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Iron Reign

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

Articles by section: team

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

This past weekend, Iron Reign hosted a 28-team qualifier at Townview Magnet Center. Many of us attend the School of Science and Engineering insided Townview, so it was familiar territory and made the whole experience a little easier. 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.

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

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

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.

How to Make a Robotics Team in 7 Easy Steps!

11 Jan 2018

How to Make a Robotics Team in 7 Easy Steps! By Janavi

Task:

So you want to make a robotics team? No fear! We'll show you how to in 7 easy steps!

Step 1: Find Support Resources
First(get it), familiarize yourself with the FIRST Robotics Competition. Then locate your region’s Regional Director or FIRST Senior Mentor. These people know the FIRST teams, participating schools, and FIRST-friendly businesses in your area. He or she can help you form a plan for getting your team funded, organized, and in touch with other teams in the area.

Step 2: Enlist Coaches & Mentors
Each team needs at least one adult Mentor with technical expertise that is willing and motivated to “coach” the team through the build and competition season (and beyond). Also highly recommended are two or more other adults to help with administration, fundraising, community outreach, and other tasks.

Step 3: Register and Pay
You can register and create your team on FIRST's website. All coaches and members should create their own FIRST account, register to your team, and sign their consent & release form. They estimate cost per season for rookie teams to be around $2,250, including robot kit, event registraton, travel fees, and more. Registration fees themselves, however, are $275.

Step 4: Build your team
Find and invite at least 10 students who want to be part of a robotics team (the easiest part!). Be sure to emphasize that no technical skills are required, just enthusiasm and a willingness to learn. Recruit all kinds of talents, not just engineering and electronics.

Step 5: Raise funds
Your team will need a steady supply of funds. Recruit local businesses to sponsor you. Many of them may already have a relationship with FIRST. Grants are available for both rookie and underserved teams.

Step 6: Learn about safety
At FIRST, student safety is always paramount. Every adult must become familiar with the Youth Protection Program (YPP). Take the time to watch the videos and read the materials. OSHA also has a 10-hour safety certification that can be completed online.

Step 7: Time to Build Robots!
Part of the fun is designing and building your robot; FIRST provides a wealth of information in their Resource Library to help you. Find everything from technical guides to fundraising ideas to fun activities for your team.

Reflections

Often when we participate in outreach events with the Mobile Tech Lab, we get questions from students and parents alike about how to start their own robotics team in their community, school, etc. It is hard to try and explain the steps as well as direct them to the FTC website in memorable way. So, we created this easy-to-read checklist to hand out while at outreach events. We're so exited to be able to get other kids just like us involved in Robotics. Robotics has changed all of our lives for the better, without robotics many of us wouldn't have gotten to experience working with technology let alone at the level that we are now.

Helping Other Teams

12 Jan 2018

Helping Other Teams By Austin and Tycho

Task: Help a rookie FTC team

In the week before the Wylie east north Texas qualifier, Iron Reign was going about our normal development schedule when we received a request for assistance from a smaller startup team, team 13376 Cyber Wolves, that had jettisoned from an FRC team to compete in FTC. On one of our regularly scheduled nights, which actually ended up being the night before competition day, they arrived at Iron Reign’s headquarters with all of their gear and teammates in one car. They had brought two smaller robots with simple degrees of freedom and no code. The coaches also had numerous questions about how the competition would ebb and flow.

Tycho diverted from his normal autonomous coding to assist the teams coders in polishing up their control scheme and the robot was worked on by their builders, who asked for assistance and general information from our build team that was keeping to its rhythm. While their lack of resources led to a lackluster performance at the actual qualifier, they shone through and were excited to build their reserves and team for next year's competition. We were ecstatic to help an up and coming team when we got the chance, and would offer the same kind of support to any team that comes knocking.

You can contact us at ironreignrobotics@gmail.com!

Prepping for Wiley

13 Jan 2018

Prepping for Wiley By Janavi, Karina, Ethan, Charlotte, Kenna, Abhi, Austin, Tycho, and Evan

Task:

It was countdown time before the competition, we had to practice driving our robot, pack the MXP, and practice our presentation. So we decided to split up into smaller groups to accomplish more. Tycho, Charlotte, and Evan drove together to practice communicating quickly and effectively. They also played against our sister team so both teams could get practice with other robots in a competition-like setting before the real thing.

Inside, Ethan and I worked on putting the final touches on our team's journal. We hole-punched papers, decorated tabs, and double-checked the whole journal. Austin, Tycho, Abhi and Kenna were helping out our guest team with their phones and their robot(click here to read more about that!).

Every 30 minutes we all met up as a team in the tent and practiced our presentation. This really helped all of us work out any kinks or problems we had in our presentation. After each dry run we gave and received constructive criticism as well as new ideas, which really helped to improve our overall presentation.

Reflections

This method of splitting up into sub-teams really helped us organize and coordinate our time. In the past this has worked well for us, so applying this to our competition prep was a good move. By splitting up we could divide tasks more evenly and have a clear understanding of what we had to do. Another really beneficial thing we did were the practice runs every 30 minutes. By doing this we were able to practice our presentation and give each other feedback. Leaving 30 minutes between each run gave everybody time to review their slides and incorporate any new ideas into their presentation.

DISD STEM Fair

20 Jan 2018

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


DISD STEM Fair was one of our busiest events, but it was also one of our least chaotic. Our team has trouble turning anyone away because we want to introduce as many people as possible to STEM, but letting everyone onto the MXP usually results in more stress and less efficiency because it becomes so crowded. This time we implemented some of the improvements we had been discussing for the past few weeks like a keychain waiting list and regulating entrance to the MXP. We were able to reach 400 students with our three activities and spoke to over 1500 parents and students. We had the opportunity to set up a field and demo our competition bot for everyone there, including some FLL and FTC teams, which is something we don't usually get to do. A lot of kids actually got to drive the robot, as seen below.


We offer two activities on the Mobile Learning Experience(MXP):3D Modeling & Printing and EV3 Lego Bots.



Using laptops, presentation monitors, and 3D printers donated to us by Best Buy, we teach students how to design and print their own keychain. We use SketchUp, a free 3D modeling program by Google, because our hope is that if we teach people the basics they can go home and use SketchUp themselves. They learn the basic functions of CAD, such as the push/pull tool, shape tool, and 3D text. We had lots of people express interest in SketchUp for their kids or students. The highlight of my day was seeing kids who had been taught SketchUp helping those who were still building their keychain.




With our EV3 kits, we help everyone code their own robot and battle it against other bots. Most of the time, it's someone's first interaction with code so what they are coding is fairly basic. The simple code gives them a real taste of programming in a way they can understand.

Among our sponsors that make our outreach possible is BigThought. They help us with the costs of maintaining the MXP as well as staffing. What we do would not be possible without them. During this event, the CEO of BigThought was able to tour the MXP and see what we do to further interest and ability in STEM for young students.

