WOOO HOOOO, We are getting back into the school today

After 8 snow days in a row we are finally getting back into the school.  The team is absolutely ready to go.  Check out these manufacturing plans and fabrication schedule that our lead integrator put together with his copious amount of time off last week.

major assemblies

Our system team put together an input/output layout for the entire robot and also listed all the robots code enabled functionality.

Our scouting team has completed our strategy document draft and will be adding to this going forward for the awards due this Thursday.

thank you

Thanks to Farish Perlman and Lori Newsome for the amazing work this week ordering parts, communicating with the school and negotiating extra hours for next week.

Thanks to jean Waye for organizing the parent volunteers for the extra shifts, and all of the amazing parents who are staffing those shifts so that we can try and make up for the time lost this week.

Thanks to Ben Strobel at UMD for doing some late night machining for us at the University of Maryland.  We know it was a big lift since the UMD SAE racing team is in the middle of their build season. Good luck this year folks.

We just lost 1 full week of build season…OUCH!!!

The FRC build season lasts 6 weeks for most of the 70,000 students around the world, but for kids in MD, DC and Northern VA it is going to be less than 5 weeks this year.  Winter storm Jonas has really done a number on our build season plans and we are way behind.


We lost an entire week of prototyping, building and testing.  This is going to be hard to recover from, but we will.  On a brighter note, we have unbelievable CAD, our awards are well under way and we have build plans, build kits and build teams all ready for when we get back into school.  In addition, we are trying to work with school officials to get extra time in the lab over the next few weeks to make up for some of the time we lost this week.


CAD Team First 2 Weeks in Review

2 weeks and 3 days into build season, the robot’s design is locked in and parts are being ordered. This year, the CAD (Computer Aided Design) team switched from CATIA to Autodesk Inventor. Inventor is free to all college and high-school students, so that means anyone on the team can open up and tinker with the CAD and contribute to the design. For file management, we used GrabCAD, a free github-like CAD sharing site that keeps track of version, and allows multiple users to collaborate on a single project.

Week 1 (1/9 – 1/16): The CAD team worked on preparing concept models, based on some of the early strategy goals we identified during kickoff. Various methods of construction were explored, including using a hockey-stick extrusion system to make a shooting arm.

Week 1.5 (1/17-1/20) The CAD team worked on a complete, detailed drive train design so we could order all the drive train parts in advance and fabricate early. The team decided on a 6WD Pneumatic wheel drive, rear-driven by 3 CIM motors. This should give us significant pushing force over other robots and an estimated speed of 10ft/sec. This year’s game requires a balance of speed and pushing force, so we went with a 60:14 gear ratio.

Week 1.75 (1/21-1/24) The CAD team worked on finishing the rest of the completed design, in time for a google-hangouts design review on Saturday, where we locked in the design and went over some fine details. Since we were snowed in all week, the team relied heavily on these conference calls to discuss our design and make a plan for the rest of the build season.

Week 2 (1/24-1/26) The CAD team and the ordering team created a Bill of Materials for our 2016 robot, and ordered all the necessary parts from AndyMark, Vex, and McMaster Carr. Over the next few days, the CAD and Fabrication teams will work on creating drawings and assembly instructions for every component on the robot. concept1jjconcept1concept0 hockeyconcept Render2

Here are some more images

28 inches

28 is the length of our 2016 robot perimeter. Pro tip for rookie teams – NEVER design exactly to the maximums allowed in the rules for anything!! 28 inches  also happens to be the height of the ball as it leaves our bot. 28 inches inches is also the amount of snow that fell this weekend around us.  So… that means we will not be working in our shop for a few more days, since most of us still can’t see any roads.

On the bright side our awards team has been in high gear getting document drafts done. Our mentors are also getting into the mix and have started writing our submissions for Dean’s list.  Our media team is hard at work creating the team’s brand for the year and along with that comes some great t-shirt design concepts.

On a technical front, our design team is hard at work perfecting the CAD, and creating the bill of materials. The final edits to the CAD are being made today, so all of the parts shoudl be ordered by Wednesday, fingers crossed. Our electrical team has also been hard at work putting the finishing touches on the electrical diagram in partner with our code team who has listed all of the features of this year’s software.

