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Iron Reign

Welcome to Iron Reign at Dallas ISD's Science and Engineering Magnet

Articles by section: team

Narrowing Down the Configuration of the New Vehicle

11 Apr 2020
Post 1
Awards: connect

Narrowing Down the Configuration of the New Vehicle By Bhanaviya

Introducing MXP 2: Electric Boogaloo

As we have explained in earlier posts, Iron Reign is currently involved in the process of creating a new version of the Mobile Tech xPerience vehicle, a mobile STEM classroom which we, along with our programmatic sponsor Big Thought, take to various outreach events around the greater Dallas area. Given the success of the MXP through its lifespan, we are currently moving into the stage of creating a new vehicle, for which our team will be creating a virtual design plan as well as a financial plan.

We'd like to make it clear that this 2020-2021 season, our team is not claiming any credit for the construction or events associated with the original vehicle but instead for the creation of the blueprint of the second vehicle. Now that schools all over the country are restricted to virtual learning, the best way our team can bring STEM to students across our community who lack the access to it is to move ahead with the virtual design for the new vehicle in hopes of bringing STEM in mobile fashion to them when the current COVID-19 pandemic has cleared. As such, we created a virtual model as created above of te exterior of the new vehicle. Using this student-designed plan for the new MXP, the board of directors in Big Thought were able to get a sense of our ideas for the new vehicle. Using this design, Big Thought has moved into the next stage of design, which is allowing their graphic design team to use our 3D-modelled version of the MXP to create a sketch for the design on the exterior of the vehicle . For a better sense of what this design can look like, you can refer to the image below of the design scheme for the pilot stage of the MXP.

Next Steps

Although our scope of action is limited under quarantine, access to STEM education and the technology associated with it has allowed us to move forward in designing the MXP. As such, our main focus will be narrowing down the quality of our current virtual design, and possibly move into designing the virtual floorplan. Similar to how many teams in the FIRST community have taken action to bring their knowledge of STEM to improve the quality of life in their community, our collaboration with companies like Big Thought to find a way to bring STEM to more students is our response against the current pandemic, and we hope to re-double these efforts over these next few weeks. From us here at Iron Reign Virtual HQ, we hope that everyone in the FIRST community stays safe!

Co-Hosting the Caravan CAD Challenge

08 Sep 2020
Post 2
Awards: motivate

Co-Hosting the Caravan CAD Challenge By Jose

Task: Help design a CAD Challenge game, make a reveal video for the game, judge submissions, and give feedback

Over the summer, we collaborated with FTC teams 3658 and 6964 to host the first annual Caravan CAD Challenge. The idea of a CAD Challenge is to come up with a game to release to everyone participating. From there the participants will CAD a robot, just like they would for an actual FTC robot, and submit a brief summary of how the robot should work, if it were to be physically built. The game we came up with was Rafter Rave, which involved shooting pucks and climbing a rafter. We had a total of 29 teams sign up and 14 submissions. Following the deadline for submission, we judged each robot, ranked them based on several categories, and gave out awards. This was all revealed in a premiered judging video.

One of the challenges of this past season was that we didn't get an opportunity to close it off properly owing to the pandemic. Hosting a CAD challenge in coalition with other FTC teams allowed us to not only connect with other teams who may have experienced the same abrupt ending, but also allowed us to provide an opportunity to all participating teams to acclimate to the likely virtual season by modelling a robot. If the season does end up being virtual, this is something a good number of teams would need to have under their belt if they were unable to meet in-person just as our team could not. A CAD Challenge not only speaks to the design elements of an FTC season, but also the necessity to plan ahead and be flexible with a virtual environment as well as the need to connect with other teams in the FIRST Community.

Next Steps

We hope that this CAD Challenge allowed all teams to better envision and address their engineering plans in this upcoming season as well as gave all teams an opportunity to form new connections with other teams around them. We wish all teams best of luck for the new season ahead!

Connecting with Motus Labs

08 Sep 2020
Post 3
Awards: connect

Connecting with Motus Labs September 08, 2020 By Bhanaviya

Reaching out to Motus Labs September 08, 2020

Task: Reach out to potential sponsors in light of the 2020-2021 season

Earlier in the summer, we learnt of an engineering group whose focus lies in innovative robotic gear drive designing and manufacturing. Prior to the start of this year's game season, we had sent Motus Labs an email in an effort to present our robotics program, team and robot to them and better understand how a professional robotics company operates (especially during the current pandemic). This week, we recieved a response back!

In the email response, a representative from Motus Labs conveyed their interest to meet with us and discuss opportunities for sponsorship and to try out their new gear like the M-drives. As the younger generation for robotics, we are interested to meet with professionals in the field - particularly since they are a Dallas-based group like our team is. We have currently planned to schedule a time with them in January of 2021 to discuss any potential opportunities for mentoring.

Next Steps

We are incredibly thankful to Motus Labs for giving us the opportunity to discuss FIRST and our robotics team with them. As an up and upcoming robotics company in the Dallas region, we believe this meeting can help us further expand our robotics program from robotics groups to corporations as well. We look forward to meeting with them in these upcoming months, whether that may be virtually or in-person.

FTC 2020-2021 Game Reveal

12 Sep 2020
Post 4
Awards: motivate and connect

FTC 2020-2021 Game Reveal By Ben B, Jose, Anisha, Shawn, Bhanaviya, Justin, Mahesh, and Trey

Task: Watch the FTC Challenge Reveal event live

Game Reveal:

Today was a significant day; the FTC 2020-2021 challenge was unveiled. However, this year was very different from previous years, where we would attend a local kickoff event. Due to global circumstances, only a couple of members met in person while the rest of the team had to meet online. We joined a video call and watched the live event as a group.

One of the major issues we foresee is ensuring accuracy in the launching mechanism. The clearance for the highest goal is significantly smaller than that of the lower 2 goals. We will prioritize launching the rings into the highest goal since it awards 2 more points than the lower goal. Because of the small clearance, if the driver or robot made an error and the ring fell into the goal below it, the other team will be rewarded those 4 points. Accuracy will also be necessary for knocking down the power-shot targets during the endgame since each target will award 15 points. Missing one of these targets would be a waste of precious time during the game's final moments.

We also discussed how we would aim the launcher. One method would rely on a targeting system that would automatically horizontally and vertically align the angle of the launcher based on the robot's position relative to the goal. This would be done through code and would be controlled through a preset. A second method would be based around the GPS location of the robot. When a button is pressed, the robot would go to the shooting line directly across from the goal. By doing this, the launcher's angle could be predefined and the only action that would have to be done is launching the rings. The GPS position where the robot would have to travel would be calculated at the start of the game based upon the robot's starting location. The driver would have to go the approximate position and a preset would take care of the rest. The launcher could either be attached to an arm to angle the robot, or we could utilize our “superman wheel” which has been developing over the past 2 seasons.

This season also comes with some unique challenges, one of which is the playing field's size. With our current setup, we can only fit the field and cannot accommodate the goal and human players. Luckily for us, remote events will only take place using half a field.

Next Steps:

Our next steps will be to conduct experiments with the rings to determine how we could construct a launcher. While we don’t currently have the foam rings, we can 3D print a prototype. We will also have further to discuss strategy and model different types of launchers.

Dealey Presentation Preparation

28 Oct 2020
Post 5
Awards: Motivate

Dealey Presentation Preparation By Ben, Mahesh, Jose, Anisha, Shawn, Bhanaviya, Paul, Cooper, and Trey

Task: Prepare for our presentation to Dealey International School

On Saturday October 10 we received an email from the robotics coach at Dealey International School. Dealey is a public school in North Texas that is a primary feeder into our high school, making this an important long-term recruitment opportunity. This year they have started 2 FTC teams for the 7th and 8th graders and would like our team to join a Zoom meeting and discuss what our team does, explain the FIRST philosophy of Gracious Professionalism, and answer any of their questions.

We decided it would be best to give a presentation about our team and FIRST then answer questions. Over the course of the week we have been discussing what we specifically wanted to present and put together a PowerPoint covering those topics. The presentation will cover how the Gracious Professionalism FIRST Tech Challenge operates robot competition, engineering journal, and both community and professional outreach. We will talk about the various award categories and what they mean, how to write an engineering notebook and what the team/engineering sections need to contain. We will then present an overview of the previous season’s outreach to Deloitte, Colin Allred, and DPRG. Then, we will discuss Iron Reign’s prototyping process and how we go from ideas to creating a CAD model to manufacturing with 3D print and CNC. We will then transition to the programming pipeline. The programming team will explain how all the components are connected, how they are coded, and how we use vision. The presentation will be concluded with a statement about the 10-year history of the team and how we hope they will be joining our program in the future.

Today we joined a zoom call after school to distribute slides, practice presenting a few times, and troubleshoot and camera and microphone issues. Each subteam will present their respective specialties and each person will present around 2-3 slides. We aimed to keep the presentation under 25 minutes to allow enough time for questions. After practicing the presentation a few times and rearranging the order to be more consistent, we felt we were prepared to present to Dealey tomorrow.

Next Steps:

Each person will review their slides again tonight and before we present to ensure they are prepared. They will also make sure their cameras and microphones are still functional and ensure they have an appropriate background. We will also have to keep an eye out for the meeting instructions tomorrow.

Dealey Presentation

29 Oct 2020
Post 6
Awards: Motivate

Dealey Presentation By Ben, Mahesh, Jose, Anisha, Shawn, Bhanaviya, Paul, Cooper, and Trey

Task: Give a presentation to rookie teams at Dealey International School

Today we gave a presentation to rookie FTC teams about FIRST and our team over Zoom. We began by introducing ourselves individually by saying our name, subteam, and Townview school and then jumped into the presentation. The presentation took about 30 minutes and went well overall with some minor rambling. Afterward we split our team into breakout rooms with 1 programmer, 1 modeler, and 1 builder and evenly distributed the rookie team into those breakout rooms to ask questions. This was done to give each team member more time with each rookie member and allow them to ask more questions. After 20 minutes we ended the breakout rooms and answered any more general questions.

We also wanted to discuss followup opportunities to help the team in the future. We talked about a possible mentorship relationship where some Iron Reign members would go to the Dealey lab and help educate the team on different things like 3D modeling and printing or programming. This would be especially helpful to them because they recently got new 3D printing technology. We also discussed ways to do virtual mentorship through Zoom, which would also include educating them on different aspects of the engineering process. We agreed to let them discuss it as a team and let us know what would be best for them.

We felt that the meeting was very successful because the presentation was great and they had lots of questions and showed a lot of interest. We also spent some time getting to know them. In the end, we were able to reach about 20 of their members and had a few follow-up emails from the members.

Next Steps:

We would like to eventually have some follow-up meetings with the team and discuss their progress and hold some programming, modelling, and journal classes.

Recruitment Update

31 Oct 2020
Post 7
Awards: motivate and outreach

Recruitment Update By Bhanaviya

Task: Plan for sustainability goals

Owing to the ongoing pandemic, our recruitment goals are not similar to that of previous seasons. One of our bigger concerns is that it will be harder to teach rookie members about our program and FTC in a virtual setting - especially if we support 3 teams like last season. So, in order to ensure that our program remains sustainable, we opted for a new recruitment strategy where we consolidate our 2 rookie and 1 JV team into a single Junior Varsity team.

Structure-wise, Iron Reign will remain the varsity team, and as such, will be responsible for tutoring and assisting the other teams, as well as other organizational decisions. Then, Imperial Robotics, Iron Core and Iron Golem will now be consolidated into one JV team, and be the intermediate training ground. We believe that this team will serve as a good platform for the younger members on the SEM Robotics program to understand what it means to be on a FTC team. As of now, we anticipate that there will be 12 members in this team. So far, all of our recruits are motivated and show great potential for the future of our robotics program.

We will deliver tutoring updates and joint outreach events on this blog, as well as our usual content. Everything claimed in this engineering notebook will be Iron Reign (6832) only, and we will hold the same standard of separation to the other teams.

Next Steps

For ongoing tournaments and eliminations, we will recompose new teams of the most promising members. Our goal has been to ensure that the Iron Reign Robotics program is sustainable for years to come and with our 2 teams, we are confident that we will be able to achieve this. By next season, we hope to either be out of the pandemic or have adopted a good ryhthm for working virtually and hope to expand our recruitment design.

Presentation Prep-Run

12 Jan 2021
Post 8
Awards: inspire

Presentation Prep-Run By Anisha and Bhanaviya

Task: Practice the presentation prior to the PvC Scrimmage on Saturday

Iron Reign will be participating in our first competitive event of the year at the PvC scrimmage. One of the submissions we needed for this scrimmage was a recorded version of our judged presentation. A stark contrast to previous seasons, the virtual nature of this year required us to be less extemperaneous at least when it came to presentations like this. We started out by building the actual presentation for this year and then assigning slides. Another difference was that our robot wasn't actually complete - since we were more used to building presentations for qualifiers, we usually do not anticipate the need to create a presentation with an unfinished robot (but there's a first time for everything!). As such, we needed to focus our presentation on the iterative nature of our design and on our future plans as the season progresses.

Next, we needed to gather the whole team to run the presentation. Another significant difference was how we actually ran the presentation. In past years, we would meet in-person to practice the presentation but this year, all we needed was to find a time to meet virtually to make it happen. One downside to this is that usually, we provide our judges prototypes of our earlier designs and unorthodox materials considered for the final design (oven mitts, ice-sube trays, etc.) but with the virtual format, this is no longer a possibility. On the other hand, this means that our live robot demonstration is no longer limited to the constraints of a judging room. Since we have access to our field while we present, we can show our audience our robot in action by making full use of the game elements such as the goal posts.

Next Steps

Overall, we were able to successfully record our presentation. While timing is something we need to be mindful of, we expect to fine-tune this as the season progresses along with our actual presentation itself.

DPRG Virtual Meeting

26 Jan 2021
Post 9
Awards: think and connect

DPRG Virtual Meeting By Bhanaviya, Jose, Trey, Paul, and Cooper

Task: Present our flywheel launcher to the Dallas Personal Robotics Group

Every year, Iron Reign presents our robot or standout subsystems to the Dallas Personal Robotics Group (or DPRG) - a group of professional robotics enthusiasts based here in Dallas. The DPRG are an organization in Dallas who have monthly meetings for robotics projects In past seasons, we've given them presentations about our seasonal progress in build and code. In an earlier post, we detailed the introduction of our ring launcher - the Flywheel Launcher. Initially, we had only gotten past the CAD design for the launcher, as well machining the plates and 3D-printing its nylon (which we needed to improve the 'gription' of the launcher. But today, we were able to begin the actual assembly and testing of launcher - and we were able to do all of it live on a virtual meeting with DPRG! A link to this presentation is here.

We presented to an audience of around 18. We started off by giving them an introduction into this year's FIRST Tech Challenge game, as well as what goal specifically we were intending to attain with the flywheel launcher. For reference, the flywheel launcher consists of a spinning wheel sandwhiched between two custom-machined plates and as it the robot intakes rings, the spin of the wheels ejects rings with enough force to get it into the goal post. We started off by explaining how the CAD of the design progressed. Considering the multi-staged nature of this subsystem, it required 3 CAD sessions total and we were able to show DPRG each of these stages as well as how we went about the custom-machining of the parts.

Next, we were able to discuss the ballistics calculations that this design inspired. In our previous two posts, we discussed the iteration of an equation we developed to model the inital velocity, muzzle velocity, RPM, and rotations/seconds of a ring launched from this flywheel, taking into account its circumference in order to determine the ideal angle of launch as well as how the PID values of the HD HEX motor on the flywheel needed to be tuned. Below is the slide from our presentation containing these values. Our ideal range for the horizontal distance of the robot is between 2-2.5m; this being said, we calculated all our values based on this range. Our equations were: Vertical: v0 = (0.47 - 0.5(-a)(t^2))/sinθ(t/2)) and Horizontal: v0 = (xF - 0.5(-a)(t^2))/cosθ (t/2)) While we couldn't perform a sanity check of these calculations at the time of their presentation, we found values from the average velocity of a frisbee to test the accuracy of our values.

Finally, as this was ongoing, Paul and Cooper were able to assemble and perform the first-ever launch of our flywheel launcher! Since this subsystem had already been pre-modelled with all the necessary plates pre-machined, they were able to complete its assembly and test within the 40 minutes of our presentation. While the actual video of the first launch can be found on DPRG's video of the presentation, a video of a launch recorded soon after our meeting can be found here:

At the end of this presentation, we were able to get tons of valuable feedback from DPRG - particularly about how to improve our testing process of the flywheel launcher. We anticipate that the equation we modelled earlier and those values are subject to change as our robot design becomes more sohpisticated and as we add more sources of error to the machine itself - in order to eliminate these confounding variables contributing to the launch and isolate the one that has the most effect (which we predict is the angle of launch itself), DPRG suggested that we use a Design of Experiments chart. A Design of Experiments chart is a system of organization that can be applied to virtually any machine to reflect the different variables that might affect its efficacy. More specifically, it identifies which variable had the greatest impact on a function and rank the variables in order of their influence. Applying a DOE to our flywheel launcher calculations would streamline our ability to identify which variable could have the greatest impact on our launch as we vary it by distance of launch, angle of launch, type of motor used, etc.

