Articles by tag: connect

Articles by tag: connect

    Robot On a Hoverboard - Try 1

    Robot On a Hoverboard - Try 1 By Caitlin, Max, Tycho, Darshan, Omar, Evan, Ethan, and Jayesh

    Task: Try to drive the hoverboard with the competition bot

    In the middle of Saturday's event we decided it would be a GREAT idea to put the competiton robot on the hoverboard and try to drive it around. Theoretically if we got it centered correctly it could only drive forward and backwards. We could extend the cliff hanger to move our center of gravity forwards, and then retract to bring it back.

    Reflections

    We were able to make the board speed up by tilting the cliff-hanger out and extending it, but we couldn't control it enough to completely stop it or keep it steady. We believe that the robot frame isn't completely rigid and is torquing at the center, making the robot unbalanced left/right. Since it's only slightly off balance we can't really adjust it by hand. It seems doomed to drive in circles forever. We tried to turn the robot to a correct alignment by driving with the main treads a little, but the change in center of gravity was too dramatic. The robot quickly veered into Evan, who was sitting nearby.

    Day 2 of iMake

    Day 2 of iMake By Caitlin, Max, Tycho, and Omar

    Task: Continue presenting at iMake

    Day 1 was a huge success, and we carried that over into the Sunday presentations too. There were a lot of common questions we noticed from Saturday, including levels of robotics competitions and the LEGO EV3 system, and we were able to answer these with more clarity after hearing them so often. A few papers were set up on our table outlining the various FIRST competition levels. These helped us easily reference the multiple acronyms FIRST uses for everything, which can be confusing to anyone who hasn't known and competed under them since they were 11 years old.

    Reflections

    Like Saturday, we interacted with what felt like a constant stream of people. Many were families with kids in elementary and middle school with varying experience in robotics. Some kids had competed in FLL or knew those who had, while others hadn't heard of the systems before. The balancing bot "Gyro Boy" was a good attention grabber when the main FTC bot wasn't doing anything, and it was helpful to compare the two, how Gyro Boy used graphical programming and was completely autonomous, while the main bot used a text language but was controlled by a driver. This almost immediately prompted the kids to ask if they could drive, and Omar showed them the ropes. Younger kids were only shown the drive controls, while the older ones could be taught some of the more interesting tape measure commands. Since the hand was still taped onto the cliff hook many took the opportunity to wave to their siblings and gave high fives to anyone near. However, the robot seemed to be disconnecting more often than it had Saturday, and was hidden to the side so it wouldn't be asked about.

    When we brought out Argos, the color following robot, it seemed like every other volunteer took a minute or two to pick up the target and watch the camera follow the movements. Tycho, Max, and Omar traded off on the controls and occasionally let Argos drive too, in order to show how he could back up when too close, and catch up when lagging. It had taken us the beginning of the day to fix the phone mount, but the extra effort was definitely worth it. However unwieldy Argos may be (he is definitely suited to outdoor/large open area events) he is definitely a crowd pleaser.

    Sumobot Tips and Tricks

    Sumobot Tips and Tricks By Tycho

    Let's assume you are building a LEGO Mindstorms or Vex IQ based Sumobot, but you want to skip some of the basic mistakes beginners will make. Here are some tips and tricks.

