Articles by tag: connect

Articles by tag: connect

    Super Regionals - The First Day

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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.

    NSTA 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

    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.

    REV Robot Reveal

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

    Argos V2 - a REV Robot Reveal

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

    AmeriCorps Partnership

    AmeriCorps Partnership By Ethan

    Task: Detail our AmeriCorps partnership

    Together with BigThought, we were able to find another programmatic sponsor: the US Government. For those of y'all who don't know, AmeriCorps is a federally run program that encourages civil service. Most 501(c)(3)s are able to apply to be AmeriCorps partners, and BigThought was one of them. Because of this, over the summer, we were able to gain volunteers directly sponsored by the American government, two alumni (Jayesh and Caitlin) included. This was an amazing experience for Iron Reign, as we have now had partners of all types, from public to private, from local to federal. As well, this has further increased the visibilty of the MXP, having it recognized on the federal level.

    FTC Kickoff and First Meet

    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.

    MXP at Conrad HS

    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

    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

    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.

    Texas Workforce Commission Grant

    Texas Workforce Commission Grant By Ethan

    FIRST in Texas and the TWC grant

    In Texas, a government labor agency called the Texas Workforce Commission gives a yearly grant to people who apply through FIRST in Texas. We got it last year and stopped by their headquarters to say thanks while in Austin. This year, we got it again. The grant can go towards any robot/tournament related expense. This $550 will cover our first tournament and a few REV parts.

    FIRST in Texas also supports tournament fees for teams that advance beyond the Regional level. Thanks to them our tournament fees for the Super Regional Trip and the Worlds trip are covered, saving us $1,500. We'd like to give a huge thanks to the TWC and FIRST in Texas!

    MXP at UTA

    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

    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

    So, You Want to Build Your Own RV By Ethan

    How to build your own RV in 6 easy steps.

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

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

    DISD Sponsorship

    DISD Sponsorship By Ethan

    DISD's sponsorship of Iron Reign

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

    Reflections

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

    DISD Scrimmage

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

    Task: Run and compete at the DISD Scrimmage

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

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

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

    BigThought and Dallas City of Learning Sponsorship

    BigThought and Dallas City of Learning Sponsorship By Ethan

    Task: Recount our sponsorship with BigThought

    We have two kinds of sponsorships, money-based and programmatic. Our partnership with BigThought is the latter. For those who don't live in the greater Dallas area, BigThought is a local nonprofit that strives to provide STEM and Arts education to children so that the oppurtunity gap can be closed. As you probably know by now, *last* season we converted an RV into a Mobile Learning Lab. This year had been about substaining it and keeping it running.

    To fund our Lab and get contract it to local events, we partnered with BigThought and created a program to serve underserved communities to spark an interest in STEM. They provide extra volunteers when our team isn't enough, as well as the logistics for registering to work at events. Through them, other companies also give grants to our RV. For example, Best Buy heard about our initiative and funded the technology for our RV: 4 3D printers, 30 laptops, and 10 EV3s. All of these helps our mission to assist underserved communities.

    Business and Strategic Plan Pt. 1

    Business and Strategic Plan Pt. 1 By Ethan

    Download PDF here

    Intro

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

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

     

    A History of Iron Reign

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

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

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

     

    Outreach

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

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

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

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

     

    Business and Funding

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

    ·         BigThought - RV materials, staffing, and upkeep

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

    ·         Best Buy – 4x3D Printers, Laptops for RV

    ·         AmeriCorps – RV staffing

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

    ·         Dallas Makerspace – Access to machining tools

    ·         DPRG – Robot assistance

    ·         FIRST – Tournament fees

    ·         Texas Workforce Commission – Grant

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

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

     

    Reference Business Letter from Last Season

    Dear Orix,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                                                                                                    Warmest Regards,

                                                                                                                    Iron Reign

    Looking Back, Moving Forward

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

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

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

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

     

    Game Strategy

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

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

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

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

    Building

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

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

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

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

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

    Programming

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

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

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

    Design Process

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

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

     

     

    Budget

    Bought:

