Drop Down Menu

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Taking Apart Just To Put It Back Together

The team met again this week to start on some new upgrading projects. Our two main robot projects will be putting pneumatics onto Rover and upgrading the electrical board on Murphy.

So we took a couple last pictures of the mess that was "the electrical stack". Let's be honest, it won't be missed. The other big project for Murphy is putting the 4 CIM motors into the drive train and switching out the fly wheel motor for a gear box.

Molly and Brandon T fixed the wheels on the robot cart which really helps it drive in a straight line.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


It was an organizing and rebooting day today for the team. Many team members were busy so attendance was low. That's ok after a big event like the parade last Saturday.

Molly and Bydlon met with a 4H representative today. She had a curriculum for mini robots that she wanted to share with the team. Basically, the team would use the curriculum in area classrooms to spread the word of FIRST Robotics and 4H at the same time. The team is always looking for ways to help make Robotics cool for younger students and we are definitely interested in making this happen.

Kacy worked on getting a bunch of contact information for fundraising activities. The team would like to expand our sponsorship base with all of the local manufacturing companies. She also sent out emails to the 9th grade engineering teachers to help recruit some younger students for the team.

Bryce and Bydlon planned out a new electrical board for Murphy. It will be good practice for new members and returning members. Besides, Murphy's electrical board is kind of a mess. All the examples the team saw at the Regionals have really influenced our design. We will put the Victor motor controllers on the side, above the wheels. The middle of the bot will then be more open and hold all of the other components. Bryce made part of the board in AutoCad.

Allen and Dalton made some real progress with the programming. They got autonomous started on Rover. It can now spin and drive on its own. Murphy's autonomous also made progress, it can almost shoot a basket. We are so excited to show off our new drive controller once it's all finished!

Another meeting on Thursday this week. Lots of October planning coming then. Fundraisers, events, and meetings to plan!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Nothing Can Ever Be Easy...

Today was the homecoming parade, the event we had prepared for all week. The weather was beautiful (maybe a little cold), the float was ready, the team was enthusiastic. Check out this YouTube link for video. More photos are on our facebook. Everything was shaping up for a great parade. Then Murphy's Law struck...

For those who don't know, Murphy's Law says that anything that can go wrong, will. For whatever reason, our team has things go wrong at the last minute all the time. No matter how much we prepare, how much we plan, how hard we work, something always go wrong. Today that problem was the truck. Everyone arrived at JHS on time and we loaded up the trailer and cars to go to the beginning of the parade. We were all set to wow the crowd. The parade started and then the truck wouldn't shift into drive... UGH! We tried everything we could but it just wouldn't shift. That's when all the floats started leaving. We were freaking out. 

Luckily, the people of Alexandria are incredibly nice. Someone loaned us a truck for the parade. I didn't catch his name but he is the most awesome person ever. It would have been TERRIBLE to work that hard and then not use our awesome float. But good things happen to good people, and we finally got into the parade at the very nick of time. By very nick of time, I mean that we were the last float. 

They definitely saved the best for last though. Our float looked great. The tissue paper and streamers really popped out on the street. The flag was beautiful. The robots were showcased. Good planning leads to good execution (except the truck, oops).

Bryce was in the Mechatron suit and he did an amazing job getting the crowd hyped up. He bumped fists with a ton of little kids. Taylor and Carson passed out half sheet pieces of paper with all of our contact information. Alicia and Kacy handed out candy to the happy kids. Bydlon drove the truck and danced to Queen which we had blasting out of a stereo in the back of the truck. Brandon, Allen, Dalton, and Luke took care of pushed and operating Murphy, our basketball robot. Molly drove Rover on the trailer. 

It was a team effort to make the parade such a success. Everyone working together and doing their jobs made it so much fun. The smiles and "oohs" and "ahhs" from the crowd made all the stress and work worth it. BIG THANK YOU to Jody and Chad Niesen for borrowing us the trailer and donating to our team. Team 3313 really does enjoy presenting to the public and making everyone aware of how cool Robotics is. Great work team!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Parade Projects Completed

The team started and finished a wide variety of projects today. From the float to programming to building small parts, the team had the usual fun attitude and hard work ethic it takes to accomplish our goals.

Bydlon volunteered for some games during the school's Pep Fest today. So he was covered in chocolate sauce and whipped cream when the team met. He went home to change. While that happened, Kacy and Carson went to get more duct tape and tissue paper to finish the float. Then, they proceeded to cut the tissue paper and streamers to fit on the float. It was a tedious but necessary job.

Alicia, Taylor, Brandon, Gabe, Jesse, Kacy, and Carson worked really hard on the float today. Kacy and Carson taped up all the streamers along the bottom of it. Kacy also decorated the chair that Molly will be sitting in. Alicia, Brandon, and Taylor especially worked super hard on the tissue paper stuffing today. Luckily, more hands make less work. We finished the float and it looks so good!! This paragraph seems really short considering how long they worked, but it was a very repetitive process. GREAT WORK EVERYONE!