Next Steps

We are incredibly grateful to DPRG for giving us the opportunity to present our team and flywheel launcher to them for feedback. Our immediate next steps include continuing the testing of our flywheel launcher to see just how much we can improve driver control. Part of this includes fine-tuning our calculations and as we get deeper into the testing phase, we can check whether these equations work as well as they do in theory by using the DOE to identify any confounding variables. We plan on sending DPRG an updated version of our equation and calculations as we continue to periodically test and fine-tune our launcher.

DPRG Virtual Meeting 2/9

02 Feb 2021
Post 10
Awards: think and connect

DPRG Virtual Meeting 2/9 By Bhanaviya and Mahesh

Task: Present our flywheel launcher to the Dallas Personal Robotics Group

2 weeks ago, Iron Reign presented our Ringslinger 9000 - our launcher, for brevity - to the Dallas Personal Robotics Group. For reference, Dallas Personal Robotics Group, or DPRG, are a group of robot enthusiasts and engineers who host weekly meetings to discuss personal projects in robotics. This meeting, Iron Reign had the opportunity to present our progress in build, code and documentation to DPRG based on the feedback we receieved from them from 2 weeks ago. You can find a link to our post detailing our first presentation with them this season here.

We presented to an audience of around 20. We started off by giving them an update of our trajectory calculations. The last time we presented, we showed DPRG the initial version of our calculations which were meant to depict the trajectory of a ring launched from the Ringslinger 9000 when it was a certain distance away from the goal posts. Both the changes to our initial calculations as well as our takeaways from the first DPRG meet are in an earlier post in the Engineering Section of our journal. Using feedback from DPRG on our initial equation as well as what we could do to make it more accurate, we were able to generate a new set of calculations and equation, both of which we could show to DPRG. We also provided them with links to the corresponding blog posts which you can find here.

Next, we focused on showing them the code and build changes that occurred over the week. Since the last time we presented, we could show DPRG the assembly of our launcher as well as its very first launch, this time, we could show them multiple test shots of the launcher we had recorded over the week in slow motion. You can see one of the videos we showed to DPRG below. DPRG members provided us with suggestions to improve the trajectory of our launcher including checking for ring damage and showing our equation and calculations to an expert in the field for review. One of the more fun takeaways of this meeting was that we were also able to put our various ideas for a launcher name up for vote and we settled on the Ringslinger 9000 thanks to input from DPRG. All references to our launcher will, from this point onwards, be referred to as the Ringslinger 9000.

Next Steps

We are incredibly grateful to DPRG for giving us the opportunity to present our team for feedback. Our immediate next steps include continuing the testing of our flywheel launcher to see just how much we can improve driver control. Part of this includes ramping up our testing progression as we get closer to the qualifier. We plan to meet with DPRG after our first qualifier to present our progress and performance as we seek to improve our robot and launcher capabilities.

Recruitment in Senior Season 2021

06 Jul 2021
Post 11
Awards: motivate

Recruitment in Senior Season 2021 By Bhanaviya

Task: Decide plans for expansion and recruitment strategies

For the first time in 11 years, Iron Reign had a no-recruitment year, owing to the pandemic, and the difficulty of introducing new recruits to an event which is not usually remote. However, now that all of our members are upperclassmen and since this upcoming season - Freight Frenzy - will be the final one for most of our team members, we have to ramp it up (puntentional). So, this summer, we have been discussing new methods to increase recrtuitment and the following participation as our school year transitions from remote to in-person.

For all of its lifetime, Iron Reign has been a school-sponsored program. This is a tradition we intend to keep and we've specifically been looking at recrtuitment efforts in our home school - School of Science and Engineering - as well as our sister school - School for the Talented & Gifted. Over the summer, TAG is having a club fair which we currently have plans to participate in. Following this, we plan to go the traditional recruitment route with posters galore. Mainly, we want to ensure that before our graduation, we are able to set up a proper feeder system to keep our program running past our (high school) life-time.

One major difference is that this year, we plan to go with only one feeder team - FTC 3734 - rather than 3 feeders, which has been our practice in yearss where we are pressed for recruitment. This mostly has to do with how sustainable we can keep our group - fewer teams means we are less concerned about resources and instead can work to individually improve our two teams and expend energy on smaller elements of each time. This does mean, however, that we will be taking on fewer personnel and therefore, our "tryouts" process could be more competitive based on how much interest we've garnered. This process generally consists of putting new recruits into a smaller "group" (not necessarily a team) and looking at their ability to work one another and/or their willingness to learn new skills.

Next Steps

With school starting in a week, our primary goal is to get the robot in working condition for robot demo for the TAG club fair this week, and then build up an interest form that we will put on our website and display to school-based websites the underclassmen use. Based on how the form fares, we will make a more concrete decision on how many members we want to take and what kind of sub-skills we need for both the growth of this season and the next one. Our ultimate goal (puntentional part two) is to ensure that our team can be sustainable past our generation. As our time on the team and program ends, we want to ensure that we are adequately set-up to welcome and help acclimatize new members so FIRST Tech Challenge and our program is as fulfilling for them as it was for us.

Wattever Meeting

31 Jul 2021
Post 12
Awards: outreach and motivate

Wattever Meeting By Trey, Anisha, Bhanaviya, Shawn, Ben, Mahesh, and Cooper

Task: Meet with the team Wattever and give insight

This Saturday, all of Iron Reign met with team 16296, Wattever, to discuss how the Iron Reign robotics program works and give them a detailed insight into how they can improve their own operations. The members of Iron Reign gave them a quick tour of our space from the first floor to the second and then had a long conversation on the base floor shortly after. We answered questions and offered insight into how we operate. Our main advice consisted of making sure that every team member gets a chance to have a voice in the journal, to prioritize custom parts, improve operations in CAD, etc. We tried to help them in ways that might not have been available for an online meet, seizing the opportunity of meeting in person. We gave them insight into how our program works. That meant that they got to see what works and what doesn’t which gave us an opportunity to show good examples of Iron Reign’s ability to innovate and quickly prototype but also show them how we are a bad example of organization and time management. With this, they could imagine what the “perfect” FTC team looks like and better make decisions to become ever closer to it.

Of course, any in-person meeting is a fantastic opportunity to bond and share common interests and this inevitably happened. The conversation in the main room of the workshop was as engaging as it was insightful. The teams talked together for what seemed like minutes but was in fact, several hours. From this meeting, Iron Reign certainly strengthened its relations with Wattever and had some fun, improving team morale and helping a relationship that contributes to team sustainability.

Next Steps:

With this being a pre-season event, there isn’t a straightforward next step. We would like to have another meeting with Wattever at some point and continue to grow our relationship with them. In addition, our summer projects need to continue so that we can be better prepared for the new season when it starts. Other than that, the watters ahead look clear!

Club Fair 2021-2022

05 Sep 2021
Post 13
Awards: motivate

Club Fair 2021-2022 By Bhanaviya

Task: Welcome New Recruits!

Thank you for your interest in Iron Reign robotics! Please fill out the following interest form. Check out the rest of this article for more on our robot!

CONNECTions through the season

02 Apr 2022
Post 14
Awards: connect

CONNECTions through the season By Anuhya, Bhanaviya, Shawn, and Ben

Task: Getting in some serious drive practice at Woodrow

This past year, we connected with a lot of professional engineers that helped us optimize our robot performance and capabilities. We got a lot of helpful advice from professionals in our field as well as opportunities to learn more about the field itself. This way we have some insight as to what we will be able to do in the future, when we’re no longer in FTC.

Dallas Personal Robotics Groups

21 adult mentors, 4 hours total
In the first zoom session, on December 6, 2021, we identified the gap in time between when the swerve wheel changes direction and spins. This was also the first live demonstration of the robot as well as the expanding mode, or the “reach”. In the second zoom season on February 8, 2022, we discussed solving the tipping over problem through the usage of counter-balances, training wheels and limiting wheel acceleration.

Texas Instruments

1 test engineer mentor, 1 hour total
On November 24, 2021, we showed the first drive of our hybrid differential-swerve robot and we discussed tensile tests to improve our robot’s durability.

NVIDIA

1 adult mentor, 1 hour total
NVIDIA is a computer systems design services company. On January 17, 2022, we discussed image processing, radar and object detention to improve the distance sensor feature on our gripper with them. The distance sensor feature auto-dumps the bucket.

Monash Nova Rover

2 adult mentors, 1.5 hours total
Monash Nova Rover is a college robotics program based in Monash University, Australia. On January 31, 2022, we discussed unpressurised wheel/tire designs. Their wheel design inspired our current gothic interleaved arch design which is made entirely out of custom 3D-printed parts.

US Congressional Representative

32nd District TX Rep. Colin Allred
On January 27, 2022, we discussed FTC and Iron Reign’s work in STEP education and we urged for the passage of a bill which improves access to STEM programs in rural education districts. This bill was passed this year and Iron Reign was attributed as one of the reasons Representative Allred voted to pass.

Bell Helicopter, Lockheed Martin, Design Connect Create

4 adult mentors, 3 hours total
On July 31, 2022, we worked with engineers from these companies and delivered a joint presentation about avenues to STEM careers through school to 40 high school girls.

Deloitte

2 adult mentors, 0.5 hours total
On February 23, 2022, we discussed our game strategy and sustainability plan for the current season. This was also the first time our rookie members communicated directly with engineers through our program.

Last Practice Before UIL!

07 Apr 2022
Post 15
Awards: journal

Last Practice Before UIL! By Anuhya, Georgia, Bhanaviya, Ben, Mahesh, Gabriel, Aarav, Trey, Shawn, and Leo

Our Last Meeting Before UIL!

This marks our final competition of the Freight Frenzy season.

Getting in our final drive practice

Trey, Georgia, Ben and Gabriel got in their last couple hours of drive practice at the RoboDojo. Knowing this was our last time we would be able to practice in our home field, we made sure that we knew exactly what we would be doing at UIL. Mahesh was cleaning up the code, tuning up the arm and getting it so that when you press dump, it goes up and then goes down so it doesn’t run into the shipping hub.

Yesterday's meeting

Yesterday, Trey and Georgia got a lot of drive practice. They tested the robot with the sizing cube to make sure that it fits within the regulations. Trey also installed a grasp rivet on the bucket which allows the distance sensor wire to go through the pivot point so it doesn’t tangle and so the bucket’s auto dump works. The bucket’s auto dump wasn’t working because the distance sensor’s wire couldn’t be plugged in without getting tangled. The grasp rivet helped the wire go through the pivot point without it breaking, so we could use the distance sensor seamlessly.

Packing for UIL

We had to pack up all the necessities for the UIL trip. We worked on ensuring that we were fully prepared for success at the UIL competition and we tried to foresee any unexpected circumstances and prepare for them. We were fully ready to stock up the bus tomorrow morning before heading for Houston.

Dallas City of Learning at Frontiers of Flight

06 Aug 2022
Post 16
Awards: journal, connect, and motivate

Dallas City of Learning at Frontiers of Flight By Aarav, Anuhya, Gabriel, Trey, Vance, Leo, and Georgia

Task: Connecting with the communoity through the Frontiers of Flight

This morning, Iron Reign demoed at the Dallas City Learning event at the Frontiers of Flight Museum, which had over 550 attendees. This fair featured STEAM activities from local organizations and the museum, along with local industry professionals.

At this event, we demonstrated our previous year’s robot, The Reach, and its capabilities on the field to the public and industry professionals from Waymo. Waymo is a subsidiary of Google that focuses on autonomous driving in order to transform lives in a safe and effective manner. We were able to talk to them about our robot and get small bits of feedback on its design and code. Here, we are both able to motivate the community while also connecting with industry professionals.

Additionally, we also engaged in a LEGO Mindstorms robotics activity with young children where they were able to build and code LEGO robots and then battle each other’s robots. This should help spark interest in children about the world of STEM and possibly motivate them to consider it in the future.

Recruiting at Flight School

10 Aug 2022
Post 17
Awards: journal

Recruiting at Flight School By Aarav, Anuhya, Gabriel, Leo, and Georgia

Task: Recruit new members at the TAG Flight School

Earlier this afternoon, at TAG's flight school event for new freshmen, Iron Reign had a club booth for all the new freshmen to check out. There was a quick recruitment presentation for all the people who showed interest. Potential members also received information about the first meeting at our offsite location. Recruitment efforts like these are important to fill up our sister teams Iron Core and Pandemonium and help ensure the sustainability and longevity of the Iron Reign program. With a decent amount of the current iron Reign team being incoming seniors, it is important to keep recruiting potential members who can move up the ranks and eventually replace those who graduate.

Next Steps

The next steps would be to have all the new members attend the informational meeting offsite and be divided among our sister teams if they do commit to the program. Further recruitment efforts at SEM would also be welcome.

FLYSET Workshop

20 Aug 2022
Post 18
Awards: journal

FLYSET Workshop By Anuhya, Gabriel, Trey, Vance, Leo, and Aarav

Task: Give a presentation at the FLYSET Workshop

At the FLYSET Workshop, hosted by team 8565, Technicbots, and team 20313, Mustang Robotics, we were tasked with introducing our remote controlled excavator, Mechavator, to the advance track attendees.

Gabriel was tasked with making the presentation and script for the workshop, in which we would also include teasers about our video, Duck Hunt. Each of us were given certain slides to memorize and learn everything about, so we would all have enough experience to answer any and all questions about the Mechavator. The Mechavator was our project over the summer, and we were very excited to introduce it to the FTC community.

Reflections

As we reflect back on our presentation earlier, we have come to the consensus that the delivery was alright. However, we recognized that we didn't make our presentation for the audience. Since we were presenting for the advanced track, we should have gone more in depth with more technical aspects of creating the Mechavator, such as coding the Mechavator and the GPS RTK system. We only had 15 minutes for a presentation about a concept that hasn't been tried within FTC before, so we had to condense our content and this was the best outcome we could have hoped for. Nevertheless, most people enjoyed the presentation, because it was introducing a fresh idea of how robotics could be implemented. The presentation overall went well, and we connected the content from slide to slide seamlessly.

Next Steps

Our next steps are to post the videos where we showcase our Mechavator, as well as a parody of the FTC reveal videos. Unfortunately, we no longer have the Mechavator, but it's legacy will forever be a part of Iron Reign Robotics.

Interest Meeting

07 Sep 2022
Post 19
Awards: journal

Interest Meeting By Anuhya, Aarav, Georgia, Gabriel, Vance, Leo, and Trey

Our Interest Meeting at TMC

To gain more members for our sister teams, Team 15373, Iron Core, and Team 3734, Pandemonium, we held an interest meeting at Townview Magnet Center earlier today. It was crucial to get more members so we could continue the Iron Reign legacy for the future years, as our members are all from our sister teams.

Our new sponsor, Mr.Florczak, kindly let us use one of his rooms to host our interest meeting. We had an incredible turnout from all the grades, and we're all looking forward to forming new relationships with the new members of our team. We gave a presentation on what FTC is about and what an incredible opportunity joining this robotics team will be. We explained how our team works and showed them our accomplishments, including the Mechavator. The new recruits were very curious about Iron Reign Robotics, so we happily answered all their questions. We also presented our robot from the most recent season, The Reach, and demonstrated the innovative design. After we had finished everything scripted, we all split off to get to know all our new teammates.

Next Steps

The official kick off for the new game, Power Play, is happening this coming Saturday. The first thing we have to do is organizing the RoboDojo so it's robot-ready, and making sure the team, including the new members, are prepared for the new season.

Season Reveal

10 Sep 2022
Post 20
Awards: journal

Season Reveal By Anuhya, Aarav, Georgia, Gabriel, Vance, and Trey

The Season Reveal of 2022-2023's Game: Power Play!

Today was the season's official kick off the 2022-2023 game, Power Play! However, Gabriel, one of our members, gave a wonderful keynote speech, taking inspiration from Steve Jobs, for the reveal of our Mechavator.

Initial Thoughts

Our first thoughts when we saw the new game, which is about capping yellow poles mounted on springs throughout the game field, was that we would have fewer options when it came to innovative designs. We also knew we would need to read the game manuals very thoroughly, memorizing small details so we knew exactly what the rules were and so we wouldn't have any issues with inspection in competitions. One of the main challenges would be getting a mechanism which would be able to grab the game pieces and place them onto the tallest poles, which are 30 inches in height. This is 12 inches more than the tallest height our robot is permitted to be at the starting position, meaning we would have to make a collapsible mechanism, such as a linear slide. We also need a method of picking up the game pieces which doesn't require too much precision so our drivers have more freedom. We are experimenting with beaters as well as different shapes of claws so we have a variety of options.

Next Steps

We will begin working on making a robot for Robot in 2 Days, which will be a base robot we will build on and adapt so it will be usable throughout the season. This is a way for us to brainstorm our ideas into a functional robot and see it in action.

Robot in 2 Days

11 Sep 2022
Post 21
Awards: journal

Robot in 2 Days By Anuhya, Aarav, Georgia, Gabriel, Vance, Trey, and Leo

Our First Ideas: Robot in 2 Days!

Our Ideas with Build

As a base robot, we started with an 18 inch cubic frame. This was the frame we'd most easily be able to modify and build upon as we progressed further into the year. For an initial brainstorming session, our Robot in Two Days would let us get some ideas into place which we could then bring up to our standard and innovate on.

