New to FIRST?

Hello, Robolions team members, mentors, friends, and community members! Welcome to "The Fourth Law of Robotics," home to University City High School's FIRST (For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Team. We hope to use this blog to inform you about what we're up to.
We compete in the FRC (First Robotics Competition), an annual competition where we have six weeks to build a robot from scratch. This year's game is Recycle Rush. We'll post updates here to let you all know what we're up to with building (and competing with) our robot!
We also are now competing in FTC (First Tech Challenge), the next level down from FRC. The game was called Ring It Up!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

This is intermittent programmer Henry in with the news from this weeks wesdnesday meeting.

We got a lot done this meeting, including getting the joystick working again, mounting the shooter motors on the robot, and having a relatively high attendance rating (8 students! Wow!).

Here are some pics from the night, featuring Christine, Marcus, and a new atttendee, Clayton making accomodations to the robot to turn it into a shooter.

As you can see, things are busy here at robolions central. 

We are really looking forward to going to the activity fair at Ucity high to rally up some more members, and going to the Cowtown Throwdown in Kansas City.

This is Henry Braeske, signing off. And now, the weather.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Captain Walter signing in. Tonight we began cutting the arm to make room for the shooter. We also got the gearboxes for the shooter wheels fully assembled. I will not go into too many details, as the pictures speak for themselves.

We also had a new kid, Marcus Shelton, join the team. 
That is all for tonight, the next post will either be tomorrow or sometime next week.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

New kid on the block and programming progress made

Hey everyone! My name is Emily Looby and I am the new team blogger and photographer. This is my first year as a part of the University City High School Robotics team. I am beyond excited and look forward to advertising this club that little people know about.  I am also a member of the field hockey and swim team\, a National Honor Society member, and on the U-Times newspaper staff.

Currently, the programmers can now deploy code through the correct application and fixed a majority of the network problems. Christine and Nathan are working on disassembling  the old shooter in order to a build a new one. Meanwhile, Walter is working on the gearbox for the new shooter.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Temporary captain Walter signing in here! We opened up the lab today to find a MIG welder left there by some unknown person. If it is ours, and not just left in the room as storage, we plan to put it to good use. There are some pictures of the machine shop in there as well, with the welding box where it would be.


Monday, July 15, 2013

Back in the Lab

It may be summer, but that won't keep the RoboLions out of the lab. Walter, Christine, Jonah, Josh, Dan, Mr. Deitzler and I headed down to do a bit of midsummer cleaning today, discovering a whole lot of miscellaneous junk in corners of our lab, such as screws, bolts, washers, the long-lost sprocket bag, a lot of buttons, the One Ring of Power, and too many forks -- as well as a steel welder in our storage room. The box advertised that the welder could weld aluminum, though it would require 100% argon gas and a calm indoor space to do so, which is a little intimidating. However, if we can overcome those hurdles, Walter (an experienced welder) and Christine (going to welding camp shortly) should be able to weld parts of our next robot with ease!

Monday, June 3, 2013

End of Year, Senior Stuff and Summer Happenings

Hello! Just a quick update here from Captain Grace. We're in the middle of transitioning leadership right now so that means you'll get a new blog writer too (as I'm off to college in the fall and no longer on the team.) But it's never too late for an update.

In recent news:

In April, the World Championships were held here in St. Louis. Being a local team, we once again had the opportunity to travel down to the Edward Jones Dome for a field trip one day to just hang out and check out the happenings. We met lots of awesome people, saw lots of cool robots, and watched some intense matches. One of our members, Walter, even got to hang out with a team from Canada that would eventually go on to be on of the champions. So yeah, we've got friends in high places, no biggie.

Three members; Walter, Michael, and myself; also attended RoboProm that week, where we danced the night away with other geeks dressed to the nines and the ones and everything in between. Here we are below, with Shrapnel Sergeants member Nisha Rao, next to Walter (on the right end.) We look a little disgruntled, this picture was taken after we'd already been dancing and flailing around for a few hours. (And yes, that is a dress made out of old robotics shirts I'm wearing.)

