The team has been so busy over the course of the past 2 weeks since we put out our first build season blog. Today marks our first Saturday in person meeting of the season!
Team Ops has been working on the Innovation Challenge, while brainstorming many ideas. This week, the group narrowed them down to two, and has explored the problem for each idea. After discussing how to solve them, the group began writing an executive summary for both ideas, briefly looking over and modifying them at the start of each meeting. After working on both summaries, the team has decided which idea they will be submitting to FIRST. Aside from the Innovation Challenge submission, the team had their second Mooyah fundraiser of the season this past Wednesday! We were happy to see so many faces, and the team is very grateful for all the support. We hope you enjoyed your meal! Additionally, Team Ops has also posted our first senior spotlight this past week. Each senior spotlight talks about a senior’s experience with FIRST on the team, as well as their goals for the future. Keep checking back each week to learn a little more about each of our seniors!
The intake/indexer group has been mainly focusing on student training and designing. This past week, members have diligently created a prototype of their system in CAD. Veteran members have been training new members how to use specific features of the software. The goal is to bring the group up to a level where they are able to work collaboratively and productively together. With a CAD model of both the intake and indexer, the group is excited to start manufacturing both prototypes soon. A detailed list of hardware to procure for the intake prototype has been made, and the next step is to transition to CNC machining of designed parts.
Throughout the week, the swerve group continued to work on refining the first design iteration to prepare it for manufacturing. The group also made several minor changes that we believe will improve the performance of the system and also increase its reliability. The majority of the work left for the first iteration is manufacturing the components, assembling them, and testing to see how it works. The group will be collecting data on how well the system performs and using this feedback to improve the design before manufacturing a second iteration, which will hopefully be a more polished design. The team is currently in the process of 3D printing several of the prototyping components and will begin assembly as soon as those are finished.
Throughout the week, the shooter group has been developing and fine-tuning the CAD prototype, with hopes to begin manufacturing parts very soon. The group began with the plates on the sides that keep the whole structure together. During this initial stage, members went into the more detailed aspects of CAD and learned many key functions that Onshape offers. As the design was developed, additional adjustments were made to improve the mechanism. Some of the modifications made were adding several holes for refining locations of additional parts. These modifications provided support and relocation for the motor. The group started adding more specifics to the CAD design, which helped visualize how it would operate. Members learned how to make custom pulleys and how to calculate the correct belt length for a pulley system.
The Control Panel group has been nearing the end of the CAD prototype for our build. To gather some helpful feedback from other members of the team, the group created a presentation to be sent out. After some feedback was received, the group decided to change some aspects of the CAD design. First, the group began designing the color sensor mount with a piece of Lexan that would be mounted on the gearbox to optimize an accurate read. After a few calculations, the group assessed that the control panel’s height was above regulation. To fix this error, a new mount had to be designed, or the height had to be reduced on the current design to become more durable. In order to move on with prototyping, the group must determine how to make the design fit under the control panel while keeping the same height of the color sensor.
Since the beginning of February, the software team has been hard at work preparing for our team’s new robot, Mantis for the At-Home Challenges, which will require a great deal of autonomous control. To accomplish this variety of tasks, the software team has split up into multiple groups each meeting: one for building our prototyping robot, Frankenstein, one for working on smoother handling of the robot, and one for computer vision in order to help us succeed in the autonomous At-Home challenges. We’re nearing completion of the Galactic Search challenge, which requires a camera and autonomous driving. The software team will continue discussing some of the essential things we’ll need to include on the upcoming robot.
Don’t forget, our team's Mooyah fundraiser is only one week away! Our team is so excited to be partnering with Mooyah again because they have made contactless ordering so easy. To place an order online, be sure to follow the steps explained below to use our code. If you are ordering in store, simply show the flyer below or mention Team 4909 to the employee assisting you with your order. Last October this fundraiser was very successful for the team and, with the help of all of you, we are hoping for an even better outcome this time around. Thank you for your support, we can’t wait to see you all on Wednesday, February 17th!
Name: Chelsey Mathews
Title: Team Operations Lead
Years on Team: 4 Years
Areas of Focus and Responsibilities: Chelsey works on Team Operations, which means she helps to run the team as a small business and doesn’t focus on building the robot. For the past four years, she has done a lot of event and fundraising planning for the team. She has also worked on the website, social media, and has helped write applications for FRC’s “submitted awards.”
Impact FIRST has had: “FIRST has had a huge impact on me. It’s a great organization to be a part of, with great values, that teaches students so much more than STEM. The biggest thing I have learned is improved communication skills over the last four years. I feel much more comfortable speaking to a large group than I did four years ago.”
Favorite 4909 memory: “My favorite memory on Team 4909 was going to the World Championships in Detroit, Michigan in 2019!”
Plans After High School: She will be attending Westfield State University to major in Elementary Education and Special Education.
Ideal Job: Her ideal job is as a fourth-grade teacher in a small public school.
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.
Team 4909 is back to work for the 2020-2021 season! We began meeting regularly as a group in the beginning of November. This year, we have 19 returning members on the team. We are holding meetings and collaborating both virtually and in person. Although this year is different, we are working hard and adapting to all the changes that have been, and continue to be made. As of now, we are holding off on recruiting new members until our current members are able to adjust with the new protocols and it is safe to increase our numbers. We are excited to begin onboarding new members very shortly. We just recently registered for the 2020-2021 FIRST Robotics competition season and couldn’t be more excited! After doing very well throughout last year's short, but exciting season, we, along with all the FRC teams, were heartbroken when the season ended abruptly. Before the shutdown we were fortunate enough to compete in, and win, the Granite State District Event in Salem, NH. This year, due to the pandemic, things will be run a little differently, but we are excited to pick up where we left off last year. FIRST, keeping the safety of those involved as their number one priority, is not offering any in person events to register for at this time. Instead, they have offered teams the opportunity to continue developing skills by adding spin-off challenges of last year's game. We have the opportunity to participate remotely through three FIRST remote challenges: Design Challenge, Innovation Challenge, and the Infinite Recharge at Home Challenge. Listed below are details about what each group has been working on the last three weeks. No matter what this year will look like, we are excited to be together again doing what we love and sharing the message of FIRST. Thank you for all your support!
Software: Updating, rewriting, and testing code from last year's robot to get it ready for the FIRST Challenges that will be released in January.
Mechanical: Re familiarizing with CAD, and continuing ongoing CAD challenges as well as touching up last year’s robot.
Safety: The team has expanded our safety program and has drafted a set of Covid-19 guidelines to keep all members safe during in person meetings, which you can learn more about in the safety section of our website.
Team Operations: Updating the website, and working on this year’s awards and sponsorships. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for more updates and information on the team's success and ways to support us.
Come support Team 4909 at our MOOYAH fundraiser in Billerica MA. The team is excited to work with MOOYAH because they have made contactless ordering easy with the app, and all these purchases now 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 to the employee assisting you. We hope to see lots of orders placed using our code or mentioning the team!
Our 2020 Robot Reveal was a success! Many of our friends, families, and sponsors took time out of their day to hear an overview of build season and see our robot “Mantis” in action. The night consisted of our team leads highlighting their specific responsibilites including managing the build process, building of the the subsystems, programming the robot, and a team operations update. The audience was able to gain insight into what it takes to build the robot and each of our subsystems; the intake, the elevator, the indexer, the turret, the shooter, and the climber. Once we finished talking about the robot, we conducted a robot demonstration by simulating an official match. We successfully scored power cells into the power ports and hung on the shield generator by climbing (see videos below). We thank all of you who attended and appreciate your support! Please see below for some pictures from the event.
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