Build Week 4 2017 is in the History Books

What a week. awards, robots, planning for districts, designing t-shirts, testing final designs, finishing cad, assembling the drive train and more all happened this week.  On top of that we picked up nearly 8 new team members which brings us up to 54 students, making this the largest team we have ever had.

Let go by sub team

Awards – the awards team is putting the finishing touches on all of our awards.  we have awards due on Feb 9th and Feb 16th.  We also have a chairman’s video and a tech journal du by our first competition.

Planning for districts – we have a the pit map nearly worked out and are almost finished planning food. we are going to need a lot of help at our event being held at Walt Whitman High School on March 10-12.

Designing t-shirts – we are nearly done with our t-shirt design for the year.  Last chance for sponsors to get on the t-shirt is Feb 12.

Testing final designs – the team spent the first part of the week nailing down the geometry for the major robot components.  We are going into his season with a much better understanding of how different designs interact with the game pieces.

Finished CAD – now that our final testing is done we were able to complete our CAD. We should have something to release in the next few days.

Driver practice – drive practice continues for the 3rd strait week.  But tis was by far the coldest driver practice yet.  Since we set up outside things can get a little chillie.  Driver practice this week could have gone better though, we were plagues by breakages of all 3 working drive trains.

Drive train – the drive train is fully assembled and functioning.  We even used it for driver practice this week.  We were able to identify a few problems with the design and spent some time on Saturday getting the issues fixed.

Pneumatics – As part of this year’s drive train we have had to re learn pneumatic since we have not used them in the last few years.  We found a few leaks and learned how the pneumatics system as a whole worked.  Our system is now leak free and functioning correctly with 4 actuators.  This week we add 4 more.

Electrical – we now have our electrical board designed and mocked up.  We are putting the finishing touches on the CAD and will be getting that cut this week.  This will be the first time we have had a CNC electrical board and accounted for all of the wire runs and tubing runs.

Fabrication – We are up an running on one CNC machine this week and will soon have a second CNC running to do larger pieces. By this time next year the team will be able to make nearly all of our own parts as custom as we can design them.  This is a big step forward for us and should result in lighter more efficient robots going forward.  Also, our bumpers are nearly done.

The Robot – We are only a few days behind our schedule, but tis year’s schedule is aggressive.  We want to be completely done with the primary and secondary goals by the end of week 5 so we can work on our tertiary goals during week 6 while the code and drive team work out all of the kinks.

Scouting – our lead scout has joined the drive team this year, but that has not stopped him from putting together the stats on who we will be seeing at our week 2 event.

Coding – the team has been working on the driver station UI, octocanum code, manipulator code, vision code and Ohm (our initial build).  We have instituted code reviews and organized code merges.  This is has been helping ensure our code team that is 8 members strong aren’t wasting each others time.

Safety – we had some serious safety issue this week so we had a complete stand down and made everyone go back through tool safety training.  This was the closest we have ever been to a serious injury and definitely help put safety into perspective.  We may have lost a few hours of build season, but the time spent making sure we have a safety culture is worth it.



Please Pick up the Phone and Help Robotics in Maryland

FIRST in Maryland Friends we need your help! See Delegate Kirill Reznik‘s message below. Call your Senators, Delegates, and the Governor to let them know how important state funding for robotics programs is in helping our children prepare for high skill and high paying jobs in Maryland! lease call his office at 410-974-3901.

From Reznik’s office on the Maryland Robotics Education bill that passed with overwhelming bipartisan support
Dear Friends,

As you may have heard, yesterday Governor Hogan announced that this year’s proposed state budget will fully fund all mandated programs, cut virtually nothing, raise no taxes, and come in under last year’s budget in real dollars.
Unfortunately, this miracle budget uses a number of budgetary gimmicks to reach that goal and uses a separate piece of legislation to eliminate a number of funding mandates. Though I have not seen the full budget yet, I have been told that the bill we fought so hard to get last year to provide for a grants program to the robotics programs throughout the State was included as part of his cuts.
Given the enormous power that the Maryland Governor has over the State budget by Constitutional authority I don’t know if we will be able to restore it. I will try my best, but I need your help. Please call your Senators and Delegates, and also please call the Governor’s office ( and tell them how important this funding is to our children and their future. Let them know that in order to create high skill, high paying jobs in the State, we need to invest in STEM education, and not cut those crucial programs.
I hope that by the time this session is over I will be able to report to you that we have restored this program.


Delegate Kirill Reznik

Contact the Governor’s Office

Whether you’re a citizen of Maryland or just visiting our great state, your comments and suggestions are welcome.

  • Mail:
    100 State Circle
    Annapolis, Maryland
  • Phone:
    MD Relay 1-800-735-2258

Thanks for taking the time to contact the Governor’s Office of Maryland.