In May, we celebrated the end of our season by hosting our annual end-of-season party at Frank and Helen's, a local pizza joint. It was bittersweet for us captains and seniors, as it was the last time we'll be there (as team members, at least!)

Also in May was the Academic Awards banquet, held at our school. All participating FRC team members received varsity letters, and those who have been on the team for more than one year also received FIRST pins.
Back row, from left: Jonah Zukosky, Henry Braekse, Coach Dave Sarber
Front row, from left: Joshua Stueck, Christine Politte, Walter Deitzler, Carl Sechrist, Lafayette Gatewood IV, Marquise Williams, Grace Deitzler, Michael Sarber, Dan Politte

Now, before I move on to summer happenings, I wanted to both thank all of the graduating seniors for their contributions to the team and also share a little bit about where they're headed off to next year.

Mike Sarber will be attending Saint Louis University to study Mechanical Engineering.

Daniel Politte will be attending Washington University in St. Louis, and he's not entirely sure (at least when I last talked to him) what he's going to study, but something in computer engineering maybe.

Paul Watkins will be attending Stanford University to study Mechanical Engineering.

Lafayette Gatewood IV will be attending the Missouri University of Science and Technology to study computer engineering.

Carl Sechrist will be attending University of Colorado at Boulder to study Physics.

And Grace Deitzler (me!) will be attending the Missouri University of Science and Technology to study Biological Sciences and Information Technology.

On to summer happenings! There will be meetings scheduled periodically throughout the summer as the team continues to work on various things, such as learning new technologies, organizing the room, fundraising and looking to gain sponsorship. Keep an eye out for emails/facebook posts about the next meeting, students!

Alright, that's about all I can think of. Until we get a new blog writer or I leave for college (whichever comes first) I'll try to keep you all updated throughout the summer as much as possible. 

Grace Deitzler, Captain

Thursday, April 11, 2013


To all of our adoring fans who read this blog regularly (I know you're out there somewhere), I sincerely apologize for not posting since the Friday of competition. Things have been busy, and I realize that's no excuse. So, to make it up, here's a pretty long post (I'm also doing this to procrastinate on a paper for school, so it's a win-win.)

To recap the competition:
On our final match, we FINALLY got the robot to do what it was built to do- release discs into another robot's chute. It worked beautifully :') Alas and alack though, we did not get chosen for eliminations. It was great fun though, watching the robots that did compete, and our former alliance partners LASER came out with another astonishing win. So, congrats to them!

And now here's the mushy gushy part. I'll try not to tear up as I write this, but it has to be said.
I love this team. Even though I may not always be the most dedicated captain, being a part of the RoboLions has been a huge deal to me and has actually changed my life. It sounds cheesy, I know. But it's true. Besides FIRST being an amazing program in and of itself, it's been my team, especially two particular members, that has amazed me the most.

When we started four years ago, we had no clue what we were doing. And yet somehow, we made it through that first crazy year, and the following four. My two co-captains, (and yes, I'm proud to call them that,) Mike and Dan, have been there since day 1, and though I joined a few weeks later, the three of us have had an incredible journey through these four years of high school. I think I speak for all of us when I say that FIRST has left an indelible mark on each of us.

To Mike and Dan, I truly appreciate everything you two have done for the team. So here's to you guys, to our days as freshman, to the starry nights where we escaped for "Captain's Meetings" (still some of my favorite memories), to sharing inside jokes, to getting through the days where we all just wanted to quit. To mustering the strength to coordinate an FTC team, to the competitions that we all loved so much, to Mike never even batting an eye at wearing that ridiculous (and hot!) lion costume to drive in. This is to you guys. You two are the best co-captains (and frankly, friends) a girl could ask for. So, thank you. I hope we can all still keep in touch and remain connected by the threads of FIRST as we move on with our lives. Best of luck to both of you. :)

Love and peace,
Captain Grace

Friday, March 15, 2013

Frantic Friday

Our day got off to an exciting start when we received our match schedules and realized we were up for the first match! Immediately, the crew got working on preparing Serenity for her first big game.

