Articles by tag: journal

Articles by tag: journal

    Robotics UIL 2016

    Robotics UIL 2016 By Ethan, Evan, Caitlin, Darshan, Jayesh, Janavi, Trace, Max, Tycho, and Omar

    Task: Compete in UIL Robotics in Austin

    A bit of background:
    UIL is a Texas-specific organization that hosts competitions in both academic and athletic pursuits. This year, they ran a pilot program for Robotics, using the FTC rules and field from Res-Q. About 72 teams competed in the FTC-based competition, which then was split into two catagories. Unlike regular FIRST tournaments, the awards not earned by competition are given through nomination by other teams.

    • Mentor Recognition Award
    • Leadership Award
    • Creativity in Design Award
    • Gracious Professionalism Award
    • Play of the Day Award
    • Safety Award
    • Team Spirit Award
    On Wednesday, July 27, the team came down in a charter bus, with the MXP. That night, we did some last-minute working on the robot. [insert image here] The next day, we woke up early, and headed down to the Austin Convention Center. We pitched a tent and blow-up couch, and generally set up. We used the competition as an opportunity to promote our twitter. The first match, we did horrible. Our robot dug itself into the ground as if it were near the trench-lines of WW1. After giving us its best WW1 re-enactment, it started jettisoning parts, similar to how a Space Shuttle jettisons its external tank. Matches 2-5 were mostly uneventful. We only won two of them, but there were no similar dramatic happenings like match one. After match one, we atttempted to present our team to other teams, as we brought in a TV. A quick list of notable things that happened in this time period were:
    • Bringing one of the 3D printers inside and printing parts
    • Making a last-minute climber-holder
    • A bird flying into the convention center
    • Our presentation computer updating to Windows 10
    • Our robot falling off the mountain

    On Friday, we were not picked to be in the final matches, and unfortunately, we were not picked for any awards. We did, however, meet up with our school's FRC team and say hi, as their competition was starting. After the awards ceremony, we decided to leave. On the way back to the hotel, we noticed the Texas Workforce Commission building, which is one of our sponsors. So, we parked our RV up by the side of the building, and walked in. We talked to the receptionist, and within a few minutes, one of the TWC execs came down to talk to us and take pictures. We gave them a tour of our RV as well, and they seemed impressed, even if it was in post-tournament disarray.

    Reflections

    While this tournament was not our best tournament by a margin the size of the Mongol Empire circa 1279 C.E., we were able to interact with teams in Texas that we normally would not have, get exposure for the MXP all the way down I35, and talk to our one of our sponsors in person. As well, it gave us experience for the future and was a great teambuilding activity. If we get invited to UIL next year, we know what to do to win.

    Adding Blog Features

    Adding Blog Features By Ethan

    Task: Add Cool and New Blog Features

    I remember, vaguely, that someone on our team wanted to add a post counter for all the posts people appear in. And, today, I did it out of sheer boredom. And, here it is.

    {% assign eh = 1 %}
    {% assign dc = 1 %}
    {% assign ed = 1 %}
    {% assign or = 1 %}
    {% assign js = 1 %}
    {% assign cr = 1 %}
    {% assign dp = 1 %}
    {% assign mv = 1 %}
    {% assign tv = 1 %}
    {% assign jc = 1 %}
    {% assign inc = 1 %}
    {% for post in site.posts %}
      {% for name in post.rollcall %}
        {% if name == "Ethan" %}
          {% assign eh = eh | plus: 1 %}
        {% endif %}
        {% if name == "Dylan" %}
          {% assign dc = dc | plus: 1 %}
        {% endif %}
        {% if name == "Evan" %}
          {% assign ed = ed | plus: 1 %}
        {% endif %}
        {% if name == "Omar" %}
          {% assign or = or | plus: 1 %}
        {% endif %}
        {% if name == "Jayesh" %}
          {% assign js = js | plus: 1 %}
        {% endif %}
        {% if name == "Caitlin" %}
          {% assign cr = cr | plus: 1 %}     {% endif %}
        {% if name == "Darshan" %}
          {% assign dp = dp | plus: 1 %}
        {% endif %}
        {% if name == "Max" %}
          {% assign mv = mv | plus: 1 %}
        {% endif %}
        {% if name == "Tycho" %}
          {% assign tv = tv | plus: 1 %}
        {% endif %}
        {% if name == "Janavi" %}
          {% assign jc = jc | plus: 1 %}
        {% endif %}
      {% endfor %}
      {% assign inc = inc | plus: 1 %}
    {% endfor %}
    <ul>
      <li> Dylan Chorley - in {{dc}} posts</li>
      <li> Evan Daane - in {{ed}} posts</li>
      <li> Ethan Helfman - in {{eh}} posts</li>
      <li> Omar Ramirez - in {{or}} posts</li>
      <li> Caitlin Rogers - in {{cr}} posts</li>
      <li> Jayesh Sharma - in {{js}} posts</li>
      <li> Darshan Patel - in {{dp}} posts</li>
      <li> Maximillian Virani - in {{mv}} posts</li>
      <li> Tycho Virani - in {{tv}} posts</li>
      <li> Janavi Chadha - in {{jc}} posts</li>
    </ul>

