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Iron Reign

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

Articles by section: team

Iron Reign earns FTC World Championship Motivate Award

22 Apr 2018

Iron Reign earns FTC World Championship Motivate Award

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Turn Up! at Dallas Love Field

23 Jun 2018

Turn Up! at Dallas Love Field By Justin, Ethan, Charlotte, Kenna, Abhi, and Evan

Task: Present at the Dallas Love Field for the DCOL Turn Up! Event

Every year, the Frontiers of Flight Museum hosts Turn Up!, an event where kids can learn about science and math. Once again, we brought the MXP equipped with 3D printers, Lego sumobots, and our world class FTC robot, Kraken. We ran the sumobots on a table outside of the MXP and 3D printing inside. We also demoed Kraken and Argos, which were great attention grabbers to get kids interested in the MXP. The kids enjoyed programming the Lego sumobots and battling them against each other, as well as creating their very own customized 3D printed key chain. The 3D printers were very busy this year so we had to create extra space outside of the MXP for more laptops with the 3D printing software.

We drove Kraken around the exhibition room and talked to many interested parents about the joy of robotics. While we talked to the parents, someone driving the robot would showcase the capabilities of Kraken by bringing kids glyphs and shaking hands with the relic arm. Kraken was great for showing families what FTC is about. We also had Argos for display but the steering was broken so we didnt drive it. Around 1100 people turned up to the event and we talked to most of them about what we do here at Iron Reign. Turn Up was a great opportunity to introduce kids to the world of STEM and robotics and we hope to have more opportunities like this in the future.

2018-19 Connect and Outreach Strategy

30 Jun 2018

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. 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

14 Jul 2018

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.

Central Public Library Outreach Event

14 Jul 2018

Central Public Library Outreach Event By Ethan, Kenna, Charlotte, and Evan

Task: Present at the J. Erik Jonsson Public Library

This Saturday, we drove down to the J. Erik Jonsson library to present at the Dallas City of Learning Discovery Fair. Being on the second floor. we couldn't really bring our RV without significant structural damage. So, we brought our sumo-bot equipment to the library, as well as a few of our new and old bots, such as cartbot, bigwheel, and Kraken. We're eventually going to do a writeup on these bots, but a brief summary of each are:

  • cartbot - We took our old rolling cart and attached motors to it so that it can be driven around. We also attached an air cannon that can shoot cans at kids to enertain them (and us).
  • bigwheel - An attachment that can be dragged around by other robots and hold items.
  • Kraken - Our 2017-18 competition robot.

We presented for about 4 hours, talking to about 190 kids. We had multiple parents interested in starting FLL teams, and many other children enertained by our new mobile cannon.

Moon Day 2018

21 Jul 2018

Moon Day 2018 By Karina, Ethan, Janavi, and Charlotte

Task: Reach out to the community and spread the magic of robotics

Iron Reign had a great time today at the Frontiers of Flight Museum for the 2018 Moon Day. We demoed three of our robots today: Argos, Kraken, and Big Boi. Kids were very interested in watching our robots drive. Big Boi was a fan-favorite because of its speed and the attached can launcher. Kids were also given the opportunity to drive Argos around. We were also able to interest kids in FTC when we explained Kraken, our robot from the previous season and demonstrated how it could pick up glyphs. In total, we spoke to approximately 200 individuals.

Besides driving our finished robots, we made progress on Garchomp, another robot with mecanum drive serving as a replica for Kraken. We explained our design to people and why we like the mecanum drive so much. Many parents were interested in getting their children involved in a robotics team because they could see the build process at its middle stages in Garchomp and as well as the finished product in Kraken.

Next Steps

Here at Iron Reign, we value the community's involvment and interest in robotics. We will continue to make ourselves and our robots accessible to the community at future outreach event, and we will also encourage kids to get involved in STEM.

SEM Nest Outreach

02 Aug 2018

SEM Nest Outreach By Arjun

Task: Present about STEM to new freshmen at SEM

Today Iron Reign presented at the New Student Orientation (NEST) camp at our school, SEM. All incoming freshman were there. We had two sessions, one with 3D modeling, and another with sumo-bots. We also drove around two of our robots from last year, Kraken and Argos. We gave the freshmen chances to drive around these robots. Most of the students were very interested in our presentation, and a few even signed up to join Iron Reign because of it. We spoke with around 160 students.

Next Steps

Here at Iron Reign, we value the community's involvment and interest in robotics, especially the students at our school. We will continue to make ourselves and our robots accessible to the community at future outreach events, and we will also encourage kids to get involved in STEM. We hope to recruit many of the students who were interested in robotics from our meeting.

Dallas Back to School Fair

18 Aug 2018

Dallas Back to School Fair By Ethan and Kenna

Task: Present at the Dallas Back to School Fair at O.W. Holmes

Today we brought the MXP over to O.W. Holmes Academy in South Oak Cliff for our usual presentation. In the front, we ran sumobits, and in the back, we did 3-D design. The focus on this event was a bit different - it was a back to school event, so the main focus was on getting the children ready for school, while we assisted with educational activities if the parents had spare time. So, while there were about 1.5k people at the event, we talked to a fraction of them. However, every child we talked to really enjoyed the MXP and our activities. In the end, we probably talked to about 130 kids.

Next Steps

We have a few more outreach events before our season goes into full swing, so we need to get in touch with as many people as possible.

My Summer at MIT

19 Aug 2018

My Summer at MIT By Abhi

Task: Spend a Summer at MIT

Hello all! You might have been wondering where I went the entire summer while Iron Reign was busily working on tasks. Well for those of you interested, I was invited to spend a month at MIT as part of the Beaverworks program. I worked in the Medlytics course and analyzed medical data using machine learning methods. This seems distant from the work we do in FTC but I learned some valuable skills we could potentially use this season. But before I discuss that, I want to talk about the work I did while I was away.

Traditionally, machine learning and artificial intelligence were used for enrichment of the technology. We have been seeing development of search engines to learn our searching trends and craft new results or online shopping websites like Amazon learning our shopping to suggest new items to buy. With the help of machine learning, all this has become possible but there are potential healthcare applications to the same technology. The new algorithms and techniques being developed have shown potential to save lives in times where traditional approaches had failed. Even with basic implementations of artificial intelligence, we have seen instances where a doctors provided an improper diagnosis while a machine said otherwise. These scenarios have further inspired research for medical analytics, which has become the focus of my course at MIT. The Medlytics course was dedicated to learn more about these issues and tackle some real world problems.

The work I was doing was very intensive. I applied the algorithms we were being taught to a number of situations. One week, I was analyzing physiological signals to determine the state of sleep. The next week, I was training models to detect breast cancer from mamograms. Within all this work, the underlying structure was just techniques that could be applied to a number of fields. That brought me to think about the potential applications of my work in FTC. The neural networks and similar models I was training learned a number of scenarios of images or signals. I realized that by integrating computer vision, I could come up with something similar in FTC.

To demonstrate an example of where this could potentially leave an impact, I will go with object detection. Right now, Iron Reign captures a series of images of the object of interest (an example is a cryptobox from Relic Recovery) and attempts to manually fine tune the OpenCV parameters to fit the object as accurately as possible. This sort of task could easily be delegated to a Convolution Neural Network (CNN) architecture. What is a CNN you ask? Well here is a brief description.

In essence, the model is able to determine a pattern in an image based on edges and details. The image is processed through a series of layers to determine the shapes in the image. Then the model attempts to label the image as seen above with the car. If this was brought into context of FTC, we could train model to learn the shapes of an object (for example a wiffle ball) and then feed the information to the robot. The bot could then navigate to the object and pick it up. There are a vast number of applications to this, with this just being one. I hope that my knowledge can be of use for Rover Ruckus.

Next Steps

Wait for Rover Ruckus reveal to see if I can combine my expertise with new code.

Hey New Members!

20 Aug 2018

Hey New Members! By Kenna

Hopefully, you're here because you heard our announcement or saw our flyers. Even if not, welcome! We are team 6832 Iron Reign Robotics. We've been a FIRST team since 2010 and currently compete in FIRST Tech Challenge. Some have been on the team for a few months, others over half their lives. We design, build, and code robots, but we also spend a lot of our time on the MXP. We won the Motivate Award at the World Championships for the creation and sustainment of the MXP. On our team you will learn practical skills, like how to solder programming wires, and soft skills, like how to present to a panel of judges.

If you are interested, please fill out our form for potential members. We are also having an interest meeting at Townview Magnet Center on August 30th in room 363. Feel free to explore our blog or learn more about us.

Mentor Involvement from MIT

25 Aug 2018

Mentor Involvement from MIT By Abhi

Task: Discuss potential support from MIT

In a previous post, I mentioned how the knowledge I gained in machine learning at MIT could help the team. But another way our team could be helped is with mentor involvement from MIT. I couldn't have done the research I did at MIT without the help of my amazing instructors. I wanted to bring them on board the Iron Reign way so they could also teach the rest of the team how to be awesome and help us grow. Currently, Iron Reign is speaking with two of my instructors.

Lyle Lalunio (leftmost in image) is a freshman at the University of California at Berkley. He was an intern this past summer at MIT as part of the Laboratory of Computational Physiology and also the Medlytics program. He is proficient in numerous programming languages including Java and Python. He is pursuing computer science in college but is also interested in the medical applications of the science. Lyle has been an incredible mentor for myself and my teams during my month, inspiring me to invite him to the team.

Dr. Danelle Shah (2nd from left in image) is a Technical Staff member in Lincoln Laboratory’s Intelligence and Decision Technologies group. Her most recent research has focused on the detection, representation and characterization of human networks by leveraging natural language processing and graph analytics. Dr. Shah earned her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University, where she developed algorithms to facilitate natural and robust human-robot interaction. Dr. Shah has also left a great impact on my life and has a background in robotic algorithms, inspiring me to invite her to the team.

Next Steps

Continue discussion with mentors about potentially joining Iron Reign.

Organization!

25 Aug 2018

Organization! August 25, 2018 By Charlotte

Iron Reign Clutter

One of Iron Reign's greatest weaknesses is the organization of our physical space. It is rare that our workspace is free of clutter, and it is always difficult to find tools or parts that we need. We often joke that when we put an item down it goes in a "black hole," and you won't be able to find it again. This summer, however, we have made a system to tackle this problem and this season we hope to maintain it. We cleared out the front room and set up some shelves and got to organizing. For anyone looking for certain tools or who doesn't know where to put a tool they just found or used, use the article for reference.


This is subject to change, but as we begin the season, here is the current shelf organization:


In the tall black set of drawers, you can find these tools and parts:


  • Top half:
  • Omni Wheels (on the very top)
  • Drill Bits
  • Dremel & Exacto knives
  • Wrenches
  • Screwdrivers
  • Allen Wrenches

  • Bottom half:
  • Servos
  • Torque wrench
  • Bolt cutters
  • Tap & Dice set
  • Extension Cords

  • In the silver drawers on the right side, you can find these tools and parts:


  • On the very top, you can find miscellaneous electronics.
  • Left Side:
  • Pliers
  • Sprockets
  • Motors
  • More motors

  • Right side:
  • Measurement tools & testers
  • USB Adapters (OTG cables)
  • Hardware (screws, bolts, nuts)
  • Wire
  • Zip-Ties

  • In the colorful drawers on the left, you can find these tools and parts:

  • Left side:
  • Mini USB cables
  • Old motor/servo controllers
  • Nuts
  • More mini & micro USB cables
  • Shaft collars
  • Servo cables

  • Middle:
  • Motor mounts
  • Chains
  • Bevel gears
  • Tubing
  • Fabric paint
  • Adhesives
  • Grease
  • REV hardware

  • Right side:
  • Brackets
  • Springs
  • Files
  • Measurement Devices
  • Sandpaper
  • Hand Drills
  • Dremel Kits
  • Rubber Bands

  • We have a long way to go, and we need to put organize these drawers even more and maybe soon label them. If anyone has any questions ask Evan or me (or Tycho if he's home), and make sure you put things back after you use them!

    2018-19 Recruitment

    30 Aug 2018

    2018-19 Recruitment By Ethan, Kenna, Charlotte, Janavi, Abhi, and Arjun

    Task: Recruit new members for the 2018-19 season

    Last year, Iron Reign lost two members, so we're only looking for 2-3 members to replace them and their particular skillsets. However, our sister team, Imperial Robotics (3734) lost nine members. So, we decided to host a recruitment session at our school to find interested freshmen.

