2014 Build Season Update: Week 1 Activities

Aerial Assist requires we build a robot that can pick up balls from the field, pass them from one robot to another, and shoot them into a goal. We get extra points for working with alliance partners to move the ball from robot to robot before attempting to score.
To address these challenges, our plan is to use a catapult for shooting the ball into the goal and a roller system to pick up balls from the field. We will also use the catapult to pass the ball between robots.

During the first week of build season:

      • The mechanical sub-team has been working on CAD (Computer Aided Design) for the pickup system and drive train.
      • The media team is working on our Chairman’s Award application. They are also designing a lamp — using the US FIRST e-watt bulb — for a Central Illinois Regional challenge.
      • Parents are helping build a practice field.
      • And some students are restoring older bots to use during our driver competition.

2014 Build Season Update: Kick-off

Team 2039 launched its 2014 build season with a kick-off meeting at Eigerlab. In the morning, students and mentors watched the kickoff ceremonies that introduced this year’s game: Aerial Assist.

After receiving the game information, the team broke into smaller groups to discuss strategy and robot design.

After a lunch break, we did a human walk through of the game. Students acted robots, drivers, and game pieces. This helped us learn competition rules, scoring, and game play.

Parents joined in by planning construction of a playing field which we will use to test our robot design and practice our driving skills.

2014 Build Season Update: About the Game

AerialAssist_RGBAERIAL ASSIST is played by two competing Alliances of three Robots each on a flat 25’ x 54’ foot field, straddled by a lighting truss suspended just over five feet above the floor. The objective is to score as many balls in goals as possible during a 2 minute and 30 second match. The more Alliances score their ball in their goals, and the more they work together to do it, the more points their alliance receives.

The match begins with one 10-second Autonomous Period in which robots operate independently of driver. Each robot may begin with a ball and attempt to score it in a goal. Alliances earn bonus points for scoring balls in this mode and for any of their robots that move in to their zones. Additionally, each high/low pair of goals will be designated “hot” for five seconds, but the order of which side is first is randomized. For each ball scored in a “hot” goal, the Alliance earns additional bonus points.

For the rest of the match, drivers remotely control robots from behind a protective wall. Once all balls in autonomous are scored, only one ball is re-entered in to play, and the Alliances must cycle a single ball as many times as possible for the remainder of the match. With the single ball, they try to maximize their points earned by throwing balls over the truss, catching balls launched over the truss, and scoring in the high and low goals on the far side of the field.

Alliances receive large bonuses for “assists,” which are earned for each robot that has possession of the ball in a zone as the ball moves down the field.

In Youth We Trust Grant

Great News – The Community Foundation of Northern Illinois awarded an $1800.00 In Youth We Trust Grant to Rockford Robotics for our project “Rockford E-Inventors.”

We will use these funds to run summer camp/classes based on the SparkFun Inventors Kit. Theses kits are a great way to get started with programming and hardware interaction with the Arduino programming language. They include everything needed to complete 15 circuits that teach users how to read sensors, display information on an LCD, drive motors, and more.

After competition season is over, we plan to teach team members to use the SparkFun kits. Then we will advertise our camp to area students. We hope to offer up to ten one-day classes this summer. The classes will be customized for different age groups.

The Rockford Public Library has graciously offered us use of their Sullivan Center computer lab as a class space.

Special thanks to Addie, Eli, Nate, and Rebecca for putting together the grant application and presenting it to the In Youth We Trust Board.

Superior Joining Manufacturing Day

On October 4, 2013, over 800 manufacturers nationwide open their doors to the public in Celebration of Manufacturing Day. Locally, Superior Joining of Machesney Park celebrated by demonstrated laser cutting and laser etching. In addition, they invited Rockford Robotics to their shop so visitors could learn about FIRST Robotics. The Fabricator Blog has a great a article about this event.

2013 Robofest Off-Season Competition

robofest_2013_picOn September 28, 2013 Rockford Robotics competed at the RoboFest Off-Season Competition in Milwaukee, WI. RoboFest is part of a weekend festival that celebrates science, technology, engineering, and math. …And we won!

Our team was 6th after qualifying, but we ended up picking 5th out of 5 alliances. We picked Ultimate Protection Squad and Winnovation B team, which ended up being a very well rounded team. UPS scored a lot of autonomous points (usually 18), and Winnovation B played great defense by almost completely shutting down the best offensive teams on the other alliances (which was Winnovation A in the finals.) We went through 3 matches without losing a game. Our drive team was excellent as we hit almost all our autonomous points, and then eluded the defense to score a lot of teleop points.

2013 Rock River Off-Season Competition

R2OC-Logo_FinalThe inaugural Rock River Off-Season Competition was an exciting and successful event. Twenty teams from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, and Wisconsin brought their 2013 robots to Rock Valley College to play Ultimate Ascent yet another time.

We thank the Northern Illinois Community and the FIRST family for their outstanding support. And we look forward to working with Flaming Monkeys (Team3352), Metalheads (Team 0081), Stateline Robotics (4655), and Winnovation (Team 1625) again in 2014.

The R2OC winning alliance include Rockford Robotics, Winnovation, and Michigan City Robots.


You can learn more about the event on the Rock River Off-Season Competition website.

Rockford Robotics ends the 2013 competition season on a high note.

robot 2014, black bkgrdOur 2013 season could be considered one of continuous quality improvement.

By refining our robot design, practicing our driving skills, and adjusting our game strategies, we improved our team’s performance at each event in which we participated.

At our first competition in Wisconsin, we finished 52 out 57. After addressing frisbee loading and stability issues, we finished 31 out of 53 at our second competition in Chicago.

We were excited to be invited to the St. Louis Championships, where we were assigned to the Curie Division. At the competition, it was apparent that our design strategy of being a tall cross-court powerful shooter with a quick 10-point consistent climb proved to be a good plan. While we were seeded 60 out of the 100 teams in our division, we finished 22th. And our robot was assigned to serve as an alternate during the elimination rounds.

Students logged over 3300 man-hours while designing and constructing our 2013 robot. We’re proud of the results of their hard work. We look forward to applying the lessons learned in 2013 to the next build season.

2013 Build Season Update: Week 6 Activities

With the stop build time of midnight Tuesday soon arriving, students are putting in long hours and extra effort.

Construction of all the mechanical subsystems is complete, this includes: the Frisbee pickup system, the conveyer, the shooter, and the drive train. Students are now integrating these subsystems into the bot in order to produce our final robot.

The programming team has completed the base code. Individual members are now developing final Lab View code for specific operations. They are also addressing some last minute design changes. Student programmer Andrew is customizing the driver station dashboard.

2013 Build Season Update: Week 5 Activities

The Electrical team has finished wiring both of the electrical boxes. They have created mounting brackets and placed them on the robots for the electric boxes. They are also using bolts to hold the boxes onto the brackets. This allows them to have easier access to removing the electrical box if needed.

Our Mechanical team is currently reworking the pick-up system. The launcher sub-team is continuing to develop a launching system, and the pick-up sub-team is working hard on the feeding mechanism for the launcher. They are also finishing the conveyor systems. Additionally, another sub-team is putting bumpers on the rookie bot to help the drivers practice.

The programming team has finalized the psuedo code. They also have finished the base code. They are beginning to code in Lab View.