The second group moved ahead with the manufacturing, assembling and testing of the intake prototype. It was mounted to a swerve chassis with the goal of observing its behavior at high speeds. After testing, students decided the configuration of double rollers on the system were not up to their standards. Along with mechanical issues, the group also discovered dead spots where the system was not touching the cone at all. Over the next week, students will be fine-tuning and fixing any other problems that may rise with the system.
Students worked on finalizing a design and basic geometry for the end-effector. The system will be placed on a pivot and attached to the elevator to properly perform the handoff between the two.
This week began with the build leads delegating the necessary work to subgroups within the subsystem. Among these subgroups, the first focused on organizing the CAD and assembly. The second worked on routing and talked through gear ratios. The third group started work on a bearing block. Members regrouped in the middle of the week to create a prototype for testing different aspects of the design. These tests proved to be incredibly successful, and worked to boost the morale of the team. As the week progressed, these subgroups continued working on their respective projects, making sure the final products were functioning as intended.
The software group finished autonomous pathing and continued making progress with AprilTag tracking. Students finished the drivetrain simulation and are in the process of transporting different drivetrain code to test on the robot. Members built a second robot to aid with testing prototypes.
Team Operations spent time completing this season’s Business Plan and Safety Manual this week. They also finished pending tasks for the upcoming ‘Hour of Code’ program and a robot demonstration at the Billerica Council on Aging. Members ended the week by updating the team’s competition banner and brainstorming for this season’s button design.
Name: Miranda Hodgkins
Title: Mechanical Team Member
Years on the Team: 1 Year
Areas of Focus and Responsibilities: "I am mainly on mechanical but I jump around doing different things."
Team 4909's Impact: "Being involved in robotics has taught me that I can do the things that I never thought I could do before. Its been really inspiring and empowering experience working with other people who are just as motivated and determined as I am."
Plans after High School: "Although I am a STEM nerd, I plan to go to school to study cello performance and music education. Hopefully after that, I will go back to study journalism to be a music journalist."
What FIRST Means to you: "FIRST means opportunity to me. They open a lot of opportunities not just for myself but women in general. Women are given more opportunities in the STEM world with FIRST being introduced so early to the field."
Favorite 4909 Memory: Attending N.E.R.D 2022 and celebrating winning 0th place.
Ideal Job: "Music Journalist."
Over the past week, Team Operations started working on this year’s business and safety plans, updating and changing the format where necessary. Members conducted the next Senior Spotlight interview, along with planning an introductory, block-based coding session for younger students called ‘Hour of Code’. Towards the end of the week, members began planning a robot demonstration at the local senior center and discussed strategies for running a scratch ticket raffle soon. Students finished by doing a SWOT analysis for the past year, considering the team’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats before coming up with ideas to better adapt to and eliminate the discussed weaknesses.
At the start of this week, the subsystem group discussed methods to shoot cones and cubes onto their respective nodes, going back and forth between a shooter or an extension method. After deliberation, members decided on the slanted elevator system as the most efficient method going forward. Afterwards, they explored the 7 extension methods the launcher group had previously researched. As the week went on, the subsystem regrouped and considered the logistics of the elevator. By the end of the discussion, students decided to add a wrist to better accommodate their goals without hindering design progress. By the end of the week, the group had finalized a simple system sketch. Over the next week, the group plans to continue figuring out the details of this design while working alongside the intake group to discuss pathways and other mechanical components.
The goal of this week for intake was to start finalizing the design and the archetype in relation to the robot as a whole. They started the week by discussing with the other subsystems and finalizing an overall robot archetype. The intake group decided to concentrate on the double-roller intake and moved on to finalizing the idea. Even though the group has the intake, the handoff to the elevator is just as important. One group split off to design a potential mechanism to hand off game pieces, while the other worked on finalizing its geometry, and a prototype for our ground intake. The second group also focused on making a new, adjustable prototype with metal. Despite losing time due to a snow day on Friday, the group is hopeful that through testing, necessary information can be gained over a short period of time.