    REV Minibot Kit

    2

    125

    250

    REV Slim Batteries

    2

    50

    100

    Axles

    4

    10

    40

    Drivers

    2

    5

    10

    Nyloc Parts

    4

    5

    20

    Step Drill

    2

    5

    10

    Shaft Collars

    4

    7

    28

    Tetrix Competition Set

    1

    580

    580

    Control and Communication

    2

    265

    530

    REV Hubs

    4

    150

    600

    Motors

    14

    28

    392

    Encoder Cables

    14

    5

    70

    Soft Tiles

    28

    5

    140

    Tile Bags

    2

    60

    120

    Full Field

    2

    480

    960

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Total

     

     

    3850

     

    Wishlist:

    Per Team - 6832

    FTC Control and Communications Set

    265

    0

    0

    https://ftc.pitsco.com/Control_Set

    Electronics Set

    150

    0

    0

    https://ftc.pitsco.com/Electronics_Set

    Build System: Competition Set - Tetrix [not recommended]

    580

    0

    0

    https://ftc.pitsco.com/Competition_Set

    Build System: FTC Starter Kit - REV

    475

    1

    475

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

    2nd REV Robotics Expansion Hub

    150

    1

    150

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

    Batteries

    50

    2

    100

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

    Batteries, Tetrix form factor

    50

    0

    0

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

    Servo Power Module

    40

    1

    40

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

    HD Hex Motor

    30

    4

    120

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

    NeverRest Motor

    28

    0

    0

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

    Lexan - 3 x 4 sheet - 3/32

    87

    1

    87

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

    FIRST Season Registration

    275

    0

    0

    https://my.firstinspires.org/Teams

    Per School - Science and Engineering

    Game Set - Full Field

    480

    1

    480

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

    Game Set - Half Field

    270

    0

    0

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

    Game Set - Quarter Field

    159

    0

    0

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

    Soft Tiles Game Surface

    230

    1

    230

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

    Field Perimeter Kit

    595

    1

    595

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

    Tape Set

    50

    1

    50

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

     

    Greenhill FTC Qualifier

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

    Task: Compete at our first FTC qualifier

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

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

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

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

    Reflections

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

    Best Buy Event

    Best Buy Event By Ethan

    Task: Attend a Best Buy event and accpet an award

    We have been using our Mobile Learning Lab for about a year now. Initally, we were given a grant by Best Buy to get electronics and printers for the RV. Today, we attended a Best Buy event to recognize our outstanding service, and recieved a further $10,000 grant. On top of that, we signed a contract to expand our efforts to a year round program, signing onto 50+ events a year. Through this, we have finally achieved our goal - making the RV substainable, even without Iron Reign.

    Qualifier Preparation

    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.

    Townview Qualifier 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

    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.

    Talking to REV

    Talking to REV By Austin and Tycho

    Task: Talk to REV about our REVolution System

    On an excursion to the Rev Headquarters located conveniently in North Dallas, to pick up a few extra servos and other miscellaneous parts we decided to bring a couple of our 3D printed REVolution parts to show to the founder of Rev. if you aren’t familiar with our REVolution system, essentially what it is, is a way to turn Rev extrusion rails into axels to be used for more robust and modular axels. These new printable parts can be seen in their corresponding blog post and can be found on Thingiverse along with instructions.

    After waiting for Rev’s founder to see us, we had the chance to demonstrate the new parts we had come up with. The REVolution system peaked his interest and he would like to follow up at some point to possibly work on making the parts and selling them as part of the Rev product line. While you won’t be able to find our parts anytime soon, you can look for them in the future since Rev is currently working on a few other priorities.

    Part 2

    We want to have further talks with REV about mass-producing these parts, as we believe that these could benefit teams everywhere and allow their designs to be more flexible. As well, we plan to further develop our REVolution system so that it has greater functionality.

    DISD STEM Expo Preparation

    DISD STEM Expo Preparation By Charlotte

    Task: Prepare for DISD STEM Expo

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

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

    Iron Reign and Sponsorships

    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.

    Helping Other Teams

    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!

    Wylie East Qualifier 2018

    Wylie East Qualifier 2018 By Ethan, Evan, Charlotte, Janavi, Karina, Tycho, Austin, Abhi, and Kenna

    Task: Compete at the Wylie East Qualifier

    Introduction

    It was a cold and dark morning. The howling winds of a cold front rushed through the grass. Under this cover of darkness, one car after another pulled up to a house, dimly lit. A car door would open for a second, letting a child out into the cold night. Under these auspicous conditions, each child wandered into the house, only for a moment, and left again, and boarded an RV. Thus began the Wylie East Qualifier.

