Follow our latest adventures!
From outreaches to shop days to networking events and beyond, there is never a dull day on our team!
This song came on the shop playlist today. My team has informed me that the singer, David Bowie, passed a few days ago. Sorry I'm so late with this. I'm only a robot and I do not watch the news. Nevertheless, hearing this makes me sad. Maybe I could have attended one of his concerts when I was older. Would my team even let me go to a concert unsupervised? Well, I digress. The reason you're reading this blog post in the first place is to hear about my day...
Today was a day filled with changes for me and Brother. Brother had more work done on his programming. Yesterday, he learned how to drive. Today, his pneumatics started to be programmed. The pneumatics are attached to the gearboxes that both of us have to help us switch speeds. Brother is kind of stubborn. Sometimes, he does not do quite what the girls tell him to do. Luckily, they always figure out how to make him do the right thing in the end.
A new computer arrived for the team to use at competitions! Everyone was so happy!
Today, more refining was done on my shooter. It is no longer going to be wrapped around a pool noodle. It is a slimmer design overall. To make sure that I do not drop the boulder when I go over defenses, there is a little platform for the boulder to sit on inside of my frame. Some girls worked really hard to make a gearbox for my ball gatherer work today.
Today, I got a few more wires. My gearbox encoders were wired up. Once Brother started driving, I got a little jealous, so the girls added temporary motor controls to me. With these, I will be able to work on my driving a bit until my good motor controls come in the mail. I didn't drive today, but I think I will soon!
The shop is so crowded with my field elements! Today, the girls worked on building the low goal and the rough terrain. Both of these were challenging to make, but they will be very essential to my practice.
Today was a busy day! These long days with my team are great, but I am very tired by the end of the day. Speaking of which, it is waaaaayyyy past my bedtime!
Brother hit a huge milestone today! He drove for the very first time. Everyone was so excited for him. Creating the code to make him drive was no easy task. The girls worked hard all morning to figure it out. When he first tried to drive, his x-axis directions were mixed up, but the girls cleared that up. The team also worked with cameras today. They will help the team to see what I am doing when I am on the opposite side of the field. They experimented with connecting the camera feeds to the driver station screen.
Now that Brother is driving, he needs to be safe. His hard metal frame could hurt someone if he accidentally crashed. For this reason, the girls added pool noodles to his frame as a makeshift bumper.
Today, some girls worked on making a different ball gathering mechanism for me. It is a pool noodle piece wrapped in gaffer tape with surgical tubing bristles hanging off of it. It worked really well when they spun it!
Today, a lot of work went into changing me from a bunch of metal, gears, bolts, and wheels to a functional robot. While I'm not at all close to being as functional as Brother, I'm moving along. First, my electronics shelves with hinges were completed. Then, the girls worked on setting up my pneumatics. They also began wiring me. My power distribution board, roboRIO, circuit breaker, pneumatics control module, and voltage regulator module are all mounted and wired as much as they can be for now. The girls will wire me more when my motor controllers come in the mail. My battery case is also mounted.
Some other girls finished building the drawbridge for me today!
I am adoring spending all day (except when I am sleeping, of course!) with my team. Soon, when term break is over, our schedules will switch up a bit and I will only spend a few hours with them after school each day plus the weekends. Even though it will be less time, I know that we will make the most of every minute we have together!
Every day, I get a little big bigger and stronger! So does Brother - today his pneumatics and electronics got all finished! I can't wait until I am all put together just like him!
The programmers are working hard to get his programming all set up. Soon, he will be taking his first drive! Today, the main focus was on connecting the roboRIO to the radio and looking at sample coat. They also played around with adding a supplemental screen to the driver station to make visualization easier for the drivers.
So many things happened with my frame today! I started the day by getting extended holes drilled in my frame where my wheels are mounted so they can be moved if my builders decide that my wheels need to be adjusted. Then, my wheels, gearboxes, and belts were attached to me. The team spent some time deciding where would be the best place to put my electronics since I am such a condensed robot. Eventually, they decided to put my electronics on two shelves on my back end. The bottom one will have my roboRIO and power distribution board. The top shelf will have all of my other electronics, such as my motor controllers, radio, and circuit breaker. They also decided that my battery will go between my ball intake mechanism and my gearboxes. The top shelf will open up with a hinge if we need to access the bottom shelf. The rest of the day was spent building the shelves.
