Montgomery County MD Advocacy Day 2016

Last week the Walt Whitman Team attended the FIRST National Advocacy Conference.  We did a good bit of learning and are ready to take what we learned and apply it to the County level.


We want to get as many of the team in the county to participate in the county advocacy day we are scheduling for July 18th. Our plan is to talk to the following folks


Here are the actions we have

  • We need to identify what teams are going to participate
  • We need to agree on the asks
    • Make Robotics a sport in MoCo
    • Help us define how the $250,000 in robotics funds should be managed / dispersed
    • Help us define how the ESSA title 4A funds should be dispersed at the state level
    • Help us get the $125,000 of county funds approved for 2017-2018
  • We need to create a one sheeter for the day that includes
    • What is FIRST
    • The MoCo robotics foot print
    • The impact of robotics programs on students
    • The federal and state funds that are available
    • The Ask and outcomes
  • We need to get the meetings scheduled
  • We need to schedule a planning meeting to plan the day and so some practice run through


On the 27th we held a planning call with other MoCo teams


We Have a Low Cost Plan for the Fall

Last night we talked about how we would break up the team this fall to maximize learning. Here are the small projects we came up with;

  • 10 people – Coding
  • 10 people – CAD
  • 10 people – Drive train
  • 10 people – Driving
  • 10 people – Pneumatics
  • 10 people – Electrical

Here are what the various projects are


  • The coding team will focus on learning how to code in Java, how the team’s git hub works and how to program some of the 2015’s robot’s simpler functions
  • The published code from other teams and analyze the way in which it was organized, and how it performed.
  • The coding team will then break down into two sub teams. one working on linear driving and the other working on target tracking.


  • The CAD team will work on CADing a 6 wheel drop center west coast drive base, identifying all of the gear box ratio to Feet Per Second (FPS) options and create a Bill Of Materials (BOM) with suppliers.
  • The CAD team will then review CAD from models from other teams from past years and make a list of findings to share with the whole team.
  • The CAD team will then CAD a west coast 6 wheel drop center H-drive west coast drive base, identifying all of the gear box ratio to Feet Per Second (FPS) options and create a Bill Of Materials (BOM) with suppliers.

Drive train

  • The drive train team will look at the drive trains from the Einstein finalists from the last 3 years and make a list of findings to share with the whole team.
  • The drive train team will disassemble and then reassemble the 2014 Kit of Parts base. The drive team will measure its acceleration, velocity and torque.
  • The drive train team will then change the gear ratio and again measure its acceleration, velocity and torque.
  • Lastly, the drive train team will change the wheel type and sizes while recording and calculating the acceleration, velocity and torque for each configuration.


  • The driving team will reach out to the 2015 drive team to document lessons learned that can be shared with the whole team.
  • The driving team will practice driving once a week focusing on different skills; turning, going over objects, aligning and speed transitioning.
  • The driving team will host a driving test to select our 2016 drivers.


  • The pneumatics team will watch training videos and read FRC pneumatics materials
  • The Pneumatics team will assemble a pnuemtaics board with everything an FRC robot would need to control 2 double acting and 2 single acting cylinders.
  • The pneumatics team will work with the coding and electrical teams to wire and code the board to test.


  • The electrical will look at the electrical systems from the Einstein finalists from the last 3 years and make a list of findings to share with the whole team.
  • The electrical team will assemble a complete electrical test board with 6 motors, 2 gear boxes, 2 encoders, 2 limit switches, 2 ir sensors and 2 ultrasonic sensors.
  • The electrical team will CAD up a mobile electrical system and create a Bill Of Materials (BOM) with suppliers for system with 4 pneumatic cylinders and 10 motors.

Every team will be attending the BAA Education Day (Training workshops) and focus on their speciality.

Who: MD and DC FIRST FRC Teams
What: Engineering and non-engineering workshops to prepare mentors and students for the upcoming FIRST FRC season
When: Saturday, October 24, 2015 8:30 AM – 4:00 PM
Location: Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab 11100 Johns Hopkins Rd, Laurel, MD 20723
Why: Learn best practices from FRC veterans for having a fun and successful FIRST FRC team!


