Category Archives: competition

An amazing 2016 season!

What an incredible season! FRC Team 4931 finished in second place at the 2016 St Louis Regional FIRST Robotics Competition!

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Some of Team 4931 just after the final match on Saturday. Several other students were unable to attend Saturday because of conflicting events.

This year’s game was FIRST Stronghold℠. Each match involves two alliances of 3 teams attempting to breach the opposing alliance’s defenses and capture the tower.

We designed, modeled, fabricated, assembled, programmed, and tested our robot (aka, “Walter”) in just 6 weeks. Our strategy was for our robot to be very simple, sturdy, and tough, and to quickly defeat all of the eight defenses, and all but two of them in autonomous. We wanted to be able to assist shooting robots by collecting boulders, and we also wanted robot that could play defense against even the best shooting robots. Walter is about 12.5″ tall, 28″ square (excluding bumpers), constructed of mostly aluminum, and weighed in at 96lbs. It uses six 8″ pneumatic wheels chain-driven by four CIM motors, a custom chassis that gave us the ground clearance to get over several nasty defenses while being short enough to fit under the Low Bar defense. It also featured a motor-driven retractable arm mechanism that is very effectively against the Cheval de Frise and Portcullis defenses, and helps us capture and handle boulders.

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We attended the St Louis Regional on March 9-12 at the Chaifetz Arena. This year, 49 teams from Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, and Wisconsin. The first day of qualifying matches (Friday) went very well, and after 10 matches we stood in first place in the rankings with another 4 matches to be competed the next day. The other teams were great competitors and alliance partners, and we ended up with the 4th highest rank out of the 49 teams.

Next up was alliance selection, where the 8 highest ranked teams each select two more teams for their alliance. The #2 ranked team, Team 1094, the “Channel Cats” from O’Fallon, MO, picked us as their first alliance partner, and we gladly accepted. (We were alliance partners for the previous 2 years, too!) Our alliance was very happy to pick Team 4329, the “Lutheran Roboteers” from St. Charles, MO, as our third alliance member.

All of the quarter-final matches were amazing, and there were even a few upsets. We lost the first quarter final, but won the next two, and were off to the semi-finals.

Here are our two semi-final matches (we’re the red alliance in both, and 4931 is the red robot that plays defense in the blue alliance’s courtyard):

Both were great matches (106-50 and 106-94) with an amazing opposing alliance comprised of FRC teams 1288 Raven Robotics from St. Charles, MO; 3397 Robolions from University City, MO; and 1706 Ratchet Rockers from Wentzville, MO.

The finals were … amazing. We faced the incredible #1 ranked alliance: FRC Team 1675 UPS (Ultimate Protection Squad) from Milwaukee, WI; FRC Team 2451 PWNAGE from Saint Charles, IL, and FRC Team 4330 Rambunction from St. Louis, MO.

Here’s match 1 — we’re the blue alliance this time, and once again our robot plays defense much of the match:

Here’s match 2:

And here’s match 3:

What a nail biter and an amazing end to our 2016 season! It was close, but Teams 1675, 2451 and 4330 played very well and are off to the 2016 FIRST World Championships, held April 27-30 in St. Louis at the Edward Jones Dome and Convention Center.

Congratulations to all the teams that took part in the 2016 St. Louis Regional FIRST Robotics Competition — you were all so much fun to work with! Go FIRST!

Thank you go all of our sponsors: Boeing, Red Hat, PTC, the US Department of Defense STEM program, GSK, Lewis & Clark Community College and its wonderful St. Louis Confluence FabLab, St. Louis Scale, and GitHub. We also want to thank Edwardsville Robotics Club (our parent organization) and the high schools that our students attend: Edwardsville High School, Metro East Lutheran High School, and Father McGivney Catholic High School.

And thank you to all of our parents, families, and friends that supported us throughout this season. We know that the 6-week build season is tough on our families, but you were there to back us up and to give us this amazing opportunity.

Welcome to the 2016 FRC Season!

The whole team met last night at Lewis & Clark to talk about our upcoming season. We watched the FIRST Stronghold℠ teaser video again, and talked about our various policies and procedures. Of special note was the news about the Confluence Fab Lab, so we talked about the training and certification process, and the various procedures required by the lab. All the students were very excited.

We also talked about the days and times we’re going to meet during build season. Because of the Fab Lab is closed on Sundays and Mondays, the team decided to change our “off day” from Fridays to Mondays, meaning our weekly schedule will generally be:

  • Sundays from 2-8PM
  • Mondays (off day)
  • Tuesdays thru Fridays 6-9PM
  • Saturdays from 9AM-5PM

Of course, this may change each week depending upon conflicts, holidays, weather, etc.

The local St Louis Regional FRC is in Week 2 of competitions, which is earlier than in the past few years. That, coupled with the one week delay due to the New Year, means the time between Kickoff and our regional is significantly shorter than in the past.

Check out our slides from the meeting.

2015 St. Louis Regional FRC

Later this week FRC Team 4931, aka Edwardsville Technologies, will participate in the 2015 St. Louis Regional FIRST Robotics Competition. The event is 3 full days of very intense  but friendly robotics competition – something FIRST calls Gracious Professionalism®.

The Event

The regional competition is free and open to the public! It’s a great opportunity to bring young students to show them how much fun science, technology, engineering and math can be. So stop by the Chaifetz Arena on the Saint Louis University Campus to see 43 teams and hundreds of high school students with their amazing robots.

Thursday is just a prep day for the teams, but the public is welcome on Friday and Saturday:

  • Friday, March 20 from 8:30-6:30PM
  • Saturday, March 21 from 9AM-5:30PM

detailed schedule is also available online. If you can’t make it in person but want to follow along, watch the live webcast or follow us on Twitter.