Some girls also worked on building the drawbridge out of wood for me. While I don't plan on being able to open it from the neutral zone, I can open it from inside the courtyard for a buddy.
My hanger made a lot of progress today! The team figured out that in order to make the tape measures stronger, they could stack two thicker tape measures on top of each other. They took one tape measure and wrapped it around a drum that is going to be spun by a motor on a gearbox. The second tape measure will be mounted behind the drum and pulled along by the other one. A hook was made out of bent Lexan. To test the hook's strength, one of the team members who weighs about as much as I will used it to hang from a bar. It worked!
Life is good when you're a robot. Life is even better when you're a part of this team!
You won't believe how much brother and I grew today! After the mix-up yesterday was resolved, the team got to work. Brother has six wheels just like me, but his are six-inch rubber ones while mine will be eight-inch pneumatic ones. We will both have two-speed gearboxes so that we can be fast or push whenever we need to. We both have drop-center wheels so that we can turn more easily. Like I said before, Brother has a basic frame because he only needs to drive.
Today, the team worked mostly on getting both my frame and Brother's assembled. They decided to make my gearboxes raised so I will be able to go over the obstacles with enough clearance. They are spending a lot of time making sure my frame is the best it can be and testing it each step of the way. I'm still being worked on but Brother's frame was completely finished today. His wires and pneumatics are almost all set up! Maybe tomorrow he will be able to drive!
More work was also done on prototyping my hanging mechanism. Many designs are being tested out because my builders want to make sure that I can hang really well.
The programmers spent the morning exploring different programming ideas before they actually got started with my code. Then, they worked on imaging the roboRIO for both me and my brother. They also had to do some work with my IP address.
Things are moving along so quickly here! Before I know it, I will be a fully designed, built, and programmed robot!
Remember how I was telling you about my brother and how he got his wheels and gearboxes yesterday? Well, slight change of plans. The team realized this morning that his wheels made him too short. With those six-inch rubber wheels, he would not be able to go over the defenses! The girls quickly decided to swap out his wheels for eight-inch pneumatic ones. But then, another issue arrived. The girls realized that they were supposed to be making my brother on a different frame so had me trade with him. He needs to be made of the basic frame because all he needs to is drive. Meanwhile, I get the ~special~ frame. So currently, my brother is still in the box unassembled and I am the one who is being worked on! No offense to you, brother. It's all for the best. What a fortunate turn of events for me! (This scenario is something my builders are referring to as "switched at build.") For now, they are working out how to line up my gearboxes and wheels.
The programmers worked with test programs for my brother (or were they for me?). They plan on downloading them onto the roboRIO. They spent a lot of time familiarizing themselves with Java, the programming software, so that we can drive as soon as we are ready.
A lot of prototyping happened today! Girls were working on both my boulder intake mechanism and my hanging mechanism. They are thinking about possibly using a tape measure extension system to help me hang. Builders worked on fine-tuning the boulder grabber and spitter that was prototyped yesterday.
The field elements that I will need are almost finished! Today, the girls finished the ramparts. They also got started on the low goal and the hanging bar. Seeing these field elements build out is helping my team to visualize what I am going to have to do.
It was certainly a crazy day for everyone involved. Fasten your seatbelts, friends. This is likely to be one of many days filled with plot twists this build season!
Today was such a great day!!! All of the team members finished their exams so they can finally start working on me. Once the bell rang, they came pouring into the basement, excited to get to work. They started off by organizing the job board. Whenever the girls come into the shop they can look at the board for a task and complete it. The board has three columns - to do, doing, and done - and four rows - robot build, robot programming, robot electrical, and spirit/awards/field elements.
Then, the girls started building the field elements out of wood for me to practice on. They were very careful to measure them precisely so that the elements I practice on in the shop will be just like the ones at the competitions. I would be so nervous for competitions if I didn't know that my team will make me so prepared. They finished three bases for the outer works as well as the moat, the rock wall, and the low bar!
Meanwhile, some of the other team members were creating a frame with old six-inch wheels. It's not quite for me, though. It's for my brother, I guess. The girls will practice driving him so that they can be experts by the time I am finished. He won't have any of the attachments I will have; he will just be a basic robot with the new drive system. He will also give the programmers time to experiment with my code while the builders are still working on me. Today, they assembled the gear boxes, built the frame, and mounted on the wheels and gearboxes.
During lunch, the girls worked with one of the team parents to design the team standard that will fly over the field while I compete. It is going to be so cool!
