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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.

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