2015 Build Season Update: Week 1 Activities

This year’s game has lots of challenges. They include moving totes and recycling bins, stacking totes up to six feet, removing “litter” from game floor, inserting “litter” into recycling bins, and driving robot over scoring platforms.

Our strategy is to build a fast robot that can reliably stack totes. After much discussion, we decided on a forklift design. The robot will have a U–shaped chassis with space in center for forklift. We think this design will provide stability, as well as space for electronics. Mecanum wheels will provide drive train maneuverability.

We are deciding between two ideas for our forklift design: an angular articulated forklift with two forks that pivot at the robot’s back and a linear articulated forklift with two forks attached to a perpendicular piece that allows them to open and close.

The robot will also have a pulley system to lift the fork up and a few layers of sliders to increase it’s height.

During Week 2, we will build prototypes to aid our forklift design decision. We will also CAD the drive train.

2015 Build Season Update: Kick-off

Team 2039 launched its 2015 build season with a meeting at Eigerlab. In the morning, students and mentors watched the kickoff ceremonies that introduced this year’s game: Recycle Rush

After receiving the game information, the team broke into smaller groups to discuss strategy and robot design. Parents joined in by planning construction of a playing field which we will use to test our robot design and practice our driving skills.

2015 Build Season Update: About the Game

FRC_recycle_rushRECYCLE RUSH is a recycling-themed game designed for the 2015 FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC). It is played by two Alliances of three Teams each. Alliances compete simultaneously to score points by stacking Totes on Scoring Platforms, capping those stacks with Recycling Containers, and properly disposing of Litter, represented by pool noodles, in designated locations. In keeping with the recycling theme of the game, all scoring elements used are reusable or recyclable by teams in their home locations or by FIRST at the end of the season.

Each RECYCLE RUSH Match begins with a 15-second Autonomous Period in which Robots operate independently of their drivers. During this period, Robots attempt to move themselves, their Yellow Totes, and their Recycling Containers into the area between the scoring platforms, called the Auto Zone. Additional points are awarded if the Yellow Totes are arranged in a single stack.

During the remaining 2 minutes and 15 seconds of the Match, called the Teleop Period, Robots are controlled remotely by student drivers located behind the walls at the ends of the Field. Teams on an Alliance work together to place as many Totes on their Scoring Platforms as possible. Alliances earn additional points for Recycling Containers placed on the scored Totes, with Recycling Containers at greater heights earning more points.

Alliances also earn points for disposing of their Litter in either their Landfill Zone (the area next to the Step marked by the white line) or placing Litter in or on scored Recycling Containers. Alliances that unscored leave Litter on their side of the Field at the end of the match add points to the score of the other Alliance, as it is considered unprocessed and not properly disposed of.

Alliances have an opportunity to earn “Coopertition Points” by coordinating with the other Alliance in the Match. Coopertition Points are awarded if, at some point in the Match, there are at least four Yellow Totes on the Step simultaneously. Coopertition Points are doubled if the Alliances arrange at least four of those Yellow Totes in a single stack on the Step.

FIRST Tech Challenge at Guilford High School

ftc_league_mt_2014Illinois FIRST is testing out “league play” for FIRST Tech Challenge, FTC, teams. Team 8003 and the five RPS 205 high school teams are part of the West League.

In this first year of league play, 24 teams from Northern Illinois are divided into two groups of 12 teams. League teams compete in at least three meets. The third meet will be part of the league championship. At the league championship, leagues #1 and #2 will compete separately, and then the top alliances from each league will compete for the League Championship Finalist Alliance and Winning Alliance.

Originally, the second League Meet was scheduled to be played in Rolling Meadows. Due to unforeseen circumstances, Rockford was asked to host this meet. With only a few weeks to prepare, Rockford Robotics rallied to provide a venue – Guilford High School -and volunteers. Our team members served as competition coordinators, referees, field attendants, queuers, announcers, robot inspectors, and team interviewers. Special thanks goes to Chris Magee and Eric Williams for organizing this event with just a few weeks to prepare.

Adopt a Road

2014 adopt a roadRockford Robotics is now part of the Winnebago County Highway Department Adopt-a-Road program. Adopt-a-Road is a promotional campaign to encourage volunteers to keep a highway section free from litter.