    We put up posters around the school, and got a healthy crowd - 30 people. We talked about Iron Reign's history, needed levels of commitment for various teams, and what the average person will do on the team. We also answered questions about the team from the crowd. Of those people who attended, 17 signed up for a testing session next week, including two former members of Iron Reign, Alisa and Trace.

    Next Steps

    We will hold training sessions to assess each potential members skills, then divy them up with Imperial Robotics.

    Bigwheel Presentation

    03 Sep 2018

    Bigwheel Presentation By Arjun and Karina

    Task: Present about Garchomp

    As a new freshman on Iron Reign, I took on the responsibility of a robot we called Bigwheel. Karina and I worked on getting the robot into something that could be put through load tests, meaning tightening the chain, fixing misaligned sprockets, and getting the wiring together. We participated in the Chassis Presentation workshop hosted by technicbots for teams all around the North Teas region to work on one or more chassis, perform various tests with them and then present their findings. We presented our chassis Bigwheel, which is driven by 2 large 8-inch wheels, with a pair of 2 free-spinning Omni wheels in the back. This can be seen in the presentation below:

    To create our chassis we used 2 8-inch wheels, each driven by 2 Neverrest 60 motors. There are also two free-spinning omni wheels in the back. The robot uses REV rails and plexiglass for it's main body.

    Our first test is the 5-second distance test. Our robot had a lot of torque due to the Neverrest 60 motors, so it moved slower than other robots, but was unaffected by the additional 30lbs weight.

    Our second test is the 3-second turn test. Again, some other robots could turn better faster than us. However, due to having no proper mechanism for restraining our weights, along with other mysterious problems such as battery disconnections that only happened during this test, we were unable to try this test with load, however we presume that due to the torque, the results should be similar to those without load. Our center of rotation is also off due to only the front two wheels being powered. As such, the back of the robot makes a wide arc as it turns.

    Our next few test results are unremarkable.

    Our robot had a lot of sideways drift, mostly due to bad build quality. If we intend to use it during the season, we will try to fix this.

    Overall, our chassis performed well under load, but could use a little speed boost. If we want to further develop it, we plan to use Neverrest 20s with more torque on our extarnal gear ratio, so we can get more speed out of it.

    Garchomp Presentation

    03 Sep 2018

    Garchomp Presentation By Janavi and Kenna

    Task:

    After months and months of Kenna and I working on our chassis, all of our work finally accumulated in our presentation. We participated in the Chassis Presentation workshop hosted by technicbots for teams all around the North Teas region to work on one or more chassis, perform various tests with them and then present their findings. We presented our Chassis Garchomp who is a mechanum wheel chassis as can be seen in the slide photos below.

    Presentation

    To create our chassis we used 4 never rest 40 motors one for each wheel and the structure of the chassis was created by using tetrix rails. We connected the wheels to the motors by using a 1:1 gear ratio. While there are many benefits to using a gear ratio for your wheels be forewarned that if your wheels are not perfectly alligned attaching your chains to mechanum wheels will become a living nightmare as can be seen in our previous posts.

    One of the reasons that attaching the chains was so difficult for us was because we discovered that because we had used wooded sides instead of the aluminium sides that Kraken used our wheels became misaligned to the who different types of wood used for the two sides.

    Our robot is not able to turn relatively fast but as can be seen on Kraken it is able to hold alot of load and move at a constant speed

    Since this chassis was designed for last years competition it is able to consistently drive onto the balancing stone

    North Texas Invitational Presentation Series - Worlds

    03 Sep 2018

    North Texas Invitational Presentation Series - Worlds By Ethan, Abhi, Janavi, Kenna, Charlotte, Evan, Karina, and Justin

    Task: Present about Worlds to new teams

    This was our last presentation in a series of presentations hosted by Technibots for new and returning teams in the North Texas region. This particular presentation was about strategies in awards and the game, as well as general thoughts about FTC and Worlds.

    Presentation

    2018 Business & Strategy Draft 1

    08 Sep 2018

    2018 Business & Strategy Draft 1 By Ethan

    Task: Write a business plan draft

    Intro

    This year is Iron Reign's eleventh season in FIRST, our ninth year overall. We've participated in five years of FLL and seven years of FTC.
    While our team originated at WB Travis Vanguard and Academy, as our members became older (such is the passage of time), we moved to the School of Science and Engineering at Townview (SEM) in DISD. Despite our school being 66% economically disadvantaged and being Title 1, our school consistently ranks in the top 10 nationwide academically. Our school also has numerous other award-winning extracurricular clubs; including CX Debate, Math/Science UIL, and more. Our school employs a rigorous STEM-based curriculum, which provides our students access to specialized class schedules, such as Engineering, Computer Science, and Math, as well as paying for AP classes that our students would normally not be able to afford. The average SEM student takes at least 10 APs.

    A History of Iron Reign

    Iron Reign has been a team for nine years. We initially started as a First Lego League (FLL) team, plateauing in regionals every year we competed. This was usually not due to the actual "robot game" in FLL, but because of our presentations. Starting there, Iron Reign was defined as focusing on creative and innovative designs. 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 7 years, advancing further and further each year. In Velocity Vortex, we got to the South Super Regionals, qualifying by winning the North Texas Inspire Award, which means that we represent all parts of the competition, from teamwork, to the presentation, to creativity, and to the actual game. In Georgia, the same year, we were the first alternative for Worlds if another team dropped out.
    Then, last year, we finally got to Worlds. We got there in two ways: the 2nd place Innovate award at Supers, and also got the lottery, on the prior merits of being a FIRST team for so long. There, we got the recognition that we'd been seeking – we won the Worlds Motivate Award.
    In the same vein, 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 in the state of Texas. Through UIL, we helped compete in the first test program for the UIL Robotics program and since then have competed in every subsequent tournament. This year, it finally got out of the trail period, and became a full-fledged competition.

    Outreach

    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, such as the bathroom and bedroom, and turned it into a mobile tech lab, so that we can bring STEM to 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 make Iron Reign's history entirely clear, we **built** the RV two years ago. We do not claim any credit for the actual construction of the RV in this journal; however, we do share the goals of this program: making the RV run as a standalone program, expanding the program to other communities, and serving more and more underprivileged communities in Dallas. To our own standards, we have achieved this.
    Our current funding services for the operation of the RV come from Best Buy, who purchased the thirty-plus laptops and four 3D printers. We receive grants from non-profits such as BigThought and Dallas City of Learning to fund events and provide staff (even though our team provides staffing).
    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, Oklahoma, and Florida. We substitute the laptops for a band saw and drill press, use the flat screens to program instead of teach, 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.
    Iron Reign spends a lot of time on outreach. So far, we've spent 84.5 man-hours and talked to just under 2000 people (1995) within 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 this year include Love Field Turn Up!, where we reached 1100 children from around the Metroplex. We've worked for our school district in various circumstances, including bringing children back-to-school STEM education and running orientations for our high school.
    We also represent FIRST in a variety of ways. At our Mobile Learning Lab events, we talk to parents and educators about starting their own FLL and FTC teams. We currently mentor our school's FRC team Robobusters and are in the process of founding another. We are the mentors for our sister team, FTC 3734 We also provide help as-requested for FLL teams to go back to our roots. As well, we've historically hosted underfunded teams for late-night-before-tournament workshops.
    DateEventPeopleHours# People
    ---------------
    2018-08-18Back to School FairEthan, Kenna6.5130
    2018-08-01SEM Summer CampArjun6175
    2018-07-21MoonDayKarina, Ethan, Janavi, Charlotte26200
    2018-07-14Dallas Public LibraryEthan, Kenna, Charlotte, Evan16190
    2018-06-23Turn Up! Dallas Love FieldJustin, Ethan, Charlotte, Kenna, Abhi, Evan241100
    2018-04-26SEM OrientationShaggy6200
    84.51995

    Business and Funding

    Iron Reign, for the past two years, has increasingly ramped up its funding. We aggressively seek out new sponsors so that we can continue to keep Iron Reign great. Currently, these include:
    • BigThought - RV materials, staffing, and upkeep
    • Dallas City of Learning (DCOL) – RV materials and upkeep
    • Best Buy – 4x3D Printers, Laptops for RV
    • DISD STEM – Practice field and tournament funding
    • RoboRealm - $1500 of machine vision software
    • Dallas Makerspace – Access to machining tools
    • DPRG – Robot assistance
    • Mark Cuban - $2500

    We are always seeking more funding. We apply for the FIRST and FIRST in Texas grants every year, and seek grants from STEM-curious companies and individuals in the Dallas area. We have applied for grants from Orix and Mark Cuban, receiving personal funding from the latter. We receive staffing and upkeep from a local Dallas non-profit, BigThought. Currently, we are seeking funding and assistance from Ernst and Young, an international company with a Dallas branch, that a team member works for.
    In previous years, we have lacked the ability to get significant transportation funding to get 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


    To whomever it may concern,
    My name is Abhijit Bhattaru, and I am currently a member of Iron Reign Robotics at the School of Science and Engineering at Townview, a DISD magnet school whose population is 66% economically disadvantaged. We have been a FIRST team for about nine years, over half of some of our members' lives. For the past six years, we have operated as FTC Team 6832, Iron Reign. We've achieved various forms of success in these years, culminating with our rise to the Houston World Championship this year, winning the Motivate Award, an award for outstanding outreach within our community.
    What makes our team stand out from other teams is our dedication to our community. Two years ago, we converted a Sea View RV into a Mobile Learning Lab equipped with 4 3D printers, 15 EV3 robots, and 30 laptops to teach children basic programming and 3D modelling. The purpose of all of this is to start a spark of STEM in underserved communities so that these children can later go into STEM. And, we have expanded this program nationwide, presenting at the National Science Teachers' Association national conference in 2017. We have partnered with local nonprofits such as Big Thought to fund our outreach expenses, and to reach out to interested communities across Dallas, and the nation, to expand our program.
    So, why do we need your help? Our school is 66% economically disadvantaged, and adding to that, DISD is facing up to[an $81 million budget gap](https://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/commentary/2018/03/24/without-local-tax-hike-dallas-isd-could-face-fiscal-disaster). The district's funding for robotics has been dropping to the point where only the basics are covered and even then come too late in the season due to red-tape. The one silver lining is that the DISD STEM Department is still able to handle most of our competition travel expenses. This offsets our largest expense category. But we still have to fund the development of our robot, and we aim high. Our robot earned an Innovation Award at the twelve-state South Super Regional Championship this year. We try to push the boundaries of design and execution and this requires a different level of funding for parts, materials and tools.
    To achieve this higher level of funding, Iron Reign is aiming to create a 501(c)(3) foundation to avoid the level of red tape and financial mismanagement from DISD that we have experienced for the past several years. This is where you come in, Mr. Cuban. We are asking for a seed donation for this non-profit, so that our team can become a free-standing team unhampered by DISD's bureaucracy. Our mission would still be to serve our school and community, as it has been for the past eight years, but we would be able to avoid DISD's mismanagement.
    If the money is not utilized for a seed donation, we would allocate it for new robot parts and equipment. A starter kit for FTC is at least $600 but this is nowhere close to cost of a World Championship robot. To become more successful in the robot game for the following seasons, we would need a higher investment into parts, considering many things can go wrong in an 8 month season. Your donation to the cause would allow us to become more successful.
    In return for your investment, Iron Reign will set out to accomplish what you desire from us. We can promote you and your companies on our website, presentations, etc. However, this is just one option. We are open to helping you in whatever way you would like in return for your help to our team.
    Thank you for taking the time to consider our request, and if you happen to have additional time, we would like you to look over our previous Engineering Journals[here](http://www.ironreignrobotics.com/) to see our team's engineering process and history. To see a video about our robot, please visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TBlGXSf-8A
    Also, since you were not able to meet with us, we thought we would bring ourselves to you. Here is a video of our team and the FIRST Tech Challenge program.
    Thanks for your consideration,
    Iron Reign (6832)"

    Looking Back, Moving Forward

    Recently, Iron Reign has put a large emphasis on recruitment. We have alternating years with high turnover due to graduation, so we hold recruitment meetings at our school every year for both Iron Reign and Imperial Robotics.
    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.

    Remaining Sections

    Strategy

    Building

    Programming

    Design Process

    Budget

    Next Steps

    We will finish drafting the remaining sections after Kickoff brainstorming is completed.

    Post Kickoff Meeting

    08 Sep 2018

    Post Kickoff Meeting September 08, 2018 By Karina, Charlotte, Ethan, Evan, Kenna, and Abhi

    Meeting Log September 08, 2018

    Today Iron Reign attended the FTC 2018-2019 season kickoff at Williams High School. After the event, we gathered back at our coach's house to talk about how we might approach this season's challenge. We welcomed prospect team members as well. They joined us in reviewing the reveal video and the games manuals.

