Articles by tag: connect

Articles by tag: connect

    2018 Worlds Day One

    2018 Worlds Day One By Ethan, Evan, Kenna, Austin, Charlotte, Abhi, Tycho, Karina, Justin, Janavi, and Shaggy

    Task: Present and play first match

    It was a dark, surprisingly non-humid, Houston morning. Tarballs blew through the parking lot from dusty, abandoned oil refineries down by the bay. One by one, phones went off in the hotel looming above the lot, waking up their inhabitants. In these rooms, their occupants dusted off their Bucees wrappers and Iron Reign shirts and stumbled to the tournament.

    The first day was relatively short, with a lot of waiting. There were two main parts of the day, presentation and first match.

    Presentation
    Our presentation went well. We were able to get all of our information across effectively and we got in-depth questions from all of the judges (including our first question about coding all season). Throughout questioning, we were able to hand off questions so that no individual member dominated the questioning time.
    One problem we had with the presentation was that the rooms were constructed within the competition hall with fabric. This made it so that sound did not carry very well within the rooms, and that sound could carry over from other rooms, so the judges had difficulty hearing us at some points depending on the speaker. Despite this, we're confident that the majority of the information came across.

    Game 1
    We won this game, 319-152. Both us and KNO3 outdid ourselves in robot game, scoring more in autonomous that our opponents did the entire match. In telop, we lagged behind, but there was already no catching up for our opponents.

    2018 Worlds Day Two

    2018 Worlds Day Two By Ethan, Evan, Kenna, Austin, Charlotte, Abhi, Tycho, Karina, Justin, Janavi, and Shaggy

    Task: Compete in robot game

    It was the beginning of Day 2. Our members rolled out of bed, covered in old Fiesta receipts and Chipotle wrappers. One by one, they stumbled onto their charter bus, unprepared for the new day.

    Game 26
    We lost this match, 213-401. Our robot wasn't working reliably on the field and we were still debugging issues. Because of this, there was only one true competing robot on blue, and it couldn't keep up against two bots.
    Game 34
    We won this match, 428-172. Both us and our partner had high-scoring autonomii and teleop, and we were able to score the relic while our opponents weren't.
    Game 55
    We won this match, 484-405. We were about evenly matched, but we were more than pushed over the top with the 180 penalty points from the other team. However, we were partnered with RedNek Robotics, the top team at the tournament, so we should've done better than a slight penalty win.
    Game 73
    We won this match, 459-441. At this point, we had gotten in the groove and were actually competitive in the robot game for once. We got 200+ points in autonomous *and* teleop, a feat that we'd never done before. While our competition was equally matched, we had a slight initial advantage that was never overcome.

    We also entered the block design competition this day. AndyMark released a form on their Twitter a few weeks before to enter, and we requested 64 blocks. We settled on a throne design, using a bread carver to add more details. We had teams from all over gravitate to our pit to sit in our chair and get help in their own designs.

    2018 Worlds Day Three

    2018 Worlds Day Three By Ethan, Evan, Kenna, Austin, Charlotte, Abhi, Tycho, Karina, Justin, Janavi, and Shaggy

    Task: Compete in robot game

    It was the beginning of Day 3. We awoke, covered in metal parts and broken servos, took our sleeping-caps off, and went off to the Houston Convention Center.

    Game 82
    We won this game, 467-442. This was personally, our best game. We went against the BLUE CREW and won, which was no small feat (they went undefeated until this match). On top of that, we completed a full cryptobox, which we had never done before.
    Game 99
    We lost this game, 254-333. Our autonomous didn't work well, so we lost a good amount of points. As well, we just couldn't keep up with the blue alliance in TeleOp.
    Game 116
    We lost this game, 431-492. Like the last, we just couldn't keep up with our opponents.
    Game 131
    We lost this game, 232-408. Our phone fell off our robot at the beginning and disconnected :(.

    See awards information here.

    UIL 2018

    UIL 2018 By Abhi, Karina, Evan, Janavi, Austin, Justin, and Shaggy

    Task: Attend the 2018 UIL Robotics Competition

    Background

    For those who don't know, UIL Robotics is the premier state robotics competition for Texas. Iron Reign has been a beta-testing partner since its inception, and this year was the event's first year as a full-fledged program.

