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Tuesday, November 20, 2012


The team met for the first time after a very tiring, very exciting day on Saturday. We worked on a number of different projects. Our busy schedule never stops.

Bydlon and Kacy worked on writing another email to West Central MN teams about the Robotapalooza. Robotapalooza will be on December 1. It will be a fun day filled with games, conversation, and camaraderie. We purposefully did not plan for a lot of workshops where people are directly talking to others. We really wanted a more laid back kind of day where teams from a similar region can just hang out with each other. So far, 4 teams have responded with a "yes". Perham, Morris, Wadena, and Moorhead. We are so excited to host these teams at our school!!

Bryce, Brandon, and Demian worked on making field walls for the Robotapalooza. We want to have half a field for teams to practice on and play around with. To do this, we need to build the walls out of plywood and 2x4's. We bought all the supplies necessary.

Carson worked on creating a Pizza Ranch poster. We will be hosting a Pizza Ranch tip night on Monday, December 3. 10% of all sales will be donated to our team. To promote the event all over our town, we will hang up posters at schools and small businesses.

Kadi and Miranda worked on writing the blog post about the Minne-Regional. It turned out great! Just scroll down to read it.

Miranda also worked on finding some carpet for us to use. Unfortunately, it was pretty expensive so we'll have to figure out another plan.

More updates to come after Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 17, 2012


For a visual recap of our AWESOME day, check out our YouTube playlist!!! 

Team 3313 Mechatronics arrived at JHS at around 5:30am to attend the Minne-Regional. Everyone got on the bus heading to Prior Lake High School at 6am. Almost everyone slept until the sun finally showed through the window.

We arrived at the Minne Regional excited at 8:30, jumping off the bus and running from the chilly weather, carrying boxes into the large school. Miranda and Kacy took off for the classroom where they hosted a Public Relations workshop. The other teams seemed very interested to know about our PR strategies and what we do to get the community involved. The audience asked many good questions. They loved watching all the videos that we made about our fundraisers and driving Murphy around. While they presented, fellow team members attended workshops, and the pit crew prepared Murphy ready for competition.

Later, it was time to compete. We all got up and started dancing and cheering, watching as all the other teams got up to come and joined us in our craziness. Sooner or later we all had to sit down and watch the match we were all cheering for not only our teams but all the teams. Talk about good team spirit!  

Match after match, Team 3313 screamed and cheered for all the teams to make baskets. We screamed even louder if they did make it into the hoop. Team members were amazed by all the awesome robots that other teams made. Some of us decided to check out how Murphy was doing in the pit.

Unfortunately, we were not safe from Murphy’s law. In one of our rounds, we realized the laptop battery had died. Luckily, we were prepared to charge it. The next round didn’t go much better. Murphy’s battery came disconnected from the robot after they had already closed off the field. That wasn’t enough to stop us though! In multiple other rounds, we were able to make both autonomous shots. Murphy finished with a 5-2 record, ended up placing 4th out of 30 teams, and being the 3rd seeded alliance.

During lunch, we all chatted about what might happen and how good we had been doing. A really funny moment of the day was when Jordan took out his iPad and we took funny pictures. Once we all got done eating we wanted to try something new. Some of us laid on the floor while the rest of us got in a line behind. We looked like a bunch of weirdos lying on the ground, but if you went up a floor you could see the numbers 3313. Other teams were walking by us giving us odd looks until they figured out what we were doing. It was bomb!

Bryce represented our team in the alliance selection and chose Team 3883 and Team 876 to round out our Blue Alliance.

That’s about when the dancing started again we got a short break about 15 minutes for the teams to get ready for the semifinals. King Tec got up first this time, then us, then other teams around us. Jumping up and down was awesome, but it got really hot in there. Some of the teams went out in the foyer to sit down and have something to drink.

