3/14/2015 – Los Angeles Regional Day 2

Unlike the other two days, today the team had to find their own rides to the Long Beach Convention Center. Nevertheless, it was still a very early morning. When the doors finally opened at 7:30, the team followed the same routine, pit crew and drive team went to pits, while scouters and everyone else went to the stands.

The pit crew immediately went to work creating a temporary stack clamp that would work for our first match (third match of the day). We turned in the can stabilizer that was at the top of the robot inwards so it formed a triangle, and we attached some tread to the bottom. This stack clamp served its purpose in the first two matches, but on the second match, we clamped it a bit too hard, and it broke off. Luckily we had a long time in-between our second and last match to make a new, better, stronger stack clamp. We got this mechanism on, and it performed just as we wanted.

After our last match we were happy with our stacking abilities, so our focus shifted to manipulating and picking up the cans. we reserved a slot in the practice field and when our time came, we set up the floor like the actual field and began knocking over cans and picking them up. Eventually we got the motions down and we were consistently making two stacks of five capped in two minutes.

During this time, we had also begun to prepare for the alliance selections. Since we were seeded tenth, it was a difficult position since it can be uncertain whether or not we would be the ones picking. As alliance selections were under way, we found ourselves as the captain of the eighth alliance and our partners for the playoffs would be Team 207, Metalcrafters, and Team 4415, Epic Robotz.

The strategy that an alliance performs during the playoffs needs to incorporate all of the individual talents as well as techniques that are accomplished through teamwork. Our plan going into quarterfinals was for Team 207 to create stacks of three, one of their specialties, and for Team 4415 to cap each of these stacks with a recycling can. In the meantime, we would be making stacks of five with a can. Team 4415 also had a mechanism that could grab four cans from the step, something that could allow for the alliance to cap even more of our stacks and gain more points.

For each of the two quarterfinal matches, our alliance performed this strategy to the best that we could. Unfortunately, joystick failures and communication errors plagued our alliance, preventing us from reaching our maximum potential. None the less, we had a wonderful time with our partners and had a great time playing with them. When decisions were being made for who moves on to semifinals, we were ranked fifth and tied the fourth alliance on the playoff average statistic.

Looking forward, our team is even more prepared for the Ventura Regional and we can’t wait to get to play with the many other teams there. The roster is stacked with great teams!

(Thanks to Alexander Luke, our coach, for writing a quick summery of our strategic decisions)

3/13/2015 – Los Angeles Regional Day 1

The day began with another early(er) morning and another bus ride to the Long Beach arena. Once the doors opened, the pit crew immediately made their way to the pits to make a new part that will help us intake the can, without lowering our forks. The pieces were bent pieces of aluminum that would help the cans up onto our forks (like a ramp).

While that piece was being made and tested, Roupen, our welder began putting on the final touches on the spare intake. He fully utilized The Holy Cows mobile machine shop to make it.

During the matches, our robot was not performing too well, and the main problem was the fact that Centurion had to be driven so slowly, the stack holders were not performing up to expectations, and something else had to be made.

After a good days worth of qualification matches, we were ranked 6th at the event. That night, our scouts met over Google hangouts and discussed what other teams would like to see in us. We realized that all of the top teams would not want us to run our three tote autonomous (since we knock over the cans), but they would want us to be making the fastest stacks at the event. With that our priorities were set, any practice time we had, would be spent practicing lining up and making stacks.

We also knew we needed to be able to drive faster so we can make stacks faster. To do this we decided that “sandwiching” the stack in between our forks, and something hard mounted to the top was the fastest, and best solution. This mechanism had one drawback, we would be limited to stacks of 5 capped, but that was a much better alternative to loosing a capped stack of 6.

Our game plan was set for the second day.

3/12/2015 – Los Angeles Regional Practice Day

The team arrived very early to school Thursday morning (6:30 AM) to catch the bus to the Long Beach Arena. After the one hour ride there, the team promptly got in line and began the wait for the doors to open at 8:30.

Once 8:30 struck, the team split up, the pit setup, and pit crew went to the pits, while the scouts and everyone else went to the stands to claim the best seats they could. The pit crew immediately un-bagged the  robot and began replacing the carriage cross member, the constant force spring mount, and mounted the new, lighter, pneumatic system(brass fittings replaced by aluminum ones). They also mounted the new forks, and the ejector mechanism.

Once all physical modifications were made to the robot, the programming team finally got their hands on the robot to update the firmware on the robot and configure the D-Link.

