Meeting with Chris Bankers, Electrical Engineer

Showing Mr. Bankers components of our robot

Our robot has eight motors running at once and because of this, we ran into power issues where the robot can disconnect or read encoders wrong when too much power is drawn. We met with Chris Bankers, an electrical engineer, to get ideas to reduce battery consumption. We looked at the subsystems that draw the most current under operation. He told us that when the robot draws too much power, the battery can’t sustain the voltage, causing it to drop, which can cause encoder misreads. He told us that motors draw a lot of power when initially turning or stuck in position. This causes enough power to be sucked from other components, causing a misread of the motor encoders. From what Chris told us, this led us to suspect our lift system being one of the main power consumers on the robot. So we will focus on the lift to try to mitigate the problem. Overall, it was nice talking to Mr. Bankers and we learned a lot of new ideas and reasons behind the power draw of our robot. We will use the new information we learned to solve the power draw issues on our robot.

Science Museum Demo

Demoing near museum exhibits (left) and letting kids drive our robot (right)

Our team demoed our robot at the Minnesota Science Museum on Good Friday; inviting visitors and employees to drive our robot and learn more about the FTC program. Many of the kids we met had experience with FIRST LEGO League and were eager to learn about other FIRST programs. Our team also met up with Mark Dahlager, the Vice President of Museum Experiences, as well as the engineers behind the exhibits to show them our robot as well as our engineering process. It was nice to see the familiar faces of the museum staff as well as meet the museum guests. We hope to help the Science Museum in future workshops to further promote STEM in the Minnesota Community.

Swerve Webinar


Us presenting during the webinar.

This season we created a differential swerve drive to use in competition. Throughout our creation of the drivetrain, we were constantly experiencing new challenges and discovering new concepts that we could use to improve the design. Because swerve drives are a very rare drivetrain to see in FTC, we decided to host a webinar to teach others about swerve drives and share what we learned from creating ours. The presentation covered a multitude of topics including: What is Swerve, How it Works, Types of Swerve: Coaxial and Differential, What We Learned, and Swerve Programming. We thoroughly enjoyed creating and giving the presentation as well as answering the many questions our viewers had. It is our hope that this presentation, our robot, and our team’s impact all inspire the next generation of teams to use swerve drives.

We recorded the webinar and posted it on YouTube so those that couldn’t make it could view it as well.

Promet Demo

Teaching Peter (Promet engineer) how to drive the robot while Jackie answers questions

We met with Peter Kadoulka and the engineers at Promet Optics to show them our robot and how much we’ve grown since our previous demo in 2019. The demo started with us giving an overview of the FTC program as well as what we do as a robotics team. We then showed the engineers this year’s game and what our robot can do. The engineers took turns driving our robot and we answered questions about the program such as how their kids can get involved, and many others. They took turns talking about their college experience and what they do at the company. Overall we had a lot of fun being able to see the company again and we look forward to seeing them at the State Championship.

AAE Tour and Demo

Show AAE engineers our robot (left) and Sonny looking at our wires and giving us advice (right)

We met with Sonny Sinarath and his coworkers at Air Automation Engineering (AAE) to show them our robot. After our demo, we talked to Sonny about ways to improve our cable wiring as our grabber wires would get caught in parts of our lift. He approved of our wiring box design which AAE had helped inspire two years ago. Sonny suggested we keep all the wires in one contained cable and pull it away from the lift where it could get tangled. He gave us some finger trap material, which covers and protects groups of wires, for our grabber wires. We have implemented a retractable wiring system that can pull the cable back because of Sonny’s suggestion.

Science Museum Tour

Talking to someone who worked in the Omnitheater

We met Mark Dahlager, the Vice President of Museum Experiences, at a previous demo at the Science Museum of Minnesota with Wrench Dressing and he invited us to tour the Science Museum’s exhibit shop. First, we went to the office space where exhibit ideas are discussed and designed. We met with some engineers who helped with various parts of the museum such as the Omnitheater and temporary exhibits. We learned about how they come up with ideas for exhibits and how they develop and prototype their designs. Then, we went down to the shop where most of their manufacturing is done. We met with several engineers who used a CNC router, 3D printers, and soldering to create exhibit parts. Two of the engineers we talked to actually competed on FRC teams in the past which was really cool to learn. Overall, it was really fun to see how exhibits are created at the Science Museum and how different engineers ended up working there!

Meeting with Dr. Julie Hui

Showing Dr. Julie our shell prototype 

We met with Dr. Juile Hui to show her our robot CAD. We walked her through this year’s season and the objectives our robot was built around. She liked what we had so far and gave us tips to enhance the design like stripes. It was suggested that we look to automobiles for design inspiration. It was interesting to learn about Julie’s career path, her studies, and how she’s an assistant professor at the University of Michigan. With the help of Julie, we learned about different places to get design inspiration from as well as design tips.

Droid Days Demo

One of our team members discussing the robot with Bakken Museum visitors

Our team was invited to the Droid Days event at the Bakken Museum. There, we let kids drive our robot around and stack cones onto a low junction. After they finished, we gave each kid a robot driver’s license. We also explained our swerve drivetrain to some of the staff at the museum. A few of our team members knew them from previous experiences, such as the Form 5 Prosthetics Workshop, so it was pleasant to see them again. We really enjoyed demoing our robot at the event and would like to demo there again.

MURA Field League Meet 3

Emceeing a match (left) and queueing teams for matches (right)

Our team members volunteered at the Pepin and Mille Lacs Leagues Meet 3, which was hosted at MURA Field. We helped set up the judging rooms and concession stand before the competitions began. We also made sure the tournaments ran smoothly by conducting field inspections and ensuring that all teams made it to their matches on time. It was very fun to see all of the amazing robots, and interact with the different teams there.

Helping BCS Vikings

Discussing possible solutions with BCS Vikings over discord

After we met BCS Vikings earlier this season, we invited them to join our Discord server. Through the server, they asked us for help with their IMU because it wasn’t working properly. We met with them online to talk it through together. After some time we realized that their control hub had a newer chip that required a software update, so we helped them figure out how to update the hub. They also had issues driving without drifting to the side which turned out to be two of their motors not being plugged in. It was exciting to mentor a team from another country and work through problems with them! Since then we’ve been continuing to help them through our Discord server.