    • Know the rules. It's silly to get disqualified because you didn't pay attention to the rules. Know the size and weight limits. Know the allowed construction materials and techniques. Know the startup behaviors. For example, your robot must not move for 5 seconds after you activate it. This simple rule has tripped up many competitors. And make sure you get to the competition on time to register and get your robot inspected for weight, size and any other requirements.
    • Stay on the field. For this you will almost certainly need at least one light sensor to detect the ring's white edge. We highly recommend two such light sensors placed at the front corners of your robot. This will increase your chances of detecting the edge when coming at it from an angle. You can also adjust your retreat behavior so the robot will be less likely to exit the ring. A retreat behavior usually consists of backing up and turning back toward the center of the ring or scanning for your opponent. You can back up curving away from the sensor that detected the edge first. A third edge detector could be placed at the back of your robot - but this is almost never needed. It would be only useful if you have a behavior that could trigger backing up when the rear of your robot is close to the edge. Theoretically you could detect the edge when being pushed backward by your opponent and try to twist out of the way, but we've never witnessed anyone pulling off this advanced behavior.
    • Build to the maximum weight for the competition. If your bot is heavier than your competitor's, you will have an advantage in traction and with inertia. You will be harder to push around and can more likely push them around. We've seen teams use extra unpowered motors to help maximize weight. Use a scale to be sure you don't exceed the allowed weight.
    • Build compact. Your robot should be as small and dense as possible. Air gaps within your robot and on the exterior should be kept to a minimum. The larger your robot is, the more likely that your opponent will contact a part of your robot far from its center of mass. When it pushes against this part, it will very easily turn your robot in a different direction. Most likely this will be to your disadvantage. You will also be very unlikely to push your opponent in the correct direction when in this condition. Also, the rules say that the first robot to have any part touch the surface that the ring is sitting on is out. If you have a large robot, it is much more likely that part of it will touch-out.
    • Build Low. The lower your center of gravity, the less likely your opponent will be able to topple you or force your wheels to lose traction.
    • Build a Skirt or Shield. A Sumo Shield is a smooth ramp that decends from the front of your robot down to the surface of the ring. The purpose is to create a wedge that will go under your opponent when you come into contact. The wedge will lift your opponent, transferring their weight to your robot. As a result your wheels can increase traction while theirs will decrease. A skirt is a shield that surrounds your entire robot, making it look like a cone or pyramid, so it works wherever the contact point is. But a skirt can be much harder to engineer. They have to be very sturdy, not impede your own movement, and not get in the way of any sensors you might use. Skirts and Shields also increase the size of your robot, so you have more risk of touching-out. Particularly if you have a hinged shield. Hinged shields are great for staying as low as possible to get under your opponent, but they need to be prevented from dropping down when over the edge of the ring. A floating skirt is a wall built around your robot that is only loosely connected or not connected at all to your robot. Instead your robot pushes the skirt around the ring and the skirt's weight keeps it flat against the floor. This makes it unlikely that your robot's motions will create a gap that your opponent can get under. And if your opponent does get under the skirt, they haven't necessarily started lifting your robot to steal traction. You could also have a sensor that detects if your skirt is lifting and back away when that happens.

    We've seen well-engineered robots with only edge sensors win big competitions. A solid, heavy and low robot with a great skirt will conquer when none of its opponents has the same features. Once you are in this category you can consider advanced tips.

    • Locate your prey. Actively seeking your opponent creates an advantage. It's also fun. Usually a forward-facing ultrasonic sensor is a good choice. You can scan for your opponent by making your robot turn in place while checking the sensor to see if it detects something close. Calculate the maximum distance your opponent can be from your ultrasonic sensor. Simply place your robot backed up to the edge of the ring and measure the distance from the front of your ultrasonic sensor to the opposite edge of the ring. Subtract the minimum size of an opposing robot. For LEGO sumos that would be about 6 in. or 15 cm. If you see anything closer than this you can assume that you've detected your opponent. (Or you've detected humans if you've failed to keep everyone at a proper clearing distance from the ring, including the operators) Continue your turn for a fraction of a second and turn on your charging behavior. Make sure you are aware of the minimum distance your sensor can deal with. You will probably want to recess your sensor from the front of your robot so that it will continue to register your opponent even when you are right up against each other.
    • Organize your software. Beginners will often design software that will do one thing at a time and be unable to react until those things are complete. For example, on detecting an opponent, charge for X rotations of the wheel. While the robot is trying to complete those rotations it's not looking at sensors, so it doesn't detect the ring and drives off if it was too close to the edge. We will post a complete lesson on designing software that always lets the highest priority behaviors (back-away-from-the-edge) interrupt the lower priority behaviors (scan-for-prey).

