Central Maryland District Event 2017

After 14 years, team 1389 has finally won an event!!!

The team was prepared for this event. The robot was tweaked. The awards team was on top of their game and the drivers had tasted the finals and were ready to try and get that blue banner.  But, the weekend started off a bit rocky.  The robot was not performing up to snuff for the first 3 matches.  But, the team rebounded and started to get the some wins.  And these wins were sweeter than those two weeks earlier because we were doing the caring.  The team went from 3 gears per match to 5 gears per match.  But then we started to trip on Sunday morning. What should have been 3 big wins turned out to be 2 wins and a loss, putting us in 13th place at the end of qualifications.

We knew we were going to be in eliminations since we were the only robot with a consistent gear pickup at the event.  And sure enough, we were picked up by the 5th seed alliance as their 1st pick.  First we knocked out the 4th seed, then the 8th seed and wow….we were in the finals again before we knew it.  On top of that, we had figured out how to score fuel for the first time, so now we were doing 4 gears, 1 KPA and a climb.  And that is exactly what we did for two big wins in the finals.  The team had finally won an event for the first time in its history.

Thanks to 1111 and all of the volunteers for making this weekend happen.  And congrats to all of the award winners;

Award Winner
District Chairman’s Award 2537
District Engineering Inspiration Award 5243
Rookie All Star Award 6326
District Event Winner 5115
District Event Winner 1389
District Event Winner 2534
District Event Finalist 449
District Event Finalist 2421
District Event Finalist 6239
Creativity Award sponsored by Xerox 4541
Entrepreneurship Award sponsored by Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers 1389
Excellence in Engineering Award sponsored by Delphi 3650
Gracious Professionalism Award sponsored by Johnson & Johnson 686
Highest Rookie Seed 6326
Imagery Award in honor of Jack Kamen 2377
Industrial Design Award sponsored by General Motors 4505
Innovation in Control Award sponsored by Rockwell Automation 1123
Judges’ Award 1915
Quality Award sponsored by Motorola Solutions Foundation 619
Rookie Inspiration Award sponsored by National Instruments 6504
Safety Award sponsored by Underwriters Laboratories 6239
Team Spirit Award sponsored by FCA Foundation 6239

Here are some match videos from the weekend

Greater DC district Event 2017

3 weeks ago the team hosted the 2nd greater DC district event at Walt Whitman high school.  We set up the field in record time thanks to the folks at ilite who left so much of the field assembled after their week 1 assembly debacle. The weekend started of with some setbacks on the field as the team worked to repair the robot after nearly every match.  However, much to our good fortune our schedule kept providing wins because our alliance partners were able to carry us. This all changed as the weekend went on, our robot’s technical challenges were quickly fading and we started to figure out how to drive around the field and manipulate the game pieces.

Because of the good fortune, we ended up in 13 and were picked by the 8th seeded alliance captain.  As we started eliminations it became evident that we had a winning team, we knocked off the 1st seeded alliance, then the 4th seed and before we knew it we were one win away from winning. And that is when the bottom dropped out, literally, the entire bottom of our robot fell out during the 2nd finals match. We were replaced by a back up robot for the 3rd match of the finals.  And for 3 seconds it looked liked our alliance won, then our new alliance partner’s locking mechanism failed and they fell back to the floor.

All weekend was amazing.  nearly 3,000 people stopped by to check out FRC and we hosted a Jr FLL event as well.  Thanks to everyone who helped make the weekend possible!!!!

Congrats to the following teams;

Award Winner
District Chairman’s Award 1885
District Engineering Inspiration Award 1111
Rookie All Star Award 6543
District Event Winner 4242
District Event Winner 1885
District Event Winner 102
District Event Finalist 2849
District Event Finalist 5338
District Event Finalist 3650
District Event Finalist 1389
Creativity Award sponsored by Xerox 1719
Entrepreneurship Award sponsored by Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers 422
Excellence in Engineering Award sponsored by Delphi 2912
Gracious Professionalism Award sponsored by Johnson & Johnson 888
Highest Rookie Seed 6543
Imagery Award in honor of Jack Kamen 5338
Industrial Design Award sponsored by General Motors 2537
Innovation in Control Award sponsored by Rockwell Automation 449
Judges’ Award 4242
Quality Award sponsored by Motorola Solutions Foundation 4514
Rookie Inspiration Award sponsored by National Instruments 6504
Safety Award sponsored by Underwriters Laboratories 4638
Team Spirit Award sponsored by FCA Foundation 5243


Here are some of the matches from the weekend

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.