Governor Larry Hogan

2016 Tech Lecture Schedule

This fall is our team’s preseason, and as such the team will be busy practicing and learning to get ready for build season.  Much like playing sports, you don’t win the game when you step in the ice or field, you win the game in the months and days leading up to the game with your practice and preparation.  Robotics is no different, the fall is when we need to do as much learning and gain as much experience as possible so that in the spring, all we do is act.  Lats year the team started doing tech lectures to help get students up to speed on many of the critical aspects of running an FRC robotics teams.  This year we will be expanding our tech lectured so as to cover more topics and to help take our abilities to the next level.

Walt Whitman students, as well as students from other teams are encouraged to attend as many of the lectures as possible.  The more you know about every aspect of the robot and team, the more efficient the you and the team can be overall. Plus, their is always something new to learn.  All lectures will take place at Walt Whitman High School. If you are not a team Walt Whitman student please contact us at if you are interested in attending.

We will create and update online material in preparation for each talk, so please check the web page for updates that could help you get smarter, better and faster.


2016-2017 Team Plan

The team had a meeting a few weeks back where discussed how we would make our 2016 2017 goals a reality. One of the first things we did was modify our goals a bit after thinking about them for two weeks.

  • Raise $50,000, create a budget and be within 10% of the budget
  • Create a larger and more diver core group with a minimum of 4 people on each sub team
  • Ensure that leadership team and that each sub team has at least one female
  • Win district and district championship
  • Have 3 major impacts on the community
  • Transfer knowledge to more incoming students
  • Prepare more underclassman for leadership positions


We made the change to make the goal more measurable. We also focused our efforts for next season on the following;

  • Win the EI award
  • Spend more time prototyping for every aspect of the robot
  • Build two robots
  • Raise $20,000
    • $5,000 for District Championships
    • $10,000 for World Championships
    • $5,000 for second robot
  • Host a district event
    • Raise $10,000 on behalf of the event


To make the above happened the team talked about what we were going to do with the last month of school.

  • Repair Drivetrains
  • Tune up robots
  • Do outreach to local fabrication companies
  • Cleanup Lab


The team then talked about what we would be doing over the summer with the limited amount student who are available to make the goals real

  • Schedule a Drive Day at the STEMAction center in Columbia – Joey
  • Schedule a Pyle Drive Day – Jonah, Joey
  • Define CAD Projects – Joey, JJ
    • CAD project 1 – CAD the 2016 robot in solid works by the end of July
    • CAD 3 drive trains in full detail and include all electrical systems, wire routing and mechanical systems by the end of August
      • West coast inline drop 6 with 4” solid wheels
      • Swerve
      • H-drive
    • Complete a Vision Project
      • Identify and track 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 targets
    • Fund raise $6,000
    • Secure a Sheet metal fabrication sponsor
    • Lay the ground work to start 1 FTC team and 2 FLL teams
      • FTC at Pyle
      • FLL at Davis Library and Wyngate Elementary School
    • Repair current robots
      • Liftzilla – encoder controlled lifter, ecoder controlled drive, build bumpers
      • Maelstrom – functioning turret, vision code, autonomous modes, rewire, add climber
    • Do advocacy work at the Federal, State and county level
    • MD Federal representatives June 19-22
      • Part of FRC Team 27 National Advocacy Conference
    • Mo Co county – July 18th
      • County Board
      • County Executive
      • County School Board
      • County Dept. of Health & Human Services
      • County Dept. of Economic Development
    • Mo Co State representative – August 8th
    • MD Dept. of education – August 15th
    • MD Governor – August 15th


The team also laid out the plan for the Fall

  • Attend 3 off seasons
  • Create a 2016-2017 budget
    • Measure spending according to the budget
    • Create a part purchasing process that is tied to the budget
  • Increase the number of talks
  • Incorporate VEX robots into fall projects
    • Purchase 2-3 vex kits, $2,000 per kit
    • Host robot build off for underclassmen
  • Host Java training for MoCo teams
  • Host CAD training for MoCo teams
    • Create CAD projects due in Dec 2016
  • Host Safety training in Sept so students can use tools early
  • Start Awards in the fall
    • Finish drafts by December
  • Sign up 100 students at Clubs night
  • Track and measure freshman retention
  • Setup an Agile work board for defining and distributing tasks
    • 2 people’s names need to be on each ticket that is in work
  • Assign each new member an experienced buddy member
  • Raise $20,000 for build season
  • Recruit 2 more mentors
    • Electrical
    • Programming
  • Mentor FLL and FTC teams
  • Plan a district event


Here are the raw notes from the meeting

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Thanks for making Parents Night 2015 a success

We had over 60 people in attendance and raised over $200 dollars.  Thanks to everybody who cam together over the weekend to make this happen.  A big shout out to Jean Waye for organizing and hosting the event.  Also thanks to some of the local business who donated to help make the silent auction our best in history.  And our last thank you goes to all of the families who donated.


Pfish FINAL_color a


We went over the following with parents

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The 2016 Safety Animation Award Rules are Out

Safety Animation

The 2016 Safety Animation Award topic is “Working Safely With Your Robot”.