    Today's Meet Objectives

    We wanted to have an understanding of the game design so that we could start going over robot designs. To do this we:

    • Watched the reveal video
    • Skimmed through game manual 1 and the preview of game manual 2

    Until we receive the field elements, we will have to plan and strategize using the above listed resources.

    Because we also had new possible team members over, we set expectations for this year. Actively recording our progress and blogging for the engineering journal was heavily stressed. We recognize the importance of having a good engineering journal and how it can help us advance. Our coach's house, the place where we have our meetings, is also cleaner than it has been in a long time after an intense cleaning session. Having an organized space maximizes efficiency, especially with the a larger team. Therefore, we expect for all team members to clean up after themselves and maintain the organization.

    Before we could discuss robot build ideas, we talked strategy. Parking in the crater and the landing zones will undoubtedly be easy to do. Since we know that designing a way for our robot to be able to lift itself onto the lander will be a more interesting challenge and will score us the most points, we will prioritize working on prototypes mechanisms for this task. Finding a way to gently lower down form the lander may be difficult. We will have to condsider ways to not damage the robot, wiring, etc. We also agreed that it would make the most sense to have one mechanism that latches onto the hook on the lander, grabs gold and silver elements from the crater, and places these elements into the columns.

    Other topics we talked about include drive trains, problems with trying to create a mechanism that grab both the silver balls and gold blocks, as well as how we would be able to grab them out of the crater without going over the edge of the crater and getting stuck.

    Also, in previous seasons, we have had strong autonomous game, and so we decided to make the tasks in autonomous another top priority. We had our coders start discussing the field path for autonomous. Unfortunately, we will not be able to launch our team marker into the team depot.

    After the end of last season, a storm passed through and turned over shelves, trashing the robo-dojo. Some of our team members cleaned up the tent this afternoon. While it may not seem very important at the moment, this will be very helpful later in the season once we get our field elements for this year's challenge and want to set the field up. While cleaning, they also uncovered old, rusted metal tools and and pieces, which we will now be able to repair and save for future use. Yay! Clean practice field and more tools!

    Besides helping with cleaning the tent, the new members showed a lot of interest in the game as well. They were eager to start building, and actually started creating prototype mechanisms for picking up the silver and gold elements.

    Today's Work Log

    Team MembersTaskStart TimeDuration
    KarinaWorking on blog2:004 hrs
    AbhiAutonomous planning2:004 hrs
    EvanRobot brainstorming2:004 hrs
    CharlotteRobot brainstorming2:004 hrs
    EthanWorking on blog2:004 hrs
    KennaCleaning tent2:004 hrs

    2018 Kickoff

    08 Sep 2018

    2018 Kickoff By Ethan, Evan, Kenna, Charlotte, Abhi, Justin, Karina, and Arjun

    Task: Attend the North Texas FTC Kickoff

    Today, we went to the Rover Ruckus kickoff! This year's main challenge is getting blocks (gold) and balls (silver) into the main lander. The other side challenges, in order of hardness, are hanging, parking, and placing the team marker. The main upside of all of this means that it is theoretically possible to perform every single function on the field with the same mechanism.

    The main non-robot game changes are the elimination of Supers, the standardization of awards, and Worlds spot changes. The one that particularly piqued our interest was the award standardization. If y'all aren't aware, there are huge disparities between the awards in North Texas and the awards at Worlds. For example, in North Texas, we'd continually win the Connect Award for our outreach (while in the rubric, it was the award for connecting with engineers). But, at Worlds, we won the Motivate Award instead. So, we're actually happy about this change, as we've historically been frustrated with this awards gap.

    Next Steps

    We will do a brainstorming session to figure out are design paths for the next few weeks. In addition, we need to complete sorting of the new members.

    Meeting Log

    15 Sep 2018

    Meeting Log September 15, 2018 By Charlotte, Karina, Kenna, Janavi, Evan, Abhi, Justin, and Ethan

    Meeting Log September 15, 2018

    Today Austin, an Iron Reign alumni, visited us from A&M! :)

    Today's Meet Objectives

    As our brainstorming and discussion continues, we are putting our ideas into action and making various prototypes and designs. We will continue to work with our new recruits and let them participate in a meaningful way with our building and in getting ready for competition.

    Since the game has been released, some teams have already revealed robot reveals, like a 30 hr robot video that was recently posted. We watched and discussed this video. Though we will probably not use these designs, we have learned a lot from them about the game and what kind of competition we should expect.

    Since last meeting, we have begun prototyping the many ideas we have discussed, often with unconventional materials. Today, Abhi worked on a hook for hanging off the rover at first with Styrofoam, and then began a 3D model. Evan started working with our new linear slides (see the picture below); we expect to use linear slides a lot this year, with reaching into the craters and hooking onto the rover. We pre-drilled some holes into these new slides using an optical punch and a drill, but. Janavi worked with a different linear slide kit, this kit is lighter than our new kit, which is helpful, but it is very delicate and requires precision to put together.

    Evan looking through an optical punch

    Evan with a linear slide

    Many of our new recruits returned today and have continued to be active. During the week, we received the field parts, so we had them help us put it together so that they can be familiar with the field design and with certain power tools. They also helped with various devices we worked on, like the linear slides, etc.

    Field assembly progress from our new recruits.

    We plan to use the chassis we built this summer for preliminary autonomous testing. Janavi and Kenna got Garchomp up and running today and added a better and more secure phone holder so we can run autonomous. We began exploring in Open CV so that we can have a visual tool to find the gold minerals; the algorithms we are exploring can be used for both autonomous and tele-op. We also began mapping autonomous after our discussions last time and we began to make our marker.

    Open CV progress

    Today's Work Log

    Team MembersTaskStart TimeDuration
    KarinaRobot build and team marker design2:004 hrs
    AbhiOpen CV2:004 hrs
    EvanPrototyping2:004 hrs
    CharlotteBlog and brainstorming2:004 hrs
    EthanWorking on blog2:004 hrs
    KennaRobot build2:004 hrs
    JustinField assembly2:004 hrs
    JanaviPrototyping2:004 hrs

    Meeting Log

    22 Sep 2018

    Meeting Log September 22, 2018 By Charlotte, Janavi, Evan, Abhi, Justin, Ethan, Arjun, Karina, and Kenna

    Meeting Log September 22, 2018

    Home Depot Trip!

    Today's Meet Objectives

    As we are starting to make more serious strides in our robot and strategy, we wish to start passing down knowledge to our new recruits. Today, we are going to continue prototyping with grabbers and various linear slide kits and we need to discuss strategy and organization for this season.

    Today we have discussed more about what we want our strategy to look like. An option we are heavily considering is having a non-moving robot, in the sense that our robot is stationary and all game actions are performed using extensions from the robot, using linear slides, etc. We have discussed what game rules we need to consider, like what "parking" consists of during autonomous.

    We have continued prototyping various grabbing mechanisms with sorting ability, one passive and one active sorter. The passive version we modelled in Creo and printed before practice, and the active was modelled using Legos! Our new rectuits have been helping us prototype also, as we have been making a version 2 for the active model.

    Passive model
    Active model

    Some of the materials we are working with require power tools that we don't have or were damaged by rain. One of the linear slide kits we are working with is stainless steel, which requires a chop saw which we didn't have. We made a trip to Home Depot and came back home to set up our new baby. Here it is in action:

    New chopsaw

    Our new recruits finished up the field today! We are glad we had this project for them to do, as they could become familiar with building on a team while doing meaningful work. They ran into some problems along the way, but we only gave them a gentle push and let them problem solve themselves; these problems include difficulty with putting on the top part of the lander, improper placement of the wing nuts, alignment of the lander in the foam tiles, and more. Some of their difficulties stemmed from the field parts being machined inaccuately, so pieces didn't line up perfectly. They had use their own problem solving to get past these diffculties and the field looks great!

    Our freshman recruits! Look how cute they are :)

    Evan and Janavi finished up the linear slides they were working on last week. In the previous meeting log, I described the difference between the two, but now that they are done we are going to test them both. As we build a chassis (or a wheel-less chassis) we are going to try both types to see how the weight, strength, friction, string tension, and other factors affect our gameplay.

    Battle of the Slides

    Karina narrowed down the ideas for a marker and she, with Kenna, has began building it. More details to come in later posts.

    For autonomous, we have been putting a strong priority in computer vision using Open CV. While we are waiting to begin code, we are testing many algorithm in Open CV, so we can accurately and consistenly detect field minerals. These algorithms consider shape and color to map points to predict the location of the minerals. Ideally, we will perfect our algorithms to find exactly where the gold block is among the three minerals during autonomous.

    Today, Justin worked on making the location sensor (our fail-safe in case our encoders fail) smaller and more lightweight to help us meet with this year's size requirements (something we have had trouble with in the past). Also, he tested the different chassis we build this summer on the field to see how they interact with the terrain (aka the crater). He found that Big Wheel was too long and didn't go over the crater at all unless it was backwards and got a running start. Garchomp (with Mechanums) went over the craters fine.

    Today's Work Log

    Team MembersTaskStart TimeDuration
    KarinaRobot build and team marker design2:004 hrs
    AbhiOpen CV and build2:004 hrs
    EvanBuild2:004 hrs
    CharlotteBlog and brainstorming2:004 hrs
    EthanWorking on blog2:004 hrs
    KennaRobot build2:004 hrs
    JustinBuild and field assembly2:004 hrs
    JanaviBuild2:004 hrs
    ArjunCode and blog2:004 hrs

    Meeting Log

    28 Sep 2018

    Meeting Log September 28, 2018 By Charlotte, Karina, Kenna, Janavi, Evan, Abhi, Justin, Ethan, and Arjun

    Meeting Log September 28, 2018

    Coding lessons with new recruits

    Today's Meet Objectives

    Since our overflow of new recruits, we have opened up two other teams 15373 and 15375, which Iron Reign will mentor and lead along with our mentorship of 3732 Imperial Robotics, who has also received new recruits. Today we plan to continue intergrating them into FTC; we will begin teaching them the different expectations of an FTC team, including hard and soft skills such as coding and presenting to a panel of judges. In Iron Reign, we are going to continue prototyping various mechanisms we have designed. Also, we are going to get started with coding and autonomous.

    This week, we had even more recruits join us today, so we decided to run through our Worlds presentation from last year to teach them about the judging process and our engineering process. We set their expectations for what competition day looks like, and what they need to focus on and maintain throughout the season, such as the engineering journal and outreach. We had a long discussion about subteams and we are going to let the recruits explore these subteams and decide for themselves what parts of FTC they wish to pursue.

    Presentation to recruits.

    In the build team, Janavi continued working with linear slides, Kenna built and installed a battery and REV hub holder for Garchomp, and Evan worked on an intake system. We installed Janavi's linear slides on a bare chassis and installed the hook Abhi designed and printed onto the slides. Near the end of practice we tested the slide and we found that it worked pretty well but we need additional tests before we can determine whether it will ba a viable option for our robot. Kenna used plywood to make the battery holder, which is helpful because we are going to use Garchomp for testing this year. Before we just secured the battery with Gaff tape. Evan worked on a secret project, details will be written about in future blog posts. Karina continued to work on our team marker. Last time we decided on the design we want to use, and she had put the idea into reality today. Justin 3D modelled and printed wheel mounts for churros and hex shafts.

    Ducky incarcerated :(
    Justin modelling

    In our code team, Arjun and Abhi updated to the new FTC app; a process we have to do every year before we start the code for that year. Over the summer, we worked on a new replay autonomous system where rather than coding an autonomous, testing it, then fixing it, we drive the robot in our intended path and that path is automatically recorded in the code. This year, we don't think that system will work, with the heavy emphasis on computer vision and the unreliable positioning of the robot after it drops off the hook on the rover. Also, today we worked with the recruits that demonstrated interest in coding. Abhi gave them a lesson and let them create their very first autonomous program by themselves (but with his guidance of course).

    Team MembersTaskStart TimeDuration
    KarinaTeam marker build2:004 hrs
    AbhiCoding and teaching2:004 hrs
    EvanRobot build2:004 hrs
    CharlotteBlog and organization2:004 hrs
    EthanWorking on blog2:004 hrs
    KennaRobot build2:004 hrs
    Justin3D Modelling2:004 hrs
    JanaviRobot build2:004 hrs

    Meeting Log

    06 Oct 2018

    Meeting Log October 06, 2018 By Charlotte, Kenna, Janavi, Ethan, and Arjun

    Meeting Log October 06, 2018

    Code Testing with Arjun :)

    Today's Meet Objectives

    Since many of our members had other commitments today, we are expecting a quiet day. We set up some tables with FTC Starter Kits for our new rectuits so we can give them an introduction to building with REV parts. We want to continue research & design and building for Iron Reign. There is a scrimmage coming up in a few weeks, so we want to have a working chassis by then.