However, the first match was somewhat disappointing. The dustbin snapped off once again (although another team lost an entire bumper, so by comparison it wasn't that bad), and although we did some mediocre defending, by the end of the match Serenity somewhat spiraled out of control, incurring dozens of points of technical fouls. Furthermore, we forgot to unload some Frisbees from Serenity's chute. However, we were visited by three very friendly judges, and three scouts from Team 931 (Perpetual Chaos), and talked to each for a while about our robot. Captain Grace assigned Addy and Paul to watch from the stands and take notes on teams we were to be either paired with or against in the course of the competition.

Our next match was #15, around 10:40 in the morning. This one was a disaster. Someone forgot to remove the wooden plank lodging Serenity's arm in the upright position before the match. The drivers didn't realize this and kept trying to move the arm, which eventually broke the fasteners allowing it to move. Consequently, we didn't do much of anything. Henry made a valiant effort to score some human points, but it's awfully difficult to aim across the field. The wooden plank was removed and exiled to a corner of the pit, but there were still bugs to fix. The worst part was that we were scheduled for Match 18, meaning that any repairs had to be made in the queue line! 

In a few minutes, we competed again. Serenity still hadn't been completely patched up, but she did some decent defense agains Team 4331. However, we were allied with Teams 4330 (Rambunction, from Ladue) and 4154 (Perpetual Recursion), the latter of which was outstanding and carried our alliance to victory. We returned to the pit and leapt into action repairing Serenity, while Captain Grace talked with a scout. Our next match wasn't until after lunch, so we had ample time to repair those screws -- a task that might necessitate removing the entire arm!

While Walter, Christine, and Mike worked dutifully on the arm, the rest of us headed outside to enjoy glorious summer-like weather, eat Subway (provided by Mrs. Sechrist), and play an AWESOME game of Frisbee. The builders joined us for the last half of lunchtime, and then it came time to reenter the pit and prepare Serenity for a match in thirty minutes.

In our next match, we were allied with Team 1288 R.A.V.E.N. Robotics, one of the best shooters in the competition and at that time ranked #1. Victory was guaranteed. As for Serenity, she defended rather zealously, becoming locked up with Team 1706's robot for some time. Tension was high as everyone waited for 1706, perched at an awkward angle, to topple to the ground -- and the drivers stressed over losing connection to Serenity. However, after a few awkward moments, our opponent freed itself, bumping Serenity against our pyramid and incurring a technical foul. After that, noting that there was no way for our opposing alliance to make a comeback, Serenity retreated to a corner to let 1288 do their thing. Another win for 3397! We returned to the pit to inspect Serenity and make sure her close call with 1706 hadn't damaged anything.

The next match wasn't very exciting, since our two alliance partners built specialized climbing robots. Serenity ran about and blocked a few opponents. Our points were guaranteed by the climbers, but an opponent robot also bumped into the climbers twice, incurring 40 points of technical fouls that only cemented our third victory.

About an hour later, we returned to the field for another match. It's worth noting that our autonomous period had been faltering in every match until now. Dan and Josh anticipated trying out their new autonomous code on this match. However, she unfortunately turned in the wrong direction, so it seemed some changes still needed to be made. Furthermore, it seemed the new battery we'd put in was less than optimal: Serenity was sluggish and eventually stalled out about halfway through the match. Our opposing alliance included the 1985 Robohawks, our friends and rivals, who scored enough to wallop our team. Looked like our winning streak was broken.

Although autonomous goofed up again, in our next match we actually scored points, disgorging a few Frisbees into the 1-point goal. Unfortunately, we also bumped up against an opponent robot at its feeder station; and more worryingly, a corner of our arm shield broke off during a tussle with the Army Ants' robot. Also, our alliance was thoroughly trounced -- but the important thing is, we scored points! That's a victory in our book, even if Henry disagrees.

In our final match of the day, Serenity defended her best yet. The problem was that our alliance mates were not optimized for scoring, so all our awesome defending didn't mean much. Really, that was the problem with most of our bungled matches: simply not having any synergy with our alliance mates.

Well, with our matches for the day done, we migrated to the stands to watch the final few matches and the awards ceremony. Walter, Henry, and I danced with the Cavaliers before hanging out with the CyborgCats for a time.

