2016 Midwest Regional

Rockford Robotics ended its 2016 competition season on a high! At the April 1 – 2, 2016 Midwest Regional we ranked 13 of 52, were chosen to compete in the elimination rounds, and won the Gracious Professionalism Award.

You could see the team’s strength by watching how our students responded to competition pressures. While we had an extremely good start on Friday, we ran into drive train issues. Though we managed a few more matches with students’ patchwork and excellent driving skills, we hit a point where the only choice was to replace the PTO box. With at least 10 hands on the robot for 2 straight hours, we replaced the gear box in time to make all our Friday matches. We ended qualifying rounds with a 7 to 3 win/loss record

After being picked by the 8th alliance, we knew playing the 1st place alliance (and eventual champions) wasn’t going to be easy. The students stepped up again, implementing new autonomous to work best with our alliance, tearing apart the defenses, and flying around defensive robots.

Our students also shined by helping a team without a robot build one on site, which gave them the opportunity to compete. This along with all that the team does in the community was so impressive that we were presented with the Gracious Professionalism Award. This Award  Celebrates outstanding demonstration of FIRST Core Values such as continuous Gracious Professionalism working together both on and off the playing field.

2016 Central Illinois Regional

Rockford Robotics competed in the Central Illinois Regional March 18 -19, 2016. Though we struggled during initial rounds, the team rallied to address robot issues. Students made enough improvements that we won three of our last four matches. By the end of the competition, we were successful in showing off our robot’s capability to breach several defenses and shoot in both the low and high goal. Robot improvements included:

  • Added arm to lift the portcullis and lower the Chival de fris
  • Fixed electrical connections that were causing loss of battery power
  • Replaced shooter motors to reduce shot time from 6 seconds to 1 second
  • Added a climbing mechanism

While our team was not chosen to participate in the elimination rounds, this disappointment had its benefit. We were able to get an extra five uninterrupted hours working on the robot, which will put us in a much better position for the next competition. We were able to move and trim the arm to pass inspection, deploy and test autonomous operation, fix the shooter controls, collect camera data, and remove arms for further testing. While there is still lots of work to do in the next two weeks, the team is ready for the challenge.

2016 Build Season Update: Week 5 Activities

Our build team completed assembly of the  drive train. This year’s drive train is our most compact and sophisticated yet. It includes eight motors and twelve wheels. For comparison sake, the greatest number of motors we mounted on previous drive trains was four. We’re proud to have achieved our goal of building a robot that can sneak under the low bar.

The electrical team completed wiring and began testing the drive train program.

Students continue to work on the shooter assembly, intake rollers, and the lift arm. We hope to mount these parts on the drive train by Friday.

2016 Build Season Update: Week 3 Activities

Our build team cut drive train parts and sent them out for welding. Superior Joining Technologies  is providing welding services for us. Build team is now prototyping the pickup system.

The CAD team is working at the challenging task of fitting eight motors and four gearboxes into a five foot space on the drive train.

The software team is developing a vision tracking system that will allow the robot to autonomously aim the shooter at the goal.

The electronics team completed the first draft of the electrical schematics.

Mentors, parents and students finished construction of the tower and several defense obstacles that we will use in the practice field.

2016 Build Season Update: Week 2 Activities

We spent much of week two continuing to design the robot and build our prototype. Most of the drive train CAD work is complete.

This year’s game has a medieval theme that requires robots to “breach” defenses and “challenge” a tower. Teams can earn points by crossing obstacles, shooting boulders into the tower, and scaling the tower.  Highest points are gained when a robot scales the tower. However, a robot can’t scale the tower until it has been weakened. And the tower is only weakened after eight boulders have made into the tower.

Our build strategy is to design a robot with a drive train capable of crossing all the outer works, i.e., obstacles. The works vary from rugged terrain to moats, gates, rock walls, drawbridges, and even low bars for the robot to cross under.

We are also working on a ball shooter that can target the upper tower windows. And we hope to develop a climbing system.

2016 Build Season Update: Week 1 Activities

During our first build season week, the team brainstormed some drive train and special system ideas. When we are satisfied with the design, our CAD team will create 3D models from which the build team will construct prototypes.

The electrical team also got right to work. They are building a control board for the prototype.

And our media team is working on designing t-shirts and promotional material as well as completing award applications.

2016 Build Season Update: Kick-Off

FIRSTStrongHoldTeam 2039 launched its 2016 build season with a meeting at our new shop at Superior Joining Technologies. Thank you once again to Thom Shelow and Teresa Beech Shelow for sharing their workspace with us. In the morning, students and mentors watched the kickoff ceremonies that introduced this year’s game: Stronghold.

In this game each alliance of three teams works together 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.

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.

By the end of the first week, we hope to have a basic robot design in place and to have started prototyping.

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.