    Kenna and Janavi worked on a chassis. We hope to mount the linear slides we completed last time onto this chassis and hopefully use it for our first scrimmage. We had a frame for the chassis done last time, and this time we added motors and one of four wheels. Hopefully, the chassis will be complete by next week and then we can run some test to determine whether or not it will be a viable or effective chassis for competition use. If we deem that it is worthy, there are a few problems we need to fix before competition day. Notably, the chassis doesn't fit within the sizing cube, as it measures 17 in x 18 and 1/16th in. Before worrying about this we want to get it working.

    Kenna with the chassis frame (pre-motored)
    Kenna and Janavi installing the motors

    We have been pretty behind in our blog posts, so Ethan has been catching us up with some prototyping posts. We also discussed what we want to improve in ou engineering notebook this year. In previous years, one of our greatest weaknesses has been the lack of mathematical analysis in our blog posts. A few members showed interest, so we are going to work hard to do more parts testing and incorporate statistics and physics from those tests into our blog posts. Also Ethan has been working on his own prototyping with grabbers. Abhi designed and printed parts to mount our "corn on the cob" material, and Ethan put it together and made a small frame to put it on so we can test it.

    Ethan working on the blog
    Ethan with the "corn on the cob"

    Today, I made some real progress on our team "Gantt" chart. I will write more about this in a separate blog post, but we hope to utilize such a chart in order to improve team organization and structure. Hopefully, this will prevent certain subteams from falling behind and we will not be rushed right before competitions as that has happened a lot historically.

    Arjun has kept working on updating to the new app. Once updated, he tested our code with the new update on Kraken, our robot from last year. He also took 72 pictures of the minerals for training of a neural network. He began compiling those images and will work on the neural network in the coming weeks.

    Team MembersTaskStart TimeDuration
    CharlotteBlog and organization2:004 hrs
    EthanWorking on blog2:004 hrs
    KennaRobot build2:004 hrs
    JanaviRobot build2:004 hrs
    ArjunCode updates2:004 hrs

    Project Management

    10 Oct 2018

    Project Management By Charlotte

    Task: Improve Iron Reign's team organization and time management

    Iron Reign sometimes struggles with our team organization and time management. There have been many instances where we have fallen behind in different subteams due to this lack of organization. This year, in order to tackle this downfall, we are going to put an emphasis on project management.

    We started a project in a program called Team Gantt. We learned how to use this program from watching the many tutorials in the program and by trial and error. In our project, we have made task groups that represent our subteams, such as build, code, etc. You can see this in the image above, but I did not include the whole chart to not expose any team secrets. A project manager will be in charge of keeping these subteams on track with the chart, and will update it accordingly along with periodic meetings regarding the chart and our progress. Hopefully, this will really help us in our team organization so that we don't fall behind this season.

    Next Steps

    Continue the use of our Gantt chart in order to improve our organization and give us a big-picture view of our progress for the rest of the season.

    Meeting Log

    13 Oct 2018

    Meeting Log October 13, 2018 By Charlotte, Janavi, Ethan, Arjun, Abhi, Justin, and Karina

    Meeting Log October 13, 2018

    Sumo bots :)

    Today's Meet Objectives

    Today we are taking part in a massive outreach event to teach STEM to girls all over North Dallas: SEM STEM Spark. However, we do have competitions/scrimmages coming up really soon, so we wish to get some substantial building done.

    We brought some tools to the event so that Janavi could work on the chassis. Our chassis is a lot smaller than previous years, as we usually have a problem with size. We had been working on a different chassis beforehand, but we scrapped that design because of its lack of mounting points and due to the fact that it was poorly assembled. Because we completely started a new chassis with so few weekends before our first scrimmage, it is essential that we utilize the time that we have to get things done. Janavi started with just some extrusion rails and mounted some motors and wheels.

    Arjun continued to work on a convolution neural network, which, once the network is complete, we will compare with Open CV. We have used Open CV for our computer vision algorithms for a couple of years, but we are now looking into other options to see if cnn will be a more accurate method of differentiating between field elements.

    Besides working on the chassis and a CNN, most of us taught and shared our passion for STEM at the event. The event was 10 hours long, so it was a long haul, but we had a really great time and the girls did too.

    Team MembersTaskStart TimeDuration
    CharlotteOutreach8:0010 hrs
    EthanOutreach8:0010 hrs
    JanaviBuild8:0010 hrs
    ArjunConvolution Neural Network8:0010 hrs
    AbhiOutreach8:0010 hrs
    KarinaOutreach8:0010 hrs
    JustinOutreach8:0010 hrs

    Recruitment Update

    13 Oct 2018

    Recruitment Update By Ethan

    Task: Analyze recruitment efforts

    So, as we've stated in prior posts, this year has historically been the most effective year for recruitment, ever. We have had 30! total signups, up from -5 last year. This tsunami of new recruits means that much like a mature skin cell, Iron Reign must undergo mitosis and grow. So, in addition to Iron Reign and Imperial Robotics, we are introducing TWO new teams to North Texas and the Iron Reign family.

    To accomedate this influx, we are changing the organizational structure of SEM Robotics a tad. Iron Reign will remain the varsity team, and as such, will be responsible for tutoring and assisting the other teams, as well as other organizational decisions. Then, Imperial will now be the JV team, and be the intermediate training ground. You can see their efforts over at https://imperialrobotics.github.io/. Finally, we have the two new additions: Iron Star Robotics and a yet-to-be-named team. Iron Star Robotics is a self-formed, co-op team of motivated freshmen; the other is yet to be named and will be a more lax training team.

    We'll deliver tutoring updates and joint outreach events on this blog, as well as our usual content. Everything claimed in this engineering notebook will be Iron Reign (6832) only, and we will hold the same standard of separation to the other teams.

    Next Steps

    We will tutor the new teams and identify the promising recruits. For ongoing tournaments and eliminations, we will recompose new teams of the most promising members.

    SEM STEM Spark Preparation

    13 Oct 2018

    SEM STEM Spark Preparation By Charlotte, Ethan, Janavi, Abhi, Karina, and Justin

    Task: Prepare for and set up SEM STEM Spark

    The National Honor Society at our home school, the Science and Engineering Magnet, has been working hard to prepare for the upcoming SEM STEM Spark event for middle school girls in North Dallas that they have been planning for since last May. A few of our very own members are members and leadership in NHS and have been working to include our robotics outreach as a featured activity as well as working with other activies we are passionate about, such as chemistry and environmental science.

    In the past few weeks, we have confirmed a spot for our outreach in the event and have been trying to recruit middle schools girls to attend the event. A few members even visited the middle schools they attended and spoke to their old science teachers to share information about the event and hand out fliers. Due to some complications, we weren't able to get registration for the event up until a week before, so recruitment has been a struggle and is very time sensitive. Our numbers are increasing quickly though, so we have hope that the event is going to be a success.

    The event is tomorrow, and today we spent a few hours setting up. On our day off, we went to our school and organized all of the materials we collected as donations along with those we bought with our own funds. We ran throught each activity to ensure that they would fit in the allotted time frames. Everything seems to be running smoothly and we are ready for the event tomorrow. Fingers crossed! :)

    Next Steps

    We are very excited to run this event and have learned a lot from the work we have put into organizing it.

    SEM STEM Spark

    13 Oct 2018

    SEM STEM Spark By Ethan, Charlotte, Janavi, Abhi, Karina, Justin, Bhanaviya, and Alisa

    Task: Volunteer at SEM STEM Spark

    For the past year, members of Iron Reign have been planning this event and getting approval. For those not-in-the-know, this event is a women-only STEM event with a guest panel and four different stations: environmental science, chemistry, engineering, and robotics. Iron Reign members had a hand in planning and assisting with 3/4 of these, as well as general logistics. However, most of this is detailed in prior posts - this post is for the actual event.

    Today, we talked to 140 girls in groups of 12-18, allowing us to be able to focus more intensely in our sessions and get more done. In our main robotics session, we were planning to have half of our event aboard the RV outside and half inside. But, due to flash flooding, we had to bring everything inside. So, we split our event into two, with half doing EV3 Sumo in one room and half creating keychains in the other. As well, we had members helping the kids create water filters for the environmental science session and others preparing the chemicals for chemistry. Finally, we had a member present as a panel member as a woman in STEM.

    Next Steps

    This event was a great success, and we plan to do more like these in the future.

    Travis High School Night

    16 Oct 2018

    Travis High School Night By Ethan, Evan, Kenna, Charlotte, and Karina

    Task: Present about SEM and the Iron Reign Robotics program

    Today, we went to the Travis H.S. Night to talk to prospective freshmen about our robotics team. The format of the night was this: four twenty-five minute periods, with twenty minutes about SEM and five minutes about robotics. To fit this time schedule, we condensed our usual recruitment presentation down to five minutes while also demoing our former Worlds robot, Kraken. We mainly talked about the main points of FTC: being well rounded, the emphasis on writing, business, and the like. Then, we answered questions from the audience for the rest of the time. Overall, we presented to about 120 parents and students.

    Next Steps

    We plan to hold more presentations and outreach events in the future. We've already stepped our recruitment game up, so events like these are crucial.

    Meeting Log

    20 Oct 2018

    Meeting Log October 20, 2018 By Charlotte, Kenna, Janavi, Ethan, Arjun, Justin, and Abhi

    Meeting Log October 20, 2018

    Juggling the minerals

    Today's Meet Objectives

    Our first scrimmage is next weekend! We have a lot of work to get done before then so today is going to be a busy day. We need to complete our chassis and some sort of intake system system. Every member needs to take on their own portion of the robot so we can divide and conquer to end today's meeting with a working robot.

    Finally, we have a chassis. We used small mechanum wheels and a small rectangular frame which is very unusual for Iron Reign with our history of 18 in x 18 in robots. The chassis that Janavi build last weekend during the outreach event was a square, but we needed to make it rectangular to make room for motors. Usually, we have a problem with sizing requirements, so we are going to try for a different approach.

    Janavi and Justin worked on the linear slides that Janavi has been working on for a few weeks. Before, we had tested and mounted the slide to an existing chassis, but there were some improvements to be made. They changed the length of the linear slide from using 18 in rails to 12 in rails and added stops so that the slide don't slide out of eachother. They also strung the slides so that they can extend and retract depending on the direction of rotation of the wheels.

    Janavi, Justin, and some slides

    Arjun built a phone mount, a simple necessity for our robot. Besides building, Arjun worked with a few members from Iron Star and Iron Core so that they could start programs for the robots they have been working on. A few weeks ago, Abhi gave them an introduction to coding, but Arjun helped them from the very beginning of making a new project and writing their first lines of code. Iron Reign has been utilizing GitHub for many years and we have found it very helpful, so we helped the other teams set up their own GitHub repositories and taught them how to use it.

    Arjun and the phone mount
    GitHub Sesh!

    Ethan and Abhi worked on our intake system! We are using silicone mats for kitchen counters to launch field elements into our intake system. The minerals then are filtered through 3 bars, each space by 68 mm so that balls roll over and cubes fall in. They completed the intake mechanism, but their greatest challenge is fine tuning the sorting bars and finding a way to mount it onto the chassis. Eventually, we wish to make the system pivotable, but for now we mounted it to the chassis so that it is stationary.

    Intake mechanism with red silicon mats

    Kenna built a mount for all of electronics and attached to the chassis. We tried to use the mount that was built for Garchomp, but it wasn't ideal and would not have lasted due to size differences. We used plywood to create this mount so that we can make adjustments in the future. On the new board, Kenna attached REV hubs, so we finally are able to set up the electronics of the robot.

    Team MembersTaskStart TimeDuration
    CharlotteBlog and organization2:004 hrs
    EthanWorking on blog and build2:004 hrs
    KennaRobot build2:004 hrs
    JanaviRobot build2:004 hrs
    ArjunBuild and mentoring2:004 hrs
    KarinaRobot Build2:004 hrs
    AbhiRobot Build2:004 hrs

    Off-Schedule Meeting Log

    23 Oct 2018

    Off-Schedule Meeting Log October-2 23-2, 2018-2 to October 23, 2018 By Ethan, Karina, Charlotte, Kenna, Arjun, and Evan

    Meeting Log October 21 to October 23, 2018

    First, I will begin with an anecdote. Last year at Texas Regionals, another team's coach called us a Juggernaut, as we had started our season slow and unassuming, but we picked up pace rapidly with a strong performance at Texas Regionals, then Supers, then Worlds. We still find this an apt comparison.

