Today we volunteered at a local museum called the works. Today was their “Robotics Day”, and we were volunteering in the room that High Tech Kids had. We demoed our robot, along with Height Differential, allowing kids to drive it off the field, and showing them our missions on the field, especially the climber mission. Young kids loved being able to place the climbers in the robot and then see them dropped into the safety zone. We also talked with a variety of people about what being in a FIRST program involves, specifically some adults that were interested in starting FTC programs in their schools and some kids that may be interested in the future. We also spoke with the coach of Height Differential about our goals of learning CAD this season. One FLL team was there, the Diamonds, and some of us also spoke to them about the option of FTC and encouraged them to join it after their FLL careers are over.
Today we toured Boston Scientific, a company with locations in the Minneapolis area, that produces medical devices. It was an incredible experience, due to the fact that something that we want to do more of is to connect with our local engineering community. Many of us are interested in engineering careers in the future possibly, and it was great to be in a location where we can learn more about options that we could have in our futures. While we were there we looked at many aspects of the production of medical devices, including inspection, production, design, material testing, and more. This truly helped us to learn that there is no such thing as one kind of engineering, and that being an engineer can mean a lot of things.
Today we volunteered at our former elementary and middle school, Lake Harriet. It was the date of the science fair, and so we went to volunteer, and demo our robot. Something that is very important to us is educating others about FTC, due to the fact that many students are extremely able and interested, however they do not know it is an option. We let a variety of students drive our robot (particularly those who are younger) as well as talking to adults about what we do and the opportunities that their children could have as they become older. It was so incredible for us to learn how supportive our local community is of our accomplishments. While we were there we spoke with our former principal as well as a variety of staff members. Many community members were very excited to see that there was a robotics program in our community, and many more were thrilled to see such a program was an all-girls team.
Today was our second qualifier of the season, in St.Peter, MN. We stayed overnight in a hotel, and we starting the morning off bright and earlier, and ready to succeed. We had really high hopes for this tournament, due to the fact that the Eagan qualifier had went so well for us, and we have made many improvements since then, and taken a large amount of feedback from others.
We started the day off by practicing our judges interview a few times in the hotel room, and then we were off to St.Peter high school to start off our day. Right when we walked in we were super excited to be competing again, and now we knew the routine, so we headed to the pits and got set up, being sure that we set up our pit in a way that looks professional and welcoming. We set off to talk to a few teams, and just get ready for our day to start.
Before we knew it it was time for robot inspection. It went pretty smoothly, although fitting into the sizing box was a close call. Eventually Velma passed inspection, due to the fact that we agreed to put duct-tape onto the sharp corners of our plexiglass. We headed back to the pit to fix this problem, and then we were good to go for the tournament.
We headed up to our judges interview soon afterwards, and we were very well prepared and happy to talk to the judges about our team, our outreach, and our robot. We really wanted to get across our mission in outreach, which is to help spread FIRST in Minneapolis Public Schools.
After our interview was over, headed back to the pits, and talked to some teams and others more and more, as we prepared for the qualifying robotics rounds to start. We tested out our autonomous program a couple of times, to confirm that it was working consistently, and by this time the drivers meeting was starting soon.
We headed off to the drivers meeting, and became more and more excited for the day to start. So many other teams at the tournament had been so friendly towards us, and we were really excited for the day to start.
Soon the drivers meeting was finished, and we had the qualifying schedule. We went and talked to a lot of the teams that we were alliance partners with, and found out what their robots were capable of so that we could work together well.
Today we met to work out some more details involving the extending arm, the sweeper and the dispensing system for the climbers. We decided to only use one extending arm because we feel that it allows us to focus more on making the arm work better and with more consistency. We received some of the pulleys that we will be using on the extending arm, and we worked on attaching the rope and pulley to the arm in order to test out our system and also to allow us to secure the system. We also did decide how we wanted the arm to retract, which involves another motor.
Only Rachel and Izzie could meet today, but we finally figured out how to attach the sweeper. Our plan is to have the servo for the sweeper to turn the axle with the zipties attached. However, we don't have space to have the sweeper to be permanently attached with our bucket, so we came up with the idea of the sweeper being attached to ANOTHER servo. This way, we can pull it in to fit in the sizing box, and then we can have it out of the 18 inch box. While there were some challenges with that, by the end of the meeting the sweeper was able to move forward into a position where it could be used, and then backwards and up into a position in which it would not be in the way. It was quite a struggle to get this to line up in a correct way with the gears that the sweeper spins on.
