Articles by tag: organization

Articles by tag: organization

    Organization!

    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!

    Post Kickoff Meeting

    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

    Meeting Log

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    Meeting Log

    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

    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.

    Meeting Log

    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

    Meeting Log

    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

    Meeting Log

    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.

    Meeting Log

    Meeting Log December 01, 2018 By Charlotte, Ethan, Kenna, Evan, Abhi, Justin, and Bhanaviya

    Meeting Log December 01, 2018

    Today's Meet Objectives

    We plan to prepare for a few events coming up, the tournament we are going to host at Townview and our presentation to the Dallas Personal Robotics Group. As well, we plan to continue building our robot and improve on the superman arm in preparation for our next competition in January.

    The Townview qualifier is coming up in just a few weeks, and we are starting to make preparations. Today, Ethan is turning CartBot into AmbulenceBot. We are going to print out some side shields designed to look like the sides of an ambulence. We are using Adobe Illustrator, which we use for a lot of our graphics including the timelines and posters we bring to competitions. One difficulty in printing these side shields is that we cannot make them a classic ambulence red as the printer we are going to use isn't of a good enough quality thus smearing the ink and distorting the image. For this reason, Ethan is designing the ambulence to be all white with red details.

    This year, we want to continue our materials testing in order to ensure our robot is efficient. Here is Ethan performing one of these tests, meausing the friction of different materials we might use for an intake system. Further information on the tests will be included in a future post.

    Kenna worked on our social media, namely the instagram account. We've been posting a lot more consistently than before, but in the peak of the season we want to revamp the account and put out some good content to make connections with even more teams all over the world. We spoke to the other teams about their own accounts and content that will allow for more connections. Follow Iron Star @iron_star_official !!!!

    Evan and Karina, in addition to working on improving the Superman arm, dedicated a lot of time to organization. With the holidays coming up and attendance starting to vary, it's important to be organized physically and in team mamagement.

    Justin kept working on the 3D model, which is essential to complete as we are trying to improve the various systems on our robot, especially the Superman arm and other complicated mechanisms.

    A universal responsibility for Iron Reign members is writing blog posts. We taught Bhanaviya how to use GitHub and Notepad ++ so that she can write her own blog posts and post them to the blog. Before, she was using a school-issued laptop and couldn't download those programs, but we were able to finally pass down that knowledge. You'll be hearing from her soon.

    Abhi is preparing a demo in preparation for our meeting with the Dallas Personal Robotics Group (DPRG). We are going to show off our robot's computer vision capabilities and the strides we have made to train our own neural network. We expect to recieve a lot of specific questions about this . Our presentation will be an hour long

    Today's Work Log

    Team MembersTaskStart TimeDuration
    AbhiCode2:004
    EthanBlog & Testing2:004
    EvanBuild2:004
    CharlotteBlog2:004
    BhanaviyaBlog2:004
    KarinaBuild2:004
    JustinModelling2:004
    KennaSocial Media2:004

    The Return of BatteryBox

    The Return of BatteryBox By Ethan

    Task: Create a charging station for our phones and batteries

    A long time ago, in a land far, far away, Iron Reign once had a battery box. This was a fabled land, where all batteries remained charged and phones roamed the land, happy and content with their engorged batteries. But, this land was neglected, with the meadows of electricity growing dim, the plastic of the land cracking and scattering to the four corners of the Earth, and those who found their home there lost to the void.

    We have a problem keeping our phones charged at tournaments and in practice. So, we made a simple battery box to fix it. We used an old REV container and cut some spare wood to create dividers, cut a hole for a surge protector, and we were a go.

    Next Steps

    Iron Reign really needs to work on its organization in general, and this was just one way to stem the tide of entropy. We need to revitalize our tournament kits of tools next.

    Meeting Log

    Meeting Log December 22, 2018 By Charlotte, Ethan, Janavi, Bhanaviya, Evan, Arjun, and Abhi

    Meeting Log December 22, 2018

    Today's Meet Objectives

    Happy Holidays! Today is a bit slow due to the holidays, but we're still working hard. Some goals for today include a battery box, repair and improvement of our intake system, and organization.

    On the robot, we are resizing the intake system as a whole so that it folds in completely and fits within the 18 by 18 sizing requirement. It's gained some weight from the holidays, so this resizing will slim it down to leave some room to build later on. Our biggest focus today was on our intake system, notably building a system that deposits the minerals. We plan to create the system out of polycarb, but first we are prototyping with cardboard. There are two versions we have prototyped so far, as you can see below.