    Iron Reign will be attending a scrimmage on Saturday, but to attend a scrimmage, you usually have to have a working robot. As of Saturday, we did not. So, a few of our members elected to come in on Saturday to do some last minute robot addtions.

    Sunday Tasks

    • Attached lift
    • We've had a linear slide that we've been meaning to hook up to the robot for awhile, and we finally did it Saturday. We mounted it to the front of the robot, as it was the easiest access point, then mounted a motor and pulley on the side to extend it. It worked - and then it didn't. First, during our second test, we failed to notice that the string was entangled within the motor, and by the time we did, it created a tangled web not unlike the Gordian Knot. And like the Knot, we resolved to cut it out.
      Then we realized a more pressing issue. Since torque is equal to force * arm length (T=FR), and the force on our robot is only the force due to gravity (F=mg), we had a torque on the lift equal to T=mgR. Then, as the lift was mounted at the very end, the torque on the arm was at its absolute maximum. And, while we're confident in our building ability, we're not that confident. So, we realized that we'd have to move the lift closer to the middle to minimize torque.
    • Finished intake
    • On Saturday, we worked on the red-silicone intake system, but there were still issues. We used too-long screws to mount the motor that cut into the sprocket, we mounted the fins a little to far out so that the silicone was running into them and losing energy, and we didn't have a way to mount it. First, we replaced the 15mm M3 screws with 8mm ones, ensuring that there would be no further collision. Then, we removed the beams the fins were mounted on and replaced them with a simple crossbar the we directly mounted the fins to. That way, we could adjust all of the fins at once instead of individually cutting each beam.
    • Second stage
    • Our robot is a little on the small side for Iron Reign. To mitigate that, we planned to add a second stage to the robot for support and to hold components like the second REV hub. So, we started on that, cutting the standoffs, and attaching one side completely so that we could use it as a proto-phone-mount.

    Monday Tasks

    • Moved lift
    • To minimize torque, we moved the lift to the center of the robot. Now, this won't eliminate the torque - one side of the robot is much heavier than the other, but it makes it much more manageable.
    • Mounted intake
    • To have a functional robot, we have to have an intake *on the robot*. We had an intake, but it certainly wasn't anywhere close to being on the robot. So, we mounted a Core Hex Motor to the inside of our robot, attached a gear to our robot then bolted a second gear to our intake. Then, we attached the gear to a churro rail mounted on the robot and moved the motor to where the gears coincided. Originally, we planned to use a 30->90 gear system for a 1:3 gear ratio for a calculated 9.6 Newton-meters of torque, but this systed wouldn't fit within the size constraints, so we had to settle for a 1:1 ratio at 3.2 N*m.
    • Mounted 2nd arm
    • On our other robot, Bigwheel, we mounted the 2nd arm for a future beater bar. Unlike most of our robots, this one is mostly off-the-shelf, with some additional Textrix parts and a REV hub.

    Tuesday Tasks

    • Finished 2nd stage
    • To be able to support our additional motors, we had to add a second REV hub. And, to do that, we had to finish the 2nd stage. This wasn't that difficult, all we had to do was attach a standard piece of REV extrusion to the remaining standoffs, then add a REV hub mount, then mount the actual hub.
    • Reenforced lift
    • Nothing is perfect, and our robot is no exception. Our lift is a little bit wobbly laterally, so we took steps to fix this. We attached a small piece of REV rail to the second stage from the lift to minimize wobbling. This still needs to be worked on, as the rail isn't mounted well, but we'll burn that bridge when we get to it.
    • Strung lift
    • We never actually restrung our lift after the Gordian debacle, so we decided it was high time to do so. Since our lift needs to extend and retract reliably, we have to use a double-pulley system. So, we strung upwards normally, but then attached another string to a higher up pulley that could pull the whole system back down.
    • Replaced lift motor
    • Our old pulley-motor was an AndyMark Neverrest 60. Now, we have nothing against these motors, but we wanted something that would be easier to connect to the REV hub. So, we replaced it with a HD Hex Motor with a 40:1 gearbox. This actually increased the torque by a negligible amount (from 4.186 N*m to 4.2 N*m), and was a more convenient change.
    • Added scoring box
    • Originally, we cut a box template out of polycarb that was the exact size of two silver particles. Unfortunately, we couldn't find a heat gun, so we had to go back to 'Ol Faithful - cardboard.
    • Added intake bar
    • We added the corn-cob intake from a few weeks ago onto this robot so that it can get both blocks and balls from over the crater wall.

    Now, in theory, we have a competition-ready robot.

    Before

    After

    Next Steps

    We still need to program our robot and fix any gremlins that pop up; this will happen at the Friday meet.

    Strategy and Business Whitepaper

    29 Oct 2018

    Strategy and Business Whitepaper By Ethan

    Task: Write the Strategy+Business Whitepaper for the Journal

    For teams who don't know, this kind of paper is suggested for judging. Iron Reign usually completes one every year. You can download the pdf of this post here.

    Intro

    This year is Iron Reign’s eleventh season in FIRST, our ninth year overall. We’ve participated in five years of FLL and seven years of FTC:



    FLL

    • Body Forward
    • Food Factor
    • Senior Solution
    • Nature’s Fury
    • World Class



    FTC

    • Ring It Up!
    • Block Party
    • Cascade Effect
    • RES-Q
    • Velocity Vortex
    • Relic Recovery
    • Rover Ruckus

     

    While our team originated at WB Travis Vanguard and Academy, as our members became older (such is the passage of time), we moved to the School of Science and Engineering at Townview (SEM) in DISD. Despite our school being 66% economically disadvantaged and being Title 1, our school consistently ranks in the top 10 nationwide academically. Our school also has numerous other award-winning extracurricular clubs; including CX Debate, Math/Science UIL, and more. Our school employs a rigorous STEM-based curriculum, which provides our students access to specialized class schedules, such as Engineering, Computer Science, and Math, as well as paying for AP classes that our students would normally not be able to afford. The average SEM student takes at least 10 APs.

     

    A History of Iron Reign

     

    Iron Reign has been a team for nine years. We initially started as a First Lego League (FLL) team, plateauing in regionals every year we competed. This was usually not due to the actual “robot game” in FLL, but because of our presentations. Starting there, Iron Reign was defined as focusing on creative and innovative designs. 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 7 years, advancing further and further each year. In Velocity Vortex, we got to the South Super Regionals, qualifying by winning the North Texas Inspire Award, which means that we represent all parts of the competition, from teamwork, to the presentation, to creativity, and to the actual game. In Georgia, the same year, we were the first alternative for Worlds if another team dropped out.

     

    Then, last year, we finally got to Worlds. We got there in two ways: the 2nd place Innovate award at Supers, and also got the lottery, on the prior merits of being a FIRST team for so long. There, we got the recognition that we’d been seeking – we won the Worlds Motivate Award.

    In the same vein, 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 in the state of Texas. Through UIL, we helped compete in the first test program for the UIL Robotics program and since then have competed in every subsequent tournament. This year, it finally got out of the trial period, and became a full-fledged competition.

     

    Outreach

     

    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, such as the bathroom and bedroom, and turned it into a mobile tech lab, so that we can bring STEM to 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 make Iron Reign’s history entirely clear, we built the RV two years ago. We do not claim any credit for the actual construction of the RV in this journal; however, we do share the goals of this program: making the RV run as a standalone program, expanding the program to other communities, and serving more and more underprivileged communities in Dallas. To our own standards, we have achieved this.

     

    Our current funding services for the operation of the RV come from Best Buy, who purchased the thirty-plus laptops and four 3D printers. We receive grants from non-profits such as BigThought and Dallas City of Learning to fund events and provide staff (even though our team provides staffing).

     

    This year, we have obtained $150k in additional funds to expand our outreach program by building a second Mobile Learning Lab. This is an unprecedented level of funding - it can cover the majority of buying an RV, staffing it, and filling it to the brim with technology. So far, this is the highlight of the Iron Reign season.

     

    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, Oklahoma, and Florida. We substitute the laptops for a band saw and drill press, use the flat screens to program instead of teach, 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.

    Iron Reign spends a lot of time on outreach. So far, we’ve spent 84.5 man-hours and talked to just under 2000 people (1995) within 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 this year include Love Field Turn Up!, where we reached 1100 children from around the Metroplex. We’ve worked for our school district in various circumstances, including bringing children back-to-school STEM education and running orientations for our high school.

    We also represent FIRST in a variety of ways. At our Mobile Learning Lab events, we talk to parents and educators about starting their own FLL and FTC teams. We currently mentor our school’s FRC team Robobusters and are in the process of founding another. We are the mentors for our sister team, FTC 3734 We also provide help as-requested for FLL teams to go back to our roots. As well, we’ve historically hosted underfunded teams for late-night-before-tournament workshops.

     

    Date

    Event

    People

    Hours

    # People

    2018-04-26

    SEM Orientation

    Shaggy

    6

    200

    2018-06-23

    Turn Up! Dallas Love Field

    Justin, Ethan, Charlotte, Kenna, Abhi, Evan

    24

    1100

    2018-07-14

    Dallas Public Library

    Ethan, Kenna, Charlotte, Evan

    16

    190

    2018-07-21

    MoonDay

    Karina, Ethan, Janavi, Charlotte

    26

    200

    2018-07-22

    Summer Chassis

    Kenna, Ethan, Charlotte, Karina, Shaggy, Abhi

    24

    25

    2018-08-01

    SEM Summer Camp

    Arjun

    6

    175

    2018-08-18

    Back to School Fair

    Ethan, Kenna

    6.5

    130

    2018-10-13

    SEM STEM Spark

    Ethan, Charlotte, Janavi, Abhi, Karina, Justin

    80

    140

    2018-10-16

    Travis High School Night

    Ethan, Evan, Kenna, Charlotte, Karina

    12.5

    120

         

    201

    2280

    Business and Funding

     

    Iron Reign, for the past two years, has increasingly ramped up its funding. We aggressively seek out new sponsors so that we can continue to keep Iron Reign great. Currently, these include:

    • BigThought - RV materials, staffing, and upkeep
    • Dallas City of Learning (DCOL) – RV materials and upkeep
    • Best Buy – 4x3D Printers, Laptops for RV
    • DISD STEM – Practice field and tournament funding
    • RoboRealm - $1500 of machine vision software
    • Dallas Makerspace – Access to machining tools
    • DPRG – Robot assistance
    • Mark Cuban - $2500
    • DEKA - Rookie team funding for our two new teams
    • Texas Workforce Commission - $525 for our team, $2350 for new ones



    We are always seeking more funding. We apply for the FIRST and FIRST in Texas grants every year, and seek grants from STEM-curious companies and individuals in the Dallas area. We have applied for grants from Orix and Mark Cuban, receiving personal funding from the latter. We receive staffing and upkeep from a local Dallas non-profit, BigThought. Currently, we are seeking funding and assistance from Ernst and Young, an international company with a Dallas branch, that a team member works for.

     

    In previous years, we have lacked the ability to get significant transportation funding to get 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

     

    “To whomever it may concern,

              My name is Abhijit Bhattaru, and I am currently a member of Iron Reign Robotics at the School of Science and Engineering at Townview, a DISD magnet school whose population is 66% economically disadvantaged. We have been a FIRST team for about nine years, over half of some of our members’ lives. For the past six years, we have operated as FTC Team 6832, Iron Reign. We’ve achieved various forms of success in these years, culminating with our rise to the Houston World Championship this year, winning the Motivate Award, an award for outstanding outreach within our community.

     

              What makes our team stand out from other teams is our dedication to our community. Two years ago, we converted a Sea View RV into a Mobile Learning Lab equipped with 4 3D printers, 15 EV3 robots, and 30 laptops to teach children basic programming and 3D modelling. The purpose of all of this is to start a spark of STEM in underserved communities so that these children can later go into STEM. And, we have expanded this program nationwide, presenting at the National Science Teachers’ Association national conference in 2017. We have partnered with local nonprofits such as Big Thought to fund our outreach expenses, and to reach out to interested communities across Dallas, and the nation, to expand our program.

     

              So, why do we need your help? Our school is 66% economically disadvantaged, and adding to that, DISD is facing up to an $81 million budget gap. The district’s funding for robotics has been dropping to the point where only the basics are covered and even then come too late in the season due to red-tape. The one silver lining is that the DISD STEM Department is still able to handle most of our competition travel expenses. This offsets our largest expense category. But we still have to fund the development of our robot, and we aim high. Our robot earned an Innovation Award at the twelve-state South Super Regional Championship this year. We try to push the boundaries of design and execution and this requires a different level of funding for parts, materials and tools.