Wylie East Qualifier Postmortem

27 Jan 2018

Wylie East Qualifier Postmortem By Ethan, Kenna, Janavi, Karina, Evan, Abhi, and Charlotte

Task: Analyze our successes and failures in the Wylie East Competition

We have a new format for our postmortems. We start by asking a series of questions to figure out our problems, and we cover 4 catagories to do so.

STRENGTHS

  • What are our strengths?
  • What do we do better than other teams?
  • What unique capabilities and resources do we possess?
  • What do others perceive as our strengths?
WEAKNESSES
  • What are our weaknesses?
  • What do other teams do better than us?
  • What can we improve given the current situation?
  • What do others perceive as our weaknesses?
OPPORTUNITIES
  • What trends or conditions may positively impact us?
  • What opportunities are available to us?
THREATS
  • What trends or conditions may negatively impact us?
  • What are other teams doing that may impact us?
  • What impact do our weaknesses have on the threats to us?

Preparation

Strengths
This time, we prepped our engineering journal a good while beforehand, which was good. Last time, we spent the last night panicking over how our journal wasn't finished and dealing with a printer that craps out every other page. We also became more productive as the tournament drew closer, but this can also be a drawback as we need to be *consistent*.

Weaknesses
We didn't really ever get our parts and tools together before the tournament. We were helping a team the night before, and we had our tools out to help them instead of packing, then never really reconsolidated them.

Oppurtunities
We should take full advantage of non-Saturday practices to prep before the tournament. While some people did show up, not everyone was able to, and we'd like to increase attendance as much as possible. We also need to prepare ASAP, not right before the tournament. We also ought to make flair for our team like pins or something similar to get our name out and bribe teams with.

Threats
We're high school students at one of the top schools in the nation, so we're pretty busy. Despite that, we really should increase attendance so we can get more work done.

Judging

Strengths
We won the First Place Inspire Award, so we're definitely doing something right. We got mentioned for every single award but Motivate. We got all our content across, and we told a good story, but we still have room to improve.

Weaknesses
We need to smooth over our presentation in several areas. First, we need to sync up our presentation so that our laptops show the same slides. We also need to clarify our content between last year's accomplishments and this year's. Our transitions need a bit of work - we came off as rusty - and we also need to cut our time down by doing so.
We also need to be more effective in the pits of the tournament. We need to look active, and we don't do a great job of doing that. We also need the team to become more educated in the intricate parts of our team.

ALSO: ENTHUSIASM

Oppurtunities
We want to make our engineering journal stand out more - we have some ideas such as adding robot parts to our journal to make it snazzy. Also eventually, we want to get a tent for the pits to stand out.

Robot Performance

Strengths
For the *first* time ever, we had ZERO disconnects on our phones. We can partially attribute this to using new phones, the Moto Gs. As well, our jewel auto worked every single match, 100% success rate. The newest glyph system worked amazingly, but we still have room for improvement.

Weaknesses
We need a way to build more 3D-printed parts to outrace the constant wear and tear of the tournaments. We also had issues with Vuforia, and we ought to work on phone placement to fix that, which ties in to retuning our autonomous glyph tuning. We also need to add strain relief to the hub power cable.

Oppurtunities
We need to work on driver practice more with the new gripper. We also need the drivers, as well as everyone else, to get more sleep.
We're going to try and assemble more intake systems, such as a chain flipper, improved glyph system, and forward rake to test the intakes.

Scouting

Strengths
Abhi did a great job scouting. This was one of our best scouting tournaments, and there aren't many critiques of it.

Weaknesses
We need to make sure teams can follow up on their claims because some teams frankly just bs when asked about their robot. We also need to take more photos for blog posts and the presentation.

Oppurtunities
We need to have better accounts of the matches, and we need to watch other teams' matches.

Meeting Log

27 Jan 2018

Meeting Log January 27, 2018 By Ethan, Karina, Charlotte, Abhi, Tycho, Austin, Kenna, Evan, and Janavi

Meeting Log January 27, 2018

We are very behind on updating our engineering journal and discussing our performance in Wylie. This was the main focus of the day.

Today's Meet Objectives

Organization / Documentation / Competition Prep

  • Review Journal
  • STEM Expo Post
  • Chassis Post
  • Driving Post
  • Wylie Postmortem
  • Create poster

Build / Modelling

  • Work on new chassis
  • Attempt to update gripper

Today's Work Log

Team MembersTaskStart TimeDuration
AllPlanning Meeting2:10pm.25
EthanWork on poster2:004
CharlotteDriving2:004
JanaviWork on chassis2:004
KarinaDriving2:004
TychoDriving2:004
EvanGripper update2:004
KennaWork on chassis2:004
Abhi3D Model2:004
AustinGripper update2:004

Robot Drive Team

03 Feb 2018

Robot Drive Team By Charlotte, Tycho, Karina, and Evan

Task: Build a solid drive team.

One of the leading problems Iron Reign faces is our ability to allot time to effective driving practice. Driving practice is essential for our success in the robot game, but it is sometimes difficult to find time to practice due to other team members working on various robot improvements. We have created two different drive teams, a main team and a backup team, so that despite who is available at meeting we can always have some kind of drive practice going on. The bulk of the time spent in driving practice is spent practicing putting glyphs in the cryptobox, trying to better our previous time and complete as many columns as we can. We focus on performing and scoring timed runs, and sometimes when our sister team 3734 is available, we scrimmage our robots against each other. Another smaller, yet equally essential, part of drive practice is setting up the robot in the correct orientation for every situation and running our autonomous. It is important that we make all of our mistakes during practice, so that when it is time to compete we run autonomous perfectly every time. The main challenges we face in driving practice is consistency in filling the cryptobox, adjusting to significant robot design changes, and our time management (actually finding the time to get in good practice).

In the future, the drive team is going to meet more often and hold more efficient practices. Our main goal is to significantly decrease the time that it takes to fill the cryptobox, and to accomplish this we will need to clock in many hours so that we are very comfortable in driving the robot. Ideally, any error that might occur during competition will be mechanical errors that are out of the drivers' control. We have improved a lot, but we still have a long way to go.

Meeting Log

03 Feb 2018

Meeting Log February 03, 2018 By Ethan, Kenna, Charlotte, Karina, Janavi, Evan, Tycho, Abhi, and Austin

Meeting Log February 03, 2018

This is the last Saturday meeting before the tournament. We have to finish bringing the engineering journal up to date, as well as work on the presentation.

Today's Meet Objectives

Organization / Documentation / Competition Prep

  • Review Journal
  • Update blog posts
  • Finish poster

Build / Modelling

  • Update 3D Model

Today's Work Log

Team MembersTaskStart TimeDuration
AllPlanning Meeting2:10pm.25
AllFinish past-due blog posts2:004

Designing a Poster

03 Feb 2018

Designing a Poster By Ethan

Task: Design a poster to tell Iron Reign's story

Our presentations to the judges usually turn out well. However, looking back at the last tournament's awards, we could've performed way better. To get a better chance at Inspire, we really need to get 2nd place in every other award, and in the last tournament, we got 3rd, and really only got the Inspire Award just because the other major team already got the 1st Inspire in another tournament. So, our number-one priority is to better communicate our timeline, story, and information to the judges. While a good portion of this is journal improvements and presentation improvements, we hope to further communicate our story to the judges by providing a visual representation of our story through the timeline.

