work with MOOYAH again because they made contactless ordering easy with their app, and all these purchases count towards the fundraiser. The steps to enter the promo code into the app are linked below. Orders placed on the app are also eligible for delivery. If you are dining in, or ordering in person simply mention Team 4909 or show the flyer shown to the employee assisting you. We hope to see lots of orders placed using our code or mentioning the team! Thank you for your support!
This past Saturday’s kickoff event marked the beginning of our 2021 build season! Since the FIRST season will be different from last year, the team did not hold kickoff in person, as we have done in previous years. Instead, all team members, along with mentors and alumni, watched the FIRST Robotics Infinite Recharge Kickoff Livestream on a zoom call together. Due to the abrupt ending of last year’s game, FIRST made the tough decision not to release a new game this year. Instead, they released an updated version of last year’s competition with new challenges that can be done virtually.
The team split up into different breakout rooms, one with new members and one with veteran members. Mentors were divided equally among each group to help ensure the conversations ran smoothly. In each room, the groups discussed the necessary information about the game. The new members went over the 2021 Infinite Recharge game manual. Together we read the layout of the game rules and how it would work. We then took turns reading the game’s objective and discussed essential vocabulary like power cells (balls), ‘power port,’ and shield generator (structure to climb on). Additionally, the new members read about safety rules and appropriate behavior at events. On the other hand, the veteran group analyzed a summary of the changes put into effect this season. After that, we looked over the three new challenges FIRST will be offering for the 2021 season (explained down below) and discussed the potential ones we will be competing in. Finally, the veteran members did a brief overview of how awards were adapted for this season.
Game Design Challenge: The Game Design Challenge allows teams to compete against each other by creating a FIRST Robotics Competition game design. Each year FIRST presents a new game design to the community to be played worldwide. This year, teams will have the chance to create their own game concept. Teams will present their plans to the judges, determining whether they will move on to the competition’s next stage. Game creations or elements from winning teams could be used in future years! This challenge is an excellent alternative for teams who must meet virtually.
Infinite Recharge at Home: Infinite Recharge at Home is a challenge with two ways for teams to engage: Compete for judged awards or compete in a Skills competition. In the judged awards process, teams can participate in an interview with a panel of FIRST Robotics Competition judges. The interview will consist of a presentation covering specifics about the robot and design process, followed by the judges’ questions. The Skills Competition consists of 5 challenges inspired by Infinite Recharge. Teams will attempt shooting challenges with their robot, as well as other various ‘skills challenges.’ Each team is awarded points towards their overall score for the challenges they choose to compete in.
Innovation Challenge: The Innovation Challenge allows teams to invent a robot to solve a real-world issue identified by the team. Using STEM and FIRST’s Game Changers, teams are asked to design a robot to develop a solution for the situation they identify. In addition to aligning with FIRST’s Game Changers, this problem/solution should push society forward and include physical and/or mental health improvements. Teams will craft a business model and develop a pitch to present to FIRST judges, all for a chance to be invited to the FIRST Global Innovation Awards. At the Awards, teams will participate in workshops, receive mentorship, and show off their inventions.
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