    Inspection

    We arrived at Wylie about 7:50 AM, and unloaded. Unlike previous tournaments, we had actually prepared our robot the night before. So, we were able to get in and out of inspection pretty fast, which was nice and definently reduced our stress about time management. Our only worry was that our robot was too big for the sizing cube, as we had measured the robot to be 17.96875 inches in length, leaving 1/32 of an inch. And since that is *probably* within the production error of a sizing cube, we were mildly worried. Still though, our robot barely slid in. We passed the rest of inspection with flying colors.

    Unloading

    We had been preparing to pack Friday, so we had all our tools ready. However, we didn't use the packing list we had previously, and we felt the effects. We forgot encoder cables, and even a flathead screwdriver. While this really didn't hurt *us*, it hurt our sister team, and we weren't as helpful with other teams when they came to us. The one pro of forgetting a lot of our stuff was that the unload was really fast, and we set up our table and got it organized in under 5 minutes.

    Judging

    Next up was judging. We'd neglected working on our presentation previously, as we had to prioritize even more neglected items such as drive practice. And, it was pretty obvious. We had a few stumbles, a few missed cues, and we even managed to miss a slide. Despite that, we were able to convey our team's progress and history to the judges effectively, and they seemed to be enganged and asked relevant questions. If there was one thing we could change, it would not be the prior errors, but that we took too much time in the presentation, and didn't leave enough time for questions. NOTE: A judge later told us that we should clairify information about our MXP in the presentation

    Scouting

    Team # Team name Autonomous Glyph Jewel Safe Zone TeleOp Glyphs Columns Rows Pattern Balance Stone Relics
    3734 Imperial                      
    3899 Terror Bytes YES no yes no yes 6   2 r no yes mo
    7172 Technical Difficulties ys 1 with view yes yes yes 24 full full full no no
    7904 HSA Dallas Robotigers no       yes 6 0 2 no don’t know no
    8418 The League of Legendary yes 1 no viewfoia no yes yes   1-20000   yes yes no
    8565 Technicbots yes 1 with view yes yes yes 8 2 3 no yes no
    8626 Prototypes yes 1 no viewfoia yes yes yes   3/2 col 0 yes yes no
    9386 Elmer & Elsie Robotics yes 1 no viewfoia yes yes yes 24 3 4 no yes no
    11097 Cybersurge yes no no yes yes 4-6g yes no no yes 3 and up maybe
    11339 Williams Warriors Robotics yes no no ys yes     2-4 r no no no
    11341 ViBoTs                      
    11366 The Smarty Party yes no yes yes yes 4-5 g wonky 3-Feb no yes not focus butr can
    11425 Murphy Maverick Robotics no       yes no test 4   1 no yes no
    11563 Hedrick Garage yes no yes yes yes max 6   2 yes yes no
    11594 FireCats no       yes 1   1 no yes no
    11629 Todoians yes 1 no viewfoia no yes yes   0 2-3 r no0 yes no
    11791 Marvin the Martian                      
    11793 TRICERABOTS yes no yes no yes     max 2 no yes no
    12061 Long Buccaneer Engineers                      
    12430 Raider Robotics yes no yes yes maybe yes 5 no 2 no yes no
    12810 QuantumX yes yes yes yes yes 8 2 0 yes yes 1-2 zone
    12930 ScitoboRRobotics yes no no yes yes 6 1/3/2002 no yes no could try
    13376 Cyber Wolves                      
    13850 Raider Robotics 2 yes   yes yes yes 8   yes no no no

    Robot Game

    Game 5
    We won this game by a large margin -> 122-40. Our autonomomous definitely pushed us over the top here.
    Game 12
    We lost this game. Our teleop speed and strtegy didn't work against our team, and our partner had connection issues.
    Game 15
    This was a surrogate match, but we were still very happy about winning this. We performed pretty well *and* the opponent's bot shut off.
    Game 20
    We won this game with our largest margin, 106-12. We performed well in all aspects of the game, and we should replicate this success.
    Game 26
    We lost this game by our largest margin, 236-76. We were outperformed in the autonomous and teleop by large margins, and failed to get on the balance stone.
    Game 32
    We won this game, again by a decent margen. We did very well in the autonomous, and the other team just couldn't catch up.
    Semis Game 1 & 2
    We lost both these marches by good margins, we couldn't really compete with Tech. Diff's teleop with our autonomous.