Further Updates to the Engineering Plan

03 Feb 2018

Further Updates to the Engineering Plan By Ethan

Task: Update the Strategic Plan for North Texas Regionals

Download the full, updated plan here.

Beyond superficial changes, we hadn't done much else to the Strategic/Business plan since it was written. So, in order to not look like idiots when we give it to the judges, we had to update it.

What we did:

  • Added section about testing materials
  • Added section about new design changes
  • Updated list of sponsors
  • Updated list of outreach events
  • Updated strategy section
  • Updated building strategies
  • Updated 3-D modelling section

What we need to do:

  • Expand code section
  • Talk about REVolution
  • Expand build and outreach section

North Texas Regionals, 2018

10 Feb 2018

North Texas Regionals, 2018 By Ethan, Evan, Abhi, Tycho, Janavi, Charlotte, Austin, Karina, and Kenna

Task: Win at the North Texas Regionals

Introduction
All over the city, lights turned on. In each house, a member departed, on their way to a secretive location, Iron Reign headquarters. Each member entered the HQ, took a parcel, and boarded the equally secretive Iron Reign Mystery Bus, on our way to an even more undisclosed location, the North Texas Regional, at Wylie East Highschool.

Inspection
For the first time this season, Iron Reign breezed through inspection. There were no issues with sizing, we had all of our signs and warnings attached, everything was good. It was so good that there's not really anything left to say.

Presentation
Earlier this week, we practiced our presentation with our new SEM principal, and did a pretty decent run. We still had issues, i.e. running overtime & switching off between parts, but it still impressed our principal. However, we wanted to do better. We had a brainstorming sesssion and talked with past judges, and found that if you make your presentation a little more enertaining while still keeping the necessary information, your presentation will stick in the judges' head for longer. So, that's what we did. We added pieces that improve it just a little, some informative (juggling balls representing the engineering process), and some for our sake (miming being trapped in Iron Reign for 9 years). But, these changes definitely paid off. As well, we fixed our timing, leaving 3 minutes for questions, and fixed some gaps. However, we still did stutter and stumble a bit, but the overall quality of our presentation outshined our mistakes.

Scouting

Robot Game
While we spent all night adding parts and doing mechanical fixes, we should have also spent time fixing our code due to these changes. But, we didn't, so we spent the first three matches trying to debug our code and fix unexpected mechanical issues with the grabber.
Match 1
We lost this match. We hadn't practiced with the new gripper, and on top of that, the Octopuckers 3.0 didn't perform as well as we expected, resulting in a disappointing loss that we really shouldn't have.
Match 11
We also lost this match, most of our code issues were fixed, but we encountered an unexpected mechanical issue with our grabber - it caught on a small piece of plastic that stopped it from engaging fully.
Match 14
We had everything working in this match, but we were simply outperformed. This match really served to show us that we needed to improve in all aspects of the game.
Match 23
We won this match! We were pretty dejected over the past results, but our drivers strapped up and give us the W.
Match 27
We also won this match by a large margin, due to our great performance, and also due to a robot on the other alliance not working.
There are those times where everything seems to fall in place just perfectly, and this was one of those times. We had really good scouting, and we were able to worm our way into alliance with the 4th seed, allowing us into the semifinals. This helped give us the boost we needed for awards.
Semi Match 1&2
We lost, badly. We were simply outperformed, and this taught us we need to improve.

Ceremony
We walked into the ceremony uncertain. We had done well in judging, but we were iffy with our performance in the robot game, and thought that our performance had cancelled out any benefits of the Think and Innovate awards. However, we were able to show our design and engineering process well in additional questions, and the judges seemed pleased with the answers. As well, we answered a question about gracious professionalism that really impressed the judges. In the ceremony, we were awarded several small awards, and the 1st place Connect, but we needed a higher award to advance. Then, we heard 2nd place Inspire...goes to team 6832!

Meeting With Mr.Palacios

14 Feb 2018

Meeting With Mr.Palacios By Janavi, Charlotte, Ethan, Evan, Abhi, Austin, Tycho, Karina, and Kenna

Task:

At the end of last semester our principal, Ms.Hewitt was promoted to the ED of our feeder pattern. This semester we got the opportunity to meet our new principle, Mr.Palacios. He previously served as the Academy, Science & Foreign Language Department Administrator at Hillcrest High School, and was interested in learning more about SEM and what our students did to contribute to the school. We wanted to show him SEMs Robotics program ,so Iron Reign arranged a meeting with him. During the meeting we planned to give him a presentation much like the one we give to judges. We changed up the presentation a little by adding the FTC competition video to introduce him to the competition and give him a little background about what First is.

Presentation Notes:

Mr. Palacios said he enjoyed our presentation and it gave him a good insight into Robotics, in the past he has not worked with Robotics and our presentation showed him that in First Robotics goes much deeper than just building a robot and competing with it, First is also about giving back to the community and promoting STEM. He plans to follow up with us to see our progress in the following months, and has been following up with our team members individually in the hallways or whenever he sees us.

North Texas Regionals 2018 Postmortem

14 Feb 2018

North Texas Regionals 2018 Postmortem By Charlotte, Ethan, Tycho, Austin, Janavi, Abhi, Karina, Kenna, and Evan

Task: Reflect on The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of our performance at North Texas Regionals

Preparation

Strengths
Some of our team members put in a lot of hours of work the night before the competition and we were able to successfully prepare the robot for the robot games.

Weaknesses
Though it proved very necessary, the fact that people had to pull an all-nighter before the competition shows that we have a long way to go before we have perfected our preparation strategy. We need to work on limiting our last minute robot changes/focus more on the robot in the weeks before the competition instead of the hours. Also, with any changes we make we need to make sure that we are able to practice driving with them.

Opportunities
In the future, we must take advantage of after school practices in the weeks leading up to the competition,as we historically can't accomplish everything solely on Saturday practices.

Threats
There is a threat of laziness and the lack of high priority in the weeks leading up to higher level competitions. We must work hard not only on the night before the competition, but in the days and weeks leading up to it. There is a huge threat of time crunch.

Judging

Strengths
In the presentation room we had more of an air of enthusiasm than in our previous presentations, and while we can always have more energy, it was a step in the right direction. We got a sheer mass of information out in our allotted time and did so effectively. It was evident in the fact that we won 2nd Inspire and 1st Connect that we were successful in bringing our point across.

Weaknesses
We still have the problem of coming off as inactive or lethargic in the pits. It didn't help this time that some of us were running on a very small amount of sleep. During the presentation itself we ran overtime, as we always do, and barely left any time for questions. Also, in our time crunch we didn't get to show the full demo of our robot, which is obviously a very important aspect of the presentation.