After passing inspection and barely making the weight (118.5 lbs), the team began testing the robot. Everything was going great, until we realized we cannot manipulate the cans anymore because we angled the forks backwards, we needed to lower the minimum point of the carriage. We lowered the bottom limit switch, not that was not enough.

By this time, it was already 8:00 PM, and we needed to leave the pits.



3/11/2015 – Los Angeles Regional Load-in

After school on Wednesday March 11th three members of the team met up after school to drive to the convention center to unload the trailer. The plan was to leave right at 3:00, but because our new floor showed up a few minutes before we were planning on leaving, we decided it was worth delaying our departure if it meant we would have our new floor in time for the regional.

After the hour and a half drive to the Long Beach Convention Center, the load in crew immediately went to work unloading our robot and pit components into our pit.



After the load-in at the event, and a quick dinner, the remaining crew, cautiously carried the HexaWall from the testing zone to the back of the now cleared out Suburban. Once that was done, the load in crew finally got to go home, at midnight.

Post Bag Day #12 – 3/10/15 – Packing and Hacking

Lab Opening Time: 1:25 PM

Aleksandr, the head programmer, and his line up of computers.
Aleksandr, the head programmer, and his line up of computers.

With two days until the Team’s first competition, the time is high-tailing it. There is a lot that still needs to get done, including welding and manufacturing all spare/replaced parts, making the control board, putting vinyl on the trailer,and packing up the trailer.

The modular version of the button and Arduino Leonardo wiring.
The modular version of the button and Arduino Leonardo wiring.

At the beginning of the meeting, Jack, the lead of electrical and the president, was working with the electrical sub-team to wire all of the components of the control board. This included a few drilled holes, a whole bunch of wires, but mostly a lot of frustration. Jack had been working on the board all day, and was faced with a lot of difficulty when working with the Arduino Leonardo wiring. By the end of the meeting, Jack had managed to get everything up and running. One new feature the control board has this year is that everything is modular. The button panel is removable, replaceable, to continue the use of the board or to upgrade it easily.

Jack, Joshua, Alfredo. and Roupen delegating tasks for the day.
Jack, Joshua, Alfredo. and Roupen delegating tasks for the day.

While the electrical sub-team was working with the control board, Joshua, the lead of prototyping, was delegating tasks to finish the construction of the new forks.

All the while, Roupen, the head weldor, was welding together the spare intakes.

Parts being packed up for competition.
Parts being packed up for competition.

During the whole duration of the meeting, Devon and Lauren were packing up for the competition on Thursday. Anna and Karin, two business rookies, were laying claim to the vinyling of the trailer; they cleaned the trailer and placed the Disney Imagineering logos on both sides of the trailer.

At the end of the meeting, the intakes were welded (excluding the un-machined parts that we are still waiting on), the forks were made, everything was packed up, and the control board was completed.

One interesting twist to this all was the head programmer, Aleksandr, showing off SLAM which he can detail in the video below.

[this will be uploaded soon, however, videos don’t like me]

Today was crunch-time, and the Team managed to slip through with a little bit of shoving. Tomorrow, the only going-ons is Mr. Black dropping off the pit at Long Beach and high-tailing it for a good nights sleep.

Lab Closing Time: To Be Determined. We are still here.

Post Bag Day # 11 – 3/9/15 – Competition Ready

Lab Opening Time: 1:30pm

Today the whole team gathered during enrichment to discuss the expectations for the Los Angeles Regional. Mr. Hoard and Mr. Black talked about how our pit should look, what people wear what color shirts, what time the bus leaves, what to do when we first arrive and to act professional and respectful at all times. The team also received the 2015 shirts today which look great!!

Once the meeting adjourned, Devon, Cynthia, and others helped to start packing for the regional. The team is using a new organizing system called Trello to help ensure that we pack all the necessary tools and equipment. Mr. Black also worked on getting the hexa-wall display working for our pit.

Lots of dog tags to hand out at competition.
Lots of dog tags to hand out at competition.

The mechanical team worked on getting the control board put together along with some last-minute manufacturing. The CAM and CNC teams worked on pocketing the fork box tube, piston mounts and fork flaps. Spian worked on getting the 3D printed swerve module back into one piece and Roupen welded our spear intakes.

Spian working on the 3D printed swerve.
Spian working on the 3D printed swerve.

The business team worked on cutting all of the vinyl  for the sponsors and putting the vinyl on the sponsor panels. Nicole also worked on printing the team’s business card while Ani finished the last of the dog tags.