Today we met quickly in the morning before people left for their vacations. This allowed us to make a list of parts that we wished to get ordered, and also be able to enjoy our break with a little less stress. We widened the robot a little as well to add extra space for the robot arm, due to the fact that we want to be confident in the ability of the robot to pass robot inspection and the robots ability for it to be allowed to compete. We also attached servos to the front of the robot, in preparation for the sweeper to have ability to move up and down, which allows it to sweep balls into the bucket and be productive when we want it to, and also be able to be out of the way when we want it to.
(we lost our past blogs, so all of our documentation was lost for these next few posts. This is what we remember, but all of the specifics were unfortunately lost :( )
We did a lot of work on the robot today. We worked on the extending arm. We got the linear slides and put them together with two of the 416 mm and one 288 mm bar. The only problem was that it was sticking a lot. We tried putting Vaseline on it, but it didn't help. We sent a tweet out to ask and we got a few replies. One said mineral oil, but we didn't have that. Someone else said that we should try WD-40, which worked like a charm! It now moved very smoothly now, the only problem was moving down.
With the new arm (future arms, we figure that one arm would be too jerky and unstable so we are going to make two. We don't have enough slides for the second one now), the arm was out of the 18 inch square box. To solve this problem, we were going to move the poles between which the arms were to be mounted, but we noticed that that meant that the robot had to be taken apart and made wider, in order to create enough space for the arms. Once that was completed everything began to go smoothly with the arms, however when we measured the arms with the extension, we realized that there wasn't enough space for the arm in the robot and it would not be the correct size. In order to fix this problem we decided to switch around where the arms are mounted in order to push these beams to the back of the robot in order to allow the arm to have extra space.
Today we met to figure out the details on how to get the arm to move. We decided to use a pulley system which helped to extend and retract the arm which allows us to only have one motor controlling the whole arm. This allows us to conserve weight when it comes to the arm, as well as making it easier to move. We watched a lot of you tube videos and brainstormed a variety of materials that we could sue as string. We also made a cardboard prototype of the bucket that we would be using to pick up the blocks. We decided that we want it to be able to pick up 3 blocks at a time and also to be able to have blocks be swept into it by the sweeper.
Today we met from 9-12, working hard to make improvements on the robot, and our presentation board. Rachel and Izzie, created a plan to extend the robots arm, and give it the ability to fold so that we can out the debris in the top basket. They took off the plexi glass, and planed on folding down the arm, and each of the half arms will extend, so that the debris will be dropped into the top basket. They struggled with taking the axle for the arm off.
Ava and Isabella printed out the outreach sections for the top right side of the board, and created the "name tags" next to the bios. Now, we have the left and right sides of the board finished; and hope to make progress on the middle part.
Today we met to work on our presentation board. We decided it was good thing for us to have to allow other people to quickly learn more about us in a fun and straightforward way. This way we will have a visual way to communicate information to judges and others that are interested om learning more about us. We all worked on writing our own bios, and working together, and although we had differing opinions, we decided to do what we thought was best for the team. We also went on twitter and did some outreach, which helped us to gain more followers. We were shocked by how nice everyone was, and also how incredible it was to meet new teams from all over the world.
Today, Rachel, Izzie, Isabella, and Ava met to work on our presentation at Lake Harriet Lower Campus.
We started off by brainstorming what we could do with the class of 20-28 kids. We all agreed that we wanted to talk to them about core values, and team work.
After saying any ideas that popped into our heads, we finally came up with a idea! We decided to make an interactive activity, that relates to the real world.
We started a script, so we would have a general idea of the "story line".
Here is a summary of the game:
1) We split the kids into groups of 5, they brainstorm a team name, and logo.
2) We tell them the task (They have to build replicas of a model) ( Each model is worth 1 Ruby)
3) There are 3 rounds
- Round 1: They replicate the model in any fashion
- Round 1: They brainstorm how to be most successful before the round starts
- Round 3: They do a group share before the round starts.
4) We talk to the kids about how to handle disagreements
5) We talk to them about FTC and Robotics
Today we participated in our first ever FTC tournament! It was a long and stressful day, but it was an incredible learning experience, and we feel that it helped us grow as individuals and as a team. The day started out bright and early, and we were prepared and ready to be successful. We called each other from the two cars we were riding in practicing our presentation for the judges interview, and we all became more and more excited. Right as we walked in we realized how different the environment was than FLL , especially because the FLL tournament was happening right next door. From then on, the day was crazy, but the best kind of crazy, filled with lots of great new experiences and things to learn.