Of course, if you do come to the event, stop by our pit to say hi, talk to our students, and see our robot!

The Game

This year’s FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) game is Recycle Rush℠:

Recycle Rush℠ starts with certain tasks to be performed autonomously in the first 15 seconds of the match, and then human drivers take over for the remaining 2 minutes and 15 seconds to  remotely command the robot to build stacks of totes, recycling cans, and pool noodles. Points are awarded based upon numbers of successfully accomplished tasks. Each match consists of two alliances of three teams, so teams and robots have to work together. And every match puts different teams on each alliance, so teams have to be able to work together will all kinds of different robots. (This is an extreme simplification – the actual game rules are very nuanced and specific and fill about 100 printed pages.)

Our Robot(s)

All FRC teams found out about the game on January 3, 2015, and had only 6 weeks to analyze the game, determine strategies, design and build our competition robot, program the control system, test the functionality, fix any and all problems, and practice driving. Then the competition robot has to be bagged (literally placed in a very large sealed plastic bag) and not touched until the first day of competition.

Team 4931's bagged robot

Here’s our competition robot before bagging:

Competition robot

Six weeks is terribly short, so many teams try to also build a second robot that they can continue to modify, fix, and test after their competition robot has been bagged. This was something we did this year for the first time, and our’s was identical in the most important ways but fairly crude in others (like drive train). Here’s our practice robot with a stack of the totes and recycling container:

Practice robot

There are several areas where totes are available: they can be loaded onto the field via two human player stations, and there are also up to 40 totes in an area of the field called the “landfill” zone. Although our robot can use the totes added from the human player station, our team decided to go for the more challenging task of picking up totes from the landfill. In fact, our robot is optimized for the exact layout of the totes in the landfill.

Field Layout

To save cost and to simplify testing, our robots share a single control system that we can move from one robot to the other.

Our control system

Of course, there’s a lot more to talk about, but the best way to see our robot is to come in person to the event and let us show you!

Our Sponsors

We’d like to thank our sponsors, who have supported us with grants and donations:

And thanks to our families, who have put up with our rigorous schedule!

None of this would be possible without them.

2015 FRC Kickoff event

The team will be attending the St. Louis regional FRC kickoff event for 2015 at Clayton High School.

Meet in the parking lot at the N.O. Nelson campus at 7AM on Saturday, January 3. We’ll carpool to the event in St. Louis, watch the live broadcast, get our decryption key, pick up our kit of parts, and return back to the N.O. Nelson campus where we’ll eat lunch, review the game rules, brainstorm, and start conceptual design. Be sure to bring any laptops that you will want during the afternoon.

FIRST has released several documents that you can download ahead of time:

Most of the documents are encrypted, and all teams will get the decryption key during the live event on Saturday. But FIRST recommends that you download the files before kickoff. (FIRST has also provided an decryption test – simply download the encrypted test document and try to decrypt with the given decryption key.)

Register students for FRC Team 4931

It’s that time of year again. We’re less than 4 weeks from the kickoff of the 2015 FRC season!

Each student team member needs to register with Edwardsville Robotics Club and with FIRST.  Only those students that are registered with both will be allowed to attend the kickoff event on January 3.

The whole process can be a bit confusing, so below you’ll find the steps that describe the whole process. Since the process is a bit different for returning students versus new student members, we’ve covered each separately.

Returning Students

If you were a member of the team for the 2014 season, then the steps are fairly straightforward:

Parents of returning students

Step 1: Register your student at the Edwardsville Robotics Club website.
Step 2: Log into the STIMS system with the same email address and password you used last year.
Step 3: Verify/correct your information via the “Edit/View” button near the top of the page.
Step 4: Complete the youth profile for your student. Make sure you check the “2015-2016 TBD (FRC)” in the red box at the bottom of the page.
Step 5: Complete the school information for your student(s).
Step 6: Sign the consent form
Step 7: Click on the “Apply to FRC Team” and enter the team number “4931”
Step 8: You are done when the “User Profile”, “School”, and “Consent Form Status” says “Complete” for each student.

Students

After this, each returning students should log into STIMS and verify their information is complete/correct:

Step 1: Log into the STIMS system with the same email address and password you used last year.
Step 2: Verify your information via the “Edit/View” button near the top of the page.
Step 3: Verify that your status for Team 4931 is either “Applied” or “Accepted”.

New students

If you were not a member of the team for the 2014 season, then the parent/guardian must create an account on STIMS and complete the information. We also recommend that students also create their own account.

Parents of new students

Step 1: Register your student at the Edwardsville Robotics Club website.
Step 2: Go to the STIMS system and click the “New Parent/Guardian User” button and create an account.
Step 3: Verify/correct your information via the “Edit/View” button near the top of the page.
Step 4: Add your student(s), and complete the youth profile for each. Make sure you check the “2015-2016 TBD (FRC)” in the red box at the bottom of the page for each student(s).
Step 5: Complete the school information for your student(s).
Step 6: Sign the consent form
Step 7: Click on the “Apply to FRC Team” and enter the team number “4931”
Step 8: You are done when the “User Profile”, “School”, and “Consent Form Status” say “Complete” for each student.

Students

After your parent/guardian completed their part, each student should log into STIMS and create an account and verify their information is complete/correct:

Step 1: Go to the STIMS system and click the “New User” button to create a new account. Be sure to use the same email address that your parent/guardian used.
Step 2: Verify your information via the “Edit/View” button near the top of the page.
Step 3: Verify that your status for Team 4931 is either “Applied” or “Accepted”.

If you have any questions or problems, please contact one of the mentors or email us at frc4931 at gmail.com.

 

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