Please help support our team! $25 buys a motor, $50 buys a new battery, $150 adds controllers and sensors, $500 pays tournament fees, $750 upgrades our drivetrain

Iron Reign

Welcome to Iron Reign at Dallas ISD's Science and Engineering Magnet

Super Regionals - The First Day

23 Mar 2017

Super Regionals - The First Day By Ethan, Evan, Tycho, Max, Jayesh, Janavi, Caitlin, Darshan, Omar, Charlotte, and Austin

Task: Go to super regionals, set up, and present

Way too early in the morning, on March 22nd, the Iron Reign team gathered in darkness. It was approximately 65 Farenheit and gusts around 12 mph were blowing in from the South. Under this cover of darkness, a bus pulled into our school. As the trees shivered in the wind and the stray dogs around our school howled, we boarded the bus.

Of course, we were boarding the bus to head down to Athens, GA, to go to the South Super Regional tournament, and we hoped, to advance to Worlds. On our way there, we stopped at Sunset HS to pick up RoboBison Amistad, the other team from our school district. Then, we two teams were on our way.

No road trip operated by DISD can ever be simple, and this one was no exception. Our coach was driving our chase vehicle AKA our robotics RV, but managed to beat us there by five hours. The team ended up being on the same bus for twenty total hours, stopping three times. Luckily, on our way down there, many of us got to see sights such as the Mississippi River for the first time.

Finally, we arrived in Athens at 1 in the morning. Some of the team split off to sleep, while others broke off to work on the robot. But, it was late, and we all went to bed soon.

The next, first real day of the tournament, we woke up bright and early. We were one of the first ones to have pit load-in, and we actually managed to do everything in a timely manner. Our tent that we designed was slightly bigger than we thought, but the teams neighboring us were fine with it, so everything worked out in the end. We did a little bit of preliminary scouting and talked to a few teams. We also got our robot through inspections.

Finally, we went into judging, and it was the best presentation that we've done this year. We had two new team members added to the presentation, and we pulled it off flawlessly. As well, we added a new visual gag, with Darshan jumping out at the judges from under the cart. We got asked some very good questions that I can't remember, but the judges were generally very impressed.

Reflections

See Postmortem.

South Superregionals Day Two

24 Mar 2017

South Superregionals Day Two By Max, Tycho, Omar, Jayesh, Darshan, Austin, Charlotte, Caitlin, Evan, Ethan, and Janavi

Task: Reminisce on our first six Superregionals matches

After a decent night's rest, we began Day Two at around 7 AM. A lot of our tools and materials were still on our RV, so we first moved them over to our pit. Our match schedule said that we'd have nine matches beginning with Match #1 (just our luck). After the...interesting Pokemon-themed opening ceremonies, we began the day with our first match.

Match 1: Our alliance partner was Thorn's Army, and we faced Greased Lightning and Guzzoline Robotics. We lost; we didn't earn as many points in autonomous or teleop. It was our first game anyway; just a warmup. No big deal.

Match 2: Our alliance partner was Saber Robotics, and we faced Aperture Science and The Prototypes. We lost; tied in teleop, but our autonomous didn't score as much as theirs. Warmup game #2, no big deal.

Match 3: Our alliance partner was 4-H Rohming Robotics, and we faced Team Duct Tape and Twisted Axles. We won; even though neither of us were able to cap, we nailed our autonomous and teleop periods.

Match 4: Our alliance partner was Static Void, and we faced East Cobb Robotics and Team CHAOS. We won; our autonomous didn't score as much (we missed a beacon and a ball), but our partner was able to cap and our combined teleop scored more.

Match 5: Our alliance partner was LASA MurPHy, and we faced Diatomic Dingos and Blue Crew, Too. We won; our autonomous worked great and scored well, which made up for our lackluster teleop period.

Match 6: Our alliance partner was Technical Difficulties, and we faced the Rockettes and LASA Ultra Violet. We won; once again, our autonomous worked great (we missed a ball though), we scored more particles in teleop, and our partner was able to cap. Four in a row!

We felt pretty good about this day, since we came off of a four win streak. However, we still worked as long as we could on improving the reliability of our autonomous. Once the pits were closed, we were directed to the team social, where there was Super Smash Bros. and DJ Mickey Nightrain. It seemed like a fun time (Tycho tried his best at professional Smash), but roboticists usually aren't the type to be out on a dance floor. Jayesh is an exception because he's weird.

As well, we were interviewed by a few groups of judges, and performed well in the interviews. We froze up a few times, but it worked out. Also, we invited some of the judges onto our RV.

Reflections

Even though we were able to do a lot of work this day, we're slightly disappointed in our tiredness. Even though the RoboBisons had brought an entire field with them, we didn't really think about asking them to let us use it to practice. We were very exhausted, and with a half-still-sick Mr. Virani, we think we just weren't enthused enough to stay up late and do some more work. If we had, we might've had the small bit of reliability we needed to win more matches with just our autonomous. ;-; Either way, we're proud of the work we did. Tycho did a great job driving for all the matches. Note for next year - we neeeeeeeed more than one driver. On to Day Three!

South Superregional - Day Three

25 Mar 2017

South Superregional - Day Three By Jayesh, Tycho, Omar, Max, Darshan, Austin, Charlotte, Caitlin, Evan, Ethan, and Janavi

Task: Reminisce on our last three Superregionals matches

Our final competition day began with the driver team rushing to the pits because of a warning given by the game officials for the first match's teams to reach the pits earlier than expected. We reached in time, in fact about an hour before the match actually began. This mild inconvenience did give us time to formulate a strategy against our opponents, the high-scoring mechromancers.

Match 1: Our alliance partner was Neutrinos, and we faced Mechromancers Redfish. We lost; The Neutrinos disconnected early and we had made a strategy of denying the scoring of the Mechromancers. We were relatively succesful, halving their usual scoring output, but without the expected scoring of the Neutrinos, we lost.

Match 2: Our alliance partner was Guzzoline Robotics, and we faced Mouse Spit and Browncoats. We won a very close game, where a blocking penalty by Mouspit helped us win our closest game of the tournament.

Match 3: Our alliance partner was KNO3, and we faced The League of Legendary Scientists and Tundrabots. We lost a 15 point game, where a miscue in our autonomous positioning proved fatal and cost us the winning points of the match.

The match schedule we had today would be our toughest sleight of games for the entire tournament. Despite the unfortunate circumstances of the Neutrinos disconnecting early into our first match, we played decently well and had close games against our toughest competition.

Reflections

Our last loss ended up proving worse than anyone could've expected. In the award ceremony we figured out we were one spot on the leaderboard from advancing. Due to our aquisition of the Judge's award and our position on the leaderboard, we were named first alternate for Worlds. Unfortunate for us, we hope to do better next year.

YouthSpark with Microsoft

15 Apr 2017

YouthSpark with Microsoft By Caitlin, Jayesh, Ethan, Evan, Charlotte, Omar, Max, Tycho, Austin, Darshan, and Janavi

Task: Mobile Tech XPerience's appearance at the Meyerson

The Meyerson Symphony Center hosted a Microsoft YouthSpark event this Saturday with activities from robotics to VR to 3D printing. We set up the sumo laptops up in the atrium and the 3D in the MXP outside, right next to the Perot tech van. The tech van had most of their setup outside with a smaller piece inside, and we worked pretty well in tandem. (I have it on high authority from a random girl that walked in that ours was cooler)

Reflections

The groups of kids coming by were spread out so we couldn't teach a group of 8 all at once like in previous experiences. Thankfully we had BigThought volunteers helping out. We couldn't have done it without the 5 of them. We ran through the presentation for them at the beginning, as we still thought that's what the plan was going to be, so they knew how to teach it after a few more pointers. Out of necessity it was basically one-on-one teaching, but that meant many of the kids got much more into it than they would have in a larger group. I had one mom comment that this was the most focused she had ever seen her daughter, and a couple of boys tweaked their program so much they ended up winning against everyone except each other. This event definitely got a lot of kids really excited about robotics, and we're hoping they'll look into a team or a club at their schools.

Keychain modeling went smoothly, and we ended up getting all the models printed or printing before leaving, and most given to a parent or kid at the event. We got addresses for the leftover few and are planning on sending them off within a day or two. A group of friends worked on a collaberative house, one doing the rooms, one the design, one the roof. It turned into a massive house when they had to leave, and we made sure to tell the kids and the parents where to find SketchUp if they looked interested. We had a huge number of kids throughout the day and it was a great event and great group of volunteers to teach with.

Discover Summer Resource Fair

29 Apr 2017

Discover Summer Resource Fair By Ethan, Evan, Max, Tycho, and Charlotte

Task: Present to kids at the Discover Summer Resource Fair

Today, we brought the MXP to the DISD Discover Summer Resource Fair. We talked to about 250 people, including the Mayor of Dallas. We helped about 50 people create and print keychains using Google Sketchup. In the front of the RV, we introduced about 200 people to Lego Robotics, and assisted them in creating sumo bots.

The goal of this event was to inspire kids to go into STEM programs, and I believe it was a success. Several kids came up to us and asked us questions about camps, as well as how to get into STEM activities. As well, we increased visibility of the Dallas City of Learning group.

Reflections

These events are very good for increasing FIRST and STEM exposure in local communities, and we will continue doing them in the future. As well, we need to work on accommodating more people in a limited space.

UIL Robotics 2017

19 May 2017

UIL Robotics 2017 By Ethan, Evan, Tycho, Charlotte, Austin, Omar, and Janavi

Task: Compete in the UIL Robotics 2017 State Tournament

The UIL Robotics State Tournament is a Texas-only invitational based upon a team's performance in Texas qualifiers and regionals. Since we preformed so well in the North Texas Regionals, winning the first place Inspire Award, we qualified for UIL as well as Super Regionals.

While the tournament is planned with FIRST's help, it differs from a regular FTC tournament. First, the only awards are for the robot game. This harms Iron Reign from the get-go since we work heavily on our journal.

We did well in the robot game, but not amazingly. We went about 4-2, but got carried in some matches. We got chosen for a alliance, but lost in the semi-final round. This year at UIL wasn't much to brag about, so the reflection is the most important part.

Reflections

We learned many lessons at UIL. First, this was our first senior-less competition, so we have to learn how to moderate ourselves without them. Secondly, we ought to put more emphasis on our robot and driving. While the journal is definitely important, we could've won an extra game or two by practicing driving and keeping our robot in working condition. Finally, we need to work on delegation of roles for the upcoming year, as there'll be a vacumn left by the outgoing seniors.

Turn Up! 2017 at Frontiers of Flight

24 Jun 2017

Turn Up! 2017 at Frontiers of Flight By Janavi, Jayesh, Caitlin, Tycho, Omar, Evan, Charlotte, Ethan, and Darshan

Task:

Each year the Frontiers of Flight Museum hosts the Turn Up!, an event that contains STEM exhibits and demonstration to teach kids about the wonders of Science and Math. We brought the Mobile XPerience (MXP) complete with laptops, 3D printers, and LEGO SumoBot to help teach. Outside the RV we had laptops set up where we taught kids how to code EV3 sumo bots and battle them , we also taught kids how to create their own key chains on SketchUp and 3-D print them. Inside the RV we had more SketchUp latops set up as well as the educational Minecraft servers where the kids could learn how to build structures. As well, we demonstrated our FTC competition robot and Argos by driving them around the museum we got younger kids excited about robotics by giving them balls and letting them "feed" the robot.

Reflections

Going to event like the Dallas Love Field turn up allows us to introduce kids to the wonders of STEM and robotics and help prepare them for their futures from an early age. Helping introduce our community to STEM career is a really integral part of this team and we hope to inspire many more youths through programs like this.

Darshan's Farewell

08 Jul 2017

Darshan's Farewell By Darshan

Task: Adios mis amigos

Well... this is somewhat of a bittersweet moment for me. All of us seniors are leaving for college in hopes of spreading our horizons and making something of ourselves, but we're leaving this team that has become almost a second family. It's been a good few years since I first joined this team and I never thought that I would even make it to this point. I've learned so much in my tenure with this team, from all the technical stuff that goes into the robot building process itself, to building my teamwork and communication skills, and that has actually been one of the things I've enjoyed most. Meting new people and teaching both kids and parents the importance of the STEM field has been great especiaclly, when you see their faces light up. I've made many friends through this team and I know I'll keep in touch with some for a long time. The experiences I've had here are some that will last a lifetime, from riding in the RV all the way to Arkansas to the time we finaly made it SuperRegionals. But we've had our fair share of dissaapointment as well as sucess, but as a team we always bounced back. Something I hope the future of this team continues to do, succeed and bounce back. Hopefully y'all make it to Worlds next year XD. And in the words of YFN Lucci: "EVERYDAY WE LIT!!!" p.s. lil yachty

Omar's Farewell

08 Jul 2017

Omar's Farewell By Omar

Task: Bye :'(

Hooray for graduation! Sort of. As we seniors write our farewell blog posts before we head to college, we have a lot of years to think about. In my case, I only have my 4 years of high school to pull from, but that's more than enough to express my gratitude for being on this team. I've learned so much in so many different areas, and not just scientific ones. I've learned about being on a team, about the logistics of managing said team, and about reaching out to my local community to spread STEM to the next generation of scientists and engineers. I've made a ton of awesome friends, as well as improved my personal and group communication skills (which were lacking before and are still lacking now, but they've still improved a ton). I hope I can apply some of my knowledge to my future, so that I may one day have a Lamborghini and drive around Beverly Hills. My best wishes to the team for the future! (You're going to worlds next year. -_-)

NSTA 2017

15 Jul 2017

NSTA 2017 By Ethan, Evan, Caitlin, Jayesh, Omar, Tycho, and Charlotte

Task: Expose our MXP to teachers nationwide

Background

For readers who don't know what the MXP is, here's a quick description. Our coach had been floating the idea of a mobile STEM lab for a while, and he was finally given the go-ahead and some money by his company, BigThought. Originally, he planned for buying a van and loading it with tech, but like all true Iron Reign projects, it grew quickly. It turns out that a used RV and a van are roughly the same price, and why not go all out if you can? So, we ended up with a RV old enough to drink sitting in our coaches' driveway. Of course, to convert a RV with outdated shag carpet and a Sea View insignia on the dashboard into a state-of-the-art mobile tech lab, you need free labor. And, where else to get free labor than 11 robotics nerds who have nothing better to do with their summer?

That's where we, the robotics nerds with nothing better to do with out summer, come in. We ripped up the shag carpet, destroyed the bathroom and bedroom, and laid new flooring and installed tech workstations in every part of the RV possible. And along the way, Best Buy, BigThought, and Dallas City of Learning caught wind of our project and gave us grants, allowing us to install four 3D printers, 40 laptops, and 10 EV3 Robotics Kits to educate kids.

The purpose of this is to deliver STEM programs to under-privliged kids in the Dallas area, in hopes of inspiring them to go into STEM fields. As well, the MXP can help close the summer achievement gap, where kids in lower economic brackets tend to forget more over the summer than richer kids. We're also targeted towards middle schoolers - they're of the age where they're learning that they probably won't be an astronaut, and showing them alternative options that are still interesting is extremely important.

Aboard the RV, we run two programs. In front and/or outside, we teach kids EV3 programming to compete in a sumo-bots competition. While kids won't be able tp directly learn from the EV3 programming language, they can take the abstract skills they learn from programming the robot and apply them to other programming and learning endevours later in life. In the back, we teach kids how to 3D model using Google Sketchup, and allow them to create and print their own keychain to take home as a keepsake.

The Trip

The NSTA Convention is a meeting of teachers from all over America and 12 other countries to hold seminars, panels, and presentations for teaching certificates. We were invited there due to our work on the MXP and its success in Dallas. We worked on the floor of the convention, with booths from various companies and agencies also presenting.

We started our trip to Kississime, Florida at 8:40 in the morning, way too early for us high school students in the summer. It was a long, boring drive. The highlight, or anti-highlight of the drive is that halfway through our first day, we started billowing black smoke as we pulled off the interstate. We pulled over on a residential farm road in the middle of nowhere. Luckily, we were assisted in our engine troubles by a guy who happened to see us pull over across the road from his house. He helped us fix our engine and drove our coach to the mechanic's, and we were on our way yet again.

Our first day at the convention was a quarter day. We started at the convention at 4:30p, and ended at 6:30. Despite our limited time, it was probably our most productive day. We talked to over 150 teachers from all over America about our experience building and manning the MXP, and gave advice on building their own. We also allowed the teachers to make and print their own keychains if they wanted.

Our second day was just like the first day, but four times as long. We brought our Argos, our color following robot. We recently fitted him with a new power distribution module by REV Robotics so that we could test it out before the new season. As well, Argos is our Vuforia-testing robot, so we demonstrated that ability too. Our coach also presented on a panel that day. As a finale to that day, we got to see Veritasium's presentation on "The Power of Un".

On the last day, we didn't present to as many people, but we got to have better and more in-depth discussions with everyone who came onboard. We had teachers that designed keychains and programmed robots for over an hour. As well, we presented to the president of the NSTA.

On the way back, we had to engage in one of three Florida pasttimes, and we didn't want to get arrested or get eaten by an alligator. So, we settled on the less permanetly damaging option, and went to the beach instead.

Reflections - One Last Ride

The convention was a roaring success. I estimate that we talked to about 400 teachers from all over America. We can say that we probably inspired teachers from 4-6 other cities to start research and development on building their own RVs. Also, we talked about running a FTC team to interested teachers and FIRST in general.

Even though, this trip was bittersweet. This was the last Iron Reign trip with the original senior members. Caitlin and Jayesh have been on the team for over one-third of their lives, and this was their final ride as members of Iron Reign. I, personally, have worked with them since 4th grade - one-half of my life! And, as all last rides go, one must find happiness that it was a good one, and that it ever happened. Caitlin and Jayesh have been great advisors and friends, and they deserve the best of luck in college and in the real world.

Moon Day at Frontier of Flight Museum

22 Jul 2017

Moon Day at Frontier of Flight Museum By Abhi, Charlotte, Austin, Janavi, and Tycho

Task: Present at the MoonDay Event

Today, Iron Reign was invited to the Frontier of Flight Museum by Dallas Love Field Airport for a day of STEM knowledge for its annual "Moon Day". It was time for us to bring in the LEGO robotics kit, 4 laptops for kids, ARGOS, and Juggernaut, our competition bot from this past season. Upon arrival at the museum, we noticed many other fascinating stations such as one explaining NASA's new rover and a model in the arena. We paired up with some other robotics members in the region to set up a station where we could help robotics beginners program the LEGO bots so that the bots could wrestle eachother like Sumo wrestlers. In addition, we fixed ARGOS so that the color sensor would be able to sense a stick in front of it to follow the sign. This allowed us to let other students drive the bot. The same was done with Juggernaut.

Our LEGO station was set up in a way such that even people who couldn't type could use it. We helped people code a bot that drives forward till the bot reached the edge of the board, turns backwards, rotates, and then repeats these reactions until the program is terminated. The students learned that the robot was able to determine when it reached the edge of the board by using the color sensor located on the bottom of the robot. Since the board is built in a dartboard sort of manner with the majority being black and a white ring around the edge, the robot was taught by the students to only stay on the black and not continue if the sensor is on the white. The students had the ability to individually change the speeds of their bots so that when the compete with one another in the "Sumo" game, there could be a winner.

We decided to use ARGOS and Juggernaut as play bots for the day and drove both around. While doing so, we discovered that ARGOS had a bug which, though controllable, was inconvenient. ARGOS' movement system was developed in a way such that the acceleration would compound based on the number of seconds the joystick was pressed in a certain direction. Currently, ARGOS had to be coded this way since we didn't have encoders and power was the only way to put speed into the wheels. We are currently working on fixing this problem. Regardless, we were able to drive ARGOS around and let other children control it using the color sensor stick we developed. The stick was developed in a way that the bot would shine a light onto the area in front of it and if it found the image we had for the color to detect, ARGOS knew to move. We programmed Juggernaut in a similar way so students were able to drive it as well. Since Juggernaut also had shooting abilities, we were able to play catch with numerous people in the area including booth sponsors. In this way, we were able to teach others about the shooting mechanism and carwash system developed to pick up balls in the bot. This fascinated many young people and inspired them to pursue a STEM activity.

Numerous students from a wide array of backrounds came to Moon Day and we were able to spread the knowledge of robotics to them. We had many parents and educators ask us about ways to get involved and we gave them more information about FIRST and their message of Gracious Professionalism. Robotics gave us an avenue to connect with kids, regardless of their socioeconomic status, race, gender, or beliefs. This allowed us to make a deep impact on people and join forces with them to pursue something we are all passionate about. In a world filled with discrimination against those of certain groups, the Frontier of Flight Museum gave us a chance to move people by the wonders of robotics and encourage them to pursue what they want in life without caring about the discriminators. We hope to continue to make an impact on people through future events.