Allen worked on many different programming issues. The biggest and coolest project he finished was that we can drive both our robots with a wireless xbox controller!!! AWESOME! This is convenient for Murphy especially. We will use this in the parade tomorrow. Also, with Bydlon's help, Murphy is now wireless too which is good. Allen fixed a bunch of issues with programming. Murphy is done in Java, Rover is less sensitive and thus safer to drive. Allen did fantastic work today. So much progress!

Bryce, Brandon, and Bydlon worked on a bunch of random projects. The first one was to secure the laptop stand to the harness. Zip ties came in handy (they are the duct tape of Robotics). The steel rods we made yesterday worked exactly like we planned. The harness didn't stop there... Brandon, Bryce, Allen, and Bydlon worked together to make a stand for the xbox controller. IT LOOKS SO COOL! Check out this YouTube video to see it in action. Brandon and Bryce put a basketball hoop on the back of the trailer for the parade. They also hung up the flag. A project that Bryce and Bydlon worked on was a tower for Rover. We are going to network wire up the robots tomorrow to prevent interference. Because Rover can spin and stuff, the wire gets complicated. So we built a tower to keep the wire under control.

After working so hard and accomplishing so much, the team needed to unwind. So we all played Rock Band for a couple hours. Super fun and good team building. Can't wait for the parade tomorrow!! Team members report at 11am to the back of JHS. Everyone else, watch us in the parade starting at noon!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Float-ing On Air

Today was, yet again, spent preparing for the Homecoming Parade. The parade is Saturday at Noon on Broadway in Alexandria, MN. Come check it out!! The team accomplished so much today!! Wow! Click on any picture to see a large version.

As usual, the team met in Bydlon's room to begin. We discussed our ideas for a West Central MN FRC Get Together. We would like to host many of our other regional teams to gain more knowledge and make some bonds with teams close by. Then everyone learned their jobs for the day.

Molly and Bryce went to Menard's to buy plywood for the "stage" on our float. Rover will be on the float with Molly and we want everyone to see Rover so we made a stage out of chip board and palettes. Brandon and Bryce worked on making the whole stage. It looks great! Molly and Bryce also picked up some steel rod to make a harness for our drive station. Molly took it over to Alex Tech and they made the steel rods into mounting brackets. Look Ma, NO HANDS!

Allen was alone today programming but made a TON of progress. Gabe brought in an XBox controller for Allen to start programming with. It will replace the joysticks we have used in the past. Allen also worked on the programming for Murphy (Rover programming is complete in JAVA). He got the drive train working and the fly wheel. Spike relays were causing problems so Bydlon switched the conveyor into a Victor controller. And it worked! Allen even got the fly wheel and conveyor speed to be adjustable. WOW! Great job Allen!

Kacy, Alicia, Taylor, Gabe, Vincent, and Carson worked insanely hard on getting the trailer transformed into a float for the parade. THEY DID SUCH AN AWESOME JOB! It is incredibly tedious work putting all the tissue paper into the chicken wire and streamers on the trailer. But they had a positive attitude and worked hard. Bydlon tried to help with the tissue paper but didn't do a very good job. Oops. The decorations look soooo good! All that's left is the other side of the trailer and we are done. Kacy worked on the back ramp part of the trailer. It looks great too!

Eddie and Jesse worked on making Rover all pretty. They hid the nasty wires that were cluttered all over the top of it. Black wire covers are awesome.

The team worked so hard today and did such a fantastic job. Our float is going to kick everyone else's float out of the water!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Perfect Parade Preparation

The team spent the entire meeting time today working on different aspects of the Homecoming Parade which happens on SATURDAY at NOON in Alexandria. Be sure to come out and see our float and robots!

The team started the meeting in Bydlon's room. We assigned jobs for the parade which is really good. Everyone has a job and knows what that job is. We will meet at the back of JHS on Saturday at 11am to load up the trailer.

Taylor, Alicia, Kacy, and Carson all went out and about to get decorations for the trailer. They visited a bunch of different stores to compare prices and find the exact decorations we need. They got streamers for the bottom of the trailer, tissue paper to decorate the chicken wire which will go on the sides, and duct tape to attach different other things.

Brandon and Bryce worked on getting Murphy (our basketball shooting robot) in working condition. They did some tune ups and made everything secure. Bydlon uploaded the code to the cRio so Murphy is all set to go for Saturday! We will be shooting basketballs the entire parade route.

Allen and Dalton continued working on fixing the bugs in the Rover code. They are rewriting the code in Java  which is a new language for the team but old hat for them. It was really awesome seeing them work together to fix everything and get Rover going. It works just like it used to (or better even). Really great job by those two. Next up, rewriting the Murphy code.

Eddie, Molly, and Tyler worked on getting the uneven, bad lifts off the robot cart. They made the cart drive weird. We are going to push the cart the entire parade route so we need the cart in top condition. The three of them did a great job.

Gabe wrote up a half sheet of information for people to hand out along the route. It lists some small details of the competition and all of our team contact information.

We will also meet Thursday and Friday after school to continue getting ready for the parade. It will be super fun! and we are soooo excited to continue spreading our community involvement!!