    Ceremony

    Usually, judges come and talk to your team if you're being considered for an award, so we have at least two people at our table at all times, and we sound an alarm so that the entire team can come and answer questions. And so, we sat, and we sat, and we sat, and no judges came. But then, with just five minutes left, we were blessed with an apparition of judges. We walked into the ceremony more confident than we were, and were reasonable impressed when we won 1st-place Inspire.

    DISD STEM Fair

    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.

    Designing a Poster

    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.

    North Texas Regionals, 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

    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.

    Oklahoma Regionals, 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:

    Meeting with Advanced Waterjet Cutting

    Meeting with Advanced Waterjet Cutting By Tycho and Austin

    Advanced Waterjet Cutting

    Today we visited the Advanced Waterjet Cutting office and spoke to Sal Copado and Chris regarding our side shield designs. We had called a couple days in advance to set up this meeting, and we brought both our robot and our Mobile Learning Lab to demo. They were impressed by our work and were happy to support a local team competing at the Supers level. Sal agreed to cut out the side shields for our robot, though because of their heavy work backlog, they said that the side shields would not be complete until next Wednesday. While this is before Supers, we decided to go to the Dallas Makerspace to laser cut the design out of high density fiberboard so that we can start assembly based on the new design during our Saturday meeting and the following evenings. These cut-outs are pictured below.

    After the demo of our robot, we discussed the design of the side shields. At first they assumed that we needed assistance in putting together the design, but we had already prepared a design and had it ready for the meeting. After having a look at it, they identified a mistake that we had made. We are used to designing files for manufacturing - mostly on our 3D printer. We typically include machine adjustments into our designs so we can upload them right to the machines. For example we adjust our designs to compensate for 1st layer spreading or for material expansion into small holes. In designing our side shields for waterjet machines, we figured out the kerf we needed to work with and made adjustments accordingly. They saw this and said that there was no need for these adjustments, as they recommend that they make those adjustments themselves due to the variance in kerf for the different machines they use. They can cut industrial sized parts with either their waterjet or their laser for finer tolerances. We told them we wanted them cut out of 1/8" thick 6061-T6 aluminum and they confirmed that this was a good choice. The final files we sent them include designs for our side shields, mounting plates for our new 6in Mechanum wheels, and internal wheel mounts. We're basically covering the cost of the material and they are covering all other expenses.

    Next Steps

    We hope to pick up the new parts next Wednesday and get them on the robot that evening. We would also like to return with the full team to AWC and get a tour of their manufacturing facilities and machine shop. But we'll need to look for a student holiday to get that done since we're always at school during their opening hours. We'd also like to show them the updated robot and see if they have any ideas for further improvements.

    Promote Award 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

    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.

    South Super Regionals Day One, 2018

    South Super Regionals Day One, 2018 By Ethan, Evan, Kenna, Charlotte, Austin, Karina, Janavi, Abhi, Tycho, Justin, and Christian

    Task: Set up and present at SSR 2018

    A placid stillness hung over the dark, cold room. The early sun flashed through the pale window curtains, ineffective against the onslaught of light. Outside, birds started to chirp and sing, starting off the new day. All over the city, teams were waking up, walking to the Classic Center (the Thunderdome of Robotics), to see their fate, either as champions of the last ever Super Regionals, or to go home defeated and never again see the light of Dean Kamen and his vision. However, through all of this movement and energy, this hotel room stayed quiet. Slowly, a beeping slowly grew more loud, blaring its morning call throughout the room until no one could deny its existence. In spite of the warm and soft Holiday Inn™ beds calling their users back to slumber, the team members had to wake, under the threat of death by coach. Thus started the journey of Iron Reign's 2018 Supers.