So, You're Writing a Blog Post

23 Jul 2017

So, You're Writing a Blog Post By Ethan

Frontmatter

layout: Do not touch.
title: Title of your article (you can't use hyphens or colons.) tags: Enter as comma seperated list, case insensitive. Try to use one award and one normal tag

  • Tips - tips and tricks for other teams.
  • Journal - working on the journal, blog, and posts like this one.
  • Outreach - volunteering and special events. Ex. Moonday, NSTA
  • Mechanical - work on the robot, parts, building, ect.
  • Software - programming.
  • Business - grants, funding, ect.
  • Organization - organizing, cleaning physical things.
  • Video - if you have a video, nothing else.
  • Private - will NOT show up on the blog page
  • Pinned - pins post as first on the homepage until the tag is removed.
  • Inspire - (award) all around good posts, important things for judges like NSTA, or a post going over our robot in detail
  • Connect - business award
  • Innovate - design process and uniqueness award
  • Design - award about how well documented and designed your robot is
  • Motivate - recruitment, representing STEM/FIRST
  • Control - coding award

section: Choose team, engineering, or business.
personhours: Calculate using # of people * hours worked. One number.
rolecall: People who participated in the post, comma seperated. Author of post goes first.

REMEMBER: keep the space between the colon and the information, and dont touch the "---"s.

Rules

Task: Used for succinctly describing what you did
Body of Post: Describe what you did, how you did, ect..
Reflections: Used to say how something worked out, your creative process, expectations, ect.
Images: Must be 600px wide. Use as many as you'd like. Save in images.
Videos: Use the default YouTube embed.
Embedded Insta/Twitter Posts: DON'T put in the first paragraph. You will break the blog.
Filenames: Save as YYYY-MM-DD-NAME.html in _posts. If unfinished, Draft-YYYY-MM-DD-NAME.html

Dear Iron Reign

12 Aug 2017

Dear Iron Reign By Jayesh

Dear Iron Reign,

8 years ago, when I walked into Mr. Schulte’s room after school, I didn’t realize my life was about to change dramatically. I’d heard there was a robotics club which was attempting to be started. I’d had sparse experience with the subject, through extraneous events like the annual Engineering Saturday at UTA, so I decided to give it a shot. When I walked through that door on the second floor, I didn’t realize I would find my second family and grow in ways which were then unimaginable to me.

Iron Reign began as a play on words from a natural phenomenon on Jupiter. It began as a group of 10 energetic, passionate, and probably annoying geeks with no idea what they were getting into. Through everything I’ve learned intellectually though these years, my favorite part has been the growth we’ve gone through, both as individuals and as a group. I’ve seen us struggle through all manners of competition, conflict, and always come out on top. The team served as a place I personally could start to build, what I came to realize, my future. I wanted to acknowledge the individuals which made this group as special as it is, so here we go (in no particular order):

Charlotte, it has been a pleasure getting to know you this year. I wish we’d met and talked more earlier, but you immediately stood out to me because of your kindness and quiet dedication to what you care about. It was great talking and joking around with you. Don’t let the others (looking at you Ethan) bully you, just lemme know if they make too many Vegan comments. They’re just jealous you’re healthier than they are. I look forward to seeing how you progress.

Austin, it has been a fun two years getting to know you. Your passion and dedication to those you care about has always endeared me towards you. Your transition to Iron Reign was as seamless as I could’ve fathomed. You immediately meshed with our hardworking and fun-loving personalities, and it has given me even more hope to where this team is going to be. Stay true to yourself, and I trust you to ensure this team doesn’t lose who we are.

Ethan, you were one of the original memebers, ahem, members of the team. Since the very beginning, I knew you would be both essential to the team, as well as a good friend to me. Your technical expertise, as well as your ever- positive personality, has been essential to who we are as a team. You’ve especially made my role on the team easier, as you are always so willing to work with other people, even on tasks you aren’t comfortable doing. Stop bullying Charlotte so much, keep growing, it’s been a fun ride.

Tycho, you have been the person who has always challenged me on why I do what I do. You’ve made it possible for me to concentrate on the team as a whole, and not get lost only focusing on singular tasks. You are individually one of the most intelligent people I’ve met. It has been great seeing how you’ve advanced, especially in functioning as a team player. I hope you continue to grow in everything you commit to.

Janavi, I don’t think I’ve ever been as proud of a person on the team as I have been of you. Your growth since we met you has been astonishing. We’ve joked about your affinity towards duct tape since the beginning, but you’ve grown so much since then. When you came in, you had such a desire to learn as much as you could, and made an immediate positive impact on a veteran team. The reason people say we cherry pick our members is because we have people like you who come into the team. Keep your kind and inclusive personality, it’ll serve you well.

Evan, since day one of Iron Reign, you’ve had a direct impact to both the team’s success, as well as my progress as an individual. You’ve grown to become such a mature, and hardworking person. Seeing you take more of an assertive and self-motivated role on the team made it so much easier for us to be successful. Exploring Atlanta with you is a memory I won’t forget. Thank you for inviting us to your play, your playwriting is unique and characteristic of what may become your future. Keep your positive and dedicated personality, I look forward to see how you grow.

So, I lied earlier, I did purposely leave my seniors for last, so here we go:

Caitlin, you joined us a year after the team was formed. I remember how nervous you were about joining the team, especially as you were the first girl to be on it. Since day one, those concerns should’ve been voided, with how vital you’ve been to our team dynamic. You had a maturity about you, even back in 7th grade, which served as a reference and base point for us. You were essential for us, both systematically, and as the person actually caring about organization (rip). Thank you for everything, I can’t wait to see all the good things you do at MIT.

Darshan, I’ve known you for so long, it’s actually ridiculous. Since I met you in elementary school, I’ve always thought of you as a brother of mine. We’ve fought, joked around, and grown through the years. I’ve been especially proud of your courage to fight off your introverted nature, and do things for the team, both in practices, and even on our presentation (dropping bars though), which you were originally uncomfortable with. You’re going to do fantastic at UT, and I hope you continue to challenge yourself as I know you can do.

Max, since I met you in 5th grade, I knew there was more to you than the eye could see. One of my favorite parts of being a part of this team is in working and joking around with you every week. You show who you really are in front of the people you truly care about, and are comfortable with, and that’s precious to me. Your intelligence always astounds me, and I know there are good things in store for you. You are going to absolutely destroy UTD (in a good way), and I look forward to seeing what you do my bro. I look forward to seeing how you and your memes progress.

Omar, as you said, we’ll probably still be meming around by the time this all ends. You have been a brother to me since we started really talking to each other back in middle school. It has been fantastic seeing how you’ve branched out being a part of this team. I know you don’t get too much into sentimental things, but I will always be there for you my man. Your intelligence and savvy are going to serve you well. You’re going to do fantastic things at Notre Dame, and I look forward to our endless discord calls when we all have time to play.

This team wouldn’t have been possible without two specific people. Our FCE, our OTP, whichever you prefer, but Mr. Karim Virani, and Dr. Catherine Lux; you two have been the basis for everything this team has ever done. None of this would’ve been possible without you two deciding to dedicate a significant portion of your lives to all of us. You have made time and effort specifically just so we can have a better future, and I can’t even express how grateful I am for it. Your home has become ours, and your welcoming arms have always been a sanctuary for us. Mr. Virani, your technical expertise, as well as your never-ending dedication to listening to us has always been something I’ve treasured. We’ve been able to discuss anything and everything, and that openness to everything we do has been essential to forming what this team has become. Dr. Lux, your kindness and willingness to listen to us has taught us what’s important beyond the robotics which we do. You two balance each other in such a beautiful way, it inspires us to be both successful in what we do, as well as overall being good people. Thank you for all of this. You’ve sacrificed a lot for us, now it’s on us to create the positive change in our world which you’ve emphasized. Thank you for being my second family.

The seniors will be back every winter and see how everyone is doing. I have been so proud and honored to work and be with every single one of you. You have taught me the meaning and importance of what I want to do in the future. You have shown me what it is to better the world, while accomplishing difficult technical tasks. You’ve taught me that a leader isn’t just one who encourages others to do better, it’s also one who has to see the importance of even the smallest task in how a larger goal is accomplished. Thank you once again from the bottom of my heart. It has been an absolute pleasure and honor to be with you all. The future is bright for this team, and not just in regards to First ;).

Much Love,
Jayesh Sharma

Balancing and PID

20 Aug 2017

Balancing and PID By Tycho

Task: Test and improve the PID system and balance code

We're currently testing code to give Argos a balancing system so that we can demo it. This is also a test for the PID in the new REV robotics expansion hubs, which we plan on switching to for this season if reliable. Example code is below.

public void BalanceArgos(double Kp, double Ki, double Kd, double pwr, double currentAngle, double targetAngle)
 {
     //sanity check - exit balance mode if we are out of recovery range
 
 
 
     if (isBalanceMode()){ //only balance in the right mode
 
         setHeadTilt(nod);
 
         //servo steering should be locked straight ahead
         servoSteerFront.setPosition(.5);
         servoSteerBack.setPosition(0.5);
 
         //double pwr = clampMotor((roll-staticBalance)*-.05);
 
         balancePID.setOutputRange(-.5,.5);
         balancePID.setPID(Kp, Ki, Kd);
         balancePID.setSetpoint(staticBalance);
         balancePID.enable();
         balancePID.setInput(currentAngle);
         double correction = balancePID.performPID();
 
         logger.UpdateLog(Long.toString(System.nanoTime()) + ","
                 + Double.toString(balancePID.getDeltaTime()) + ","
                 + Double.toString(currentAngle) + ","
                 + Double.toString(balancePID.getError()) + ","
                 + Double.toString(balancePID.getTotalError()) + ","
                 + Double.toString(balancePID.getDeltaError()) + ","
                 + Double.toString(balancePID.getPwrP()) + ","
                 + Double.toString(balancePID.getPwrI()) + ","
                 + Double.toString(balancePID.getPwrD()) + ","
                 + Double.toString(correction));
 
         timeStamp=System.nanoTime();
         motorFront.setPower(correction);
 

REV Robot Reveal

24 Aug 2017

REV Robot Reveal By Tycho, Austin, Charlotte, Omar, Evan, and Janavi

Argos V2 - a REV Robot Reveal

This video was pulled from Argos visits to: The NSTA STEM Expo in Kissimmee FL, in the path of eclipse totality in Tennessee, and in North Texas at The Dallas Makerspace, The Southwest Center Mall, Southside on Lamar and the Frontiers of Flight Museum. We hope you find it interesting:

PID Calibration and Testing

27 Aug 2017

PID Calibration and Testing By Tycho

Task: Allow user to change PID coefficients from the controller

To allow each user to create their own settings, we're designing a way to allow the user to tune PID to their own liking from the controller. This also enables debugging for our robot.

public void PIDTune(PIDController pid, boolean pidIncrease, boolean pidDecrease, boolean magnitudeIncrease, boolean magnitudeDecrease, boolean shouldStateIncrement) {
 if (shouldStateIncrement) {
  pidTunerState = stateIncrement(pidTunerState, 0, 2, true);
 }
 if (magnitudeIncrease) {
  pidTunerMagnitude *= 10;
 }
 if (magnitudeDecrease) {
  pidTunerMagnitude /= 10;
 }
 double dir;
 if (pidIncrease) dir = 1;
 else if (pidDecrease) dir = -1;
 else if (pidDecrease) dir = -1;
 else dir = 0;
 switch (pidTunerState) {
  case 0:
   pid.setPID(pid.getP() pidTunerMagnitude * dir, pid.getI(), pid.getD());
   break;
  case 1:
   pid.setPID(pid.getP(), pid.getI() pidTunerMagnitude * dir, pid.getD());
   break;
  case 2:
   pid.setPID(pid.getP(), pid.getI(), pid.getD() pidTunerMagnitude * dir);
   break;
 }
}
public double getPidTunerMagnitude() {
 return pidTunerMagnitude;
}
public int getPidTunerState() {
 return pidTunerState;
}
public int stateIncrement(int val, int minVal, int maxVal, boolean increase) {
 if (increase) {
  if (val == maxVal) {
   return minVal;
  }
  val++;
  return val;
 } else {
  if (val == minVal) {
   return maxVal;
  }
  val--;
  return val;
 }
}

FTC Kickoff and First Meet

09 Sep 2017

FTC Kickoff and First Meet By Ethan, Abhi, Kenna, Austin, Karina, Tycho, and Evan

Task: View FTC Kickoff and plan for the year

Welcome to FTC Relic Recovery! For those who don't know, this year's challenge is archeology themed, and it certainly will be a challenge. The goal of this challenge is to stack 6X6 in blocks (glyphs) in certain patterns to gain as many points as possible. The are also side challenges such as balancing the robot and hitting a specific field element to gain points. Due to the vast number of methods to score points, a robot must contain multiple mechanisms which are extremely accurate as well as quick.

Upon arrival to Williams High School in Plano, TX for the Dallas region kickoff, we quickly amazed. When the regional director, Patrick Michaud, asked the audience how many rookie teams there were, we were mesmerized by the number of hands that went up. Though the FTC organization was already very large, we noticed that the FIRST spirit and ideals of Gracious Professionalism were rapidly spreading to aspiring students of the North Texas region. This is very inspiring for both veterans and rookies because we need to work more closely than ever to mentor one another for our success in the 2017-2018 challenge.

Back to the actual game, before the game reveal, Dr. Michaud introduced the expanded compatibility for different kits and tools for this year's competition. REV robotics was present at the event and discussed their new sets of PDM's as well as new servos, etc. REV kits stuck out to us as we felt the Modern Robotics system, though did it job, had some issues. We hope to implement more REV parts this year for more accurate and efficient parts. Another change we noticed was a new set of smartphones as driver stations/robot controllers, the Motorola Moto phones. We, however, will continue to use ZTE and Samsung Galaxy S5 phones.

All teams were eagerly sitting on the edges of their seats while waiting for the 11AM official reveal of the challenge. Something unique we noticed for this year's reveal video was that there was a skit performed. We found this as enjoyable though we were all waiting for the official animation. Upon completion of the animation video, the field was unraveled and all teams were allowed to access the field and field elements. While doing so, we took note of some complications that we could run into. First, we noticed that the balancing stones had about a 2 centimeter height jump from the ground to their tops. This would mean that our robot would need to drive onto the platform which was at an elevation and then balance. Second, we noticed that the space in which the blocks needed to be placed was very tight. This means that if the robot is not very precise, it could risk the loss of valuble points and time. Lastly, we noticed that the furthest zone for placing the relics was a relatively long way away. Since the robot cannot touch the ground outside the field, this could create some complications, especially if we want to place both relics.

Taking these ideas back to the house, we put our minds together to identify a basic robot design. At kickoff, we noticed that the glyphs felt like the same material that the floor tiles were made of. Upon noticing this, we created a make-shift glyph to prototype with.

Upon discussion of our plans for this year, we decided to strip apart the past two years' bots apart to their elementary parts. We decided to take the 2015 bot apart completely and we isolated the mechanum base of the 2016 bot (Juggernaut). We decided that a mechanum base would be best for this year's competition due to easy maneuverability.

Reflections

We're in for a hard time this year, but we'll have a solid bot. We're a little worried about the glyph-picker mechanism though, and we'll have to decide that in the next few meetings. Through the prototyping of the two intake and deposition systems, we hope to identify our design by the next couple of weeks.

Meeting Log

09 Sep 2017

Meeting Log September 09, 2017 By Ethan, Evan, Abhi, Tycho, Austin, Karina, and Kenna

Meeting Log September 09, 2017

Today was the first meeting of the Relic Recovery season. Our main focus today was strategy, then organization and getting the robot ready for this year's challenges

Today's Meet Objectives

Organization / Documentation / Competition Prep

  • Review Journal
  • Write blog post for Kickoff
  • Fix dates for indexPrintable
  • Blog post catchup
  • Strategy review

Software

  • Glyph recognition OpenCV
  • Aspiring programmer's code review

Build / Modelling

  • Teardown old robot
  • Design Competition - glyph grabber

Service / Outreach

  • Kickoff

Today's Work Log

Team MembersTaskStart TimeDuration
AllPlanning Meeting2:10pm.25
EthanKickoff post2:002
EthanFix dates4:002
EvanDesign Competition2:004
AustinTeardown robot2:002
AustinDesign Competion4:002
TychoCode review2:004
KennaBlog review2:004
KarinaStrategy review2:004
AbhiStrategy review2:004
PeopleTask2:001
PeopleTask2:001
PeopleTask2:001
PeopleTask2:001
PeopleTask2:001
PeopleTask2:001
PeopleTask2:001
PeopleTask2:001
PeopleTask2:001
PeopleTask2:001

Intake System Competition

09 Sep 2017

Intake System Competition By Evan and Austin

Task: Compare build designs for the cryptobox intake system

The block scoring system is going to be an integral part of the competition this year, and it will have to built sturdy. It’ll have to be reliable for us to have any shot of winning any matches. So we got to brainstorming. We spent a while at the whiteboard, drawing up various mechanisms and ways to pick up blocks. One idea was the idea of a block delivering system similar to those modern vending machines that have two degree of freedom movement. We began to design the contraption so that a conveyor belt could be placed on an up and down linear slide to position the blocks just right to make the different symbols. Another person came up with the idea to use our tank treads from Geb, our competition robot from two years ago, to push the blocks up a ramp and deposit them into the cryptoboxes. Neither of us could convince the other about what was to be done, so we both split off to work on our own models. Next week we will keep working on this build off of the century.

Makeshift Glyphs

10 Sep 2017

Makeshift Glyphs By Janavi, Abhi, and Evan

Task:

After the game reveal video was released we had some ideas on how to have our robot grip onto the blocks, but we couldn't test it without a makeshift glyph to hold onto. So we decided to upcycle some old cat and weather damaged field tiles by cutting them up into 6 X 6 squares and placing them in a cube formation. Attached below is an image of our handiwork and a image of the glyphs used on FTC fields

Our glyph real glyph

Reflections

This did not end up work very well and in hindsight we could have used other materiel like printing out a 6 X 6 X 6 frame on the 3-D printer or by making it out of foam board so it would be more similar to the real thing. But thanks to the generous donations of the DISD STEM department we were provided with a full field set so we don't have to worry about creating our own glyphs. However, we will remember this for the future.

Meeting Log

16 Sep 2017

Meeting Log September 16, 2017 By Ethan, Evan, Karina, Tycho, Austin, Charlotte, and Kenna

Meeting Log September 16, 2017

Today we had a major outreach event at Conrad HS in DISD which served around 450 people. We also planned on continuing our building competition, working on strategy, the blog, and the robot teardown.

Today's Meet Objectives

Organization / Documentation / Competition Prep

  • Review Journal
  • Conrad post
  • About page - new members
  • Strategy

Software

  • Code review

Build / Modelling

  • Complete robot teardown
  • Finish design competition
  • Install REV hubs

Service / Outreach

  • Conrad HS volunteering

Today's Work Log

Team MembersTaskStart TimeDuration
AllPlanning Meeting2:10pm.25
EthanConrad post2:002
EthanAbout page4:002
EvanDesign competition2:004
AustinRobot teardown2:001
AustinREV hubs3:001
AustinDesign competition4:002
KarinaAbout page2:002
KarinaStrategy4:002
TychoCode review2:004
CharlotteConrad post2:004

Further Design of the Intake

16 Sep 2017

Further Design of the Intake By Evan and Austin

Task: Design the grabbing systems further

The sun came out and it was back to the field. We got started right away, both of us building our designs. Since the cryptoboxes were wider than the 18 inch sizing cube, we started by designing a fold out for the conveyor belt. This was entirely proof of concept, purely to see if it was at all aplicable in the game this year. We spent an hour or two gathering parts and put together an extending conveyor belt. This device would swing down, like the arrow suggests, allowing for more space to move the blocks back in forth, giving us accuracy in rune completion. This will be later attached to linear slides, allowing for an up and down motion.

MXP at Conrad HS

16 Sep 2017

MXP at Conrad HS By Ethan, Evan, Karina, Tycho, Austin, Charlotte, and Kenna

Sharing STEM opportinities with kids and their families at Conrad HS

Today, we brought the Dallas City of Learning MXP to Conrad High School to support Dallas ISD's parent outreach fair call PrepU Super Saturday. The focus for this Super Saturday was making parents aware of extracurricular activities available to their students in DISD. So this was a perfect event to let parents know about the robotics programs available in Dallas ISD, including Jr. FLL, FLL, FRC and FTC. The DallasISD STEM Departments was also there and since they are responsible for curating the robotics programs across the school district, we sent parents who wanted to know more over to them.

Activities

Up in the front, we started a MinecraftEDU server and had 3 computers decicated to playing it for younger kids. On the other side, we had set up computers to program EV3s for sumobots. In the back, we ran Google Sketchup on the computers to teach kids how to make keychains and other trinkets using 3D modelling and printing. Our back setup includes 4 FlashForge 3D printers, donated to us by Best Buy.

Today we presented to somewhere around 420-450 people. The MXP was ridiculously crowded at some points, up to 25 people aboard the MXP at some points. We handed out flyers about FIRST to people who visited the table next to our MXP as well, with some significant interest. About 50 keychains were completed and printed - the photo above is Austin holding our printing backlog. Almost all of them were picked up, but we weren't able to print the last 10 or so designs.

Today was a very successful day for the MXP, and we'll break our record of people talked to easily if we keep this up. We have future deployments planned soon including another Super Saturday next weekend.

Intake Systems

17 Sep 2017

Intake Systems By Austin

Task: Work on designs for the intake system

Over the past couple of days we’ve experimented with a horizontally mounted track system that we had hoped would serve to move blocks through the entire length of the robot and into the crypto box. Immediately we noticed a few issues, the primary one being that the tread was static in terms of mounting and therefore wasn’t accepting of blocks when feed at an odd angle. To correct our feeding issue, we widened the gap between the tracks and added rubber bands in hopes of maintaining traction and adding to on demand orientation ability.