    Mobile Learning Lab Part 1 - Demolition

    Mobile Learning Lab Part 1 - Demolition By Evan, Max, Tycho, and Austin

    Task: Redo the inside of the recreational vehicle

    Mr.Virani recently aquired an RV so it could be used as a mobile learning center for the Dallas City of Learning this summer. To convert it from someplace you might live on a long road trip to somewhere you could teach science and technology to children means stripping out carpeting, removing walls, and laying down easily cleanable floors and standing height work benches. We also have to put in a lot of computer equipment and 3D printers that Big Thought is providing. It's going to be a long proccess.

    Max and Tycho have completed a lot of demolition. They've removed the bed revealing a strange trap door that we need to look under. The table and chairs are gone as are some of the cabinets. The sofa was metal framed and too big to move out of the door or windows, so they had to cut it apart with bolt cutters and grinders. They ripped out most of the bathroom relying on the big sawzall. The mess of remaining plumbing and exposed electrical wiring looks very scary. And the pile of demoed materials has already grown quite a large:

    Dallas City of Learning

    Dallas City of Learning By Ethan, Evan, Jayesh, Omar, Caitlin, Max, and Tycho

    Task: Teaching children how to use robots

    On 18 June, we went to the J. Erik Jonsson Library to inspire children to hopefully go into STEM-related careers. We were invited for their annual City of Learning event. We talked to about 200 people about robotics and most loved it - especially children. We showed them Minion, Argos, the ball-flipper, and Geb (the new name for our FTC bot).

    We presented alongside a kids' robotics sponsor and Polyprinter.

    Reflections

    We got a good amount of people and got a good amount of kids interested in our robots. It was fun to talk with the other vendors at the fair, interested parents, and hobbyists.

    Mobile Learning Lab Part 2 - Roof

    Mobile Learning Lab Part 2 - Roof By Tycho, Max, Matthew, and Austin

    Task: Clean the roof of the RV

    We'd noticed that the roof was very grimey looking from the small strip you could see at the top of the side walls, but we hadn't been up there to look at it. Finally climbing the ladder we confirmed it. The roof is a very dark brown. We believe it is simply dirt that has caked into the sticky/gummy surface. It's probably not supposed to be so sticky - it kind of seems like a layer of decaying caulk laid over the rubber roof. We confirmed that this layer should be white. It covers the black EPDM rubber roof that serves as a weather barrier. Because the roof is so dark, it absorbs tons of sunlight, making it much hotter inside. We needed to clean it.

    So we spent today powerwashing the roof. In the morning Matthew (from SEM's FRC team) came over with his father's power washer and we got about 1/2 of the roof partially clean. When Matthew had to leave at noon, Mr. Virani purchased another more powerful washer and we continued washing until dark. Austin, from the other FTC team at our school joined us in the early afternoon. So now all three robotics teams at SEM have contributed time to the mobile learning lab.

    Here you can see the dramatic difference that powerwashing has made. We hope this will cool the vehicle enough that we can operate with only the roof airconditioners so we can turn off the main engine while on station.

    Mobile Learning Lab Part 3 - Flooring

    Mobile Learning Lab Part 3 - Flooring By Evan, Max, Tycho, Dylan, Ethan, Caitlin, Darshan, and Austin

    Carpet ripping is not fun. The carpet is tacked down with so many staples that is is not easy to remove. It tends to rip around the stables leaving nubs of fibers and then we have to attack the stables with pliers and staple pullers. Getting it out from under the edges of walls and the slide out is really hard. And we've gouged the subfloor where removing the old kitchen and bathroom vinyl required heavy work with scrapers. We tried putting down some vinyl planks, and those are much tougher to work with than you might guess. We only got a small portion of the floor demoed today. It's kind of daunting how much work this is. In the end it will be all worth it because we will have provided a place for children to learn skills that will help them in their future working lives.