All things considered, today was a pretty great day for the team. We fixed all the problems that came up, and marketed ourselves to higher-up teams. We didn't get a chance to do what Serenity was built for -- feeding teammates -- but there's always tomorrow. Regrettably, I won't be there on Saturday, due to a prior commitment; Captain Grace will take the reins of the blog then and keep you all posted!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Thursday Preparations

We arrived at the Chaifetz Arena at 8:30 this morning for a day of practice and preparation for the competition tomorrow and Saturday. Outside the doors, we were greeted by old friends from Team 4256, WCA's CyborgCats, and reminisced with them for a time. The day was eventful; I'll divide my recap into several simple portions.

Unloading: Once the doors had opened, we headed quickly to our designated pit area, where Carl, Henry, Addy, and I set up the tent while the others unloaded Serenity and our gear. Christine began removing the lead weights and covering them in radiation-blocking tape, for the safety of all involved.

Scouting: Walter filled out a survey from Team 2838 on Serenity's capabilities: once again, we have a finger in every pie, although her primary function is as a mobile feeding station. Jonah and I checked out some nearby teams: Team 3330, System of the Corn, built a robot specializing in climbing to the exclusion of all else; it doesn't even have a shooter. Team 2978, The Cavaliers, built the opposite: a shooting robot without a climbing function. And good old Team 3284, LASER, has built an enormous robot with a hefty shooter. A climbing robot like 3330's is somewhat disadvantaged, at least according to Walter; with the new rules update, robots can't shoot Frisbees from atop the pyramid, so a robot that can only climb can only score 30 points for its team at maximum. Grace and Addy prepared several sample questions to ask other teams while scouting; using a checklist culled from those questions, Grace, Jonah, and I wandered around the pit to interview various teams and hand out buttons.

Practice Matches: Our first practice match was a bit of a bust. Many things went wrong: the arm conveyor belt was too loose to function, the dustpan broke off, and autonomous mode hadn't been programmed for the lighting conditions in the arena. On the other hand, we weren't out there to try and carry our team; we were testing Serenity's capabilities in the field, such as our ability to block or push large robots (we discovered Serenity can do the first, but not the latter).
Our second match was much more satisfying. We were on an alliance with 4330 Rambunction from Ladue and the 4256 CyborgCats from WCA. The latter was especially impressive, scoring several 3-point shots and climbing to the first rung of the pyramid. Serenity, meanwhile, proved an adequate defender. Also of note is that a pole fell on Carl's head while he was entering the arena before the match. Despite this, he knew what he was doing when it came to driving. Additionally, our autonomous was still a bit wonky.
The third and final practice match went a bit astray when Serenity immediately backpedaled and angled herself against the wall in autonomous. After that, we tried and failed to pick up a few frisbees, before entering our defensive game as usual.

All in all, an eventful day for the team. Mike and Christine are staying an extra few hours to make some much-needed changes to Serenity, but the remainder of the team have headed home to rest up for the coming competition. Here's to another great showing for Team 3397!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Competition in Two Days

We compete at the St. Louis Regional in two days! We will be there on Thursday all day prepping and practicing, and then on Friday and Saturday we will be competing. The public is invited! Here are the details:

Where: Chaifetz Arena, SLU Campus
What: FIRST Robotics Challenge Saint Louis Regional
When: March 15-16
Why: Because robots are awesome that's why

There you go! Come on down and watch the RoboLions compete in our fourth ever regional!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Saturday Report

So in the past two weeks, we've completed the robot (who has a name now- meet Serenity!), packed it up, and begun working on a practice bot to work on our driving, programming and other various skills. We're also working on a top-secret project with this backup robot that may or may not be applied to Serenity at competition! Shhh :)

Work is going well. Dan has been programming his heart out as he tries to fix bugs and get autonomous to work. Walter, Carl and Mike have been tirelessly working on the project. Other team members have been contributing as well. Marquise has drawn up awesome plans for the pit design at competition.

We're going to be selling shirts this year as well! They are pink and say I (heart symbol) ROBOTS on the front with 3397 and our sponsors on the back. They will be sold for $20 and hopefully will be in time for competition!