First, we noticed that our motor placement would make it harder to retrieve any of the cones. We knew we would need a mechanism to bring the cones up at varying heights to deposit on top of the poles, so we decided on using a gripper and linear slides. We moved all the motors back to create space in the front for our linear slide and gripper. We also had to clear up any obstructions, such as beams, control hubs, our expansion hub and battery to make some more space. We attached the control hub, expansion hub, and battery to the back of the robot. We fixed inconsistencies in the frame, such as misalignment in beams, to improve the stability and quality of construction. Working on wire management was cumbersome, but necessary, so our robot would be able to get as many points as possible without getting tangled up in wires.

System for Intake

Because the highest beams are 30 inches, we designed a linear slide which can reach a maximum height of 30 inches. This means it will be able to score on all the poles: low, medium, or high. The linear slide was attached to the middle of the robot, in the space which was just cleared out. We also made a pair of tweezers which would help grab game elements from the top and latch on inside the game elements. These were then attached to an angle control servo, which would make it easier to grab the cones and also increase the reach height slightly.

Because we needed more accuracy, we used a flexible material to make a funnel to better intake our game elements. We had to fix and align the funnel a few times for greater efficiency. Next, we got to wiring up the motor for the actual lift. We realized that the linear slides stick out of the sizing cube by a 1/2 inch, but we purposefully ignored the problem because we'll have more time to get the technicalities correct by our first league meet.

Finally, we covered all the sharp corners of our robot with gaff tape and added the LED panels we're using for team markers.

First Implementation of Code

Our team has a lot of new coders this year, so we spent most of this time getting used to the interface and re-examining and interpreting code from past years which we could then use as a template. However, we got all the motors and servos to work, as well as coding the Mecanums to navigate the game field.

Meeting Log 9/24

24 Sep 2022
Post 22
Awards: journal

Meeting Log 9/24 By Aarav, Anuhya, Georgia, Gabriel, Trey, and Leo

1. Game strategy 2. Tombot as sparring partner. 3. Gripper Designs. 4. New recruit build teams.

Game Strategy

Iron Reign engaged in an exercise to better understand the game and create an optimal strategy when multiple robots are on the playing field. Two team members were blindfolded and acted as “robots,” while two others were the “driver” and voiced instructions. The blindfolded members followed their instructions and effectively played the game. This helped us better understand how the game evolved and the best ways to score points efficiently.

With the season coming up quickly and the first league meets scheduled for about a month away, we needed to prepare robots for competition and help the recruits begin.

Fixing up Tombot

One of the critical action points was fixing up Tombot, one of our older competition robots that utilized a linear-slide crane to score pieces at high altitudes. Tombot could potentially be used as a competition partner to simulate gameplay better and improve drive practice. However, TomBot had a couple of issues that needed to be resolved. Specifically, the Omni wheels at the ends of the chassis were getting caught in the junctions, so we raised them to allow for cleaner movement. We also fixed a loose chain that kept coming off and practiced driving around the poles and over the junctions.

New Recruits Progress

Next, the new recruits started working the chassis for their root, using a mecanum-based drivetrain and vs-shaped chassis. They also split into two teams and started building prototypes of their cone gripper. The first prototype(shown below) uses a conventional gripper that wraps around the cone from both sides and picks it up. Driven by a single servo, it uses two gears to move the two gripper parts.

The second prototype currently only has the two sides of the gripper, which use metal pieces and rubber bands to wrap around the cone. The new recruits also started working on the chassis for their robot, which uses the metal REV rails and a mecanum drivetrain. They were able to conceptualize it and started cutting the REV rails to the correct lengths for assembly.

Iron Reign Gripper

Iron Reign began modeling potential grippers for testing, including designs that packed up the cones from the top song with a few to grab the cones from the side. A greater variety of options will be helpful when creating the robot. In addition, work began on a cone-adjusting mechanism to right fallen cones and adjust the position of picked-up ones to score them properly.

Code Development

A few recruits interested in coding were taught the basics of programming the robots with Java, and our senior coders created basic mecanum and tank drive code for the teams to use. This should help us get a head start on coding and better help the rookie teams later in the season.

Next Steps

The next steps for the rookie teams would be to start building the chassis, attaching additional components, and continuing to develop their grippers. For Iron Reign, our next steps are continuing to design and prototype the gripper iterations and optimizing TomBot.

Overall Progress From the Past Two Weeks

16 Oct 2022
Post 23
Awards: journal

Overall Progress From the Past Two Weeks By Anuhya, Georgia, Gabriel, Vance, and David

Tasks:
1. Working on path following with Code
2. Creating prototypes to optimize the Build design
3. Gaining experience with 3D Modeling using Fusion 360

Code

Our main coders, Vance and David, have continued working on reqriting the code base to make it easier to understand. We have many new recruits on our sister teams who are interested in learning how to code, so a lot of time has been spent on making the code base more user-friendly.

One major issue we were having is that there was a lag between operating the robot and the robot function. While scouring the code to find and address the problem, we noticed that there was a 1 second loop time. By eliminating this loop time, which may have initially been added to add a buffer period, our robot began to work much faster and was far easier for our drivers to operate. We also added custom PIDs for the turret and crane, giving us smoother movement with controlled speeds.

The coders are also working on using different methods of path folowing, such as straight orthogonal line following versus Pure Pursuit, to determine which would be the optimal method. Straight orthogonal line following would be far simpler to use and code and is already well aligned with the field set up and game design for Power Play, while Pure Pursuit is more often used in collegiate-level robotics and is a common path following algorithm. Once you get it right, it is very reliable and can be manipulated well.

We hope to get the path following and code base overall testable as soon as possible so we can work through specific motions and rotations as well as making it easier for our drivers to get in more practice before the first league meet.

Build

One of the major components of our robot is the extension of the arm, which enables us to reach even the tallest of poles with no difficulty. However, the set screws on the pulley system, which control the arm extension, were very loose, caused the axle to come off and render the whole arm useless. The first thing we did was tighten the set screws and work on many of the other regular repairs which were needed to keep the robot in optimal working condition.

Our robot uses a coiled extendable wire to operate the servo which controls our gripper system. However, due to the length of the wire, it got in the way of a lot of robot function and was just inconvenient overall to work around. We created a simple cardboard prototype to set our extendable wire so it wouldn't inhibit the rest of the robot and would allow all functions to occur freely.

So we would be able to automate the process of depositing cones, we installed a webcame which allows us to see how far the arm is extended.

Our gripper system needed a way to conveniently attach to the arm, so we had to create a component which would attach and align the gripper system properly. The gripper system has 4 main parts: a distance sensor, a servo, an expandable bulb and a cone guide. The component, appropriately named the Servo Clamp, was designed to be able to attach the bulb, servo, cone guide, and distance sensor separately while also aligning them so the robot would be able to use the sensor to detect the cone and pick it up using the bulb and cone guide.

Next Steps

There are always more improvements and more progress we can make in code, and we also need to make a separate intake system for the cones because it's more efficient and would allow us to score more points quickly. We also want to rebuild the robot piece by piece to make it more resilient and fix each individual aspect.

Meeting Log 10/22

22 Oct 2022
Post 24
Awards: journal

Meeting Log 10/22 By Georgia, Aarav, Gabriel, Leo, Trey, Anuhya, Aarav, and David

Task: Drive Practice and Getting Code to Work

Today was mainly focused on getting proper drive practice and getting the path following for the April Tags to go to the correct locations. As such, in between commits, our drivers Leo and Georgia were able to get some familiarity with the controls, while our coders Vance and David worked on PID tuning and autonomous corrections.

We ran a few practice matches of just teleop to measure and improve the skills of our drivers. This consisted of 2 practice matches each for both Leo and Georgia under the 2 minute timer. Leo scored 2 cones the first match and 3 cones the 2nd match, while Georgia scored 2 cones for both matches. This highlighted how little we had actually practiced driving the robot, but also sparked an idea in Vance and David.

Upon witnessing how slow going manually picking up a cone and scoring it on the tallest pylon was, the coders begun work on making preset values for picking up a cone and scoring it, implementing a memory element so that the robot would record where it picked up and scored a cone, and specifically return to those locations. In addition to working on the April Tag location to recognition, they also achieved being able to cut our scoring time basically in half, giving us more opportunities to score cones.

Next Steps

Creating a prototype LED battery holder for our panels and getting the April tag locations to work for both Autonomous points, as well as Tiebreaker points for the future.

October 29th Screamage Overview

29 Oct 2022
Post 25
Awards: think, mechanical, and design

October 29th Screamage Overview By Georgia, Aarav, Anuhya, Trey, Gabriel, and Leo

Screamage at Marcus High School Overview

Today, Iron Reign attended the Screamage at Marcus High School to play a couple of practice matches. This event allowed us the opportunity to better understand the game flow and further develop a strategy, finally get some drive practice, and point out any flaws in the robot and its design to help improve the next iteration of TauBot.

Initially, we were faced with a lot of structural issues regarding the build of the robot. The wire connection on the arm had to be properly secured to ensure that cables did not get tangled or caught whenever the crane extended, and minor modifications to the chassis were required to properly secure the LED Panels to the robot.

Then came the software troubleshooting. The robot struggled to properly drive without drifting and our drivers needed minor modifications to the mapping of the buttons to streamline gameplay. However, we were able to get tons of solid drive practice at the practice field and were able to consistently score multiple cones on all 3 levels of the poles by the end of the scrimmage. We also utilized our memory functions to help automate the pickup and drop-off process and taught our drivers how to best use those capabilities.

Then came the actual practice matches, and let's just say, they did not proceed as smoothly as expected. Our lack of drive practice was evident, as we often dropped cones short of the poles and were barely able to score successfully. At one point, we managed to pick up around 6-7 cones, but only succeeded in scoring 1-2 cones onto the actual pole. Evidently, this is something that will need to be addressed before the first league meet.

Robot reliability also proved to be a major concern and created a lot of issues during gameplay as our robot would often break down during the game, rendering it useless and incapable of doing anything. After ramming our robot into a junction during gameplay, part of the polycarb chassis cracked where the screws were attached to the Rev Rails, which also locked up our front set of Omni wheels that we used for stability. We managed to restore the robot to a usable state, but the cracked polycarbonate will remain until we build the new robot. These issues continued to plague our robot, and during a match, the axle holding up the crane dislodged from the motor mount, which caused the entire crane to shut down mid-match, and led to us replacing the axle and the screws used to secure it.

Next Steps

The first thing we need to do is shave off part of the arm so our robot will fit within the sizing cube. Secondly, we need to redesign the configuration of the LED panel and battery mount, bottom battery wire, and the arm wire holder, so the wires do not hinder the robot's movement and ability to perform. Thirdly, we must find a way to keep the left motor from slipping out of its mount. We also need to adjust the height of the front Omni wheels, using spacers to allow for more movement and prevent them from locking up. Finally, we need to add polycarb plates to the chassis to prevent furthur damage.

Meeting Log 11/4

04 Nov 2022
Post 26
Awards: journal

Meeting Log 11/4 By Gabriel, Trey, and David

Task: Fixing Issues from the Screamage

After the Screamage, many different problems became apparent, including the fact that the robot just barely fit sizing requirements. In order to combat this, we decided to cut off .75 inches off the arm extension from the carbon fiber rod and added a new hole for the mount for the gripper system, which didn’t have an effect on the code or presets. Trey also continued to work on 3D modeling for the new robot.

David then proceeded to work on fine tuning for the presets for picking up and scoring a cone, as the movements were a bit aggressive to say the least, and by the end of the day, while slower, had become much more manageable as testing would prove to us. He also continued to work on the April Tag recognition for autonomous.

Next Steps

Make use of polycarb to create a new LED battery holder than can be mounted directly to the robot and fix the pulley system to keep it from falling off the axel and rendering our robot useless.

Meeting Log 11/5

05 Nov 2022
Post 27
Awards: journal

Meeting Log 11/5 By Gabriel, Trey, Vance, Leo, and Georgia

Task: Fixing Issues from the Screamage Pt.2

In tandem with yesterday, the main goal of this meeting was to improve upon the robot after the Screamage. This consisted of two main aspects, being a new way to mount the pulley because of the set screw of the motor that kept untightening from the axel and falling off at the most inopportune times, and a new battery holder for the LED panels with better mounting, as it was just wedged into the robot at the Screamage

Fixing the Pulley System

After many failures of the pulley system and antics with threadlocker and set screws, enough was enough. We decided that using the CNC to directly drill into the pulley to attach that directly to the motor was a better idea, and after a careful process, the pulley was directly mounted to the motor and thus far has experienced no further issues.

Making a New LED Battery Holder

The cardboard battery holder was an okay temporary solution, but in no way was meant to be a permanent addition to the robot. Instead, we opted to make a new one out of polycarb and create a place for the wire to filter through, which required measuring the battery and bending a piece of appropriately sized polycarb. It worked well, and looked semi decent but may be replaced in the future

Meeting Log 11/8

08 Nov 2022
Post 28
Awards: think, mechanical, and journal

Meeting Log 11/8 By Gabriel and Leo

Task: Preparing the Robot for the Upcoming League Meet

General Fixes:

The LED battery holder from the previous meeting snapped, requiring us to rebend and make a new gate for the LED Battery holder from scratch, which took a bit of time. In addition to this, all the set screws on the robot for the shaft collars and the pulley systems, as well as using threadlocker on the right motor mount in order to keep the right motor from shifting out of place and causing the chain to fall off the gear. This also solved the problem of the chain not fully aligning with the gear, causing a gradual stray of the straight pathing.

3D Modeling a New Wire Holder:

As discussed previously, the current iteration of the wire holder for the arm extension made of cardboard isn’t practical, and so Leo worked on a 3D model for the new version of the wire holder. This version addresses the wire getting caught upon on the corners of the holder as well as a more durable design as cardboard is not good at keeping it’s shape, and will more easily fit over the 2 motors.

Meeting Log 11/10

10 Nov 2022
Post 29
Awards: journal

Meeting Log 11/10 By Georgia, Gabriel, Leo, Vance, Trey, and David

Task: Finishing Code for Upcoming Meet and Drive Practice

We fixed the turret heading PID so that it does not spin uncontrollably when the angle changes from 359 to 0, and adjusted and tuned ticks per inch. We integrated memory of drop off and pickup positions with the crane so our drives don't have to spend a lot of time precisely aligning the arm with the cones and poles, enabling us to quickly score more cones per match. In addition, we created a basic auton program that reads the AprilTag on our custom team sleeve, then parks in the correct location accordingly.

The drivers practiced pick up and drop off using the new presets, then ran timed matches to see how many cones they could score, averaging 3-4 cones per match. We also practiced positioning and setting up the robot before beginning auton.

Next Steps

Due to oscillation of the arm after calibration, the camera occasionally cannot read the April Tag, so we need to fix this before the meet. Additionally, we need to do more drive practice before the meet this Saturday, inorder to improve the number of cones we score each match.

Meeting Log 11/11

11 Nov 2022
Post 30
Awards: journal

Meeting Log 11/11 By Gabriel, Vance, Aarav, David, and Georgia

Task: Finalizing the Robot the Day Before Competition

The day before a competition always sees arguably the most productivity from all the teams in a rush to finish up what they hope to accomplish the next day. For Reign, this was getting autonomous working, final drive practice for Georgia, and the printing of the team beacons.

Finishing Auton:

The first few hours were filled with commits from both David and Vance in an attempt to get the April Tags basically perfect. The camera was able to read the tags only some of the time due to the oscillation of the arm after calibration, which would be frequent at low voltage levels. Fortunately, this was solved and the rest of the night was spent on simplifying the calibration sequence and PID tuning for the arm.

Drive Practice:

A few practice matches were run which included both autonomous and TeleOp with a timer to see our limits. The average performance saw autonomous working and around 3-4 cones scored, but some outliers saw no autonomous points and no cones scored, which was certainly worrying. In the end, further drive practice was sacrificed in order to get the autonomous code working.

Making and Dying the Beacons:

The final thing we finished that night was the beacons for additional scoring. This was modeled as a loose sleeve that fit around the cone initially, but then we cut around it and made just a tab protruding from the base in order to meet sizing requirements, as well as dying them red and blue respectively and writing the team number on them.

1st League Meet - Post Mortem

12 Nov 2022
Post 31
Awards: journal

1st League Meet - Post Mortem By Georgia, Aarav, Gabriel, Leo, Trey, Vance, and David

Tasks:
1. Review 1st League Meet
2. Analyze 1st League Meet Performance
3. Discuss Possible Fixes + Next Steps

Play By Play

1st Match - The first round went horribly wrong, as Gabriel touched the phone after randomization, netting a minor penalty. While autonomous did read the April Tags, the arm was outside the tile, so regardless we didn’t score the 20 points for autonomous. In an attempt to get the robot started and not have to do calibration, the sequence was skipped which caused the turntable and arm extension to fail completely. Our score was 2 points scored by our alliance partner, and was a loss.

2nd Match - The 2nd this time, the autonomous program worked, but yet again the arm was outside the confines of the tile, meaning no autonomous points. The new calibration sequence, which required a button press, was not completed, and so yet again, failure in the arm and turntable, and an additional crash of the robot. The score was 37 points scored by our alliance partner and a loss.