    Mobile Learning Lab Part 4 - Update

    Mobile Learning Lab Part 4 - Update By Ethan, Max, Tycho, Caitlin, Jayesh, Darshan, Austin, Matthew, Evan, Dylan, Omar, and Trace

    Task: Covert a 1998 RV into the Dallas City of Learning Lab

    The RV exterior


    We have finished the majority of the renovation of the Dallas City of Learning Lab. We've finished rebuilding the roof, going throught the plumbing (including the suspiciously secretive water tank), and also replacing the entirety of the flooring.

    to

    The RV interior

    to

    A full tour of the RV pre-renovation can be found here.

    Changes

    • Removed restroom
    • Replaced carpet with laminate
    • Added widescreen TVs
    • Added black workbenches
    • Removed table
    • Removed cabinet to make room for more technology
    • Removed some 90s decor
    • Removed bedside tables and cabinets
    • Added 3D printer
    • Removed bed
    • Removed couch
    • Removed 90s decals
    • Added shelving
    • Cleaned a decade of muck off of it

    Reflections

    We've put in >250 hours working on this RV. It's going to become a mobile robotics lab so that we can inspire kids to enter STEM-related careers and hobbies. Uaing this van, the team can reach out to children who otherwise would not have the oppurtunity to learn how to build and program robots, as well as gaining skills related to that, such as using a 3D printer.

    MXP - Mobile Learning Lab Recap

    MXP - Mobile Learning Lab Recap By Jayesh and Caitlin

    DCOL Mobile Tech XPerience (MXP) Begins Service

    Written by Jayesh Sharma
    Edited by Caitlin Rogers

    Iron Reign has been actively supporting Dallas City of Learning (DCoL) for a few years now. Big Thought (managing partner for DCoL) received a grant from Best Buy to support STEM learning over the summer by taking STEM opportunities into communities so that kids with reduced access to transportation wouldn't be left out. The original idea was to pack a cargo van with technology that could be dropped off at community centers, libraries, schools, churches and other public facilities where kids could experiment with tools and technologies that would'nt normally be available.

    But Big Thought, true to the name, decided to scale up the vehicle into a true mobile learning laboratory. Because the budget remained tight, they needed to create a mobile classroom on a shoestring. So the new idea was to repurpose a used RV large enough so that 12 students could productively work on board while many more could participate inside the visited location. While Big Thought handled putting a sweet new skin on the vehicle, we volunteered our time to renovate the interior.

    When we received the vehicle, it was cramped on the inside, with everything needed for a portable family living space. We removed a bed, couch, and restroom (complete with bathtub) and opened the space up for more gadgets. We tore out extra cabinets, shelving, tables, chairs, light fixures and mirrors. We ripped out the old carpet and replaced it with wood-grain vinyl, installed wide screen instructor's monitors over the driver's seat, added work benches along the perimeter and created a bay to hold four 3D printers. Max is still working on a 3D print server so that the printers can be access through the on-board wifi. We spent a whole day power-washing the roof to reveal the original white surface that could reflect away more of the sunlight so the air conditioners would have a chance against the Texas summer heat. On the inside we painted the walls and cabinets black and added diamond plate trim and LED lighting to give it a tech/industrial feel.

    Including the time it took to clean about a decade’s worth of grime and dust, the team has put one and a half months and over 350 person hours of work into this vehicle, resulting in the mobile technology lab that went into service last Thursday. Throughout the course of renovating this vehicle, we affirmed the value that STEM education has for our society. Our building experience with robotics was a great advantage when working on the RV’s design and construction. The team’s engineering and design skills were put to the test and our efforts have been very kindly received. The team will continue to help DCoL spread STEM opportunities and values to those who otherwise wouldn’t have had access to them. Next Saturday we'll be going back to the Frontiers of Flight Museum to staff the vehicle for the DCOL Turn-Up there. We hear the vehicle will be pulled inside the hanger. Museum admission is free that day, we hope to see you there!