We can’t wait to get back into the shop….

And maybe next year we make a fleet of these of the county so we can keep the school open during build season.


Snow Days

Looks like we may not be able to get back into the lab till Tuesday at the earliest and some folks think we will lose an extra 6 days for cleanup, which means we may not get back into the lab till February…..

Whyyyy Jonas WHYYYY


On the bright side, our CAD is going to be unbelievable and our award submissions will be perfect.

Here are some cool things we learned about over the last two days

The drive train is done

Two days before the big snow storm that is going to keep us out of the shop for 4 days… We finished the CAD for the drive train and are doing our first big parts order tomorrow so that when we get back next Tuesday we can get right to work. The team is also building a complete robot prototype so that we can check all of the systems and make sure the geometry works.  Right now we are still on schedule to get done building by the end of week 4. Woo Hoo!!!

The electrical and coding team were playing with their new versa flex encoders connected to talons and have made the descision to use talons for every aspect of the robot to reduce wiring. In addition to all of this robot fun, the team has a plan for getting awards, graphics, flags, posters, story boarding for chairman’s, writing, video production and technical documents.  We are going to put these snow days to good use.

Here are some pics of the shop tonight, and maybe if you look really hard you may see our drive base…

The strategy is locked in

Big day yesterday. We locked in our strategy and have moved on to detail design.  Our CAD team is hard at work taking all of the decisions made yesterday and turning them into a robot.  Gear ratios are being calculated, sensors are being picked and free body diagrams are being drawn.  In a nut shell, this week will be all about the Math.  To make the equations match reality we will be doing a full robot prototype this week to start to test nearly every aspect of our design so that we leave as little as possible up to chance.

The team has locked in out awards approach. This is a little more flexible as we will be having our first awards meetings this week to start writing.

The team has all but 4 field elements completed.  We should have them all done by the end of the week.  We are also going to make a second Sally Port to send over to the STEM Action center so that all of teams in the area have a complete set of fields to practice on.

We are in a bit of a bind from a parts perspective at the moment.  Now that we know what we are doing, many of our suppliers are out of what we need.  A very specific pain point is the lack of pneumatic wheels, until we get a full set we can’t pick out drive team. So next week we will be feverishly trying to get parts ordered before they run out again… Fingers crossed.



Video from our workshop this weekend.


PS. you will learn more about a strategy in week 6…

PSS. One Hint. One of our tertiary goals is named the guillotine, Muh huh hu ha ha ha ha !!!!!

4 Defenses done

Another busy day in the lab last night.  We are done with 4 defenses and should be done with 6 of them by tomorrow.  The Sally Door, Drawbridge, Portcullis, tower and hanging device will be done Friday.  Our prototype team was hard at work last night starting to build a free wheel shooter that should be ready for test by Thursday.

The electrical and code teams have started prototyping code that will allow us to drive strait over bumps.  Should have more to report on once we have a big wheeled drive train available.



Here is the first of our build season videos where we asked everyone what they were working on.

And we are off

The shop was buzzing today with field element construction and prototyping.

We received a great wood donations from Castlewood Custom Builders that is enabling us to build all of the defenses, the tower and the hanging bar.   Thanks So Much for being a great member of our team.



We are also starting to do research on old robots and technologies that we could use.  We are storing all of the videos on our FRC 2016 research playlist

What a day

Wow,  What a game. Strong hold is by far one of the most complex games we have seen FIRST come up with.

We barley made it through the strategy discussion because there are so many facets to the game.   The students definitely learned a lot today, but felt rushed as we had to make big decisions about our baseline strategy.  We will be having some virtual meeting Sunday to go over additional strategy options as we get ready for the week of prototyping.

We had 38 students show up at kickoff, which is by far the biggest kickoff event we have ever held. we came up with over 50 robot capabilities and 15 robot strategies that could be viable.  We also came up with a few that are a little more questionable.  Good to see some of the folks on CD think as crazy as we do;

Getting back to reality, here were some images from today.


Over the next few days we will also be watching all of the three day builds.

Team Indiana
Team oRyon
Snow Problem
Team Redacted
Team Tesla
The GreenHorns
Team Cockamamie

Follow the action here: