Congratulations to our 2015 Graduating Seniors

2015_grad_snrsEight of our Rockford Robotics team members are moving on to college in the fall. Check out their plans:

  • Brandon C will study mechanical engineering at Letourneau University
  • Mitchell K will study engineering physics at Rock Valley College
  • Ben K will is exploring career paths at Rock Valley College
  • Shawn M will study aerospace engineering at Purdue University
  • Jacob P will study electrical engineering at Bradley University
  • Ben P is studying media and design at Rock Valley College
  • Kyle R will study manufacturing engineering at Bradley University
  • Shayne T will study electrical engineering at University of Wisconsin, Platteville

Congratulations to all! We will miss you.

Team 2039 at 2015 FIRST World Championship

2015 FIRST World ChampionshipWorld Championships were huge this year with 608 teams competing. It was broken down into 8 divisions with 76 teams in each division. Since we knew our robot was not the best offensive robot, we were busy optimizing our robot to do one function well. It was noticed, and we were picked in the 1st round by the #8 seed. This is only the 2nd time Rockford Robotics has been selected to compete in eliminations at the World Championships, and the highest we’ve ever been selected. Our team captain showed Gracious Professionalism® when they decided that the alliance would be better if the 3 robots they selected competed together, so they sat out of the eliminations. We knew it was going to be difficult fighting from the #8 seed without our alliance captain in what appeared to be a difficult division. The alliance came up with a great strategy to play to each robot’s strength, but ultimately we finished 5th in the quarter-finals and just missed out on the semi-finals.

Some quick facts:

  • We were in Newton Division.
  • We ended in Ranked 46th with an average qualification score of 115 and average playoff score of 195.
  • For comparison, at Central Illinois Regional we had an average qualification score of 74.17 and average playoff score of 48.5. At Midwest Regional we had an average qualification score of 75 and average playoff score of 74.5
  • We were the 8th overall pick (First round pick!) selected by our alliance captain team 4118  (Rank 11).  Our other Alliance members were team 955 (Rank 14) and team 4954 (Rank 29).

Beyond the competition, our team had a chance to connect with a Peoria, IL team that wants to do a robotics rollout within their school system, similar to one that Rockford Robotics is doing within RPS205. It’s awesome to see our students not only doing everything they can to promote STEM within our community, but also helping impact other communities.

THANK YOU to our sponsors and families. It would be difficult to compete at the same level or conduct as many community outreach events and technical training classes without their support.

Rockford Robotics Wins CIR Chairman’s Award

2015_cir_chairmanRockford Robotics was honored to receive the FIRST Robotics Chairman’s Award at the March 2015 Central Illinois Regional. The most prestigious award at FIRST, it honors the team that best represents a model for other teams to emulate and best embodies the purpose and goals of FIRST. The judges noted how active our team has been in promoting science and technology to our community. The award includes an invitation to the World Championship in St, Louis, April 22 -25.

Rockford Robotics team members thank our sponsors, our families, and the local community for their continued support. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Team Captain Addie Wins Dean’s List Award

addie_award_webCongratulations to Addie L, Rockford Robotics Team Captain. Dean Kamen, FIRST Robotics founder, presented Addie with this award during the Central Illinois Regional.

The Dean’s List Award celebrates outstanding student leaders whose passion for and effectiveness at attaining FIRST ideals is exemplary.

Addie will join other regional finalists at the Championship in St. Louis, April 22 -26, 2015, where ten students will be selected as Dean’s List winners.

2015 Build Season Update: Week 6 Activities

Rockford Robotics attended a “Week Zero” scrimmage in Planefield, IL on February 14. The event was less a competition than a large public demonstration/practice. There was a half-field with ample game pieces. Three teams were allowed out on the field at once and could run their robots for around 5 minutes or so. With only a few teams participating, there was plenty of field time for everyone.

The scrimmage was a great opportunity to learn about our robot’ strengths and weaknesses. We discovered a few issues with our robot. Some we could fix immediately and others for which we plan improvements. Our robot was able to drive, operate the lift, and pick up and stack totes. We also developed a new possible strategy using the tote chute.

We struggled with issues with our articulating forks, especially with wires jamming and becoming mangled. And a programming issue made it so that the forks would start closing and continue closing regardless of driver command. Finally, thanks to an extended and detailed debugging session with members from 3061 Huskie Robotics, we determined we had damaged a Talon SRX motor controller.

We made a few modifications at the event. We put a hole in one of the fork bearing plates to allow us to run wires through it. We added some shim washers to tilt our forks upward slightly to keep the totes from sliding out. When that induced additional stress into our fork motor gear meshing, we added shim washers. We added (temporarily) green duct tape to our forks to give them more grip. We will continue to improve on these fixes during the remaining week of build season.

Also at the scrimmage, Scouting Captain Aaron participated in a meeting, organized by Gear It Forward, pertaining to the development of an Android app for FRC scouting for this year’s game.

2015 Build Season Update: Week 4 Activities

As the electronics team completed the control board, they are now working on wiring the components.

The programming team is developing the pseudo code. This is step by step description of the software logic the robot will use to perform tasks. The programming team will use it as a guide when creating the LabVIEW code.

Superior Joining completed welding the robot chassis frame. The students are now mounting motors, gearboxes, and wheels.

The CAD team completed the forklift structure and are now designing pulley systems that will move the forklift mechanisms.

2015 Build Season Update: Week 3 Activities

Our sub-teams have been hard at work.

The CAD sub-team continued work on the chassis, added a track system to the forklift, and designed a structure to hold the electrical components.

The Build sub-team cut aluminum square stock bars for the drive train. We delivered these parts to Superior Joining, who graciously volunteered to weld the chassis. Build team members also installed electronics on our prototype robot so we could test its maneuverability and it capability to transverse a slope.

The Programming sub-team is optimizing our FIRST Robotics supplied LabView program to be compatible with the RoboRIO hardware installed on the electrical board. Their immediate goal is to ensure drivers can control motors.

The Electronics sub-team is building the electrical board. It includes:

    • a power distribution panel
    • the RoboRIO (a field programmable gate array, i.e., the robot’s brains)
    • seven Talon SRX motor controllers ( 4 for drive train, 2 for vertical lift, and 1 for horizontal lift)
    • a WiFi router
    • a voltage regulator

Media team continues to work on award applications. This year we are applying for:

    • Chairman’s Award, FIRST’s most prestigious award. It acknowledges team’s community outreach and promotion of STEM
    • Woodie Flowers Award. This award acknowledges a mentor whose dedication and support is an inspiration to the team.
    • Entrepreneurship. This acknowledges teams with an outstanding business plan.

Local FLL & FTC Teams Advance to State Championships

First Lego League Teams from Froberg Elementary School and Marshall Middle School qualified to participate in the Northern Championship Tournament at Elgin Community College on January 17, 2015

First Tech Challenge Teams 7207 and 8706 will compete in the State Championship at the Illinois Institute of Technology on February 21. Both teams qualified by placing 2nd for the Inspire Award at a regional event.

Team 8706 is Auburn High School’s KISS (Knights in Service to STEM.) They are first year team.

Team 7207, M-Fusion, is a second year home based team led by Rockford Robotic’s Mentor John McInerney. M-Fusion competed in the Decatur Qualifying Tournament on Saturday, February 7. In addition to placing 2nd for the Inspire Award, they:

  • members of the Finalist alliance.
  • a runner up for the Motivate Award.
  • a runner up for the Think Award.
  • a runner up for the PCT Design Award.

2015 Build Season Update: Week 2 Activities

Students started prototyping the robot this week. We tried a system of motors, pulleys, and springs to move the forks closer and farther apart. We chose a fork design that consists of a 3 inch, 45 degree angle offset. We used to CAD software to lay out our drivetrain design. We also started to CAD the bearings for our lift.

In the world of design, we locked down the positioning for our sub-components. We decided on a continuous belt system for the lift, we cut our drivetrain, and are preparing it for welding. Next week, We will start building the lift, finish robot CAD, and prototype the electronics board.