    Turn Up! at Frontiers of Flight with DCOL

    Turn Up! at Frontiers of Flight with DCOL By Janavi, Darshan, Jayesh, Caitlin, Max, Tycho, Omar, and Austin

    Inspiring 1,000 People to Turn Up with STEM

    Written by Janavi Chadha

    The Dallas City of Learning Organization held a Turn Up event at the Frontiers of Flight Museum, where we staffed the Mobile XPerience (MXP) complete with laptops, 3D printers, and LEGO SumoBots. Outside the vehicle, Caitlin and I taught kids how to create 3D models of houses using SketchUp. Then we let the kids bring their designs to life by designing and 3D-Printing keychains.

    On board Max managed the bank of four 3D printers while Tycho and Austin taught kids to build virtual structures on our Minecraft server with the education version of the software.

    Out to the side of the MXP, we set up a ring for the sumo lego robots to battle in, teaching the kids how robots can be programmed to react to the world around them. Jayesh, Omar and Darshan manned that station and also demonstrated our FTC competition robot.

    Omar ran minion (our robot walking companion) around the museum Pied-Piper fashion, leading kids back to our activity stations in and around the vehicle. On the way he taught kids to operate the robot with its touch and rotation sensor based leash. At one point he took minion over to challenge the airport's 700lb bomb disposal robot. That robot was not impressed.

    A few more pics of the MXP in the museum while we are striking the exhibit:

    Person-hours note: The night before Max and Tycho spent 5 hours getting the vehicle ready.

    Mobile Learning Lab in Action

    Mobile Learning Lab in Action By Caitlin, Max, and Tycho

    Task: Deploy the Mobile Learning Lab to camps and teach kids

    The RV has been fully remodeled and set up with netbooks and 3D printers, so we have been making the rounds and teaching at camps and events. We try to limit the number of kids on board to under 15 or 12 for safety reasons. It'd be nearly impossible to fit more kids and be able to effectively teach.

    Reflections

    When we first drove up to one deployment of the RV there were a lot of kids staring, because honestly who wouldn't; the RV is huge and bright. We couldn't set up fast enough before people wanted to come inside. We split the group into modelling and robotics and got started. In the back, robotics kits were scattered on the floor, and groups of two or three were following a video to build a 5 minute bot (it generally took them longer though). When the bots were built we had a crash course in the EV3 programming environment and helped them think analytically about how they wanted the robots to behave when on different sections of the sumo. We didn't give them a program to use, they told us what to put. The result? An exciting free for all complete with screaming cheers and flipping of bots (video above).

    Max and I led the modelling with the basic "build a house" tutorial below. After they got the hang of that we set the software sizing up so they could make a keychain and print it. Some people got really into their house and ended up emailing the file to themselves to continue later.

    Meeting with The Texas Workforce Commission

    Meeting with The Texas Workforce Commission By Jayesh, Omar, Max, Tycho, Darshan, Evan, Ethan, Janavi, Caitlin, Trace, and Dylan

    Task: Connect with our sponsors in the Texas Workforce Commission

    Following the conclusion of the state UIL competition, Iron Reign noticed the Texas Workforce Commission building. Given that the organization was one of the team's generous sponsors, we wanted to show our gratitude and headed into the building. Upon greeting the clerk, we made it apparent that we didn't wish to disturb anybody, but wanted to see if anyone was available from the Commission who we could thank for helping us with FTC. There was an enthusiatic response, as immediately several officials, including Commissioner Ruth Hughs came down to meet with us (I guess we got really lucky with our timing). Upon inquiry, we instantly gave them a brief overview of why we were in Austin (#UIL) and what our team was built on. We spoke on mechanical aspects, such as the robot itself, and also spoke about our several outreach events. We answered questions about FIRST and the general consensus was impressed with the dedication and work we had put into the competition and team. As a tangent to the amount of work we had put into FIRST, Hughs spoke to us about expanding the role of organizing and growing the general workforce. She told us how it was the work of people like us that made her job of organizing us worth it. She also advised we meet with Chairman Andres Alcantar, a big supporter of STEM, as he wasn't in town. After talking about all these topics, we invited the officals to come inside the Mobile Tech Xperience and see what it was like for the kids we taught using the vehicle.