We went back in to watch the semifinal matches. While the pit crew was pulling murphy on o the field, the rest of the team was shouting and jumping out of their seats screaming, “3313!!!” This let Alicia and Bryce know that they were going to do amazing.
In the first match, the red alliance won but team 3313 wasn’t finished yet. !he second match Team 3313 and the blue alliance won! That meant another dance party!

Unfortunately, Team 3313 lost the third match so we were done for the day. Everyone in the stands still danced their hearts out even though we knew that we didn’t win. We packed up our stuff and got back on the bus heading back home. We were so excited to eat! Maple Grove was our spot to pick up some food. Some of us went to chipotle and the rest went to Five Guys burgers. This was pretty close to the best food EVER!

We got back to Jefferson around 10pm. Everyone was so tired. We unloaded the trailer and made sure everything was locked up. All the team members went home telling everyone that we will meet Tuesday! Yay!

Monday, November 12, 2012


Just a few of the team members came today but actually led to quite a bit being accomplished. It was a good day.

First of all, Murphy programming upgrades occurred today. Alicia mounted the green LED light we bought and wired it up. Allen and Dalton, green LED light installed, finished the vision processing programming. They have it so, after pressing a button, Murphy automatically centers itself on a basketball hoop. IT IS SO COOL! Pretty great work by those two. There are still a few kinks to work out but overall, it will be really helpful during matches to not worry about that. The other programming upgrade is that we added autonomous. Funny moment: someone suggested we should add it in, Allen goes "Give me a minute". Literally a minute later, we had autonomous. Incredible. AND IT WORKS! WOOO!

Kacy and Miranda got to work on our Public Relations workshop for the Minne-Regional on Saturday. We volunteered ourselves to host a workshop on dealing with the public. It is a big deal for our team to get our name out there among other FRC teams as a major player. Over the weekend, Kacy and Bydlon worked on a general outline for the workshop. Today, Kacy worked on turning the outline into a slide show. Miranda worked on a booklet to hand out to teams when they attend the workshop. Both of them worked really hard. Carson also contributed by finishing our coloring book idea from last year. Each team in attendance will receive a "Mechatronics Coloring Book" as well. Should be a fun half hour or so!! (That's the plan anyway).

Bryce worked on numerous projects. Dalton, Bydlon, and Bryce got the robot weighed at UPS. It's only 110 lbs! WOOO! After adding pneumatics, we were all a little concerned about it being overweight. Luckily, it's not. Bryce also worked on getting extraneous pieces off of Murphy and switching some stuff around so it is optimized.

Kacy fixed some of the broken or beat up pieces on Mechatron, our mascot. After going to Chicago, Massman, lunches, and many other public appearances, it can look a little worse for wear. Kacy and the others have done a great job of keeping it looking great.

The rest of the day was spent by Bryce and Alicia practicing picking up balls and shooting baskets.

Tomorrow is another full team meeting. Lots more to accomplish!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Bydlon Beard Off

The Bydlon Beard Off happened today. Check out the recap video here and the full picture gallery here.

Our head coach, Mr. Bydlon, shaved his beard into mutton chops. During lunch all week, we raised $300 from student and staff donations. When people donated, they put money into different beard design boxes. Mutton chops got the most money so that is what he did. It was a super fun day. Our local newspaper brought a photographer, team members took pictures and video, and the crowd was HUGE.

Thank you so much to the Jefferson High School community for it's support of our team. It means a lot to all of the team members.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Practice Makes Better

The team met today without any plans really other than practicing driving. We brought Murphy and all of our driving equipment to the gym. Different team members took turns driving the robot around and shooting baskets. It was super fun. Kacy and Bydlon worked on our Minne-Regional workshop about public relations and websites. Solidworks gave our team 20 free copies. Brandon and Bryce downloaded it and started playing with designs. After driving for a while, the cheerleading squad walked through the gym. A few of them volunteered to come with to the Minne-Regional! To end the meeting, some team members used the 10 sided die to decide where to eat. Dairy Queen won.