    To participate in UIL, a team must win at a Regional level, and have a good overall showing. This year, since we got 2nd Inspire at Regionals and 3rd Inspire at Oklahoma Regionals, we were a shoo-in for an invitation. Being a state event, the DISD STEM Dept. supported us through transportation, food, and lodging along with other DISD teams such as Mechanicats.

    The Night Before

    As with all Iron Reign tournaments, we stayed up way longer than we should have. But, unlike other times, we had a purpose: to help fellow teams.

    We assisted the other DISD team, Mechanicats with programming and driver practice. In particular, they didn't have a working autonomous to begin with. But, with our half-field and glut of programmers, we helped them create a basic autonomous for the next day. As well, we collaborated on their TeleOp to make it more driver-friendly.

    The Day Of

    We walked into the tournament, tired, but excited for the last tournament of the season, led by our two robots, Kraken and C.A.R.T. BOT. Kraken is our Relic Recovery robot; a tank on wheels with specially cut aluminum sideplates and our proprietary REVolution system. So, it got plenty of looks. Then, we also brought the newest addition to the Iron Reign family: CART BOT. CART BOT is the automated corpse of our robot cart. For the past month, we've been tearing it down, replacing its wheels, motorizing it, adding a power source, and so much more. It tops out at 20 MPH and can carry 300 lbs. without blinking an eye. Naturally, we thought UIL was the perfect place to bring it out.

    Since UIL is the last tournament of the season and has no real consequences, we use it as a trial field for next year's changes. First, we had Evan lead our pit crew team as practice for next year. As well, we used the competition to practice driving for next year as well as improve our scouting strategies after worlds.

    One of the best things about UIL is the ability to really interact with other Texas-area teams that we normally wouldn't see until Supers. A lot of the teams came over to see our robot, which is kind of understandable because it's probably the best robot we'll ever build. But, we had a surprising number of teams come up to talk to us about our Engineering Journal, including people who had already seen our journal online and wanted to talk about it to us in person (Vitruvian Voltage).

    Robot Performance

    Even though we enjoy UIL, it's never our best competition of the year. Some of this is due to exhaustion; we tend to run out of steam by then, but it can also be attributed to that UIL is a robot-game intensive event, and Iron Reign tends to focus more on awards. So, we tend to comparatively underperform as compared to a theoretical Iron Reign stand in.

    We started off the day in a bad place, as one of the chains on the robot snapped for the first time in the season. However, we still managed to win the match as we were carried by our partner. But, we managed to do decently in the next four matches. This wasn't entirely due to luck, it was just that we had more competition experience than some of the other teams due to Worlds, and were able to perform more effectively.

    Luckily, our scouting paid off, and we were chosen as the first pick of the #1 alliance. We won our first final match, but then lost the next two due to unreliability.

    The UIL Difference

    Unlike FTC, UIL puts much less of an emphasis on judging. First, there aren't any presentations: everything is done at the pit. In addition, UIL judges are FRC first, and FTC second, so they weren't aware of many differences between the two. Finally, the awards mean nothing.

    Next Steps

    This was the last competition of the season, so now Iron Reign will go into Funding, Outreach, and Recruitment mode for a while for the next season, but keep track of our blog to see what we'll do next. Relic Recovery '17-'18, signing off.

    Contacting Mark Cuban

    Contacting Mark Cuban By Abhi

    Task: Get Funding from Mark Cuban

    At the World Championship this year, Dean Kamen, the founder of FIRST, talked about getting celebrity involvement in the robotics program. Very few celebrities support FIRST (will.i.am being the biggest) and will.i.am. sent a request through Kamen to all teams to reach out to close by celebrities to get them involved in FIRST. As I sat in the crowd at Minute Maid Park, Kamen's words stuck with me on my journey home. I thought about how cool it would be to have celebrities support Iron Reign. However, I had no idea who to contact.

    Still on the quest, I sat down to watch TV one day. As I scrolled through the channels, I found Shark Tank (one of my favorite shows). Then it hit me: I wanted Mark Cuban, a Dallas native, to support Iron Reign.