We went to the pit area and began to set our stuff up. Before we knew it, it was time for robot inspection, and we raced off to the gym to start that process. It went smoothly and we gladly passed, but our bill of materials wasn't with us, and so Rachel and Ava had to run back to the pit and hurriedly recreate the one we had before. From there we went to field inspection and tested out our autonomous mission, which was very simple. We were surprised to find that very few teams had created an autonomous mission, which helped us to have less anxiety about our own. After that we headed back to the pit, to work on our program a little bit and prepare for our judges interview.
Right as we walked into the judges interview we realized how different the experience was from what we had seen in FLL, and how the judges didn't have rubrics, and seemed very interested in what we had to say. The main message that we wanted to show is our goal to spread FTC in Minneapolis schools, as we are the only team from a public school. To do this we volunteer at our old middle school every week to spread a message of the importance of engineering, and show that girls can be successful in engineering just as well as boys can.
After that was finishing we got ready for the qualifiers to begin, and everything began to run smoothly as we prepared for the robotics portion of the competition to begin. Going into qualifiers we were very nervous about what was going to happen, and we didn't know what exactly to expect, but we were excited to try something new, and show off all of the hard work we had put into our robot this season. We had some minor connection issues with the new technology, and some other teams had some more major issues, meaning in some rounds our robot was the only one running. In another round, the wheel of our robot literately came off, which caused us to run back to the pit and fix it quickly. In one round our USB hub was not working at all, and we received some help from another team to allow it to work. By the end of the rounds our record was 3-2 and we were ranked 7th, putting us in a good position to be picked for an alliance.
Right after that we became slightly nervous however because many of the higher ranked teams were looking like they may pick each other for alliances, putting us in the position to choose one of our own, however did not participate in a large amount of scouting because at the beginning of the day we did not feel like we had the potential to succeed in our first competition. Soon the alliance ceremony began and we were one place away from having to choose our own team. We got chosen for an alliance by 2 teams from Eagan, the blue crew and fourth dimension, which were both teams that could climb the mountain super, super well, so our job in the alliance was to move debris to allow them to do this.
The alliance rounds started, and, we participated in 2 of them, due to the fact that our alliance won each of our rounds 2-0, 2-0. Our alliance was the winner of the competition, and we were very excited with how the day had gone.
After this we knew that the awards we starting soon, and we were really excited to see how we, and other teams had done. As the awards went on, we saw many of our friends get called up to be successful, and soon we were called up for the connect award, for our outreach in Minneapolis Public Schools, as well as being called up for our winning alliance. Then the state advancing teams were announced, and we were mildly disappointed to find out that we were 7th in the advancing order and 6 teams were able to advance to state. Although we were not advancing, we were excited that the day went to well, and glad that it was such a great learning experience to us.
Today we met to finalize a lot of details. We made a lot of progress today on our engineering notebook, including making a photo collage to have as a title slide, and also working on adding our team logo on all of the pages. We added and prepared our business plan as well.
For programming, we finished the intelitek tutorial, and now are totatlly making tthings and changing them on their own. First, we tried using the encoders to make the robot do go the same distance each time. Once we got it working, we realized that it was difficult to do things consecutively in that style of program. We moved it to a different program style (LinearOpMode instead of OpMode). Unfortunately it was still not working. We thought that putting in waitOneFullHardwareCycle would help, but after a while, we figured out that it wasn't going to work, and considering that we only had two days until the competition, we decided to go forward and turn in seconds instead of using encoders.
Today we met to work on continuing to prepare for competition, and one important thing was that we printed out our sponsor logo, and added our robot's name; Velma, after the smart girl from Scooby Doo. After we attached that to our robot, we added an emergency power switch, so that we can pass robot inspection, and so that it is easier to power our robot on and off.
Rachel learned a lot about autonomous programming, and we strategized about the ideas for what we hoped to accomplish, one of these ideas have two different versions of a program in order to allow us to be able to work well with other teams. Our idea was to do two different versions of a program, that earned equal points but started in different points and complete different missions. This helps to prevent robots from running into each other.
Last night Isabella got the Plexiglas ordered. This means today we were able to drill holes in the Plexiglas and get them on the robot. Ava and Izzie worked on drilling the holes in the Plexiglas, and Adelaide and Isabella worked on printing out logos and numbers to attach to the robot. While drilling the holes we had some difficulties holding the nuts and bolts at the angles required to secure them, but with practice and teamwork it was no problem for us. While we were printing out the logos, we also had problems getting the numerals to be the correct size for our robot to be ready to compete.