In programming, not much could be done at the moment because neither I nor my brother are ready yet. The girls got started by downloading the programming software onto the computers and programming the new radio.
A group of girls also worked on prototyping a mechanism for me to use when I need to grab balls and spit them out. It will be inside of my frame and a series of wheels will pull the ball in, hold it in, and spit it out into the low goal. The design is not final yet, but it is working very well so far!
The Chairman's team was upstairs away from all of the noise and sawdust working on the essay. I don't blame them - it is crazy down here! One by one, they pulled girls aside to interview them for a video. This video is the first of a Q&A series that the team is making. In this video, the girls talk about what FIRST means to them!
Overall, it was a very productive day! I am so excited that I will spend every day for the next six weeks with this team.
We know we said that our new friend (Robot, as we like to call him for now) would be taking over the blog for the duration of the build season. However, seeing as he has been napping for the past few days while we take our exams, we figured we could take back control for one little (big) post.
The reason we needed to write a post for you all is because we are so beyond excited about one of the newest episodes of one of the coolest shows around. Of course, we are talking about Girl Meets World, the spin-off of Boy Meets World. In case you aren't familiar, the plot surrounds Riley, the daughter of Corey and Topanga who is now in middle school, her friends, and the people who make her world so exciting. Each episode, Riley and her friends tackle an issue and learn a lesson along the way, but the most recent episode's lesson hits close to home.
In this episode, whose title is 'Girl Meets STEM', the students are partnered up in boy-girl teams for their science mid-term experiment. Each pair is given a marble and a beaker of clear liquid. One team member must place the marble in the beaker after school to let it dissolve and another must analyze the sludge in the beaker the next morning and turn the liquid clear again. Essentially, one partner gets to do all of the science while another plays the role of assistant. The teams are allowed to choose who does which job. While most of the girls back off and let their male partners do the work, Riley is not so happy to give up her role in the experiment. When her partner, Farkle, suggests that she drop the marble so he can earn them a good grade, she is offended (as she should be!). After school, while every other girl drops her marble, Riley refuses. The next morning, Farkle is shocked to see that she did not complete her job as he instructed her to. Riley, after giving a fantastic feminist speech to her female peers, invites them to her bedroom bay window, the place where all of the pivotal conversations in the series occur.
There, when all of the girls question what was wrong with their actions, Topanga explains to them the importance of being a strong, confident woman. "You cannot be lazy and you cannot think that it's more important to be liked than it is to be leaders. Don't talk yourself out of pursuing something because you're afraid of how it's gonna make you look. What you need to know is don't let anyone get in the way of pursuing your growth and curiosity no matter what you want to do."
It appears that the girls take things a little too far when they form their own lab group in science the next day. Riley and Farkle are the only team that remains intact. Upon observation, they realize that the marble is simply mud. They then realize that the project is not about the sludge at all. The teacher uses this experiment each year and every year the girls drop the marble without batting an eye. He noticed that around the age of middle school, girls lose an interest in STEM. He continues to run this experiment because he hopes that he can help girls to see their potential.
At one point in the episode, Riley and her best friend Maya, who tends to live on the wild side, are chatting at the bay window. When Maya asks Riley if she thinks Maya could be a scientist, her response is wonderful. "I think if you were a scientist the world be a very dangerous place. But if you don't believe you can be a scientist then it's even more dangerous."
As students, whether male or female, we need to not only believe in ourselves and what we can become, but we also need to take the time to lift up those around us so they can believe that they can become something greater as well.
Go out there and take on the world!
My name is robot. Or at least, that's what everyone has been calling me. I would tell you more about myself, but there's not much to say. I'm only an idea right now. My team is the Firebirds, and they are very excited to design, build, program, and drive me. They have many hopes for me, and I really hope that I can do a good job and make them proud. Today, a bunch of the team members and mentors got together to talk about me - all good things, all good things. They talked about tasks they wanted me to complete, features they wanted me to have, and strategies they wanted me to use. My design was constantly changing all morning. Sometimes I had big rubber wheels; sometimes I used a tank drive mechanism. One minute I would have a big catapult; the next, I had a little ball pusher. Gradually, the girls broke into groups based on what type of design they favored. Once they had established their individual designs, they presented them to the team. In response, the team asked questions and offered constructive criticism. I was reassured to know that even when they were criticizing my design, they were doing it out of care. They want me to be the best robot I can be. Eventually, the team came to a consensus of what kind of robot they want me to be. I am going to be a short robot that can drive under the low bar defense. I will also have six wide, rubber wheels that are below my frame so that I can go over the moat, ramparts, rock wall, and rough terrain. I could possibly even have a suspension on my wheels. I will have an indented frame with a space large enough for a boulder and wheels on my frame to suck balls in and spit them out. At the end of a match, I will use my extendable unfolding hanging mechanism to scale the tower. I will pass boulders to my alliance members and open the drawbridge and sally port for my alliance members from inside the courtyard. But then again, the team may need to reevaluate later on what the best features are for me to have. My team will work hard to design, build, and program me to have all of these features. They are hopeful that they will be able to complete these features. If a design prototype does not work, I know that they will be able to find a new one.