    The Pits (Setup and presence)

    This day marked the first official day of the 2018 South Super Regionals, the last one ever being held. With FIRST moving to the Qualifier-Reigional-Worlds system, we wanted to make a good impression and show off, and thats exactly what we did. First, we overdesigned a robot that impressed judges and looked nice to other teams, as well as making sure we had little goodies to hand out. But, we really worked on our pit presence, to make ourselves really known to other teams. We made posters detailing Iron Reign's season and hung them up; we brought LEDs and lights to give our tent that good old rustic Roman Feeling™; we had business cards to hand out; we went around and talked to other teams and took pictures of their robots. All of this served to make it feel as if Iron Reign was really *there*. While this eventually proved ineffectual to get picked, this still was a good strategy - it got us noticed - and we will feel its effects at Worlds. We still could've done more with the pit setup though, it would've helped to find a place for posters and the like beforehand, and we ran into some placement issues of our robot and award carts that irritated the safety officials. But, overall, 9/10 would do again. (We will)

    Judging

    Our judging didn't go that well. Our presentation was fine, we still had breaks and pauses like usual, and we got the majority of information across, but we didn't deliver on important information correctly. Our energy was a little low, we had a power outage while going over our outreach which distracted the judges, and on top of that, the judges' paradigms were a little closer to the engineering side of things. Now, this isn't necessarily a bad thing - having a skewed mindset makes a judge more likely to defend for some awards - but for an outreach-heavy team like ours, we were at a disadvantage for the Connect and Motivate awards. In the questioning, we only had one connect-related question, with the rest on Innovate and Design, so we knew we probably wouldn't be up for our usual awards from the get-go, which is a shame as we've gotten the Connect Award at every level of competition this year.

    That was the end of the night, so like all Good and Responsible Teams™, we went to bed early and got enough sleep to be rested for the next day /s.

    South Super Regionals Day Two, 2018

    South Super Regionals Day Two, 2018 By Ethan, Evan, Kenna, Charlotte, Austin, Karina, Janavi, Abhi, Tycho, Justin, and Christian

    Task: Complete the first day of competition at SSR

    After finishing judging and setup, all we had left to do was the entire robot game. Knowing this, we stayed until 12, tattooing pictures of Minions™ on each other. Thus, we were perfectly prepared for the tournament the next day.

    Match 5
    We won this match, 207-256. We mainly won due to the autonomous, our partner and ourselves scored 170 points and the other side couldn't catch up.
    Match 16
    We lost this match, 236-297. We suffered as a result of having a broken relic arm and not focusing on the end game. We really need a relic arm for Worlds.
    Match 23
    We lost this game, 412-105. We were up against two of the top ten teams in the tournament and we couldn't compete on any level. We didn't even get the balancing stone point because our robot turned off on the field.
    Match 29
    We won this game, 285-351. While we were outclassed in TeleOp, our combined autonomii were able to overcome that and give us a win.
    Match 38
    We lost this game, 109-286. We were outclassed on every level, and it didn't help that our robot was unresponsive. This was a wake up call for our team to improve.
    Match 49
    We lost this match, 572-221. This wasn't even close and was a huge disappointment.
    Match 56
    We lost this match, 196-374. Again, we underperformed in every aspect of the game and ended our day with a 2-5 record.

    Besides our subpar performance in the robot game, we were also interviewed by a team of judges that we guessed were responsible for the Innovate or Design awards. They asked a little more in-depth questions than what we were used to, but we were able to answer them effectively and demonstrate our engineering process. The judges were reasonably impressed by our robot - our design was fairly uncommon - and it made us canidates for the Innovate award by our estimation.

    Janavi, Karina, Abhi, and Tycho stayed up to work on driving and autonomous to prepare for the final day while the rest of us slept so that we would be restful and awake for the next day.

    South Super Regionals Day Three, 2018

    South Super Regionals Day Three, 2018 By Ethan, Evan, Kenna, Charlotte, Austin, Karina, Janavi, Abhi, Tycho, Justin, and Christian

    Task: Finish SSR and attend awards ceremony

    It was the final day. Tumbleweeds drifted over the land, rolling and turning through the abandoned Athens streets. Over the horizon, a dust cloud rose, brown and shifting and twisting, speckled with the detritus of an abandoned city, flashing and siezing, lighting up the city through its inky blackness, devoid of all light. Under these auspices, with the flashing lights of the looming cloud highlighting every crack, every pore of our grim, stone-cold faces, we trekked through these dark streets, against the cold, whipping winds blowing in, through the debris and detritus of the lost, fallen FTC teams that succumbed to the biting winds and the shooting lightning. Through these harrowing conditions, we perservered and arrived at the fabled Classic Center, the home of all southern FTC teams' dreams, and their doom.