Every FIRST Robotics Competition team designs, builds, and competes with a robot. Every team also needs to work safely with their robot when it’s being built and tested, when it’s being moved to and from various locations at events, and when it’s being moved to and from the events themselves. Create an animation showing our community the best practices for handling the robot during these times! Your animation doesn’t necessarily need to show all three of these contexts, but if you can do so in a fun and engaging way – and in the time limit for the animation – please do. Also, please create videos in keeping with the medieval theme of the 2016 FRC season. This is not a requirement, but we would love to select, as our winner, an animation that highlights best safety practices while keeping within our theme. Get creative, and help keep your fellow teams safe!

Animations must:

    • Be no more than 40 seconds long, including opening and credits
    • Be submitted electronically as .AVI, .MPEG, .MP4, or .WMV file
    • Actually be animated. Any kind of animation, including stop-motion, is allowed.

Please note that the team with the winning submission may be asked to reformat their video into a higher quality format, in order to be shown at FRC Events.

If using copyrighted music, you must have written permission. If using Creative Commons Music (CCM) online, the music must be used in accordance with the appropriate license and properly attributed.

Lyrics in music may not contain explicit or suggestive language.

Any animation that does not meet these criteria will not be considered for the award.


Animations must be submitted by your team’s student award submitter in STIMS between Thursday, November 12th, 2015 at 12:00 PM, Noon (ET) and Thursday, January 21st, 2016 at 3:00 PM, (ET).

By making a submission the Submitter irrevocably grants to FIRST and designees of FIRST the right to use any or all of the submission in any and all media for the purpose of describing the submission, describing the Award, and/or otherwise promoting FIRST and the programs of FIRST.


The 2015 Safety Animation Award theme is Safety Superheroes.  The winning videos are shown below.  Thank you to all 198 teams who participated and congratulations to the winners!

1st PLACE: FRC Team 133, B.E.R.T. from Standish, Maine, USA


Team 2473, Goldstrikers from Cupertino, California, USA

Team 2574, RoboHuskie from St. Anthony, Minnesota, USA


UL Safety Smart Ambassador Training


Become a Safety Smart Ambassador and help UL teach children to manage themselves and their surroundings as safely as possible through the Safety Smart Program.  In this tutorial, Bill Nye the Science Guy will teach FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) students how to educate, engage and empower young children to practice safe, healthy and environmentally responsible behavior.  FRC students will be introduced to the Wild About Safety DVD series of animated stories, user-friendly ambassador guides, and fun activities.  Bill will explain how to share reassuring, clear and confidence building messages, why the Safety Smart Ambassador program is important, where to find the materials, and how to conduct a Safety Smart event.  Check out the tutorial, become a UL Safety Smart Ambassador, be a part of helping children make the right choices and decisions regarding public health, safety and environmental stewardship, it’s easy and fun. To register, please visit:

We need a Safety Glasses Sponsor

eyewearThe team is running low on safety glasses and need to replenish its stock.  We are in need of 48+ pairs of safety glasses for the season.  If you or your company would be willing to donate some or all of the safety glasses we need please contact  Or you can surprise us and mail them to 7100 Whittier Blvd, Bethesda, MD 20817 Attn: Walt Whitman Robotics Club.

Safety glasses are worn by every student, volunteer and mentor every time they are in the lab and power tools are being used. They are also mandatory for every person to wear while they are in the pits at competitions.  Since they are worn so often glasses often break or get scratched.  Each year the team need to replace 2 dozen safety glasses to make sure there are enough available for 38 people to be in the lab at any one time, Because we have had a much more successful recruiting effort this year the team thinks it will need enough safety glasses for 45-50 people in the lab at any one time.

Check out our great safety glasses models



Tool Training

tool safety

The mentors and volunteers of the Walt Whitman Robotics Club are dedicated foremost to offer practical applications of academic skills, and to encourage an appreciation for math, science and technology. Through cooperation with our students, we hope to inspire them to achieve high levels of excellence in education and in life. As a club we will strive to maintain the safest learning experience and environment possible.  With this said, students at various levels will be exposed to power tools and other mechanisms that do have the potential to injure. For this reason the club has a set safety policy that will be followed at all times.

  • Club members will act in a safe manner AT ALL TIMES. This includes during any club-related activity, traveling to club events, and during competitions.
  • Club members will be respectful of the Safety Captain(s) and adhere to any requests made by the Safety Captain(s).
  • Club members will be expected to complete training on the use of specific tools and equipment before using them. Power tools or equipment may only be used under the supervision of an adult mentor.
  • Club members will be expected to wear safety glasses at work sites and in the pit area at all competitions. In addition, club members may be asked to wear gloves, masks, and ear protection during certain tasks.
  • Horseplay will not be tolerated at any time in the work areas.
  • All work areas will be cleaned up at the end of every day including sweeping the floors and work surfaces, putting away tools and materials, and throwing away trash.
  • Club members will not directly or indirectly give out personal information about themselves or other team members while using club communication tools such as a forum.

The team uses the following powered tools. You must watch the safety videos and be ready to pass a written and practical test before using any tools in the lab.

Please check the Calendar for up coming tool training sessions.

Have you filled in your paper work yet???  If you haven’ you will not be able to attend meetings or events after the 10th of October till you do.