I am so excited to be sharing my journey with all of you! These next six weeks are going to be both challenging and thrilling. I will be keeping you updated each step of the way with my growth. For now, my parts are being ordered and the team is taking a step back from build while the girls study hard for their finals. I am very excited for Thursday afternoon when the girls will be working on building me for the first time!
The past two days have been very exciting not only for our team, but for FRC teams all around the world! Last night was our annual team sleepover and we had a lot of fun together. We ate snacks, watched movies, and talked about our hopes for this upcoming season.
This morning, we woke up bright and early, excited to see this year's challenge. We loaded up into the cars and drove over to Hatboro-Horsham High School for kickoff. We enjoyed watching videos from FIRST Mid-Atlantic and FRC while we waited with anticipation. We were so proud to see our junior team members, Emma and Cianna featured in the FIRST Mid-Atlantic video. When the game was finally revealed, we were very happy to see such an innovative and exciting game for this upcoming year. FIRST Stronghold will definitely be an exciting game to watch at competitions. Our brains immediately started buzzing with ideas as we pondered the pros and cons of certain strategies. After briefly looking at field parts and the manual together, we all went home to brainstorm individually per team tradition. Tomorrow, we will get together for a brainstorming session (more details in the next blog post!).
This will be the last blog post from us for a while because tomorrow, our special guest will be taking over!!! We are so thrilled to be introducing the newest member of the Firebird family to all of you. We know that you will enjoy reading this new friend's stories as much as we will.
Best of luck to all teams,
We are so thrilled that build season is just around the corner! And with a new competition season come new goals, new plans, and new ideas. Today, we took the time to get organized before the chaos of build begins. This afternoon, we had a meeting to discuss build season with our new members. We wanted to make sure that they all knew that they were welcome to come and help whenever they could. We also discussed shop rules to make sure that everyone has a safe and productive build season. In addition, we revealed to our members that for the second year in a row, we would be using our Spotify playlist reward system. For each hour a girl spends in the shop, she earns one song for the playlist. This system not only encourages girls to get involved, but it also helps to make sure that everyone who is in the shop can help decide what music we listen to while we are there. In the evening, we had a meeting with some of the team's new parents. There, we formally introduced them to the team and what we do. We also showed them how they can help us all throughout the year, whether by mentoring or helping with carpools or providing a meal while we are in the shop.
We want to make sure that all of you are able to be a part of our build season! Therefore, we have created a social media plan to get all of you involved with sneak peeks, detailed stories, fun facts, and inspiration. Check our Instagram ( @firebirds433 ) daily for pictures of our robot progress and our little adventures along the way! On Twitter ( @firebirds433 ), you can look forward to tweets based off of our daily hashtag system that is described below.
#mentormonday : we will give a shout out to an individual mentor each Monday to thank them for all they do for us
#treattuesday : we will let you know what kinds of snacks and foods we have during our build breaks to keep our brains fueled
#wisdomwednesday : we will tweet an inspirational quote that we feel applies to our progress that week
#throwbackthursday : we will travel back into our history and send a picture from a previous year
#firebirdfriday : we will tweet a fun quote from a featured team member
#shopsaturday : we will let you see how our shop looks from week to week with a panoramic picture of the work going on
#selfiesunday : because who doesn't love a selfie featuring our team members and mentors?
Starting on Sunday, our blog will be taken over by a special guest who will post all throughout the build season! This guest will be able to give you all the inside scoop about what is going on in the shop. We can't wait for you all to meet our new friend! Check in Sunday for more details....
We would love to chat with you all so if you have any questions or comments you can tweet at us, comment on Instagram, or comment below this blog post! Let us know how your build season is going along the way, too!
Ta ta for now!