Initial tests of our second prototype went fairly well, however the design suffered from some severe drawbacks; the first was its weight and size which would limit robot mobility and take up much needed space for other components, the second issue was that keeping the treads tensioned perfectly for long periods of time was nearly impossible and they would often sag leading to loss of grip, and finally the system was still fairly unpredictable especially during intake (blocks were flung occasionally). These finding lead me to believe we may scrap the idea in consideration of time.

Aside from our track intake we’ve also been working on a gripper and slide system that shows promise.

MXP Event at LV Stockard Middle School

23 Sep 2017

MXP Event at LV Stockard Middle School By Charlotte, Kenna, Tycho, and Austin

STEM education for children and their parents at a DISD event

Earlier this morning, we drove the Mobile Tech Experience RV to LV Stockard Middle School and participated in a DISD event. We served around 250 kids, ages ranging from preschool to middle school. The morning started off slow, but as the day went on, the MXP became more and more crowded. Our spot was near the food and snack area, so lots of families came through after getting breakfast or lunch. We had a sumo field set up outside the vehicle and many people would stop to watch the robots fight, who we would then invite onto the vehicle and teach them how to program these robots themselves.

Like our previous event at Conrad High School, this DISD event was purposed to help kids discover activities that they may enjoy and want to do as an extracurricular. This was a great opportunity to spark interest in STEM in these kids and we answered any questions about who our team is and how they can join or start a robotics team at their school.  The kids rushed in in groups and were very excited to get started with the activities that we provide. A highlight of this specific event was a group of young folklorico dancers who came to learn 3D modeling, as seen above. When a group such as that comes in, it both forces and allows us to practice our teaching skills. Instead of teaching individually, we show the kids how to 3D design step-by-step on a large tv screen donated to us by Big Thought.

This rush of people happens at a lot of events that we cater, and these rushes can get very chaotic, but as a team we agree that it is this chaos that is the most fulfilling once the event ends. Being able to teach these kids and see their faces once they have accomplished something using the knowledge that they just acquired is the most gratifying part of serving on the Mobile Tech Experience.

Meeting Log

23 Sep 2017

Meeting Log September 23, 2017 By Charlotte, Kenna, Tycho, Austin, and Evan

Meeting Log September 23, 2017

We started the day by volunteering at LV Stockard MS, another DISD event. During our practice, we planned to work on robot design, blog updates, and code testing.

Today's Meet Objectives

Organization / Documentation / Competition Prep

  • Review Journal
  • About page updates
  • Stockard blog post

Software

  • Controller mapping

Build / Modelling

  • Cryptobox grabber - competition judging
  • Install chosen grabber
  • Reposition robot hubs

Service / Outreach

  • Stockard MS DISD

Today's Work Log

Team MembersTaskStart TimeDuration
AllPlanning Meeting2:10pm.25
CharlotteStockard post2:002
CharlotteCompetition judging4:002
KennaAbout page2:002
KennaCompetition judging4:002
TychoController mapping2:004
AustinCompetition judging2:002
AustinInstall grabber4:002
EvanCompetition judging2:002
EvanMove hubs4:002

Narrowing Down the Designs

23 Sep 2017

Narrowing Down the Designs By Evan and Austin

Task: Redesign our grabber systems

In an attempt to get a working lift system before the coaches meeting we will be presenting at, a linear slide has been attached to the robot, along with a pair of grabbing arms. They work surprisingly well and aren’t as complicated as my idea. Plus the importance of speed has really taken hold on me this year. We need to be as fast as possible but my contraption is slow compared to the grabber arm. I think we'll be scrapping the idea for this grabber arm bandwagon everyone seems to be hopping on. While the grabber arm allows for quick pick ups and easy placement, our idea was only bulky and unnecessary because of our use of mecanum wheels which eliminate any need for a system to go side to side. Since the grabber was rudimentary, we’ll be making improvements and new iterations. We toyed with some materials earlier on in the season, and we’ll probably be implementing that into it.

Slide Designs

24 Sep 2017

Slide Designs By Austin

Task: Figure out slide mechanism

After determining that the treaded channel was much too buggy to perfect with the time we had, we shifted attention to other scoring systems like grabbers, however before finding the right grabber we decided we needed to get the track for it completed first. We’ve had experience in the past with all sorts of rails from Tetrix kits that convert their standard channels into lifts, to the newer REV sliding rail kits which we also toyed around with in initial prototyping shenanigans.

One of our key concerns was also wear and tear, in that we have had systems slowly breakdown in the past, such as our mountain climber and catapult, since they had plastic components that broke over time, we knew that long periods of use over multiple competitions would deteriorate the plastic components of either rail sets, and other rails that used full metal parts would simply be bulky and rough to fit in snugly with our robot. After a bit more research we settled on standard steel drawer slides from home depot, mainly because they were streamline and all around sturdy. The slides also provided us with easy mounting points for our future claw and attachments.

We understood that whatever option we picked for slides would have to be easily repairable or replaceable during competition, should something go wrong. Since the drawer slide were easy to come by and needed little modification we could easily make duplicates to act as stand by and demonstration parts during competition.

These positives came to form more than enough of a reason to continue prototyping our grabber that would eventually be attached once completed to the lift, which was now mounted to the robot and used a system of spools and pullies to extended above the minimum height for scoring in the top row.

Building Competition 2017

25 Sep 2017

Building Competition 2017 By Evan and Austin

Task: Find the best robot design

The games have begun and it’s time to build. So that’s what Austin and I did. A war had been declared. Legions of the indentured collided on the battlefield. Millions were slaughtered during this new age armageddon. Austin had his army. I had mine. Two different ideas to do the same task: lift glyphs into their correct positions. A simple job but one that caused a rift in Iron Reign, an incurable rift between the forces of light and darkness.

But then I decided to stop because his design had more speed than mine and speed is more necessary this year. My idea had been a lift that could move the glyphs back and forth but I realized that it would be a little too slow for the competition. Or, another solution would have had a side to side conveyor belt that moved glyphs back and forth to arrange them in the correct order, and then push them into the slots. This movement would have been separate from the four mecanum wheels that we are using in the chasis. His idea was simpler than mine, a conveyor belt that ran through the middle of the robot to bring the glyphs to the keybox, where they could be slotted in with the side to side movement provided by the mecanum wheels. So, like an outnumbered Supreme Court judge, I decided to join the winner so I could have a say in the early design. Once he got a prototype ofhis contraption working, it was able to pick up blocks effectively but it still needs improvement. It has issues with blocks at an angle, and it has trouble slotting the blocks into the keybox, but it's a nice step toward a working block system. We are currently planning to use the mecanum wheel base we used last year but this could change anytime. We left practice with a direction and that's better than nothing.

Meeting Log

30 Sep 2017

Meeting Log September 30, 2017 By Ethan, Evan, Tycho, Austin, Kenna, Karina, Austin, and Abhi

Meeting Log September 30, 2017

Today was based around prepping for our meeting with DISD adminmistrators, getting our robots in working order, and organizing parts for the season.

Today's Meet Objectives

Organization / Documentation / Competition Prep

  • Review Journal
  • Fix stats page
  • Strategy

Software

  • Program lift
  • Program grabber

Build / Modelling

  • Fix lift string system
  • Add lift supports

Service / Outreach

  • DISD prep

Today's Work Log

Team MembersTaskStart TimeDuration
AllPlanning Meeting2:10pm.25
EthanFix stats page2:002
EthanDISD Prep4:002
EvanLift supports2:004
AustinLift string2:004
TychoProgram lift2:002
TychoProgram grabber4:002
KennaLift supports2:004
KarinaStrategy2:004
AbhiStrategy2:004

Testing Materials

30 Sep 2017

Testing Materials By Austin, Evan, and and Tycho

Task: Test Materials for V2 Gripper

Though our current gripper is working sufficiently, there are some issues we would like to improve in our second version. The mounting system is unstable and easily comes out of alignment because the rev rail keeps bending. Another issue we've encountered is the cervo pulling the grippers so that they begin to cave inwards, releasing any blocks being held at the bottom. By far the biggest problem is our intake. Our drivers have to align the robot with the block so precisely to be able to stack it that it eats a majority of our game time. However, there are some advantages, such as light weight and adjustability, to this gripper that we would like to carry over into the second version.

    We tested out a few different materials:
  • Silicone Baking Mats - The mats were a very neutral option because they didn't have any huge advantages or disadvantages (other than not adhering well). These could have been used, however, there were other better options.
  • Shelf Liner - It was far too slippery. Also, when thinking about actually making the grippers, there was no good way to put it on the grippers. Using this materials would have been too much work with little gain.
  • Baking Pan Lining (picked) - It was made out of durable rubber but was still very malleable which is a big advantage. We need the grippers to compress and 'grip' the block without causing any damage.
  • Rubber Bands on Wheels - This material was closest to our original version and, unexpectedly, carried over one of the problems. It still requires very specific orientations to pick up blocks, which would defeat the purpose of this entire task.

The purpose of this is as a part of our future grabber design, which will need to be relatively light, as our string is currently breaking under stress due to weight. The material must also have good direct shear and direct strength, as the grabber will have rotating arms that move in and out to grasp blocks. As well, we're replacing the tetrix parts with REV, as they're smaller and a little lighter, with the additional bonus of more mounting points.

Designing the Grabber Further

30 Sep 2017

Designing the Grabber Further By Evan

Task: Design the grabber design and make future plans

The grabber has been evolving. A column made of a turkey baster and a wooden dowel attached to servo has come into fruition. The first drawings and designs are coming along, and some 3D printed parts have been thought up to allow the square dowel to become a hexagon. An adapter of sorts. The grabber and lift have been outfitted with a back board to stop blocks from getting caught underneath the backing bar. The back board is just some 1/16th inch wood cut to fit. The new turkey baster columns are in the first stages, so more info on them will come as more is discovered and progress has been made. The sketches will explain these designs better.

Designing the Grabber

01 Oct 2017

Designing the Grabber By Austin

Task: Work on the grabbers more

With our single degree of freedom lift fastened to the robot we focused on the appendage that would grip to within an inch of its life any glyph we fed it. We initially toyed with simple tetrix channels to form a make shift rail that would hold axels for pivoting points, however we found tetrix to be a bit too cumbersome and decided to use rev rail instead. Using two tetrix U-brackets we built a makeshift grabber that used rubber bands and a servo to secure blocks without letting them slip through its grasp. To add extra grip to the long L-beams that formed the pincers of the claw, we added even more rubber bands, and moved on to testing.

Initial tests were very positive, the high strength servo coupled with a few rubber bands maintained enough of a grip on one or two blocks with ease, and because the entire system was mounted to a rev rail we could easily slide and size the pincers to the right distance. Feeling confident in our work we attached the grabber to the lift and attempted drive practice, which ended relatively quickly due to a surprising number of jams between the lift and glyphs.

The key issue we now faced was that as the lift returned to its home state blocks were getting stuck beneath the retracting claw causing jams. To fix this relatively simple problem we added a back plate to the claw that kept blocks from slipping to far into the robot, this was easily fashioned out of a bit of thin wood board we had lying around from the decks of other robots. The overall performance of our glyph wrangling device was astounding, so long as whoever was operating the robot was a well-trained driver.

DISD Coaches' Training

02 Oct 2017

DISD Coaches' Training By Ethan, Abhi, Kenna, and Tycho

Task: Present at the DISD Coaches' Training

On Monday, we went to the DISD Coaches' Meeting in order to present our robot to the FIRST DISD coordinator and other coaches in the district. This presentation was one of the reasons we got our robot working so quickly. During the presentation our coach talked with other coaches and the coordinator about funding and tounaments, while we presented in the back and demonstrated our robot and the REV expansion hubs. We also answered questions about coding and design.

Reflections

These presentations are extremely helpful to get our team's name out in the North Texas community, as well as secure funding for our team. They also assist our team in that we can exchange design ideas with coaches at events like these.

Oh No! Dying Glyphs

02 Oct 2017

Oh No! Dying Glyphs By Abhi

Problem: Glyph Damge due to Robot Design

We were tearing up our glyphs like this because our wheels had no guard for their screws:

More specifically, we had multiple issues with damaging the glyphs. First, the exposed screws on the mechanum wheels (Fig 1) tended to cut into the glyphs as seen in the above picture. As well, you can see relatively sharp edges on the wheels where the block could also be cut, and that the blocks could be pinched by the wheels on the wheel. As well, the corners on the REV and TETRIX pieces cut into thr glyphs when they were rammed into the walls of the field (Fig 2).

Fig 1

Fig 2

V2 Hexifier and Parts

07 Oct 2017

V2 Hexifier and Parts By Tycho and Abhi

Task: Creating the Parts for V2

Today we continued our work on the second grippers. We talked about this in another post, but the gist is that we iterated through various materials to find something that would securely grip the block, without damaging it. At the beginning, that got rid of most of our options, but we tested various sprays, materials, and pressures to find the right material. The baking pan liner was the best, as it had some give without damaging the block, but had enough friction that slippage was a minor issue. So, we needed the baking pan liner to adhere to the large square dowel we chose to be the base for our grippers. In order to do this, we had to design and print a hexifier, as seen below, which makes the dowel's square shape into a hexagon. We also designed and printed square pieces to go on the top and bottom of the gripper to keep it in place.

Reflections

The new grippers are probably going to be much heavier than our previous ones. Not only because of the difference in material, but in sheer size. We may not be able to retain the lightness in V2 that we had hoped to.
We used PTC Creo for all of these parts. Abhi has some video tutorials on using Creo that can be found here and here. Soon we will start assembling our V2 grippers.

Meeting Log

07 Oct 2017

Meeting Log October 07, 2017 By Ethan, Evan, Austin, Tycho, and Charlotte

Meeting Log October 07, 2017

Today's Meet Objectives

Organization / Documentation / Competition Prep

  • Review Journal
  • DISD post
  • Fix old post formatting
  • Stockard MS

Software

  • Begin autonomous

Build / Modelling

  • Fix robot - was dropped
  • REV hub relign 2
  • Realign square base

Today's Work Log

Team MembersTaskStart TimeDuration
AllPlanning Meeting2:10pm.25
EthanDISD post2:002
EthanFix formatting4:002
EvanFix robot2:002
EvanRealign4:002
AustinFix robot2:002
AustinREV realign4:002
TychoAutonomous2:004
CharlotteStockard post2:002
CharlotteJournal review4:002

Chassis Upgrades

08 Oct 2017

Chassis Upgrades By Austin

Task: Upgrade our chassis

Because our robot at this point has merely become a collage of prototypes that we compete with, there are often subtle improvements that need to be made. Starting with the wheelbase, Abhi has written a blog about the shields we printed to protect the glyphs from the gnashing bolts of our mechanum wheels, and we also tensioned all our set screws and motor mounts to make sure that our base was preforming in terms of the speed and strength we needed. As we add components to the robot things often are shifted around as well, after tuning up the drive train we focused on realigning our REV expansion hubs and their wiring so that nothing would be in the way of critical lift or drivetrain components.

Any jettisoning bolts that have been catching components while moving, and any sharp edges have all been ground down to ensure that any motion is smooth and that there are minimal catching hazards during operation. Because of the earlier mentioned prototype state our robot was in, many of the key components laid outside of the 18 inch cubic limits and so these components we brought in and neatly fastened to the internals of the robot bearing in mind ease of access for future updates to components. This entire push for cleanliness was the result of upcoming scrimmages and practice matches that we would be participating in.

MXP at UTA

14 Oct 2017

MXP at UTA By Kenna, Abhi, Austin, Charlotte, Ethan, and Janavi

MXP at UTA

Today, we brought the Dallas City of Learning MXP (Mobile Learning Lab) to 4H’s Youth Technology Explosion in coordination with the Black Society of Engineers. Our role in this event was to offer a hands on experience for those interested in a career in engineering. We usually have three different activities: MinecraftEDU, Sumo Robotics, and CAD Keychains. MinecraftEDU runs on three computers for younger kids while six computers run LEGO Mindstorms EV3. We use Mindstorms to help people code their own robot which, once coded, will battle other robots in a sumo ring.

Unlike most events we attend, the participants were mostly high schoolers so there was a much greater interest in the 3D modeling software (as opposed to MinecraftEDU or sumo robotics). Only about 80 people came into the MXP but in very large groups at once so we switched from helping everyone individually to presenting on the TV. We walked them through designing their own keychain on SketchUp, then printed it using FlashForge 3D Printers donated to us by BestBuy. Helping people learn CAD gives us the unique opportunity to foster interest in a valuable skill on a program that anyone with internet has access to. The best part by far is giving people their printed keychains, as seen above.

Meeting Log

14 Oct 2017

Meeting Log October 14, 2017 By Ethan, Kenna, Abhi, Austin, Janavi, Evan, Charlotte, and Tycho

Meeting Log October 14, 2017

Today's Meet Objectives

Organization / Documentation / Competition Prep

  • Review Journal
  • Learn to blog
  • UTA post
  • Teach how to blog
  • Strategy post

Software

  • IMU testing
  • Autonomous

Build / Modelling

  • Install wheel mounts
  • Test string for lift

Service / Outreach

  • UTA volunteering

Today's Work Log

Team MembersTaskStart TimeDuration
AllPlanning Meeting2:10pm.25
EthanTeach how to blog2:002
EthanFix formatting of posts4:002
KennaLearn to post2:002
KennaUTA post4:002
AbhiStrategy post2:004
AustinWheel mounts2:004
EvanString test2:004
CharlotteLearn to blog2:004
TychoIMU2:002
TychoAutonomous4:002

Grabber Code

16 Oct 2017

Grabber Code By Tycho

Task: Create a seperate class for the grabbers on the robot

Today, we created a new PickAndPlace class to isolate the code that controls the current gripper and lift system. I also added new methods to send the lift to max, min and stacking heights with manual override. It now prevents over extension or over unwinding by setting max and minumum heights. It also eliminates the problem of having to push the lift all the way down after lifting.

The code below describes the functionality of the robot. The class names should be self-explanatory as to what they do.

+package org.firstinspires.ftc.teamcode;

import com.qualcomm.robotcore.hardware.DcMotor;
import com.qualcomm.robotcore.hardware.Servo;

/**
 * Created by tycho on 10/15/2017.
 */

public class PickAndPlace {

    DcMotor motorLift = null;
    Servo servoGrip = null;

    private int liftMax = 4000;
    private int liftStack = 2500; //stacking height
    private int liftMin = 50;
    private int liftPlanck = 450; //smallest distance to increment lift by when using runToPosition

    boolean gripOpen = false;
    int gripOpenPos = 900;
    int gripClosedPos = 2110;

    public PickAndPlace(DcMotor motorLift, Servo servoGrip){
        this.motorLift = motorLift;
        this.servoGrip = servoGrip;
    }

    public void ToggleGrip (){
        if (gripOpen) {
            gripOpen = false;
            servoGrip.setPosition(ServoNormalize(gripClosedPos));
        }
        else {
            gripOpen = true;
            servoGrip.setPosition(ServoNormalize(gripOpenPos));
        }
    }


    public void stopLift(){
        motorLift.setPower(0);
    }

    public void raiseLift(){
        if(motorLift.getCurrentPosition() < liftMax) motorLift.setPower(.5);
        else motorLift.setPower(0);
    }
    public void lowerLift(){
        if(motorLift.getCurrentPosition() > liftMin) motorLift.setPower(-.5);
        else motorLift.setPower(0);
    }

    public void raiseLift2(){
        if (motorLift.getCurrentPosition() < liftMax && motorLift.getTargetPosition() < liftMax) {
            motorLift.setTargetPosition((int) Math.min(motorLift.getCurrentPosition()+ liftPlanck, liftMax));
            motorLift.setMode(DcMotor.RunMode.RUN_TO_POSITION);
            motorLift.setPower(1);
        }
    }
    public void lowerLift2() {
        if (motorLift.getCurrentPosition() > liftMin && motorLift.getTargetPosition() > liftMin) {
            motorLift.setTargetPosition((int) Math.max(motorLift.getCurrentPosition() - liftPlanck, liftMin));
            motorLift.setMode(DcMotor.RunMode.RUN_TO_POSITION);
            motorLift.setPower(.8);
        }
    }
    public void goLiftMax() {

            motorLift.setTargetPosition(liftMax);
            motorLift.setMode(DcMotor.RunMode.RUN_TO_POSITION);
            motorLift.setPower(1);

    }

    public void goLiftMin() {

        motorLift.setTargetPosition(liftMin);
        motorLift.setMode(DcMotor.RunMode.RUN_TO_POSITION);
        motorLift.setPower(1);

    }

    public void goLiftStack() {

        motorLift.setTargetPosition(liftStack);
        motorLift.setMode(DcMotor.RunMode.RUN_TO_POSITION);
        motorLift.setPower(1);

    }

    public int getMotorLiftPosition(){
        return motorLift.getCurrentPosition();
    }

    public static double ServoNormalize(int pulse){
        double normalized = (double)pulse;
        return (normalized - 750.0) / 1500.0; //convert mr servo controller pulse width to double on _0 - 1 scale
    }

}

Travis High School Night

17 Oct 2017

Travis High School Night By Tycho, Charlotte, Ethan, and Karina

Encourage students at Travis to enroll at our School of Science and Engineering (SEM)

Today we went to Travis Middle School for their high school night where they have many high schools competing to enroll their graduating 8th graders. Travis is a Talented and Gifted school and about half of our team came from there. Mr. Newton was our lead presenter. He is a DISD teacher of the year and the head of our math department. He is the school’s killer math teacher and has done the high school night presentation at Travis for the last 3 years. Each year Iron Reign has been there to support him.

