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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Box Up Day!

What an exciting Box Up Day! Luckily, this year was exciting for good reasons, not stupid cables frying reasons (like last year).

Today our head coach, Mr. Bydlon, received a call from FRC Team 2538 Plaid Pillagers from Morris, Mn. They were wondering if they could come down and use our half field. Of course we said yes. So after school, the team set up the playing field, and waited for their arrival. When they did finally arrive our team greeted them and helped them unload their robot and equipment. After that it was all driving practice for both teams but with a lot of conversation on each others robot design and about what their team;s strategy was. There was a lof of helping each other when it was needed. However, help wasn't needed much because both bots were very well built and good at what they were meant to do. It was awesome to hang out with the Plaid Pillagers! We hope to do it again really soon!

Today was also final build day, which means by midnight our robot had to be put into a bag and tied shut so we can't work on it until our regional. This makes it fair to the teams who compete at the beginning of March. If we have 3 more weeks than they do to work on our bot. it’s not fair to them. There is also a lot of mixed feelings here due to the fact that its a relief to have some pressure off because of the intensity of build season but its also sad to not be able to drive or work on something you've been working on for 6 weeks straight.

There was still a lot of pressure on the Chairman’s team though. We worked our BUTTS off all night while the Build Team kind of goofed around. The Executive Summary is complete. The Essay is very close to being done. We still need to do some edits to the Business Plan. Bydlon is finished with Bryce’s Dean’s List essay (you can write 2 per team). Kacy finished Bydlon’s Woodie Flowers Essay. It’s both a relief to be finished with the robot but also a HUGE stress to have to submit the Awards by 11am on Thursday. Tomorrow is going to stink.

Monday, February 18, 2013

More Fixing, More Driving, And Some Shaking

After some much needed sleep, the team looked back at some more of the flaws of the robot at the Week Zero Event.

New YouTube Video:

The biggest problem at the Week Zero Event was that frisbees would tumble over the rail meant to direct them into our hopper. Because of this, Bryce cut a piece of ¼ inch OSB plywood down to size. That piece would then be mounted at the top of the ramp, where the frisbees tumbled over. To our surprise, the simple fix worked!! But it was super ugly... So Heidi and Molly painted the “blocker” black but to make it even better they decided to paint a FIRST logo on it which made it look AWESOME!!!!!! This also gave us a spot to mount our warning light.

Another thing we painted on was a 3M logo. Because 3M is our biggest sponsor and we didn't have their logo on our robot. So we decided to make it as big as we could and it actually completed the robot.

Chairman's is still coming along. Jade and Kacy are wonderful people. The effort and stress they are under is basically unfathomable. Two people writing a 20 page Business Plan, 3 page Chairman's Essay, and 2 page Chairman's Executive Summary is frankly insane. But they are pushing through and our Chairman's is going to be one to remember. HUGE SHOUTOUT TO THEM!

There was also even more driving practice today. We recorded a full round of it with the new autonomous. Dalton and Bryce are getting REALLY good...

Today was also very, very goofy. We recorded some of the weirdness which is in one of the new YouTube videos above. It included: miming, some dinner for Bydlon, some dancing, humans pretending to be robots, and a Dalton-bird. Just watch the video...

Lastly, we recorded an entry for the AndyMark Harlem Shake contest. AndyMark is a robotics part company and they’re AWESOME. They put out a contest for a FRC team to get the most views on a Harlem Shake video. You can see our entry above.

Sunday, February 17, 2013


Because of all the excitement yesterday (see our post below about the Week Zero Event), today the team didn't accomplish much. Yesterday was exhausting. But the slow work was ok because of all the success our team enjoyed yesterday.

Today consisted of a lot of drive practice and some tinkering with autonomous, also one of our freshmen Mitch Fisher added our logo to our driver station which made it look awesome and complete.

We also fixed a bunch of the small problems our mock robot inspection found. We changed out fuses, fixed some wires, adjust the bumpers, and a whole mess of other things.