Our road is a one mile segment of Springfield Road between West State Street and Cunningham Road. We will be doing clean-ups three times each year. Our first clean up date is Sunday, November 8, 2014.

Inaugrial Rock River Valley FTC Kickoff

robotech_kickoff_2014On Sept 6th, 2014 Rockford Robotics hosted the inaugural Rock River Valley FIRST Tech Challenge Kickoff at the Discovery Center in downtown Rockford to celebrate the start of the 2014-2015 FTC season.

Rookie and veteran teams from all over the region came out to attend learn, for the first time, this year’s challenge and attend lectures covering a wide array of topics from programming and CAD to team building and ‘bot shop organization. The event ended with the revealing of the FTC 2014-2015 Game, including the Kickoff Video broadcast and a fully constructed FTC field!

All of the teams in attendance were presented with a tool kit containing Greenlee professional grade hand tools. The kits were a generous donation from Greenlee to the Rock River Valley area FTC teams.

This event was made possible by members of the Rockford Maker’s Network.

CFNIL Grants $20,000 to RPS 205 for Robotics Programs

cfnil_2014_smallThe Community Foundation of Northern Illinois has awarded Rockford Robotics, through RPS 205, a $20,000 grant for the FIRST Robotics Roll Out on August 26, 2014.

RPS leaders hope to have Robotics programs in every elementary, middle, and high school, making RPS 205 the first in the state to have FIRST Robotics available at the K-12 level.

During the 2013-14 school year:

  • Junior FIRST Lego League (K-3) teams were at Froberg, Whitehead, Lathrop, Washington and Brookview.
  • FIRST Lego League (4-8) teams were at Lincoln, Marshall and Froberg. (The Lego League team at Marshall competed at the state level.)
  • Jefferson High School pioneered the district’s FIRST Tech Challenge team, in which students learn to think like engineers.

Mentor Terry Brown Learns More than Basics with U.S. Air Force

It was back to school a little early this summer for 24 FIRST Mentors, including Rockford Robotics Mentor Terry Brown.

The Mentors — who were selected from over 250 applicants from across the country — were invited to attend a U.S. Air Force Leadership Experience at The Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, to fine tune their leadership skills and learn a little about rockets at the same time. The Air Force offered this unique opportunity to the Mentors as an extension of its sponsorship of  FIRST.

The two-day training, which focused on teaching teams how to work together to solve complex problems.

“The USAF Leadership Experience was the most exciting and intriguing program I have ever been a part of as an educator. Seeing STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education on that large of a level was truly amazing. There’s no doubt that I will be sharing this experience with all my classes, colleagues, and FIRST teams for years to come,”

Mayor Proclaims July 2014 Robotics Month

2014_ mayor_procDuring the July 14, 2014 City Council Meeting, Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey proclaimed July 2014 as Robotics Education Month. He cited Rockford Robotics’s efforts in holding programming workshops as part of the Rockford Makers Network at the Pubic Library’s Nordlof Center and their participation in the R2OC planning committee.

Rockford Robotics also was notified that they were awarded a $20,000 grant from the Community Foundation for the Rockford Public Schools Robotics Roll-Out. This will help fund Junior FIRST Lego League (Jr. FLL), FIRST Lego League (FLL) and FIRST Technical Challenge (FTC) teams at several RPS schools during the 2014-15 school year. In addition RPS Robotics Roll-Out received just over $5,000 from Alignment Rockford for use specifically for FTC registration and KOP. Once the funds are received equipment will be purchased and teams will be on their way!

Labview Classes

Rockford Robotics hosted programming classes advertised as

“for anyone that had never programmed at all, never programmed in a graphical language  like National Instruments LabVIEW, or just wanted to enhance their skills in LabVIEW for LEGO Mindstorms” in mid-July 2014.

The workshops were available at no charge to students in grades 8 -12. Location was the Downtown Branch of the Rockford Public Library Nordlof Center at 118 N. Main Street, Rockford, Illinois. This event was made possible by Rockford Public Schools and the Rockford Makers Network, with support from Rockford Robotics.