3rd Match - The 3rd match autonomous finally worked, netting us 20 points. The presets for cones, however, was not working and so had to be done manually. The score at the end was 38 points and resulted in a win.

4th Match - The 4th match autonomous succeeded yet again, gaining 20 points. Unfortunately, the calibration sequence again wasn’t completed, meaning we couldn’t score any elements. The match resulted in a 34 point win, a win that was barely gained, as we scored 1 more point than the opposing alliance.

5th Match - The 5th match was by far our best performance. The April Tag recognition worked again, netting us 20 points. The presets for cone scoring finally worked, and with it, our driver Leo was able to score 9 cones, one of which had a beacon on it, getting our alliance 93 points, the record for that meet, of which we scored 74 points.

What Went Wrong + How To Fix It

This past Saturday marked the first League Tournament for the University League and our first competition. Unfortunately for us, it did not go as we had hoped, but was instead more grounded in reality. There were a lot of problems that only reared their heads during the competition.

The beginning of the competition was the most problem intensive, with everything from the calibration sequence infinitely rotating the turntable, the belt slipping off the arm extension, and the presets for cone scoring going awry. Luckily for us, the end of the competition resulted in a fix to some of these issues which lead to us placing in 4th ranking wise, and getting the high score for point total in conjunction with our alliance partner. However, this does not mean that there were no persisting problems after the fact.

Starting off with build issues, our mount for the current iteration of our bulb gripper was able to shift slightly to both the left and right with enough force applied. The constant smacking down of the gripper onto cones was a likely culprit in the shift meaning its an issue that has to be further addressed by tightening the carbon fiber bar more. The belt for the arm also managed to slip off at one point, but luckily it was in between matches. It serves as a good reminder to replace old rubber bands, which do not age well at all. The robot was also getting caught on the pylons, even when they didn’t have cones on them, meaning that its a combination of the chassis being a bit too big even though it fits standard sizing and more drive practice needed. Also, while it didn’t present too big of an issue at the competition, our current wire holder for the arm extension is just impractical and arguably cardboard should never appear on a robot at a competition.

Moving onto code issues, the start of the competition began with a big scare. During the calibration sequence, the turntable would rotate uncontrollably and would persist through infinite rotations. Fortunately, Vance and David were able to address this before any of the matches actually started. The issue of presets also became apparent because of calibration. Once autonomous finished, the Teleop program had to be initialized and recalibrate itself, which for one reason or another, completely messed up the presets, which are designed to remember the locations that it picked up a cone, and where it dropped off a cone.

Next Steps

Our robot needs to be thinner in order to navigate this year’s field more effectively, which is currently being addressed with the modeling and future construction of basically a version 2 of our current robot. The cardboard wire holder is going to be replaced with a 3D modeled version, which hopefully will look sleeker and serve its function better than the current iteration. There is also the idea of custom wheels as last year set a standard that we should keep alive.

Meeting Log 11/18

18 Nov 2022
Post 32
Awards: journal

Meeting Log 11/18 By Gabriel, Trey, and Vance

Tasks:
1. Fix Issues from the Last Meet
2. Build Upon our Current Strategy
2. Continue to Develop TauBot 2.0

The League Meet was a rude awakening for all the things we needed to improve upon and start. This includes a better autonomous, as other leagues are already having regular 30-40 point autonomous programs, documentation as even though League Meets don’t require them, the Tournament is slowly encroaching on us, and it needs to be solid by then and the modeling of a version 2.0 for the current robot to further improve cone scoring.

Building Upon our Current Strategy

In order to be a competitive team, we need a stronger autonomous. The current strategy for this is just the April Tags, which nets us 20 points. However, since April Tags still leaves around 14 seconds of autonomous to be filled, Vance has been working on a pre-load cycle, which would read the April Tag with the preload, drive to the destination, score the preload on the tallest pylon, and then continue to take from the cone stack and continue to score, which could easily elevate us to a 30-40 point autonomous run. We also need to start thinking about capturing more pylons, as this early in the season it’s been noted that each team generally stays to their quarter of the field. In order to capitalize on this, we plan to change our strategy to capture all the pylons within our quarter of the field, as each junction/pylon captured is an additional 3 points, which would then be followed by scoring on the tallest pylon.

Version 2.0 of TauBot

Currently, there is a second version of Taubot being 3D modeled in order to accommodate a smaller sizing as well as a separate intake system. More details about this will be discussed in a future blog post.

Next Steps

Continue to build upon the autonomous program and learn a new drive strategy for the League Meet on December 3rd.

Meeting Log 11/19

19 Nov 2022
Post 33
Awards: journal

Meeting Log 11/19 By Georgia, Aarav, Gabriel, Trey, Leo, and Vance

Task: Drive Practice and Improving Code

Today, we spent time improving upon the code by fixing the odometry and fine tuning it, along with doing some much needed drive practice.

We fine tuned the PID and speed, as well as the pickup and drop speed and staging. We also fixed the odometry, which calculates the position of the robot based on how many times the wheels have turned. We changed the staging of the crane memory system to be more accurate and fix the angle of the shoulder before it extends, so it won't hit the poles or cone stacks when changing position.

Our drive team ran practice matches to improve precision and accuracy while also scoring as many cones as possible. We focused on picking up cones from a long distance, utilizing our crane's reach and scoring from afar. The arm tended to overshoot when fully extended, making it more difficult to score, so our drivers had to practice taking this into account when aligning the crane and turret with the cone and poles for pickup and scoring.

Next Steps

We need to finish our auton code so the robot will pickup and score cones from the cone stacks and drop them onto poles during the auton period. We also want to finish and tune code for grid drive. And, of course, more drive practice!

Code Progess for November

21 Nov 2022
Post 34
Awards: software and journal

Code Progess for November By Vance and David

April Tags

This year, using FTC 6547's tutorial on april tags, we developed a system to detect which parking location we should park in. The april tag system allows the onboard camera to detect the sleeve at a distance without it being directly in front of the camera unlike other systems. It also requires much less processing than QR codes which allow it to detect the sleeve faster and with greater accuracy.

Crane Memory System

One unique feature of this robot is the crane's memory system. The crane remembers its position where it picks up a cone and where it drops the cone. This memory allows the crane to take over positioning the gripper for picking up a cone and dropping it off. The driver now only has to finetune the pickup and drop position and initiate the pickup and drop sequence.

Grid Drive

One helpful feature that would make the robot more reliable is grid drive. Since the field this year has all the objects placed in a grid, the robot can navigate between the pylons relatively easily however we found that drivers could not be as precise driving than the robot’s odometry and as such we developed a system where the driver tells the robot where they want the robot to go and the robot creates and follows a path to get to its target location. This system decreases transit time significantly and makes driving more precise. This system can also be used with the crane to pick up cones from a specific location and drop them at a certain pylon of the driver's choosing.

Field Class

We've also developed a special class to keep track of the current state of the field. The Field class keeps track of all objects on the field and their location, height, and name by creating a separate fieldObject object for each. These objects are then stored in a list and that list can be sorted through to find for example the closest object to the robot of a specific height. The robot using grid drive can then drive to a location where it can then score on that object.

Meeting Log 11/26

26 Nov 2022
Post 35
Awards: journal

Meeting Log 11/26 By Georgia, Gabriel, and Leo

Task: Build, Modeling, and Drive Practice for Upcoming League Meet

We spent today's meeting fixing minor build problems, then ran timed practice matches. Additionally, we started modeling the prototype for the nudge stick.

We began designing a prototype for a nudge stick, which will help speed up cone drop off. The stick will touch the pole at one point of contact and will be able to move to either side, depending on which direction we are scoring from.

The arm and mount, specifically the set screws and shaft collars, will often become loose, so we used threadlocker to secure these and reduce its chances of becoming too loose during a match. We redid the connection for the LEDs because a wire had snapped out, then rewelded the mount for the LED panels, as it was beginning to split down the center and was revealing the inside of the panel.

We did lots of drive practice, running many timed practice matches. We managed to score the auton preload, along with about 3-6 additional cones and beacon. Unfortunately, auton was somewhat unreliable, as Taubot did not always score the preload cone on the pole and fully park in the correct space.

Next Steps

Our next step is to fix our auton code so Taubot consistently manages to score the auton preload cone and fully park in the correct spot. We also need to finish the nudge stick prototype so we can begin testing and finetuneing it.

Meeting Log 11/29

29 Nov 2022
Post 36
Awards: journal

Meeting Log 11/29 By Georgia, Anuhya, Gabriel, and Vance

Task: Code and Build Before League Meet

We partially remade the joint that connects the extension part of the crane to the turret, as we found that under high stress the gears were prone to slipping. We also changed the gear ratios on the shoulder to increase the torque produced at the cost of the speed of the crane. We did this because under most situations we were hitting the torque limit of the motor but we almost never hit the speed limit of the motor. This will make the crane much more controllable, especially when the crane is at maximum extension. Additionally, we began building the nudge stick for the crane.

As for code, we created two new methods. The first method takes in the robot's current position on the field and, using an IMU that is attached to the turret, calculates the position of the center of the turret. This is method is needed for inverse kinematics to work because the center of the robot is not aligned with the center of the turret. The second method takes in the desired X, Y, and Z coordinates that the turret should target. It first takes the turrets's position then uses that position to calculate the heading that the base needs to target inorder to align itself with the proper X and Y coordinates. It then calculates the horizontal distance needed to get to the target position. That distance, along with the Z target height, is then used to calculate the angle and amount of crane crane extension required to achieve the target position.

We began working on a model for the differential distance sensor mount, with the distance sensors mounted on the side pieces so we can adjust their angle inorder to pinpoint where the cone is located. We added a space in the middle for a laser, which we will use for testing the range of the distance sensor.

Next Steps

We need to finish building and coding the nudge stick so we can test it and practive scoring with it. As for the differential distance sensor mount, we need to finish modeling it and then build and test it.

Meeting Log 12/02

02 Dec 2022
Post 37
Awards: journal

Meeting Log 12/02 By Georgia, Anuhya, Gabriel, Leo, and Vance

Task: Prepare for Our Second League Meet

Today we worked on finishing the nudge stick and auton code, along with doing driver practice and other preparations for the upcoming meet.

We finished working on code for the nudge stick so it will rotate to the left or right of the pole in order to help the driver align the cone with the pole more easily and quickly. The stick is mounted to a servo which allows it to move to either side of the arm. Next we worked on code for auton and tuned it to be more reliable.

Our drivers spent lots of time practicing seting up the robot and diving it. We scored about 4 or 5 cones per match plus auton and a beacon.

Meeting Log 12/06

06 Dec 2022
Post 38
Awards: journal

Meeting Log 12/06 By Georgia, Anuhya, Leo, Vance, and Gabriel

Task: Improving code

Today we tuned auton, implemented inverse kinematics, and made driver controls more user friendly.

We implemented inverse kinematics with driver controls, auton, and the memory system. ​​We changed the driver controls to use height and distance rather than angle and shoulder. This makes it faster and much easier for the drivers to fine tune adjustments when dropping and picking up the cones. We also implemented this system in auton to make it easier to specify a target that the robot should aim for during auton.

Next Steps

Now that we have inverse kinematics working we can begin a scoring pattern code, which will allow the robot to memorize the field and move to score without driver input. This will make scoring quicker and easier for the drivers.

Townview Tournament

10 Dec 2022
Post 39
Awards: journal

Townview Tournament By Gabriel, Georgia, Anuhya, Trey, and Leo

Hosting the Townview Tournament

This Saturday marked the First Tournament of the season, and with it came the opportunity for us to host the event at our homeschool, Townview. Twenty seven teams showed up for the tournament, all displaying great levels of gracious professionalism and a wonderful sense of sportsmanship for the whole tournament.

What we learned

This was a great opportunity for us to learn how judging would work this year and truly see how a tournament would function ahead of time. It also gave us a chance to see some of the more than impressive robots and their unique designs and innovations, as well as some potential new strategies to test out for ourselves.

Overall, we had a great time hosting this event in collaboration with a lot of First representatives and alumni and we're very thankful to all the teams, volunteers, and judges that showed up and for having a great competition. We wish the teams good luck for the rest of the season!

Virtual DPRG Meeting 12/17

17 Dec 2022
Post 40
Awards: journal and connect

Virtual DPRG Meeting 12/17 By Aarav, Anuhya, Georgia, Gabriel, Trey, Vance, and Leo

Task: Present TauBot to the Dallas Personal Robotics Group

Today, we virtually presented our robot to the Dallas Personal Robotics Group(DPRG) to showcase our progress for this season and hopefully get advice on our robot's design, code, and presentation. DPRG is a group of engineers and robot enthusiasts who meet multiple times a month to discuss robotics and share their personal projects in the field of robotics. These meetings allowed us to practice our presentation skills and receive valuable advice from mentors and professionals.

The meeting started with us briefly explaining Power Play to the members who tuned in and then transitioned into our initial Ri2D efforts and how that influenced our current design. We shared our initial idea of creating a "tall bot" that could drive over the poles and how that quickly shifted into the current robot focused on minimizing movement across the field.

We went over the critical subsystems of our robot, which included the bulb gripper, arm, turret, and chassis, and explained how all of these worked together to accomplish our game strategy. Then we transitioned into the code aspects of things and shared how we managed to automate much of the gameplay with our memory functions, inverse kinematics, and anti-tipping code while also stating how we planned to integrate OpenCV and grid drive in the future.

After that, we discussed our plans for the future iteration of TauBot and some of the significant changes we planned to make to the chassis to improve its efficiency and ability to score points. Finally, we presented a show demonstration of the robot driving around, scoring cones, and running the auton code. A lengthy question and answer session ensued, and we got lots of valuable feedback from the DPRG members that we will use to improve both TauBot 2.0 and our presentation.

Regarding the feedback we received on the robot, DPRG suggested that we consider the distribution of mass and a potential counterweight to prevent tipping(which happened a decent amount during the demo), as well as possible code changes to help better control the autonomous path of the arm during movements. They also pointed out the oscillation of our gripper and suggested we add a degree of freedom to prevent that. Finally, one of the biggest pieces of advice they gave was to consider utilizing a movement system that allowed us to “fly the gripper.”

On the presentation side of things, the main advice given was to consolidate our information, focus on the most impressive parts of our robot, talk slower, and create a correlation between our strategy and the implementation of our robot.

Next Steps

We are incredibly grateful to DPRG for letting us present and connect with professionals to improve our robot. We hope to meet with them in the future, possibly in January, as we develop our robot. Our next steps are considering their advice when designing and assembling TauBot 2.0, further automating our robot, and preparing our presentation and portfolio for the tournament in January.

Meeting Log 12/30

30 Dec 2022
Post 41
Awards: journal

Meeting Log 12/30 By Georgia, Leo, and Gabriel

Task: Driver Practice!

Recently, Vance implemented a new control scheme : scoring patterns. This required some changes to the way the cone is “transported” throughout the field when the driver operated, and we found it was best to “fly the gripper” by controlling the 3 dimensional position of the cone on a cartesian space superimposed on the field. Basically, we control the x,y,z, which is a big change compared to the old controls, which controlled extension, turret angle and shoulder angle independently of each other. We're down to 3 weeks from our next meet and the goal is to get affluent with these new controls, which will (hopefully) help us score more cones.

Next Steps

There's still some fine tuning to be done with the controls, especially at long distances. The robot is still prone to tipping and crashing, but as a proof of concept, scoring patterns are looking promising. There was also some progress done on the CAD for the new robot (epic reveal coming soon), and we're looking to start manufacturing some of our designs on the CNC in the coming week, stay tuned.

Meeting Log 01/04

04 Jan 2023
Post 42
Awards: journal

Meeting Log 01/04 By Georgia, Anuhya, and Leo

Task: Build and CAD

Today we focused on building and modeling our second iteration of Toubot. After designing and cutting out the parts for the underarm on the CNC we began assembly.

As for modeling, we worked on the shoulder drive for Toubot2. We are redesigning our motor mounts because we need the extension on the arm to be stronger. We are changing the design for the shoulder drive by using 8 mm axles and using four 30 tooth gears instead of the single 30 tooth gear currently being used. We are also using “bridges” to mount our motors, because they are stronger than the standard REV rails.

Next Steps

Our next steps are to print the motor mounts and continue build. And more drive practice!

Meeting Log 1/6

06 Jan 2023
Post 43
Awards: journal

Meeting Log 1/6 By Aarav, Anuhya, and Georgia

Task: Documentation and CAD

Today,we focused mainly on documentation and the continued CAD for the next iteration of TauBot. We worked on the outreach and Motivate sections of the Engineering Portfolio along with a few of the preliminary slides. Furthermore, we also made sure that the blog was all up to date.

On the CAD side of things, we finished the shoulder drive on the CAD model and began 3-D printing a few motor mounts for the next iteration of TauBot.

Next Steps

Our next steps are to continue finishing the CAD model of TauBot2, continuing to assemble the parts we have completed, and to continue working on the Engineering Portfolio in preparation for the Tournament on January 28th.