We tinkered a lot with the Autonomous. Dalton and Allen tried to get the autonomous to start from the back corner of the pyramid. That way, we can hold 3 discs. The problem with that is the starting position is basically never the same. Every time we tried to set it up, the angle the robot would take to get close enough to the goal to shoot would be different. SO! We are sticking with our 2 shot autonomous. But, we are working in an end part. The robot will shoot the 2 discs, then turn and back up past the robot. We will be in prime position to get more Frisbees in Teleop!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Week Zero Event


New YouTube Videos!

The team left at 6am and traveled to Eagan, which is located in the southeast part of the Twin Cities. We were driving to  a Week Zero Event. A Week Zero Event is a very informal version of a regional and is only 1 day long instead of 3. The whole point of this is to get a feel of how your robot will perform at the actual competition. HUGE THANKS to Team 2220 Blue Twilight for hosting the event!

Lucky for us we had a robot that was very close to completion with nothing very little left to work on. Because of this, we were able to compete in as many matches possible. At one point during the day, our robot was in 10 consecutive matches. That is about how many total matches we will have at 10k lakes (our regional)!!!

Our drive team was very excited for all the practice time. Alicia was kind of thrown into the driver role without any preparation. She did a fantastic job! Seeing her improvement throughout the day was really great. Dalton was perfect as the operator and Brandon dishes out discs like it was his job.

The coolest part of the day was finding those tiny little things that we need to improve on our robot. For example, unless we lined up perfectly, discs would slide over our ramp wall. So we need to build a blocker. Also, one of the CIMs would get really hot so we need to fix that. Those small things are the difference between BEING picked and PICKING at our Regional.

Other goings on... Kacy, Jesse, and Josh took great pictures. Kacy, Jade, and Jesse went to a Chairman’s meeting with Renee Becker which went really well (of course). Bydlon and Kacy attended a Team Roundtable. Zack took some FANTASTIC stats about our robot which will be very useful in the coming days. Allen scouted and took stats as well. Vincent was great at bringing new batteries and charging them.

Highlight of the day... Laying on the ground and watching our Robot Reveal Video. A team walked by and said, “What are they doing?” Someone else responded with, “Who cares? Have you seen their robot?” Build Season was a lot of work. It’s nice to see some of it pay off. BUT! We’re not satisfied!

Highlight of the day 2... Having at least 4 teams come up to us and say how much they liked our videos. Made us all warm and fuzzy inside.

Highlight of the day 3... Chipotle for dinner.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Lessons Learned

Big day for the team today.

New YouTube Videos!!

The main thing being the bumpers which most of you know can and is probably the biggest pain in the neck. However, after seeing them finished it was totally worth the hard work. Holding the bumpers onto the robot are some L-brackets made by one of our sponsors, Myhr fabrication.

We finished the video clips for our Robot Reveal Video and uploaded it! WE LOVE OUR ROBOT! These is so much team branding and it works so well. It’s just plain awesome.

Another fun thing the team did tonight was performed at the girls basketball game halftime show. It's a very fun and easy way to spread the word that Alexandria does have a FIRST robotics team and what we do. If you remember we did the same thing last year but it did not work the way we wanted to. Last year was tough because we communicate to our robot wirelessly and our network was unprotected. So cell phones and the score boards (which are run wirelessly) connected to our robot which made it very laggy. BUT! We learned our lesson this year!! We tethered our robot with a 50 ft ethernet cable and because of that it went perfectly.

We ended the night by loading up Kevin’s really nice trailer for the Eagan Week Zero Event tomorrow. This process was much smoother because we had pre-organized everything throughout the week.

Overall, tonight was a HUGE success. The team learned so much from last year and it was awesome to have everything actually go right for us for a change.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Drive Team Getting Set and Bumpers

New YouTube Video:

Today the team finished up on a lot of things.

One of the the smaller but still very needed pieces of the drive team was finished. That being the driver station, which is what the drive team carries to the field. It holds the laptop, the driver controller, and the shooter joystick. We have a youtube video talking about it. What we like about this is that it is custom made, simple yet effective, and is sporting our team colors which is always cool.