Name: Naomi Boldebuck
Title: Mechanical Team Member
Years on the Team: 2 Years
Areas of Focus and Responsibilities on the Team: "I am in mechanical so I help build different parts of the robot. This year I have been working a lot on building prototypes to help test out different designs."
Team 4909's Impact: "It made me realize that I want to go into engineering in college. The team has taught me so much about STEM and I feel like I gained a lot of skill. "
Plans after High School: "I want to go to college for mechanical engineering. I also want to play softball there too."
Favorite 4909 Memory: "The meals are fun. I like being with everyone talking about the robot and life."
Ideal Job: "Anything that involves building and creativity."
This past week, the Software team revised existing code, installed the 2023 WPIlib suite (framework for developing robots), and updated CAN devices and hardware. Students debugged and updated Pathplanner code, which is used to create paths for the autonomous period of a match (the first 15 seconds of the match during which drivers do not have control of the robot). Members also coded a slow button for precise motions and imaged the RoboRio 2.0 (the robot’s processor) and updated the PDH (Power Distribution Hub) which distributes power to the robot’s electronics from the battery. They ended the week by working on Swerve Drive and drivetrain code.
This week, the intake group split into 2 groups to work as efficiently as possible. The first group worked on multiple proof of concept prototypes. Students created a funnel prototype to intake upright cones on Day 3. On Day 4, members created a double roller prototype with a bar in front to intake upright cones. This prototype was very promising and one that will be explored further. They also created a ‘weed wacker’ prototype that should center and reorient any downed cone. This prototype is still in progress, but the hope is that it can be combined with the double roller intake to create an intake that can pick up a cone no matter the orientation, center and reorient it and hand it off to the scoring system.
The second group worked on prototyping game piece manipulation mechanisms. Based on a Need/Want/Nice-to-have list, students were able to come up with two main ways to work and interact with game pieces. The group split up and investigated the different prototypes that could handle cones and cubes and could put them in a repeatable orientation. Towards the end of the week, the team had a few mechanisms that could successfully grab cones and cubes and began deciding which one was most compatible with a scoring mechanism.
The launcher group began the week by deciding whether a prototype design would prove if the system is feasible, and how fast and consistent the system could be. After considering different ideas with the group, members decided on a side-side flywheel to test the attributes of a shooting system for integration with the final robot, as it gave the most efficient results. Throughout the week, modifications were made to the design and prototype in order to achieve the best results. Students will continue to discuss how these systems will be developed in order to maximize scoring for the robot this season.
Name: Anuva Agrawal
Title: Robot Lead
Years on the Team: 4 Years
Areas of Focus and Responsibilities on the Team: "My role is to oversee everything that has to do with building, designing, and coding the robot. I work with everything from integrating the CAD to actually building the robot and then making sure the robot's working."
Team 4909's Impact: "I have been able to meet some of my closest friends and an amazing group of people that I have been able to learn from and teach. I have been able to be a part of a community that I have learned so much that I hope to be a part of in college and beyond."
Plans after High School: "I'm planning to go to college for Mechanical Engineering."
What FIRST Means to you: "FIRST means creativity. Being able to work together to make something I never thought I could make."
Favorite 4909 Memory: "My favorite 4909 memory is competing at N.E.R.D. and winning the 0th place award."
Ideal Job: "Mechanical Engineer"
Join Team 4909 at Panera Bread (188 Boston Rd, Billerica) on January 21st, from 4 PM - 8 PM for this year’s first restaurant fundraiser! Make sure to the attached flyer at checkout, or use the code FUND4U for mobile orders for a portion of the proceeds to be donated to the team!
As always, thank you for your continued support, and we hope to see you there!