Rachel worked on trouble shooting involving the programming. For example, the programs were not downloading onto the phone, which was quite a problem, for us. We looked on the forums for a while to try and solve the differences, and eventually we discovered that this was because we had two different apps on the two different phones. While this took a long amount of time, it helped Rachel to gain comfort with the Java, as well as how the phone system works.
Our competition is exactly one week from today. We met to finish up all of the little details that need to get done for next weekend. Focusing especially on our robot, we measured the size of our robot and cut out cardboard cutouts, to make sure we got the correct size when we ordered Plexiglas. Also in a way of improving the robot, we added extra grabbers to our arm in order to be ab,e to push the button on the robot to push the button on the rescue beacon.
We also finalized our presentation as well, and made sure that we covered everything that we wanted the judges to know about us. We talked about the outreach we had been doing recently, working with the teams at our middle school, and teaching them all about FLL and the futures they could have in engineering. We also talked about ourselves and our past, as well as our robots and strategy. We went through the checklist of robotics and decided on things we needed to improve on, like adding a reachable emergency switch.
Today we met to work on setting up drive modes for our robot at competition, which Rachel worked on programming. To start out we had the basic type of robot driving, but we disliked some features of it, like how turning worked (moving one wheel) and also that what we wanted to be forwards was backwards. One new type of driving that we tried and really appreciate, is called arcade mode, which is a way of driving that allows us to turn by moving the controller sideways and not just up and down individually. (picture bellow) this allows us to be able to drive faster and more accurately.
We also attached the optical distance sensor to our robot, because we wanted to have sensor options when programming our mission for the autonomous round. This took a while, due to the fact that the prepared holes in the sensor were not the correct size, so we had to zip tie the sensor onto the robot. One advantage of this though, was that where we attached the sensor required us to add a plate on the front of the robot, which also works as a "pusher" to push debris on the floor out of the way. This saved us the struggle of getting debris caught in the back of the robot, and making it difficult to drive straight.
We also began our presentation for competitions today, by watching some example videos online, and gained information from there. We practiced timing of the presentation as well. While working on the presentation we did a variety of emailing, including people working at our school's stem day, about us volunteering there to show ways for kids to get involved in engineering, and expand their knowledge. We also ordered our t-shirts for competition, in order to prepare.
Today we had a day off from school which allowed us to have a large amount of time to meet and work on the robot, since the competition is getting closer and closer. Rachel began working on programing the robot controllers (RACHEL ADD SOMETHING HERE) and while that had a few difficulties it began working better and better before the day was over. We also worked on each of our bios in the engineering notebook, as well as writing a little bit about our team. We also decided on the three people on the team that are the best at driving the robot (Ava, Adelaide, and Izzie) and worked on "challenges" for them to improve their driving skills. Again today, the robot did not work for a small amount of time, but began working again 30 minutes later. This is becoming a recurring problem and is a concern for us. Isabella and Adelaide worked on mounting a metal piece on the front of the robot to act as a pusher, preventing the debris on the field from getting under the robot, and allowing us to be able to push it out of the way. We ended the meeting by taking a look at the robotic board for FLL, which will allow us to participate in outreach as more informed mentors.
Today all of the parts that we had ordered online came in the mail. We replaced the encoder on one part of the robot wheels, and then we tested the robot, to discover that that was not the only issue, that we were also having problems with one of the low-hanging wires on the robot. Once that was replaced we were able to use the controllers to control both wheels of the robot. We all practiced driving a little bit, like picking things up, and discovering which way to go up the moutian. We were able to figure out that with the driving wheels in the back of the robot we were able to get up into the low zone with our robot. One issue with this was that when we used too much power, the robot flipped over backwards, which caused a few close calls when we almost didn't catch it before it hit the ground. Another issue that we had was the sometimes the blocks and balls that will be on the floor of the robot field slipped under our robot and became tangled in the wheels and wires. This caused the robot to stop moving, so a solution will need to be made for that.
Today we met from about 6 to 8 to finish building the mountain and to do online shipping orders. First we decided to figure out what all we needed to order, and decided on 2 robot encoders (one as a replacement, one as an extra to have), 2 extra servo motors that rotate 360 degrees to use for attachments, extras of the screws that we are running out of, and another usb OTG adapter.
After finishing that, we completed the upper part of the mountain assembly, with only a few difficulties with the fit of bars in slots, and a large amount of problems with fidning the correct screws. Eventually we realized that we had used the wrong screws for specific locations, and that caused us to have to remove the screws and redo parts of our project.