Presenting to DPRG

14 Jan 2023
Post 44
Awards: connect and journal

Presenting to DPRG By Anuhya, Trey, Leo, Gabriel, and Vance

Task: Present a status update to Dallas Personal Robotics Group

You can watch our full presentation here. Today was our second meeting with Dallas Personal Robotics Group , or DPRG, this season. We updated the engineers at DPRG with our build and code progress. First, we ran through our newly assembled parts and subsystems. Then we showed our work in progress CAD in Autodesk Fusion 360 directly, and our main coder ran through our code. Finally, we had time for a small Q&A session with the engineers, where they asked us questions about our robot design and how it would achieve the goal put forth by the playing field.

Build

Newly Assembled Parts and Subsystems

We had 3 main things to discuss when it came to newly assembled parts and subsystems: the new wheels and the underarm/chariot, which included the lasso gripper. Gabriel introduced the new wheels, which are made out of carbon fiber, nylon and ninjaflex. We also demoed the new wheels, which had just been attached to an axle. Because the bearings weren't aligned properly, the wheel was slightly wobbly. However, it was a good demonstration of how the wheel would work when it would be attached to the second iteration of our robot, Taubot. We changed to a custom wheel because it would give us more control and would also be slightly smaller than the old wheels, allowing us to optimize the design.

Leo, who was the main designer behind all aspects of the underarm/chariot, was responsible for introducing it to the judges. Our underarm is designed to slot into the front of the robot, replacing the omni wheels with driven omnis which drive out the chariot. Our underarm is entirely made out of custom carbon fiber parts, and will be the intake system for Taubot: 2nd iteration. The chariot drives out, using the driven omnis, to the cone stacks and the substation. The underarm uses the lasso gripper to grip around a cone and passes through itself to hand the cone off to the main arm.

New CAD For Future Assembly

After displaying the custom parts of the robot which we had already assembled, we showed the parts of the modeling which were still in progress. I started by introducing the shoulder and turret assembly, which was still very much not completed. I talked about motor placement and gear alignment, and why we changed the design of the shoulder and turret. We wanted to stop using the standard REV rails and replace them with aluminum plates, which would be stronger and designed specifically for our purposes.

Trey showed the changes we would be implementing with the arm. We changed the linear slides to a lighter model so it would be possible for us to add a 4th stage. This would make it possible for the robot to move minimally and still reach the entire span of the field. We are using a belt system and a motor at the base of the arm to extend the arm. Trey then showed the base and the chassis of the robot. He talked about how we changed the design, and how we would be using carbon fiber for the base as opposed to polycarbonate, because of how much stronger carbon fiber is and because of the issues we were having due to the polycarbonate cracking when it hit the walls of the playing field.

Leo showed the model of the underarm and the chariot so the engineers could get a better understanding of how it would extend and operate. He also talked about how the battery would be in the moving section so we could counteract the tipping problem due to the weight of the arm.

We also touched on our manufacturing process, and how we turned modeled parts into physical parts which would be used on our robot.

Code

Vance took the lead on showing what he'd been working on with code. The auton wasn't fully tuned up so everything was slightly off. In an ideal autonomous game, we would have gotten around 3 cones. Currently, reliability is a bit of an issue because of cone placement, because cones are very close to the wall. This makes the margin of error we have very little. The robot tipped over while we were trying to demonstrate autonomous, but it was an easy fix, along with a reset.

Scoring Patterns

The first thing Vance demonstrated was the scoring patterns. They were a very new addition, and they were good for drivers because it meant the drivers would only have to make a few micro adjustments to the arm placement instead of moving the arm the whole way around the game field.

What is a scoring pattern?
A scoring pattern is an array of field positions that the arm targets.

  1. The arm goes to a substation.
  2. The arm automatically goes to a different pole every time a new cone is picked up.

The arm gets pretty close, but the driver has to line it up perfectly manually themselves. The reason we go to a different pole every time a new cone is picked up is because that gets us a lot of poles, which results in possible points for controlling poles. Each cone which is controlled is 3 extra points. This is very helpful strategically. There are 8 scoring patterns, because there are 2 cone sources. The driver can swap between any of the scoring patterns mid-match.

While we were demonstrating scoring patterns, a pulley on the robot fell off. This took a while to fix, but the show must go on!

Feedforward for PID

The PID brings the shoulder to the correct angle at the correct speed and time. Our robot now uses feed forward, which calculates how much torque is on the arm and how much torque is needed for the motor to hold position or counteract the torque of the arm/gravity. This is entirely based on the current angle and position. If we fully extend the arm using PID but not feed forward, the arm would always slip down slightly. However, now the arm holds position, even when it's fully extended.

Q&A

The last portion of our meeting with DPRG was the Question and Answer session. The engineers asked us questions about our design and the game itself.

Q. Why do you score during autonomous?
A. We get double the points for every cone we score in autonomous, because it counts during both autonomous as well as driver control. We also get 20 additional points for parking the robot, which is quite reliable.

Q. How many of you design the robot?
A. There are 7 total people on the team. 3 of us model, and we mainly communicate through Discord and TickTick to divide the work. We also have design meetings to find mistakes in our models and discuss what needs to be fixed. Subsystems and different assemblies are organized into folders, and we each take responsibility for one main part. To sum it up, it's organized chaos.

Q. What is the scoring estimate/target with the new pattern?
A. We don't have one with the current pattern, because we don't have any testing. We got 8 - 9 cones with the old pattern.

League Meet #3 Review

21 Jan 2023
Post 45
Awards: control, innovate, and journal

League Meet #3 Review By Aarav, Anuhya, Gabriel, Leo, Vance, Trey, and Georgia

Task: Review our performance at the 3rd League Meet and discuss possible next steps

Today, Iron Reign and our two sister teams participated in the 3rd League Meet for the U League at UME Preparatory for qualification going into the Tournament next week. Overall, we did solid, going 4-2 at the meet; however, we lost significant tiebreaker points in autonomous points due to overall unreliability. At the end of the day, we didn’t do as great as we would have liked, but we did end the meet ranked #2 in the U League in #5 between both the D and U Leagues, and got some valuable driver practice and code development along the way.

We entered the meet with brand new autonomous code that allowed us to ideally score three cones in autonomous and park, equating to about 35 points.

Another main issue that plagued us was tipping, as our robot tipped over in practice and in an actual match due to the extension of the arm and constant erratic movement, which we will elaborate on in the play-by-play section.

We also want to preface that much of our code and drive teams were running on meager amounts of sleep due to late nights working on TauBot2, so a lot of the autonomous code and river error can be attributed to fatigue caused by sleep deprivation. Part of our takeaways from this meet is to avoid late nights as much as possible, stick to a timeline, and get the work done beforehand.

Play by Play

Match 1: 46 to 9 Win

In the autonomous section, our robot missed the initial preload cone and fell short of grabbing cones from the cone stack because there was an extra cone. Finally, our robot overshot the zone and got no parking points. Overall, we scored 0 points. In the tele-op and endgame sections, because of a poor quality battery that was overcharged at around 13.9 volts, our entire shoulder and arm stopped functioning and just stood stationary for the whole period. In the end, we only scored 2 points by parking in the corner. However, due to the extra cone on the cone stack at the beginning of autonomous, we were granted a rematch. In the autonomous of the rematch, our preload cone dropped to the side of the tall pole, but we could grab and score one cone on the tall pole, missing the second one. However, it did not fully move into Zone 3, meaning we didn’t get any parking points. Overall, 5 points in auton. In the tele-op and endgame, we scored two cones on the tall poles and one on a medium pole, which equates to 20 points in that section, including six ownership points. Total Points: 29

Analysis: We need to ensure that our battery does not have too high of a voltage because that causes severe performance impacts. More autonomous tuning is also required to score both cones and properly park. Our light battery also died in the middle of the second match due to low charge, which will need to be taken care of in the future since that can lead to major penalties.

Match 2: 68 to 63 Loss

In the autonomous section, our robot performed great and went according to plan, scoring the preload cone and 2 more on the tallest cone and parking, equating to 35 points. However, in the tele-op and endgame, the robot’s issues reared their ugly heads. We did score one cone on a tall cone and one on a medium cone. However, after our opponent took ownership of one of our tall poles, we went for another pole instead of taking it back, and that led to us tipping over as the arm extended, which ended the game for us. We did not incur any penalties but had we scored that cone and taken back our pole, we would have won and gotten to add a perfect autonomous to our tiebreaker points. We ended up scoring 9 points in this section. Total Points: 44

Analysis: Excellent autonomous performance marred by a tipping issue and sub-par driver performance. The anti-tipping code did not work as intended, and that issue will need to be fixed to allow TauBot to score at its entire range.

Match 3: 78 to 31 Win

In the autonomous section, we missed the preload cone and couldn’t grab both the cones on the stack, and we also did not park as our arm and shoulder crossed the border. As a result, we scored 0 points total in this section. In the tele-op and endgame section, we scored a lot better, scoring two cones on the tall poles, one on the medium poles, and two on the short ones. This, including our 15 ownership points, equates to a total of 35 points. Total Points: 35

Analysis: The autonomous does need tuning to at least park because of the value of autonomous points. Our lack of driver practice is also slightly evident in the time it takes to pick up new cones, but that can be solved through increased gameplay.

Match 4: 40 to 32 Win

In the autonomous section, we scored our preload cone on a tall pole, but intense arm oscillation meant we missed the first cone from the stack on drop-off and the second cone from the stack on pickup. We also overshot parking again, bringing our total in this period to 5 points. In the tele-op and endgame section, we scored two cones on the tall poles. So with ownership points, our total in this section was 16 points. We did miss one cone drop-off, though, and our pickups in the substation could have been better as we tipped over a couple of cones during pickup. Total Points: 21

Analysis: Parking still needed to be tuned, but the cone scoring was a lot more consistent, but still requires a bit more work to achieve consistency. Other than that, improved driver practice will help cycle times and scoring.

Match 5: 51 to 24 Win

In the autonomous section, our arm never engaged to go and score our preload, and the robot did park, meaning we scored 20 points in this section. In the tele-op and endgame section, we scored two cones on the tall poles, one cone on the medium poles, and missed three on drop-off. We also scored our beacon, bringing our total point count in this game portion to 30 points. Total Points: 50

Analysis: Pretty solid match, but the autonomous still needs tuning, and driver practice on cone drop-offs could be better.

Match 6: 74 to 50 Loss

In the autonomous section, our robot missed the drop off of 2 cones but parked, bringing the total to 20 points for autonomous. In the tele-op and endgame section, miscommunication with our alliance partner led to them knocking our cones out of the substation and blocking our intake path multiple times. We scored three cones on the tall poles and missed two on drop-off. In the end, we scored the beacon, scoring 30 points in this section. Total Points: 50(we carried)

Analysis: Communication with our alliance partner was a significant issue in this match. Our alliance partner crossed onto our side and occupied the substation for a while, blocking our human player from placing down cones and blocking our intake path. This led to valuable seconds being wasted.

Overall, our main issues revolved around autonomous code tuning; although our autonomous performance did improve, poor driver practice we chalk up to fatigue, along with minor tipping and communication issues. However, we plan to understand what happened and solve our problems before the next week’s Tournament.

Then, for a quick update on TauBot2, parts of the manufacturing and build have begun, and we hope to incorporate at least part of the new design into the robot we bring to the Tournament on the 28th. Currently, parts of the Chassis and UnderArm have been CNC’ed or 3D printed, and assembly has begun.

Next Steps

Finish up the design of Tau2 and start manufacturing and assembling it, tuning our autonomous and anti-tipping code, and attempting to get more driver practice in preparation for next week’s Tournament.

D&U Tournament Play by Play

28 Jan 2023
Post 46
Awards: control, innovate, and journal

D&U Tournament Play by Play By Aarav, Anuhya, Gabriel, Leo, Vance, and Trey

Task: Narrate the events of the D&U Tournament

Today, Iron Reign and our two sister teams competed in the D&U League Tournament at Woodrow Wilson High School, the culmination of the previous three qualifiers. Overall, we did pretty well, winning both Inspire 1 and Think 2, which means we will be directly advancing to the Regional competition in about a month. There will be a separate blog post about the tournament Post-Mortem, and this post will cover the play-by-play of the matches.

The robot we brought to the tournament was a mix between TauBot V1 and V2, with the V2’s Chassis and UnderArm and the V1’s Turret, Shoulder, and Crane. Unfortunately, there were some robot performance drop-offs, as we slipped from 5th to 9th in the qualification standings, going 2-4 overall at the tournament.

Play by Play

Match 1: 84 to 17 Win

In autonomous, due to arm wobble, we missed both the preload cone on drop-off and the cone on the stack during pickup. However, the robot was still about to get parking. Then in the tele-op and endgame, our robot scored three cones on the tall pole and one cone on the medium cone. However, rushing during cone drop-offs led to us missing a couple, and a decent amount of time was wasted during intake and arm movements. Finally, we also scored a beacon. Overall, this was a solid match, but there could be improvements. One important thing to note was that the UnderArm almost went into the substation while the human player was inside due to an issue with the distance sensor that regulated chassis length. This is something that we will have to diagnose and fix quickly.

Match 2: 86 to 48 Loss

In the autonomous section, our robot almost collided with an opposing robot when attempting to score the preload cone. In the end, we did not score any cones and lost parking when the UnderArm did not fully retract and traveled past the edge of the area. In the tele-op and endgame, our robot scored two cones on the tall poles and one on a medium cone. However, poor gripper positioning on intake led to time-wasting as cones kept getting tipped over, and we missed a low cone on drop-off due to rushing. In addition, the LED battery went out during the match, which could have caused a penalty and is starting to become a recurring issue. Finally, we lost due to the 40 penalty points that we conceded by pointing at the field during gameplay four times, which was a major mistake and should serve as a valuable lesson for the drive team. Overall, this match was messy and a poor showing from both our drive team and robot.

Match 3: 74 to 33 Loss

This match did not count toward our ranking since we were filling in. Regardless, we didn’t view this as a throwaway game. In autonomous, the robot got off track when driving toward the tall pole to drop off the preload, meaning the entire autonomous section got thrown off. We didn’t score any points or park at all. Then, in the tele-op and endgame section, a major code malfunction threw off the arm for a while. We missed multiple cone intakes by overshooting the distance, and the arm was frequently caught on the poles. Our human play was also quite sloppy and there were a few times we got close to being called for a penalty for the human player being in the substation at the same time as the robot. In the end, we only scored 1 cone on a tall pole in this section, and luckily this game did not count towards qualification rankings, but it did reveal a code issue that we quickly corrected.

Match 4: 97 to 18 Loss

In autonomous, our robot got bumped, missed both cones, and did not park because the arm and shoulder ended up outside the zone. Then, in the tele-op period, quickly into the start of the driver-controlled proportion, the servo wire on our bulb gripper got caught on our alliance partner’s robot. This caused the plate on which the arm was mounted to bend severely and left us out of operation for the rest of the match. Immediately after, we had to switch to the arm and gripper for TauBot2 that we had assembled but not yet attached, and this required slight modifications to the shoulder to allow all the screw holes to align. Thankfully we were able to get it working, but we faced issues later on with the movement of the new gripper limiting our cone intake.

Match 5: 144 to 74 Loss

In autonomous, the arm wobble caused our preload to drop short, but we parked. We also accidentally “stabbed” our opponent’s preload cone out of their gripper when they were about to score it. Since this was in autonomous, we were not penalized, but it was quite funny. However, in tele-op and endgame, we missed multiple cone pickups and drop-offs and went for the cone stack instead for intaking at the substation, which was a major tactical blunder and increased our cycle times. We did score two cones on the tall poles and one cone on a small pole that allowed us to break our opponent’s circuit at the very end, but we still lost. Overall not a bad game, but we had a questionable strategy, and the pains of a newly assembled robot did show.

Match 6: 74 to 66 Win

This match was a great way to end the qualification matches, as we escaped with a narrow and intense win. Because our left-side start code was broken and our alliance partner heavily preferred standing on the right side, we started our robot on the right and stood on the left, which was quite a novel strategy. It did come with drawbacks, as during the start of tele-op, we wasted valuable seconds crossing the field with our robot. Anyways, in autonomous, major arm wobble led to us missing the preload by a mile, the stack intake code was off, and we did not park. Tele-op and endgame were quite an intense competition, and we scored three cones on the tall poles, including a clutch beacon cone in the last 10 seconds of endgame to win the game. Overall this was a great game, although we still had autonomous issues, and it was a good ending to an overall poor run in qualifications.

We ended the qualification portion with an overall standing of 9 and a record of 12-3. Thanks to good connections with our fellow teams, we were picked by the 3rd-ranked alliance as their 3rd pick. Therefore, we did not play the 1st match of the semifinal, which we lost, but we did play the 2nd match.

Semifinal 2 Match 2: 131 to 38 Loss

In autonomous, the arm wobble led to us missing the preload and the cones from the stack, and we did not park either. Then, during tele-op and endgame, we scored one cone on a tall pole. Unfortunately, though, our alliance partner’s robot tipped over during intake, which led to ou5t gripper getting stuck to their wheel and causing yet another entanglement. This led to the shoulder axle loosening, and the entire subsystem became unusable after the match. This isn’t that bad since we plan to replace that with the new, redesigned Turret, Shoulder, and Arm, but it wasn’t the best way to go out.