This past Saturday, Team 4909 began the 2023 FIRST® Robotics Competition season with our annual Kickoff! We hosted team 1768 Nashoba Robotics at Billerica Memorial High School to watch the reveal of this year's game, CHARGED UP℠ presented by Haas. This marked the beginning of the build season, a 6-week period where teams design and build their robots from start to finish. This season, students are challenged to create a robot that can score points by delivering cones and cubes to dedicated areas called nodes in the grid located across the playing field. Point values vary based on the height of the node and the period of the match that the game piece was scored. In the final 30 seconds of the match, the endgame challenge offers additional points if a robot can successfully balance on an 8-foot wide platform called the Charge Station. After watching FIRST’s stream of the game reveal, the teams read through the game manual together to fully grasp the extent of the game and develop an action list from what we learned. Below is the game animation and additional information about the game.
Now, students will design, manufacture and program a fully functioning robot to fulfill the game requirements. Stay tuned for weekly updates!
Who is ready to get CHARGED UP? After having an incredibly successful 2022 season, and with 45 team members for the 2023 season, Team 4909 is eager to discover what this new year has in store for us! Here is a recap of our 2022 preseason:
CAD (Computer-Aided Design):
Over the preseason, our team has spent significant time training new members in CAD. CAD is a tool used to design parts before manufacturing. Members interested in learning CAD were shown the basics of modeling. Veteran members interested in advancing their CAD skills were given projects to work on with a partner. In the level 1 course, students made parts given a set of constraints without guidance. They learned how to navigate 3D space on a 2D screen in the design process. The students that completed this program have become proficient in CAD and will be able to contribute during the 2023 season. Each group in the level 2 course built a subsystem for past FRC games. The course's objective was to go through the design process from scratch rather than build the system.
During the preseason, Team Ops’ focus was heavy on fundraising for the 2023 season. At the start of the school year, we sold custom laser-cut chromebook cases to BMHS students. Through the next two months, Team Ops ran a Calendar Raffle where students sold tickets outside of Market Basket and O’Connor Hardware. We pulled a winner every day of December for a chance to win different prizes each day. Congratulations to everyone who won, and thank you for your support. To conclude the offseason, Team Ops began working on this season’s submission for the Woodie Flowers Award, our business plan, and updating the team website and social media.
The manufacturing team concentrated on developing the skills that will be most required for build season. Members first learned how to read and interpret part sheets on basic machines. After, students moved on to other machines in the shop and hand tools. The group worked on our T-shirt shooter from a previous season and were challenged to use their knowledge learned from training. Currently equipped with a single barrel, the T-shirt shooter requires reloading after each shot. Students were tasked with devising a method of firing multiple T-shirts without needing to reload.
During the preseason, rookie members were introduced to coding in Java through Codecademy exercises. After building a foundation of basic coding knowledge, students progressed to controlling the robot directly. To get familiar with this environment, members programmed the robot to perform simple functions. They then set up a limelight camera to automatically target April Tags, the new addition for the game this year, as part of an introduction to vision processing. This involved learning how to use firmware and APIs to determine the distance to a target with just a camera. Members were then split into two groups. One group worked on electrical wiring, wire crimping, wire connectors and the typical structure of a robot’s electrical system. The other group worked on building a swerve drive drivetrain from scratch. This involved laying out and connecting the wiring for the robot and learning about CAN systems and how to work with them. Students of this group wrote robot code from scratch, jumped into configuring and structuring swerve drive code, and learned to apply math and real world physics into a robot program. By the end of the preseason, they produced a working swerve drive that our team plans to utilize during the early stages of build season.
- Arrive at 10:00 AM
- Game Reveal Video: 12:00 PM
- Break into teams to read the game manual and discuss scoring, needs and wants, etc…
- Ends at 5:00 PM
Build Season Schedule:
- Monday: 5:30 PM - 9:00 PM
- Tuesday: 5:30 PM - 9:00 PM
- Wednesday: no meeting
- Thursday: 5:30 PM - 9:00 PM (Flex Meeting)
- Friday: 2:30 PM - 9:00 PM
- Saturday: 9:00 AM - 2:30 PM
- Sunday: no meeting
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