After finishing this we had moved on to assembling the individual parts of the mountain, which went pretty smoothly, however it took forever due to the fact that one person had to hold the bliot, and one person had to hold the nut, but eventually it worked out okay, just taking a large amount of time. We finished up by putting the feet on the back of the mountain, and then our meeting was finished.
Today, all 5 of us met for a long 3 hour meeting. We all divided up in smaller groups to troubleshoot any problems with the robot, design the t-shirts and edit the website, and continue to build the mission assemblies.
At the beginning of the day, Isabella and Adelaide started off the day by building the upper mountain assembly. We had many technical difficulties, due to the fact that the instructions were often unclear and difficult to understand. Some problems we had were getting the middle of the assembly to slide down the upper, due to the fact that the hole was slightly small. While we were doing this, we unknowingly bent the main center beam, which we did not discover until later, when we were trying to apply black plastic brackets to the center, and had many technical difficulties. With a large amount of bending back, and teamwork with the help of Ava, the center beam was bent back and we had some screw troubles, due to the fact that all three holes did not line up properly.
One of the main problems with the robot was that only one of the motors spun, and responded to the controller. We decided that this means that the issue could be one of the three things, motor, encoder, or wiring. While the others were working on the mountain assembly, Izzie, Rachel, and Ava were working on checking the first potential cause of the problem, the motors. We noticed that the gears were
Today was another very productive day for us, we continued to build the field setup, and began wiring and figuring out the software for out robot.
Isabella and Adelaide began assembling the top portion of the mountain, and with many technical difficulties it was completed today. At first, a churro did not fit through the hole provided in the middle of the mountain. In order to solve this problem, we used a drill and got rid of part of the metal around the hole in order to fix it.
Rachel worked on programming the software, and began wiring the robot. First, we wired everything on the floor, so that we could make sure that the controllers would be able to control the motors. It turns out that that was very useful, because when we moved the motors, they would not spin. Also, the Robot Controller phone was not picking up a lot of the signals from the motor controller and servo controller. To solve that problem, we unplugged each of the connections from the power distribution module and added them in one at a time. After a lot of time trying to figure out why the motor was not spinning, we finally realized that it was because we needed to update the driver station app! We found this out because we were watching a video of another team setting up their robot when we realized that their app looked different. That solved the problem. Finally, we put everything onto the robot and we got the arm, servo, and right motor to work. Although the left motor had issues, we decided that we would save that for the next meeting.
We set two goals for today's meeting, building the mountain and beginning to download software onto the robot.
Izzie and Ava began to work on the mountain, with the assembly arriving from Andy Mark. They went to the website online, and pulled up a video of how to assemble the mountain. Following the instructions step by step, they eventually assembled the lower part of the mountain, with quite a few difficulties along the way. First, they had issues locating on of the parts, the lower mountain wall, but eventually found it hidden in the box. Later, the whole team got involved when assembling the floors with the walls had difficulties, due to a bend in the lower wall, and our lack of a rubber mallet. Eventually Vaseline was used, and with much difficulty the base was bent back, and the assembly nearly finished as the day came to an end.
While this was taking place, Rachel was working on downloading the software, and Isabella worked on beginning to organize the engineering notebook. Rachel downloading the Java version, and the Android studios, both of which took a large amount of time to download. Rachel installed almost all of the software, and got the computer ready to program in the future. As well, she downloaded the apps to each phone, and assigned each phone the role of either the Driver Station phone, or the Robot Controller phone.
After Sunday's meeting we have all of the robot parts assembled individually and were attempting to put them together. Today we met from 6 to 8 pm to continue assembling the robot and installing the motors. Going into tonight's meeting we had six pages remaining in the instruction booklet, not counting software. We set our goals to installing the motors/completing assembly and working on the engineering notebook.
From the beginning of the meeting we were motivated and prepared, after seeing the challenge video we are ready to start programming and driving and wish to get to that point as quickly as possible. There were many issues again at today's meeting with figuring out from the pictures where individual assemblies went due to the fact that they were zoomed in and difficult to see where on the robot they belonged. Another challenge was with mounting the motors in their homes, because it was difficult to fit them into their places, and we had to unscrew the assemblies to put them into place.
We also looked online at team costumes and decided to go to a local t-shirt shop to produce our shirt, in order to lower the cost.
This blog covers details about our outreach events and other events that are important to our team, and our season.
Hi, we are the Rubies, FTC team 9890. To learn more about us, visit the "About Us" page