It started with Mr. Newton giving his usual presentation on how strong of school SEM is, including how well it performs on the international stage. He talked about the culture of the school and about how students there manifest their love for science, math and engineering and we are always ready to support each other. He spoke about the college readiness program and how 100% of seniors last year are entering college and have been offered a total of $21 million worth of scholarships. And then he handed it over to us to describe the robotics program.

We told them about how robotics unifies all the different subjects that they're learning at SEM. We described how it brings together fields like physics, engineering, computer science and calculus to make a real tangible product. We also showed how robotics exposes the students that participate in it to experiences that they would otherwise not have the ability to access if they were just regular students at SEM, such as connections with professional engineers and our intense local STEM outreach efforts. Charlotte shared how in just this last year we’ve been all around the country to participate in competitions and outreach events as far afield as Austin, Arkansas, Georgia and Florida. Karina helped demo the robots and showed some Travis students how to operate them, while Ethan helped highly interested students understand our robotics program in detail.

Altogether we delivered our presentation to 3 different groups and spoke with roughly 120 students and family members. We know Mr. Newton convinced most families to look very seriously at applying to SEM.

We have always said that if we make a connection that helps even a single student think of themselves in a STEM field, we’ve had a successful outreach program. We think we regularly have that kind of impact and more, but we are seldom told it straight out. Today we had two students tell us that our robotics demo directly convinced them declare SEM as their high school first choice. This was a good day for us, and a great day for our school.

Stopping Glyph Damage

21 Oct 2017

Stopping Glyph Damage By Abhi

Task: Stop Destroying Glyphs

Since damaging field elements is a huge no-no, we needed to fix this, we decided to create a 3-D part to protect the glyphs from our wheels

Model:

During the first attempt, I had just self taught Creo hours prior to construction. As a result, I was not very precise nor efficient in my design. Nevertheless, we recognized that there were some basic shapes we could use for construction such as a semicircle for the bottom half and two rectangles on the top part. We decided to use measurements that were estimated from a singular mechanum wheel. This culminated in the design below.

Result:

The part itself is made out of nylon as usual. Our main issue was measuring the wheel accurately to create a functional part. The two parts hampering the design was that the U-shape must be off the ground slightly, and that the shape's semi-circle would not have the full radius of the wheel. So, we iterated through various designs of the U-shape, changing the height off the ground by ~1mm each time. We also varied the radius, until we realized that we could measure the width of where the semi-circle segued into the rectangle and get the estimated diameter of the semi-circle.

Meeting Log

21 Oct 2017

Meeting Log October 21, 2017 By Ethan, Tycho, Evan, Abhi, Charlotte, and Karina

Meeting Log October 21, 2017

Today's Meet Objectives

Organization / Documentation / Competition Prep

  • Review Journal
  • Travis blog post
  • Work on presentation

Software

  • Work on openCV integration
  • Test out RoboRealm

Build / Modelling

  • Robot drive practice
  • Learn PTC
  • Jewel thief mockup

Today's Work Log

Team MembersTaskStart TimeDuration
AllPlanning Meeting2:10pm.25
EthanWork on presentation2:004
TychoTravis blog post2:001
TychoOpenCV3:002
TychoRobotRealm4:002
CharlottePTC2:004
AbhiPTC2:004
KarinaDrive practice2:004
EvanJewel thief mockup2:004

Machine Vision Goals – Part 1

22 Oct 2017

Machine Vision Goals – Part 1 By Tycho

We’ve been using machine vision for a couple of years now and have a plan to use it in Relic Rescue for a number of things. I mostly haven’t gotten to it because college application deadlines have a higher priority for me this year. But since we already have experience with color blob tracking in OpenCV and Vuforia tracking, I hope this won’t be too difficult. We have 5 different things we want to try:

VuMark decode – this is obvious since it gives us a chance to regularly get the glyph crypto bonus. From looking at the code, it seems to be a single line different from the Vuforia tracking code we’ve already got. It’s probably a good idea to signal the completed decode by flashing our lights or something like that. That will make it more obvious to judges and competitors.

Jewel Identification – most teams seem to be using the REV color sensor on the arm their jewel displacement arm. We’ll probably start out doing that too, but I’d also like to use machine vision to identify the correct jewel. Just because we can. Just looking at the arrangement, we should be able to get both the jewels and the Vuforia target in the same frame at the beginning of autonomous.

Alignment – it is not legal to extend a part of the robot outside of the 18” dimensions during match setup. So we can’t put the jewel arm out to make sure it is between the jewels. But there is nothing preventing us from using the camera to assist with alignment. We can even draw on the screen where the jewels should appear, like inside the orange box below. This will also help with Jewel ID – we won’t have to hunt for the relevant pixels – we can just compare the average hue of the two regions around the wiffle balls.

Autonomous Deposition – this is the most ambitious use for machine vision. The dividers on the crypto boxes should make pretty clear color blob regions. If we can find the center points between these regions, we should be able to code and automatically centering glyph depositing behavior.

Autonomous glyph collection – ok this is actually harder. Teams seem to spend most of their time retrieving glyphs. Most of that time seems to be spent getting the robot and the glyphs square with each other. Our drivers have a lot of trouble with this even though we have a very maneuverable mecanum drive. What if we could create a behavior that would automatically align the robot to a target glyph on approach? With our PID routines we should be able to do this pretty efficiently. The trouble is we need to figure out the glyph orientation by analyzing frames on approach. And it probably means shape analysis – something we’ve never done before. If we get to this, it won’t be until pretty late in the season. Maybe we’ll come up with a better mechanical approach to aligning glyphs with our bot and this won’t be needed.

Tools for Experimenting

Machine vision folks tend to think about image analysis as a pipeline that strings together different image processing algorithms in order to understand something about the source image or video feed. These algorithms are often things like convolution filters that isolate different parts of the image. You have to decide which stages to put into a pipeline depending on what that pipeline is meant to detect or decide. To make it easier to experiment, it’s good to use tools that let you create these pipelines and play around with them before you try to hard-code it into your robot.

I've been using a tool called ImagePlay. http://imageplay.io/ It's open source and based on OpenCV. I used it to create a pipeline that has some potential to help navigation in this year's challenge. Since ImagePlay is open source, once you have a pipeline, you can figure out the calls to it makes to opencv to construct the stages. It's based on the C++ implementation of OpenCV so we’ll have to translate that to java for Android. It has a very nice pipeline editor that supports branching. The downside is that this tool is buggy and doesn't have anywhere near the number of filters and algorithms that RoboRealm supports.

RoboRealm is what we wanted to use. We’ve been pretty closely connected with the Dallas Personal Robotics Group (DPRG) for years and Carl Ott is a member who has taught a couple of sessions on using RoboRealm to solve the club’s expert line following course. Based on his recommendation we contacted the RoboRealm folks and they gave use a 5 user commercial license. I think that’s valued at $2,500. They seemed happy to support FTC teams.

RoboRealm is much easier to experiment with and they have great documentation so now have an improved pipeline. It's going to take more work to figure out how to implement that pipeline in OpenCV because it’s not always clear what a particular stage in RoboRealm does at a low level. But this improved pipeline isn’t all that different from the ImagePlay version.

Candidate Pipeline

So here is a picture of a red cryptobox sitting against a wall with a bunch of junk in the background. This image ended up upside down, but that doesn’t matter for just experimenting. I wanted a challenging image, because I want to know early if we need to have a clean background for the cryptoboxes. If so, we might need to ask the FTA if we can put an opaque background behind the cryptoboxes:

Stage 1 – Color Filter – this selects only the reddest pixels

Stage 2 – GreyScale – Don’t need the color information anymore, this reduces the data size

Stage 3 – Flood Fill – This simplifies a region by flooding it with the average color of nearby pixels. This is the same thing when you use the posterize effect in photoshop. This also tends to remove some of the background noise.

Stage 4 – Auto Threshold – Turns the image into a B/W image with no grey values based on a thresholding algorithm that only the RoboRealm folks know.

Stage 5 – Blob Size – A blob is a set of connected pixels with a similar value. Here we are limiting the output to the 4 largest blobs, because normally there are 4 dividers visible. In this case there is an error. The small blob on the far right is classified as a divider even though it is just some other red thing in the background, because the leftmost column was mostly cut out of the frame and wasn’t lit very well. It ended up being erased by this pipeline.

Stages 6 & 7 – Moment Statistics – Moments are calculations that can help to classify parts of images. We’ve used Hu Moments since our first work with machine vision on our robot named Argos. They can calculate the center of a blob (center of gravity), its eccentricity, and its area. Here the center of gravity is the little red square at the center of each blob. Now we can calculate the midpoint between each blob to find the center of a column and use that as a navigation target if we can do all this in real-time. We may have to reduce image resolution to speed things up.

Wheel Protector Correction

24 Oct 2017

Wheel Protector Correction By Abhi

Problem: Wheel Guard Innacuracy

Refering back to the design of the wheel guard, we decided it was time to actually mount it on the robot. At first, it seemed like the part was perfect for the robot since it fit just snug with the screws on the wheel. However, upon mounting, we discovered the following:

Turns out that the part is acutely shorter than the real height of wheel relative to the horizontal axis superimposed upon the vertical plane. As a result, a second and better trial for modeling needed to be conducted. For this run, I chose to measure the dimensions directly from the robot rather than a spare wheel.

Correction:

As seen above, the corrected version of the part looks and works much better. Though there is a slight margin of error in the success of the part due to the dynamic nature of the density of the field tiles , the part should be reliable for the most part

Working on Autonomous

29 Oct 2017

Working on Autonomous By Tycho

Task: Create a temporary autonomous for the bot

We attempted to create an autonomous for our first scrimmage. It aimed to make the robot to drive forward and drive into the safe zone. However, we forgot to align the robot and it failed at the scrimmage.

Instead of talking about the code like usual, the code's main functions are well documented so that any person can understand its functions without a prior knowledge of coding.

 public void autonomous2 (){

        switch(autoState){
            case 0: //moves the robot forward .5 meters
                if (robot.driveStrafe(false, .60, .35)) {

                    robot.resetMotors(true);
                    autoState++;
                }
                    break;
            case 1: //scan jewels and decide which one to hit
                if (robot.driveForward(false, .25, .35)) {
                    autoTimer = futureTime(1f);
                    robot.resetMotors(true);
                    autoState++;
                }

                break;
            case 2: //short move to knock off jewel

                robot.glyphSystem.ToggleGrip();
                autoTimer = futureTime(1f);

                robot.resetMotors(true);
                autoState++;
                break;
            case 3: //back off of the balance stone
                if (robot.driveForward(true, .10, .35)) {
                    autoTimer = futureTime(3f);
                    robot.resetMotors(true);
                    autoState++;
                }
                break;
            case 4: //re-orient the robot
                autoState++;
                break;
            case 5: //drive to proper crypto box column based on vuforia target
                autoState++;
                break;
            case 6: // turn towards crypto box
                autoState++;
                break;
            case 7: //drive to crypto box
                autoState++;
                break;
            case 8: //deposit glyph
                autoState++;
                break;
            case 9: //back away from crypto box
                autoState++;
                break;
        }
    }

So, You Want to Build Your Own RV

02 Nov 2017

So, You Want to Build Your Own RV By Ethan

How to build your own RV in 6 easy steps.

  1. Obtain the RV: To be affordable on price, opt for a 90s-2000s RV, preferably with as little miles as possible. If you can afford it, the newer the better, as we've run into mechanical problems over time with ours. Look for one with a slide-out on some site such as RVTrader or Craigslist.
  2. Deconstruct the RV: More likely than not, your RV will have amazing 90s beachwave decor. While this may be great to pick up surfer gals and guys on the beach, it probably won't make the best learning environment. So, tear it out! Remove the rug carpet and replace it with laminate flooring. Get rid of that pesky bed/bathroom. Remove the kitchem if you want! The goal is to get as much space as possible to fit as many kids in there as possible.
  3. Reconstruct the RV: You want the RV to be as kid-friendly as possible. Get rid of any sharp edges, install some workbenches so that kids can sit or work, protect the outlets, et cetera.
  4. Obtain funding for the RV: You need tech. While its possible for a team to self-finance, its much easier to apply for grants. You can go to companies such as Best Buy that are willing to give grants or donate technology for help. For example. our 4 3D printers were all supplied by Best Buy. For our RV, we have about 40 laptops to instruct kids with, as well as 3 large monitors to show.

  5. Create a curriculum: This will vary per team, but here's ours. In the front, we let kids program SumoBots using EV3. In the back, we teach them how to 3D model and help them 3D print keychains. We also run MinecraftEDU for the younger kids.
  6. Run events: Talk to educational organizations such as local schools and afterschool clubs to plan events. This also varies depending on location, but local school districts and clubs such as 4-H may be interested in hosting the RV for a day or so.

DISD Sponsorship

03 Nov 2017

DISD Sponsorship By Ethan

DISD's sponsorship of Iron Reign

As referenced in another blog post, we recently went to a DISD Coaches' meeting. Shortly after the meeting, we were confirmed to be the host of the DISD Townview Qualifier. So, DISD was able to send us a free full-size field to build and use until the qualifier. As well, since we are one of the first teams within DISD to use the REV system, we were also sent $2600+ of REV parts in order to demonstrate REV parts to other DISD teams and teach them how to use them. This was the fruit of our prior efforts to get noticed by DISD. Since we went as a team to the DISD meeting, we were able to differentiate ourselves, our team, and our work ethic from other area teams so that we could recieve a larger grant.

Reflections

This was an amazing oppurtunity for Iron Reign. Not only did this reduce our costs for running the team this year, it also allowed us to host a tournament. It covered most of our part expenses for the next year except for new batteries and some tournament fees.

Meeting Log

03 Nov 2017

Meeting Log November 03, 2017 By Ethan, Evan, Tycho. Austin, Charlotte, Karina, Janavi, Kenna, and Abhi

Meeting Log November 03, 2017

Today is one of the last full meetings until our tournament, so we need to get everything ready for judging. This post also includes the objectives for the next week.

Today's Meet Objectives

Organization / Documentation / Competition Prep

  • Review Journal
  • 3 posts from each member
  • DISD Scrimmage post
  • Field build post
  • Strategy\Business plan
  • Print notebook
  • Finish presentation
  • Presention practice

Software

  • Autonomous
  • Drive practice

Build / Modelling

  • Respool string
  • Robot tuneup

Today's Work Log

Team MembersTaskStart TimeDuration
AllPlanning Meeting2:10pm.25
Ethan3 posts2:002
EthanFinish presentation4:002
EvanTuneup2:004
TychoAutonomous2:002
TychoDrive practice4:002
EvanDrive practice2:004
AustinDrive practice2:004
AustinTuneup2:004
JanaviWork on presentation2:004
KennaPrint notebook2:004

Gripper Construction

04 Nov 2017

Gripper Construction By Tycho

Task: Making the Gripper

Standard parts were used to create the backbone. Then, we bent some tetrix parts to connect the backbone to the servos. We used continuous rotation cervos to solve the issue mentioned earlier. This was a fairly easy build but we still have a ways to go before V2 is completed.

This gripper will be far superior to our prior designs in that it will be lighter, as we are substituting wood and rubber for metal parts, which will solve our string breakage issue. As well, we will be able to grasp objects more securely, due to the rubber's larger coefficient of friction and that the gripper arms themselves have more surface area than our original design. Finally, our gripper will be more dependable due to slightly better wire organization than before.

This helps our strategy in that it will be far easier to pick up individual blocks, and helps us achieve our goal of grabbing multiple blocks at once. The wider gripper arms will make it so that we can stack blocks on top of each other before bringing them to the CryptoBox, which makes our robot 1.5x as fast in operating time.

How to make a part in PTC Creo Parametric

04 Nov 2017

How to make a part in PTC Creo Parametric By Abhi

Problem: How to Make a Part in Creo Parametric

PTC Creo Parametric is one of the best software to 3-D model tools that we can print out. I will detail how to create a part in Creo for both our team and any other teams who need help creating a piece. For this demo, Creo Parametric Academic Edition was used along with a pre designed model of the part.

To begin the model, create a new part. Make sure you are making the part in the right dimensions since the 3-D printer needs special requirements. For the 3-D printer that Iron Reign has, we chose to make all of our dimensions in millimeters. You can change this configuration by going into File>Prepare>Model Properties >Units.

Once your program is set to go, go under Model and press Sketch. This will create the base diagram which we will raise to make our part. Once the sketch menu appears, you will have to choose a plane on which we will draw. For this sketch, we will draw from the top plane since we want to raise it from the bottom. To do so, press on the top plane and press sketch. If the view is still in an isometric format, you can change the view by pressing the button indicated in the video.

Once the sketch is set up, we need to draw two concentric circles with the right dimensions. To find the dimensions, I refer often to the premade part. Once I have made the system, I set up centerlines vertically to be able to draw better. Next, I cut off the top two parts of the circle since we will put rectangles on them.

Next, select a line chain to draw two sets of rectangles with the bottom edge fused with the half circle. At the end, you should have a U shaped part. Now, we can draw another centerline along where we want the screw holes. After doing so, we can use the circle tool to make two holes in the rectangles.

We now need to extrude this part to the right size. After pressing the extrude took, we can change the size on the arrow. After doing so, we need to place two high radius thin circles on either sides. These are placed as weight pads so that when the part prints, it doesn't curve on the printing bed.

At this point, we can do some optional things to make our part..well lets say prettier. We can use the round tool so the edges look nicer and the screws are easier to place inside. After doing so, we can use the render tool to color all the edges. At the end, you will have a complete part to print

End result:

We hope you learned from this tutorial and are able to apply this to any future parts you make!

Iron Reign and Substainability

04 Nov 2017

Iron Reign and Substainability By Ethan

Iron Reign's Substainability

Iron Reign has been a team for 8+ years now through multiple competitions. We started as a wee middle school FLL team at W.B. Travis, and we've grown exponentially since then. We've competed in MoonBots and FTC, represented our school at SuperRegionals, presented at the National Science Teachers' Association covention, and built our own RV in order to serve underpriveledged communities accross the Dallas Metroplex. But, after the current original team members are gone, we would like to continue our legacy.

First, recruitment. When we recruit new members, we first take into consideration their prior robotics experience. While those with prior experience may have a better chance of being recruited, it is not the sole determinant. We also take into consideration their willingness to learn and interest in robotics. While robotics may indeed be a resume-booster. it should not be the reason that a person applies to a team. Finally. we take into consideration their dynamic with other people. There must be a balance between fun and productiveness on the team, and that must be kept in mind when recruiting.

Second, transfer of knowledge. We recently had our first alumni graduate, and we had to ensure that all the knowledge that they knew were transfered to the younger people on the team. Most recently, we had to make sure that the newer people on the team knew how to 3D model so that we could contiue making parts. Myself, I started taking over some of the blog duties last year and now have become editor of the blog. Transferring these skills not only ensure the substainabilty of Iron Reign, they also give our members real world experience that they can use in college and job settings.

Finally, we divy up labor so that no one has to do everything. While a person can choose to work on a different project than normal, everybody tends to have their own specialty that they work in, such as building, blogging, programming, 3D modelling, scouting, et cetera. Doing this ensures that new recruits can have a mentor to go to in order to learn about the skill they're interested in.

Building the Field

06 Nov 2017

Building the Field By Janavi, Charlotte, Ethan, Abhi, Karina, and Austin

Task: Build the field

Today we started the task of building the field, which we received for free, thanks to DISD and their generous donation. The first task Charlotte, Austin, Karina worked on was assembling the balancing stones and the cryptoboxes. While building the field we ran into a few difficulties. First, when we were making the balancing stone, we accidentally had on the cover plate on backwards, which made it impossible to place the screw through the center. We only discovered this after around 15 to 20 minutes of trying to get the screw to go through. However, after successfully building one of the field pieces, it was much easier to make the last three.
After completing the balancing stones and cryptoboxes, we all moved outside to set up the edge of the field and place down all of the tiles. We made the mistake of not placing the plastic tarp down before linking all the tiles. Which lead to all of us lifting the tile mat above our heads to place the tarp underneath(as you can see in the image below). In total, it took us most of practice to finish making all of the field elements and attaching all of the tiles, but we are not finished yet! We still have to set up the field border and attach the field elements, so keep on the look out for a part II on building the field!

DISD Scrimmage

07 Nov 2017

DISD Scrimmage By Charlotte, Janavi, Ethan, Evan, Tycho, Austin, Karina, Kenna, and Abhi

Task: Run and compete at the DISD Scrimmage

Today we helped run and participated in a scrimmage at the Davis Ellis Field House. Iron Reign will be hosting a qualifier in December at Townview, our home school. This scrimmage served as a practice for the preparation and execution of an FTC event. We were able to learn the best way to assemble the field, run the scoring and game software, and properly announce rounds and other information teams may need. As we should, we set up an inspection table where members of our team used the FTC approved inspection checklist to properly assess the robots of other teams along with our own robot. This is a skill that we will need to use when performing inspections during our qualifier. Additionally, we had to figure the software required to run the audio behind matches and fill in the scoring data, and having done this now will save us a lot of time during the qualifier that we are going to host.