Opportunities
We can practice our presentation to make our transitions smoother and our content more concise so that we can relay all of the information that we strive to.

Robot Performance

Strengths
After our losses, our robot started to perform a lot better and won a couple of matches. While the grabber system could perform better, this competition was a good opportunity to see what works and what doesn't.

Weaknesses
We lost our first three matches due to our lift not being completely tested and fixed. It got caught on the robot, stopped lifting, and had other performance issues early on in the competition. We had to do a complete replacement of the grabber, so there were still some parts that were not completely secure; we had to make many last minute and between match fixes.

Opportunities
We were able to prove that grabber v.5 works! And now we can move on and make additional improvement so that we can truly bring forward our robot game during supers. We are using our current model (the model from the competition) and working on mounting it to a conveyor belt to flip to either side of the robot. This competition proved the ability of the grabber and opened up the opportunity to make additional modifications with it.

Scouting

Strengths
This competition we were able to talk to other team throughout the day and form connections, that way even though we were in 13th place by the end of the competition we were able to explain that we lost our first three due to some minor changes but we won our last two games because we finally got our robot to work. This helped us get into the semifinals as part of the fourth place alliance.

Weaknesses
We need to make sure teams can follow up on their claims because some teams frankly just exaggerated when asked about their robot. We also need to take more photos for blog posts and the presentation. We needed to do more scouting this competition, while we were able to talk to teams we didn't do a very good job in keeping up with a spreadsheet of all of our data that meant by the end when we were trying to see what teams to talk to we had a hard time remember their stats or much about their robot.

Opportunities
We need to have better accounts of the matches, and we need to watch other teams' matches through doing this we can keep an accurate spreadsheet and know what each team is truly capable of.

Oklahoma Regionals, 2018

17 Feb 2018

Oklahoma Regionals, 2018 By Ethan, Evan, Janavi, Charlotte, Abhi, Tycho, Austin, Karina, Kenna, Shaggy, and Justin

Task: Compete at the Oklahoma Regional

In November, we went to a Oklahoman qualifier in Mustang. The reason for this was purely strategic - by competing in multiple regions, we have more chances of advancing, as well as having more in-tournament experience overall. There, we got 2nd-place Inspire and advanced to the Oklahoma Regionals. Then, when we came back to Dallas, we ended up advancing to the North Texas Regionals as well, on Inspire 1st place. Then, North Texas Regionals happened to occur before Oklahoma, and we advanced there with 2nd place Inspire. Finally, we had the Oklahoman Regional. Since we'd already won a regional, this tournament proved as a testing ground for robot, presentation, and strategy changes.

Inspection

Again, we went through inspection with ease. We really hope that this will be a continuing trend because this gives us *way* more time for practice, and this helped with our performance in the game.

Presentation

The presentation...oh man. The presentation is usually the high point of Iron Reign's day, and we forgot the Engineering Journal. That's right, the one thing that allows us to get awards, our main advancement strategy. So, we panicked. Mrc. Lux was still in Texas, and theoretically would be able to get us the Journal, but we didn't want to hedge all our bets on that. So, we bought an entire printer from Walmart™ so that we could print if she was too far out by 4:30. But, luckily, she got there in time, and we didnt have to print approx. 400 pages.
Besides forgetting our engineering journal, we had other issues to deal with. We recently took on three new members from our sister team, team 3734 Imperial Robotics, and two of them had to learn parts in our presentation for Oklahoma. As well, we added new lines to the presentation to talk about our connections with outreach and mentors.
Despite all this, our presentation went really well. Our judging panel interrupted us to ask questions, which threw us off a bit, but we were able to persevere through that and pull off a good presentation.

Robot Game

We were hoping to have our new gripper system installed in time for Oklahoma, but it fell through the cracks. So, we had to reinstall our old gripper, but other than that, we made few changes to the robot.

Match 5
We won this match, 237-230. Our autonomous performed extremely well, and together with a partner, we were able to beat most teams.
Match 20
We won this match, 154-148, even though we thought we lost. It all hinged on whether our balancing stone was counted or not, but it barely was.
Match 28
We lost this match, 139-154. The only way we could have won this match was to improve our teleop performance and gripper system.
Match 37
We won this match, 133-90. We were about evenly matched, but our alliance had better performing autonomii than the opposing teams.
Match 45
We won this match, 349-54. We did everything right, as well as our partner team, and our opponents just happened to underperform that round.
Match 51
We won this match 233-187. We didn't think that we'd win this one from the get-go, but we managed to skate by with two relics being placed.
Match 65
We lost this match, 196-273. We were obviously outclasses and this match demonstrated our need for a better teleop strategy.

Ceremony

Even though we performed decently in the robot game, we didn't communicate well with some of the groups of roving judges, so we were unsure about how we'd do in awards. We ended up with a 1st Connect and a 3rd Inspire, as well as a few other award mentions.

Next Steps:

OK Regional Keychains

17 Feb 2018

OK Regional Keychains By Kenna, Ethan, Charlotte, Austin, and Evan

Task:

We came to the Oklahoma Regional woefully unprepared for the amount of stuff other teams would give out. As soon as we arrived, we received every trinket imaginable. There were keychains, pins, 3D-printed symbols, business cards, patches, and tons of other creative designs. Luckily, the MXP was there and had 4 3D printers on board. Normally, we use them to print out keychains for kids during our outreach in Dallas, but this time it was for our own use. We whipped up a quick design on SketchUP and started printing. The design wasn't especially memorable (something we want to improve on for Supers), but it was nice to have something to give out to passing teams.

Tycho also enjoyed our efforts (the red things are all keychains). We printed throughout the entire day since we hadn't come with any. It added a bit of stress to the whole day, which we could have done without.

For Superregionals, our goal is to come prepared with a creative keychain or card. Janavi and Kenna have already started working on a few designs to use to connect with other teams. We're very excited to see what all the other teams have at Supers.

Preparing for South Super Regionals

18 Feb 2018

Preparing for South Super Regionals By Ethan

Task: Prepare for the South Super Regionals in Athens, Georgia

We currently have a bit over two weeks to get ready for the South Super Regionals, and we're not quite ready. Actually, if we want to get competition-ready, we've got a long way to go. From prior experience, we're currently 55% on awards and 45% on robot game for advancement, but we want to get both to 60-70+%. So, we created a list so that we could break our workload down into discrete tasks.

Engineering Journal

  • North Texas Regionals PostMortem
  • OK Regionals Play-by-Play
  • OK Regionals PostMortem
  • Meta-PostMortem
  • Reindex Journal
  • Super Regionals Packing List

Business

  • Talk to AWC for Sponsorship

Build

Relic Arm
  • 3D Model
  • Code
  • Improve Gripper
  • Posts
Octopuckers
  • Print Latest Design
  • Next Design\Post
  • Print Old Versions
Gripper
  • Space Attachment Links
  • Test Code
  • Phone Mount
  • Posts for Above
  • Mount Pulley Clips
  • Star Intake/Post
  • Update to V5
  • Extend Internal Lift
  • Bottom-Mounted Jewel Thief
  • Posts

Code

  • Automate Balancing
  • Auto-Column w/ Vuforia
  • Cryptobox Alignment w/ Vuforia
  • Posts

Organizational

  • Clean RoboDojo
  • Clean MXP
  • Design Pit
  • Make List of Pit Items
  • Design Posters

Next Steps:

As you can see, we've got a lot to do, but I'm confident we'll finish a majority of these items.