Overall, though, we did okay, considering we were running a new robot with a partially untested subsystem in the UnderArm and still won a few matches and made the semifinals. In the end, though, our portfolio and documentation pulled through as we won Inspire. However, this tournament exposed many flaws and issues in our robot, which will be discussed in the Post-Mortem Blog post, and we will need to fix these issues before Regionals next month.

Meeting Log 2/3

03 Feb 2023
Post 47
Awards: journal, motivate, and connect

Meeting Log 2/3 By Jai, Aarav, Anuhya, Leo, Trey, Georgia, Vance, Gabriel, Alex, Sol, Tanvi, and David D

Task: Onboarding New Recruits, Organization, CAM, and Connect

Today we onboarded most of the new recruits and continued to work on fixing our broken shoulder from the last tournament. We also organized a lot of the RoboDojo and brainstormed more ideas for how we can reach out to professionals to better prepare for the upcoming Regionals competition.

We welcomed a couple of new recruits from some of our JV sister teams, Iron Giant and Iron Core. Today's new recruits were Alex, David, Jai, Sol, and Tanvi. We helped them get acclimated to the Iron Reign environment and taught them things like how to write blog posts, our organization system, and everything else they need to know to be a contributing member. This came with its own set of changes to the website to include them. Their performance over the few weeks leading up to Regionals will decide future team composition as we prepare to deal with our current seniors graduating.

As far as TauBot2 build progress, we began CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing)on the shoulder, which controls the arm and its extension. CAM allows us to create custom pieces to fit our use case effectively. We also made progress on the secondary turret on the UnderArm, which should help increase our intake speed and score more points through a "handshake" between the grippers, although it still remains a daunting task.

We also organized much of the RoboDojo prepping for Regionals and any future competitions, specifically most of the screws and building materials. This should make building and robot maintenance much easier in the future as TauBot2 is built and developed.

Finally, we drafted a couple of emails that enabled us to set up calls with professionals. We hope to get some responses so that we can get some expert guidance on how we can improve our robot's code and design, as well as improve our connections with professionals for our portfolio.

Next Steps

Our next steps are to continue to teach the new members what they need to do and to continue the assembly of TauBot2 in preparation for Regionals. Additionally, we would like to expand our outreach to both our community and corporations.

CONNECTing with Professionals at the DISD Stem Expo

04 Feb 2023
Post 48
Awards: connect, outreach, and journal

CONNECTing with Professionals at the DISD Stem Expo By Aarav, Anuhya, Jai, and Georgia

Task: Explore Possible Connection Opportunities at the DISD STEM Expo

Today, Iron Reign presented at the DISD Stem Expo in the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center. Here, we both demoed TauBot and hosted a STEM activity for young children which involved building LEGO Mindstorms EV3 robots and then battling them SUMO style in a battle hexagon.

While this event was a great opportunity to motivate and interact with the community as a form of outreach, with the 100+ STEM exhibits and multitude of universities and corporations, it was an amazing opportunity to connect with professionals in order to receive valuable feedback on our robot.

Although with the hustle and bustle of the actual EXPO, not much assistance could be received as we also had a booth to manage, but we viewed this as a great time to go around, meet some professionals, build connections, and hopefully schedule future sessions where we could properly present and explain the robot.

First off, we were able to talk to some students from both the Texas A&M Engineering Program and SMU’s Lyle College of Engineering. Both programs seem quite interested in our robot, we are hoping to be able to get a meeting with a professor and some graduate students in order to present our robot to them, but those are still in the works.

In terms of corporations, we met a local startup called Strawbees, which focuses on developing STEM Building kits for children. They told us that they could potentially get us in touch with their lead “inventor”, who designed most of the product line. Since these projects incorporate both mechanical, electrical and software components, this could be a great opportunity for us.

We also were able to talk to representatives from Jacobs, Lenovo and NASA. Jacobs is a local engineering and architecture firm that is headquartered in Dallas, while Lenovo and NASA are both well-known organizations that could provide relevant hardware and software advice.

Next Steps

Our next steps will be following up with the people we talked to at the Expo in order to possibly schedule a session where we can interact with professionals, present our robot and receive feedback.

Dallas ISD Stem Expo

04 Feb 2023
Post 49
Awards: outreach, motivate, and connect

Dallas ISD Stem Expo By Sol, Georgia, Tanvi, Jai, David D, Arun, Anuhya, Vance, Trey, Gabriel, Alex, Aarav, Leo, and Krish

Task: Motivate the community at the DISD Stem Expo

Today we hosted a booth at the Dallas ISD STEM Expo at the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center. There, we taught kids coding, introduced them to robotics and the FIRST community, and demonstrated TauBot to the public. Not to mention, we also got some decent driver practice in, which is always a plu. For the coding section, we used LEGO Mindstrosm EV3 Sumo robots to teach kids about block coding and spark interest in robotics and STEM in general. Overall it was a hit and a lot of kids enjoyed the activity.

At the Sumo Bot portion of our booth, we set a up table with laptops, Sumo EV3 robots, and two sumo rings. We taught kids basic block coding and allowed them to expirement with their code and see how the robots execute their code. They then got to use the robots in Sumo showdowns against each other.

Alongside our Sumo Robotics station we had an FTC competition field set up, in which we gave kids a demonstration of the Iron Reign, Iron Giant, and Iron Core robots. We allowed the kids to drive them and get firsthand experience with a robot, which they really enjoyed. We also answered a lot of questions about our robot, betterng both our understanding of the robot itself and our presentation skills, which will come in hand at Regionals.

Our team talked to both parents and children about how to get involved in the FIRST program, explaining how it works and the opportunities it creates, and why we love participating in the FIRST program. We talked about our experiences in robotics, joining the Iron Reign program, and shared personal stories about how we got into robotics. Not only did we share information about our own program, but also how to get into FLL, FTC, FRC, and other robotics programs based on their age and interests.

Overall, it was quite a rewarding experience and we got to interact with a lot of people of a lot of different ages. We also were able to connect with some professionals in a somewhat limited manner, but there will be a seperate blog post about that coming soon.

Sudie Academy FLL Team Mentorship

07 Feb 2023
Post 50
Awards: outreach and motivate

Sudie Academy FLL Team Mentorship By Aarav, Georgia, Jai, Arun, Gabriel, and Sol

Task: Help the Sudie Academy FLL teams prep for Regionals

Today, Iron Reign attended a meeting with multiple local FLL teams from Sudie L Williams TAG Academy to help them practice their presentation for upcoming Regionals competition.

The three teams, 43326 The Tin Men, 46425 Electric Spuds, and 51997 Lithium Ions all advanced to the FLL Regional Competition that will be taking place this Saturday, 2/11. To help them prepare for this competition, we hosted a virtual session where they could practice their presentation and a few of our members could listen in and offer feedback.

Overall, the kids did a really good job, showing us not only their innovate project but effectively describing their robot and hitting all their talking points in regards to iteration and design. They also talked about their core values and how they managed to work efficiently as a team to complete all their objectives. Finally, they managed to do all this while also tying it back to the overall FLL theme of renewable energy.

However, their presentation still had some things they could iron out and improve on, and our members made sure to constructively point these out. The kids could definitely do a better job of spreading the speaking around, as we felt that occasionally one person would come to dominate the entire thing while the others just stood around silent. They also could prepare more for the core values questions that we asked that sometimes led to an awkward silence. Finally, with all the great technical knowledge the teams had about their robot and their project, we felt that they could do a better job integrating that with the purpose and impact that their project had.

Overall though, it was great helping out these FLL teams, and there are a lot of good things that they did that could serve as a takeaway for some of the new recruits that joined in our preparation for Regionals.

Meeting Log 2/10

10 Feb 2023
Post 51
Awards: journal and think

Meeting Log 2/10 By Tanvi, Sol, Gabriel, Trey, and Alex

Task: Attend to TauBot2 and transfer knowledge to the new recruits

Today was another day of onboarding recruits. For the next few weeks, along with regional preparation, we will be focused on the transfer of knowledge from seniors to recruits. Today the recruits shadowed the senior Iron Reign members, Trey and Gabriel.

Gabriel was working on TauBot 2. Trey was working on soldering a new cable harness for the arm. Tanvi shadowed Trey and practiced soldering; Sol shadowed Gabriel and learned the mechanics of previous Reign robots and TauBot while also helping Gabriel work on the UnderArm. 2.

While learning to solder, Tanvi learned the specific applications of this tool and the different materials used, as well as safety precautions. She practiced soldering with a spare plate and insulated wire. With further practice, she hopes to solidify her skills with this tool. Sol and Gabriel fixed the double motor tester today, and Gabriel reconfigured the Tau 2 UnderArm. Another recruit, Alex, studied the Iron Reign code base to become familiar with it. He hopes to further his coding knowledge by working with Vance.

Overall we helped the recruits learn skills needed to be efficient on the Iron Reign team, and continud the build of TauBot2 in preperation for Regionals, which is in 2 weeks.

Next Steps

We are working to further our recruit's knowledge and to further our progress on TauBot2. Throughout the next few weeks, our recruits will become acclimated to the Reign environment, and this will be crucial for us in order to complete the variety of tasks required to optimally prepare for Regionals. Specifically, we need to begin the code of the UnderArm and observe how the two subsystems interact to ensure that we have adequate control of the robot when it comes time to drive it. We also have to assemble the new Turrent and Shoulder and attach those to the new Chasiss. Finally, Motivate and Connect could always be improved to refine our award-winning ability.

Meeting Log 2/11

11 Feb 2023
Post 52
Awards: journal and think

Meeting Log 2/11 By Jai, Anuhya, Arun, Sol, David D, Georgia, Vance, Gabriel, Aarav, Alex, Tanvi, Leo, and Krish

Task: Continue to assemble TauBot2, work on portfolio, and prepare for Regionals

First off, we began assembling and wiring the UnderArm system. In the process of putting the UnderArm together, we ran into a couple of hurdles. The alignment on our parts was incredibly difficult to get right, and in the process of aligning them, we discovered that one of our servos was stripped. After tons of trial and error, we wired the servos that control the joints of the underarm. This was incredibly exciting because this was the first bit of functional mobility that our UnderArm system would be capable of. We strung the wires for connecting the servos, the new power switch, and the camera wire in a wire sleeve. We color-coded a lot of our wire management so that it's much easier to organize and understand for further replacement and continual maintenence.

Then, a seperate team worked on assembling the newly designed Shoulder and Turret. Our new Shoulder and Turret are custom-made and improve our robot in many ways. They make our robot lighter through the use of carbon fiber over aluminum. However, this mechanism is very similar to the initial iteration of TauBot. We switched to using an 8mm axle on the shoulder drive because our original shaft was too fragile and would bend under the pressure of the arm. We also worked on sourcing the right-sized bearings for our shoulder. During this meeting, we managed the slip ring wires and attached the slip ring to the carbon fiber base of the turret.

We also attached the nylon 3D-printed motor mounts for the motors that drive both the angle of the shoulder and the extension of the crane and began assembling the new motors with their required gear ratios. Preliminary work on the linear slide system also began as we 3D-printed the requisite spacers and cut the slides down to their proper length. We hope to have both these redesigned subsystems on TauBot2 as quickly as possible.

We continued to cut custom carbon fiber parts using our CNC machine, such as our belt tensioner and one of the motor mounts. In the process, we talked a lot of our new recruits through the CNC process and trained them to be proficient in using the CNC. This will help make our work with custom parts much quicker, as more people are capable of doing it. In doing this, we practiced a lot of problem-solving as we learned the hurdles that came with using a CNC machine. One such problem stemmed from the fact that step motors can't retain their positions. This led to the machine constantly losing where it was and slipping, which called for lots and lots of head-scratching and problem-solving.

Next Steps

Our next steps are to continue to train our new recruits to help make them more valuable assets to the team. With their help, we want to fully assemble and code the UnderArm system, the new Shoulder and Turret system and the new Crane. Once that's done we'd like to test the code and optimize it with the drive team so that we're ready to go for Regionals.

UnderArm Inverse Kinematics

17 Feb 2023
Post 53
Awards: control, software, and journal

UnderArm Inverse Kinematics By Jai, Vance, Alex, Aarav, and Krish

Task: Implement Inverse Kinematics on the UnderArm

Inverse kinematics is the process of finding the joint variables needed for a kinematic chain to reach a specified endpoint. In the context of TauBot2, inverse kinematics, or IK is used in the crane and the UnderArm. In this blog post, we'll be focused on the implementation of IK in the UnderArm.

The goal of this problem was to solve for the angles of the shoulder and the elbow that would get us to a specific field coordinate. Our constants were the end coordinates, the lengths of both segments of our UnderArm, and the starting position of the UnderArm. We already had the turret angle after a simple bearing calculation based on the coordinates of the field target and the UnderArm.

First, we set up the problem with the appropriate triangles and variables. Initially, we tried to solve the problem with solely right angle trigonometry. After spending a couple hours scratching our heads, we determined that the problem wasn't possible with solely right angle trig. Here's what our initial setup looked like.

In this image, the target field coordinate is labeled (x, z) and the upper and lower arm lengths are labeled S and L. n is the height of the right triangle formed by the upper arm, a segment of x, and the height of the target. m is the perpendicular line that extends from the target and intersects with n. We solved this problem for θ and θ2, but we solved for them in terms of n and m, which were unsolvable.

After going back to the drawing board, we attempted another set of equations with the law of sines. More frustration ensued, and we ran into another unsolveable problem.

Our Current Solution

Finally, we attempted the equations one more time, this time implementing the law of cosines. The law of cosines allows us to solve for the side lengths of non-right triangles.





Using this, we set up the triangles one more time.

Our goals in this problem were to solve for q1 and for α.

We quickly calculated a hypotenuse from the starting point to the target point with the Pythagorean Theorem. Using the radius and our arm length constants we determined cos(α). All we had to do from there was take the inverse cosine of that same equation, and we'd calculated α. To calculate q1, we had to find q2; and add it to the inverse tangent of our full right triangle's height and width. We calculated q2 using the equation at the very bottom of the image, and we had all of the variables that we needed.



After we solved for both angles, we sanity checked our values with Desmos using rough estimates of the arm segment lengths. Here's what the implementation looks like in our robot's code.

Meeting Log 2/17

17 Feb 2023
Post 54
Awards: control, journal, and think

Meeting Log 2/17 By Aarav, Anuhya, Jai, Alex, Tanvi, Georgia, Gabriel, and Krish

Work on build, code, and presentation in preparation for Regionals next week.

With the Regional competition coming up quite soon, we needed to get to work finishing up the build for TauBotV2, optimizing the code with new inverse kinematics for the double-jointed UnderArm, finishing up some subsystem blog posts, and practicing and preparing our presentation.

Presentation:

With a heavily below-par performance than the Tournament presentation where we skipped the entire Connect and Motivate section, we needed to stress practicing the performance this go around. We condensed the information into quick lines for each slide, but also expanded the overall amount of content to allow us flexibility.

After that, we got in valuable presentation practice to ensure that we don’t run over the 5-minute mark and miss out on sharing valuable information to the judges. At around a medium-ish pace, we finished the entire presentation in about 4:15. Pretty good, but that does mean that a few more slides of content could be added to maximize the time.

Build:

The new shoulder, turret, and linear slides need to be fully assembled and attached to TauBot2. We made the decision to move the entire shoulder assembly up a centimeter because of size restrictions and requirements, which meant we needed to reprint most of the motor mounts for the extension and rotation motors. We also finished assembling together all the linear slides and their carriages.

Code:

This is where most of the progress for today was made. Because of the double-jointed nature of the UnderArm crane, we needed new inverse kinematics equations in order to derive the proper angles for both sets of servos. From a given (x,y) point and the constants a1 and a2, which each refer to the length of each section of the crane respectively, we should be able to calculate the requisite servo angles. Through both right triangle trig and the law of cosines, we could find angle ɑ, the angle for the servos mounted by the turret, and angle β, the angle for the servos mounted between the two sections. This should allow us to move the crane to any position we desire simply with a set of coordinates.

We plugged both equations into Desmos to find the acceptable movement distances for the entire crane and added these calculations to the codebase, although we were not able to test them tonight. This is sort of a brief overview, but there will be a more detailed blog post covering the inverse kinematics of the UnderArm soon.

Next Steps:

With Regionals next week, we need to finish the full build of TauBot2 and begin coding the UnderArm so our two “intakes” can work together effectively in union. The UnderArm is still heavily untested, and there is a chance it fails miserably, so we need to start working on ironing out its issues and getting the entire robot to a functional state where it can cycle and score a few cones as intended. Our portfolio still needs to be converted into landscape and additional content added to fill up the vast amounts of empty space that remain. We also need to start working on possibly designing a custom binder out of carbon fiber to house the entire portfolio. With only a week left, we need to start acting now in order to finish everything before Regionals. The presentation is also a little bit low on content and slides, especially for pit interviews and Q&A, so we will be transferring more of the portfolio content to the presentation. To be competitive at Regionals for an award and advancement, we will need to tier documentation, which means sorting out any potential issues and lots of effort and practice. Overall, we made lots of progress, but there is still a lot of work left to be done.