We also learned how important it is to create an itinerary for your team and try to keep everyone moving at the needed pace. During this scrimmage we were only able to complete 8 out of 12 matches due to this being some teams first match ever and some issues with teams not arriving, or not having been registered beforehand. But this provided us with a great experience and lots of information, we will take all of the things we learned after helping run this scrimmage and apply it to the qualifier we are hosting in December.

This scrimmage was our second of the season, and while part of the team was focused on announcing, scoring, and field setup, the others worked on improving the robot and pinpointing key issues to solve before our first qualifier this Saturday the 11th at Greenhill. Also, the drive team got the necessary practice for skills that they need for upcoming competitions, like setting up WiFi direct connections between our phones and recognizing when batteries had low or sufficient voltages, skills that don’t seem very difficult but are very important for those working hands-on the robot during competitions. Also, with the removal of the “wiggle test” this year, we have to adapt and become very prepared before each match so that we can make the smooth transition that is required from autonomous period to tele-op. Although we have spent a lot of time doing drive practice on the field that we were gifted, driving under pressure in a competitive environment with other teams in our district is when we are able to decipher the most prominent problems with our robot. An example of this is our autonomous program: running it seems like second nature when we are practicing alone, but when we are with other teams there are more factors to consider, like whether our autonomous program is compatible with theirs, etc. Scrimmages are a perfect opportunity to figure out what issues we have and how to solve them, and this time we were also able to get the practice we so needed running an FTC qualifier.

Designing the Jewel Thief

07 Nov 2017

Designing the Jewel Thief By Evan

Task: Design a part to remove the jewel

The jewel thief, the mechanism for knocking off one of the jewels, was going to be one of the tougher parts of our bot to integrate, based on the chassis we began with. But, with a little engineering and some long thought, we came up with a few ways to implement it. First, we began with a side mount, and it was alright for the angle, but we switched our autonomous plan to begin pointing forward, presenting me with a new problem. The part we had used before would simply not work. We tried a modified version of the pusher we'd made, but it didn't fully suffice. It was impractical and would require more than a little wire extention for the servo. We finally decided that a frontwards approach should be taken from the side. Instead of a single middle forward facing prong, a two bar prong sticking from either side, meeting in the middle, and providing a platform for a potential relic placer. While not completely finished, we intend to have it done by the first qualifier, fully functional. It should allow us to knock the jewel off during autonomous effectively and efficiently, although that’s all to be seen.

Relic Recovery Strategy Part 1

07 Nov 2017

Relic Recovery Strategy Part 1 By Austin

Task: Determine building strategy for Relic Recovery

Any well-versed team understands that, depending on the competition for the year, a robot will either be modified to compete or be built from the ground up. In any case, however, a robot often starts at its chassis, and teams have multiple companies that provide solutions to the common robot chassis’ needs and specifications. To name a few: AndyMark® has its standard kits that include all the parts and electronics needed to build a very basic frame that includes a few mounting points for the rest of the robot’s components, Tetrix has its standard kit that provides all the parts for an entire robot if used properly (however, we’ve discovered drawbacks to be mentioned later), and even REV has thrown its hat in the ring with new motor and battery types to add to the highly adjustable REV rail chassis kits. For rookie teams there is no lack of options for starting your robot chassis. However, as a team gains experience they find the flaws that come with each kit and move towards creating robots that harness equal amounts of parts from all companies. Here’s what we’ve learned about each company:

AndyMark: overall, AndyMark is a great supplier for all the standard parts you’ll need, however we wouldn’t recommend buying their overall chassis kits because they can be on the pricier side and come with few replacement parts and too many unnecessary parts. Most of our gears, wheels, pulleys, motors, and batteries come from AndyMark in batches of parts that we keep on hand to prototype with or replace failing parts. This keeps us from paying for parts we don’t need and having what we do need on hand. The overall quality of their parts is high, but they do decay quicker with use, especially when running the robot at multiple competitions without proper repair time.

Tetrix: Tetrix is highly standardized in all dimensions, making the connections between parts easy to grasp for basic builders who haven’t developed a mental 3D idea of what they’re working towards. Tetrix kits don’t include electronics. However, their brackets, channels, and joints are very useful for making connections between various components of your robot, so keep plenty on hand for quick fixes and prototyping. Our biggest concern with tetrix are their designated nuts; we find that they often are shaken completely off respective bolts, which can lead to mechanical failure and penalties. To combat the issue of robots quite literally shaking themselves apart, we recommend using nyloc nuts. They have a small amount of nylon in them that grips the threads of bolts making them almost immovable without a pair of pliers.

Rev: Iron reign loves our Rev rails. The ability to have a mounting point at any incident on a bar is amazing, and often allows us to pull off the crazy designs we create. Rev has created a system that is beyond flexible, meaning that the limits of your designs have expanded. For those who want a chassis that is easily maneuverable, Rev rail is extremely light as well. While Rev is expanding into providing parts like AndyMark, we find that they are still in development but we eagerly await upgrades.

Overall, Iron Reign wanted a robot chassis that was stable, maneuverable, and modular to our needs, so this is our compromise that we’ve applied to all aspects of our robot;

- AndyMark FRC Standard Omni-Wheels: we chose these because of their dependability and maneuverability. They provide standard motion as well as strafing for fine-tuning movements in front of cryptoboxes. While we had to print custom mounts, and modify tetrix channels for the necessary axels, the wheels pared nicely with the rest of our components once mounted.
- Rev Rail: our entire upper chassis is made from interconnected Rev Rails that serve as a smooth, easily adjustable, and light support for the massive omni wheels that rest below it. The rails provide plenty of room for future expansion, and can take quite a beating (we learned this the hard way by dropping our robot off a table).
- Tetrix Channels and Brackets: these are the middle men, the parts we change to fit those awkward angles and fittings, such as the axels for our wheels. Overall never a bad idea to have extras on hand.
- Hardware: we always use standard hardware sizes, but we make sure that the corresponding components are snug fitting and streamlined to minimize unnecessary snags and sharp edges.

While these are the typical components that make an Iron Reign base, we have seen other teams get extremely creative with raw material, although this usually requires heavy machinery such as laser cutters and lathes. Overall, we are a team that uses what companies provide and modify it to fit our needs (which has worked well for the past years of competition.) For smaller start up teams we recommend a similar approach of learning each system and its advantages over the course of multiple years, and finding what you feel works best for your needs.

Business and Strategic Plan Pt. 1

09 Nov 2017

Business and Strategic Plan Pt. 1 By Ethan

Download PDF here

Intro

Iron Reign has existed, in one form or another, for the past eight years. We have competed in FLL, Google Lunar X Prize Challenge, and now, FTC.

While our team originated at WB Travis Vanguard and Academy, we are now hosted by the School of Science and Engineering at Townview, in DISD. Despite our school being 66% economically disadvantaged and being Title 1, our school consistently ranks in the top 10 nationwide. As well, our school has numerous other award winning extracurricular, including CX Debate, Math/Science UIL, and more.

 

A History of Iron Reign

Iron Reign has been a team for eight years. We initially started as an FLL team, plateauing in regionals every year we competed. We also did Google’s Lunar X Prize program every Summer, achieving finalist status in 2011 and 2012. Upon moving to high school, we started doing FTC, as FRC was too cost-prohibitive to be parent-run.

We have been an FTC team for 6 years, advancing further and further each year. Last year, we got to the South Super Regionals, qualifying by winning the North Texas Inspire Award. In Georgia, we were the first alternative for Worlds if another team dropped out due to cost.

Also in FTC, we compete in the Texas UIL State Championships. For those unfamiliar with UIL, it is the main organizational committee for all public school academic and athletic events. Through UIL, we helped compete in the first test program for the UIL Robotics program and since then have competed in every subsequent tournament.

 

Outreach

Iron Reign spends a large amount of time on outreach. This year alone, we have put in 500 man-hours and created 2800 individual connections to people in our community. Our goal of this outreach is to reach disadvantaged children who would not normally have the opportunity to participate in STEM programs in order to spark their interest in STEM for future learning. Some of our major outreach events include presenting at the National Science Teachers’ Association Convention in Florida, hoping to inspire people in other regions to adopt our methods of outreach. We volunteered at a Microsoft youth convention to spread STEM awareness, as well as volunteering throughout our school district.

We also volunteer for FIRST. We have hosted a scrimmage for our entire school district, DISD (one of the largest school districts in the country), and are hosting a qualifier for the North Texas region in December. We also instruct parents and educators on how to start a FIRST team when volunteering, as Iron Reign itself was started by parents at WB Travis.

Our outreach stands out from other teams through our mode of presentation. Last year, we renovated a 90’s Seaview Skyline RV, took out the “home” components, and turned it into a mobile tech lab to read underprivileged demographics within our community. Our RV currently holds 4 3D Printers, 30+ computers, 3 widescreen TVs, and 1 microwave. Our current curriculum consists of teaching kids 3D modelling in the back of the RV, using Google Sketchup, as it is free and available to any family with a computer. We usually help them design keychains, as they are memorable, but don’t take excessive time to print on our printers. In the front, we teach kids how to use EV3 robots and teach them how to use the EV3 programming language to compete in a sumo-bot competition. We also give advice to parents and educators on how to start FIRST teams. To fill and staff the RV, we have received grants from Best Buy to purchase the 3D printers and laptops, grants from non-profits such as BigThought and Dallas City of Learning to fund the building and upkeep of the RV, and staffing from BigThought and AmeriCorps, as well as our own team. The AmeriCorps staffing is especially notable, as it is a US Federal Government program to support civil service within communities.

When not in outreach service, we can transform our RV into tournament mode. We have taken numerous long-distance road trips aboard our RV, with locations such as Austin, Arkansas, and Florida. We substitute the laptops for bandsaws and drill presses, use the flat screens to program, and bring our higher-quality personal 3D printer. At tournaments, we encourage other teams to board our RV, not only to encourage them to start their own similar programs, but also to help them with mechanical and building issues.

 

Business and Funding

Normally, Iron Reign does not get major funding. However, this year, we have seen our funding, sponsorships, and grants increase exponentially. Currently, those include:

·         BigThought - RV materials, staffing, and upkeep

·         Dallas City of Learning (DCOL) – RV materials and upkeep

·         Best Buy – 4x3D Printers, Laptops for RV

·         AmeriCorps – RV staffing

·         DISD STEM - $3000 of REV parts and 2 full practice fields

·         Dallas Makerspace – Access to machining tools

·         DPRG – Robot assistance

·         FIRST – Tournament fees

·         Texas Workforce Commission – Grant

We are always seeking out new sources of funding.  In the past, we have applied for prior grants by sending letters to STEM-curious companies in the Dallas area. For example, we have previously applied for a $4000 Orix grant, a STEM foundation dedicated to spreading STEM to the underserved. Also, recently, we received an additional grant from Best Buy for our distinguished service to the underprivileged within the Dallas area.

In previous years, we have lacked the ability to get significant transportation fondant to tournaments. However, through our partnership with DISD, we have solved that problem. And when DISD is unable to provide transportation due to short notice, we can provide our own transportation due to our building of the RV.

 

Reference Business Letter from Last Season

Dear Orix,

Iron Reign Robotics, a robotics team of 7 years, is competing in the 2016/17 First Tech Challenge Velocity Vortex game. We are based out of the School of Science and Engineering (SEM) in Dallas which is a title one school.

The population of the public school is racially diverse and 68 percent of the students are on free-or-reduced lunch. In spite of our economic challenges, SEM is regularly considered the school that offers students the most growth in the entire district (highest effectiveness index) and is regularly in the top 10 in many national rankings. But as the second robotics team to be formed at this Dallas ISD Magnet, we are underfunded by the district and need to reach out to organizations that are investing in the long-term future of our community.

Each year we deepen our advanced robotics skills, improve our ability to organize around common team goals, and learn how to better communicate with technical professionals so that we will prepared make an impact as we continue through college and eventually join the workforce. Last year our team made it to the Regional Championship during the FTC season and then proceeded on to the UIL State Robotics Championship in Austin during the summer. This year, with your support, we are striving to make it to the 12-state super regional in Georgia and go from there to the World-wide competition in Houston.

Yet we spend a significant amount of our efforts investing in younger students outside the team. We work very hard to let young students in North Texas know about the opportunities in STEM education. We mentor students in elementary and middle schools. We regularly participate in a series of STEM outreach events to help younger students think of themselves as future scientists, engineers and technical professionals. This includes presenting at events like the Dallas Mayor’s Back to School Fair, Earth Day Texas, and Moon day at the Frontiers of Flight Museum just to name a few. Last year (2015/16) our outreach involvement amounted to 400 team person-hours in service to 2,200 people. We are unaware of any other FTC team in our region that does as much outreach as we do.

This year we’ve stepped those numbers up to over 500 person-hours serving over 2,000 people so far just this summer. This was because we took on a project to renovate an RV to create a mobile learning laboratory for the Dallas City of Learning. Not only did we turn the interior into a mobile technical classroom with 3D printers, but many team members volunteered to teach robotics and 3D modelling and printing on board while volunteering for AmeriCorps with Big Thought this summer. The team was featured as a “Class Act” on TV channel CW33 because of this effort.

Unfortunately, time is money and the time it takes us to contribute to each of these events costs us dollars we don’t have. We all love teaching young children who are interested in robotics and technology and we hope what they receive is beyond value. But we also need to raise our competitive game and new parts cost money. When jerry rigging and reusing parts unsuited for the job, we waste time that could be used to make more progress and continue the advancement of our robot. As we continuously refine our design, new parts are needed and some need to be replaced as we strive for an efficient and reliable entry. The other piece of the financial puzzle is transportation costs. This year we plan to take part in multiple competitions including out-of-state competitions in order to deepen our competitive potential and improve our chances of advancing to the next level. Competition expenses beyond the standard local track are some of the hardest expenses to fund.

We are asking for $4,000 to help us continue our journey into robotics and we hope that Orix can become a major supporter of our team while we continue to invest in the futures of many more students in North Texas. We would love a chance to visit with you, show you our robot in its current form, and discover together how much our mission and your focus areas have in common. Please let us know how to schedule that time. Until then, you can access much more information about Iron Reign on our team blog: http://www.ironreignrobotics.com/

                                                                                                                Warmest Regards,

                                                                                                                Iron Reign

Looking Back, Moving Forward

In the past, sustainability has not been a major concern of Iron Reign’s. We’ve essentially had the same team for seven years. This year, our eighth, we’ve finally lost members through graduation. As a result, we’ve had to substantially reconsider our approach to recruitment and how to manage our changing team.

We already have another team in our school, team 3734 Imperial Robotics. 3734 is an entirely different team, with different sponsors, members, robots, journal, outreach, and codebase. That being said, we recruit the more accomplished members of that team. The teams’ relationship is most similar to the difference between a Junior Varsity team and a Varsity team.

We tend to recruit based on robotics experience, but having robotics experience alone is not a guarantee of joining our team. Iron Reign has a specific culture, and we tend to recruit people whose personalities fit our culture. We also do not accept people who only want to join robotics as a resume booster. While robotics is indeed a resume booster, and we allow every member to claim co-captain on their college applications, members of Iron Reign ought to join out of their genuine passion for robotics, not because of it getting them ahead in the rat race of college applications.

Since this year was the first year in which we lost a substantial number of our teammates, we had to learn how to effectively transfer knowledge. First, we were losing our master of 3D modelling, Max, so we had two members, Abhi and Charlotte, learn under his wing throughout last season. Because of that effort, they have now designed a variety of parts on our robot. For the blog and engineering journal, Ethan learned under Caitlin’s tutelage how to use Jekyll, Shopify, and manage the blog. This year, we face difficulties, as we will lose our lead programmer, Tycho, for next season. To combat that, our members Abhi and Janavi, are learning the intricacies of our codebase that we’ve kept since we first started using Java.

 

Game Strategy

This year, we were faced with a conundrum. The central question was this – “Should we focus on scoring the cryptoboxes, relic, or jewel?”. We settled on the order of Cryptobox > Relic > Jewel.

Our game strategy was based off of the fact that we could build a robot which could score one block initially, and easily score a column, giving us 40+ points right off the bat. As well, the cryptobox process is simplistic enough that we could get to the balance stone to gain even more points in the endgame, without doing any point-risky challenges such as the Relic.

When we finish the cryptobox designs and autonomous, our next goal is the Jewel. The Jewel challenge is simplistic enough that it could be done in 1-2 meetings without interfering with any other design processes. Our current planned design process is first to create an arm with a color sensor attached like most teams, but eventually we plan to remove that color sensor and identify the Jewel only by OpenCV.

Finally, our last area of focus is scoring the Relic. Scoring the Relic involves a high degree of difficulty, and the risk grows when you consider that you have to score the Relic upright in order to gain the most points. As well, building an arm that can score the Relic while still staying within the 18x18x18 size limits increases the design difficulty of the robot.

Building

This year, Iron Reign has drastically changed how it builds its parts. In previous years, we have relied on primary Tetrix parts, utilizing AndyMark parts for the drivetrain and other moving areas. However, we happened to gain access to a motherlode of REV parts, which drastically changes our designs from previous years.

The biggest change enabling innovation is our newfound use of REV rails within our robot. REV rails allow for basically unlimited mount points for parts so that we are afforded maximum flexibility in our designs, comparable to the flexibility of 3D printing.

As well, for this year’s robot chassis, we have decided to take the use of REV parts even further, and use the REV Power Distribution Module and both Expansion Hubs. The reason for this change is twofold. First, we experienced significant connection and static issues last year with our robot, partially due to excess static buildup from our mecanum wheels. So far, we have not experienced any of those issues using REV modules, even though we are using the same base chassis. Second, the REV hubs allow us to add more features on to our robot, such as LED strips and extra servos, that allow us to signal our team as well as create more innovative components of our robot.

We also utilize a variety of 3D printed parts on our robot. While we use less 3D printed parts than previous years, that is due to the particular challenges of this year. Our parts are modelled in PTC Creo, and we have recently switched over from Creo V.3 to Creo V.4 so that we can use the more advanced features included in the new program. Our personal 3D printer can handle a variety of materials, and we have used nylon, ABS, Filoflex, and Ninjaflex in prior designs to fit various needs. In our current robot, we have settled on using nylon. Nylon has four qualities that make it more advantageous than other materials. First, nylon is less brittle and prone to breaking than materials such as ABS. Second, nylon achieves comparatively high print quality on our robot as compared to Filoflex and Ninjaflex. Third, nylon has enough give so that it doesn’t break, but is strong enough to withstand the forces felt in everyday use of our robot. Finally, nylon can be dyed so that we can give our parts a distinguishing color, a quality that we have taken advantage of in prior seasons.

An example of these 3D printed parts are our wheel guards. In testing, our mecanum drive train tended to cut up the cryptoboxes when we drove up against them. As a result, we designed various wheel guards and tested them. We also made mockups with various materials such as cardboard, to minimize design time and waste parts. We settled on a U-shaped design to prevent damage to the boxes and other field elements, while not sacrificing mobility. Then, to guarantee nothing went wrong, we iterated through various heights of the U-shape so that they would not cut into the mats or bump into other robots

Programming

Iron Reign has generated a substantial codebase over the years. Initially, Iron Reign programmed in RobotC. However, when robot phones started becoming the main form of control, we transferred our codebase into Java. We use the Android Studio IDE to code our robot.

Our most notable programming achievement has been the integration of machine vision and augmented reality libraries into our code. Currently, we use Vuforia in conjunction with OpenCV to identify and score field elements in autonomous, as well as assist in scoring elements during TeleOp. Both Vuforia and OpenCV are industrial-level technologies that we have integrated into our codebase. Vuforia in particular is currently owned by PTC, one of the sponsors of FIRST.

Another notable programming achievement is our Pose class. We use the class to determine our robot’s current position on the field using trigonometric functions. While this class currently need updating for the new season, it can still be used for any small-scale operations on the field.

Design Process

Iron Reign uses two design processes in conjunction with each other to create efficient and reliable parts. First, we use the Kaizen design process, also used in industrial corporations such as Toyota. The philosophy behind Kaizen is the idea of continual improvement, that there is always some modification to each system on our robot that will make it more efficient or more reliable. As well, design competitions are a focal point of Iron Reign’s design process. In these design competitions, team members choose their favored designs that all complete some field challenge, and build them individually. Upon completion of each mechanism, the designs are tested against each other, considering weight, maneuverability, reliability, and efficiency.

An example of these design processes working in conjunction is the process of designing our cryptobox intake system. Evan had the idea to build an arm-style grabber seen on many current competition robots. His design, however, included shorter arms for space’s sake and a more compact lift system than normal. Austin decided to build a unique conveyor-belt system which used friction to hold blocks in space and move them vertically. Through the competition, we determined that Evan’s design was more efficient and took up less space than Austin, so we settle on his design, adding in a linear slide for lifting at the end of the process. Then, Kaizen comes in. Through firsthand experience in scrimmages, we learned that the grabber system isn’t as reliable as we thought when first testing. So, we have designed a new grabber system that moves like the arms did previously, but also rotate with soft spikes attached to hold blocks with friction better without damaging them.