     

            To achieve this higher level of funding, Iron Reign is aiming to create a 501(c)(3) foundation to avoid the level of red tape and financial mismanagement from DISD that we have experienced for the past several years. This is where you come in, Mr. Cuban. We are asking for a seed donation for this non-profit, so that our team can become a free-standing team unhampered by DISD’s bureaucracy. Our mission would still be to serve our school and community, as it has been for the past eight years, but we would be able to avoid DISD’s mismanagement.

     

            If the money is not utilized for a seed donation, we would allocate it for new robot parts and equipment. A starter kit for FTC is at least $600 but this is nowhere close to cost of a World Championship robot. To become more successful in the robot game for the following seasons, we would need a higher investment into parts, considering many things can go wrong in an 8 month season. Your donation to the cause would allow us to become more successful.

     

            In return for your investment, Iron Reign will set out to accomplish what you desire from us. We can promote you and your companies on our website, presentations, etc. However, this is just one option. We are open to helping you in whatever way you  would like in return for your help to our team.

     

               Thank you for taking the time to consider our request, and if you happen to have additional time, we would like you to look over our previous Engineering Journals here to see our team’s engineering process and history. To see a video about our robot, please visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TBlGXSf_-8A.

     

            Also, since you were not able to meet with us, we thought we would bring ourselves to you. Here is a video of our team and the FIRST Tech Challenge program.

    Thanks for your consideration,

    Iron Reign (6832)

    Looking Back, Moving Forward

     

    Recently, Iron Reign has put a large emphasis on recruitment. We have alternating years with high turnover due to graduation, so we hold recruitment meetings at our school every year for both Iron Reign and Imperial Robotics.

     

    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.

     

    This year has been an unprecedented year in recruitment for Iron Reign. We recruited approximately 30 new freshmen, expanding the Iron Reign program from two teams to four; from Iron Reign and Imperial Robotics, to adding Iron Star Robotics and Iron Core. And, our efforts have been recognized by our donors: we have been supplied four additional REV kits, and two fields so that we can support the larger program.

     

    Build

     

    Iron Reign utilizes a variety of parts and kits. At the moment, Iron Reign prefers the REV kit due to its simplicity - everything seems to just fit together, while still being minimalist. However, Iron Reign’s old standby is 3D printing. We’ve used 3D printing before it became widespread within FTC, and we’ve become sort of pros at specialized design. We even have our own 3D-print kits such as REVolution, a system to turn REV extrusions into axles.

     

    This year, we’re using a new base that’s more adapted to the challenge. Its working name is Minichassis. It is approximately 6”x6” for the base with an additional 4” extension for mounting. It uses four 4” AndyMark mecanum mounted low to the ground with NeverRest 20s with planetary gearboxes attached to each wheel. So, the robot is astoundingly small and fast.

     

    We have two main attachments to our robot, the lift and the intake. First, the intake is a small square with silicone oven mitts attached to it. It knocks the particles upward into racks spaced 68mm apart. This spacing allows the blocks to fall through while the balls move upwards into the lift. Then, the lift. The lift is a series of REV rails attached through a linear slide kit with a hook and particle holder on the end. This extends, allowing the robot to deposit particles in the lander while also being able to hook onto the lander.

     

    In addition to this design, we have also developed BigWheel, aptly named for its 6-inch wheels at the back with a front-facing omniwheel. At the front of the robot, we installed two “arms” which brace an intake system named “CornCob” for its lumpy, cylindrical appearance. This is mounted at a height just so it only contacts the silver particles, not the gold. But, what truly differentiates this robot is it’s lift mechanism. Unlike the majority of FTC robots we’ve encountered this year, BigWheel has no lift, extending-arm, or linear slide. Instead, we have a central lever mounted to two high-torque motors, with a ridiculous 3:1 gear ratio for a cumulative 19.4 N*m of torque. This serves to rotate the robot into a near-total-vertical position, allowing the arms of the robot to reach to the lip of the lander. We feel that this differentiates our team’s robot from the majority of other robots within the current FTC season.

     

    Code

     

    Iron Reign has a large pre-existing codebase. We’ve been improving off of our prior code for years. The particulars we want to focus on are thus:

    • Pose
      • This class uses the IMU to approximate the location of the robot on the field relative to the starting position. The math behind this is simple; we use trigonometry to calculate the short-line distance between the robot’s prior location and its current one.
    • OpenCV
      • We use OpenCV to recognize particles in autonomous. To do this, we trained the software to differentiate between gold and silver particles. To extend our knowledge of computer vision, we ran tests of OpenCV vs TensorFlow CNN in Python to see if there would be a meaningful runtime difference.
    • PID
      • At this point, PID is common among FTC teams. However, as we moved to a new driving base for the first time in three years, we had to retune it, so we rewrote our code to account for the changes in behavior.

     

    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.

     

    This year, we have exemplified this process. Since kickoff, we’ve had two separate design paths, allowing us to explore the most efficient and workable design. Here, we will describe each segment in detail.

     

    First, we explored chassis designs. Over the summer, we created BigWheel, the aforementioned paragon of uniqueness - operating off of just two wheels. Then, we created the MiniChassis to compete against it, letting the best robot win. As of now, this is undecided, but we’re entering BigWheel to compete, as we feel that this is our more technically-impressive robot through its ability to rotate into a vertical position.

     

    Then, we compared intake mechanisms. First, we created the Corn-Cob intake - a silicone ice cube tray - and mounted it on a beater bar that would ensure sorting through the height difference between blocks and balls. We found that if we mounted it at about 6.5 cm above the ground, it would only consume the silver particles. After, we felt that this wasn’t our best work. So, we created a second intake. As described previously, we attached silicone oven mitts to a beater bar, and added lower fins as a ramp separated 68mm apart so that blocks would fly through, even as balls entered the intake system.

     

    The best thing about Kaizen is that we can mix-and-match these systems for the ultimate robot. At the moment, we’re considering removing the second intake from MiniChassis so that we can replace the Corn-Cob. The fact that we can even consider this system matching casually demonstrates the power of the Kaizen system.

     

    Full Circle

    02 Nov 2018

    Full Circle By Evan

    A reflection on my time at Iron Reign

    In 2012 I began competing in FTC. That year our team built a robot with a giant central arm on top of a six wheeled drivetrain that sported a ring bucket that the rings would slot into one or two at a time. The idea was that we would go bit by bit, slowly moving the rings onto the rack in the middle. This was a mediocre idea in theory, but an even worse one in practice. I think in that entire season, we only were able to score one ring, and it was when I was by myself on a practice field before a match. The whole season had led up until that moment. It was the year I learned how to wire things, how to solder wires, how to use a bandsaw, a table saw, a miter saw, and how to really think about the real world applications of what I was doing. When I scored that ring, I was so happy. I told the whole team because this is what we had been trying to do for three months without success. We never scored another ring that season, despite being in first or second place at our qualifier (which is really just a testament to how heavily you can be carried in FTC). Since then i’ve worked on, designed, and built numerous competition robots, making a smooth transition from FLL to FTC, and i’ve been there for basically every major moment in our team’s history, from the very first meeting at the Virani household to our trip to the World championship competition in Houston where we won the Motivate award. I felt the same walking up on that stage and accepting the motivate with my team as I did back in 2012 scoring that one ring. That feeling of success and pride in my work. That’s why I keep doing FTC.

    I say all of this because today I had to take apart the arm of the first robot I ever built, and I thought it was a little poetic how I was using the robot I helped build in the my first season of FTC as part of the robot in my last season of FTC. It was weird. I don’t know. It was one of those rare full circle moments that you only ever get a few of and half the time you don’t even recognize them when they’re happening and never really get to appreciate them. It really just made me think back on all my years of robotics.

    Meeting Log

    03 Nov 2018

    Meeting Log November 03, 2018 By Ethan, Charlotte, Evan, Janavi, Kenna, Karina, Justin, Arjun, Abhi, and Bhanaviya

    Meeting Log November 03, 2018

    Today's Meet Objectives

    So, we have one week before our first tournament. This isn't great. As you can see on our last blog post, we didn't do amazingly at the scrimmage. So, we have a lot of work to do.

    First and foremost, we have to work on our presentation. Iron Reign prides itself on its presentation - and we certainly don't want to disappoint this year - so we did an hour-long runthrough to get slide order and content memorized. I don't want to spoil it for y'all, but we've got something special this year.

    Also necessary for a good tournament is the journal. We've had a consistent 10-20 post backlog since the season started, and we've finally started cutting into it. At my current count, we're down to 7 posts left. So, we're making considerable progress on this front. Ethan already finished our strategic plan earlier this week, so all we have left is to write the blurbs and retag our posts, something we'll do on Monday.

    Finally, in order to compete, we have to have a robot. Now, we have a robot, but it isn't really working. So, Evan and Karina worked on mounting an intake system, as well as reenforcing the center lever. This will ensure that the robot can actually score by the tournament.

    On the code side, Abhi found the coefficients for PID so that he can start autonomous. As well, he started mergining SDK 4.2 with our 15k-line base of legacy code so that we can take advantage of TensorFlow. On that note, we discovered that SDK 4.2 comes with mineral detection out of the box with TensorFlow - something that we've been working on since kickoff. We're a little disappointed but also relieved.

    Finally, we have some good news. Iron Reign has official adopted its first new member of the season: Bhanaviya Venkat. Stay tuned for her first blog post later this week.

    Team MembersTaskStart TimeDuration
    EthanPresentation\Journal2:004 hrs
    CharlotteBlog Backlog2:004 hrs
    KennaBlog Backlog2:004 hrs
    JanaviBigWheel Arm2:004 hrs
    ArjunBlog Backlog2:004 hrs
    KarinaBigWheel2:004 hrs
    AbhiAutonomous2:004 hrs
    EvanBlog Backlog2:004 hrs
    Justin3D Modelling2:004 hrs
    BhanviyaOnboarding2:004 hrs

    Joining Iron Reign

    03 Nov 2018

    Joining Iron Reign By Bhanaviya

    Task: Reflect on my introduction into Iron Reign

    My induction into Iron Reign began with my introduction to FTC. Last year, in the beginning of my 8th Grade term, I found out that my middle school, Schimelpfenig, was hosting tryouts for their FIRST ever (is there an award for bad puns?) team. I'd always been interested in automation, and being part of a robotics team seemed pretty exciting, so I tried out. 3 weeks later, I found out that I had made the team - I was ecstatic but I didn't really have much of an idea of what I signed up for; until the 2017-18 challenge, Relic Recovery had been released. This sent both me and my team members into a cycle of what I liked to call "constructive chaos". Or as others might call it, just chaos. We started out by dividing ourselves into 3 main subgroups - build, code and notebook. Although we started out divided, we eventually began to merge. By the end of the first 2 weeks, each member was in at least 2 sub-divisions. We found this method to be much more effective, since it allowed us to communicate with one another more efficiently. We weren't the most structured team, but we had a system. And as a rookie team, that was our first FIRST success.

    When the time came for our first qualifier, none of us really knew what to expect. But we performed better than we had expected. This was true for our presentation and our first 3 matches; we had scored decently enough to be ranked under the top 10. The last two matches- not so much. Our robot knocked out the wrong jewel, blocked our partner and to top things off, stopped running in the middle of the game. I didn't have to be Mark Cuban to know that we weren't finalists. I wasn't quite upbeat about the awards ceremony. Until the judge got to Inspire awards. "3rd Place Inspire Award - SchimRobots!" 3rd Place wasn't the same as first, but it was a start. And then they got to the top 4 teams who had qualified to regionals. The first 2 alliances had qualified, and so had the first place inspire team. But lo behold! The second place inspire team had already qualified, which meant that our team was headed to regionals.

    We didn't, however, qualify at regionals, which meant that that was my last competition with 12900. It wasn't an entirely bad day though- I found out that the winning alliance had won due to a penalty, and that had to be the most amusing event I'd seen all season. I didn't know who they were but I knew their robot. Earlier in the day, me and another team member had been scouting when we met a team who used 3D printed parts. The member we spoke to showed us their 3D printed drive system. That was the first time I had encountered a team who used 3D printers at that large of a scale. I was skeptical, since I'd never seen anything like it, but when I realized their robot had won, I was intrigued. That was my first impression of Iron Reign.

