EHS Robotics Showcase

Today the Edwardsville High School (EHS) Robotics Club held a Robotics Showcase for area 5th grade students, giving them all kinds of information about how they can participate in robotics and experience the fun and exhilaration of STEM.

The high school students talked about Botball robotics programs at the middle-school level (next year for these 5th graders) and at the high school, and they demonstrated several great robots the club has built.

Even though Edwardsville Robotics Club (ERC) is not part of the local school district, our team was still given an opportunity to talk to the students about FIRST and the different levels of FIRST robotics programs. And since ERC has JrFLL, FLL, FTC, and FRC teams, these students are able to join and do robotics outside of school, too.

So, Jacob got up on stage and went through a quick presentation about FIRST and introduced FRC 4931’s catch video, while offstage TJ drove last years competition robot (with some help from Alex). The audience had lots of great questions, and Jacob did a great job answering them.

FRC4931 at EHS Robotics Showcase

Thanks to the EHS Robotics Club for inviting us to their showcase and for giving us a few minutes to talk about FIRST and Edwardsville Robotics.

Here’s the presentation:

and the catch video:

2015 season meeting schedule

We plan to meet from January 3 through February 17 at our new build site:

  • Monday-Thursday, 6PM-9PM
  • Saturday, 9AM-5PM
  • Sunday, 2-8PM

These are the same times as last year, so the team will discuss whether this will work again this year. We’ll update this post if the team chooses different times. All meetings are also on our calendar.

February 17 is “bag day”, and we have to put the entire robot (minus 25lbs or so) into a big plastic bag and seal it, where it will remain until we can get the robot inspected at the St. Louis Regional FRC on March 18.

We’ll also meet from Feb 18-March 17, but the meeting times will be determined later.

2015 Open House

FRC Team 4931 is starting a new season and looking for new recruits! Any high school age student in 9-12 grades (public, private, or home school) is eligible. While we are based in Edwardsville, any students in the Metro East area willing to make the trip to our meetings is welcome to join us. We currently have members from 4 different high schools!

Join us at our open house on Sunday, January 11 from 3-5PM at the Lewis and Clark N.O. Nelson Campus at 600 Troy Road in Edwardsville (across from Market Basket). We’ll be in Rooms N4 121 and 119. Here’s a map showing where the entrance to building N4:

N.O. Nelson Campus of Lewis & Clark Community College


This team is an intensive program for high school students to design and build a robot to compete in the 2015 FIRST robotics competition. Students will learn first hand about all aspects of robotics, including control systems, autonomous and teleoperated operation, computer aided design (CAD), mechanical engineering, Java programming, shop safety, electronics and wiring, fabrication techniques, testing, troubleshooting, and maintenance. They will also experience product development, project management, graphic design, marketing, presentations, documentation, accounting, teamwork, administration, and gracious professionalism. The team will compete at one or more area events, and will experience the hard work and fun of FIRST robotics.

You can also find out more about FIRST and FRC at

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.)

Using Java to program the RoboRIO in 2015

Last year Team 4931 used Java to program the cRIO, and it worked great. All of our codebase is on GitHub, where the “CompetitionRobot” project is the program we used for competition. (There are several other projects, but most just show different styles of programming the robot.)

In 2014 we used Java 6 or 7, Eclipse Kepler, GitHub, Git, and Ant; see our instructions for setting up the tooling and the steps we used throughout development to branch, commit, and create/review/merge pull-requests to coordinate the changes to the code. Here’s a presentation that covers the concepts of Java development and how to use Git and GitHub:

We expect much of this to be similar for 2015, though we expect a number of changes:

  • Java 8 – Note that any code developed using Java language features introduced in Java 1.4 or later will not be deployable to a cRIO. We think the many(!) features in Java 8 are worth having RoboRIO-specific code, and we’re diving in headfirst.
  • Eclipse Luna with FRC plugins – Instructions should be released by FIRST on (or hopefully slightly before) kickoff.
  • Git – Be sure to use the latest version that fixes the security vulnerability announced on Dec 19.
  • GitHub – This is unchanged, though we’ll be using a different repository
  • Ant – We anticipate that the FRC plugins will still use Ant under the covers, so we install the latest and plan to augment the build file so we can run JUnit tests.
  • RoboRIO – There are a lot of changes here, nicely summarized by Team 2168. For example, it looks like we should be able to SSH and FTP into the RoboRIO to access files, install software, and more. The RoboRIO also includes a web server, which will be important to clear sticky faults and to adjust the CAN parameters. There’s also mDNS, which should make it easier to connect from development machines, since everything can use DHCP as normal. We’ll still probably use a few static IP addresses for specific devices, like onboard cameras.

