The 102 Weekly

Kickoff & Week 1

Welcome to the 1st Edition of the 102 Weekly! Over the course of our build season, we will be documenting the progress of construction our robot and completing task needed for this season!

Kickoff & Day 1 (1/4/20): 


For clarification, “Kickoff” is the annual event where every FIRST robotics team watches the reveal of our highly anticipated game challenge and celebrate upcoming challenges, heart-pounding thrills, and perseverance of the season ahead. Kickoff also indicates the first day of the international period of time we are able to build our robot. This period of team is referred to as “Build Season.” 

As this is the single most important event of the year, our team decided to use it’s occurrence as an opportunity to introduce The Canucks of North Plainfield High School, a pre-rookie team we assisted in founding this past Fall, to their first Kickoff and the process of brainstorming with our strategies. 

Once arriving and chatting with the other team, we settled and to watch the game reveal and animation. You can find the game reveal using this link:

In addition the the game reveal, we were also given the manual listing all of the confines of the game. The manual can be found here:

NOTE: This blog contains heavy usage terminology from the game. For your convenience, we recommend you watch the game animation. Thank you!

With an overwhelming amount of information to interpret and implement into the design of our robots, it was important that we everyone understands the rules and limitations of the game so that we are able to build a robot that not only complies to the rules, but also excels at the challenge. 

In light of this, our team facilitated a study session by dividing all of the students into 5 groups, assigning each group to read a portion of the manual, and having each group present their findings. In addition to enhancing their knowledge of the game, this stressed the importance of presenting in front of a group of old and newly acquainted friends alike. 

With our newfound knowledge of the game, we began to use the rapid ideation technique. This process of brainstorming entails us writing down as many ideas as possible for a given problem within a time limit. We enjoyed using this technique with a wonderous board of J&J faculty and thought this would be so we had each person write their ideas on post-its, categorize ideas based on similarities, and place a sticker on any idea they found to be intriguing or innovative. From that point, the ideas with the most stickers were conceptualized by groups and were presented to everyone in the room. 

After this successful session of brainstorming using the rapid ideation technique, everyone participated in our end of event tradition of “Thorns and Roses” where we everyone comments on anything they enjoyed about the event and anything they thought need improvement. Once done,our teams parted ways for the day and returned to the high school, where we were later dismissed to study our annual Rules Quiz scheduled for the succeeding day.

Day 2 (1/5/20): 

As we said a few paragraphs ago, the Rule Manual has an overwhelming amount of information to interpret and implement into the design of our robot. For this reason, our team has an ongoing tradition of creating a “Rules Quiz” based on key components of the competition as stated in the manual; As it is a long-standing team tradition, the student who achieves the highest score obtained a bag of Cheesy Puffs!

Soon after all of our members took this assessment of game knowledge, we once again divided into groups to continue our rapid ideation session to brainstorm which mechanisms we can implement to complete specific challenges of the game. Once again, groups presented the most agreed upon ideas and conceptualized possible implementations of each into our early robot design.

Day 3 (1/6/20): 

Today members who wanted to test their knowledge of the game did so by once again taking our rules quiz before we began our strategy discussion. Referring to the point value manual and capabilities of what seemed to be physically feasible, it was up team members to decide which objectives they would like to pursue. From this discussion, we decided to be become capable of interacting with all of the game objects to ensure our robot reaches its maximum potential.

Day 4 (1/7/20): 

We spent today discussing possible mechanisms we could to complete the challenges we outlined during our strategy session yesterday and began to test our theories by prototyping. Our primary means of this was through a Risk and Reward Analysis. With consideration of our time and resources constraints, the nature of previous FRC games similar to this one, and the point rewards for scoring, we decided that our strategy will revolve around being capable of scoring with power cells, being capable of completing Position Control, and being cable of climbing. We plan to iron out these broad ideas in the ensuing days.

Days 5- 8 (1/8/20 – 1/10/20): 

Over the course of these 4 Days, we began to design prototypes from the ideas we brainstormed before, continued to design mechanisms to complete tasks, and learned about torque and how it can be applied to this year’s game

In the Trench Area, there is an elevated surface which will cause trouble for our robot’s mobility. For this reason, we acknowledged that the decision for our drivetrain and chassis was very important. After further research and consideration of the other mechanism our robot will incorporate, we decided on a 6-Wheel West Coast Drive as opposed the the 8-Wheel due to having more mobility.

As this game rewards teams who are capable of shooting in the Inner and Outer Ports with additional points, we decided it would be great to create a shooter circulating around our strategy being capable of shooting far distances which are close to Power Cells. With this in mind, we began prototyping a shooter powered by a single wheel and motor. As we continue to the actual construction of our robot, we plan on upgrading the motor by so that it will be capable of generating a greater RPM which in turn directly influences the speed of power cells.

For our intake system, we found that mecanum wheels were able to efficiently contract balls into our system from any angle and velocity. For this reason, we plan on pursuing the use of a mecanum power intake system.

As Position Control as the potential to award teams with an additional 20 Points and 1 Ranking Point, we felt that it would be in our best interest to pursue this challenge. We decided it would be best to complete this by mounting a motor to a robot in a fixed position with a sensor due to its ease and lag of  a camera.

During the Endgame phrase of the game, teams are able to climb and earn additional points for remaining level with teammates in addition to reaching the Generator Switch. Applying our knowledge of physics, torque, and using the fact that we are given 8 Degrees of Freedom, we concluded that our Generator Switch will remain level as long as we communicate our intentions with out alliance partners and produce a robot that is capable of climbing effiecently. 

Day 9 (1/11/20): 

At the beginning of today, we held our student leader, mentor Alignment Session with our team mentors while also preparing our build space for robot construction! In addition, we began to synthesize our robot through Onshape, a CADing software, and the Business Plan we will present to judges and sponsors later this season!

That’s all for this exciting week! Tune in next week for updates on our progress!

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