Meeting Log 2/18

18 Feb 2023
Post 55
Awards: journal and think

Meeting Log 2/18 By Alex, Anuhya, Sol, Gabriel, Aarav, Jai, Leo, David D, Georgia, and Krish

Task: Regional Prep, Portfolio Development, Underarm Wiring and new Shoulder and Turret Assembly

To start we began to bring the wiring for the UnderArm through our wiring sleeve. The current UnderArm wiring situation was less than ideal and it needed to be reworked. About half of our UnderArm’s wires were in a wire sleeve and today we added the rest to it. We need a flexible wire sleeve that can collapse in and extend out so the underarm system can extend properly without being limited by the wires and prevent tanglement. This particular design of sleeve with interlocked fibers provides that functionality and with some extra attachment points that were added today it effectively holds the wires in place during UnderArm extension. However, there was a slight mishap with one of the servo wires coming loose from its plastic case, so we had to take a quick detour and fix that, but we were able to fully finish rewiring the UnderArm.

Currently in terms of our portfolio we have been redesigning the layout to switch from a portrait to landscape orientation to hopefully better present out robot and create some buzz. In addition, we made some additions to the portfolio to increase its thoroughness, detail, and remove extranous blank space. We also made some changes and updates to the TauBot build guide to improve its quality and detail when it gets added to our Engineering Notebook for Regionals. Much of the new Shoulder and Turret assembly was not there, so we added the instructions along with a couple helpful pictures. Finally, we completed many more blog posts to catch the blog up to date in time for the Regional competition.

In terms of build, we attached our new motor mounts that we printed overnight and are a lot closer to finally finishing the whole Shoulder and Turret assembly, although both axles still require significant work.

Next Steps

Our next steps are to continue to train our new recruits to help make them more valuable assets to the team. We also need to finish TauBot build as well as to finish code testing and preparing for Regionals in both presentation and portfolio, as well as start thinking about our Regional booth.

Meeting Log 2/21

21 Feb 2023
Post 56
Awards: journal

Meeting Log 2/21 By Jai, Anuhya, Vance, Leo, Gabriel, and Georgia

Regionals Prep: Work on Build, Code, and Presentation

With regionals just 4 days away, we had a lot to work on for TauBot2. Today, we focused on implementing a new Joint class in all of our joints in the UnderArm, soldered wires for the new Shoulder and turret assembly, and continued to wire the robot.

Code:

One issue that we had run into before was that whenever our Servos were given angles or positions that they couldn't reach, they would run themselves as fast as they could, often into other parts of the robot, which caused a lot of damage and undid a lot of our progress. Our solution to this was to run the Servos through another Class layer that did all of the calculations for Servo position given a target angle in degrees. Most importantly, it gave us the ability to control the speed of each individual Servo, which would make testing a lot less risky.

Build:

We also soldered the wires onto the slip ring and used heat shrinks to hold the wires together. This made it so that the slip ring can rotate, thus giving our robot the ability to rotate. However, the wires were incredibly thin, which led to constant failure in the soldering of the slip rings. After many many tries, however, we were able to finally get the wires fully soldered onto the slip ring. We continued to wire the UnderArm, and used heat shrink to secure wires on the Shoulder and Turret assembly. These were both exciting developments in the build progress of the new Shoulder and Turret assembly of TauBot2.

Next Steps:

With Regionals coming up soon, we are making good progress, and we need to continue to build, code, and test the robot, as well as work on our presentation.

NTX Regionals Play-by-Play

25 Feb 2023
Post 57
Awards: journal and think

NTX Regionals Play-by-Play By Aarav, Anuhya, Jai, Alex, Sol, Georgia, Gabriel, Trey, Vance, Leo, Arun, and Krish

Review the events of the NTX Regional

Today, Iron Reign participated at the NTX Regional Championship in Flower Mound. Even with major robot performance issues, we were still able to advance to both the UIL State Championship and the FTC State Championship by winning the Motivate award after a strong presentation and portfolio showing. We ended up with a record of 1-5, which ranked us 39th out of 40th. Obviously, given the late night and lack of planning and preparation, this was partially expected, but there needs to be significant progress made in order for us to remain competitive at State and have a chance to advance to Worlds.

First, we will review the documentation events, specifically our presentation and our pit interviews. We had a new custom-designed portfolio using a ninja flex hinge, an aluminum body, and a carbon fiber cover, which was definitely unique. Our presentation was a lot smoother and more concise than the Tournament and we were able to impress the judges and involve the entire team. Our pit interviews also went decently well but could have been better, as we accidentally turned down an Innovate panel over time concerns, something that almost cost us an opportunity to meet with them. At the end of the day, our outreach and presentation ability was enough to win Motivate, allowing us to advance on from State.

Now we will go over the play-by-play for all of our matches, which did not go very well in terms of a robot performance perspective.

Match 8: 80 to 63 Loss

In our first match, we did not score any points in autonomous, instead focusing on maneuvering our robot to a spot where it could score optimally and grab cones from the same position. We are able to score one cone on a high pole. Our alliance partner parked and cycled multiple cones, but they received two major penalties for handling multiple cones at once, which led to us losing the overall match. Our robot also did become dysfunctional in the endgame as part of the arm got caught on the nudge stick attachment, preventing us from moving our crane. After the match, we removed the nudge stick guide since we were not using the nudge stick at this competition.

Match 20: 93 to 10 Loss

In the next match, we were able to fix the nudge stick problem, but then a massive code issue during gameplay and a minor mechanical issue essentially shut down the robot for the entire game. Our alliance partner also did not show up at all because right before the match, their linear slide broke. This led to one of our worst performances, as we scored 0 points and got 10 from an opponent penalty. Our robot essentially stood there for the majority of the match, unable to move its crane. We later found out that there was a shaft collar issue, which we promptly fixed, but this was quite frustrating and disheartening.

Match 30: 152 to 63 Loss

The next match went slightly better, but we still ended up with a loss. Initially, we did not score any autonomous points, and it took a while for us to get into position, which shaved valuable seconds off. We missed 2 high cones for scoring, but our alliance partners were able to score on both the low and the medium poles. We ended up not scoring at all, but this was not due to code or build, we just needed more driver practice. Our opponents were scoring very fast, and our alliance partners’ circuit attempt was not enough to subdue them. They almost even tipped trying to circuit. The loss wasn’t very bad numerically, but it stung that we couldn’t score anything.

Match 38: 152 to 63 Win

In the next match, we just parked for autonomous. Our alliance scored two high cones and parked as well. During the driver-controlled section, we had a problem with the robot and had to reinitialize the robot, while our partners cycled. While our partners fought for possessions, we managed to score 1 cone on the middle pole and got our element on a cone for the low pole. At the end of the day, we won the match comfortably, mainly due to the efforts of our partner alliance.

Match 48: 171 to 138 loss

In our 5th match, our autonomous ran, but we stumbled over a ground junction during parking, so we weren’t lined up. For TeleOp, we had to spend lots of time getting in position, but we scored on a middle and tall pole. For one cone, we tried to score while the opponent was already trying to score on it, resulting in a penalty. We got another penalty because our gripper flipped and wrapped on a pole, which was deemed a major penalty. There was, though, a penalty on the other team for moving the cone stack during their intake. After all the penalties were determined, we lost the match, which was unlucky, but the gripper issue will be something we look into.

Match 55: 112 to 68 loss

For our last match of the day, we managed to get positioned for scoring during autonomous, but missed by a hair, then parked along with our partners. Our opponents scored up to three high cones and double parked. During TeleOp, we once again spent considerable time positioning ourselves. While our partner struggled to score, we scored one cone on the nearest high pole and scored on a different high pole for spread possession. We missed a 3rd high cone but scored a cap on an opponent-possesed pole during the endgame. We even had penalty points from an opposition penalty.

Our poor time management was seen in our lackluster robot performance, but our portfolio and outreach was enough to advance us to State. We hope to use the 4 weeks we have gained to finish our robot design and code, while also expanding our connections with professionals and outreach in general.

Meeting with the Head of the Dallas College STEM Institute

28 Feb 2023
Post 58
Awards: connect, outreach, and journal

Meeting with the Head of the Dallas College STEM Institute By Aarav, Anuhya, Georgia, Arun, Jai, Krish, Trey, Vance, Leo, and Gabriel

Task: Meet with the Dallas College STEM Institute

Today, team 6832 met with Jason Treadway, Head of the Dallas College STEM Institute and a former structural engineer. We virtually presented our robot and outreach efforts and were able to both intrigue him and received important input from him.

Overall, Mr. Treadway was quite impressed with our presentation, robot, and efforts to not just “design for ourselves,” but also educate the community on robotics. He was a large fan of the recruitment pipeline we established with Dealey Robotics and our 2 JV teams.

In terms of advice on the presentation, he suggested that we focus on adapting our images to help better highlight the differences between V1 and V2, possibly a side-by-side comparison that would appeal to visual learners and help them better see the evolution. He also found some of the diagrams of the drivetrain potentially confusing, and stated that adding dimensions and more detail would make them clearer and add a point of reference.

Finally, we discussed our outreach and motivate efforts, and Mr. Treadway asked about how we found out about outreach opportunities. As a team, we definitely do a lot of networking and make an effort to talk to people and build strong relationships. We also have mentor connections, utilize cold emails, and personal connections that we do our best to take advantage of. We were also advised to follow up with our Waymo connection and possibly get a tour of their local Dallas location.

Mr. Treadway also offered us a possible later connection opportunity, where we could come to the Dallas College Brookhaven campus to present our robot to college students in early April. Overall, it was a very informative session and we would like to thank Mr. Treadway for his time and advice, and we will definitely take it into account as we head to State.

Meeting Log 3/3

03 Mar 2023
Post 59
Awards: journal

Meeting Log 3/3 By Jai, Anuhya, Aarav, Alex, Tanvi, Georgia, Gabriel, Sol, Trey, Krish, Arun, Vance, and Leo

Task: Plan and strategize for the Road to State

Finally back from a much-needed break after regionals, the team got back together for a more strategy-focused meeting, and we did some preliminary work on code, build, and portfolio.

Planning:

To help us use our time efficiently, we focused the first couple hours of the meeting on planning. We created a spreadsheet with tasks, task descriptions, and deadlines. Learning from our experience at regionals, we decided to have a build freeze two weeks from the state tournament to make sure that our coders have enough time to fully integrate our new subsystems. With Spring Break coming up, we created a Doodle to help us find the best times to meet.

Code:

The main code task for today was creating collision detection for the UnderArm and the main Crane. This would add another layer of safety to make sure that our robot doesn't hit itself while it's controlled by Inverse Kinematics. We initially started by creating a line of no pass halfway between the main chassis and the chariot. We then realized that we needed more maneuverability with the UnderArm, so we created a box of no pass instead. We did this by checking if the field coordinates at the end of the UnderArm were outside the coordinates of a virtual box that we drew around the UnderArm. We also planned for the rest of the code that needs to get done before state.

Connect and Outreach:

For Connect and Outreach, we started with drafting grant applications. We need more funding to keep building the robot and attending the tournaments, and this was our first step toward acquiring some. After this, we reached out to some companies that we had connections with as a team. We talked to some people that were close with our team members so that we could get to them before state. We also emailed and contacted some newer companies with a connection to STEM.

Build:

On the build side of things, we reattached the UnderArm. We also tested new gear ratio motor speeds to find the most efficient one for our robot. We made more progress on the wiring harness for the crane and we created a couple of new custom pieces to help implement it. We also came up with a possible new solution to stagger the movement of each stage of our slide to improve predictability.

Next Steps:

Now that we have a clear plan and we've gotten some good work done already, it's just a matter of executing and polishing on the road to state.

UIL and State Play-by-Play

26 Mar 2023
Post 60
Awards: journal and think

UIL and State Play-by-Play By Aarav, Anuhya, Jai, Alex, Tanvi, Georgia, Gabriel, Trey, Vance, Leo, Arun, and Krish

Review the events of the UIL and FTC State Championships

This past week we participated in the FTC state championship and UIL state competition in Belton, Texas. Overall, we were successful, winning the Think Award at State and thus advancing to Worlds despite less-than-ideal robot performance. First, we will discuss judging and then transition into our game-by-game account. There will also be a post-mortem that will be uploaded later.

Regarding judging, all of it was done the week before the competition remotely. This meant we had to ensure that we remained on schedule because robot demonstrations are essential to virtual judging. Unfortunately, we could not show a live transfer, but we did have embedded videos depicting our robot’s functionality. Our main presentation and callbacks went well despite a few mishaps, especially regarding the key points we wanted to hit. Overall though, we were able to show our innovation and iteration processes and how TauBot connected with our game strategy and our team’s story as a whole.

As for gameplay at both events, it did not go as smoothly as we would have liked. We did face some trouble during sizing but managed to get the robot to fit. Here is a game-by-game account of each of our matches. Overall we went 1-11 and managed to transfer and score 3 times in total across both days. Some key notes to mention were that we did not have a working autonomous at all and thus did not run one in any of our matches.

Texas UIL

Match 4: 60 - 47 Loss

In the autonomous period, our robot did not move at all. During the teleop period, our robot hit one cone out of the substation, scored one cone, knocked another cone down, and grabbed the cone in intake, but the transfer didn’t work, and during the endgame, we were not able to score our beacon.

Match 7: 181 - 73 Loss

During the autonomous period, our robot did not move at all. In the teleop period, we had issues controlling UnderArm and determined that our driver synchronization needed to be worked on. In addition, our Crane was acting glitchy, and our flipper gripper wasn’t working. In the endgame, our robot was completely stationary the whole time.

Match 16: 251 - 75 Loss

During the autonomous period, our robot did not move at all. In the teleop period, we picked up a cone, put it back down, picked up a cone, and dropped it. During the endgame, the transfer worked, and we scored a cone. Some additional notes we took include that while transfer worked, it was inconsistent and slow (15-20 seconds for transfer, not including scoring).

Match 25: 144 - 20 Loss

During the autonomous period, our robot did not move at all. During teleop, our Crane was glitching again, and our UnderArm picked up a cone, but the Crane dropped it while trying to deposit it. Our Crane kept glitching in the endgame, but UnderArm worked to some degree.

Match 29: 171 - 83 Loss

During the autonomous period, our robot did not move at all. During teleop, our UnderArm struggled to pick up cones more than usual, and the transfer messed up. During the endgame, the robot demonstrated the same behavior as in teleop.

Match 34: 107 - 55 Loss

During the autonomous period, our robot did not move at all. During teleop, something went wrong in the shoulder of the UnderArm, and the robot stopped operating. During the endgame, the robot was stuck and couldn’t move due to the prior issue.

FTC State Championship

Match 9: 226 - 97 Loss

During the autonomous period, our robot did not move at all. During the teleop, we lost 20 points in penalties (our side). Our alliance partner wouldn’t let us go to the substation for cones, but we picked up a cone from the ground and scored. We picked a cone up from the substation, but the transfer didn’t work. During the endgame, we were not able to score our beacon..

Match 18: 280 - 29 Loss

During the autonomous period, our robot did not move at all. During teleop, the robot took long to recalibrate and transfer and couldn’t fully grab a cone. During the endgame, the turret started rotating. One thing to note was that referees said our sizing wasn’t proper (even though it was). We had to turn our robot 45 degrees, which contributed to the late start of recalibrating, which we later challenged but did not amount to anything.

Match 26: 110 - 97 Loss

During the autonomous period, our robot did not move at all. During teleop, we picked up a cone, the transfer worked, and a cone was scored; a cone got stuck but was transferred after a cancellation, and we scored a cone. During the endgame, the Crane got stuck on a pole.

Match 32: 111 - 79 Loss

During the autonomous period, our robot did not move at all. During teleop, we picked up a cone, but the transfer didn’t work, and this happened multiple times. We pulled from the cone stack during the endgame, but it didn’t land on the pole when we deposited them.

Match 39: 242 - 165 Loss

During the autonomous period, our robot did not move at all. During teleop, the robot wasn’t moving; it was completely stuck. However, during the endgame, the robot was still stuck in position. Some things to note are that we queued late and didn’t have time to run the full calibrate sequence and ended up stopping to stop the robot from breaking itself. We also started without calibration because we were told we would incur penalties. This is definitely something we can improve on.

Match 48: 144 - 88 Win

During the autonomous period, our robot did not move at all. During teleop, the robot got into position, grabbed a cone, and hyperextended the wrist, so we switched to using the Crane as both intake and depositing. Unfortunately, during the endgame, we couldn’t get the beacon. One thing to note is that the wrist went limp and couldn’t be corrected through manual control.

Even though TauBot was not up to par, we hope to spend the next 4 weeks fine-tuning it and truly turning it into a Worlds-level robot. More information on our takeaways and future plans will be discussed in our post-mortem, but we made it to Worlds at the end of the day.

Recruiting at Flight School

08 Aug 2023
Post 61
Awards: journal

Recruiting at Flight School By Aarav, Anuhya, Tanvi, Jai, and Georgia

Task: Recruit new members at the TAG Flight School

Today, Iron Reign presented at TAG’s Flight School in order to recruit new members in preparation for the upcoming season to fill out our sister teams, Iron Core and Iron Giant. There was a quick recruitment presentation and a demonstration of basic REV components for interested freshmen. The idea was to generate hype and interest in order to ensure attendance at a more in-depth meeting later during the school year with more logistical information and a live demo of TauBot. Efforts like this are important to ensure the sustainability of the Iron Reign program to help replace our members who graduate with ones who already have FTC experience through our sister teams.