    Version 1: too wide and the triangle flaps were improperly cut so the edges interfere with the intake

    Version 2: fixes problems above, with the hypotenuse of the triangular flaps on the main part of the carrier

    Ethan built a battery box for this season! We usually just throw everything into a plastic box, but that habit isn't great, as cords get tangled and the whole box becomes disorganized. We made the box out of an orange REV starter kit and sawed some wood to fit snuggly in order to have some dividers. Finally we drilled a hole in the side for the power strip cord. At first, we used a hand drill, but there wasn't a drill bit big enough, so we used a jigsaw. Here's a picture below, it's a beaut!

    Arjun is working on our neural network for which we need to capture more training data. He is creating a program that will have the robot take pictures & capture the data we need as it drives. Also, we had a bare-bones autonomous for the qualifier, so over the break we want to revamp our autonomous so that we can incorporate the neural network we are training more effectively.

    Today's Work Log

    Team MembersTaskStart TimeDuration
    ArjunNeural network data collection2:001
    JanaviPrototyping2:001
    BhanaviyaPrototyping2:001
    EthanBlog2:001
    EvanBuild & Prototyping2:001
    CharlotteBlog2:001
    AbhiPrototyping2:001

    Meeting Log - Dec. 19, 2018

    Meeting Log - Dec. 19, 2018 December 29, 2018 By Ethan, Evan, Janavi, Karina, Abhi, and Arjun

    Meeting Log December 29, 2018

    Hello and welcome to the Iron Reign Holiday meet. We've got a few meet objectives today, namely:

    • Autonomous
    • BigWheel Side Plates
    • PowerPoint Revisions
    • Blog Post Backlog
    • Tent Cleanup
    These aren't all super-top priorities for us, but they all need to get done. And, as we're working with a skeleton crew, we might as well.

    So, first, Janavi, Abhi, and Ethan cleaned the tent, preparing it for autonomous testing. To do so, they got some freshmen to take up their robot parts as they cleaned and organized the field. We were missing a suprising number of tiles, so we had to replace them. As well, the recent rain had weakened the wood lying underneath. We're not going to do anything to fix this right now, but we really should.

    Next, we did PowerPoint revisions. Our presentations have always run over the 15 minute time limit, and we really need to fix it. As well, we want to change our presentation order such that we start off with the weakest award (motivate) and end on a strong note. We deleted about 5 slides, added 1, updated the Townview Tournament slide, and fixed some typos. We figure that this'll cut down our time and streamline the process.

    In the meantime, Ethan updated old blog posts and fixed broken images on the blog. Some examples of this are the Superman Arm's breakage, the old shields, Friction Test, and Battery Box posts. This took a significant amount of time.

    Finally, we had to cut new shields for the robot arms. These prevent the arms from moving back downward, allowing our robot to score in the lander. Evan measured these and melted them today, and plans to cut them next practice.

    Teammember Statistics Update

    Teammember Statistics Update By Ethan

    Task: Look at the commitment changes over time of our team

    It's a new year! And, with this new year comes new tournaments, new experiences, new projects, and more. But, to grow, one must reflect. Iron Reign's had a pretty big year, from going to Worlds to the prospect of a new MXP. And, while we can't analyze every possible aspect of the team, we can look at our stats page and differences from last year to this year.

    We aren't amazing at keeping an archive of our team hours and such, so I had to pull these statistics from archive.org. The first archived version of the page in 2018 was from Feb. 14.

    As of today, our stats page displays this.

    Finally, the statistics page at the beginning of the season looked like this.

    And, the differences between each are below.

    Next Steps

    Iron Reign wishes y'all a Happy New Year! We wish to see progress among us all in these coming months.

    Off-Schedule Meeting Log, Winter Edition

    Off-Schedule Meeting Log, Winter Edition January 03, 2019 By Ethan, Evan, Karina, Abhi, and Arjun

    Meeting Log (Week of)January 03, 2019

    It's wintertime in Texas! The wind is gusting through the trees, the cool chill of the rain is permeating the air, and the fire of robotics keeps us toasty in our hearts, driving us to finish our robot as our tournament approaches.

    We have quite a few tasks this week, including but not necessarily excluding those not listed:

    • Latch design

    • We've had an idea for a latch for a while. We started with the simple hook pictured below, but it was just that, a start. We want to move on to bigger and better things. So, we designed a new version, displayed below the hook.