The main accomplishment of Thursday is that we got the bumpers done. It was a long process. Originally, we had a complicated design of C Rail channels and extrusion. We were going to build two different bumper sets and just switch the entire sets. Unfortunately, drilling 36 different pieces without a drill press is not a good idea. So we had Dalton's dad, Scott, at Myhr Fabrication make us some sweet steel bumper mounts. Brandon, Bryce, and Bydlon stayed late to finish them and get them on the robot.

We also took some videos of our final robot that will be part of our final robot stay tuned for the video release.

The Chairman’s team keept working on the Essay. It’s slow going but it’s getting better every single day.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Work, Work, Work

Juniors and Seniors met during lunch today. We discussed upcoming events. We also filmed a "Lunch with Bydlon". The filming is a tribute to the Lunch with Andy series by AndyMark. Every day, one of the heads of AndyMark films a short video detailing new AndyMark parts and Robotics stuff. We really enjoy them so thought we'd copy them. 

The team met for a looooooong time after school. Alicia, Bryce, Dalton, Carson, and Bydlon were at school until 10pm. But in that time a lot was accomplished. 

The coolest robot addition is that we added Sponsor plates to the left and right sides of our robot. They are made out of lexan. Zack and Carson did a great job mounting the stickers.

We worked really hard on the bumpers. We have one set all ready to go for fabric. The holes have been drilled, t-joints have been mounted, and pool noodles are duct taped on. 

The bumper mounts did not go very well. We had a really cool design idea where we would have extrusion sticking out of the frame. On the bumpers, there would be C-Rail turned sideways. Then a pin would go through the C Rail and extrusion, thus mounting the bumpers. We worked really, really hard the past couple days getting all those holes drilled. Unfortunately, many of them don't match up. So basically, that idea is now out the window. Instead, we're going to get some angle cut and just bolt the bumpers straight the the frame. We lost sight of keeping it simple... 

We started on the new Driver Station. It's going to be a long wooden one. We will mount wheels at one end so we can carry the other and then have the wheels on the ground as we move. We are going to paint it similar to our robot with black, blue, and silver. It's going to look awesome. 

Kacy and Jade got to business writing a Chairman's Essay Rough Draft. They will have a second draft done by our Scrimmage on Saturday. Kacy and Jade also dropped off the Business Plan for English teachers to revise. 

Carson and Zack made some ridiculous pictures of Bydlon. They were super funny. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Painting Perfection

Life is a big canvas, throw all the paint on it you can.
-Danny Kaye

Team 3313 finished painting all of the competition robot parts today. It was super exciting!! Some of the accent pieces are blue, the writing and bucket are silver and everything else is black. It matches all of our team branding. We painted our team name and number on the Frisbee feeder ramp. It looks so awesome. Can't wait to see the whole robot together again on Wednesday.

More LEDs going to be mounted. More details soon...

We're going to do one big reveal of the final robot all at once. So stay tuned later this week to see it all together!!

We had a PMMC Meeting during lunch and it went really great. The PMMC is a group of Alexandria Area Packaging Machine Manufacturers. It includes, Aagard, Massman, ITW Heartland, Douglas Machine, AAEDC, and Alex Tech. We love their support. Every month, a few of the team members go to the PMMC meeting and give an update. This meeting was especially great because the new superintendent of District 206 was there. He was extremely interested and very supportive of our work which felt good.

We made a few improvements to our game elements. We hung up chains hung on 3 point goal box and at the top of the pyramid goal. The pyramid goal is just a fun distraction for our team while we
Feeder station now lets Frisbees slide

Allen programmed in a shifter button on the game controller. This will allow Bryce to drive top speed when going straight but slow down as he comes around to turn and face the goals. Also, Alicia will be our back up driver just in case.

Our new team tshirts will be done in next day or two. Sweatshirt orders will be due Friday. Mr. Bydlon finally got around to ordering business cards.

