Category Archives: News

Time to register for the 2016-2017 FRC season

All high school students on FRC Team 4931 should now register with FIRST and with ERC. Please contact one of the mentors if you have questions or problems.

Step 1: Register with ERC

This is pretty easy: have a parent or guardian fill out the registration form at the ERC website and follow all the instructions.

Step 2: Register with FIRST

All students should follow the registration instructions at FIRST’s student website. New students will need to create a new account, while returning students should log into the account they created in a previous year (which is a new web application that replaces the old STIMS).

Be sure to complete all steps! Remember our team number is “4931”, our FIRST program is “FRC” (or “FIRST Robotics Competition”), and you’re signing up for the 2017 FRC season. And if asked, please provide a valid parent’s email address — FIRST will send an email to them asking them to complete the registration process and sign the consent form. You and your parent/guardian will receive an email when we add you to our official team roster.

FIRST changed their website this past year, and although a bit better this year it is unfortunately still as easy as it should be. Let us know if you have any problems.

First meeting of the 2016-2017 season!

Please join us for our first meeting of the 2016-2017 season for FRC!

WHEN: Thursday, August 4, from 7-9PM
WHERE: Lewis & Clark room 119 (directions)
WHO: All grade 9-12 students even remotely interested in robotics, programming, business/finance, and engineering. Parents are welcome but not required.
Come meet your fellow students and mentors, and find out what First Robotics Competition (FRC) and Team 4931 are all about! We’ll given an overview of the team, how we’ve worked in the past, and the kinds of activities we typically are involved in. However, every season is different and tailored around our students’ interests and goals, so we’ll discuss what those are and start to plan out the fall semester. We’ll also discuss when and how often to meet, and how we can recruit new team members. And, the Gateway Robotics Challenge (GRC) is just a few months away, and we need to get “Walter” (last year’s robot) ready and practice driving.
Please spread the word. Talk to your friends and fellow students you might not know very well. Find out who else likes science, math, and art, or who might be considering a career in engineering, robotics, programming, graphic design, business/finance, and ask them to attend!

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.

Pre-Halloween Update

The Halloween Parade is on its way! The past few weeks we’ve been getting ready for the parade. We’ve made serious progress on float decorations, successfully prepared both robots to drive in the parade.
We were one of the FRC teams selected to get a copy of the new roboRIO on-board robot software and libraries early so that we would go through and work out all the kinks of the system. We will report back to FIRST, telling them about the things they may have missed during their own internal testing, so that they will release improved software to the public. We are the “Beta Testers” which is a standard part of the testing process. We are super excited to have early access to the system and we are currently working on our own tests.
We also announced and released Strongback, find us at www.strongback.org or at our twitter: @strongbacklib
Work on a new chassis for our off-season robot has begun! We think we’ve reached the final design and we are currently in the fabrication process.

Time to register with ERC and FIRST for the 2016 season

All high school students on FRC Team 4931 should now register with FIRST and with ERC. Please contact one of the mentors if you have questions or problems.

Step 1: Register with ERC

This is pretty easy: have a parent or guardian fill out the registration form at the ERC website and follow all the instructions.

Step 2: Register with FIRST

All students should follow the instructions at FIRST’s student website: https://my.usfirst.org/stims/site.lasso. New students will need to create a new account, while returning students should log into the account they created in a previous year.

Be sure to complete all steps! Remember our team number is “4931”, our FIRST program is “FRC” (or “FIRST Robotics Competition”), and you’re signing up for the 2016 FRC season. And provide a parent’s email address, FIRST will send an email to them asking them to complete the registration process and sign the consent form.

You and your parent/guardian will receive an email when we add you to our official team roster.

 

 

ERC and Lewis & Clark

FRC Team 4931 is one of several FIRST teams that make up the Edwardsville Robotics Club, or ERC.  All together the club has over 100 students in all of its JrFLL, FLL, FTC and FRC teams!

Starting earlier this month, ERC’s FRC, FTC, FLL, and most JrFLL teams will all start meeting at the N.O. Nelson campus of the Lewis & Clark Community College. This is a wonderful and modern facility with loads of history and charm, and it’s the same rooms that the FRC team used last year for our build site.

N.O.Nelson campus in Edwardsville, IL

Each of the teams will benefit a lot from our new home. But even better is that it will make it easier for the older and younger students to work together and to share their passion for STEM.

Of course, none of this would be possible without Kathy Willis and Katie Haas from LCCC. We’d also like to thank Luke Jumper for all his efforts setting up the college’s Fabrication Laboratory (FabLab) that’s nearing completion — it’s going to be an amazing resource for our FTC and FRC teams.

Maps to the campus are available on our “Where we meet” page.

Introducing Strongback

Remember last April when we presented at the 2015 FIRST World Conference and talked about designing testable robot code? We mentioned possibly creating a new open source library with that code, and that got a lot of interest.

Well, over the summer we extracted the code from our team-specific codebase, restructured and documented it, and even added a bit of functionality. We still have to finish the website, but we have a web domain and discussion forums. We also have a name: Strongback.

Strongback is a new open source software library that makes your robot code lighter and stronger. You use it along with the WPILib library on your FIRST Robotics Competitionrobot’s RoboRIO, but Strongback’s APIs and functionality mean you need less code to do more. Plus, Strongback makes it easier for you to test your code without robot hardware and can record real-time data while you operate your robot for later post-processing.

Strongback offers the following features:

  • Testable – Test more of your robot code on development machines without requiring any real robot hardware.
  • Simple API – Uses powerful language features of Java 8 to reduce and simplify code while retaining flexibility.
  • Useful frameworks – Strongback offers several separate frameworks that you can mix and match in your robot code and in your tests. Use what you want, and nothing more. Set up all of them with just a few lines of code.
  • Uses WPILib – Uses the WPILib classes underneath for safety and consistency.

Check out our code, read our documentation, and if you’re interested then join us! We’re looking for students and mentors to try using Strongback, contribute code and documentation, help with the website, and even design robot hardware for physical tests.

Follow us on Twitter @Strongbacklib, on GitHub, or join our user and developer discussion forums.

 

First team meeting of the 2015-2016 season

FRC Team 4931 is going to have its first meeting of the 2015-2016 season to talk about a number of activities for this fall:

  • Our fall meeting schedule.
  • Status of Lewis & Clark and the FabLab and some of the projects we can work on for them.
  • Strongback, a new open source project for a Java library that simplifies robot Java code and makes it easier to use the WPILib framework. The code is ready, but we need to complete an initial website, and then we can launch via Twitter, evilletech.com, Chief Delphi, etc.
  • Gateway Robotics Challenge is October 17 at Hazelwood Central. We have to fix the robot and register.
  • Possible partnership with the St. Louis Zoo to design and build telepresence robots.
  • Outreach and recruitment, including an open house for parents and prospective team members, participating in the Ed/Glen Chamber Halloween parade, displaying at Goshen Market, how to recruitment more high school students.
  • Fundraising news and deadlines.

These are just some of the exciting activities for the team to consider this fall. Plus, we have to think about how to prepare for the competition season that starts in very early January.

Sound interesting? We hope to see all our past students and mentors, as well as any high school student in the  Edwardsville and surrounding area!

WHEN: Thursday, August 20 at 7PM
WHERE: Room N4 119, Lewis & Clark N.O. Nelson Campus, 600 Troy Rd, Edwardsville IL 62025

See you there!

 

Meeting site