Rockford e~Inventors Class

e-inventorsLocal students received an introduction to electronics and programming via Sparkfun Inventors Kits for Arduino! Rockford Robotics members guided them through lessons that demonstrated common electronics components (LEDs, resistors, potentiometers, analog sensors, and even motors) that can be used on a wide array of projects. Additionally, through the use of the Arduino embedded computing platform, students learned how to control these electronics and write programs that interact with the real world!

The June 23, 2014 session was designed for students in grades 9 – 12. The June 28, 2014 session focused on students in grades 6 – 8.

This workshop was made possible thanks to an In Youth We Trust Grant through the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois and in collaboration with the 4-H Tech Wizards.

Congratulations to our Scholarship Winners

2014 coleman schlrRockford Robotics is proud to have two Howard Coleman Scholarship winners among its alumni. Alex McInerney was a 2014 recipient and Tommy Lynch was a 2013 recipient. The scholarship is awarded annually to graduating high school seniors, residing in Boone or Winnebago County, who will major in Engineering, Computer Science, Applied Science, or a comparable technology field. Scholarship winners must personify the innovative spirit of Howard D. Colman.

Mr. Coleman was an inventor and entrepreneur in the fields of small motors, temperature controls, textiles, telecommunications, and machine tools. He is most recognized in the local community as the founder of Barber Coleman Company.

Rockford Robotics is a Wisconsin Regional Semi-Finalist

Rockford Robotics competed in the Wisconsin Regional March 20 – 22, 2014. Sixty teams — some from as far away as California — attended this event.

Our Robot, Om-Nom, was initially a bit temperamental. We suffered through several lost communications connections, two matches where the main circuit breaker tripped, and two matches where the limit switch for the arm breaker tripped. Plus we competed in three matches where one of our alliance partner robots was not functioning. Our pit crew rallied to repair Om-Nom between matches and our drive team was calm under pressure. Though our team only won three of the ten qualifying matches, the points we earned through assists and shooting the ball over the truss drew the attention of higher ranked teams.

The 1st seed team, Charger Robotics (Sussex, WI) invited Robo Riot (Sheboygan, WI) and us to join them in the finals. After some rounds of nail-biting competitions, our alliance finished as semi-finalists.

What a great conclusion to an challenging and exciting robotics season!!

Mentor Chris MaGee Wins Chamber of Commerce Award

Chris MageeCongratulations to Chris MaGee on being awarded the “Individual Business Catalyst of the Year” at the Rockford Chamber of Commerce Celebration of Manufacturing on March 20, 2014.

The team’s students and mentors have always appreciated Chris’s dedication and in promoting STEM education and robotics programs. It is great to see the Rockford Community recognize her contributions.

You can read more about Chris and this award in the March 21, 2014 Rockford Register Star article.

Rockford Robotics is a Central Illinois Regional Finalist

2014 Central Illinois RegionalRockford Robotics spent February 27 – March 1 in Pekin IL competing at the Central Illinois Regional. This first time regional competition hosted 40 robotics teams from Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Missouri and Ohio.

After twelve qualifying matches, Rockford Robotics was ranked 17. The 7th seeded team, Cheese Curd Herd (Platteville, WI) invited Mars Wars (Metamora, IL) and us to join them. This Alliance finished second after a hard fought battle with the number one seeded alliance comprised of Team Titanium from Lee’s Summit, Missouri, Trident Robotics from Gurnee, Illinois and Swartdogs from Cedar Falls, Iowa. The competition announcer compared Rockford Robotics’ come back battle through the quarter and semi finals as a Cinderella story after their alliance defeated higher ranked teams.

We look forward to applying the lessons learned in Peking at the Wisconsin Regional, March 20 – 22, 2014.

Our success at the Central Illinois Regional would not have been possible without the support of our families, sponsors, and local community. Thank you all.

