Good evening everyone,
It's only been a week since our last email, but we've accomplished a lot. We made some key design choices, transitioned to a different stage of robot development, and defined our goals for the next stage of the season. We also have a special request for parents with engineering experience, which we'll talk more about at the end of the email.
But first, we have some important announcements.
If you've already signed up to bring food (or you've already brought a meal): Thank you! We still have a few open slots for bringing food later in the season if you haven't signed up yet. So far, we've had plenty of food at every meeting, and we're very grateful to those who've donated.
Although it might seem far off, it's not too early to start preparing for our first competition. The Sacramento Regional Competition is an overnight comp from March 23-26, and will require registering your child with FIRST for them to attend. You'll need to book a hotel room, which you can find more info about in previous emails.
You'll also need to fill out the field trip permission and medical forms, which are attached below.
If you're not familiar with the game, here's the rundown: Robots will compete in two teams of three robots to outscore the opposing alliance by picking up traffic cones and inflatable cubes, and placing them on special "nodes." Placing these "game pieces" in harder-to-reach spots gets the alliance more points. For the first fifteen seconds of the match, the robot must move autonomously, with no driver control, and at the end of the match the robots can balance on a see-saw to get more points. There's a great animation explaining the game here.
If you or your student are on the fence about going because of a financial situation, we'd like to remind you that our team grants travel scholarships. These competitions are the culmination of months of hard work, and we'd love to see all of our students there. If you think you may need a travel scholarship, contact Mr. Roisen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Again, we have a few photo albums: One for kickoff, and another for the rest of this season here (now updated with cool videos!).
What've we been up to?
We've been building a mockup of the "grid," which contains the "nodes" that our robot's supposed to score on. This'll allow us to test our grabber and arm systems in the exact same environment that they'll be used in during the matches, which makes it a very valuable resource for our team.
We also finished a mockup of the "charging station," which is the fancy light-up seesaw that our robot's supposed to balance on at the end of the game. Ours doesn't light up and it's made of plywood, but it's still cool because we built it.
So what about the robots?
On Wednesday, we decided what to put on our first prototype robot. The team chose a 2-joint arm over a single-joint telescoping design, and chose a pneumatically-operated grabber to put on the end. We also decided to have an "intake" on our bot to pick things up off the ground as a backup system. We're going to develop these systems separately for a few more weeks before putting them together on our "Rev A" prototype bot, which is a robot we intend to build from scratch before midwinter break. Testing it with our field mockups will give us valuable information that we can use to improve our designs for our second robot, which we'll finish in March, shortly before our Sacramento Regional.
At the moment, development is shifting into more advanced stages of CAD. Before we can machine parts for our first robot, we need accurate 3D models of them to pass off to the machining team. Getting these CAD models takes a lot of time, so we're starting it while continuing to work on the physical prototypes. Programming has also been hard at work with odometry and localization, which we'll talk more about next week.
What's coming up?
We'll keep you updated with weekly newsletters, and keep working on our robot. We also have a special request: In a few weeks, we'll be performing a critical design review (CDR) of our robot. In the CDR, we'll show off our design to students on the team, mentors, and anyone else who wants to give engineering input on our robot. If you (or anyone you know) has an engineering background and is willing to set aside some time, we'd be very grateful for your help. The CDR will take place on Saturday, February 4th, from approximately 2:00pm to 4:00pm. We'll also have an open house on Wednesday, March 15, (for all supporters of our team) where we'll show off our robot's mechanisms in their final form. We'll keep sending out plenty of pictures, so don't worry about missing out on any cool robot action.
In the meantime, make sure to stay up to date on competition paperwork, and have a great week!
Tech President, Team 766