For the most part, we’ll probably continue with everything we did last year, including using command-style code. We may use some Java 8 features in our code, but since the WPILib doesn’t really use any of these features (like lambdas, functional interfaces, collection streams, etc.) we’ll be limited to using them in our codebase. We’re definitely going to use collections and enums, though.

We do plan on making a lot of changes to make the whole codebase as testable as possible, especially off-robot. We also hope to build a real-time data collection system so we can monitor and record the performance metrics of the robot in real time.

We’ll provide an update when FIRST releases the instructions for the Eclipse plugins.

Our new build site for 2015

We’re really happy to announce that we have partnered with Lewis and Clark Community College and their Corporate and Community Learning department to create a community course for the 2015 FRC season with Edwardsville Robotics. All Team 4931 students will be registered for this course, and we will then be able to use a portion of their shop, and whenever they are available two additional classrooms (a computer lab and regular classroom) at the N.O. Nelson Campus at 600 Troy Road in Edwardsville.

Meeting site

Working with Lewis and Clark has been a fantastic experience, and we thank them for helping to find a way to establish this partnership. We hope it continues for many years to come!

Be sure to check our calendar for meeting times and dates. (See these instructions for adding it to your favorite calendar app.)


Schedule for the next few weeks

Tonight’s meeting is cancelled. Unfortunately several of our mentors have conflicts.

Sorry about all the recent last-minute meeting cancellations. We hate having to cancel them, but even more with late notice. This is a busy time of year for many of us, and all the students will soon have finals. So we’re going to adjust our regular meeting schedule for the next few weeks. The team calendar should reflect this schedule:

Sunday, December 14 – Please try and attend. We’d like to see as many team members (students and mentors) as possible (3-5PM at St. Johns) to:

  • make sure everyone is registered (both for ERC and with FIRST)
  • give an update on the build site (things are looking good, still not finalized)
  • discuss details about the kickoff event on January 3 (who is going to Clayton, when we’re meeting, where we’ll meet afterward, etc.)
  • discuss our in-season meeting schedule for January & February, and what we can do differently/better than last year

Tuesday, December 16 – No meeting. You’ve got finals, so spend the time studying.

Sunday, December 21 – No meeting. Too close to the holiday.

Tuesday, December 23 – No meeting. Too close to the holiday.

Saturday, January 3 – Kickoff Day!

The admin, mechanical, and electrical groups are in pretty good shape and/or can’t really do anything more until kickoff. The programming team, though, could definitely spend some time designing and working on the new codebase before kickoff. If the programmers are willing and most of the 4 or 5 (or whomever is interested) can make it, we could try to get together on December 28, 29, or 30th. Time, place, and other details would have to be determined.

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.


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.


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


ERC in the Edwardsville Halloween Parade

The Edwardsville/Glen Carbon Chamber of Commerce hosts the annual Halloween Parade in downtown Edwardsville. It’s a huge tradition on Halloween night, and thousands of spectators come out rain or shine to watch the parade of over 100 floats sponsored by local businesses and organizations.

ERC in the 2014 Halloween Parade

This was the first year that the Edwardsville Robotics Club entered a float. The JrFLL and FLL students dressed up as Minions from the Despicable Me 2 movie. The FTC and FRC team members drove the large FRC robot down St Louis and Main Streets. It was great to hear lots of comments like “Hey, a robot! That’s awesome!” from both young and not-so-young people.

Getting ready for the 2014 Halloween Parade

UPDATE: We won 3rd place in the small non-profit category. The voting for the Fan Favorite is still open, so vote for us!

Edwardsville FRC Team 4931