    We started out with our 2-5-0 record, so we didn't have a great outlook on alliance selection or for the tournament in general. However, through our discussion the night before, we decided to give our newer team members a shot at driving and working on the robot. So, Justin and Karina became the main drivers for the day, since we didn't have much to lose.

    Match 70
    We lost this match, 379-267. Even though we lost, we did way better than expected, so this is still a win in our hearts. Had we executed our autonomous correctly, we could've won this match, or at least gotten closer and impressed more people.
    Match 78
    We won this match, 388-348. It definitely helped that we were partnered with the top team in our division, but it was certainly a morale booster overall. This ended the SSR with a 3-6 record.

    With the fresh feeling of defeat in our hearts, as we didn't stand a chance of actually getting picked, we went to a nice italian restruant and talked about potential plans while eating good food. If you ever have the chance, eat at Depalmas Italian Cafe.

    We walked back to the tournament, bellies full of prosciutto and cheese, reasonably not confident for our chances to advance to worlds. So, we sat in the stands, waiting, hoping that our names would be called (except for the Promote Award, ours is kind of embarrassing). As we slowly slipped into deep slumber, we heard a but a whisper from the announcer, "And the 2nd place Innovate Award goes to............Team 6832 Iron Reign!". And so, we advanced to Worlds, and rode off into the sunset.

    iMake 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.

    REVolution on Thingiverse

    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

    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

    2018 Worlds Day One

    2018 Worlds Day One By Ethan, Evan, Kenna, Austin, Charlotte, Abhi, Tycho, Karina, Justin, Janavi, and Shaggy

    Task: Present and play first match

    It was a dark, surprisingly non-humid, Houston morning. Tarballs blew through the parking lot from dusty, abandoned oil refineries down by the bay. One by one, phones went off in the hotel looming above the lot, waking up their inhabitants. In these rooms, their occupants dusted off their Bucees wrappers and Iron Reign shirts and stumbled to the tournament.

    The first day was relatively short, with a lot of waiting. There were two main parts of the day, presentation and first match.

    Presentation
    Our presentation went well. We were able to get all of our information across effectively and we got in-depth questions from all of the judges (including our first question about coding all season). Throughout questioning, we were able to hand off questions so that no individual member dominated the questioning time.
    One problem we had with the presentation was that the rooms were constructed within the competition hall with fabric. This made it so that sound did not carry very well within the rooms, and that sound could carry over from other rooms, so the judges had difficulty hearing us at some points depending on the speaker. Despite this, we're confident that the majority of the information came across.

    Game 1
    We won this game, 319-152. Both us and KNO3 outdid ourselves in robot game, scoring more in autonomous that our opponents did the entire match. In telop, we lagged behind, but there was already no catching up for our opponents.

    2018 Worlds Day Two

    2018 Worlds Day Two By Ethan, Evan, Kenna, Austin, Charlotte, Abhi, Tycho, Karina, Justin, Janavi, and Shaggy

    Task: Compete in robot game

    It was the beginning of Day 2. Our members rolled out of bed, covered in old Fiesta receipts and Chipotle wrappers. One by one, they stumbled onto their charter bus, unprepared for the new day.

    Game 26
    We lost this match, 213-401. Our robot wasn't working reliably on the field and we were still debugging issues. Because of this, there was only one true competing robot on blue, and it couldn't keep up against two bots.
    Game 34
    We won this match, 428-172. Both us and our partner had high-scoring autonomii and teleop, and we were able to score the relic while our opponents weren't.
    Game 55
    We won this match, 484-405. We were about evenly matched, but we were more than pushed over the top with the 180 penalty points from the other team. However, we were partnered with RedNek Robotics, the top team at the tournament, so we should've done better than a slight penalty win.
    Game 73
    We won this match, 459-441. At this point, we had gotten in the groove and were actually competitive in the robot game for once. We got 200+ points in autonomous *and* teleop, a feat that we'd never done before. While our competition was equally matched, we had a slight initial advantage that was never overcome.

    We also entered the block design competition this day. AndyMark released a form on their Twitter a few weeks before to enter, and we requested 64 blocks. We settled on a throne design, using a bread carver to add more details. We had teams from all over gravitate to our pit to sit in our chair and get help in their own designs.