    After joining TAG Magnet High School, I had heard about a Townview-wide FRC team, so I stayed back after school to look into that. A friend from my old robotics team had also come to the interest meeting. He wore our old team's FTC shirt, and though I questioned his logic at the time, that was how I became formally introduced to Iron Reign. Abhi (whom I later found out was the same member I had met during regionals) identified us by the FTC shirt and invited us to the SEM Robotics interest meeting. I vaguely remembered Iron Reign's 3D printed drive system from regionals. If working with Iron Reign meant that I could learn how to employ an unconventional strategy like that, then I was in. The interest meeting was intimidating, due to sheer number of people in the room, but it motivated me to start attending the meetings at our coach's house. I think the first lesson I learnt from Iron Reign was, "Find something to do." We had to make ourselves as useful as possible without expecting any guidance. Although it was a foreign idea to get used to, 2 months later it became a routine. It allowed me to learn from and communicate with members from all 4 teams, and the free-structured environment helped promote independence.

    The first time I got to interact with Iron Reign in their natural, outreach-oriented habitat, was prior to my joining, during the STEM Spark event. Charlotte and Janavi taught me how to teach the attendees Sumo Bot Fighting. It was easier to observe and learn from them, rather than dive right into it myself. Later into the event, I was instructed to lead some of the afternoon sessions on my own, which had to be the most exciting part of the day.

    3 weeks after the STEM Spark event was when I became recruited onto Iron Reign. It happened at 8:34 PM on the eve of Halloween when Mr Virani sent me an invitation. I was told of the commitments involved, the magnitude of joining, and to think carefully through my final decision. I was ecstatic, just as much as I was nervous. But then I recalled the challenge of working as part of a rookie FTC team, being expected, during Iron Reign meetings, to be as efficient as possible without being guided, and having to lead an outreach session which I had only seen being led by others. If I've learnt anything about Iron Reign, it's that learning from your environment, then learning how to best equip that knowledge, was the most efficient way to work in a team setting. The transition into this team is not meant to be easy; but it is meant to be an attainable goal. So, I agreed to join (in the most graciously professional manner, of course) -- and here we are. I'm still learning how Iron Reign's team dynamic operates and changes; but until then, I'm grateful for the opportunity, and excited to see what the season with Team 6832 holds.

    SEM Robotics Tournament

    07 Nov 2018

    SEM Robotics Tournament By Coach

    Iron Reign (team 6832), The School of Science and Engineering and the Dallas ISD STEM Department are happy to announce that we are hosting our second annual FIRST Tech Challenge qualifying tournament at our Townview campus on December 15th. Thirty North Texas robotics teams will compete for awards and approximately 5 or 6 advancements to the Regional Championship to be held in February.

    Calling All Volunteers

    This is the first time our school has hosted an official qualifying tournament and we will need your help to make it a first-rate experience. This is a full day event on Saturday, December 15. There are also options to help with setup Friday afternoon December 14. Please feel free to circulate this message to everyone in the SEM community who can contribute their time and expertise. And if you can suggest a business that might want to sponsor the event, we'll be happy to talk with them.

    We need to field some 60 or so volunteers!

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

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

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

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

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

    How to sign up as a volunteer

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

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

    To begin, go to the volunteer signup page for our event: https://my.firstinspires.org/Volunteers/Wizard/Search/2?EventId=39812

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

    All our Thanks,

    Karim Virani and Cathy Lux

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

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

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

    Conrad Qualifier

    10 Nov 2018

    Conrad Qualifier By Ethan, Charlotte, Karina, Janavi, Bhanaviya, Abhi, Arjun, Evan, and Justin

    Task: Compete at the N. TX Conrad Qualifier

    Hello, and welcome, to Iron Reign's first tournament of the season. Right off of a mortifying experience at the Hendricks MS Scrimmage, in which we got the worst score at thr tournament (and in the one match we did participate in, our robot broke) we walked in on shaky ground. In the week leading up to the tournament, Iron Reign worked hard, with 35 commits to the blog, and countless changes to our robot.

    Inspection

    Our robot fit well inside the sizing cube. However, we were warned for our rats' nest of wiring at the base of our robot, as well as the fact that our metal-frame base had shard corners.

    Presentation

    So, before this tournament, we'd done two presentation runthroughs. Usually, we do at least five. In addition, we had two members missing for the presentation, and two more who arrived just as the doors open. In summary, we were anything but prepared.

    We walked in, and started off out strong. Half of a good presentation is the energy, and we had more energy than some of our other presentations last year (confidence is equated with energy). Unfortunately, that energy petered out as we stuttered and tripped over ourselves. We got our information across, but not as well as we should have, and we didn't have enough time for questioning (where we usually shine).

    Robot Game

    We didn't really have a working robot, but we tried our best. Unfortunately, our best wasn't great.

    Match 1

    We lost, 33-135. We deployed the wrong autonomous and couldn't drive - a total wash.

    Match 6

    We lost, 15-70. Our robot's linear slide seized up, bringing our robot outside of sizing limits, so we had to sit out the match as we hacksawed through our intake.

    Match 11

    We lost, 47-122. Our autonomous worked! (but our team marker didn't deploy).

    Match 13

    We lost, 65-196. Our robot didn't work, we just drove ourselves around aimlessly.

    Match 15

    We lost, 10-167. This time, none of our robots worked!

    In summary, a dissappointing result.

    After-Judging and Awards Ceremony

    While we thought we hadn't done well in judging, we were quickly rebuffed. A good measure of judging success is if the judges come back to talk to you, and this was no exception. We had five seperate groups of judges come up to us and ask us about *every* component of our team, from business, to volunteering, to code, to design. So, for the first time, our cold, cold hearts skipped a beat.

    In the ceremony, every single member of SEM Robotics waited with bated breath. Iron Star had been the 4th alliance captain; Iron Core had demonstrated gracious professionalism; Iron Reign had multiple in-depth discussions with judges; Imperial had an exceptional journal. We watched each team get nominated for awards, but only that, and fall short. In particular, Iron Reign was nominated for every award but Innovate. Then came Inspire. We heard two names echo off as nominations; neither of them SEM Robotics teams. Finally, a speech flew across the arena as Iron Reign stood for their Inspire Award.

    Next Steps

    Even though we won Inspire, we have a long way to go. We are going to compete at at least one more tournament, and don't want to completely embarrass ourselves. Even though we won Inspire, we have a long way to go. We are going to compete at at least one more tournament, and don't want to completely embarrass ourselves.

    Inspire at Conrad Qualifier

    10 Nov 2018

    Inspire at Conrad Qualifier By Ethan

    This weekend, SEM sent four teams to the first qualifying tournament of the FTC Robotics Rover Ruckus 2018-2019 season. Iron Reign won the top award (Inspire) and advanced. For reference, Iron Reign is last year's FTC World Championship Motivate Award winner and is the "varsity" team of the SEM Robotics organization.

    Left to right: Janavi Chadha, Bhanaviya Venkat, Justin Bonsell, Abhijit Bhattaru, Charlotte Leakey, Karina Lara, Ethan Helfman, Evan Daane, Karim Virani. Not shown: Kenna Tanaka, Arjun Vikram and mentors Catherine Lux and Calvin Boykin.

    Imperial Robotics was a finalist for the Think Award due to the excellence of their engineering journal.

    Hudson Shields, Alisa Lin, Blaine Wells, Christian Saldana, Rohit Shankar. Not shown: Thu Le, Jonathan Hamada.

    Our two new rookie teams beat back tough odds from a field of seasoned teams. Iron Star became the 4th alliance captain in the playoff rounds.

    Left to right: Katelyn Cumplido, Shawn Halimman, Henry Le, Evan Branson, Paul Lea, Aaron Daane. Not shown: Beau Aveton, Cooper Clem, Harish Jai Ganesh, Benjamin Oommen.

    Iron Core was publicly invited to join the 3rd alliance in the playoffs, but graciously declined because they had a new fault in their robot and didn't want to drag the alliance down just to get into the playoffs. This was a highly laudable moment at the tournament and demonstrates the highest level of sportsmanship. FTC is about so much more than the robot, and no team emphasized that more then Iron Core.

    Left to right: Mahesh Natamai, Jose Lomeli, Ben Bruick, Samuel Adler, Ephraim Sun.

    Conrad Qualifier Post Mortem - Short Term

    17 Nov 2018

    Conrad Qualifier Post Mortem - Short Term By Ethan, Bhanaviya, Janavi, Charlotte, Kenna, Arjun, Justin, Janavi, Karina, and Abhi

    Task: Analyze what went wrong at Conrad

    Iron Reign didn't necessarily have the best time at Conrad. As shown in last week's tournament post, the day had its ups and downs. Even though it was a successful tournament overall, there's so much that we could do better.

    Problems:

    The Robot

    So, to be frank, our robot was a hunk of junk. A breadless toaster attached to a REV hub would have performed the same as our robot, and saved us the embarassment in the meantime. So, we'll have to go a bit more in-depth than just saying that our robot was a hunk of junk.

    • The Intake
    • So, the intake itself had a multitude of problems. First and foremost, we actually didn't have a way to contain the particles from the intake. Being that Rover Ruckus' primary way of scoring is by depositing the particles into the lander, this was a pretty big oversight. To solve this, we plan to add a catcher at the bottom of the intake using this template.

      As well, our linear slide locked up in the middle of the tournament that allows our intake to extend further (we had to saw through it). Now, we have latches that keep the intake from retracting without human assistance.

    • Superman Arm
    • So, this impressed the judges a lot and was one of the more reliable parts of our robot. However, there were still issues. First and foremost, the arm became unaligned so that the gears began to grind during the judging presentation. This was an easy fix - we just adjusted a set screw - but we need a more rigorous solution. Right now, we're considering metal gears instead.

    The Presentation\Judging

    So, we didn't have much practice with our presentation. In addition to that, we were missing a member and had just added another member. So, we weren't really in tip-top shape. Some of the more major issues were slide order (~5 second gaps between people talking, stuttering due to unfamiliarity with content, and energy (a majority of the members present had held an all-nighter so we weren't really awake).

    We plan to majorly revamp our presentation, adding to the story of BigWheel's development. Plus, we'll have all of our members in the next presentation, which'll be a major help. We need to do more practice, but that's a given.

    Another thing that we fell short on was the Innovate Award (the only award that we weren't mentioned for). A good portion of this is that the Innovate Award rubric emphasizes that the robot needs to work; ours really didn't. However, we need to take a retrospective look at our mechanism insofar that we need to show our difference between us and other robots.

    Programming

    Despite our all-nighter and prior large codebase, we were pretty short on workable code. So, while our driving worked, not much else did. We had an "autonomous," and by that I mean we theoretically had code that could be construed as an autonomous if you squint hard enough.

    Next, we need to work on our Pose class (the one that determines the position of the robot on the field). From there, we need to add autonomous enhancements, allowing us to drive a little better. The most efficient use of our time could be put toward raising our robot to score and latch, as well as TensorFlow recognition of the minerals.

    Meeting Log

    17 Nov 2018

    Meeting Log November 17, 2018 By Charlotte, Karina, Kenna, Janavi, Evan, Justin, Ethan, Arjun, Bhanaviya, and Abhi

    Meeting Log November 17, 2018

    Today's Meet Objectives

    We are going to discuss multiple facets of our team (presentation, engineering journal, organization, etc) with alumni Jayesh and Lin. What we hope to gain out of our conversation is an outside perspective. In addition to this conversation we wish to continue in our reflection of the tournament last weekend and preparation for our next tournament.

    To say that Iron Reign, along with the rest of the teams that share our space, has been messy would be an understatement. In the week leading up to the qualifier, our workspace became incredibly untidy to our detriment, as it is much more difficult to find a tool or part when everything is spread all over the house and the tent. Since the qualifier, we are taking any down time we have to organize our space. Karina and Janavi spent a large portion of practice organizing all of our parts and tools. They organized our drawers Organiation has historically been a weak spot for Iron Reign, so this year we really want to crack down on that problem.