 

 

Budget

Bought:

REV Minibot Kit

2

125

250

REV Slim Batteries

2

50

100

Axles

4

10

40

Drivers

2

5

10

Nyloc Parts

4

5

20

Step Drill

2

5

10

Shaft Collars

4

7

28

Tetrix Competition Set

1

580

580

Control and Communication

2

265

530

REV Hubs

4

150

600

Motors

14

28

392

Encoder Cables

14

5

70

Soft Tiles

28

5

140

Tile Bags

2

60

120

Full Field

2

480

960

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total

 

 

3850

 

Wishlist:

Per Team - 6832

FTC Control and Communications Set

265

0

0

https://ftc.pitsco.com/Control_Set

Electronics Set

150

0

0

https://ftc.pitsco.com/Electronics_Set

Build System: Competition Set - Tetrix [not recommended]

580

0

0

https://ftc.pitsco.com/Competition_Set

Build System: FTC Starter Kit - REV

475

1

475

http://www.revrobotics.com/REV-45-1170/

2nd REV Robotics Expansion Hub

150

1

150

http://www.revrobotics.com/REV-31-1153/

Batteries

50

2

100

http://www.revrobotics.com/rev-31-1302/

Batteries, Tetrix form factor

50

0

0

https://www.tetrixrobotics.com/Controllers-and-Electrical/Power-Accessories/TETRIX-12-Volt-Rechargeable-NiMH-Battery-Pack

Servo Power Module

40

1

40

http://www.revrobotics.com/rev-11-1144/

HD Hex Motor

30

4

120

http://www.revrobotics.com/rev-41-1301/

NeverRest Motor

28

0

0

http://www.andymark.com/NeveRest-p/am-neverest.htm

Lexan - 3 x 4 sheet - 3/32

87

1

87

http://www.homedepot.com/p/LEXAN-48-in-x-36-in-x-093-in-Polycarbonate-Sheet-GE-38/202038065

FIRST Season Registration

275

0

0

https://my.firstinspires.org/Teams

Per School - Science and Engineering

Game Set - Full Field

480

1

480

http://www.andymark.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=AM-3600

Game Set - Half Field

270

0

0

http://www.andymark.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=AM-3600

Game Set - Quarter Field

159

0

0

http://www.andymark.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=AM-3600

Soft Tiles Game Surface

230

1

230

http://www.andymark.com/product-p/am-softtiles.htm

Field Perimeter Kit

595

1

595

http://www.andymark.com/FTC-Perimeter-p/am-0481a.htm

Tape Set

50

1

50

http://www.andymark.com/product-p/am-3600_tape.htm

 

Adding Code Fixes to the Robot

10 Nov 2017

Adding Code Fixes to the Robot By Tycho

Task: Add code updates

These commits add said functionality:

  • Pre-game logic - joystick control
  • Fix PID settings
  • Autonomous resets motor
  • Jewel Arm functionality
  • Autonomous changes
  • Tests servos

These commits allow better QoL for our drivers, allow our robot to function more smoothly both in autonomous and during TeleOp, allows us to score the jewels, and lets us test servos.

Jewel Arm


package org.firstinspires.ftc.teamcode;

import com.qualcomm.robotcore.hardware.NormalizedColorSensor;
import com.qualcomm.robotcore.hardware.Servo;

/**
 * Created by 2938061 on 11/10/2017.
 */

public class JewelArm {

    private Servo servoJewel;
    private NormalizedColorSensor colorJewel;
    private int jewelUpPos;
    private int jewelDownPos;

    public JewelArm(Servo servoJewel, NormalizedColorSensor colorJewel, int jewelUpPos, int jewelDownPos){
        this.servoJewel = servoJewel;
        this.colorJewel = colorJewel;
        this.jewelUpPos = jewelUpPos;
        this.jewelDownPos = jewelDownPos;
    }

    public void liftArm(){
        servoJewel.setPosition(ServoNormalize(jewelUpPos));
    }
    public void lowerArm(){
        servoJewel.setPosition(ServoNormalize(jewelDownPos));
    }

    public static double ServoNormalize(int pulse){
        double normalized = (double)pulse;
        return (normalized - 750.0) / 1500.0; //convert mr servo controller pulse width to double on _0 - 1 scale
    }

}

Autonomous

		public void autonomous(){
        switch(autoState){
            case 0: //scan vuforia target and deploy jewel arm
                robot.jewel.lowerArm();
                autoTimer = futureTime(1.5f);
                if(autoTimer < System.nanoTime()) {
                    relicCase = getRelicCodex();
                    jewelMatches = robot.doesJewelMatch(isBlue);
                    autoState++;
                }
                break;
            case 1: //small turn to knock off jewel
                if ((isBlue && jewelMatches)||(!isBlue && !jewelMatches)){
                    if(robot.RotateIMU(10, .5)){
                        robot.resetMotors(true);
                    }
                }
                else{
                    if(robot.RotateIMU(350, .5)){
                        robot.resetMotors(true);
                    }
                }
                break;
            case 2: //lift jewel arm
                robot.jewel.liftArm();
                autoTimer = futureTime(1.5f);
                if(autoTimer < System.nanoTime()) {
                    jewelMatches = robot.doesJewelMatch(isBlue);
                    autoState++;
                }
            case 3: //turn parallel to the wall
                if(isBlue){
                    if(robot.RotateIMU(270, 2.0)){
                        robot.resetMotors(true);
                        autoState++;
                    }
                }
                else{
                    if(robot.RotateIMU(90, 2.0)){
                        robot.resetMotors(true);
                        autoState++;
                    }
                }
                autoState++;
                break;
            case 4: //drive off the balance stone
                if(robot.driveForward(true, .3, .5)) {
                    robot.resetMotors(true);
                    autoState++;
                }
                break;
            case 5: //re-orient robot
                if(isBlue){
                    if(robot.RotateIMU(270, 1.0)){
                        robot.resetMotors(true);
                        autoState++;
                    }
                }
                else{
                    if(robot.RotateIMU(90, 1.0)){
                        robot.resetMotors(true);
                        autoState++;
                    }
                }
                break;
            case 6: //drive to proper crypto box column based on vuforia target
                switch (relicCase) {
                    case 0:
                        if(robot.driveForward(true, .5, .35)) {
                            robot.resetMotors(true);
                            autoState++;
                        }
                        break;
                    case 1:
                        if(robot.driveForward(true, .75, .35)) {
                            robot.resetMotors(true);
                            autoState++;
                        }
                        autoState++;
                        break;
                    case 2:
                        if(robot.driveForward(true, 1.0, .35)) {
                            robot.resetMotors(true);
                            autoState++;
                        }
                        autoState++;
                        break;
                }
                break;
            case 7: //turn to crypto box
                if(isBlue){
                    if(robot.RotateIMU(315, 1.5)){
                        robot.resetMotors(true);
                        autoState++;
                    }
                }
                else{
                    if(robot.RotateIMU(45, 1.5)){
                        robot.resetMotors(true);
                        autoState++;
                    }
                }
                break;
            case 8: //deposit glyph
                if(robot.driveForward(true, 1.0, .50)) {
                    robot.resetMotors(true);
                    robot.glyphSystem.ReleaseGrip();
                    autoState++;
                }
                break;
            case 9: //back away from crypto box
                if(robot.driveForward(false, .5, .50)){
                    robot.resetMotors(true);
                    autoState++;
                }
                break;
            default:
                robot.resetMotors(true);
                autoState = 0;
                active = false;
                state = 0;
                break;
        }
    }
    public void autonomous2 (){

        switch(autoState){
            case 0: //scan vuforia target and deploy jewel arm
                robot.jewel.lowerArm();
                autoTimer = futureTime(1.5f);
                if(autoTimer < System.nanoTime()) {
                    relicCase = getRelicCodex();
                    jewelMatches = robot.doesJewelMatch(isBlue);
                    autoState++;
                }
                break;
            case 1: //small turn to knock off jewel
                if ((isBlue && jewelMatches)||(!isBlue && !jewelMatches)){
                    if(robot.RotateIMU(10, .5)){
                        robot.resetMotors(true);
                    }
                }
                else{
                    if(robot.RotateIMU(350, .5)){
                        robot.resetMotors(true);
                    }
                }
                break;
            case 2: //lift jewel arm
                robot.jewel.liftArm();
                autoTimer = futureTime(1.5f);
                if(autoTimer < System.nanoTime()) {
                    jewelMatches = robot.doesJewelMatch(isBlue);
                    autoState++;
                }
            case 3: //turn parallel to the wall
                if(isBlue){
                    if(robot.RotateIMU(270, 2.0)){
                        robot.resetMotors(true);
                        autoState++;
                    }
                }
                else{
                    if(robot.RotateIMU(90, 2.0)){
                        robot.resetMotors(true);
                        autoState++;
                    }
                }
                autoState++;
                break;
            case 4: //drive off the balance stone
                if(robot.driveForward(true, .3, .5)) {
                    robot.resetMotors(true);
                    autoState++;
                }
                break;
            case 5: //re-orient robot
                if(isBlue){
                    if(robot.RotateIMU(270, 1.0)){
                        robot.resetMotors(true);
                        autoState++;
                    }
                }
                else{
                    if(robot.RotateIMU(90, 1.0)){
                        robot.resetMotors(true);
                        autoState++;
                    }
                }
                break;
            case 6: //drive to proper crypto box column based on vuforia target
                switch (relicCase) {
                    case 0:
                        if(robot.driveStrafe(true, .00, .35)) {
                            robot.resetMotors(true);
                            autoState++;
                        }
                        break;
                    case 1:
                        if(robot.driveStrafe(true, .25, .35)) {
                            robot.resetMotors(true);
                            autoState++;
                        }
                        autoState++;
                        break;
                    case 2:
                        if(robot.driveStrafe(true, .50, .35)) {
                            robot.resetMotors(true);
                            autoState++;
                        }
                        autoState++;
                        break;
                }
                break;
            case 7: //turn to crypto box
                if(isBlue){
                    if(robot.RotateIMU(215, 1.5)){
                        robot.resetMotors(true);
                        autoState++;
                    }
                }
                else{
                    if(robot.RotateIMU(135, 1.5)){
                        robot.resetMotors(true);
                        autoState++;
                    }
                }
                break;
            case 8: //deposit glyph
                if(robot.driveForward(true, 1.0, .50)) {
                    robot.resetMotors(true);
                    robot.glyphSystem.ReleaseGrip();
                    autoState++;
                }
                break;
            case 9: //back away from crypto box
                if(robot.driveForward(false, .5, .50)){
                    robot.resetMotors(true);
                    autoState++;
                }
                break;
            default:
                robot.resetMotors(true);
                autoState = 0;
                active = false;
                state = 0;
                break;
        }
    }

Greenhill FTC Qualifier

11 Nov 2017

Greenhill FTC Qualifier By Ethan, Evan, Tycho, Charlotte, Austin, Abhi, Tycho, Karina, and Kenna

Task: Compete at our first FTC qualifier

So, we were absolute failures. There's no way to get around that. We got 14th place out of 14, and our presentation flopped. But, its not the end of the world, even if it may feel like it. We have another qualifier in Oklahome in one week, and we need to analyze what we did wrong so that we can improve for the next round.

  • Match 1
  • We lost, 79-93. This was our closest match, and if we had managed our time in-game more wisely, we could have won by balancing. This was our only game in the margin-of-error.
  • Match 2
  • We lost 101-131. The other alliance outperformed us in scoring glyphs, and was able to knock an additional jewel off in autonomous.
  • Match 3
  • We lost 28-65. We failed on every level, even to balance our robot. Our bot was on for about 10 seconds for the entire match.
  • Match 4
  • We lost 111-181. We scored only 3 glyphs and underperformed in autonomous.
  • Match 5
  • We lost 61-203. Our robot was not on.

We had many failures in the robot game. Our first, main failure was lack of practice. We only really dedicated ourselves to driving practice two weeks before, and we had trouble aligning the blocks throughout the day. In prior years, we had started drive practice from over a month out, so this was a major failure on our part. A second failure that wasn't our fault was that we had connection issues between the phones, and weren't able to drive in two rounds. But, because of our collective failures, we managed not to win a single game. However, we ended up with the second heighest rank points in the whole tournament (380).

Our presentation was a failure too. We hadn't practiced our presentation enough, and it seemed a bit janky at points. In addition, our engineering journal was a bit rushed, as we'd printed the night before and had some issues printing. We also didn't turn the control award in. However, one highlight of the judging is that we were able to answer questions quickly and effectively, and the judges seemed to like that. We did end up winning the Connect Award.

Reflections

This tournament was one of Iron Reign's worst. However, we must learn from that so we don't repeat our mistakes. The silver lining of this tournament is that we can't really preform any worse :).

Driving Struggles

13 Nov 2017

Driving Struggles By Abhi

Task: Drive the Robot

Today we tried to drive the robot on the practice field for the first time since the qualifier last Saturday. However, we couldn't get in very much quality drive practice because the robot kept breaking down. We decided to dig a bit deeper and found some issues.

As seen above, the first thing that was wrong was that the lift was tilted. Due to the cantilever orientation of the plank of the grabber arm mounted on the vertical axis, the structure only had one bar for support for the lift. As a result, since the construction of our robot, the rev rail of the mount had been worn out constantly up to the point where it broke. Also because of the singular rod mounting, the lift system rotated on the vertical planar axis creating a need for drivers, such as myself, to rotate into the cryptobox every time we needed to mount. This was not a good way for the robot to function and had frustrated us.

Another issue we had was that the lift system string was caught often in all the wiring of the robot. Due to the friction created between this string and all the wiring, including the jewel system, it breaks the string and also creates a safety issue. As a result, we need to fix either the wiring of the robot or the lift system altogether.

Reflections

We hope to make improvements over this week before the Oklahoma qualifier. Hopefully, we will have a more proficient robot making it easier on our drivers.

Gripper Part 2

13 Nov 2017

Gripper Part 2 By Evan

Update:

The task today was simple. We replicated the prior work with the first gripper, as stated in the prior post, so we can begin connecting them. The biggest problem was finding all the parts to make it. We are hoping we can connect and mount them in the next couple days so it will be ready for the qualifier in Oklahoma. The improvement over last post was the addition of the rubber gripping material, as found in our "Material Test" post.

Code Fixes and Readability

13 Nov 2017

Code Fixes and Readability By Tycho

Task: Make the code more readable

So, we can't include all the code changes we made today, but all of it involved cleaning up our code, removing extra functions we didn't use, refactoring, adding comments, and making it more readable for the tournament. We had almost 80k deletions and 80k additions. This marks a turning point in the readablity of our code so that less experienced team members can read it. We went through methodically and commented out each function and method for future readability, as we will have to pass the codebase on to next year's team.

Drive Practice

13 Nov 2017

Drive Practice By Karina, Charlotte, and Abhi

Task: Become experts at driving the robot and scoring glyphs

Iron Reign’s robot drivers Abhi, Charlotte, and I, have been working hard to decrease our team’s glyph-scoring time. The past few meets, we have spent many hours practicing maneuvering on the field and around blocks, something that is crucial if we want to go far this competition season. When we first started driving the robot, we took approximately 4 minutes to complete a single column of the cryptobox, but now we can fill one and a half columns in two minutes.

When we first started practicing, we had trouble aligning with the glyphs to grab them. The fact that were using our prototype arms was partially at fault for our inability to move fast and efficiently. We also had some human error to blame. Personally, it was difficult for me to not confuse my orientation with the robot's orientation. In addition, our drive team had yet to establish a communication system between the driver and the coach, so the driver had no guidance as to which glyphs seemed like the easiest to go for or whether or not the robot was in position to grab a glyph. Below is a video that shows our shaky beginning:

Our driving has improved significantly. We have done mock teleop runs, timed ourselves on how long we take to complete different tasks, and have repeatedly tried stacking blocks and parking on the balancing stone. When our robot doesn't break, we can fill up to two columns of the cryptobox!

Reflections

Overall, we feel that we can further improve our driving skills with more drive practice. Driving the robot really does require being familiar with your robot and its quirks, as well as the controls to move the robot. Abhi, Charlotte, and I know we are still far from being driving experts, but we are putting forth our time and effort so that we can give it our best at tournaments.

Building the Garage

13 Nov 2017

Building the Garage By Ethan, Evan, Austin, and Kenna

Task: Build a cover for our field

Since Iron Reign is hosted in our coaches' house, we only have so much space. Even though we've basically taken over their house, a consequence of that is that we don't really have a place to put the field...until now.

In prior posts, we've talked about building a pool deck to store our field, and its finally become a reality. We obtained a practice field from DISD, and built it. Then, we realized that we can't really keep a practice field outside, as the tiles get water damage and the field elements slowly get destroyed. So, we decided to create a protective cover.

We bought and built an entire DIY garage set so that we can both protect our field and ourselves from the elements while driving. And, it's really cool, if I say so myself.

Reflections

This will make driving practice much easier in general, and allow us to practice regardless of weather. In addition, this benefits our sister team by giving them a place to practice.

How to Assemble parts in PTC Creo

14 Nov 2017

How to Assemble parts in PTC Creo By Abhi

Task: Learn how to Assemble parts in Creo Parametric

In addition to making parts to print in Creo, it is sometimes useful to combine multiple parts to make a model. For example, we can make a robot model by assembling parts in Creo. We have conducted a video on how to do so.

For this tutorial, we first created two simple parts which fit snugly inside one another (done before the video). Then, we created a new assembly file and uploaded the bigger part first. We placed the smaller part and did the assembly by matching the sides of the cylinder. That is how we ended up with a cylinder with its hole plugged in the end.

Reflections

We hope to use Assemblies to make models for various structures in our robot in the near future. We hope this tutorial helps you with your endeavors!

Control Award

15 Nov 2017

Control Award By Janavi

Task:

Last Saturday, after our qualifier, we had a team meeting where we created a list of what we needed to do before our second qualifier this Saturday. One of the tasks was to create the control award which we were unfortunately unable to complete in time for our last competition.

Autonomous Objective:

  1. Knock off opponent's Jewel, place glyphs In correct location based on image, park in safe zone (85 pts)
  2. Park in Zone, place glyph in cryptobox (25 pts)

Autonomous B has the ability to be delayed for a certain amount of time, allowing for better coordination with alliance mates. If our partner team is more reliable, we can give them freedom to move, but still add points to our team score.

Sensors Used

  1. Phone Camera - Allows the robot to determine where to place glyphs using Vuforia, taking advantage of the wide range of data provided from the pattern detection, as well as using Open Computer Vision (OpenCV) to analyze the pattern of the image.
  2. Color Sensor - Robot selects correct jewel using the passive mode of the sensor. This feedback allows us determine whether the robot needs to move forwards or backwards so that it knocks off the opposing teams jewel
  3. Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) - 3 Gyroscopes and Accelerometers return the robot’s heading for station keeping and straight-line driving in autonomous, while letting us orient ourselves to specific headings for proper navigation, crypt placing, and balancing
  4. Motor Encoders - Using returned motor odometry, we track how many rotations the wheels have made and convert that into meters travelled. We use this in combination with feedback from the IMU to calculate our location on the field relative to where we started.

Key Algorithms:

  1. Integrate motor odometry, the IMU gyroscope, and accelerometer with using trigonometry so the robot knows its location at all times
  2. Use Proportional/Integral/Derivative (PID) combined with IMU readouts to maintain heading. The robot corrects any differences between actual and desired heading at a power level appropriate for the difference and amount of error built up. This allows us to navigate the field accurately during autonomous.
  3. We use Vuforia to track and maintain distance from the patterns on the wall based on the robot controller phone's camera. It combines 2 machine vision libraries, trig and PID motion control.
  4. All code is non-blocking to allow multiple operations to happen at the same time. We extensively use state machines to prevent conflicts over priorities in low-level behaviors

Driver Controlled Enhancements:

  1. If the lift has been raised, movement by the jewel arm is blocked to avoid a collision
  2. The robot has a slow mode, which allows our drivers to accurately maneuver and pick up glyphs easily and accurately.
  3. The robot also has a turbo mode. This speed is activated when the bumper is pressed, allowing the driver to quickly maneuver the field.
Autonomous Field

Intake Grippers Pt2

15 Nov 2017

Intake Grippers Pt2 By Evan

Task: Attach the new intake grippers

The basters are here and in full swing. We spent a late night putting together the two intake columns. They were attached to a backing by previously, allowing to finish it by attaching the final servo and tieing it to the two columns. Since the new intake needed new code, we whipped up some code to allow us to have control. Upon doing this he realized we needed two controllers, one for movement and controlling the lift, and a second purely to work the two columns as they spun. This allowed the operator to operate the whole robot just a little easier. The new columns are set on a majority REV base, allowing for more choices in design that normal tetrix doesn’t provide. The new grabber has already been placed on the robot and seems to be working smoothly, only time will tell if it is a long term solution.

Oklahoma Qualifier Recap

18 Nov 2017

Oklahoma Qualifier Recap By Ethan, Evan, Austin, Janavi, Charlotte, Kenna, Tycho, Karina, and Abhi
Task: Compete at the Oklahoma Qualifier

Once done, our postmortem post will be here.

On Nov. 17, we went to the Oklahoma Mustang HS qualifier. Our strategy for this tournament was to attempt to qualify in multiple regions so that we have more chances to get to the South Super Regionals. For this tournament, the DISD STEM Dept. funded the tournament fees for us to attend, as well as housing for our team. We drove down there on our RV, and also fixed it up so that we could convert it into tournament mode.