Lots to Review From Week 3

We started off last weekend making some parts on the CNC machine for our drive train. We learned a lot more abut zeroing than we bargained for as we found out the CNC machine was not fully calibrated in the Y. we will have that fixed on future parts.

Next up, we did some high speed driver testing to start to get our drivers used to 16-18 FPS.  Wow is that fast.  We have been getting our cycles down and have started looking at sight lines.

Our vision team was also hard at work.  We were able to get our hands on some reto reflective rope and found out we could create an auto centering teleop assist command to help us hit the rope with more accuracy.  But, we also learned that retro reflectve ropes are illegal so that is out.

Our chief strategists has been running field simulations to better understand how many balls we will be able to pick up and how quickly we can load up after all o the hoppers are empty.  It looks like the corners are the place to be fore picking up balls in a hurry.

And of course we have been building and prototyping.  We should have our drive train driving around today because of all of the great effort that has been put in this week.  On top of that we have a much better idea of how our gear intake and ball intakes will work.  As an added bonus. if we get the main robot fully functional by next Saturday, the tea already has plans for adding a high goal shooter.  If that is the case, shooter prototyping would be on the schedule in two weeks.  much earlier than we planned.

More videos can be found on our 2017 build season play list


Lots of Big Learning Today

The team came back from its three day weekend with a vengeance by making 3 gear picker uppers, a revised climber and got pneumatics working.  As a bonus, the team has found ourselves a new programming mentor and he has jumped right in by helping the kids organize their code.  Things are looking up.

As an added bonus, we have a finished airship to practice on and updated liftzilla drive train to start high speed driving with.

We have also starting trying to figure out the robot’s name for this season.

Additionally, the awards team is in full swing and we are working hard to get our awards videos done.

As if all that weren’t enough, the team is starting to plan our district event that we are hosting in march.

Building, Trying, Failing, Learning

Tonight was a great night, some of our ideas worked, some of our ideas didn’t, but we did a lot of learning.  We also made a dent on our robot in 5 days and have finalized the design.  We also did some work on our drive train trade study, lots of hard decisions to be made this Saturday.

Also check out our electronics test bot.

Prototypers R Us

You need a prototype, yo we got it. You need another one, yo we got it.  That is our entire week this week, trying at least 3 of every system.

Our design objectives for this season are;

  • Primary – Climb rope to the top in 10 seconds from touching the rope and stay at top past buzzer
  • Primary – Pick up gears from feeder station and drop them off at the peg with a max of 20 seconds per cycle
  • Primary – Be able to drive nearly 20ft per second and highly maneuverable
  • Secondary – Pick up balls from the floor
  • Secondary – Store 20 balls or more on the robot
  • Secondary – Deposit 20 balls in the low goal in less that 3 seconds
  • Tertiary – Pick up gears from the ground
  • Tertiary – Shoot 20 balls in the high goal in 5 seconds with 50% accuracy

To reduce the risk of our final design not working we are going to prototype the following this week.

  • Capturing the rope
  • Climbing the rope
  • What rope works the best
  • How to stay at the top of the rope
  • How to intake a gear from the feeder
  • How to store a gear
  • How to identify the gear drop off zone autonomously with vision
  • How to drop off a gear
  • How fast to drive
  • How fast t turn
  • How to pick up balls off the floor
  • How to automate the ball pic up mechanism / make it passive
  • How to move balls to a hopper
  • How to maximize the number of balls in a small space
  • How to hold the balls
  • How to dump balls in the low goal
  • How to shoot / force balls in the low goal at the fastest speed possible
  • How to pick up gears from the ground
  • How to position gears for being deposited
  • How to identify the high goal with vision
  • How to shoot balls with wheels
  • How to shoot balls with flippers
  • How to shoot 2, 3, 4 and 5 balls at a time into the high goal

Yesterday we also started working on various CAD concepts to get a better handle on the overall packaging of the systems.  Here are some of our draft concepts.