We'll continue to update on the progress we make. Competition is in two weeks now- get pumped!!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Late Night Musings

As we approach the final moments of our build season, the robot is looking awesome and ready to go. She is still yet to be named, however- that decision will be made in the exact final moments.

She can now 'vomit' the frisbees onto the floor (or onto other robots!) but cannot yet pick them up. All that's needed for that to happen, however, is the attachment of a small piece of plastic. Other than that, all we need to do is tidy up the robot to get it inspection-ready, practice driving and fine-tune the coding. And naming the robot!

Here are some pictures of our progress today!

And that's all for today, folks! 


Today's the day. The final day. The day on which we must finish the robot.

As of now, the robot is in a fully assembled state. The feeder arm is attached, the electronics are all set, and the robot can drive. The arm also moves.

We think that this will be the first year that we will be able to participate in a few practice matches at competition prior to the actual rounds. In past years we have always spent that time finishing the robot- but lo and behold, we finished the robot this year! The only thing left to do is finish programming and tweak the arm so that it can effectively pick up frisbees. Dan is working on finishing programming the cRio, and Mike, Marquise and Walter are finishing mechanical stuff. So, it's go time! Let's go RoboLions!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Few Days Left...

We're getting down to the wire here. Bag n Tag day is on Tuesday! Can't believe that 6 weeks have gone by so quickly.

To update our followers on the progress we have made:

The robot (who is yet to be named) is now able to move. Electronics are configured and Dan and Josh are working on the programming, which has some kinks to be worked out. The feeder arm is able to be attached, however, we have it unattached right now so that we can complete it and do some preliminary testing before attaching it to the bot. It is currently painted shiny gold while our frame is black. No plywood this year- thanks to students at Ranken Technical College, we have a beautiful welded aluminum frame!

Bumpers are nearly completed as well. Our bumper design captain, Marquise, came up with a great design that allows us to flip the covers from blue to red in an instant. Much easier than last year's bolted bumpers that took 15 minutes to change.

Aside from that, we're just getting ready for the competition. Ordering tshirts, spirit items and spreading the word about competition! Which, by the way, is March 15-17 at Chaifetz Arena. More info to come later!

Speaking of events, if you're a fan of musicals, our high school (University City High School in St. Louis, MO) is putting on Footloose this Friday and Saturday at 7PM on both days. Tickets available at the door. Three of our team members will be in the show! It'll be awesome so come see if you can!

More updates will come as progress are made. As for now we're just working away!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Wheels On The Bot Go Round And Round...

As you all saw with the video, our robot is now in motion. Well, to be completely correct, it is not moving right at the moment- there is work being done on it. Nathan, one of our newest (and youngest- we've got a brave 8th grader here!), is working on building a shield to protect the electronics and inner workings of the bot. He's in the midst of testing materials and angles right now, to figure out the optimum combination to protect against breakage. We've thought about using green or cloudy colored plastic and using LEDs or a blacklight on the inside of the shield to create a colored aura-type thing! It could look like kryptonite. Ok, well maybe that's just me crossing my fingers for a cool, aesthetically pleasing robot! This will be the year!

In other news, we had to break out the first aid kit for the first time. And I'm about to have a grand ol' time describing the event in thrilling detail.

Enter Christine, new freshman RoboLions member. A diligent worker, Christine takes the greatest of care when handling tools. However, on this fateful night, there was one tool which would turn out to be her greatest adversary: The file. As she filed away, the file slipped and grazed Christine's finger, ripping tiny bits of skin from her flesh. Droplets of blood began to bead on the surface.

Ok, that makes it sound a lot more dramatic than it was. It was a tiny scrape, and she slapped a BandAid on it and got right back to work, no big deal. But we did have to open the First Aid kit to get a BandAid. Exciting, this is the first time this year.

The naming of the robot is still in the works. I think an election shall be in order soon, so far the favorites are looking to be Serenity, Hammurabi, Huitzilopochtli (don't ask), Nazgul, and Fluttershy. Oh, and Nazca. I kinda want to add Galadriel to the list, if we're starting an LOTR trend here. Comment to add your ideas to the list!