Oklahoma State Regionals 2018 Postmortem

24 Feb 2018

Oklahoma State Regionals 2018 Postmortem By Charlotte, Ethan, Tycho, Austin, Janavi, Abhi, Karina, Kenna, and Evan

Task: Evaluate our strengths and downfalls at Oklahoma State Regionals

It wasn't a great regional, but it wasn't a bad one either, it was an OK Regional.

Preparation

Strengths
Because we had already been to North Texas Regionals, we were one step ahead of the teams in OK that hadn’t been to a regional yet this year in that sense. We already had everything in some sort of order from North Texas, so we were prepared for the challenges we know we will encounter at a competition at the regional level.

Weaknesses
We left the engineering journal in Dallas. If it weren’t for our chaperone, we would have had to re-print all 300-400 pages of our engineering journal in Oklahoma. This is the worst example of us not following the checklist when packing up our vehicle. Also, we left polycarbonate, so we had to go to Walmart and use the lid of a plastic box for the polycarb pieces on our robot that needed replacement. Because we had already qualified, we were not as serious in our preparations as we could have been, and that cost us in the robot game.

Opportunities
In this competition, we 3D printed keychains to hand out to teams (pictured below). We started this process a couple of hours before the competition, so we only had enough to hand out to our alliance partners. A lot of teams also had extravagant pit setups, so during Super Regionals we should strive to set ourselves apart in the pits, especially since a large part of judging occurs in the pits.

Threats
As always, a large threat is lack of urgency for the competition in the days leading up to it. We only had one week to prepare and we will only have two weeks to prepare for Supers, so our head has really got to be in the game in the days leading up to it.

Judging

Strengths
In the presentation room, there was a great environment and our presentation flowed more as a conversation than a lecture. The judges were curious about some of our accomplishments, like our REVolution system and the RV, and interrupted us during the presentation to ask questions. This made us feel more relaxed and the presentation ran very smoothly. Unlike last time, we had enough time to demo the robot and show off its capabilities. Also, a lot of judges visited our pit and we were able to show many of them to our Mobile Tech Lab.

Weaknesses
We didn't mention to the judges that we have already qualified, which would have been helpful for us as we won't have been seen as a threat to Oklahoma teams. Also, we added many parts to the presentation on the day of judging, so we were less practiced on those parts.

Opportunities
Now we have the opportunity to refine the parts that we added to the presentation so that it flows smoothly with no awkward breaks.

Robot Performance

Strengths
Our autonomous is where we do best during matches, especially the jewel portion which we did successfully every match. When it worked, the internal lift was helpful in making out game and although we didn't score a lot of glyphs, we were consistent in getting 1.5 columns every time. With practice we could continue that consistency but with more columns.

Weaknesses
Our robot performed decently, but the grabber was slow and we never got more than 1.5 columns. The internal lift broke many times throughout the day. Because we changed the grabber recently, we mounted the phone in a position that it can't read the target so that it places the glyph in the correct column and didn't have time to fix it. Also, we were one of the few teams without a relic arm which I think hurt us in both our success in matches and in not getting picked for an alliance. We won all of our matches except for one, but that was mostly due to luck which we can't count on at Supers.

Opportunities
Our grabber system is now at v.5, which is the old lift (the one we used in OK) but on a conveyor belt system that flips it to either side of the robot. We think that this grabber is going to be our best and hopefully, paired with a lot of drive practice, is going to significantly improve our robot game.

Threats
The robot game was strong in Oklahoma. There were many teams that had working relic arms and we witnessed the 3rd highest score in a game this year. It will be even stronger in Super Regionals, so in order to qualify for worlds we need to really up our robot game while maintaining our potential for awards.

Scouting

Strengths
We were able to make some connections with teams that we are going to see in Georgia for Super Regionals and further practice our communication with other teams.

Weaknesses
We did a poor job in advertising our robot to other teams and were not picked for alliances despite our decently high ranking after the qualifying matches (12th place). We have had a lower ranking and been picked before, so we need to start scouting earlier in the games and form connections with competitive teams so we have a chance to get picked.

Opportunities
For Supers, we are going to prepare handouts, like flyers, keychains, and pins to give to the other teams and make our name known. Also, at this point in the season there is a lot of data for each team, so we can get a lot of the scouting done before the competition. We can also prepare our spreadsheets or whatever method we choose to use to get information from the teams at the competition.

Iron Reign's Meta-Post Mortem

26 Feb 2018

Iron Reign's Meta-Post Mortem By Ethan

Task: Evaluate how well Iron Reign has stuck to its priorities

As Super Regionals approaches, we'd like to evaluate our past performance on post mortems, to see how well we've done, to modify our future post mortems, and to find new approaches towards solving our problems.

Past posts are:

Mustang Qualifier at Oklahoma

ISSUE: Time Management
We've definitely gotten better at time management in tournaments since this one, and haven't had any issues since.
ISSUE: Referring to Coach
Again, we've gotten much better on this. We've all grown more familiar with the information about our team. I think this was mostly a one-time issue.
ISSUE: Preparedness
We have gotten much more prepared for each tournament than the last. We made the 3D model we needed of our robot. We have our robot inspection-ready before the tournament now. We do still have issues with packing however, especially when we travel out-of-state.
ISSUE: Presentation
We've done a lot of practice for our presentation and eliminated a lot of stuttering and pauses. As well, our robot is much more functional than it was, so we're good there too.
ISSUE: Robot Stability
We switched to the LG 4 phones and eliminated all shutoff issues, so theres no problem there anymore.

Wylie East Qualifier

ISSUE: Packing
We haven't gotten much better at this, we even forgot our engineering journal in Dallas when we went to the Oklahoma Regional.
ISSUE: Judging
See above.
ISSUE: Robot fixes
  • More 3D parts to combat wear and tear - fixed
  • Vuforia fixes - not fixed
  • Strain relief - fixed
  • Lack of driver experience - fixed
ISSUE: Scouting Gaps
We have gotten much better at scouting, with more accurate spreadsheets, some of which we've already included in other posts.

North Texas Regional

ISSUE: Last minute robot changes
We did this at both this tournament and the next tournament, so we haven't done much to combat doing this. At the time, it always feels needed, but in retrospect, it doesn't. Here, these last minute changes helped, but ideally we should have finished them the week before and not the night before. At the next tournament, we made a system a week before, but ended up reverting to the old version the night before.
ISSUE: Lethargy
One of Iron Reign's trademark moves is being apathetic as possible, and this doesn't always shine well on us in tournament. We really haven't improved much on this, and we really should.
ISSUE: Robot Weakness
All of these issues were tournament-specific and won't come up again.

