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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.

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