There may be more posts tonight, as progress continues, so stay tuned!

Monday, February 4, 2013


As of tonight we can now drive the robot. It is looking really good.

Here is a video:

-Mr. Wuggles

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Forget Climbing Bot- it's time for some change

Well, hello, everybody. Welcome to the latest edition of Let's See What Team 3397 Is Doing Now!

Tonight, the other captains and I had a very serious meeting. The progress of the climbing mechanism is nowhere near where we wanted it to be. With the amount of time left (we are into week 4 now), we just cannot afford to be still prototyping and theorizing; it's time for action. So we're switching directives. By executive order, we have changed direction.

We're going to focus on a sort of defense mechanism, where we collect Frisbees and have a dispensing mechanism almost like the feeding slot to feed to other robots on our alliance. We have come up with a design that is fairly simple to build within a week, giving us time to test and improve and program. Worst case scenario, it doesn't work and we're no worse off than we would be if we continued to go in the direction we have been headed.

Still working out the new blog format. It's more difficult to navigate. Perhaps more changes will come later.

Aaaaaand some pictures!

 Explaining the new idea to the team

 Mentors/coaches giving input

 Current chassis!

Monday, January 28, 2013


So guys, it's time to switch things up a little. Never fear, it's still the same old Fourth Law of Robotics blog that we all know and love, now with a new and improved packaging design!

Ha, ha. In all seriousness, the design will probably remain like this until  we get complaints begging us to change it back. So enjoy. Or don't.


Chasses and bumpers and prototypes, oh my!

Chasses? Chassisses? Not sure about the plural form of the word 'chassis'...anyways!

A little update here for those of you who are interested. The basic plan for tonight is to continue to work on prototyping; we have three prototypes for climbing mechanisms in the works right now, and then an arm/scoring mechanism. It might sound like we're pretty behind due to the fact that we're still in the prototyping stage- but on the contrary, we're right on schedule. Our entire chassis is welded and secure, with wheels attached and bumpers in the works. The electronics board is nearly complete- we'd started off with a prototype board just to get our robot to drive, but we've begun to fit the board to the chassis. We've got a non-conventional shape this year. Instead of the typical rectangle, you will find our robot sporting a hexagonal, trapezoid-esque shape. Photos will be around before long.

Everything else is pretty much as normal. We hope to decide on a prototype on Wednesday, vote, and begin construction of the actual components. Nearly 4 weeks in and we're chugging right along!

Peace out!
Captain Grace

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Code of Hammurabi

My post an hour ago was joking that we weren't accomplishing much without Captain Grace, but that would be an outright lie. Dan's freshman programming apprentice, Josh, successfully wrote code enough for our prototype robot to move! It lives! Huzzah!

In the Absence of the Captain...

Although many of our team members, including Captain Grace, are away in D.C. to attend President Obama's inauguration, work continues in the Robolions lab. For example:

- We created gussets for the prototype. Thanks to Ranken for welding our chassis; pics will come later when our computers are in order.
- We enjoyed a lavish lunch of lasagna and cookies courtesy of the White household.
- We determined the reason why art schools generally don't compete in FRC.
- We completed several of our set pieces. 
- We realized the centerpiece is less of a pyramid and more of a ziggurat, or perhaps the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
- We came up with another candidate for the robot's name: Hammurabi. The best aspect of this name is that Dan Land would then be literally writing the Code of Hammurabi.

As you can see, we're still being incredibly productive while Captain Grace is touring Washington, D.C. Won't she be proud of us when she returns!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Business is Booming

The past few days have already seen a good deal of activity in and around the 3397 Robolions lab (especially as compared to last year, when we spent altogether too much time brainstorming). Captain Grace, Henry, and I arrived from musical rehearsal to find the hallway filled with teammates enjoying breaktime!

