RoboLancers Boot Camp

When I first heard about Robotics from my friend, Frank Yang, I was a little hesitant due to me joining a little late. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it or had the time for it. However, Frank told me to come after school on Friday and join up. So on Friday, I went to Mr. Johnson and “signed up”. That was when I was put into the Carver group.

Upon entering, I was immediately told to report to my room. As I entered, I was of course going to be awkward due to not knowing anyone. With Diego (and others) as a teacher, we learned about the game/ the notebook. Over the course of class, I became more familiar and did some activities, such as seeing the consequences of a 5-minute notebook.

After Notebook class, came Mechanical class. The teachers this time were Vincent and Johnny. After some PowerPoints, we delved right into learning the essentials of building the robot. We learned about the chassis and the basics of the motor, as well as the very basics of the electrical group. Although I like the previous class, this was a little more preferred.

Next up was the Programming class. This was the first class that assigned homework ,I wasn’t happy about it, but I was grateful. The class proved to be very challenging unless you already knew some things. It was the hardest of the classes.

Last but not least, was the Business class. By far my favorite, in the business class we learned of what to do in order to support the club. After a great powerpoint by the teachers, we learned of pictures, and how to ask for grants. We even learned how to dance, kind of.

In the end, I’m glad I was in this because it helped me in the division that I picked. It was overall a good experience.       

Gearing Towards States

The Crimson 6676 Robolancers are moving on to the 2016 FTC statewide championship on Saturday, February 27. The team was notified a week before the competition that there was an opening available for one of Central’s teams. Mr. Johnson, the Robolancers’ coach, offered this opportunity of participation to Crimson, due to the team’s high ranking of 1st place in the previously completed Philadelphia FTC Championship. Currently, the team is preparing for the new upcoming challenge by making improvements to the robot.

Preparing for upcoming challenges, the team intends to fix any mistake that is discovered, to improve the robot. The height of the robot was increased to accommodate for debris. It was then decided that an additional manipulator be added, allowing the robot to drop climbers into a bin during the autonomous period of a match. In the meantime, the team is facing new difficulties potentially from the change in code. Other factors include products that don’t always work, connection breaks and phone crashes. When arrives at the states competition, they plan to do their best despite the low resources and possible problems in the phone. When competing, our drive team plans on earning the most points possible by climbing and hanging to the high-bar. The rest of Crimson will cheer them on no matter what happens. Crimson knows that this will be a true challenge unable to be easily overcome.

No matter what, Crimson won’t disappoint while doing their best.

 

FTC Scrimmage!

TEAM WORK

On November 21, 2015, the RoboLancers participated in an FTC scrimmage! After an hour and a half long bus ride, we arrived at Oxford High and saw many of the other teams that participated. With their unique manipulators and chassis, we watched in awe. We received the opportunity to take advantage and see what we are standing against in this competition. In the meantime, we, the FTC Crimson team 6676. also worked on perfecting and finishing our manipulator with the help of the mechanical team. We displayed how our manipulator, which was just a modified tape measure, worked to complete tasks of the new game this year.

While testing our manipulator, we came up with some problems, but solved them quickly. One of our mentors, Diego, showed us a very good way to help make our manipulator. He shortened our 16-foot tape measure into a 6-foot tape measure to better fit into our system/robot. With the reduction of length, the circumference of the coiled up tape measure decreased, which stopped it from jamming as much when retracting. This helped us since we didn’t truly have a way of containing the tape measure and its excessive flexibility. When extending upward, it would jam. To further compensate, we started to work on a CAD system to build a case that would fit around the tape measure. Along the way, with everyone working together, we had fun learning new techniques of working, and even communicated with other teams present at the event.

Overall, it was quite a learning experience for all of us. We realized what we should or should not do in order to help our team, and at the same time, had fun with everyone.

FTC States 2015

On February 28th members from Crimson and from Gold woke up early to travel to Millersville University to compete in this year’s FTC State Competition.