For out-of-area tournaments, we have to prepare ahead of time so that we can get everything we need, since we can't really go back to get parts we forgot. So, this time, we created a packing list in order to ensure that we have everything on the RV before we leave. The complete list is below.

Tent / Pits

  • Shield
  • Main robot Cart
  • Small carts (x2)
  • Banner stand
  • Main banners (x3)
  • Aquila
  • Inspire
  • Inspire mount
  • Monitor
  • Extension cord(s)
  • Power Strip(s)

Field Elements

  • Cryptobox
  • Foam blocks
  • Jewels
  • Jewel base
  • Vuforia pattern on stick

Tools

  • Staticide
  • Shamwow
  • Threadlock
  • Red (x3), Blue (x3), Green (x3) hex keys
  • Flat heads: Large (x2), Small (x2)
  • Phillips heads: Large (x2), Small (x2)
  • Modular screwdrivers + bits (Cyan wrenches)
  • Rubber bands / Hair Ties?
  • String for pulley system
  • Container store chest of drawers
  • Chain Box
  • Tape Box
  • Glue + putty Box
  • Large pliers
  • Needlenose pliers
  • Regular Pliers
  • Power pole Box + stuff with that
  • Xacto knifes
  • Regular knifes
  • Zip ties
  • Axles
  • Drills
  • Yellow Drill (x2)
  • Drill batteries + chargers
  • Electric screwdrivers + bits
  • Plugin drill
  • Wire strippers
  • Measuring tape
  • Dremel
  • Reciprocating Dremel
  • Circular Dremel
  • Sawblade
  • Evil sandpaper
  • Battery
  • Charger
  • Hack saw
  • Hammer
  • Mallet
  • Bolt cutters
  • Lighter
  • Core power distribution Box

Parts

  • Standard nuts + bolts
  • Extrusion nuts + hex bolts
  • Prototyping wire
  • Tetrix pieces
  • U pieces
  • Plates
  • Phone cases - ZTE + SG5
  • Extrusions (Cap lift size)
  • Extrusion brackets

Electronics

  • Phones
  • All cables that we can get our hands on
  • Phone cables(new and old)
  • Coding cables        
  • OTG cables
  • Printer
  • Computers
  • Battery Box - phone
  • Joysticks
  • 9-volt batteries
  • All wrenches
  • Spare Core Power Distribution Module Box
  • M-M cable
  • M-F cable

Organization (Boxes)

  • Judging Box
  • Damaged foam block
  • Example of abs 3-D printing
  • Drawer Slide                      
  • All grabber prototypes
  • Turkey baster ones
  • Conveyer belt one
  • Current one on robot
  • Tape Box
  • Foam tape
  • Gaff tape
  • Duct tape
  • Duct tape
  • Double sided
  • More + ........
  • Glue + Putty Box
  • Battery Box
  • Batteries
  • Phone cables
  • Phone + Charging Box
  • Joystick Box
  • Powerpole Box
  • Tri-Crimp
  • Powerpoles
  • Wire stripper
  • Wire clipper
  • Needle nose
  • Container store chest of drawers
  • Chain Box
  • Spare Core Power Distribution Module Box

Before leaving, we had already encountered problems. Our RV's generator refused to turn on, which meant that we couldn't get AC, chargers, or any electrical components on board to work. So, we had to do a last-minute oil change. As well, we had trouble finding several important tool parts, such as our box of drill bits and other things. Running about an hour late, we finally left for Oklahoma. The drive took the usual 4 hours, stopping to get Schlotzky's™, and we arrived at midnight. After we were all assigned to our rooms and all, we did another runthrough of our presentation, then went to bed

We woke up by 7am the next day, and slogged our way out of bed to the Mariott™ Contentental™ Breakast™. Over breakfast, we discussed our strategies and rules for the tournaments. Some of the major points are these:

  • Unless your work requires it, stay off the RV and in the pit
  • If possible, try to talk to as many teams as possible, hand out flyers
  • When you see judges roaming the tournament, try to flag them down to talk
  • Try to get as many people as possible to see the RV
  • Do scouting ASAP

Flyer

Inspection


We didn't manage our time well for inspection. We hadn't really prepared our robot back in Dallas, nor on the way, so we had to attach the side panels and the buttons right as we arrived. As well, we had to make sure the bot fit within the sizing cube. Overall, our preparation for this section of the tournament was 4/10.

Judging/Presentation


This was our largest improvement from last tournament. This was probably the best presentation we've put on yet. As well, our engineering journal was indexed a little bit better than last time. The judges also seemed receptive to our presentation and asked in-depth questions on our robot, which was very enjoyable and signalled that we would be considered for future awards. As well, we managed to get every judge in the tournament on the RV, every single referee, and about half the teams total. So, we did well on that front. As well, our strategy of trying to talk to every judge worked well, as we were able to cover a variety of subjects, ranging from our design process, to business, to our outreach, to women in STEM.

Robot Game

Our time-management overall here was not great. We'd rush to the practice field to try and fix parts, then get immediately called back to the round. I think we almost got disqualified 3 or 4 times because of this. However, this was our most successfull tournament in the robot game ever, since this was our first time getting 1st alliance captain.
Game 1
Game 1 was one of the two games we lost this tournament. We lost by 20 points, and we managed to both knock the opposing team's jewel off, as well as not balance in the end-game. This match highlighted the problems with our autonomous' reliablility.
Game 2
In game 2, we still had autonomous problems, but won a close game due to our stacking.
Game 3
Game 3 was our best game, as we didn't experience any connection issues and got almost 200 points.
Game 4
In game 4, our robot shut down throughout the game, but despite that, we ekeed out a close victory.
Game 5
We won game 5 by about 30 points, as we stacked 2 columns, got a jewel, and balanced our bot.
At this point, we became an alliance captain and chose team 3732 Technical Difficulties to be our partner. We had connection problems throughout the next games that hampered our ability to score.
Semi-Finals 1
We won 80-100, despite connection issues.
Semi-Finals 2
We improved a little and got about 120 points as we fixed a servo between matches.
Final 1
We lost this game due to connection issues.
Final 2
This was our closest game, as we won by 2 points, since we were able to stack blocks *slightly* faster.
Final 3
We won this game by 20+ points as the opposing team failed to balance one bot.

Ceremony

The first award we won was the First Alliance Captain award, a first for our team, so we were overjoyed about that. Then, we also won 1st place Control Award, another first for our team. This was especially suprising, as our autonomous failed quite a bit throughout the tournament. Finally, we won 2nd place Inspire Award. While this is still a great accomplishment, we'd like to work on this a bit more and get 1st place next tournament in January.

Spring Cleaning in the RoboDojo

24 Nov 2017

Spring Cleaning in the RoboDojo By Janavi, Evan, Ethan, Austin, Tycho, Karina, Charlotte, Kenna, and Abhi

Task:

A few weeks leaving for our Oklahoma competition we assembled a large garage tent upon the pool deck and moved our field inside the tent to shield it from the weather. The night before the competition we moved in a projector so we could project see the code on the wall and left it there when we went to Oklahoma. We were very surprised when we came back to Dallas around midnight and found the canvas that was supposed to be covering the tent crumpled in the corner of the backyard and the frame of the tent on its side resting again the tree as you can see in the photo below

But what surprised us the most was that nothing that we let upon that table was disturbed at all, the projector lay in the same spot and even a glass of water we had left hadn't moved an inch.The next day we came back, well rested and finally wrestled the RoboDojo back from the grasps of the tree and bolted it down to the pool deck to prevent any future mishaps.

After that we started to move robotics stuff outside and Max placed a board hole onto the wall with hooks so we can hang up the tools for easy access.

We moved out all shelves that overflowed with boxes upon of boxes of robotics parts to the RoboDojo. Our plan is to move all of the robotics building out to Dojo that way we have easy access to the field and don't have to constantly move in and out to test. To start the move we labelled shoe boxes with bright orange tape to organize all of the tools and parts ,

after that we started sorting through the shelves someone exclaiming almost every five minutes " I was looking for that last time! ". Eventually after getting most of the big items sorted we worked on organising the smaller items like hex keys and nuts into grid containers.

Reflections

Making this big move has really helped us not only with organization but it has allowed us to do a deep clean of all the robotics parts, we sorted thorough all of our old motors and battery and found some that either didn't work any more or were outdated. This is very important to do periodically because it allows us to make more space and it eliminates the chance of us bringing broken battery to competitions. Moving all of the items outside has taken us a while and we are still currently still moving items outside but so far it has had an immediate effect, our two teams have been able to do more testing and we are able to spend less time searching for stuff ever since we organized. Since this has been so helpful to our teams we might plan to make this a yearly occurrence, during summer or after our season ends we can spend two weekends completely reorganizing the Dojo.

Grabber Arms v3

25 Nov 2017

Grabber Arms v3 By Abhi and Karina

Task:Develop a More Efficient System

At the Oklahoma qualifier, we saw numerous teams with similar systems to that of ours. However, since we had the mobilized gripper arms to stack with auto alignment, we were able to collect glyphs easier. In spite of that, after observing other teams in action, we realized our current gripper method had the issue of not being ready by the time we got back to the cryptobox. This is because we had to turn around everytime we needed to pick up glyphs and we also needed to pick up glyphs. This leads to longer time to fill the cryptobox, something that is not good if we plan on recovering the relic later in the season. As a result, we decided to upgrade our arms to a new level: a chain based intake system.

The idea behind this system is that the grabber arms would be on a mobilized chain system, kind of like a conveyor belt. One of the reasons this is much faster than our old system is that we don't need to turn our robot around as we approach the cryptobox. We can drive forward, pick up glyphs, and as we drive backwards, we can use a toggled button on our gamepad to move the grabber arms to the back of the robot upright. As a result, by the time we get back to the cryptobox, we have the glyphs ready to place.

Another benefit of this new system is that we don't need to stack glyphs. When we drive forward to pick up glyphs, we can tilt the grabber arms forward so that even if the pre stacked glyphs look far apart, they can still be in-took with the tilted system. Also, this system can be used for intaking the relic in the future. If the chain system is placed on an elevated level on our robot, the grabber arms will be taller than the field walls. Because of this, if we pick up the relic when it is on the ground, we can place it easily.

This picture represents our current progress. We hope to complete this system soon so we can test it on the robot.

RoboDojo Maintenance

26 Nov 2017

RoboDojo Maintenance By Coach

A mess of projects

At the end of the first regular practice since putting up our tent, the field is populated with 4 separate projects. Evidence of a lot of great work going on....

Is it also indicative of a lack of caring for what those who live here have to endure during the week? No - we recognize that at some point in the distant past the situation got beyond the control of all of us. So I'm not trying to lay fault on anyone for the unlivable situation in our house. But I also need you all to understand that living in a storm of robotics parts is something we (my family) had accepted for a time, but to be clear, this is not sustainable.

So now we (both teams) have an opportunity to do something about it. The tent / outdoor workspace gives us enough room to sort stuff out and keep it that way. For lack of a better name, I'll call it our robodojo. It's now time for us all to commit to keeping it tidy and usable, and doing the same for any spaces used inside the house.

This requires new behaviors that we all must embrace. Number one is that before we leave practice, we have to put away everything we are working on. We have project boxes for anything currently under construction. It's your job to know when you have to leave and to allocate time for cleanup of everything you are working on. That means putting tools and parts away where they belong and cleaning surfaces. If a partner is continuing to work on a project but you have to leave early, be clear about handoff and cleaning up your part of the work. From now on, if your ride arrives without warning, they will have to wait until your cleanup is done.

I could go on for pages about the behaviors we need to adopt, but I'll challenge team members to work up a full list. I'll wrap up here by sharing our common goals:

  • All things, projects/parts/tools need to be put where they belong before a meet ends
  • "where they belong" is a priority. It's not acceptable to throw something into a random box to get it off the floor or worksurface
  • The field in the robodojo must be usable for drive practice at any time with a maximum of 5 minutes of tidying up
  • Tools are in use or in their place, they are not toys or hand candy
  • Surfaces are clean and tidy - two different concepts, both important
  • Abandoned projects get pulled apart and parts resorted
  • The burden of maintaining the robodojo falls to all equally - it's not just a builder's burden
  • Any rules for the robodojo apply equally or more so to the house
  • We all want a more effective workspace and I know that you also care that my family and I have a liveable home between practices. But we've all built up some bad habits that will be hard to break. I am asking that we turn those habits around, starting now.

Oklahoma 2017 Post-Mortem

27 Nov 2017

Oklahoma 2017 Post-Mortem By Ethan, Evan, Tycho, Austin, Janavi, Kenna, Abhi, Charlotte, and Karina

Task: Recap what went right and wrong in Oklahoma

Even though we did very well in the Oklahoma qualifier, we still encountered several problems, that if not addressed, could lower our chances of getting to Super-Regionals. So, we had a team discussion on what to do differently in the next tournament, and what to keep constant.

Problems

Time management
Our time management was Not Good. First, we had trouble coordinating with different parts of the team, which lead to disorganization. As an example, we nearly missed judging because we had to go to inspection, then we nearly got DQ'd from several matcvhes because we kept going back to the practice field instead of queuing. So we need to clearly schedule when to go to practice field and when to not, as well as coordinate the judging, inspection, and other important events.
Referring to coach
We didn't realize that the judges were judges in the pit and one of our members refered to our coach for help, which probably hurt our chances.
Preparedness
First, on the robot side, we hadn't prepped for inspection the night before, so we had to be in a rush the day of to get ready. As well, we still hadn't made a coherent model of our robot in Creo by OK, which hurt our judging chances. And, we didn't emphasize the design process enough.
Presentation
For some reason, our robot kept glitching out *only* during the presentation, which hurt us. And even though our presentation was better than last time, we still had a lot of pauses that could've been remedied easily with more practice.
Robot Stability
While our robot worked pretty well during the first 5 rounds, once we hit the final rounds, our robot started shutting down and being hard to operate. We still don't know the reason, but we're currently diagnosing now.

To-do

  • Static-proof robot
  • Fix wiring
  • Organize journal for award
  • 3D Model
  • Expand engineering section
  • Build 2nd field
  • Shock mount robot

SEM Robotics Tournament

27 Nov 2017

SEM Robotics Tournament By Coach

Iron Reign (team 6832), The School of Science and Engineering and the Dallas ISD STEM Department are happy to announce that we are hosting a FIRST Tech Challenge qualifying tournament at our Townview campus on December 16th. Somewhere between 28 and 32 North Texas robotics teams will compete for awards and approximately 5 advancements to the Regional Championship to be held in February.

Calling All Volunteers

This is the first time our school has hosted an official qualifying tournament and we will need your help to make it a first-rate experience. This is a full day event on Saturday, December 16. There are also options to help with setup Friday afternoon December 15. Please feel free to circulate this message to everyone in the SEM community who can contribute their time and expertise. And if you can suggest a business that might want to sponsor the event, we'll be happy to talk with them.

We need to field some 50 or so volunteers!

One group of volunteers that support the running of robot matches include referees, score keepers, inspectors, field managers. Some of these roles require training and certification and we will generally draw from mentors already involved in FTC. Other roles supporting match play do not require training and include field management, pit management and queue management.

Another group of volunteers will support judging of teams for awards. Judges can be drawn from industry or academia and can have an engineering background or a general business backround in a technology industry. Judges assess the merits of teams' robots, their engineering process and journal, their strategic decisions, team dynamics and outreach. Judges will be led by a Judge Advisor, but will need to understand the awards criteria ahead of time.

Another group of volunteers will support the event overall. This includes team registration, crowd control, DJ, videography and photography, A/V support, floaters, runners, concessions, load-in/load-out crew, etc.

This is just a summary of the most common roles, but there are many specialty roles. Full volunteer descriptions can be found here.

For some roles it helps to understand the run-of-show for the day.

How to sign up as a volunteer

FIRST is the governing body of these competitions and they have a volunteer sign up system so that we can assure that all roles are filled by vetted volunteers. We are trying to get all volunteers processed through this year's new system. It does involve creating a FIRST account if you have not previously done so. If you have any issues or are finding the process burdensome, please use our contact form for assistance.

Please sign up for as many roles as you feel comfortable fulfilling. We may need to be flexible with assignments depending on who is available and which roles can be fulfilled by our regional managing partner. Students may volunteer for certain roles and as event hosts, Iron Reign team members will be supporting the event throughout the day.

To begin, go to the volunteer signup page for our event: https://my.firstinspires.org/Volunteers/Wizard/Search/2?EventId=34105

If you have not previously registered with FIRST, you'll need to sign up / register and activate your account first. Then you can go back to the link above and indicate your preferences. We truly need your help and look forward to working with you to create a great tournament for our students. We hope this event will showcase SEM as the premiere home for future scientists and engineers.

All our Thanks,

Karim Virani and Cathy Lux

Tournament day is very involved for the teams and volunteers. Here is a typical schedule of the day:

  • 7:30-8:30 Teams arrive, register and load their robots and gear into the pit areas
  • 9:00 - 10:30 Teams present their robots to Judges for the awards competition. They also get their robots inspected and approved for the robot game
  • 10:30 Opening ceremonies and then qualifying matches of the robot game begin. Judges are observing teams in their pits and on the competition field
  • Noon - Lunch will be provided for the teams and volunteers. Judges share information with each other about the teams they interviewed.
  • Afternoon - qualifying matches continue until each team has competed 5 times. There are 4 robots per match and we'll have two alternating competition fields to speed things up.
  • Mid-to-late afternoon is Alliance Selection, top teams from qualifying rounds will build alliances to compete in the elimnation / playoff rounds. Judges continue deliberating.
  • Playoff rounds usually take a bit over an hour
  • Closing Ceremonies and Awards
  • Pack up fields and equipment

We plan to end the tournament by 5pm, but events can run long. All volunteers are encouraged to stay until the end of the tournament, but it's not required if your role is completed earlier in the day.

Gripper v4, Octopuckers

03 Dec 2017

Gripper v4, Octopuckers By Tycho and Abhi

Task: Design a new piece for intake

Version 2 of our gripper arms worked much better than our original. Due to their silicone material and trianglular shape, we definitely had more control over the glyphs than our one degree of freedom grabber arms. However, we still had issues we needed to address. When glyphs were taken in, since the silicone surface did not have much mobility and compressibility, glyphs would often fall. Due to slight changes in glyph size, the bigger glyph would determine the space between the grabbers, meaning the other glyph would be mobile despite us wanting its control. This is when we develoepd the first version of our new rotators.

The first edition of our rotatory mechanism allowed us to play with ninjaflex printing and flexibility. They were 15mm extrusions designed to stack on one another on a REV rail or similar rigid structure. Since Ninjaflex can bend, we got more grip on the glyphs. It was definetely a well designed model but had many issues. First, each fin of the fan was very thick. Though it was able to grip glyphs well alone, the system was not able to grip much better when stacked together. We decided we needed more surface area contact with glyphs during intake.

This led us to create a new model with thinner fins and thin tabs at the end. The thin flaps allowed more grip area with the glyphs allowing us to work better. Though good in theory, when we went to print out the part, we discovered our 3-D printer didn't allow printing vertically of surfaces less than 1 mm. Since this idea didn't work, we started thinking of the idea of suction cups. This led us to our current design.

The design worked very well. We decided to name them Octopuckers since they had suction cup shape and there were 8 fins to a pucker. The surfaces of the octopuckers which would contact the glyphs were large and had a large area. Since this was heavier than the bridge connecting them to the center, the branches bent easily allowing for a grippy surface which was also flexible. After testing it on a small scale, it seemed to work well so we will continue development and implement it on our next edition of the grabber arms.

Meeting Log

09 Dec 2017

Meeting Log December 09, 2017 By Ethan, Evan, Tycho, Austin, Janavi, Charlotte, and Abhi

Meeting Log December 09, 2017

Today's Meet Objectives

Organization / Documentation / Competition Prep

  • Review Journal
  • Write post-mortem
  • Update past MeetLogs

Build / Modelling

  • 3D-model
  • Work on robot flipper

Service / Outreach

  • Build 2nd field

Today's Work Log

Team MembersTaskStart TimeDuration
AllPlanning Meeting2:10pm.25
EvanFlipper2:004
AustinFlipper2:004
Abhi3D Model2:004
EthanPost Mortem2:002
EthanField4:002
JanaviField2:004
CharlotteField2:004
TychoField2:004
KarinaField2:004

Qualifier Preparation

15 Dec 2017

Qualifier Preparation By Kenna, Abhi, Karina, Charlotte, Tycho, Janavi, Ethan, Austin, and Jayesh

Townview Prep Pic

We have been preparing to host our own qualifier since November when we hosted a DISD Scrimmage. Now we have to prepare our school for 26 teams to compete tomorrow. Most of our team was there to help construct the fields. The highlight of my Friday night was dragging assorted metal chairs across the cafeteria, only to be told we only wanted to use the black chairs and spending 2x longer than needed to make our audience seating. However, we were lucky enough get lots of help from our friends in DISD, Townview, and FTC Team 7172, which eased my chair-sorting pain. Our team has made several fields together and should have been more efficient in communicating and managing our time. But that is something to learn and improve on next time. In the end, however, it went smoothly because there was lots of teamwork between 6832 and Townview volunteers once everyone had time to figure out how to best assemble the field.