Oklahoma Regional

ISSUE: Preparation
WE FORGOT OUR ENGINEERING JOURNAL IN DALLAS. We really really need to work on packing for Georgia, and make a definite list and plan with people responsible for it.
ISSUE: Design Keychains
We want to have a trinket to hand out to teams. We started this in Oklahoma, but we should mass-produce items before the tournament.
ISSUE: Speed
We have designed a new gripper-flipepr system to increase our speed and have already built a new chassis around it.
ISSUE: No Relic Arm
We've designed a new Relic Arm that'll work, we just need to attach it to the robot and program it.

Promote Award 2018

28 Feb 2018

Promote Award 2018 By Kenna, Austin, and Ethan

image coming ASAP

With SuperRegionals just around the corner, everyone is going into overdrive and we almost forgot about our video for the Promote Award. We got lucky with the due date being extended for the South, so we had two extra days to make ours.

We wanted to this year's Promote Award video to be a little different from last year's. This entire season we've been trying to move away from the creation of the MXP and more towards its sustainability (as well as Iron Reign's sustainability as a team). Last year's video focused on the MXP. Through FIRST, Iron Reign has affected the lives of all of its team members so we had no lack of stories from members who wanted to share what FIRST and robotics means to them.

We decided on a more personal approach. Austin had the great idea of doing a flashback video in which a FIRST alumni remembers their 'good old days' competing in FLL and FTC. We drew from our own members' experiences like Ethan's growing up as part of Iron Reign or Jayesh coming back to help us improve our presentation.

Our plan was to have an older robotics member reminisce about their days in FIRST, then we flashback to a slideshow of photos of our team from 2012 to 2018 with a voiceover talking about what we want the world to know about FIRST.

We scavenged through years and years of photos saved on our Google Drive. We even got to see the famed salad bar video where some very young Iron Reign members present a sanitary alternative to a salad bar through song. Some of my favorite pictures are below:

Ethan Smal

Jayesh Smal

The video clip at the beginning took about an hour to film and record. Kenna outlined a script for the whole video which Austin narrated and acted with Ethan filming. The audio for the intro where Austin pretends to be a retired FTC member had to be recorded separately so the transition from live video to slideshow. After several tries, we had a few good clips. But those just made up a couple seconds of the entire video because most of it was the slideshow. Below is Austin recording the voiceover.

Austin Records

Using VideoPad Video Editor, a free program, Kenna screenrecorded the slideshow and added the intro clip with the voiceover files as the audio. For anyone who is inexperienced with video-editing and needs to do it in a hurry, VideoPad is a good way to go. Be warned, you can only download your final video once or twice without paying. To be very honest, everything was done in a bit of a hurry. We liked our idea, but we wish we had more time to execute it. Next year, hopefully, we will plan ahead of time and have a few weeks to create our video.

Update: Since we have been lucky enough to be selected to go to Worlds, we will be making an updated version of our Promote Video.

Poster Designs

28 Feb 2018

Poster Designs By Ethan

Task: Make team informational posters for South Super Regionals

Last year, we didn't spend that much time on the poster/aesthetic side of things for Supers, and we ended up getting the Judges' Award. While we can't really prove a cause-and-effect relationship between the two, we want to improve in all aspects so we don't repeat last years performance. So, this year, we're going to try to convey more information to the judges so that we can bolster our chances for awards.

While we were in Oklahoma, we saw another team's pit setup/poster design that we liked (FTC Team 4962, the Rockettes), and we realized that having posters stand by in the background that we can refer to would significantly help our chances in judging, as we would be able to further back up our claims during questions from roving judges. So, we made our own designs that will sit in the pit for the judges to see. All 3 were made in Adobe Illustrate.

Next Steps:

After this, we need to make new posters and Aquilas, as both are currently water damaged.

Joining Iron Reign

02 Mar 2018

Joining Iron Reign By Shaggy and Justin

The Transition from Imperial to Iron Reign

It all started when both teams went to the North Texas Regional - I was part of Imperial at the time, with high hopes for our robot. We worked really hard on the robot, though we were only a team of three, so all were eager to see the robot compete. But, once the matches started rolling, we saw we didn't have what it took to compete against power houses like Technical Difficulties.

This really made us feel bad because we had only worked on the robot game and not on any of the awards. At the end of the day, the Imperial team waited for the awards with our sister team, Iron Reign, because they worked really hard toward the awards. Sure enough, their hard work paid off because they were able to get the 2nd place Inspire award. They were heading to Supers. We all went out to celebrate their victory, some of us happier than others.

While everyone was talking, our mentor made us an interesting offer. He saw us put extreme effort into making a competetitive robot and, liking our work ethic, said "You guys are varsity material." So he decided to offer Justin and I a spot on Iron Reign to continue our adventures with robotics. We could not believe Iron Reign would be so generous as to take us in with open arms. We accepted right away because we couldn't pass up such an opportunity - our team hasn't been to Supers for years.

It came with conditions though: we had to start doing blog posts, which we had never done before, and our mentor wanted to see the same work ethic from when we worked on our Imperial robot. We were also given many opportunities here at Iron Reign. Since Iron Reign goes for all the awards, I have been able to learn what each award means and how to work towards getting them. We have also learned more on software and hardware. Tycho is an experienced coder and Austin is an experienced builder, both ready to teach anyone willing to get their hands dirty. These opportunities could not have been found anywhere except Iron Reign.

Meeting Log

17 Mar 2018

Meeting Log March 17, 2018 By Abhi, Tycho, Ethan, Janavi, Austin, Karina, and Kenna

Meeting Log March 17, 2018

Today we focused on changes we planned from Supers. Also, we decided to have a mini discussion about good and bad things from Supers (not a post mortem).

Today's Meet Objectives

Organization / Documentation / Competition Prep

  • Review Journal
  • Post Mortem
  • Assigning Blog Posts

Software

  • Implement Field Oriented Drive
  • Open CV Progress
  • Fix Viewforia demo mode
  • Driver Practice Modifications

Build / Modeling

  • Build Sparring Bots
  • Make flag holder
  • Learn how to 3-D print
  • Build Relic Arm

Service / Outreach

  • Promote video redesign
  • Reveal Video footage

Today's Work Log

Team MembersTaskStart TimeDuration
AbhiFlagHolder11:003
Abhi,KennaLearn to 3-D print12:00.10
AustinPromote1:001
AllPlanning Meeting+Assign Blog Posts2:00pm.5
AbhiCode changes2:301
TychoOpenCV+Demo Changes3:002
Kenna, JanaviSparring Bots3:003
KarinaRelic Arm3:001
EthanPost Mortem3:001
Karina,AbhiDriver Practice4:002
Austin, AbhiReveal Video4:001
EthanReview Journal4:002

South Super Regionals 2018 Postmortem

17 Mar 2018

South Super Regionals 2018 Postmortem By Charlotte, Ethan, Tycho, Austin, Janavi, Abhi, Karina, Kenna, and Evan

Task: Reflect on our accomplishments in South Super Regionals

Judging

Strengths
In previous presentations, we have had difficulty with timing and conveying everything we have to in the allotted time. This time, we got all of our information across and had enough extra time for some questions and good discussion with the judges.