Much progress has also been made. Over the weekend, Mr. Wurst opened up the woodshop and helped us get working on our mock arena by drilling metal poles and cutting boards. With the help of mentor Rowland, work on our prototype continues. Dan Land stands ready and waiting to program our drive train, whenever it gets built. The team is already considering names for our robot (a girl this year), such as Nefertiti, Asami, Quorra II, and Shuttleworth (after Leanna Shuttleworth, the youngest British woman to climb Mount Everest)*. And our soda sales are booming!

*Also Fluttershy. Definitely an option.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Week 1 Update

Whew! Week one is done already! Can you believe it? This year's game is proving to be quite a challenge. Here are a few things we have accomplished this week:

-Basic strategy determined. We will be focusing on building a robot that can climb and deposit frisbees at the the top of the scoring pyramid, and that can then stay there until the end of the match, resulting in an extra 30 points. This strategy is very risky because if done correctly it will score us major points, but if it doesn't work, there is no other way for us to score, rendering our bot useless.

-Set up the electronics board. This year we're going with a plastic Lexan board rather than a plywood one. This makes the robot look more streamlined and sleek, and not as haphazard as in the past.

-CAD designs for the chassis. Our team CAD-er has almost completely CADed the basic chassis design. We're going with an unconventional design this year- no boxy rectangles for us!

-Programming progress. Our team programmer, Dan, has been training his apprentice, Josh and right now they are just working on testing connections and downloading the code onto the bridge. They're about to try connecting wirelessly.

-Shelves have been built. This year for competition we have two pit designers, Marquise and Addy. They have designed a fold-able shelf that has pegboard on the back so we can hang tools. The small shelf will display trophies and team pictures, and will have a TV set up running either video or picture slideshows. It's painted black and gold with paw prints- go lions!!

-Arm Design ideas. Though we have not begun prototyping yet, we have designs sketched up for claws that can lift the frisbees and clamp onto them. We also have begun designs for the climbing mechanism. More on that later.

We're working hard every day. Soon I'll write a post introducing all of our team members for this year. Peace out!

Captain Grace

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Prototype Brainstorming

FIRST things first. (ba-dum-tish!) The FRC game this year, Ultimate Ascent, is similar in several ways to last year's Rebound Rumble, but trickily different in others. As in Rebound Rumble, a 15-second autonomous period, in which robots act purely on their programming and not at the direction of human drivers, starts the match. Robots score points by propelling frisbees (not basketballs) into 1-point, 2-point, or 3-point slots, each of which are respectively higher and harder to reach. Ultimate Ascent's title comes into play in the endgame, wherein robots are challenged to climb a tower with three rungs and remain hanging there long enough to score points.

On Kickoff Day, also known as "FIRSTmas" by Walter, the team elected to try a different strategy than we normally do. Instead of trying to build a jack-of-all-trades robot, we decided to specialize on the endgame and design and build a climbing robot.

Today, Walter and Mike brought four prototype concepts before the team to vote on. The choices included: a "side hook" plan, in which the robot grasps the rung of the tower and hoists itself up; a "corner hook" plan, in which the robot would grab onto the corner of the tower and climb up diagonally; a "tow truck" plan, in which the robot would pull itself up with a winch; and an "inchworm" plan, in which an extremely complex robot would yank itself up the tower, flipping over repeatedly in an inchworm-like movement.

With each team member voting for a plan A and B, we ultimately elected to build prototypes for both the "side hook" and "corner hook" plans, and to decide from there which to utilize in our final robot.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Day 1 of Design

Just some pictures from our first day of design:

 Paul modeling the game piece this year- Frisbees!
 Addy doing some research on the game rules
Discussing strategy

FRC Kick Off 2013

Happy New Year everybody!!!

Here we are, at the St. Louis Science Center, anticipating what is sure to be another fantastically suspenseful FRC  Kickoff! Everybody's just milling around and chatting now, but at 9:30, the fun will begin- the countdown to the release of the 2013 game.

There have been many hints dropped on Bill's Blog about what the game will be this year, but as usual, no one has been able to make much sense of them. I'm sure it'll all make sense when they announce the game, however- the GDC is pretty clever like that....

I'll be updating periodically, and as soon as the game video is released (and the website accessible- it's usually bogged down by traffic!) we'll hyperlink it up at the top as per usual.

Peace out!
Captain Grace