Two Rockford Teams Win FIRST Tech Challenge Regional Awards

Our FIRST Tech Challenge Team, RoboTech 8003 won the CONNECT award at the Batavia Regional.  Winners of the Connect Award have done a great deal of community outreach not only to spread the word about FIRST but specifically to include engineers, scientists, and other technology professionals into their outreach efforts. This creates connections between teams, FIRST, and the professional world that can last years beyond their participation in FTC. Connect Award winners also develop and execute plans to fund their team including clear goals and objectives – including how they can give back to their community in the future. Here is what the judges had to say about our team: This Northern Illinois team has organized itself as a formal association and as a result will be enabled to connect to every school in its community through its district. Their robot was born on Mount Olympus. It is named after Apollo’s twin sister.

Congratulations also to M-Fusion, a local home based team, who won the PTC Design Award.  The intent of this award is to expand the challenge, inspiring teams to incorporate industrial design into their robots. These elements can be shown in the simplicity of the design as it applies to the tasks, the look and feel of the robot, and how the design allows us to think of robots in new ways. The Design aspects must serve a function – but they should also differentiate the robot in a unique fashion – not an easy task with a limited set of parts and game challenge. Here is what the judges had to say about M-Fusion: For the design award we had to think hard about our candidates. Their knowledge of CAD software made us googly eyed. When this team could not find off the shelf components to suit their robots needs they printed them instead.

M-Fusion also qualified to compete in the State Championship on February 22 at Illinois Institute of Technology.

2014 Build Season Update: Week 5 Activities

Rockford Robotics has completed construction of our 2014 ‘bot.  We will “bag and tag” the ‘bot on Tuesday, Feb. 18. Then it is hands off  until we compete in the Central Illinois Regional, Feb. 27 – Mar. 1 and the Wisconsin Regional, Mar. 20 -22, 2014

ON-NOM, the Devourer, is a quick moving offensive robot with low center of gravity. It as  good passing and catching skills as well as being a reliable and accurate shooter. Our goal is to work with alliance partners to maximize the score through assists.

2014 Build Season Update: Week 4 Activities

In week four, we will mount the pick-up system and finish wiring the robot. Then we will have two weeks to optimize the autonomous program and for the drive team to practice.
Students continued robot design and build tasks.

The mechanical team has just about completed the robot construction. Only task left is to mount our ball pick up system onto the drive train.

The electronics/programming team:

      • Created a wiring diagram
      • Wired the entire robot. This includes nine motors and their associated controllers and the air compressor.
      • created a systems document that detailed electrical and  programming needs.

The media team filmed a video promoting the team that we will use as part of our Chairman’s Award application

In week five, we hope to complete our electrical and programming integration and then start practicing for competition

2014 Build Season Update: Week 3 Activities

During Build Season Week Three, we continued robot build tasks. The mechanical team students:

      • Assembled the drive train, including mounting wheels, gearboxes, chains, and bumpers.
      • Completed construction of the catapult and mounted it on the drive train.
      • Completed a kinematics study to determine the optimal length and pivot point for the ball pick-up roller arm.
      • Machined the intake roller structure.

The electronics team started to lock down programming requirements. They also designed electronic mounting plates and began their manufacture.

In week four, we will mount the pick-up system and finish wiring the robot. Then we will have two weeks to optimize the autonomous program and for the drive team to practice.

2014 Build Season Update: Week 2 Activities

During the Build Season Week Two, students built a wooden prototype of the robot. They used it to test and refine robot design parameters. After testing was complete, the mechanical sub-team used CAD software to draw the drive train, ball pick-up system, and shooter.

Local companies are helping with tasks we are unable to perform at our ‘bot shop. Superior Joining Technologies is welding our frame. Woodward is machining insert for pickup rollers. On Tuesday, Jan. 21, a student group will meet with GE Aviation engineers for a design review.

Students are also working on other build tasks including making robot bumpers and assembling gear boxes.

The Media Team completed design of t-shirts and promotional buttons. They also are working on a video that will be used to introduce the team to the Central Illinois Regional Competition.

Lastly, a student group put together a test for robot drivers.