Weaknesses
Although we did improve our timing, due to a lack of practice we had some poor/awkward transitions, and we had to shuffle a bit every time we needed to demonstrate something we have made which made for awkward periods of silence. Also, we tended to ramble, so with practice or by making a script we can be more precise. We didn't stress connect/first specific events and we didn't stress the year round deployment of or outreach program as much as we usually do, so we didn't get any visits to our Mobile Learning Lab from judges. The main logistical error we had was that one of the computers didn't have the latest version of the presentation on it, and we couldn't download it because the venue didn't have internet connection. As always, we were lower on energy then we could have been, so we may have come off as less enthusiastic as we really are.

Opportunities
The greatest improvement we can make is practice: with practice we can make our presentation crisp and flushed out to avoid those awkward pauses. To avoid the awkward shuffling to the presentation box, we can have every person hold different versions of the grabber. We are going to make a bar with every version of the octoplucker because this would be helpful to demonstrate. Also, FIRST specific events are very important to us and the judging.

Threats
Our Mobile Learning Lab is going to be at an Earth Day event during Worlds, so we will not be able to share it/give judges tours.

Robot Performance

Strengths
At Supers, we had the best gripper flipper that we have had yet, it worked alright and it looked nice so it impressed the judges. Our robot didn't die during matches which is a welcome improvement. We won 2nd place innovate award for our REVolution system. Also, we noticed our robot has good speed and maneuverability.

Weaknesses
We were ranked 32/36, so overall our robot game was weak. We assembled our final Supers robot too late, so we didn't have nearly enough driver practice.

Opportunities
Driver practice is key. In the weeks leading up to Worlds, we are going to avoid major robot changes and practice driving the robot as much as we can.

Threats
In Worlds, we are going to face the toughest competition we have thus far, so we are going to have to work very hard to stand a chance.

Scouting

Strengths
This time, we had things to hand out to teams that we visit and those that stopped by our pit. We made 1000 business cards and a lot of keychains that we 3D printed previously. Also, we visited a lot of pits, both in Kilrain and Pemberton, and made friends with teams, connections that will continue into Worlds. We even took pictures of everyone's robot and made a collage, pictured below.

Weaknesses
Our pit was disorganized and crowded, we were having. A few members of our team got sick, so there was a lot of sitting around and looking lazy. Apparently they will not be supplying chairs at Worlds, so that should help. We aren't known for being particularly high energy, but it is essential to be active in the pits on competition days.

Opportunities
By Worlds, we hope to have completed the awards case that we had planned for Supers, and hopefully we can create more Roman inspired items to give our pit a more unique touch.

Journal

Strengths
Our engineering journal was effective in portraying the progression of the robot design. It had an enormous amount of posts that show all of our accomplishments this year. The many posts we made for the REVolution system probably helped us catch the attention of the Innovate judges.

Weaknesses
Some of our sections were a bit empty, such as our control section which only has 6 posts and the business section.

Opportunities
Before Worlds, we are going to organize the posts into their respective awards a bit better as well as writing abstracts for each award and why we are good candidates for them. We are running out of space in our binder, so we are going to split it into two which will be nice so two judges can read our information at the same time. For our control section, we are going to add an Open CV post, which is something we talk about in our presentation but we don't have many details about it in our journal.

Threats
When we split into two binders, a judge may mistake each on for a full journal, so we must make it clear on the cover of each journal that it is only half.

iMake 2018

24 Mar 2018

iMake 2018 By Ethan, Charlotte, Karina, Austin, Justin, and Tycho

Task: Present at the Fort Worth Science Museum iMake Festival

The iMake Maker Fest is an annual event held by the Forth Worth Museum of Science and History to celebrate innovation and Maker culture. We've presented here before, most recently in the Rescue Recovery season. We really wanted to get in one more outreach event before worlds, and we already had a good connection with the museum from prior events, so we contacted them asking them if they had extra space for a 12x12 robot field. They did, and we came.

We came early, around 8, so that we could set up an entire field for practice. Even though we're planning on volunteering, we still can't reasonably give up an entire day of drivers practice. So, we turned our outreach into a combined event - talking to parents and educators about FIRST, as well as more directly demonstrating that by driving our robots around the museum.

We talked to about 900 people today from all over Texas, and had an overall very successful day. We had many parents interested in putting their kids in FIRST programs, and had a former FIRST official talk to us!

Next Steps:

We don't have much time to do any more outreach events before Worlds without sacrificing valuable time, so our next focus is solely on the robot and journal.

The Cost of Mistakes

31 Mar 2018

The Cost of Mistakes By Abhi

Task: Analyze Failures

Two words describe the picture above: "Oh dear". The wires shown above are connected to our jewel thief on the bottom of our robot. The reason the wires are so shredded and torn is because the chain on our grippers would rub against the wires when the lift was in the lower position. However, it was not always like this.

This piece used to be on the robot prior to stripping. It's purpose was to protect the wires from damage of grippers. However, at SSR, I decided to take the piece off temporarily because it halted the gripper too short from the optimal intake position. Ignorance led to this piece becoming forgotten about and left in a random box. Since then, the robot had experienced many issues.

The first and most evident effect was the wires being stripped. This created a safety hazard and made the robot dangerous to others on the field. In addition, this cutting led to the color sensor becoming unresponsive many times, taking away valuable time from autonomous testing. Another issue was that the wires shorted out our batteries, leading to destruction of valuable batteries. This is shown below.

From this, we lost over 4 hours of driver practice since we would constantly be waiting for batteries to charge (unaware of the issue at this time). As a result of losing one piece of the robot, we lost many things in the process. To fix this, we had to: order new sensor cables, use a new color sensor, rewire the robot, use new batteries, and reassemble the jewel thief.

It took me about 3 hours just to remove the jewel thief and reassemble it to get it ready for rewiring. After this, someone who was better at electrical had to rewire the robot. In the end, the fix took close to 7 hours.

Aside from physical build, I also made a mistake on the software side. Being a novice at Github, I managed to create a collection of merge issues for our game repository. As a result, Tycho had to take about 2 hours to fix all merge conflicts and make the robot functional again. This again led to loss of driver practice-something we are very bad at.

Though I have made many failures recently, this post is also about the team as a whole. As a team, we have not been the best at organization. For example, after returning from Georgia, we left the poles for our tent in the middle of the backyard. Though we were very tired, we should have put the poles in a safe location. Since we neglected them, we now have to wash them because of rain damage in the following days. Another issue we have is phone and battery management. It is always exciting to be on the practice field driving around but we seem to forget about the most important thing: charging. After some driver practice, we seem to just leave the phone and used batteries on the field and go home. Therefore, we lose valuable time to charging, time that could be used for driver practice or autonomous testing. Finally, we are terrible at putting things back where they belong. If you look at our practice space currently, you cannot see one clean spot as it is either occupied with another chassis, some rev rails, or nuts/bolts. Spreading all these items around leads to not only decreased efficiency as we spend infinite amount of time looking for parts, but also an unappealing place to live for our coach and his family.

