Science Museum Demo

Showing our robot to Mark Dahlager (left) and letting kids drive our robot (right) 

Our team was invited by Wrench Dressing to demo our robot with them at the Science Museum. We showed our robot to the kids and adults there and allowed them to drive it around. The museum was open to members only at the time, so unfortunately the number of people we got was limited. We also talked to Mark Dahlager, the Vice President of Museum Experiences, and he offered to give us a tour of the shop below the museum in the future. This demo helped spread awareness about FTC, as well as the other FIRST programs.

Engineering Review Night

We hosted a virtual Engineering Review Night and invited our engineering mentors. During the meeting, we explained our robot’s designs through CAD and asked for their input and suggestions.

On the Zoom meeting we presented and explained each of the subsystems of our robot to the engineers. We also showed videos and images of the prototypes we have made so far and described how they were tested with the outcomes.

After presenting our robot to the engineers we asked them what suggestions or comments they had. One of our major concerns was the structural integrity of the odometry pod pivot points so it was suggested that we look into flexures. They are layered sheet metal components that are flexible in one direction and extremely rigid in the other. The engineers also told us that we could calculate the moment of inertia of our supports and determine what changes will make our drivetrain stronger. It was recommended that we calculate our robot’s center of gravity by placing the weights of parts on an x, y graph and using the moment of inertia and torque calculations. Mark, one of the engineers we invited from Minnesota Measuring Engineers, even offered to look at our calculations after we did them to make sure they were accurate. The engineers strongly suggested we do a risk analysis to identify where we were struggling and focus on those issues. We are implementing it to make our work more efficient. Finally, Mark recommended we check out a book called Fundamentals of Machine Component Design. It is an engineering textbook used in college, and it covers many of the topics and challenges we are dealing with right now. During the engineering review night, we received a lot of helpful feedback from the engineers and we will definitely continue to reach out to them.

Learning how we can improve our robot designs from the engineers

Alumni Engineering Review Night

Discussing the lift with our alumni friends.

We first discussed rules and scoring for this year’s game and let them become familiar with the field layout before we showed them our robot. While showing them our lift, they were concerned about a possible wobble in the lift and they said we should add reinforcements. They suggested that we should move the lift closer to the center of the robot and make the grabber longer to make sure the robot does not tip forward when extending. When they noticed the servo gearbox they told us that not all of the servos may start at the same time which could lead to issues. For the drivetrain, they suggested a different mounting material for the odometry, such as TPU. We discussed possible strategies and came to the conclusion that we should focus more on junction scoring rather than completing a circuit because most teams won’t be able to do it. Overall, it was really fun meeting with graduated FTC members and they were really helpful in giving a different view of our robot.

Robot in 2 Weeks

Our team attended the robot in 2 weeks competition to see how other teams were going about this year’s game. We watched matches to see various strategies as well as how the game works with all of the robots. We thought about some strategies for how to get more points and discussed which drivetrains and lifts worked the best. Overall this was a great way for our team to understand the best strategies and effective robot designs.

Meeting with CyberHawks

We met with Jack from CyberHawks to talk about different ways to implement spring-loaded Odometry to the robot. We learned that Jack originally used rubber bands to keep tension in his pods but in order to keep the footprint of the odometry small, he switched to torsion springs to keep the space of the pivot point small. This allowed him to fit his odometry into tight places while still maintaining accurate readings. After we showed Jack our odometry pod design and he gave us pointers on how to spring-load it. Overall, it was really fun hanging out with Jack and talking about different ideas for the season.

State Fair Demo

Posing with the other teams demoing at the State Fair (left) and letting kids drive the robot (right)

Every year, the Minnesota State Fair holds STEM Day which brings together student groups and businesses to celebrate STEM. We brought our robot and showed it to kids and adults, allowing everyone to try driving the robot. We had the Freight Frenzy field set up and let people pick up freight and place it onto the shipping hubs. Everyone who drove the robot received a robot driver’s license. We were there with other FTC teams so kids got to see and drive multiple different robots. We went to this demo, which was hosted by HTK, to reach more people and interest them in FTC and the STEM fields. 

Bel Air Y-Care Demo

Jackie showing off our lift system and Henry in the background teaching a kid how to drive

Every year, our team spreads excitement for STEM in kids around our school district by demoing at several local Y-Care events. This year we were only able to demo at one due to scheduling conflicts, so we made sure to go above and beyond to make this event special for the kids. We started this demo by displaying our robots and the different mechanical systems. Afterward, we let them take turns driving both robots and playing around with a couple of LEGO robots. All of them had a blast and we hope they go on to join robotics programs in the future.

 

CONvergence Demo

Teaching kids how to drive our robot (left) and showing off our robot to people at the convention (right)

The CONvergence Convention is an annual get-together for fans of Sci-Fi and Fantasy in all media forms. We showed off our robot at the convention and let kids and adults drive it around the field. The people driving our robot had the chance to pick up the freight and deposit it onto the hubs around the field. We also drove our robot all around the convention to get more people interested in robotics as well as driving the robots. This event allowed us to spread awareness about FIRST and FTC and get more people interested in joining STEM fields.

Benton County Fair

We were invited to demo for two days at the Benton County Fair. We had a field and table set up in a barn with other FIRST Programs such as FRC and FLL. We had a total of three robots on the field, two of them were ours and one was from another team, Cat in the Hat Comes Back. Many kids and adults had a chance to drive around the robots and deposit freight around the field. The adults were very curious and the kids had fun trying to drive the robot. We also explained to people how our robot works and what FTC is as we had many people ask about who we were and what we were a part of. This event helped us spread awareness about FIRST and FTC and get more people interested in STEM.

Library Demo

Showing the kids how to drive our robots

Every year our local library hosts several “storytimes” where they read stories to kids in the community. This is our fourth time doing this demo, and we were excited to return again in person. We were able to demonstrate our robot to the kids and have it dance with them. We also let the kids drive our Skystone robot and pick up stones. We had a lot of fun, but sadly this will be the last time we can do this demo since our team will be graduating. We invited Potential Energy to shadow us and see the demo so that they can continue the library’s Robot Storytime in our place in future years.