    Reflections

    Getting the opportunity to meet with one of the larger organizations in Texas was very educational for us. While we helped the Commission better understand the investment they've made in FIRST, we also learned yet another aspect of our future in the American workforce. The connection we built with the Commission emphasized the role of STEM and robotics in our future. Driving the robot around, while showing off the multiple components on it, we gave the officials plenty to think about in terms of future opportunities. We hope to take the lessons learned at the TWC and use it to build on our future endeavors. Thank you to the TWC for having us!

    Outreach and Sponsors

    Outreach and Sponsors By Caitlin, Darshan, Jayesh, Omar, Ethan, Evan, Janavi, Tycho, and Max

    Task: Analyze how finances effect recognition

    It's always a challenge to convince sponsors that we are a worthy team for their grants, visibility in FIRST and the public makes it easier. Teams whose schools have the finances and space to host a tournament are recognized by their peers and even get a boost to Regionals. However, our space is limited, and we wouldn't be able to pull off a quality event if we tried to host. Because of this our opportunities to get noticed by frequent veteran judges are limited, and we step up in outreach to make up for this.

    Working with the Mobile Tech XPerience has been a huge amount of fun and a great learning experience, while being extremely visible to say the least. The MXP works to provide equal access to STEM technology to disadvantaged neighborhoods, and we teach modeling and NXT robotics. We get first shot at staffing the vehicle because of how closely we worked with them in the creation. The team was recognized in a CW33 Class Act for our efforts, and this is an incredible help to our sponsorship efforts. We want to tell potential sponsors that Iron Reign is a team that will put everything into getting out and interacting, and we have the evidence to show that.

    MXP Transportation

    MXP Transportation By Darshan, Caitlin, Jayesh, Omar, Ethan, Evan, Janavi, Tycho, and Max

    Oh the places you'll go!

    We attend many events throughout the DFW area, taking our robot and whatever else we need along with us. This has often puts a strain in how much we can actually bring with us to FIRST events and STEM events in general. Over this past summer the team helped refurbish an old 90s RV to use as a Mobile Tech XPerience to drive around and help bring STEM to kids. Since the team put in the work to revamp the RV and worked so closely with the nonprofits involved, Big Thought gave us first dibs at using it when it's not out on deployments during the weekends. The MXP gives us a way to transport us and our materials to places that would otherwise seem unlikely. We can also use the MXP in collaboration with DISD to fund trips out of state and other competitions.

    With the MXP at our disposal, bringing it to events can not only provide benefits to ourselves but also to other kids and teams. Plus it looks cool.

    Nov. 21 Scrimmage

    Nov. 21 Scrimmage Written, but not attended by Ethan By Omar, Darshan, Jayesh, Max, Tycho, Caitlin, Janavi, Austin, and Ethan

    Task: To test our robot and gauge other team's progress

    First, the team arrived at the Virani's house and boarded the MXP for a Arkansas dry run. We learned that it's pretty bumpy for passengers when you're driving on the highway, making the experience a bit uncomfortable. We'll need to fix that for the 8-hour drive to Arkansas.