Not exactly a super productive day but it was still really fun. Love this team.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

PMMC Meeting 11/6

 The PMMC Meeting today went great!! We brought 10 team members and Bydlon to present. An incredibly wide range of topics was addressed. You can see the presentation here.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Bydlon Beard On

Today, the team started the Bydlon Beard Off fundraiser. We are going to have a table out during lunch every day this week. Students and staff can donate money to the Robotics Team. When they donate, they can choose which beard design Bydlon will shave (mutton chops, goatee, clean shaven, etc.). If we reach $300 total, Bydlon will shave his beard on Friday. So we brought out Murphy and drove it around to get attention to our fundraiser.

After school, we met again. Tomorrow is a PMMC meeting. The PMMC is one of our major team sponsors. Because of all the events our team has done this past month, 10 students are coming with. We practiced the presentation at the beginning of the meeting. After that, Bryce did an AWESOME job cleaning out the Robot Room. Kacy and Bydlon worked on Robotapalooza. Team 3313 will host West Central MN teams on December 1 for a fun filled day of hanging out with robots. We are really excited about it! So Bydlon and Kacy drafted an email to regional teams. Carson worked on posters. Allen and Dalton created another Java programming tutorial.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Murphy 3.0

Some of the team members met today to work on a few different projects. You can see video of Murphy 3.0 here.

Bryce and the build team worked on upgrading Murphy for the 3rd and, most likely, final time. The upgrades came about after going to the Pack Expo and seeing designs we liked. It also came about because of the shooter wheel change we made at the Pack Expo. We changed the drive train again. This time we went SUPER SIMPLE. Just gear boxes chained very short to plaction wheels on the front. Omni wheels are in the back. That's it. The CIM motors were reduced to 3 (left wheel, right wheel, shooter wheel). The pneumatics were hooked up again. The programming was fixed so it all worked together. The conveyer was put back on a victor. Basically, we simplified everything and made it much cleaner.

Alicia, David, Carson, and others got stuff ready for the Bydlon Beard Off. David did an awesome job and made signs for each beard design. Carson got boxes for money. Alicia and David made a GREAT poster for the table we'll have set up at lunch.

Brandon worked on learning about AutoDesk. Bydlon emailed Solidworks to see if our team could get some copies.

The best part of the day was driving Murphy to the commons area and filming it. It drives SO NICE. Can't wait to use it the Minne-Regional on November 17!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow

Our original plan was to leave Chicago really early on Tuesday morning, beat traffic, and get back to JHS around when school lets out. Sometimes, plans change.

We got up a little later than usual. This was a reaction to the incredible day we had yesterday. We went to the Pack Expo for two reasons. We wanted to see more of the show floor in a relaxed atmosphere and we wanted to talk to more FRC teams. We accomplished both goals.

Touring the Pack Expo was fun. Our favorite booth was the Festo booth. The intricate robotics they create are astounding. The one they brought with was an amazing, life like, jellyfish. We saw some big assembly lines and shrink wrappers that can spin at over 60 mph. The 3M booth had a Nascar simulator which we all tried. Just incredible stuff going on out in the Packaging World.

We visited with two teams who were presenting. One was Pwnage from the Chicago suburbs. They had an awesome looking robot. There was some amazing engineering ideas going on. However, they haven't done many public relations events. The other team was Nightmare from different Chicago suburbs. They were very nice and, again, focused their team on different items. So it was cool to talk to teams that are in different places, different initiatives, and different backgrounds. Absolutely, another highlight of the trip.

From the Pack Expo, we left and drove back to MN. It was a long drive. Lots and lots of construction. We stopped at Buffalo Wild Wings on the U of M campus on the way back. We ate with Megan, a graduated team member from last year. It was a nice bookend to the trip.

We arrived back at JHS safe and sound around 11pm. We unloaded the robot items and went home to sleep.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Jam Pack(Expo)ed Day

Today was the really big day for our trip to the Pack Expo. We presented our robot, explored the show floor, visited sponsors, and squeaked in a little tourist activities.