      This version uses two of the above gears to form the latch. Then, as the robot shifts, the latch becomes undone, allowing the robot to gently fall upon the ground, much like a baby bird departing its nest for the last time.
    • Latch attachment

    • So, just having a design isn't enough, it actually has to be implemented. It's crazy, but apparently it's true. So, Evan cut some attachment points that also function as linear slide stoppers as detailed in our last post.

      Then, we attached the latching system to the attachment posts on each side, mounting the latching system as seen here.

    • Fixing superman and wheels

    • While Karina was testing our robot, BigWheel suddenly began to lose friction, stranding itself in the middle of the field. It would only operate if more weight was put upon it. We haven't determined the reason yet; it could be that the temperature caused some strange material effect, but the new linear slides could also have shifted the weight distribution of the robot away from the main wheels. In addition, the Superman arm failed to work. We've narrowed it down to a code issue, but beyond that, we're scratching our heads.


      Karina putting weight on the robot

    • End\Beginning of year review

    • Iron Reign has a tradition of reviewing the performance of the past year; this year I chose to begin it using numbers. I went back in the archives and used the stats page to count contributions from team members. This post can be found here.
    • TensorFlow & OpenCV testing

    • We still need to fully implement gold/silver particle detection, as well as the rest of our autonomous. To begin on this long, arduous process, Abhi and Arjun worked from home to begin vision integration. At the current point, the program detects gold most of the time. We are experiencing a bug in that the telemetry isn't detected.

    Meeting Log Jan 5 2019

    Meeting Log Jan 5 2019 By Bhanaviya, Charlotte, Kenna, Evan, Arjun, Ethan, Janavi, Karina, Austin, Lin, Jayesh, and Omar
    Meeting Log: Jan 5, 2019

    Today's Meet Objectives

    Winter break is coming to a close so for today's meet, we have more ambitious goals than usual. Some goals for today include lowering the latch on Superman so that it becomes more hook-friendly, taking a team-picture, and re-assign presentation slides.

    On the robot, Evan lowered the latch system so that the system would be compatible for the hanging task. After the latch system was lowered, bolts on both sides of the lift system had to be moved so that they would allign with one another. The lift system was also modified so that it becomes motorized and thus no longer has to rely on gravity to be operational. Additionally, Janavi and Karina attached the ratchet-latch to a polycarb so that it would be more supported when attempting to latch on.

    In terms of code, Arjun is working on using internal Tensorflow Object Detection code to grab frames for the autonomous. Additionally, he is working on ensuring accuracy in the output of OpenCV. Since the mineral intake system is a critical function during both autonomous and teleop, most of this break was spent on ensuring that the code for the mineral-intake was accurate and efficient.

    Our first presentation of the season got off to a rocky start. So, to ensure that there won't be a repeat of that situation at our next qualifier, with the help of the alums, we did a thorough presentation runthrough. We started out by re-assigning presentation slides, taking into account who would and would not be present for the next qualifier. We aldo added slides about the more recent outreach events we were involved in thus far, such as the DPRG Presentation. Then, we redid our presentation, with the alums as iur judges. A critique that persisted from our "judges" was that we weren't as enthusiastic as we could have been. So, we decided that a better way to convey our energy was by finding out a way in which we stood out from other competing teams. Since we were an outreach-oriented team, the best way for us to have accomplish this goal would be to emphasize the value gained from our outreach, rather than the strategic goals achieved. This would allow us to relay our enthusiasm for FIRST and STEM as a whole more effectively, and allow us to have a greater impact to those whom we present to. Another way for us to stand out was the back-and-forth debate between Karina and Evan on Mini Mech vs Big Wheel. Since that interaction effectively conveyed both the iterative nature of Iron Reign's engineering process as well as our team's quirks as a whole, we realized with the help of our alums that it would be a creative way for us to stand out. With all this in mind, we are now better-prepared for our next presentation.

    And last but not least, we accomplished the task of taking a suitable team picture for our journal - this one encompassing both current and old members of the team.

    Next Steps

    Now that our presentation has been improved upon, the next step is to have a group run-through before we're ready to present on Jan 19th. Robot hanging and a working autonomous are our biggest priorities for the upcoming qualifier, so we will meet over the next 2 weeks.

    Vision Summary

    Vision Summary By Arjun and Abhi

    Task: Reflect on our vision development

    One of our priorities this season was our autonomous, as a perfect autonomous could score us a considerable amount of points. A large portion of these points come from sampling, so that was one of our main focuses within autonomous. Throughout the season, we developed a few different approaches to sampling.