    When we arrived at the scrimmage, it was laid out like a normal tournament, though there were only nine teams to compete against. The matches were laid out so that each team competed five times, but only four of those five matches counted towards your actual score. During the first match, things were looking up. Our catapult and intake system were looking great, we had scored two or three balls, and our driving was pretty nice. We ended up winning that match. Then, everything went downhill. First, we had a issue with a loose chain, which we were able to fix. After that, however, our robot's catapult jammed so we had no useful way to score. This led to us losing our other three matches.

    Despite all this, we ended up 6th place out of nine teams, which isn't *horrible*. We were also picked for an alliance.

    Reflections

    There are teams very ahead of us, so we need to step our game up for Arkansas. Our next goals, in order, should be to fix the chain system permanently, stop the catapult from jamming, add the beacon presser, and add the yoga-ball lifter. However, our collection system was really nice and worked >95% of the time. The only problem with it was that balls occasionally got stuck on top of the robot delivering to the catapult.

    Autonomous Setup Options

    Autonomous Setup Options By Tycho

    Task: Create a basic autonomous

    Autonomous is one of the things that we tend to be weak on every year, and this year, we really want to get to super-regionals. So, to start off this year's autonomous, we first mapped out a potential path for the robot on the field. We then followed up with programming, using our previous methods like driveForward and driveCrab. So now, we have a basic autonomous program in which we can push the cap ball and attempt to shoot the vortex.

    Reflections

    We still have a long way to go in working on our autonomous - we need to be more accurate in shooting the vortex, we would like to hit the beacons, and we want to get parking points as well.

    QD Academy Scrimmage

    QD Academy Scrimmage By Ethan, Evan, Tycho, Max, Darshan, Caitlin, and Omar

    Task: To test our robot in a tournament setting

    On Dec. 18, we came to QD Academy to test our robot under tournament conditions. At Arkansas, we had frequent static issues on the mats provided, and we had trouble recreating the static in practice to prevent it, so we wanted to try to find a cure for it. As well, we've been improving our autonomous code, so we were excited to try that.

    We did well at the scrimmage, compared to the teams that we went against (4-1). We were lucky to already have been to a tournament - and a regional at that, so we ended up placing 3rd, and our sister team placed 5th. However, we still ran into new, and worse, issues. First, the static issue reemerged, and became worse than when we were at the Arkansas tournament. As well, when we bumped into the beacons with enough speed, our robot would turn off, and we would have to completely reboot the robot at the end of the match.

    To solve the static issue we had bought Staticide(TM), but we forgot to bring it, so we have no idea if it works for our robot or not. We tried rubbing down our robot with dryer sheets, but it just exacerbated the issue if it did anything at all. The beacon issue seemed also to be caused by the static discharge, but we haven't determined it conclusively yet.

    Reflections

    We scored a lot of points, but we need to optimize our autonomous for both sides to score even more. As well, we still need to solve the persistent static problem, as it will really harm us in January if it continues.

    DISD STEM Expo

    DISD STEM Expo By Ethan, Evan, Janavi, Jayesh, Caitlin, and Max

    Task: Present to kids at the DISD STEM Expo

    Every year, DISD hosts a STEM expo for local companies and groups to present to kids, in hope of inspiring them to go into a STEM career. So, for our booth, we drove our RV into the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center to present. We had three activities run by Iron Reign.

    The first activity was helping kids 3D print keychains using Google Sketchup. We had nine laptops set up for them to use, all hooked up to four Flashforge Finders. When we first got to the Expo, we discovered that two of our printers had filament issues, so we were running on half capacity the whole day. Even then, we probably helped about 50 kids with their keychains.

    In the front of the RV, we had laptops running MinecraftEdu, which features having a teacher have admin control, moderation, a dedicated server, and no PvP. MinecraftEdu is supposed to help kids with problem solving, bolster their creativity, and assist them with working with other people.

    Outside of the RV, we were running a robotics workshop where kids could program Lego Mindstorms to do various activities, including robot sumo. Our coach and a few volunteers(from one of our sponsors, BigThought) were working that section.