Next Steps

Host a more in-depth informational meeting with a live demo of TauBot and a meeting at our workspace. Additionally, recruitment efforts aimed at SEM students are also a significant priority.

Scrimmage Review

28 Oct 2023
Post 62
Awards: control, innovate, and journal

Scrimmage Review By Anuhya, Vance, Alex, Sol, Georgia, Krish, Tanvi, Jai, and Aarav

Task: Review our performance at the first scrimmage of the season

Earlier today, we had our first scrimmage at Woodrow Wilson! This was our first proper opportunity to interact with other teams and their robots this season and we got a chance to troubleshoot any design issues with our robot. We entered this scrimmage with our beater bar system in the vague shape of a triangle and a linear slide with a “scoopagon” as our outtake. Overall, because of a lack of driver practice, we experienced quite a few issues without our linear slide and beater bar system, but it was an incredible learning opportunity!

Play by Play

Match 1: 9 to 0 Win

Our auton wasn't enabled. We also had a bad servo configuration on our beater bar so we were essentially a “push bot” for this first match. After the autonomous period, when our drivers went to pick up their controllers, they noticed a driver station issue, rendering our robot useless for this match. We scored 0 points and our alliance partners scored the other 9 points.

Match 2: 13 to 16 Loss

Our auton wasn't enabled again because we thought it would cause our robot to crash. Our outtake wasn't working so we ended up using our beater bar to score. We managed to score two pixels but, because of a lack of driver practice and an unconventional and unplanned method of scoring, we knocked them off the backdrop into backstage. Instead of our initial plan of getting pixels from the pixel stacks, we took pixels from the wing. We wanted to take pixels from the pixel stacks because we wouldn't have to go diagonally through the opposing team's area but it wasn't possible because of the level of precision needed to score from the pixel stacks using a beater bar.

Match 3: 18 to 46 Loss

Once again, our auton wasn't enabled. We continued using our beater bar to score. We were able to score 2 pixels on the backdrop this time and we took pixels from the stacks like we had initially planned instead of from the wings. We got a lot more pixels but in the process of transferring them through our beater system, we ended up loosing quite a few of them. Our opponent got 30 points in the way of penalties, so they won. We haven't found the right balance in speeds for our beater bar's rotations, nor do we know how stiff the tabs should be. We need to do a lot more experimentation so the beater bar can be used properly to both retain pixels, take pixels from both the wings and pixel stacks and possibly score pixels on the randomization lines and the backdrop.

Match 4: 37 to 17 Win

Our auton still wasn't enabled but we had hopes we could get it to work before the next match. We continued using our beater bar to score, and we got 3 pixels on the backdrop and one backstage. By picking up pixels from the wings, we also got some level of precision with our beater bar and human player because we managed to successfully create a mosaic on the backdrop! This was our first mosaic of the season!

Match 5: 19 to 15 Loss

The highlight of the scrimmage was definitely the last match. Our auton was enabled but didn't end up working as we intended and we scored one pixel on the backdrop but we managed to drop it by hitting the backdrop with too hard a force.

Next Steps

One of the biggest issues we had throughout this meet was with our beater bar system. The “tray” we were using to keep the pixels moving through the beater bar is made out of MDF with a chiseled tip so it can lay flat against the mats. However, because of friction with the mats, it kept fraying, meaning it acted as a slight barrier for the pixels entering the beater bar. As soon as possible, we need to replace the MDF with both a thinner, more sturdy and frictionless material. Our outtake is also notoriously unreliable, especially because of how bad our servo configuration and wire management is. Our motor placement for extending the linear slide could also be improved. Overall, we want to work on improving this current iteration of our robot for now instead of completely changing our build.

League Meet 1 Review

18 Nov 2023
Post 63
Awards: control, innovate, and journal

League Meet 1 Review By Anuhya, Vance, Sol, Georgia, Krish, Tanvi, Jai, and Aarav

Task: Review our performance at our first league meet!

Today was our first league meet, which means all our wins, losses, overall points and points gained in autonomous would count towards league tournament rankings. This was a good opportunity to see how we'd hold up against other robotics teams who all had the same amount of time to prepare for this season's game. Overall, it was a good experience and we were pleasantly surprised by our robot's capabilities as well as our luck!

Play by Play

Match 1: 26 to 10 Win

Our auton actually worked! Our robot's auton is designed to move the robot back slightly and deposit a pixel onto the middle randomization line. We scored 20 points for auton! The beater bar was slow to start, so we were at a bit of a disadvantage of our own creation, and the linear slide servo wire came out, meaning we had to rely on the beater bar for depositing our pixels. We ended up with one pixel backstage, and we parked during the end game but we were almost outside the field.

Match 2: 20 to 26 Loss

Our robot moved in auton but the beater bar didn't release the pixel. This was similar to an issue we were having at the scrimmage, where the beater bar wasn't able to get a good hold on the pixels. We scored one pixel using the beater bar but one issue we noticed was that the beater bar was getting stuck on the tape which demarcates the wings. This can be both problematic for our game because it can give the opposite team penalties and it also takes away from our ability to get pixels from the wings. We parked in end game. Some possible solutions we may look at to help with the tape issue is curving the edge of the tray of the beater bar or adding some frictionless tape so it doesn't catch as much.

Match 3: 15 to 39 Loss

Our robot, once again, moved in auton but didn't release the pixel. Immediately after auton, our robot's battery died so we couldn't move it at all. It was also a hindrance to our alliance team because it died right in front of the backdrop. We got some points from a penalty, but it was still a resounding loss. In many of our previous robotics' seasons, our robots' dying has been a major issue. As a team, we need to do a better job of ensuring that we have charged batteries available and the voltages are at the optimal amount for a fully functional robot.

Match 4: 14 to 28 Win

Our auton deployed properly but luck was not on our side; the pixel placement didn't match randomization. We scored 4 pixels on the backdrop, picking up the pixels from the wings and using our linear slide and scoopagon to score on the backdrop, but they didn't form a mosaic. In end game, both of the robots on our alliance parked!

Match 5: 54 to 60 Win

Our auton deployed properly and the pixel fell on the randomization line! Our alliance partners parked during the autonomous period as well. We scored five pixels on the backdrop but two of them got knocked off. During end game, both our alliance teams got parking! Pixels getting knocked off the backdrop are a recurring issue throughout our matches this season. We need more driver practice to make sure the scoopagon hits the backdrop with the correct amount of force to deploy the pixels but also doesn't knock off any pixels already on the backdrop. We also need a strategy to make mosaics instead of placing random pixels on the backdrop because mosaics get far more points.

Next Steps

Our outtake is still not as reliable as it could have been, especially because of the wire management and how wobbly our linear slide is overall. We have made clear progress from our scrimmage, where the outtake didn't work at all, to now, where the outtake works but isn't reliable, but there is still a lot more work to do. We've seen that our “scoopagon” is quite reliable and don't have any plans to change it at this moment, other than to secure our counterweight in a better way. We also know that using the vision pipeline is very possible for our autonomous and we want to implement that by the next league meet. We are also going to experiment with different materials for the tray of the beater bar, with it currently being a very thin sheet of aluminum.

League Meet 2 Play-By-Play

09 Dec 2023
Post 64
Awards: control, innovate, and journal

League Meet 2 Play-By-Play By Aarav, Krish, Jai, Sol, Tanvi, Alex, Vance, and Georgia

Task: Review our performance at our 2nd League Meet

Today, Iron Reign has its second league meet. It was, in general, a helpful experience and a great chance to compete with local teams. Overall, we went 3-3 and ended up ranked 9th due to our high tie-breaker points. Even though our record was slightly worse compared to the first meet, our robot performance was significantly worse, and multiple helpful alliances gave us our wins. Code bugs and poor packaging made the meet a significant struggle for us, leaving us with a lot of ground to make up during winter break. However, before we look at some of our takeaways, here’s a brief play-by-play of our matches.

Match 1: 118 to 15 Win

We ended up not running an auton due to reliability issues. Our alliance partner scored 30 in auton through a combination of placing the purple pixel in the randomized location, a pixel on the backdrop, and navigating backstage. During tele-op, we started slowly due to a long initialization cycle. Unfortunately, the axes on the field-oriented drive made the robot almost undrivable, and it took a good 45 seconds to cross the stage door. This was a recently added feature that had not been fully tested before the competition. When we reached backstage, the preloaded yellow pixel fell out of the Scoopagon, meaning we had to go all the way back to our wing to pick up a new set of pixels - costing us time. On the way across the stage door, we got caught on our alliance partner and yanked off their drone from their launcher. Despite this, our alliance partner performed well, cycling 2 pixels onto the backdrop and hanging from the rigging.

Match 2: 40 to 31 Loss

Auton successfully placed the purple pixel on the right tape based on our team element, albeit because of a somewhat favorable noise, but we took those. After the buzzer rang, we promptly switched modes, quickly crossed underneath the stage door, and cycled two pixels on the backdrop. However, our driver Krish had trouble maneuvering back through the rigging posts, an issue that could be fixed through driver automation in tele-op. We hurried back for parking in the endgame, but our opponent managed to hang from the rigging, which gave them the win.

Match 3: 38 to 48 Loss

During this match, our robot successfully scored the purple pixel in auton, and our partner parked backstage. We cycled 1 pixel onto the backdrop, but the messed up driving system, combined with a lack of communication during pixel intake, meant that’s all we were able to score. During the meet, we tried to solve the communication issue by creating a simple hand gesture system. Unfortunately, we ended up losing because of a penalty our alliance member incurred for interfering with the pixel stacks.

Match 4: 71 to 51 Loss

Before this match even started, we had struggles with initializing the robot and setting it up for match play. Because our outtake slide was not fully retracted, we also had issues complying with the sizing requirements, which took a bit of time to sort out. A comprehensive “pre-match checklist” that we adhere to could help fix this. In auton, we deposited the purple pixel properly; from there, things worsened. Because of a code bug in the transition between op-modes, we remained stationless for the final 2 minutes. We could not solve the code error during the meet, so this issue continued to hurt us. One potential reason for this was how many code changes we were making at meet, often at the very last minute, which left us unable to fully take the time to test out the changes.

Match 5: 30 to 34 Win

Here, we missed the auton pixel and fell victim to the same code bug that happened before, which left us static for all of teleop. We got very lucky as our alliance partner scored their drone and a couple of pixels, carrying us to victory(we scored no points in this match). We thought we had fixed the code bug during testing on the practice field, but we simply didn’t have enough time to verify that.

Match 6: 37 to 26 Win

In our final match, our auton remained consistent, but yet again, the code issue reared its ugly head. This meet was very much the tale of two halves. A sort of successful first 3 matches led to us pushing new code and build changes to get features such as the lift working, which eventually

We'll be posting another post with our post-mortem thoughts, takeaways, deeper analysis, and some plans for the future.

Mentoring FLL Teams

10 Jan 2024
Post 65
Awards: outreach and motivate

Mentoring FLL Teams By Georgia, Sol, and Alex

Task: Help the Sudie L. Williams Academy FLL teams

Today we met with four FLL teams at Sudie L. Williams TAG Academy: the Code-iators (11978), Mechanical Mammoths (43326), Robotic Robloxians (51977), and the Artsy Armadillos (46872).

We split up and had each team give a mock portfolio presentation to us as if we were judges. This not only let us help these FLL teams work on and improve their presentation skills, and give them feedback to further improve their presentation content, but also let us observe presentations to see how we could improve upon our own.

We gave feedback on four categories: Research, Robot Game, Robot Design, and Core Values. After each section presentation, we would ask questions pertaining to the section. For example, for robot design, we might ask “Explain the most Innovative part of your robot and code” if they haven't already answered it. We took notes on how well they answered the question, and anything interesting in their answer.

After we had asked our questions and finished judging, we went to give individual feedback to each of the teams we met with. The first part of this process was asking the teams what they wanted feedback on. Surprisingly enough, the teams had a good understanding of what they needed help with and asked some pretty insightful questions. Luckily, a lot of FLL portfolio knowledge applies to FTC, and we were able to answer their questions thoroughly.

Next, we worked through a judging rubric with the teams, giving them scores, explaining why they earned that score, and explaining what they might be able to work on to raise each score.

Additionally, we talked with the teams about FTC and Iron Reign, and answered their questions and any questions coaches/parents had.

Overall, we had a great time helping these four teams, and we can't wait to meet with them again!

League Meet 3 Play-By-Play

20 Jan 2024
Post 66
Awards: control, innovate, and journal

League Meet 3 Play-By-Play By Anuhya, Krish, Jai, Sol, Tanvi, Alex, Vance, and Georgia

Task: Review our performance at our 3rd League Meet

Today, Iron Reign had its third league meet. It was more successful than our last league meet, with more success with both the drone launcher and our autonomous code. Overall, we went 5-1 and ended up ranked 3rd due to our relatively high tie-breaker points. We ended up perfectly tying with the 2nd place team when it came to autonomous points, and we had a lower score than them for end-game. We saw huge improvements in driving from our previous league meets to this league meet, and learned many valuable lessons about being prepared for matches. However, before we look at some of our takeaways, here’s a brief play-by-play of our matches.

Match 1: 77 - 23 Win

We scored a 45 point auton this round, which is the highest we can score alone. We placed a purple pixel where it was supposed to go, but a bug that started happening with our auton so it could detect placement is that it starts spinning. This can lead to an issue because of how short the autonomous period is, but it wasn’t an issue here. We placed the yellow pixel on its appropriate location on the backdrop and then parked. Driving during the Tele-Op portion started out rocky and we hit the rigging a few times. We were also having issues working together with our alliance partner, as they ended up in front of the backdrop many times as we tried to score and they would be in the wings at the position we needed to be in. One of our wheels was also stuck in a pixel for the majority of the match, which is a problem that could easily have been avoided if we had side shields on the robot. Our alliance team got hung, resulting in our win.

Match 2: 88 - 102 Loss

We got a 28 point auton, where we placed the purple pixel correctly but the yellow pixel was on the wrong section of the backdrop. We also got parking. Our partner was a push bot but they could get the drone as well. We ended up getting a total of 6 pixels on the backdrop by the end of Tele-Op, and we got hang but couldn’t get the drone launched because the drone hit the rigging. Our opponent launched their drone, resulting in their win.

Match 3: 106 - 31 Win

Once again, we got a 28 point auton, where we placed the purple pixel correctly but the yellow pixel was on the wrong section of the backdrop. We also got parking. In this match, none of the other robots had an auton. During Tele-Op, we got a mosaic by placing an additional purple and green pixel. With the help of our alliance partner, Iron Core, we got 6 total pixels on the backdrop by the end of Tele-Op. By the end game, our drone had already fallen off, which was a great missed opportunity for points which remained throughout this entire league meet. The Skyhooks weren’t set up prior to the match, so they were already locked and we couldn’t hang. This showed us how much we need to have a pre-match checklist. We also got 30 points in penalties.

Match 4: 67 - 17 Win

We got a 6 point auton. The purple pixel missed the tape and the yellow pixel fell before it could reach the backdrop. We got parking, however. In Tele-Op, we knocked over the pixel stack so our alliance partner could pick up pixels from the ground. We scored a purple and green pixel in addition to a yellow pixel, resulting in a mosaic. The stage door broke as we went through the center because it was already bent and our robot hit the lowest part, resulting in it bending even further. While we were taking in new pixels, we dropped the drone. At the end of tTele-Op, we had a total of 4 pixels on the backdrop. In the end game, we hung but because our drone dislodged, we couldn’t score the drone. Our alliance partner got parking.

Match 5: 112 - 29 Win

We got a 26 point auton because we scored the purple pixel properly, but the robot dropped the yellow pixel because of the “spin sequence”, which ensures that we are pointing directly at the backdrop but takes too much time. We also got parking. In the Tele-Op portion, we hit the stage door but it didn’t mess us up too badly. Some traffic by the wings also slowed us down. We almost got a mosaic but there was a very small gap between two of the pixels, and all the pixels have to be perfectly touching to be a mosaic. We failed to try for a second mosaic even though there was time. We scored a total of 7 pixels on the backdrop, 1 on the backstage. In the end game, we scored the drone to get a full 30 points and we hung as well! This was our most successful drone launch of the league meet!

Match 6: 85 - 34 Win

We got a 25 point auton, with the purple pixel barely touching the tape. The robot did the “spin sequence” again, but timed out completely so the yellow pixel wasn’t dropped at all. We also got parking. In Tele-Op, we first scored the yellow pixel we couldn’t score because of the weird auton. One of our alliance partners also knocked one of our pixels off the backdrop. Placing one of the pixels resulted in a ricochet so we couldn’t score a mosaic. We had a total of 6 pixels on the backdrop by the end of teleop. In end game, we couldn't score a drone because the drone launcher wasn’t tensioned. This was the second match where we noticed this issue.

We'll be posting another post with our post-mortem thoughts, takeaways, deeper analysis, and some plans for the future.

Contact Us

E-Mail: ironreignrobotics@gmail.com Website: In the address bar