We got up early and had Dunkin Donuts for breakfast. We did not know the valet parking rules so it took a while to get the van. However, it was in perfect shape so there were not complaints. The Pack Expo is held at McCormick Place, an incredibly large convention center in Chicago. It was a short, mildy stressful drive.

Immediately after arriving, we unloaded and set up our presenting area. Check out the video here. The FIRST Robotics area was inside the PMMI Education booth. We were surrounded by college booths. It was really exciting getting everything up and running and looking great. Bydlon set up the power point on the computer and the videos on the tablet. Bryce, Tyler and Brandon got the mascot out and made sure Murphy was up and running again. Everything started out fantastic.

But, as usual with Team 3313, Murphy's Law struck. The gearbox we put on the shooter had gears made out of Aluminum. The problem with aluminum is that it can be kind of soft when used at high speeds and a lot of torque. Of course the shooter wheel spins at incredibly high speeds and has a lot of torque. Basically, the gears rubbed down to nothing. This led to Bryce, Brandon, and Tyler having to do a complete shooter wheel motor change while presenting. OF COURSE, this happened right when the Pack Expo news team came over to interview us and film some video. However, the team always perseveres. The guys worked hard and fast and got the job done. The change over was seamless. Plus, it was a major upgrade for shooting.

After presenting, lunch was served in an office overlooking the entire show floor. It was incredible. The team who took over the presenting area was Team 864 Sparky from Richmond, VA. They were really nice and had some interesting ideas for designing their robot. Absolutely, a highlight of the trip was talking to other FRC teams. Learning their methods and practices can teach us a lot. They were very friendly and very knowledgeable 

A former PMMI President took the four of us on a tour of show floor. The Pack Expo had over 1900 exhibitors. That's A LOT of booths... One favorite was Fanuc. They make the yellow robotic arms. They had one arm that could take a picture of random objects in a bin and find a flat surface and grab it. Another favorite booth was where we got wrapped up in shrink wrap. We stood next to a palette and got wrapped up by a machine. Check out the video here.

We spent the last few hours of the Pack Expo visiting our sponsors. We stopped by the Douglas booth. We spent at least an hour at the Massman booth. The engineers were very nice. Highlight of the trip for Bydlon was watching the engineers talk to the students about how awesome their job is. Our last stop was the Aagard booth where we talked to an electrical engineer, Brad V., for about an hour. It was nice of Brad to spend that much time talking to students.

To end the EXTREMELY long day, Bydlon went for a walk to see The Bean in Chicago. The guys went to the swimming pool and hot tub to relax. A crazy, informative, awesome day really takes the energy out of people.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Loving Chicago

Brandon, Bryce, Tyler, and Bydlon left for Chicago today to attend and present at Pack Expo 2012. Today was really the "tourist" day while Monday will be a big "work" day.

The four travelers met up at JHS to pack up the van at 5:30am. It was an early start but led to more time exploring later on in the day. It was a tight squeeze, but all of the stuff some how fit into the back of the van. The drive was very uneventful. Great weather, easy roads to drive, not too bad of construction. The 8 to 9 hours passed by very quickly given the circumstances.

It took a little bit of work but we found our way to the hotel. IT IS SO NICE. WOW. Big thank you to PMMI and Massman Automation Designs for setting up our stay and PackExpo tickets. This is for sure the nicest hotel any of us have stayed at. Everyone rested for a little bit before going out to do tourist activities.

Our original plan was to take the Elevated Train to the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower. Unfortunately, we couldn't figure out how to get a ticket for the train so we walked. The Willis Tower is amazing. We took an elevator to the top and even went out on The Ledge. The Ledge are some clear boxes that jut out of the top of the tower. It makes you feel like you are floating 103 stories in the air. Chicago looked amazing at night.

Then we ate some Chicago Style Pizza at Giordano's. It was incredibly delicious, especially after a long day of either sitting in the car or walking all over Chicago.