    2018 Worlds Day Three

    2018 Worlds Day Three By Ethan, Evan, Kenna, Austin, Charlotte, Abhi, Tycho, Karina, Justin, Janavi, and Shaggy

    Task: Compete in robot game

    It was the beginning of Day 3. We awoke, covered in metal parts and broken servos, took our sleeping-caps off, and went off to the Houston Convention Center.

    Game 82
    We won this game, 467-442. This was personally, our best game. We went against the BLUE CREW and won, which was no small feat (they went undefeated until this match). On top of that, we completed a full cryptobox, which we had never done before.
    Game 99
    We lost this game, 254-333. Our autonomous didn't work well, so we lost a good amount of points. As well, we just couldn't keep up with the blue alliance in TeleOp.
    Game 116
    We lost this game, 431-492. Like the last, we just couldn't keep up with our opponents.
    Game 131
    We lost this game, 232-408. Our phone fell off our robot at the beginning and disconnected :(.

    See awards information here.

    2018-19 Connect and Outreach Strategy

    2018-19 Connect and Outreach Strategy By Ethan

    Task: Discuss Iron Reign's Awards Strategy for the Upcoming Season

    FTC is undergoing a series of changes next year that will most likely negatively impact Iron Reign's ability to advance to further levels. Given that there are about 5,400 teams in FTC for the 2017-2018 season and 256 teams advance to worlds, 4.7% of teams advanced to worlds this year. Next year however, the amount of teams will increase, but the amount of domestic teams advancing to worlds will stay the same. Effectively, the percentage of teams advancing to Worlds will decrease, so that some regions may lose advancement spots.

    On top of that, our region has been rumoured to become either a open or semi-open region next year. If so, we'll be facing the ultra-competitive teams from Austin like ViperBots, teams from Arkansas like TechHogs and DivaForce, and any other smaller regions. We've gone against all of these teams before in their respective regionals, and honestly, they generally perform much better than us. So, if this comes true, our chances of advancing to worlds decrease significantly.

    The best plan to advance is still a dual focus on awards and game. So, we need to up our game. Talking about our RV, while still impressive, has lost its luster with Dallas-area judges. We're still using the RV, and doing our normal outreach, but we plan to aggressively pursue business and engineering contacts. We've already received around $5,000 from individual donors, and received a separate $2,500 grant from a local, yet-to-be-named billionaire. In addition, members of our team are working at companies such as Verizon, ESi, Abbott, Parkland, and more; all the while gaining contacts in those industries.

    We have our work cut out for us, this year will be additionally challenging, losing one of our coders and one builder. Plus, TechDiff will be out for blood after their surprising loss in two regional tournaments last year. We're training people in the skillsets that we're losing out over the summer, and we're also seeking FRC teams to mentor (we want to flip the traditional dichotomy of FRC teams training FTC teams on its head). We really want to get to Worlds this year - its the last year that any of the original members are on the team, and we want to go out with a bang.

    Next Steps

    • Seek further business and engineering connections
    • Extend assistance for FIRST outreach
    • Continue team training
    • Continue RV outreach
    • Seek continued grants from TWC and other TX sponsors

    2018-2019 Recruitment

    2018-2019 Recruitment By Ethan

    Task: Recruit members for the upcoming robotics season

    At the end of last season, we had two members graduate, Austin and Tycho. Their upcoming "goodbye" posts will be posted here, the same as last year. So, we wanted to recruit at least one member to replace them. Recruitment methods that we had used in the past, such as posters and Townview recruitment seminars, had failed to gain any meaningful recruitment. So, we fell back on our secondary, having individual team members submit possible recruits, as well as recruiting from our JV team. This year, we already have Justin. Last year, we had Kenna and Abhi as a submitted recruit. The year before, we had Janavi and Austin.

    These prospective recruits are required to fill out a Google Form on our website, titled signup. We had this post stickied for the better part of last year. Of all the people who were asked to fill out this form, we had three people respond, with a fourth potential recruit being the younger sibling of our leaving members. Our current step is vetting the current recruits - we have two interested in coding, one in building, and one no-show. We're giving the recruits tasks to weed them out, the ones that are less experienced will be shunted back into our JV team.

    Next Steps

    We will recruit 1-3 members out of these recruits and teach them the other aspects that they don't have experience in: writing, code, tools, ect.