    We only had a few hours to build, and to make up for that we had a lot of hands on the robot. Evan, Kenna, Janavi, and Karina (when the latter two weren't organizing) were all making improvements on our robot, notable problems we found at the tournament last week. These problems mostly dealt with wire organization and our superman arm, which we fixed some good progress with. Also, Bhanaviya is learning to make blog posts. We showed her our blog post guides and answered any questions she had. Expect to hear from her soon :)

    The main focus of today's meeting was speaking to our alumni Jayesh and Lin who are both in their sophomore of college. They were both founding members of Iron Reign, they were in their senior year the first time we went to supers. We pulled up Skype and were happy to realize that Abhi, who couldn't make it to practice today, could join the call. We started off by introducing Iron Reign's new members, Arjun and Bhanaviya, and then we kicked right into conversation. First, we talked about the competition last weekend. They had looked over the engineering journal and the video of our presentation and gave us some helpful advice as to improve those aspects of the competition. Our presentation lacked energy and enthusiasm, which is a common problem in our presentations. We have great enthusiasm for our work and progress, but we have trouble expressing it on early morning competition days. This could also be improved by lots and lots of practice, so we don't ever have to focus on our memorization, rather focusing on the expression of our passion for robotics. Also, they provided insight on our engineering journal, which they said needs more cohesiveness between posts. This takes the form of adding links to older blog posts that reference future ones after we have written them. Finally, we discussed the new teams we have started, Iron Core and Iron Star, and asked for their advice on how to approach mentoring the new recruits. They told us that rather than waiting for them to seek us out, we need to seek them out, as many of the recruits don't have the confidence to approach us, since many of our team members are older. We want to let them know that Iron Reign is here to help them in any way possible and to make our workspace one of collaboration and the transfer of ideas through the teams and grade levels.

    Team MembersTaskStart TimeDuration
    KarinaOrganization and Build2:004 hrs
    AbhiConversation2:004 hrs
    EvanRobot build2:004 hrs
    CharlotteBlog and organization2:004 hrs
    EthanWorking on blog2:004 hrs
    KennaRobot build2:004 hrs
    Justin3D Modelling2:004 hrs
    JanaviOrganization and build2:004 hrs
    BhanaviyaLearning to Blog2:004 hrs

    Mentoring SchimRobots at Rice MS Tournament

    17 Nov 2018

    Mentoring SchimRobots at Rice MS Tournament By Bhanaviya

    Task: Mentor a middle school team at the RMS Qualifier

    Earlier today, I attended the Rice Middle School Qualifier, in order to mentor my middle school team, SchimRobots, as an alumnus. Since they weren’t competing in the event, I used the qualifier as an opportunity to discuss their team’s progress thus far. Last year, when I was a member of SchimRobots, we had qualified to regionals by attaining 3rd Place Inspire Award in a qualifier. Since the Inspire Award had a heavy focus on a team’s engineering notebook, I decided to help out by looking through their journal. Through my 2-week experience as an Iron Reign member, the biggest takeaway I’ve earned was that in order for a team’s notebook to succeed, all members must actively contribute to the journal. The way 12900 operates is through units. There is a unit specifically dedicated to the engineering notebook, and the members in that unit are the ones who work on the notebook. However, as I’ve learned thus far, because different members are equipped with different skill sets, it is more effective for each member to record their personal experiences within the team, rather than for a smaller group to carry the entire load.

    SchimRobots Team Overview

    That was the first takeaway that I decided to pass on. The second was that all ideas, regardless of potential, must be recorded. The purpose of the journal is to document all ideas, despite their success rate. This documentation showcases how iterative a team’s thinking can be when attempting to solve a problem. Because an iterative process helps portray a team’s “journey” in overcoming a challenge, dedicating a portion of an entry to any idea a team considered implementing is an effective strategy in making one’s journal as thorough as possible.

    At the end of the day, we discussed the possibility of another meet-up, this one with more experienced members of Iron Reign to mentor the middle-school team, prior to their second qualifier.

    Next Steps

    The next step is to consider, with the rest of Iron Reign, the feasibility of organizing another mentoring session, taking into account where and how much help SchimRobots needs, and where and how much Iron Reign can offer.

    Conrad Qualifier Post Mortem - Long Term

    20 Nov 2018

    Conrad Qualifier Post Mortem - Long Term By Ethan

    What could have gone better?

    Our last postmortem discussed what went wrong with our performance, what our negatives were, discussing on each point whether we crashed and burned or if we merely dropped in altitude. This post isn't about that - it's about what we need to do to do better

    WWJD? - Prep

    We were not at our best in prep. But, this isn't about what we did wrong, it's about what we need to improve. The format of this will be in issue > solution format.

    • Lack of tools and parts
      • Pack tools the week before - involves better organization overall
      • Bring failsafes & extra parts - prevents costly errors
    • Little presentation practice
      • Cut down powerpoint - optimally 8 minutes
      • More practice - seamless transition
      • Order - we need to tell a story
    • Journal prep
      • Same issue - we need to organize the journal to tell a story
      • Lack of images - backdate images in blog posts
      • Lack of diagrams - explanatory
      • Lack of continuity - link posts together to show how components of team have changed
      • Need to write real control award

    Programming

    Build

    Other

    • Presentation
      • Map slides to articles in journal
      • Review judging rubrics

    Next Steps

    Conrad Post-Mortem 3 - the Presentation

    23 Nov 2018

    Conrad Post-Mortem 3 - the Presentation By Ethan

    Task: Review our presenation and point out issues

    Issues

    0:05 [Evan & Everyone] – Absolutely no energy | Suggestion: Have Abhi start off with energy

    0:32 [Ethan] – Still no energy, sounds like a plain list of info, no excitement

    0:51 [Ethan -> Janavi] – Dropoff, pause between people | Suggestion: Practice

    1:02 [Janavi] – Again, no energy | Suggestion: Need emphasis on “that was two years ago”

    1:18 [Charlotte] – Pauses, lack of momentum in speaking | Suggestion: More practice

    1:34 [Janavi] – Lack of emphasis on team hour\connection #s | Good: No pauses\stuttering

    2:00 [Charlotte] – Dependence on presentation slides (what it sounds like, lots of pauses)

    2:15 [Janavi] – Almost too fast transition, sounds like you’re speaking over Charlotte | Suggestion: Try to draw out that “so!” to a “sooo!” to make a smooth transition

    2:22 [Bhanaviya] – Same thing, draw out that list, but good energy

    2:50 [Janavi] – Put emphasis on that 150k bc its really exciting, sound excited

    3:08 [Janavi -> Ethan] – Paused between slides

    3:16 [Ethan] – Pausing in the middle of speaking

    3:40 [Abhi] – Good energy

    3:43 [Abhi] – Paused

    4:27 [Abhi -> Justin] – Biiiiig pause

    4:32 [Justin] – Negative energy

    4:36 [Justin -> Ethan] – Long pause, rushed intro b/c of that

    4:58 [Ethan] – Pause in between topics

    5:40 [Janavi -> Evan] – Big pause

    5:55 [Evan] – Content comes across clearly, just need to be excited

    6:14 [Evan] – Pls don’t refer to presentation, is noticeable

    6:34 [Bhanaviya] – Same thing

    7:00 [Janavi] – Pauses in the middle of content

    7:10 [Karina] – Pls don’t refer to presentation

    7:21 [Abhi] – Good energy

    7:46 [???] – Didn’t have BigWheel ready

    7:53 [Evan] – Small but very noticeable pause

    8:00 [Evan -> Abhi -> Karina] – Very good transition

    8:16 [Robot] – O no

    8:45 [Karina] – Little pauses

    9:05 [Evan] – Mistake on what information to present (went for the one Karina did instead of corncob)

    9:26 [Evan -> Janavi -> Karina] – Lag time between segments

    9:35 [Karina] – Reliance on presentation slides

    9:59 [Justin] – Sound excited not sad

    10:01 [Justin -> Abhi] – Large pause between

    10:40 [Arjun] – Please gesticulate

    11:26 [Abhi] – Started to mumble

    11:33 [Ethan] – Stuttering

    11:37 [Ethan] – Again

    11:46 [Ethan] – And

    11:52 [Ethan] – Again

    12:13 [Ethan] – Lost confidence, got quieter

    Next Steps

    The main way to fix all of this is just practice, and a lot of it.

    Meeting Log

    24 Nov 2018

    Meeting Log November 24, 2018 By Ethan, Abhi, Kenna, Janavi, Evan, Karina, and Bhanaviya

    Meeting Log November 24, 2018

    Two weeks ago, all four teams in the household attended the Conrad Qualifier. This requires huge amounts of equipment being ferried in and out of the house, so at the end, we had a house-shaped pile of miscellanous tools and parts. So, as this is a house that people actually live in, we had to clean up. This was top priority for every single member of every single team, so assume that every member mentioned participated in cleanup (we're forgoing the usual table of tasks).

    We started by bringing everything out of the house: robots, tools, hardware cases, anything relatively related to robotics that wasn't bolted down, unceremonally tossing these on the ground outside. Then, we set up tables to organize on with a bunch of empty boxes. Then, we set to work. We initially picked off all of the non-powered tools and put them in one bag. Then we did the same for wires, motors, servos, and the like. Then, each box of parts was sorted by type so that we could actually find equipment again. We worked for about 5 hours - and we're still not even close to done! We have at least another 5 hours, then we have to bring everything inside and delegate the parts.

    C.A.R.T. Bot Side Shields

    01 Dec 2018

    C.A.R.T. Bot Side Shields By Ethan

    Task: Design sideshields for the Townview Tournament

    Iron Reign takes pride in the Townview Tournament; we really enjoy making it a great experience for everyone. One small way we plan to improve the tournament is to turn our MXP into a robot repair shop for broken robots. In addition to this, we're turning CART Bot into an ambulance to carry broken bots that need repair. To do so, we're wiring a flashing light to the cart, as well as printing giant sideshields on either side. The shields are above.

    Agenda for Dallas Personal Robotics Group

    01 Dec 2018

    Agenda for Dallas Personal Robotics Group By Bhanaviya, Karina, Kenna, Ethan, Abhi, Evan, and Charlotte

    Task: Set up an outline as to how the DPRG Presentation will operate

    Next Saturday, December 8th, Iron Reign will be giving its judging presentation to members from the Dallas Personal Robotics Group. Our primary purpose from this visit is to gain feedback from engineers in the community on our presentation. The presentation is anticipated to go beyond 15 minutes, so that we can introduce our potential ideas for the near-future, and so that DPRG can ask us more technical questions, that may not have arose from our presentation. Here's our anticpated agenda:

    1. Before the presentation begins, we will play the challenge reveal for this year, so that DPRG gets a basic idea as to what mechanical and technical challenges we must overcome in this season.
    2. Members who were with the team during Worlds will give an overview of what the Worlds championship is like.
    3. We give our judging presentation. (Approximately 15 minutes)
    4. We provide a demo of our robot. This demo will be similar to what we provided to the judges during pit-visits.
    5. We discuss some of our more ambitious build ideas thus far, such as the Superman Subsystem, and potential ways to improve upon these ideas.
    6. Provide an introduction of our Android Studio Control System and discuss the operation of how Big Wheel performs autonomous, and other low-level behaviors based on remote control and telemetry.
    7. We will wrap-up by discussing our expectations for the rest of the season, and answer any other questions DPRG has for us.

    Next Steps

    We will meet during the rest of the week to practise our presentation for this Saturday. Based on our first qualifier, our judging presentation could use some improvement, so we will work on fine-tuning that as well. We will have one last meeting on Friday to practise, before our presentationon the 8th. This presentation is anticipated to have an audience who will be particularly interested in the technical parts of our robot, so we also have to work on getting Big Wheel ready for demo-mode before this Saturday.

    Presenting to the DPRG

    08 Dec 2018

    Presenting to the DPRG By Ethan, Janavi, Charlotte, Arjun, Karina, Abhi, Evan, Bhanaviya, and Kenna

    Task: Present to the Dallas Personal Robotics Group about robot vision and Iron Reign

    So, we reached out to the Dallas Personal Robotics Group to present - we've presented to them in the past about gyros - this was actually our biggest numerical outreach of the season back in the day. This year, we wanted to present again on computer vision, as this is something that they were very interested in, but we also wanted to give our actual presentation as practice for our next tournament. However, after we reached out to them, other Dallas-area groups joined in, such as Computer Visionaries. So, our presentation was advertised all over Dallas Meetup groups, but the main one was here.

    So, the initial agenda is hosted on our website, but a quick summary is this: a rundown of Worlds, our usual presentation, and our vision presentation. Our presentation went well - it was our usual tournament one for judges - we just took more time for the presentation, went on diatribes, told stories, and the like, and generally made it more enertaining. We answered questions on everything: code, building, outreach, and more. We're going to upload the video here soon. We also asked for feedback from the listeners

    Then, we moved on to the vision presentation, the reason why everyone was there. Again, we'll upload a video of the presentation, and attach the presentation slides below. But, a quick summary of the presentation is that we covered OpenCV and VuForia first, then moved on to TensorFlow and CNN. This is where everyone became really became interested and asked questions. We also got a lot of advice, mainly on training the neural network. The presentation is here.

    Contact Us

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