Tomorrow is the big day! We will present about FIRST Robotics and our team from 9am to 1pm in the Lakeside Center. We cannot wait!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Packing for the Pack Expo

The team met again today. Our main goals for today were getting the tool boxes ready for our trip to Chicago, getting Murphy also set to travel, and working on some press items.

Bryce, Brandon, Tyler, and Bydlon are taking a very short trip to the Pack Expo in Chicago on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. The Pack Expo is a very large convention at McCormick Place for packing manufacturing companies. Alexandria, MN has a wealth of packing machine manufacturing companies (including the PMMC, one of our biggest local sponsors). Due to their generosity, those 4 team members are being provided a van, gas money, hotel rooms, and a presentation booth for Monday. We are SO EXCITED to be able to share the values of FIRST, the evolution of our team, and the fantastic sponsors we have with the over 100,000 attendees of the Pack Expo.

In preparation for this awesome event, we did a lot of work today. Bydlon picked up the van from Massman (THANK YOU!) that will be driven down. Demian and Alex mounted a cylinder on Murphy just so we could demonstrate our ability to use pneumatics. Miranda and Alicia rewired some of the shooter and conveyor components so we had more shooter power. This was a big process because spike relays are really annoying and hard to get to work. We ended up using a Jag instead. Bryce did a total makeover organization of the toolbox so we bring the right amount of tools and supplies if (when) something goes wrong. Brandon helped with that and continued thinking about a bridge lowerer. Allen tested all the code and made sure we were all set to go at Pack Expo. He also uploaded the next Java Tutorial. At the end of the day, Brandon and Bryce took off the ears and shooter of Murphy so we can fit it into the van.

While all that robot work was going on, up in the computer lab, a lot of work was going on. Kacy worked on a press release about our fundraising experiences last Saturday. Carson made a new banner for this website using our new color scheme and revised logo. It looks great! Taylor and Hadley worked on thank you cards for Elden's and 3M. Tyler started working on making plans for a wooden practice field. This is a HUGE project that will take us all of November to complete.

So it was a big day for the team preparing and working but A LOT was accomplished. Great work! Pack Expo will be so much fun!

Keep your eyes on our Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and this blog for updates from Chicago!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Massman Automation Designs

Team 3313 Mechatronics went to Massman Automation Designs in Villard, MN today to do some presentations. We had two different presentation times, one in the morning and one in the evening.

Check out a video recap here.

In the morning, some of the team members met at the Robot Room when school started. We headed down to Massman to present to Minnewaska High School students that were touring. On Monday night, we brought down all the supplies so all we had to do on Tuesday was set them up. The presentation went ok. We did not know how much time we had to talk so that made the first presentation a little disjointed. We recovered for the second presentation however. The morning was a fun experience and Team 3313 welcomes the chance to excite other schools about STEM education and FIRST Robotics. It was a natural progression, talking about high school robotics and then all of the cool stuff Massman makes. The team members headed back to school for the afternoon.

After school was over, a bunch of team members headed back down to Massman for their Open House. Massman opened up its doors for the evening to community members, employee members, and our team. We had the same area set up. The team estimated that we presented to well over 200 people. It was a great experience. Just like the morning, the more presentations we did, the more comfortable we got and the better the experience was for everyone. The team members who came with did a great job of dividing up speaking responsibilities.

The highlight of the night though, was the tour of Massman Automation Designs. Basically, Massman manufactures assembly lines. The assembly lines they build often deal with food products being boxed up and packaged. We saw a line that takes ground turkey packages and boxes them. Then the machine puts the boxes on palates and shrink wraps the palates. It was awesome. Another machine takes 40 lb. blocks of cheese and puts them into packages. A microwave popcorn bag filler that was destined for the country of Hungary was also exciting. It can go up to 200 bags a minute!!! Woah! All the work, time, and care that goes into each machine was really impressive.

Massman is part of the PMMC, one of our major local sponsors. Obviously, we also appreciate the support Massman and the PMMC provide us. It was fun to finally get to see what they do and how it connects to our group. Can't wait to visit our other sponsors!!