Along with this we have been doing a lot of research, Here is a our 2017 research play list.

Fall 2016

The team has had a very busy Fall. Three off-season events were attended by a total of 25 students, tech lectures covering topics from fundraising to electrical, to pneumatics, to mechanical have been attended, and most students have been to one of the tool training sessions. With almost 45 students signed up for the Robotics Club, the Fall has focused on teaching the new members as much as possible so that on kickoff day, everyone is ready and the focus will shift from training/teaching to doing and building.

And as a bonus, we had a few Alumni stop buy over winter break.

We Want To Build an Advanced Fabrication Training Facility for MCPS

Over the past decade MCPS like other school districts across the US has been dismantling shop rooms as schools focus more on testing and college prep.  However, the need to for experienced advanced fabricators is growing.  Communities across the US are starting to feel the impact of this skills gap and are working with private industry to create a pipeline of people with the knowledge they need to make things.  Just today, GE purchased two of the world’s leading metal additive manufacturing companies and announced thei need to grow domestic manufacturing capacity.   (both of these companies were in Europe)  It is for this reason the Walt Whitman Robotics team plans to upgrade the Walt Whitman High School  shop room with new equipment. and start and advanced fabrication program.  The goal will be to teach 50+ kids a year how to do CAD design,  CAM design, additive manufacturing, circuit board printing, advanced CNC manufacturing and how to use a variety of industrial lasers.  This will be open to students at every level and STEM sports teams across the county.

The program will do much more than showing kids how to use a vinyl cutter.  We want to teach students that their ideas can be transformed into marketable commodities. One example from similar program in California;

 “They designed really cool ornaments for the holidays and we sold more than a thousand dollars’ worth of stuff. We just put together a coaster set for a local microbrewery. We’ve got a tremendous community of artistic people and small businesses that I’m sure would be willing to do what the brewery did. The kids have to go to the business and make the pitch and figure out what the cost would be by doing an analysis of material and time and all the other costs. I’m talking with a finance teacher we have to set this up as a business class on student enterprise, with real outcomes.” http://time.com/3849501/why-schools-need-to-bring-back-shop-class/

We are going to be looking for community donated materials, equipment, cash, and expertise to get this program off the ground.  If you are interested in helping build the next generation, please reach out admin@team1389.com, we can use all the help we can get.

Robotics Day at the Kid Museum

Walt Whitman will join 3 other FRC teams from the area and help the local Kid’s Museum host their first Robotics Day. Stop by with your kids, your neighbors kids and your inner kid to check us out. We will have several team members on hand as well as our World Championship  Level robot Maelstrom available for you to drive.

Saturday, July 16

From the nuts & bolts of how robots move, to testing out competition robots…it’s everything robots at KID’s first ever Robotics Day!

Open Explore
Stop in throughout the day to experiment with gears, parts and pulleys; take part in “Imagining the Robots of the Future;” and learn about different machines and systems, like VEX, LittleBits, and Arduino.

Featured Workshops
LEGO WeDo: Move and manipulate objects with this robotics tool. Design your own interactive machine using gears, motors, motion sensors, and more. Ages 8+. $6 members; $7 nonmembers. 11:00 REGISTER

MakerWear: Customize clothing with lights and sounds that react to your movements, and be a part of the University of Maryland’s Human-Computer Interaction Lab MakerWear prototyping project. Ages 6+. $3 members; $4 nonmembers. 1:30 REGISTER

See amazing demos by local high school FRC robotics teams:

Team 1389 
Walt Whitman High School
Bethesda, MD

Team 449
Blair High School
Silver Spring, MD