    Early on in the season, we began experimenting with using a Convolutional Neural Network to detect the location of the gold mineral. A Convolutional Neural Network, or CNN, is a machine learning algorithm that uses multiple layers which "vote" on what the output should be based on the output of previous layers. We developed a tool to label training images for use in training a CNN, publicly available at https://github.com/arjvik/MineralLabler. We then began training a CNN with the training data we labeled. However, our CNN was unable to reach a high accuracy level, despite us spending lots of time tuning it. A large part of this came to our lack training data. We haven't given up on it, though, and we hope to improve this approach in the coming weeks.

    We then turned to other alternatives. At this time, the built-in TensorFlow Object Detection code was released in the FTC SDK. We tried out TensorFlow, but we were unable to use it reliably. Our testing revealed that the detection provided by TensorFlow was not always able to detect the location of the gold mineral. We attempted to modify some of the parameters, however, since only the trained model was provided to us by FIRST, we were unable to increase its accuracy. We are currently looking to see if we can detect the sampling order even if we only detect some of the sampling minerals. We still have code to use TensorFlow on our robot, but it is only one of a few different vision backends available for selection during runtime.

    Another alternative vision framework we tried was OpenCV. OpenCV is a collection of vision processing algorithms which can be combined to form powerful pipelines. OpenCV pipelines perform sequential transformations on their input image, until it ends up in a desired form, such as a set of contours or boundaries of all minerals detected in the image. We developed an OpenCV pipeline to find the center of the gold mineral given an image of the sampling order. To create our pipeline, we used a tool called GRIP, which allows us to visualize and tune our pipeline. However, since we have found the lighting conditions to greatly influence the quality of detection, we hope to add LED lights to the top of our phone mount so we can get consistent lighting on the field, hopefully further increasing our performance.

    Since we wanted to be able to switch easily between these vision backends, we decided to write a modular framework which allows us to swap out vision implementations with ease. As such, we are now able to choose which vision backend we would like to use during the match, with just a single button press. Because of this, we can also work in parallel on all of the vision backends.

    Next Steps

    We would like to continue improving on and testing our vision software so that we can reliably sample during our autonomous.

    Meeting Log

    Meeting Log January 12, 2019 By Charlotte, Kenna, Karina, Evan, Justin, Abhi, Ethan, Arjun, and Janavi

    Meeting Log January 12, 2019

    Today's Meet Objectives

    With the competition a week away, we are practicing our presentation frequently. We want to have the info we present super fleshed out so that we can efficiently communicate our accomplishments this year as well as making small last-mintue changes as we see fit. Last time we presented, we were a bit all over the place; we talked over eachother and stuttered quite a bit. This practice is to minimize these mistakes and finish our presentation in an appropriate amount of time, so we can answer questions.

    We finished up the design for version 2 of the latch system, and we just printed it out. Janavi is assembling the design and it's looking good. The 2nd version changes the stopping mechanism; the bearings are now in the mount rather than in the actual sprockets. Once it is done being put together it'll go right on the robot.

    Evan and Karina worked on reattaching/realigning the belt drive for the lift. It would go off in unintended angles, the process went smoothly except for the fact that we are going to need to tighen the zip ties by replacing them frequently. Also, the REV rails for our intake system are quite heavy, so we are building a new intake with its old components and carbon fiber tubing instead of REV rails. Justin designed and started a print for a perpendicular mounting bracket for the carbon fiber tubes. To add to the new intake system, Evan is making a new box to store minerals out of polycarb.

    Arjun tested and fine-tuned our computer vision. This vision uses Open CV, taking inspiration from the published pipeline and Doge CV. The vision is working well, so he is integrating the vision into the autonomous program that Abhi created. Karina and Arjun have been working diligently to test this autonomous so that it is in working condition for the next competition.

    Ethan, after working on the blog and its preparation to be printed, he began the design for side shields, which we are planning to cut out using a laser cutter that is stored in our school's engineering classroom. The design process of these will be described in more detail in a future blog post once they are designed further.

    Today's Work Log

    Team MembersTaskStart TimeDuration
    CharlotteBlog2:004
    JanaviBuild2:004
    EthanBlog2:004
    Evan/td>Build2:004
    AbhiCode & Testing2:004
    ArjunCode & Testing2:004
    KarinaBuild & Testing2:004
    JustinModelling2:004
    KennaProofreading2:004