We are doing a Halftime Show on February 15 at 7pm. We did this same event last year. The only difference is that this year we will NOT use wireless internet for it.

Monday, February 4, 2013

So Much Happening!

True happiness comes from the joy of deeds well done, the zest of creating things new. 
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

We started painting our competition robot today!! It's going to look sooooo awesome. We're waiting to show pictures for a little bit until it's all finished. But the team colors of black, blue, and silver will definitely be  prominent. Especially black...

The painting process is a new one for us. Buying the paint has been an interesting exercise. We tried really hard to get the right colors and talked a lot about the color scheme. We feel confident it'll look great.

The other big project for today was that we built the Frisbee collecting part of the goals. We have been concerned about our Frisbees bouncing out of the goals because of the speed and angle we shoot them out. So we built the box behind the goal. It was an interesting project for sure. Cutting the wood to the right length took a long time. Plus, it ended up being heavier than we anticipated so we had to add more supports. BUT! After all the work, it's all put together and we will test it out later this week!!

A smaller project was making the feeder slot slider. This will allow Brandon and our robot to better practice the real field conditions of feeding the Frisbees.

In programming news, Dalton and Allen started working on a shifting drive program. This will allow Bryce to have a manual transmission. Basically, Bryce will push a button and the robot will be able to drive much faster or slower depending on what he needs. Should be fun to test!!

Jade and Kacy did their fantastic work today. The Executive Summary is done for now!! WOAH!! That's so awesome. It looks great and totally sums our team up in a short amount of words. The Executive Summary is 7 different topics that you must write about. You only get 500 characters including spaces per topic. The act of editing is really tough! Next up is the Chairman's Essay. Yikes!

We are doing a Girl's Basketball Halftime Show again this year!!! February 15 at 7pm at the Jefferson High School gym. Carson made a fantastic poster!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Week 4 Update - Whatever You Do, Do It Well

“What ever you do, do it well. Do it so well that when people see you do it they will want to come back and see you do it again and they will want to bring others and show them how well you do what you do.”
-Walt Disney

First off, the blog author has to offer apologies for not updating throughout this week. Our team has made a conscious effort to update more through Twitter (@Team3313) and our YouTube Channel (Team3313Mechatronics) than the blog this year. Also, our YouTube videos are much more edited and scripted than in the past so that takes up some of the blog writing time. Not really excuses, just explaining why plans and updates have changed recently.


YouTube: Pneumatics Update

The entire shooter assembly got mounted on the competition robot. We did a presentation on pneumatics to a 7th period class. That led us to get the entire pneumatics system mounted and ready. It took us a while to get the loader piston mounted because we played around with angles of it. Eventually we found the sweet spot.

Executive summary kept plodding along. The executive summary is 6 questions and each answer can only be 500 characters. That's about 3 tweets which is extremely short. But it's coming along.


We installed the feeder ramp. This has been repeated many times but it takes a long time to get the measurements correct and everything spaced right and looking the way we wanted it to.


YouTube: Robot Ride Along
                Practice Run #1

Bryce installed underglow on the robot so it glows blue and looks awesome. We also mounted the hooks for the 10 pt. hang.

The other big excitement was that Tyler and his dad, Dan, finished the battery cart! It looks amazing! We had major battery issues last year at the Regional so we are very excited for some organization!


YouTube: Practice Run #2

Lots of autonomous programming happened. Allen and Dalton have their time to shine. They finished programming autonomous from the front of the pyramid (where we get 2 discs) and started autonomous from the back (where we get 3 discs).

We also practiced A TON and did a lot of videos and pictures. This practice time is invaluable.

The Executive Summary is oh so very close to being done. Need to get that finished and start on the Chairman's Essay.


YouTube: Open House

We held our Open House!!! We estimated we had at least 50 people show up. There was a pretty large group of younger kids which was awesome. We did not do a great job promoting the event (just too busy right now). So given those circumstances, it was fantastic.