In addition, every person on the team shall watch all of the video’s in Simbot’s Seminar Series. This will give you a big leg up with the tasks above.

Please get your paperwork in and check the schedule for the next meeting.

What Are You Going to Teach the Team?

Albert-Einstein-Life-QuotesStarting in the fall of 2015 every student involved in Walt Whitman robotics needs to do at least one STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) project per year. These projects need to be on a topic that can help broaden you and your team’s understanding of any topic you find interesting.  The key here is to have fun and share the passion you have for a topic with your team mates.  The sharing part of this project is what we like to call “Students Teaching Students“.  This is an opportunity for you to practice your presentation skills and test your knowledge of your topic.  Remember no teacher will ever know the answer to every question, so this also gives you the opportunity to go and find the answers to any questions that come up.



Research project requirements

  • This is not graded, but your teammates will have an opportunity to ask questions so slouching on the assignment is not recommended
  • Create a 15 min presentation on your topic
  • You can include notes in your presentation and back up material to help people reading the slides on the web to learn from your material
  • Site any and all sources
  • Know the material well enough to field most questions from your teammates
  • Complete a small follow up report to answer any questions that you were unable to answer when you presented and to identify the key thing you learned during the assignment.  Add this followup report to your slides and publish your presentation to the team web site.
  • Use the Walt Whitman power point template

Examples of project ideas

  1. Wheels
  2. Chassis
  3. Gear boxes
  4. Arms
  5. Grabbers
  6. Power systems
  7. Control systems: speed controllers
  8. Control systems: sensors
  9. Control systems: cameras
  10. Control systems: wires & connectors
  11. Control systems: system design
  12. Pneumatics: valves
  13. Pneumatics: actuators
  14. Structures: fasteners
  15. Structures: extrusions
  16. Structures: brackets
  17. Structures: fabrication methods – cnc
  18. Structures: fabrication methods – lathe
  19. Structures: fabrication methods – laser cutter
  20. Structures: fabrication methods – vertical mill
  21. Structures: fabrication methods – water jet
  22. Structures: fabrication methods – sheet metal
  23. Structures: fabrication methods – drill press
  24. Structures: fabrication methods – 3d printer
  25. Structures: bumpers
  26. Electronics: multi-meters
  27. Electronics: power and electricity
  28. Electronics: switches
  29. Electronics: heat transfer
  30. Electronics: oscilloscope
  31. Electronics: motors
  32. Software: java
  33. Software: robotc
  34. Software: labview
  35. Software: drive train control
  36. Software: manipulator control
  37. Software: sensors
  38. Software: speed controllers
  39. Controls: laptop
  40. Controls: play station or xbox
  41. Controls: joy stick
  42. Controls: custom panel
  43. Web pages
  44. Awards
  45. Pits
  46. Hand tools
  47. Spirit
  48. T-shirts
  49. Robot feet
  50. Printing
  51. Social media
  52. Scholarships
  53. Animation
  54. Driving
  55. Schedules
  56. Materials
  57. Power distribution
  58. Crio
  59. 4-h
  60. Practice bots
  61. Fields
  62. Frc
  63. Ftc
  64. Fll
  65. Vex
  66. Best
  67. Mate
  68. Sea perch
  69. Stem
  70. Green
  71. Fund raising
  72. Events
  73. Sponsorship
  74. Email campaign
  75. Business plan
  76. Community involvement

Students are not limited to FRC or any of the above topics.  They are just recommendations.

Swerve drive research


Chief Delphi FRC47 (now FRC51) really had the first original swerve drive in FRC, here are some photos:


Granted, the FRC kit of parts had a lot of different motors back in it then that we do not have now, so a lot of that may look unfamiliar.


This module is the one you saw sold at AndyMark, heavily inspired by FRC111’s swerve modules –


Here is one of 111’s modules from 2007 –


1625’s swerve stuff:


            Mini swerve module –