Last year I had attended the State Competition and so returning to Millersville brought back some nostalgia. There were quite a few things that were similar to last year’s competition. Teams were arriving into the building with their robots and were hurrying to get them inspected by 10:15 AM. After all, teams that did not complete inspection wouldn’t be allowed to compete. Some members from Crimson and Gold were getting ready for presentations. They had been practicing the night before and during the bus ride. They wanted to make sure that they had their facts right and that everything was perfect.

Unlike last year, I wasn’t very involved in the competition. I had been busy with Marketing this year and so I wasn’t able to spend time with Crimson’s robot. Since I wasn’t as involved with the robot there wasn’t much pressure on me. I was able to relax a bit and watch the competition. But that did not mean I was idle the entire day. I had to sport one of our Rock’em Sock’em costumes. Gold member Joan Huang wore the other costume. The last time I wore the costume was when the RoboLancers went to the Philly Science Festival in 2014. I was reminded of how hot being in it was and how tiring it could be to dance for a long period of time. But I was also reminded of how fun it was to interact with other mascots and see people’s reactions to our Rock’em Sock’em robots.

Unfortunately at the end of the competition none of our teams were chosen as alliance partners. We weren’t able to qualify for Super Regionals. However, that did not entirely ruin our mood. Even though it we were upset, we still left the building with our heads held up high. Everyone was proud at what they had accomplished that day.

The bus ride back to Central High School was filled with laughter, music, and singing. A variety of tunes ranging from Disney songs to songs from famous pop singers were belted out. The school song was also included in our sing-along.

I would like to congratulate both Crimson and Gold for making it to States and all the hard work they have done. The RoboLancers will keep on improving every year and one day we will make it to the very end.

[Crimson] FTC Philadelphia League Championship

Today, I watched and also participated in the Philly FTC Championship, where 17 teams came to Central High to compete for the chance to advance to the States Competition. I never was that into robotics and I only thought of it as a hobby. However, I was drawn back in when I saw this year’s game, which was extremely interesting. Additionally, I was also placed as a temporary coach  for this competition, so that was an interesting experience as well.

Previously, I always had an foolish impression of myself being a tyrannical leader but I learned that being a learned being a leader wasn’t about giving orders and such. Being leader meant that you had the listen,understand, and learn. Between me giving terrible advice to giving amazing pep talks that brought everyone’s morale up, I picked up on my team members’ patterns and strengths. With that information a leader has to divide the problem into jobs for different people based on their capabilities. For example, Diego, not one for the limelight but a hard worker, Michael, perky and full energy, or Viwing, careful and precise are split based on their abilities. Diego mans the pit, which is where we maintenance the robot in between matches, Michael works as a spirit coordinator, and Viwing controls the manipulators on our robot.

As temporary coach you have to be patient and able which I’m neither most of the time. Being the temporary coach was unpredictably stressful because not only does the bestowed responsibility of the coach lie on your shoulders the team’s fate does to. In the first few rounds we hadn’t perform too well and dropped to 15th place. Our servo fell off, there were problems with our battery, and there were other technical difficulties. Each of those mistakes lead to a crushing defeat every time.

In the last match I told my teammates, “Guys I know I’ve said this many times and it sounds really cheesy but I want to tell that you that you guy did me some proud no matter defeat or victory. This is our last match and our last chance chance to them what we’re made of. I want you to give them your all this match.” In the last match we were paired with 5505 Frankford team and through our teamwork we scored 200 to 100 against our opponents. As result they selected us in an alliance during the semifinal matches, followed by so much cheering that our voices went hoarse. In the end, we advanced on to states, so we still have a long way to go!

FLL Fun

What is more fun than working with robots?

Working with kids and the robots, of course. My job was to make the sure the rules were being followed, not to make the kids cry.  The scariest thing that happened to me in the morning when I overslept the clock, and came out with my ID, and toothbrush in my mouth. As I got off of the Broad Street Line, I met up with XYZ, former member of RoboLancer, as I dashed down the hill to get to the Event.

As I walked into the GYM, I was automatically reprimanded by Sabrina for being late, and not being aware of the rules. As I grabbed my referee shirt, I listened to the head referee, Jim, explain the rules to the referee. As I was half listening, I quickly analyzed the  arena. I noticed automatically, the arena there was more fun, and interesting object. As my job did not start until at 1:30, I  ran around as an errand boy, and casually officiate some of the practice games. As an errand boy, I learned each teams core value, and hopes were often were very different because one might to be score as much as possible, while the next team over might not want to score as much, but to act as a strong building block for the future to come and overlay on.

As the clock neared 1, I was almost constantly sent about to find this team, or relying messages as to what, and where something is happening. To make it even more comical, I even called somebody to inform them of the situation instead of walking up the stairs. When the clock dawned 1, I knew it was either make or break time because if I was not ready before the practice matches, I knew I sure won’t be ready right now. The first match was a mix of fun and nerves for not only the kids, but me also because I knew if I screwed up a game in this line up, it might mean whether they will be able to go to States or not, and I do not want to be the cause why they could not go to States.  However as the game progressed, I noticed either A) the teams wasn’t there or B) the referee watching over the game was somewhere else. As it was my duty to monitor the games, I picked up many games here and there, but lost some of the games here and there also. As the day dragged on, I began to feel increasingly tired, but I knew it was worth it, and the kids will be appreciative in the future.

[Crimson] Second FTC Meet at Temple

On January 14th, we had our second competition at Temple today. It was, like the last, extremely nerve-wracking. However, unlike the last, we modified the manipulator arm so that it can actually cohesively work with the code. We attached strings on the sides of the arm so it would not drag on the floor. Not only that, our tele-op code also works! In addition, a big lesson learned from last competition was that our batteries kept dying. This time, we walked into Temple without worrying about any battery problems.

When we stepped into the field, there was an obvious improvement on the robot from the other teams. They scored better than last time and seemed to have planned things out more meticulously. Our strategy was to score points during Autonomous mode by moving down the ramp. We also wanted to move our robot up the ramp now that we are no longer as back-heavy as the last time. Furthermore, we also wanted to bring a rolling up the ramp during the last 30 seconds, since it promised more points.

Although we planned better than last time, we still placed only 8th. I think the factors that contributed to our placing include the penalty from accidentally touching the rolling goal as we maneuvered it, the shocking improvement from the other teams, and the autonomous code that can only score us 30 points. Walking out of Temple, our team came up with a lot of ideas for the robot. This include feeders with two rows instead of one, better motors that were faster in speed, a pulley based robot instead of a lever based robot, and so on.  We also that believe if we make a code that can knock off the kickstand, we can do much better next time. With all these things we can improve on in mind, we went home and sketched up ideas inspired from the competition.

[Crimson] [Mech/Prgm] FTC Meet at Temple (Viwing’s PoV)

We had our First Tech Competition today and it was extremely nerve-wracking. Firstly, the day before competition, we noticed that the design of the robot did not match up with the programming. The reason being is because when the robot moves during the tele-op phase, the manipulator drags on the floor and impedes the robot from accurately moving. Another reason is because the manipulator moves backwards a little too much and the heaviness of the robot’s back causes it to fall backwards.

In conclusion, our team as a whole decided to take off the manipulator for this competition and focus on defending. Another problem arose when the two female driver, Raina and I, were not comfortable with the controllers because during practice, the battery kept dying. However,  we were too excited in the moment and neglected the fact that our robot’s back was too heavy. And so, we tipped over when we moved backwards on the ramp.

Not only that, we were also penalized for touching the rolling goal’s tube during the autonomous phase. Aside from the exciting and nerve-wracking atmosphere of our First Tech competition, a lot of problems were identified.The things we need to work on includes our autonomous code, balancing the weight of the robot, charging the batteries (which is a silly mistake), and utilizing our practice field so the drivers can get comfortable.

There were many regretful things about the competition, knowing that we can definitely do better, but overall, it was a meaningful experience where we could find our mistakes and work on it.

[Crimson] [Prgm] FTC Meet at Temple (Michael’s PoV)

On December 11th, 2014, the RoboLancers that were going to the competition met in 95, and received their team tshirts. The whole team left, but when they noticed the kid in the wheelchair was missing, everybody stopped and wondered where the kid was at. Furthermore, as the wheelchair kid got on the subway’s elevator, the whole team left without Mr. Johnson and the wheelchair kid as they watched the train doors close before them. That kid was me.

Things got better when we got there, though. As both Crimson and Gold traveled (nervously) to Temple University’s Engineering building to compete in our first FTC meet. The experience of the meet as a whole was amazing. Despite not being fully prepared, that did not discourage nor stop us from doing our best. Our first instinct when we got there was to put the finishing touches on the robot. Crimson went to one table and gold to another and we immediately went to work. Crimson immediately panicked because they have realize that we didn’t have a supply list and the manipulator didn’t turn out as expected.

As the competition went on, Crimson realized that their robot was back heavy, and had to reprogram the robot to make it effectively. As some people worked on the robots, others went to scout the competition From the interviews, we learned a bit about the teams that were there. Based on what we witnessed that day, we saw flaws and strengths within teams. This also made us realize our own flaws and strengths as well.

Our teleoperated code seemed to be defective when testing even though it worked before, when suddenly, Armond, programming Lead, came around and read through and noticed that the controller was defective and our code was actually”A-Ok”. The programmers there, Viwing and I, had a nervous breakdown when we thought our autonomous code did not work, but the answer to the problem was a quick fix. We just needed to activate the code by selecting it in the NXT Brick.

As we went into the matches, our batteries were always scarce and hardly available due to the high demand from Gold needing the batteries for their match when we were practicing it. In the end since there was only one battery, but they relied on us and we pulled through that match with a close win.

Drive It! [Marketing]

This is my first year being a part of the team and I’ve never been to any of the events for Robotics. It was my first time at Drive It! and my first time at any Robotics event so I didn’t really know what to expect. When I got there, our team was carrying in boxes and setting up the field. As a member of Marketing, I didn’t have a clue of what the others were doing. The Marketing team and I set up the food stand along with our sassy security guard.

Once our food stand was completely set up and our fabulous signs were taped up, the first chapter of our business began. Our first customers were our team’s members. All of them bought the same thing and that was the Mountain Dew Throwback. After risking frostbite to look for those Throwback cans that were in such high demand, a few more customers appeared. They were unfamiliar faces which indicated that some of the others teams had arrived. Luckily, they requested donuts and hot chocolate(which we didn’t even have at that moment). Other customers appeared after seeing people eat those delicious donuts that were purchased from our food stand. Our thanks goes to Dunkin Donuts for selling us the donuts. We made a lot of money because of them.

Of course, my attention was not only directed to the food stand but also the teams. Since I didn’t know any faces other than the faces of our team members, I directed most of my attention to our own members. The most notable one was Henry Dang. As I was tending to customers’ needs, I watched as he went from table to table. During that time, I was a bit confused and I was wondering why he was at another team’s table. I started to notice that other teams’ members were at our team’s table. That’s when I realized that the teams were helping each other’s robot. They were helping each other so that the team’s could drive their robots hence, ‘Drive It!” At that moment, I felt like I had just discovered the meaning of life. After a long day of rummaging through trash bins for soda cans that were buried under a ton of ice, my day had finally come to an end. On the bus, I wondered if that whole day was a complete waste of time. I opened my bag and picked up the completely forgotten, complimentary Twix bar I got for running the stand and concluded that Drive It! was totally worth it.