The Importance of Organization

I’m going to break the mold of our traditional blog and talk about something that may seem of minimal importance to everyone. Organization. Now, the idea of being organized is a given for any individual and this goes doubly for a robotics team. It makes perfect sense right? There’s building materials, tools, hardware, light bulbs, controllers, and more. We got all this stuff and we need to decide where to throw it- I mean put it. Thankfully, we have a nice, spacious closet to hold all of our equipment. The actual state of the closet is erratic at best, but it is has been reorganized for the Build Season and looks drop-dead gorgeous. I mean, look at the picture! It is imperative that any robotics team has a clean closet in the name of efficiency.  The team needs to be able to find whatever they are looking for in a minute or less. If team members are spending ten minutes trying to find the box of bolts, then the closet needs to be organized.

Now onto the daily activities! Pardon me for my brief tirade. Build team is working on the shooter prototype and they’re trying to compensate for the shooting inconsistency. The shooter is powered via motor and the motor’s speed needs to be manually adjusted (at the moment). The Build Team is trying to make design changes for a workaround. They’re also assembling some new gear boxes that were just taken out of their cozy box. And I almost forgot to mention the gear intake. The members in the metal shop are trying to come with a design to contain and deposit the gear. They are trying to use a piston to stop the gear from sliding out and may use a motor in the design. Scouting software is tackling a bug that won’t be a pleasant surprise if it made it was released to the public.

Thanks for sticking through the slog about organization. You can’t deny though that organization is an important trait for a robotics team though. Otherwise, the team is putting in their fair share of work and awaiting the first big thing that we’ll attend… CDR. Fingers crossed that the team will put on a good show!

First Saturday Meet

Alright, the first Saturday meet after the last one was stolen away by the snowstorm. We need to use this seven hours to make up for the time loss and get some progress done on some more time consuming and important projects. Oh, we also will get to have some delicious lunch with regards to Parent Booster Team. Our president Barack Obama even said that, “The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something”. So let’s make use of this seemingly beautiful Saturday and get some work done!

BAM is diving right into the award process and all the members have some task to do today. CDR (Critical Design Review) is undergoing some upgrades with a new theme to freshen things up a bit. We’ve been using the same theme for a while now and it’s important to keep up an updated image.  The information on the slides needs to be updated as well, but information is more of a ongoing process. The CDR needs to worked on in conjunction with the other departments so BAM can add information. Other info that’s preliminary and doesn’t require the cooperation of the other departments will be updated today. Slides like team statistics can be done before hand, for example. The weekly vlog is also expected to be finalized and may be released today. Other awards such as the Chairman’s Award and the Entrepreneurship are also being worked on. There is a survey going to released for the Chairman’s for some personal stories. The power of Pathos should not be underestimated!

The actual construction of the robot is still on its baby steps. On the last blog, the intake method was being fleshed out and ideas were being jotted down. Now, the intake method is actually undergoing construction via prototype. The people working on it currently are tackling issues and other adjustments that need to be made for the actual intake. Chassis elements are being made in CAD such as the motors, etc. Mentors are supervising the CAD-ing and any problems are being tackled. Unfortunately, there are still problems of deploying the robot code onto the roboRIO, but there has been some progress from last time. Coding elements such as the vision system are also being tackled today. The Scouting peeps are updating the app’s graphics and educating new members about the UI.

We also have a Parent Booster meeting today and Knauss is showing the parents the new game, Steamworks. There was also mentions of some scholarships and the Breakfast meet that unfortunately didn’t happen. Knauss did mention that the food ordered for the meet though can be returned for some credit, but we’ll see  what happens. The kits that were also supposed to be given out on Saturday have been already given out to the other teams. Another kit will be given out today.

The length of this blog is equal to the amount of hard work the team is putting in if hard work can be quantified. Saturday might be a weekend for some people, but for Storm, it’s crunch time. Catch you guys next week.


Redesigning Storm

This season’s problems helped us see what needed to be fixed and how to confront them. It’s sort of like trying to find a way to eat disgusting vegetables on your dinner plate in the most efficient manner. The team is undergoing a top to bottom redesign and we aren’t just changing how we build our robot, we’re changing everything.  We are staying true to the engineering process and looking at our previous issues and how to solve them. We are going to change our scheduling for one. This season was filled with cramming, too much to be honest. The departments were up to 11:00 on some nights trying to get things done. Next year, we are vying for a more streamlined and smooth timeline. The team wants to make use of the preseason to prep for the build season. This includes preparing chassis and other robot designs as well as training. As of right now, we are planning to design new and better chassis.

We are also trying to find a way to improve the planning and organizational aspects of the team. One method we are trying is to develop a detailed project plan so the team can have a clear of idea of what to build and how to fix or add something if some gears get a little a rusty per se. Good planning also comes with good organization; you can’t have a PB & J without the jelly. This means we are trying to promote documentation so that any piece of information is a click away and is available for posterity. Program Management also is working on the crayon mold for the LARC school and so far we have a basis for what the mold would look like. Any developments on the crayon mold are being documented as to follow our new design process. PM is planning to make a prototype and learn how to use the CNC machines, exciting! Even though build season is over, work still continues in order to make next season a success.

Post Season

Wrapping Up Week 1

Today was our second Saturday of build season and STORM has made a lot of progress! All of our mechanical components have prototypes and the team has begun to CAD designs. To keep our team on track, an action plan was created. This allows the team to set deadlines and goals so that we can stay on track and still have time for driver practice at the end of the season. We have also created almost all of the defenses for the field set-up. This will allow us the opportunity to test our designs.

Program Management: The Inside Scoop

Over the course of the past four days, mechanical has presented their prototypes on Saturday and the rest of the team shared their thoughts on their progress. Program Management has also been busy with the CDR (Critical Design Review) presentation. The CDR presentation is a meeting between the team and the board members of Lockheed Martin where we (the team) convince the board to continue funding our robotics program. The main focus of Program Management has been planning the storyboard for the video, which we will show at Lockheed Martin, as well as the Powerpoint presentation and compiled photos from the previous meetings. But staying holed up in their room isn’t all there is to Program Management. They, as a whole, go and interface with other members of the team and document their progress throughout the meeting.


Our Director of the Team, Gia, discusses future plans with the Program Management Advisor, Mr. Cesanek.


Josh, Media Leader, poses for a photo in our base of operations.


FTC students, (from left to right) Jared, Marissa, and Allison work diligently on CDR presentation