    Inspire Award

    Inspire Award By Tycho, Jayesh, Caitlin, Omar, Max, Darshan, Evan, Ethan, Janavi, and Charlotte

    1st Place at North Texas Regional Championship

    Iron Reign members left to right are Ethan Helfman (Build, Communications), Janavi Chada (Programming, Communications), Tycho Virani (Programming Lead, Main Driver), Jayesh Sharma (Business Lead, Build, Communications), Darshan Patel (Build), Caitlin Rogers (Communications Lead, Logistics, Business) and Charlotte Leakey (Programming, Logistics), with Evan Daane (from BTW, Build, Photography) in repose. Not shown: Max Virani (Design Lead, Programming), Omar Ramirez (Build Lead) and Rohit Shankar (Programming).

    Wow, we did it. I mean, we were going for it, but wow - we did it! Out of 118 teams competing in our region, we got 1st Place Inspire (Top Award) at our regional championship! We finally earned the coveted Inspire Banner. We've been building toward this for 7 years! Ever since we started as an FLL team.

    Our total awards included Inspire 1st, Finalist Alliance 2nd, Motivate 2nd, Connect 3rd, Innovate 3rd.

    Not going to Disney World yet

    We are now qualified for the Texas State UIL Robotics Championship and the 12 State South Super Regionals. And we are preparing with the goal of making it to the World Championship. We have an extended season and while some of us have been to super regionals before, this is the first time the whole team gets to go. Our coffers are empty, we need a whole new round of fundraising to keep up the progress for the extended season. We need your help! Please consider contributing to support our extended season and help us represent North Texas at Supers.

    In case you don't know how the game works, it's broken into a 30 second autonomous phase followed by a 2 minute driver controlled period. Two alliances of two robots each compete in each match. Here is our division winning match with alliance mates Technibots. Autonomous:

    And Tele-Op:

    Promote Video 2017

    Promote Video 2017 By Max

    Task: Create a video outlining Iron Reign's outreach

    We have had a lot of interest garnered towards the STEM outreach the team has committed to. When we found that FTC encouraged the creation of a video outlining the STEM outreach we had done, we saw it as an opportunity to show others a general overview of our activities. With Max's excellent voiceover, we made a video talking about how long the team's been at it, the various STEM expos/events we do, and how the problem of summer learning loss lead us to making the Mobile Tech Xperience.

    Reflections

    Making a connection and advancing our community has always been a priority with our team. This video helps give us a short summary to show parents and children the benefit of commiting to the STEM field, specifically in robotics. We started because of two parents who decided to start a robotics team with some energetic middle school 7 years back, and look at us now. We want to tell these interested parents and kids about how their dedication can create something special, and we're doing that by using ourselves and FIRST as examples. We plan to spread this video to those looking to get into FIRST, or even those simply interested in what our team does besides build complicated contraptions.

    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.

    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

    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:

    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 I'm confident that we'll have a solid bot. I'm 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.

    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.

    Oh No! Dying glyphs

    Oh No! Dying glyphs By Abhi

    Problem:

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

    Reflections

    Since we noticed this very early in the season, we have a lot of time to fix it. That being said, we hope to make a model soon to resolve the issue.

    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.

    Fixing the glyph breaking

    Fixing the glyph breaking By Abhi

    Problem: Stop Destroying Glyphs

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

    Model:

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

    Result:

    Machine Vision Goals – Part 1

    Machine Vision Goals – Part 1 By Tycho

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Tools for Experimenting

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

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

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

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

    Candidate Pipeline

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Wheel Protector Correction

    Wheel Protector Correction By Abhi

    Problem: Wheel Guard Innacuracy

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

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

    Correction:

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

    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 10 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 Coache's 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.

    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.

    How to make a part in PTC Creo Parametric

    How to make a part in PTC Creo Parametric By Abhi

    Problem: How to Make a Part in Creo Parametric

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    End result:

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

    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.