All posts by Randall Hauch

STEM Day at Woodland Elementary

Today we participated in Woodland Elementary’s STEM Day. What a great way for the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students to end their school year – a full day of STEM-related activities and projects. For the last event of the day, all 450 students and teachers got together in the gym to spend 20 minutes with our team.

We showed one of our videos while our students talked about FIRST, FRC, how the competitions work, and how they design, build, program, and test our robots. Then to the delight of the elementary students, our team demonstrated our 5ft-tall 120lb robot, showing among other things how it can drive, catch, and pass the large 2ft-diameter game ball. We concluded by telling the students that they, too, can get involved in robotics thanks to multiple area programs. (Edwardsville Robotics Club, our parent organization, now has multiple teams at the JrFLL, FLL, FTC, and FRC levels.)

Driving FRC Team 4931's robot at Woodland Elementary STEM Day FRC Team 4931 at Woodland Elementary STEM Day

This was our 4th outreach event since the end of the 2014 FRC season. It’s great to watch our students get up in front of large audiences and share their infectious excitement, passion and knowledge of robotics!

What a rookie season!

This weekend Team 4931 competed in the 2014 St Louis Regional FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), which was held at the Chaifetz Arena and featured this year’s “Aerial Assist” game. We placed 16th out of 45 teams during the qualification matches, advanced to the quarterfinals, and were selected by Team 3792 to be on their alliance (with Team 5176) during the elimination matches (thanks!!). We didn’t survive our matches against the #1 seeded alliance, but getting as far as we did was simply amazing and beyond our wildest hopes.

We also  won two awards:

  • The “Rookie Inspiration Award” celebrates a rookie team’s outstanding success in advancing respect and appreciation for engineering and engineers within their schools and in their community; and
  • The “Highest Rookie Seed Award” is given to the rookie team that is ranked the highest among all first-year teams at the end of the qualifying matches.

What an amazing season! Our robot may not have shot into the upper goal, but our design did everything else — and it did it very well. We could defend with our high-traction and powerful chassis. We could block shots with our tall structure. We could easily and quickly pick up the ball with our capture gate and roller. We firmly held onto the ball by keeping it completely within our 80/20 structure, even when other robots hit us as hard as they could. We could pass the ball to other robots, and sometimes even handed it off directly to them with our “robot kiss” without the ball ever touching the floor. And our robot did all this with not a single mechanical, electrical or programming problem during the entire 3 day event — not a single problem. That goes to show that our team was focused on building a robust and effective robot.

But the definite crowd pleaser was our robot’s extendable nets that could catch an over-the-truss pass from another robot for the extra assist points. We did it not just once, not just twice, but three times in competition matches! One of our matches even scored the maximum number of cycle points possible: all assist points, an over-the-truss shot, and a catch.

Here’s a compilation video of all three catches:

Not bad at all! Major points to Team 3792, Team 1094, and Team 1706 for such excellent shots over the truss.

Perhaps the biggest compliment, however, was the feedback and respect that we got from other teams. “Great to work with.” “Really solid design.” “Flexible and fun.” “One tough robot.” And many more compliments.

Thanks to the St Louis FIRST organization for an outstanding event, and thanks to all the other teams that competed in the 2014 St Louis Regional FRC event. We had so much fun, met so many great people, and learned a massive amount from all of the seriously smart FRC teams, organizers, volunteers, and mentors! FIRST is an amazing organization.

Thanks to our unbelievable mentor teams, Team 1208 “The Metool Brigade” from O’Fallon Township High School and Team 4246 “Resurrected Robotics” from Triad High School.

Finally, thanks to our families for putting up with our hectic 2 1/2 month schedule preparing for this event. Talk about some significant assists!

Check out more videos on our YouTube channel and photos from the event on our Flickr page.

We’re ready for the St Louis Regional!

Last night we finished packing up and organizing the items for our pit, including a stand for our team banner. We put the finishing touches on the battery cart and even charged our new batteries, though our voltmeters will arrive later this month.  We swapped out a few brackets for our roller capture gate, the only part of the robot we held back from the bag. We finished the fabulous reversible bumpers. And we labeled our cart and crates.

It looks like we’re ready to go.

Tomorrow night, 5 of our team will deliver all the goods to the Chaifetz Arena and get our bagged robot inspected. Then we’ll be all set on Thursday AM to un-bag and get the robot ready for inspection and competition.

Wish us luck on Twitter: @frc4931

Thanks to Team 1208

We recently sent Team 1208 the following letter:

February 25, 2014

Dear Team 1208 — aka the Metool Brigade,

You have made many generous contributions to Edwardsville Technology, Team 4931, and we would like to thank you for that. You have clearly demonstrated the Gracious Professionalism that FIRST values so highly.

When we were first considering starting a team this past fall, you hosted our students and mentors (several times, in fact) and showed us how your team is structured, the basics of FRC robots, the cRIO and other electrical components, and the LabVIEW programming environment. The documentation you provided were very useful as we started our rookie team.

During the 2014 FRC Kickoff, the Metool Brigade helped multiple rookie teams, including our own, take inventory of their Kit of Parts. This was very helpful, since this was the first time many of us had seen the kinds of parts that are included in the Kits. We appreciate the time your team members took — time that you could have used to jump into the Aerial Assist design process.

Recently, in fact the weekend before bag day, you invited our team to participate in a friendly scrimmage. Our robot was barely complete, yet this was a fantastic opportunity to test our robot and to identify and fix problems. When several small parts of our robot started to fail, your team helped us fabricate replacements. You even offered driving and strategy advice. By the end of the day, our teams even completed quite a few assists, including several robot-to-robot passes and catches. Yet without the chance to use your field, we could not have tested out the functionality of our robot and would not have had much insight into what Aerial Assist will be like during competition.

Your coach, Eric Curry, stopped by our team’s build site often, giving us lots of chances to ask questions, seek advice, and get feedback on our design and build. Plus, he helped us with parts — especially valuable considering we were often far behind schedule.

In short, there’s no way we could have accomplished what we did in just a few short months without the assistance from the Metool Brigade. Your team embodies so many of the great characteristics we see and read about FIRST, and are an excellent example for us as we plan how we can reach out to other teams.

Thank you.

Team 4931, E’ville Tech