I have reflected on my failures and am working hard to make sure I don't make similar mistakes in the future. It is also time for the rest of the team to reflect on our negligence. After analyzing our weak points, we are slowly working towards fixing the mistakes. As an example, Kenna was able to clean up our table so we could finally see the wood underneath. Our team is now at the Championship level and we shouldn't make these mistakes simply due to laziness. As we continue on our journey it is important for us to grow from our failures and avoid them to reach maximum efficiency.

Discover Summer PREP U

07 Apr 2018

Discover Summer PREP U By Ethan, Charlotte, Austin, Evan, Kenna, Tycho, and Karina

Task: Volunteer at the DISD Discover Summer PREP event

Today, our sponsor volunteered our RV for DISD's Discover Summer PREP U. This is the week before Worlds, but luckily this event was from 9am-1pm, so it didn't interfere with our normal practice. The event was originally planned to be outside, but it was 39°F, well below the Dallas average April temperature of 57°F. This meant that we didn't get as many visitors as planned because we can't exactly park our RV inside, so we braved it alone. For the first few hours, we didn't realize that, so we sat all lonely inside. Finally, we realized our mistake and sent people in to demo our robots and invite people outside.

Once people heard the gospel of Iron Reign, we were flooded with visitors, and we were completely unprepared. We had a team member who fell asleep under a bench, and the masses of people trapped her underneath, and we had to wait for an oppurtune moment to free her. The RV had its usual two modes, with EV3 Sumo Bot programming in the front, and keychain printing in the back. We recently bought two new filament types, green and translucent blue, both of which produce higher quality prints and easier removal than the usual red filament.

Inside, we had people talking to the passerby, giving them the history of Iron Reign and other FIRST-related information. Austin and Tycho drove Argos and Kraken, drawing many interested visitors of all ages. We even saw the father of one of our former alums. We talked to the most people in there, but we still drew a decent amount of people to the RV.

Overall, we interacted with about 450 (Waiting on BigThought estimate) people. While not exactly as much as we hoped, this was still a decent showing for the weather.

Next Steps

This was our last outreach event before Worlds, and it was an successful one at that.

REVolution on Thingiverse

13 Apr 2018

REVolution on Thingiverse By Abhi

Task: Publish REVolution Parts

Tired of slipping set screws? Want a rigid drive shaft as long or tall as your robot? Have a bunch of REV Rail lying around? Have we got a solution for you...

Turn your REV Rail into a beater-bar, a drive shaft or a heavy duty hinge with our Spintastic Axializer System … The REVolution System

Iron reign has developed these parts over the course of this season and they have served as essential pieces of our robot. Now you don't have to worry about snapping axles and those darn set screws. Choose your attachment plate, your internal pieces, and assemble them together! With this system, you robot can be efficient and flashy.

The parts are avaliable at

https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2859442

If you need help with part assembly or printing, please contact us and we will be glad to help. Tutorial videos are in the process of being made. Details about the parts are listed below

Championship Scouting Sheet

16 Apr 2018

Championship Scouting Sheet By Abhi

Task: Publish Scouting Sheet for Houston

It is almost time for Championships and that means scouting time! Thank you everyone for contributing to the scouting sheet. The combined effort of all teams made this job easier for all of us. If you would like to view the sheet, visit tinyurl.com/HWC18

Relic Recovery Reveal Video

16 Apr 2018

Relic Recovery Reveal Video By Abhi and Austin

Task: Publish Robot Reveal

After a season of work, Iron Reign has the final version of Kraken ready for Championships. With it comes a video showing off its features. We filmed it moving in all sorts of ways. We also found pictures from this season of the team's design growth and outreach events, including having fun. You can view it here below!

Purpose:

The purpose of this video is to represent Iron Reign as a whole. FTC is not only about the robot but also about the journey there. We showed our thoughts over the season, including outreach events, scavenging polycarb, or illustrating the engineering process of grippers.

Iron Reign earns FTC World Championship Motivate Award

22 Apr 2018

Iron Reign earns FTC World Championship Motivate Award

Last week at the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) Robotics World Championship in Houston, Team 6832, Iron Reign, from the School of Science and Engineering in Dallas ISD earned the Motivate award which ranks them at the top in the outreach category.


Top Row: Justin Bonsell, Christian Saldana, Charlotte Leakey, Tycho Virani, Evan Daane, Austin Davis
Bottom: Janavi Chadha, Kenna Tanaka, Abhijit Bhattaru, Karina Lara and Ethan Helfman
coached by Karim Virani, Cathy Lux and Calvin Boykin

Each of the 5,200 active robotics teams this year is expected and encouraged to share their passion for robotics and all things Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) with younger students who haven't had the same opportunities. One hundred and twenty eight of these teams from around the world earned spots at this championship, including teams from the USA, Canada, Mexico, South America, the Middle East, the Pacific Rim and China. Iron Reign recieved this recognition for their work in creating, operating and sustaining the Mobile Tech eXPerience, an RV that they converted to a mobile STEM lab in order to support the work of Big Thought and the Dallas City of Learning Initiative.

On board the vehicle, students can learn to program one of sixteen sumo robots, design 3D objects and print them on one of the four 3D printers, learn to program in Scratch or create virtual worlds in Minecraft. The robotics team converted the vehicle and helped run the pilot program in summer 2016. This school year their goal has been to help Big Thought sustain the vehicle by continuing to support deployments, improve the curriculum and simply "make it loud." And now Big Thought is taking vehicle operations year-round. With this vehicle and accomplished instructors, Big Thought is bringing STEM exposure into under-served neighborhoods to help young students think of themselves as future engineers, scientists or technologists. This year alone the team has contributed 680 hours supporting 15 deployments of the vehicle to neighborhoods and large events. They've taught or spoken with over 3,400 students or parents at these events, and they've shared curriculum and the story of the vehicle nationwide by participating at the National Science Teachers Association STEM Expo.

This video will tell you more about the MXP from the perspective of the team members:

In the robot game the team finished 26 of 64 teams in their division, a good showing for a first-time Worlds team with a new young drive team. And Dr. Woodie Flowers, lead mentor of FIRST and Professor Emeritus at MIT signed and kissed our robot:

The team is fully appreciative of all of the support they've received this year. Special mention goes to Big Thought, Jeff Marx and Joe Schelanko of the Dallas ISD STEM Department, the SEM PTSA, the School of Science and Engineering staff and our advisor Calvin Boykin, Principal Andrew Palacios, Executive Director Tiffany Huitt and the tireless parents of all team members.

Please see the team website for more information. The team will be going to the UIL State Championship in Austin on May 18. Finally, here is our robot reveal:

Contact Us

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