Cutting vinyl is not an easy task.
Cutting vinyl is not an easy task.

The media team worked on finalizing the chairmans award video. The scouting/web team worked on debugging and adding the final touches to the scouting system so that they can train all of the scouts tomorrow and be ready for competition on Thursday.  The next few days are going to be stressful and really exiting.

Lab Closing Time: 7:00pm

Post Bag Day #10 – 3/8/15 – [R]ejected

Lab Opening Time: 1:00 PM

Today’s Sunday Meeting had less than half of the team in attendance. Even so, the team accomplished a lot today.

Chris and Ryan, the media sub-team, were interviewing people for the Chairman’s video in the Green Screen room.

Lauren, the photographer of the team who I owe all of the amazing blog pictures to, is sorting through the last few years of pictures and arranging them into the top 50 best pictures for each year.

Joshua put together his ejector today, but still needs to manufacture a few more parts before it’s ready to be put on the robot.

The biggest thing being worked on is Pit setup (Mr. Black is the main force behind that) and making the control board.

Just days away from competition, the team is chugging along.


Lab Closing Time: 6:30 PM

Post Bag Day # 9 – 3/5/15 – Fitting Frustrations

Lab Opening Time: 3:00pm

One week away from the Long Beach Regional, the team is working hard to get everything done in time. While manufacturing was a major priority, it was slow going. Today we were working on manufacturing the female parts for the fork extensions pivots. There were a few problems with the program that slowed us down. For one thing, we were taking off too much on our z-leve rough and so when the ball end mill tried to do a planar finish, it was not coming out smoothly. After adding another z-level rough with a smaller stopover and adding a mill profile around the end for a smooth finish on the sides, the program was ready to be finished. However, when we tried to fit the male pieces into the female pieces, they would not fit because the male parts measure ½ inch and the female part gap was ½ inch. We though we had changes the male program to be 0.495 but we did not account for tool deflection. We tried to fix the problem on the female part by doing a planar finish with a ⅜ end mill. This helped but was not enough. We then tricked the program by saying that the tool was smaller than it was and tried running the part again. We got close but it still did not fit. After several attempts and because it was late, we decided that it would be best just to mill the male parts and call it a night.

Olivia worked on the ejector legs but the aluminum would not stay down on the Techno Router. Saturday, Mr. Widholm and Olivia will move the fence so that the part can be in a relatively clean area of the router.

The web team worked on getting the 50 best pictures of each year from 2011 through 2014. Chris and Ryan worked on editing the chairman’s video. Programing worked on updating software. CAD team worked on the design of the control board.

Lab Closing Time: 6:30pm

Post Bag Day #8 – 3/4/15 – Lesson Learned

Lab Opening Time: 1:25 PM

Thanks to Mr. Widholm, today the team met to continue working on need-to-do projects.

Joshua, the head of the prototyping sub-team, was starting work on manufacturing  the ejector mechanism. One valuable lesson learned today in manufacturing parts was using the proper stand-offs with the right amount of supports. When the ejector stock was placed in the machine, it wasn’t properly supported, so when we started cutting the whole piece shifted and was cut wrong.  Lesson learned.

Alexander, a member of the electrical sub-team, was continuing to hook up the new AndyMark batteries the Team got yesterday.

Olivia, my partner in crime, and Mr. Widholm were machining the intake joints and the forks for the elevator carriage on the HAAS Mini Mill.

Roupen, the student welder, was welding the robot cart. In fact, as Mr. Widholm was locking doors and turning off lights at 6, Roupen walked into the lab with the finished robot cart frame.

The next week is going to be packed with a lot to do and little time to do it.

Lab Closing Time: 6:10 PM


Post Bag Day # 7-3/3/15

Lab Opening time: 1:30pm

Photo Mar 04, 5 58 06 PM

While we enter, March, the team is getting ready for their first competition, the Long Beach Regional. In order to be ready for the regional, the CAM and CNC teams worked on manufacturing new and improved intake pivots. We were worried about the welds on the intakes and so we wanted to make sure that we had extra intakes.

Intake pivots completed
Intake pivots completed

The CAD team worked on finishing touches on the robot like adding the new ejector that Joshua is working on. His idea is to have the ejector more like a scissor kick mechanism that will push out the totes.

Photo Mar 04, 5 58 27 PM

Alexander Luke worked on wiring the new batteries that we received today from AndyMark. Roupen and Jack worked on side panels that will help to keep the totes from falling out while we are moving.

Lab Closing time: 6:45pm