The Specialists

Everything that happens within our teams. Program Management, Mechanical, Electrical, Software, CAD, and Scouting

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!

The Sky’s The Limit!

Good evening everyone or morning or night depending on your location. Storm is back to give you guys another daily update about what’s going on. People have made significant progress on their projects and announced when we can see working versions. The departments announced that many of the prototypes were practically done and required maybe a day or two to be finished. It seems like this year’s work plan has accelerated the progress of all of our projects. Not a bad thing, not at all.

About a minute into the blog and there’s already a functional shooter prototype out in the hallway, spitting balls 50 feet in the air (don’t quote me on that). The shooter concept is amazing though and could end up to a very efficient way for us to score and be a valuable member in our alliance. The shooter is even attached to our intake system which will also need to be working to get an exact working prototype. This design will definitely help us figure out how our bot might perform on the field. Another thing that will help us are a new pair of wheels ready to burn. The Build Team is fitting some new wheels on our shiny new chassis that is undergoing the robotic equivalent of a manicure. No seriously, people are filing down the edges to a fine point.

Software actually was testing their movement code during the weekend meet out in the hallway and there is certainly some oomph in those lines of codes (not literally of course). They are also working on the LEDs and talked about their functionality to change color when the robot is having some issues. And on the topics of issues, BAM is having some issues. Pun issues. BAM has decided that good old puns were needed for all of our Instagram posts and for our daily videos. Don’t worry, no puns will be spoiled in this post.

The anticipation of a finished product is sky high and there’s no doubt that everyone wants to see the real thing out in front of an audience. The day of the first competition might seem far, but it’ll be here sooner than we think. Here’s to hoping for a fruitful build season. Clap, clap, whoosh!!

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.


Storm Watch and Other Stuff

It’s already the third day and so much is being done! The robot could even be done weeks before Bag Day at this rate. Okay, maybe not, but morale is high and the team is determined. Lot’s of new developments are underway and maybe something called Storm Watch rings a bell.

Storm Watch is our team’s weekly vlog where we keep all you guys informed about what’s going on within the teams. We interview people, look at design, and do other fun stuff with the students and mentors. Our video series is under new management and we got a new set of lovely hosts: Liam and Allison. The first season of Storm Watch was a little bit rough around the edges, but this year will introduce a more refined product and new amazing content. Keep your eyes out for the first vlog of the year.

CDR is also underway and BAM is thinking of freshening the presentation. The overall theme might be changed and the CDR video is also in the works. The video is not your simple Movie Maker project and requires a touch of “Hollywood” per se. Things like the premise or theme need to be set and have to encompass what our team is all about. Some of the new members of BAM are working on the CDR and learning the ropes of the presentation. The CDR is an amazing method for rookies since they need to venture away from BAM Land and interact with the other departments, make friends, and promote teamwork.

Robot development is going smoothly and everyone is hard at work. But let’s get into some specifics. A method of a ball intake is being planned and actually involves some pretty ingenious improvising. Buying things and improvising are two completely different playing fields, we ourselves see ourselves as the latter. The chassis is being designed in CAD, but of nothing is set in stone of course. We go through a lot of various designs, but it’s better to keep other options open. Software is doing some vision things for the robot which will definitely help with the ball shooting if we decide to go down that route. The scouting app is undergoing its usual optimization, but to accelerate the process, the team has divided the app into smaller tasks. App issues will be handled by others so the development of the app is not being hindered. And how are things going on in the electrical department you say? Well, all the electrical components are in place, but some networking things with the router and the roboRIO. Workarounds are underway and there’s no doubt in our minds that this problem can be solved.

Productiveness has gone through the roof and will probably reach space with the amount of progress we’re at right now. We’re all excited and we hope you guys are too for what is to come. Ciao!

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