    Now, this is not obviously the best code, there's probably a more efficient way than creating one variable per person. But, it works.
    We've been making improvements on the site since the season began - changing the theme, Caitlin's commits that updated the blog for the new season, and purging old member bios from the team, just like how Stalin purged political dissidents from pictures and sent them to gulags.

    Edit: We now have a Iron Reign stats page! We have spent a solid two hours debugging this so please appreciate it. We addded Austin, and cumulative personhours for team members and Iron Reign as a whole.

    Reflections

    We still need to work on the blog. At least for my computer, it takes a long time to load the actual site as it loads every single post made, so I'd like to add pagination. As well, I'd personally want to add a second theme for very easy readability, something like this.

    Arkansas State Competition 2016

    Arkansas State Competition 2016 By Ethan, Evan, Caitlin, Janavi, Jayesh, Omar, Darshan, Max, and Tycho

    Task: Compete in the 2016 Arkansas State Competition

    This year, to give our team a better chance of going to super-regionals for the first time, we decided to enter the Arkansas regional. We were actually pretty far ahead compared to our last seasons. We had a finished robot, a working autonomous, and good drivers.

    Upon arrival, we had to make some last minute changes to our robot in order to pass inspection, as it was too bumpy in the RV. So , we huddled in the school's band room and attached our side shields and team number, making it just in time for inspection. We set up our table for the competition as well.

    Upon arriving to the hotel, we realized that we hadn't really practiced our presentation at all, so we had to hold a last minute session until 12. After that, a few team members fell asleep for the next day, but most boarded the RV and worked on the robot and autonomous until ~2 in the morning.

    We woke up refreshed (totally), and went to the tournament. In order, we had: opening ceremony, the presentation, and then the four games. First, right before the presentation, we found that our robot, despite working the night before, now refused to accept any motor commands. This was due to the way our code handled controller events, so we had to change that last minute. Also, due to just having last minute practice in the presentation (and being tired), we didn't preform as well as we would have liked.

    The Game

    In the first match, we performed way better than we expected, and actually won the game. However, we discovered that our robot has a static issue due to the way the wheels slide, so we had to reboot it during the match.
    In the second match, we lost. This was partially due to the static issue and partially due to the fact that we were paired with an inexperienced team. We helped show them the ropes, however, and saw a lot of the origins of our team in them. We wish them the best and hope they can progress.
    In the third, fourth, and fifth match, we won all our matches, even though our static issue got worse. Our relatively consistent autonomous, paired with the beacon and ball scoring fared us well against our opponents. We need to build on these strengths, while also introducing end game flexibility with cap ball scoring.

    We did not get picked for alliances, even though we were in 8th place with a 4-1 record. this was probably a knock on our scouting and relation building with the other teams. We'll make sure to build on that for future competitions.

    Reflections

    We had issues at the tournament due to static and scouting issues. The scouting issue was particularly bad due to these reasons:

    • Staying on the RV and not interacting with other teams
    • Alliance negotiations were started too late
    • Misjudging other teams

    This tournament gave us valuable experience for the qualifiers we have coming up. We have now fixed the static and controller issues. We were also able to judge the progress of other teams and compare it to ours. By the time of the qualifier, we should have some advantages over the other teams.

    Judging and Awards

    Judging and Awards By Caitlin, Jayesh, Omar, Tycho, and Max

    Task: Increase chances to advance in judging

    In our competitions we really can't rely on our robot performing as well as it does in practice and our sparring matches with Imperial. If we're going to increase our chances of advancing from Regionals to Super-Regionals 90% of the time it's going to be from judging. We've always had rocky presentations in my opinion, but this year we're getting our energy up and trying to get everyone more interactive. We've heard that the organizers are having trouble getting enough judges, so it's likely the judges will be a little inexperienced. We're making a colored tab and blurb for each award to place at the front of our journal. We'll have a little paragraph on why we think we should be considered for each award, followed by a handful of key posts we believe back up our claim. Each award has a color, each post gets a number, and we place colored tabs (think these post-it flags) with a number written on the printed page.

