The anticipation was gnawing at us as we entered Montgomery High School for the 2017 FIRST Robotics Competition season kickoff. Like thousands of other students around the globe, we were eager to learn the details of this year’s challenge, FIRST STEAMworks. The secrecy was noticeable all throughout the kickoff. Game elements were safely tucked away in a locked trailer and the kickoff video was securely stored on a flash drive. Even files on the FIRST website were encrypted. Finally, all the teams in attendance gathered together in the auditorium to watch the live stream and the game was revealed to us. Our team members got to see wooden models of the game elements (hoppers, boiler etc.) and we started to formulate ideas in advance of our next meeting.
We held our first meeting of the season on the Monday after Kickoff. The biggest topic of the evening was our strategy. We prioritized which parts of the game we wanted to focus our attention on and made a plan for achieving our goals. Two of our mentors, Kristian and Shaun, traveled a long way to help us out. Both of them are team alumni who have influenced many of our older members and their experience has helped our team focus ideas and bring them together.
The team was super fired up for the build season. We started creating designs in CAD and figured out ideas for manipulating the game elements. In terms of progress on the robot, we hit some key milestones. We finalized the drivetrain design and started assembling it using parts we had in stock. We are awaiting the delivery of other parts we ordered (like new idler gears) before it can be fully completed.
On the scouting front, Spencer Ng started to create our Android scouting app. This app will be used to record information about other team’s robots during matches. Since it will be hard to count exactly how many balls each teams will be scoring this year, we had to develop a model that allows scouts to estimate these counts.
Last season we graduated a large class of seniors and so we have a very young team this year. It took some time for our newer members to settle in, but they’re finally getting into the swing of things as the build season momentum picks up. All in all, we’ve made some great progress this week!
The construction of the robot is developing thanks to the dedication of the build team. With the rest of the parts we ordered in hand, we finished fabricating the drivebase. We decided upon a method for storing balls effectively and framed out the upper portion of the robot (we anticipate being able to hold at least 80 balls). Next, we began to brainstorm methods to successfully climb up the rope. Furthermore, we started creating the robot’s bumpers making sure we had the proper clearance to adhere with this year’s new robot-sizing rules. Once they are complete, the robot will start resembling its final form.
The team parents have really been pitching in and making sure that the team has everything they need to succeed. Parents have been taking turns bringing in meals for us every day. Because of their efforts, the team is able to focus on building the robot. Hats off to our team parents for being so caring and supportive!
This week we started working on wiring the robot’s electronics. Knowing exactly where the robot’s intake and shooter will be positioned allowed us to map out and permanently mount the control system components. With this task completed, the robot is now driveable! Currently, we are manufacturing the mechanisms required for the robot to pick up fuel from the ground and score it the boiler. We have also created a prototype mechanism for climbing up the rope; however, it has not yet been attached to the robot as we continue to iterate its design.
Our team coach, Mr. Cokeley, has been providing invaluable direction for us. He takes the time to teach us how to use our workshop tools and educate us on safety guidelines. We really wouldn’t be where we are without him! On a team spirit note, Team 25 is producing personalized steampunk themed items like goggles and hats!;