The main point we'd like to drive home is that you *really* have to consider logistics when setting up a tournament. While you'll consider all the big things before the final day, such as making maps, printing flyers, and placing fields; some of the smaller items can be ignored. A prime example is that we put off figuring out the judging room locations and had to figure that out; another example that we forgot to do is have a pit organization. It would have majorly helped had we organized the pit by team number or some other order for queueing, or at least had made a map of teams beforehand.

SEM Robotics Tournament

16 Dec 2017

SEM Robotics Tournament By Coach

Iron Reign (team 6832), The School of Science and Engineering and the Dallas ISD STEM Department are happy to welcome you to the FIRST Tech Challenge qualifying tournament at our Townview campus on December 16th. Twenty-six North Texas robotics teams will compete for awards and approximately 5 advancements to the Regional Championship to be held in February.

Teams

Teams - we look forward to seeing your robots compete and learning about your progress this season. Here are some documents that will help you,
Event Schedule
Team List with Judging and Inspection Schedules
Google Map
Parking Map

Volunteers

Volunteers - thank you for supporting this tournament. We could not pull it off without you. Here are some documents that will help you,
Volunteer Schedule and Prep Instructions
Google Map
Parking Map
Team List with Judging and Inspection Schedules
Full volunteer descriptions can be found here.

Concessions

Lunch will be provided to teams and volunteers. A full and economical concessions stand will accomodate most special dietary needs.
Concessions Menu

Townview Qualifier 2017

16 Dec 2017

Townview Qualifier 2017 By Kenna, Abhi, Ethan, Austin, Evan, Charlotte, Karina, Tycho, Janavi, and Jayesh

We were lucky enough to host a Scrimmage as practice for our actual qualifier. Weeks of preparation and anticipation paid off when the FTC Affiliate Partner for North Texas told us it was "the best run qualifier this season," and the North Texas Judge Advisor, Freidrich Elliot, called it the "best judging panel he's ever seen."
Unlike most posts in our blog, this post's purpose is not to give a play-by-play. You can take a look at how the day went on our instagram. We want to use our experience as an opportunity to help out other teams who may be hosting a qualifier.

  • It is very important to manage your volunteers. We had volunteer coordinators for every task, like a match queueing coordinator or inspection coordinator.
  • Our PTSA was kind enough to donate food as a fundraiser. However, a lot of it was left over and wasted because it was perishable. Our recommendation is be careful in the amount of perishable food you make.
  • Make a playlist using FIRST-approved songs ahead of time or use the one we used. Thanks to Roaheen Neil Mansuri on Spotify!
  • Take notice of which teams queue on their own, which teams need lots of reminding, and other general manners. You and your volunteers may be asked by the judges, as we were, which teams were the best to work with.
  • This may seem obvious to some, but if you cannot find a team, they are likely at the practice field.
  • If possible, build two fields (in addition to the practice field). It helps immensely with time management and is part of the reason our qualifier went so well.
  • Competing in a qualifier, much less running one, makes everyone a little high-strung. The most important tip we can give is to be understanding of everyone there. We all understand how much FTC means to many and it can cause some to be less considerate than normal. People standing in others' way or not queueing is not helpful, but it is nothing to lose temper over. Try to give people some kindness in a stressful day, whether you're participating or facilitating.
  • Closely related to the last point, be sure to thank people. Tell your volunteers and teams that you appreciate them being there!
On the subject of appreciation, we'd like to thank a few people for helping out.
A big thank you to Karina for volunteering even though she was sick. We had so much help from Townview parents and students that made this qualifier successful. The entire event would not have been successful without the support and sponsorship of DISD.

Alumni Meeting

23 Dec 2017

Alumni Meeting By Ethan, Abhi, Karina, Austin, Tycho, Kenna, Charlotte, Janavi, Darshan, Jayesh, and Omar

Task: Talk with our former members

Since we're in the last weeks of December, our schools are legally obligated to let us out. And, while colleges aren't legally mandated to let their students out, they tend to do so, as not doing that would rather enrage their students and families. So, due to this fortuitous coincidence, us simple FTC students were able to work with their dearly departed alumni to fix various problems with our team, mainly the blog.

Besides it just being nice to see all our former members come back home, we were also able to gain knowledge from their experiences in college. As well, several of our members became judges for FTC tournaments, so they were able to provide valuable insights into the judging process, which we highly appreciate. Also, as you see in the above photo, you can see we got p-r-e-t-t-y l-i-t.

Blog Fixes

post problem
PID & balance everything
rev robot reveal write more
PID further everything
zygote write more & picture
makeshift glyph why tag and task
Birth connect --> more posts
stockard meet folkloricos people
childhood see birth
rail test elaborate on wear & tear
testing materials reflective
designing the grabber fix frontmatter & emphasis
oh no! dying glyphs everything
v2 hexifier everything
7-Oct fix pic
chassis upgrade remove extra paragraph
pick and place talk about code not just place
machine vision goals more reflective & how to implement
wheel protection after photo talk about engineering & link related
garage WE, usefulness
ptc creo tutorial reason for making video
intake WE, reflection
OK qualifier fix rick roll
grabber v3 fix drawing & reflection
*Pinned Posts* change + shorter posts
working auto more than code
how to RV 10 --> 6
DISD sponsorship GRAMMAR, why we received
gripper construction more words --> strategy, hyperlink
*make new post, talking to alumn jayesh pic @ competition
designing jewel arm WE, new pic
building field GRAMMAR, head + free + DISD
adding code fixes 2 robot more than code
greenhill FTC positive spin & analysis
driving struggles WE, reflect
gripper p2 more words, WE
make code readable more writing, explain process
business plan ethan upload
all evan posts
evan need 2 add, connect posts to each other, more img
all abhi "fixes" Someone pls review these "fixes"
all code post tycho add

Our blog is one of our most important parts for competition, as it allows us to communicate our ideas, designs, and engineering process to judges. Through the help given by our former alums, we hope to improve our chances at Wylie East.

Jewel Thief

23 Dec 2017

Jewel Thief By Austin and Evan

Task: Build a Functional Jewel Thief

The jewel thief we built before *worked* but that was about it. More often than not it failed by not hitting the jewel, or even worse, knocking off the wrong jewel due to instability. And, in the Greenhill Qualifier, we lost several rounds by the margin of error that could've been fixed by hitting the jewel. So, we had to redesign it.

The jewel thief was intended to be simple at first, it was comprised of no more than a 180 degree rotation servo and an arm with a standard rev color sensor. The arm was foldable and collapsible so that it would fit inside our robot, and as the servo turned out to its extended position the arm would open up with the help of a single bungee cord. This plan had a few inital downfalls: first the arms were rather large and clunky and never really folded well into position, second the arms was heavy due to the use of tetrix bars meaning that the servo would strain, and finally the overal position of the arm was inconvenient for our autonomous programing, so we moved on completely. Rather than focusing on a single arm that could extend to reach the jewels, we decided to focus on something that would conform well to our current setup and then focus on making it long enough to reach. We realized that the outer edge of the robot was open enough to contain a V-shaped device that would rise 180 degrees over the head of our robot. The immediate perk to this was the fact that the system would be 18 inches in length. We felt no need to update which sensor we were using at the end of whatever mechanisim we finally attached, since the rev color sensor served it purpose correctly and effectively each time we had tested it in the past. Our final design was the V-shaped rim that laid flush with our robots exterior and was made from cut and bent L-bracket and was moved with two continuous rotation servos.

Meeting Log

23 Dec 2017

Meeting Log December 23, 2017 By Abhi, Karina, Austin, Tycho, Kenna, Ethan, Charlotte, Janavi, Darshan, Jayesh, and Omar

Meeting Log December 23, 2017

Our team alumni visited practice today. They imparted their knowledge to us in terms of the blog and our build plans.

Today's Meet Objectives

Organization / Documentation / Competition Prep

  • Review Journal
  • Use alumni reccomendations with number and content of blog posts.

Software

  • Investigate ways to pick up glyphs during autonomous
  • Review OpenCV viewing of cryptobox

Build / Modelling

  • Complete frame of gripper arms v3
  • Assemble new gripper arms

Today's Work Log

Team MembersTaskStart TimeDuration
AllPlanning Meeting2:00pm.25
AllRecap Townview Qualifier2:15.5
AustinAssemble Gripper arms2:453
AbhiComplete frame v32:452
KarinaComplete frame v32:452
OmarHelp build ideas2:452
DarshanHelp build ideas2:452
KennaFix Blog2:452
JanaviFix Blog2:452
CharlotteFix Blog2:452
JayeshIdentify fixes in blog2:452
Karina3-D Model4:451
Abhi3-D Model4:451
PeopleTask2:001

Flipper Prototype

29 Dec 2017

Flipper Prototype By Evan

Task: Build an alternate glyph-placing mechanism

The world advances on innovation. We strive to make the most efficient devices and aparati to complete jobs for us. There’s a hundred different ways to work a task, but only one will be the best at functioning in the areas of efficiency and timeliness. Just as America runs on Dunkin, advancement runs on efficiency. That’s why the robot must be outfitted with a flipper system to intake and deposit blocks. It’s the only design that will make it to the world competition, and it’s the only way that we will make it out of local competitions. I personally have taken it upon myself to develop the prototype while the majority of the team is focussed on a new grabber arm.

While our grabber arms were *good*, they weren't great. The arms currently attached to the robot, which use the turkey-pans, didn't grip as much as we hoped, and while we're designing a new version which has specialized 3-D printed arms, we can't put all our eggs in one basket. So, we decided to make the flipper system. The advantages of the flipper system as compared to the other systems is that the flipper system:

  • Does not depend on friction to hold blocks
  • We had previous issues with block slippage with the arms model, and this should fix our dependency on high-friction materials.
  • Faster
  • Our old arms depended on stacking to get more than one block, while this one wheels blocks in, reducing the time needed.
  • Less precision needed
  • Before, we had to align blocks directly with the arms to pick them up, but this can just use the wheels to intake blocks.

So far I have built a flipper and an intake system, both that function well, but have yet to get the teams’ permission to attach it directly to the robot, as it would require a lot of dismantling. Since it won’t be able to be put on before the upcoming Wylie qualifier, it’s been put on a backburner as I also throw myself at the new grabber arm. The flipper is being held in a frame I built around it but as a system is comprised of a board attached to a servo attached to a drawer slide that works as a vertical lift. The intake system is composed of two intake wheels made of the same foam tiles that make up the field floor attached to two axles that are chained to two opposite rotating gears powered by one of the new REV motors. The intake works with the flipper well and only needs some side guards. I’m half of the way through designing. It should be on the robot before any regional qualifiers we go to.

Business Plan Updates

30 Dec 2017

Business Plan Updates By Ethan

Task: Update the Business/Strategic Plan

See the first post with the full text here.

Cumulative Updates to 12/31/2017

MXP

Update (10 November 2017): The Mobile Tech Experience program described above received a grant from Best Buy for its outstanding performance, and to fund more outreach events and upkeep of the MXP. The company that schedules MXP deployments, BigThought, also signed onto a year-round deployment schedule for the MXP.

General Fixes

  • Removed acronyms
  • General spelling/grammar
  • Added explanations
  • Fixed tables
  • Added volunteer information
  • Added extra detail

Download the pdf here.

Chassis Model

06 Jan 2018

Chassis Model By Abhi and Janavi

Task: Use Creo Parametric to CAD the chassis

After making significant development on our robot, we decided to model it. So far, we have developed the chassis of the robot seen below

To develop this, many types of contraints were used.

The entire model is dependent on this tetrix bar. The bar was constrainted using the Default feature since it was the base of the model. To this, the lift motor was attached as well as the battery box. These two were constrained by the Distance feature to the end of the bar.

Four REV rails were attached to the TETRIX bar. These supported the wheels and their motors. They were constrianed through the Coincident to the bottom of the tetrix bar and Distance to the side of it.

There are custom designed motor mounts constrained to th side of the REV rails using Coincident and Distance measurements. To this, there are TETRIX wheel mounts attached onto which the mechanum wheels are attached. On the outside, wheel guards were attached. The motors that drive the wheels are attached to REV motor mounts which were constrained to the underside of the REV rails. Attached to the motor is an axel which connects to a sproket to turn the wheel.

The REV hubs were the hardest to constrain in this model because they didn't have typical sides. To mount them, we used a combination of Distance, Coincident, and Angle Offset features. The final part of the model was the phone mount which was simply constrained using coincidents.

The next steps of this robot is to complete the robot model. This chassis was actually reused from last year. Due to licensing issues, we had to redevelop this model. We hope to experiment with this model to make space for the new, larger gripper arms.

Meeting Log

06 Jan 2018

Meeting Log January 06, 2018 By Ethan, Evan, Charlotte, Kenna, Tycho, Austin, Abhi, Karina, and Janavi

Meeting Log January 06, 2018

So, today's the last Saturday before the Wylie Qualifier, and we're pretty unprepared. We're a little behind on our blog posts by about a week, we still haven't added our octopucker attachment, and we need to finish our 3D model of our robot.

Today's Meet Objectives

Organization / Documentation / Competition Prep

  • Review Journal
  • Spring Cleaning Post
  • Code Improvement
  • SEM Tournament Post
  • Flipper Post
  • Octopucker Post
  • 3D Model Post
  • Proofread
  • Fix presentation

Software

  • Fix autonomous jewel code

Build / Modelling

  • Finish 3D model
  • Attach octopucker grabber
  • Work on flipper

Today's Work Log

Team MembersTaskStart TimeDuration
AllPlanning Meeting2:10pm.25
EthanReview Posts2:004
EveryonePresention2:001
EvanWork on octopuckers2:004
AustinFix wiring issues2:004
CharlotteFix Presentation2:004
EthanFix presentation2:002
KennaProofread posts2:004
TychoWork on auto code2:004
Abhi3D model2:004
Karina3D model2:004

Fixing the Robot Chassis

08 Jan 2018

Fixing the Robot Chassis By Austin

Task: Redesign the robot chassis, fix issues

When we designed our new grabber with the octopuckers, one of the variables we neglected was the width of the new grabber once assembled and resting. After the grabber was completed it’s width was actually greater than that of the housing bay we had built into the current drive train, so to get the grabber to fit we actually had to widen the bay. We had know from past experience that the base was never truly square, so we took this necessary widing as a chance to resquare the base and drastically improve the efficiency of our mecanum drive. We added ¾ inch to the inside base and the resquared the frame before finally bolting everything down and attempting to mount the new grabber. Because the closed grabber barely fit within the new widened bay we had to cut away portions of the frame over the front wheels to allow the octopuckers room to actuate.

The other key chassis modification needed to accommodate the new grabber system was a lift bolstering. We decided that to handle the newly doubled weight of the grabber we would share the load across two strings and convert to a double pulley system. The lift was also strengthened with newly squared and adjusted cross beams similar in length and angle to the other iteration. Because of the double pulley, we also centered the drive motor and utilized a second spool. The pulleys rest on either side of the lift system and are both being run by the same motor.

The Grabber V. Kraken

08 Jan 2018

The Grabber V. Kraken By Austin and Evan

Task: Build a new version of the grabber

One of our issues with the previous iteration of the gripper was the fact that the material that coated the actual pincers weren't even and would often lead to blocks slipping from the bottom of the gripper and falling out. Our solution to this was to retest materials and in this process we decided to try our hand at 3D printing a circular and pliable material that could be part of our new rotating pincers. We designed the OCTOPUCKERS and built the rest of the grabber around that. Because the octopuckers were designed to slide onto typical rev-rail extrusions we also had to design a new system of bearings that could house the rails with skewered octopuckers.

We developed a “revolutionary” new 3D printed rev-rail bearing system that was liked with a series of chains and pulleys that could be attached to our current lift system and not severely alter the base and drive train. Previously the grabber was actuated via a system of servos controlled by a rev hub back on the main drive train, however in this newer iteration of the grabber, we decided that all of the necessary wiring would be kept inside the grabber to eliminate tangling by mounting the rev hub on the back of the grabber. While this grabber was a major upgrade that drastically improved our glyph handling capabilities, it did in fact double the weight that our lift had to bear.

Creo Parametric, a Learning Journey

09 Jan 2018

Creo Parametric, a Learning Journey By Abhi

Task: Learn Creo Over Time

Over the course of this past season, I have been learning how to use Creo Parametric to learn 3-D modeling. Since this is Tycho's last year on the team (so far he has been our main modeler), I decided to learn from him so the modeling legacy would continue.

The first project I was tasked to design was the wheel guard on the robot. As a very early learner, I ran into many issues. For example, I used to eyeball all my dimensions. This clearly didn't work out as evidenced by my epic fail of the first form wheel guard. However, after experimenting with the constriants, I jumped all the early hurdles and learned the basics.

My first assembly project was to CAD the conveyor belt we hope to eventually mount the grippers onto. As someone who had never dealt with assemblies before, I felt like someone going through a maze. Even assembling basic parts like an axle hub to the axle, it took me 10 minutes because I struggled changing dimensions and such. This project, though very basic, seemed impossible to me. However, after working through it, I was able to become more familiar with constraints to apply to the next biggest task, the robot model.

So far this is what we have constructed of the robot chassis. After training on the conveyor system, I was able to complete the chassis easier. By doing this, I have dealt with more constraints and have been moving faster.

Next Steps

After learning a lot so far from Tycho, I hope to finish the model soon and continue growth on the model. The only thing remaining on the model is the vertical bars connecting the lift and the lift itself.

DISD STEM Expo Preparation

10 Jan 2018

DISD STEM Expo Preparation By Charlotte

Task: Prepare for DISD STEM Expo

Next Saturday, Iron Reign will be participating in the DISD STEM Expo for our second year. As we did last year, we are bringing our Mobile Learning Experience to the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center and will serve children in our community to spark an interest in STEM fields and learning. Dallas City of Learning, the non-profit that schedules the Mobile Learning Experience, runs a featured exhibit in the expo, so we expect lots of traffic to our vehicle. Additionally, we have partnered with Best Buy, who is providing 12 volunteers including store employees and geek squad members to work with us on the vehicle. This will be immensely helpful as these extra sets of hands will allow for more kids to be served.

For our presentation, we are going to have the usual two components, sumo robots and 3D printed keychains. We will teach the kids how to program our pre-built Lego sumo robots in Lego Mindstorms, the same program used in FLL. This is usually our best opportunity to promote First and tell families of kids who enjoyed working with the robots how they can start a team or join an existing one. Also, on our vehicle we have four functional 3D printers and plenty of laptops with Google SketchUp pre-installed, and with these we teach kids how to design and print their very own keychain with their names on it or anything else they would like. Because of our extra volunteers and the size of the event, we expect to have lots of kids coming through our vehicle and participating in these activities.

Iron Reign and Sponsorships

10 Jan 2018

Iron Reign and Sponsorships By Ethan

A Summary of the 2017-2018 Iron Reign Sponorships

Iron Reign, generally, has not been great at finding sponsorships in prior years. However, this year has been much more successful. We can attribute some of our success to the fact that we won the North Texas Inspire award last year, in that we got our name out there more. As well, the fact that we built our MXP helped get our name out, and we recieved staffing and contracts for the RV through BigThought.

Team Sponsorships

DISD STEM - $5000
We first communicated with the DISD STEM department at the DISD Coaches' Training, where we presented an early form of our robot. We soon were able to form a partnership with them to host a 18-team scrimmage for DISD, and later hosted a 26-team qualifier at Townview. In return, we recieved two full field sets, and well over $1000 of robot parts, including two REV kits and 1 TETRIX competition set.
RoboRealm - $1500
RoboRealm, a machine vision software company, gave us three full licenses to their software for free, each worth $500. They are partners with FIRST and assist teams every year.
Texas Workforce Commission - $500
Texas Workforce Commission has been our most consistent sponsor every year. When we first built our RV, we visited the TWC headquarters and talked to TWC Commissioner Hughs about how their grant directly helped us. Ever since, we've recieved a grant. They are also a FIRST in Texas sponsor.
Arconic - $500
Arconic started a grant system for any team near an Arconic facility. We were eligibile due to that, and filled out an application for the grant, then got it. We have yet to visit\thank them, as we recieved this days before the tournament.
FIRST - $250
If you fill out an application on the FIRST website, and meet minimum qualifications, you can earn a grant meant to cover entry fees for tournaments. This covered our first qualifier in Oklahoma.
REV - $50 & Invaluable Advice
Well, the $50 the gave us was about $50 for one servo and its components. However, the real value that REV has given us is advice in building our robot. Iron Reign was one of the first adopters of the REV hubs and rails, which helped us create a connection. Also, we are relatively lucky by having our base of operations by the REV headquarters, a ~20 minute drive, so we have been able to drive over and present ideas to them.

Outreach Assistance

While our MXP was built by us and bought by our coach, we can't do everything on our own. We rent the MXP to BigThought, a Dallas-based educational nonprofit, and also recieve funds for upkeep from them. Through them, we have been able to provide outreach with a variety of different programs, including the City of Dallas, DISD, and Society of Black Engineers. As well, various programs assist in staffing the MXP when our team members alone won't cut it. We have partnered with Dallas City of Learning, Americorp, Best Buy, and BigThought to provide staffing.

Best Buy initially funded the technology aboard the MXP, such as our 4 3D printers, the EV3 bots, and laptops. Later, as we proved that our program was effective, we recieved an additional grant and more staffing for the MXP.

Contact Us

E-Mail: ironreignrobotics@gmail.com Website: In the address bar