    Reflections

    Judges don't have much time to inspect pages before a presentation, so it's the job of the first person who goes in to give the journal, a presentation copy (or 2 depending on the table space), and a short description of what's going on. This includes reference pages such as the awards and a copy of our scouting flier. Judges mostly listen and take notes during a presentation, so we don't want to overload them with pages to look at initially, but have enough information available to look through at the main judges meeting. The easier it is for a judge to get a sense of our team, the higher likelihood they will mention us in award considerations. This is a hard balance to strike, but the tabs served us well last year and I should have gotten them together again a while ago. Jayesh and Omar went through our tag page, picking the key ones to bring up. Tycho and Max continued working on their technical posts.

    2017 North Texas Regional

    2017 North Texas Regional By Ethan, Evan, Jayesh, Charlotte, Tycho, Caitlin, Max, Darshan, and Janavi

    Task: Win the North Texas regionals

    Summary: We won

    On Febuary 25, we drove our RV to W.E. Pete Ford Middle School, in Allen, TX. The tournament was split into two divisions, and for many of our members, this was our first time encountering that layout. We didn't have any of our team members going to Dean's List interviews this time. We still didn't have an operable cap-ball lift, and this was our first time using our flywheel shooter in a tournament setting.

    We did decently in our presentation, but it could have gone better. We made a few missteps in our presentation and had a few stumbles. However, we did a great job of presenting to the judges who were walking around. We would greet judges and attempt to present to them, ending up presenting to two separate groups of judges about our robot's design, helping low-income families in STEM fields, and our team history. As well, we talked to one of the FIRST directors, Ken Johnson, about our MXP, and we ended up bringing him out to it to show off.

    In the game, we did pretty well. We ended up 5th place, and got picked as 2nd pick for the 1st alliance. We ended up getting all the way to finals, but we didn't win due to the fact that the opposing alliance had Technical Difficulties on it. During the normal games, we won [3-1]. We had issues with our beacon-pressing erasers falling off, so we designed a new "eraser" out of foam tape with a layer of thick tape on top in order to still be able to press the button. Our robot did stop responding during one game, but compared to our previous experiences, that was actually pretty good.

    The reflections post can be viewed here.

    Regional Postmortem

    Regional Postmortem By Ethan, Caitlin, Austin, Jayesh, Omar, Darshan, Max, and Tycho

    Task: Analyse what we did right and wrong at regionals

    Scouting:

    Good

    • Detailed scouting sheets
    • Had good inter-team dynamic
    • Organized
    • Pre-scouted

    Bad

    • Not scouting matches
    • Didn't record matches
    • Scouting sheet on one computer
    • Only one scouting team

    Notes: While we did well with scouting, it could have gone off much better. We made some mistakes by accidentally scouting teams in the other division and not watching matches when we should have.

    Presentation:

    Good

    • Eventually got into a groove
    • 🔥🔥Darshan's sick beats🔥🔥
    • Emphasized MXP
    • We were entertaining

    Bad

    • Messed up the intro
    • Not about past achievements
    • Transition timing
    • Only one scouting team

    Notes: We need to work on the group dynamic and enthusiasm a bit more. As well, we're going to stick Darshan under the cart so he can pop out with those 🔥🔥sick beats🔥🔥.

    To-do

    Promotion:

    • Need to make a reveal video
    • Need to advertise on social media
    • Design booth for super-regionals
    • Write more blog posts
    • Promote & Outreach videos
    • Banner holder designs

    Design & Programming:

    • Fix robot shooting accuracy
    • Replace erasers with silicone
    • Cap the ball
    • Robot vision
    • Build 2nd spinner
    • Model the robot

    Dinner Discussions

    Dinner Discussions By Caitlin, Max, Tycho, Jayesh, Darshan, and Evan

    Task: Set last practices' priorities

    Many members were out of town this break but we still managed to make a good deal of progress. What we forgot to do was post about it. Github kept track of code edits and we have other records of the practices, so we have a list of 11 articles to be written by this Sunday at the latest. Tomorrow's practice (Saturday March 18th) will be focused on:

    • Driver practice
    • Presentation practice
    • Staging as much as possible for packing

    Reflections

    Each member is assigned an article for this weekend and we won't be taking up practice time for this. The list was originally written on my plate after I had pizza, but it's now being sent in our chat and updated as people write. Omar posted his first, an hour before I'm writing this.
    Also: Ethan - Please. Don't use backslashes. I have to edit your posts 90% of the time because your paths break in the tag index pages.

    Beautiful. Truly.