    Mark Cuban, investor on Shark Tank and the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, has been very important to Dallas. I decided to reach out to him to see if he would be willing to support us. I asked people at school if anyone knew Cuban or knew people who knew him. Luckily, my friend's father went to the same gym as him! Through my friend (Amanda), I reached out to Cuban. I drafted an email which would be sent through Amanda to Cuban.

    Next Steps:

    Now all I can do is wait for a reply!

    Response from Mark Cuban

    Response from Mark Cuban By Abhi

    Task: Reply to Cuban

    After sending a small email to Cuban, he replied very soon asking for more details (shown above)! With this, I felt more confident I could make things happen. In my following email, I provided more details explaining the FTC program, from last year's challenge (Relic Recovery) to the work we have done for Dallas. I also asked to present to Cuban about the team since Iron Reign tends to get information across best through presentations.

    Next Steps:

    Once again, it's time to wait for a reply!

    Conversing with Mark Cuban

    Conversing with Mark Cuban By Abhi, Ethan, Janavi, Christian, Kenna, and Charlotte

    Task: Explain Iron Reign

    Once again, we got a positive response from Cuban! Unfortunately, we couldn't meet in person but I was still pursuing the sponsor path. For the next message, I decided to get some other members of the team on the project. Since this was our one shot to convince him, I drafted a much longer sponsor email, inspired by older emails to our sponsors. In this email, we provided specifics into what we can do with Cuban's support. With a monetary donation, we will either spend money on robot parts or save it to act as a seed donation for kick-starting a non-profit organization for Iron Reign. Since we are somewhat limited in our monetary abilities due to DISD "red tape", we wanted to develop this organization to better fund our team for years to come. Explaining all these details, our email came to a close. However, I still wanted for Cuban to "meet" the members of the team. From this stance, I decided that making a video from our team members would do the job. After some quick script writing, we developed the video shown below!

    Next Steps:

    Again, we wait for a reply!

    Iron Reign sponsored by Mark Cuban

    Iron Reign sponsored by Mark Cuban By Abhi

    In this post, I would like to thank Mr. Cuban for supporting Iron Reign. Today, we received a message from Mark Cuban's assistant stating that he would be contributing $2500 to Iron Reign. There is no end to how much this helps our team for the following season.

    FIRST is an organization dedicated to promoting young minds in STEM. However, to participate in the program (specifically the Tech Challenge), many materials are needed. A successful team often needs funding to sustain itself for years to come. Mr. Cuban has allowed Iron Reign to actualize this through his support. With his help, we hope to continue to influence young children through our outreach and build better robots. Hopefully, we can return to the World Championship and bring Mr. Cuban to the greatness of FIRST.

    2018-19 Connect and Outreach Strategy

    2018-19 Connect and Outreach Strategy By Ethan

    Task: Discuss Iron Reign's Awards Strategy for the Upcoming Season

    FTC is undergoing a series of changes next year that will most likely negatively impact Iron Reign's ability to advance to further levels. Given that there are about 5,400 teams in FTC for the 2017-2018 season and 256 teams advance to worlds, 4.7% of teams advanced to worlds this year. Next year however, the amount of teams will increase, but the amount of domestic teams advancing to worlds will stay the same. Effectively, the percentage of teams advancing to Worlds will decrease, so that some regions may lose advancement spots.

    The best plan to advance is still a dual focus on awards and game. So, we need to up our game. Talking about our RV, while still impressive, has lost its luster with Dallas-area judges. We're still using the RV, and doing our normal outreach, but we plan to aggressively pursue business and engineering contacts. We've already received around $5,000 from individual donors, and received a separate $2,500 grant from Mark Cuban. In addition, members of our team are working at companies such as Verizon, ESi, Abbott, Parkland, and more; all the while gaining contacts in those industries.

    We have our work cut out for us, this year will be additionally challenging, losing one of our coders and one builder. We're training people in the skillsets that we're losing out over the summer, and we're also seeking FRC teams to mentor (we want to flip the traditional dichotomy of FRC teams training FTC teams on its head). We really want to get to Worlds this year - its the last year that any of the original members are on the team, and we want to go out with a bang.

    Next Steps

    • Seek further business and engineering connections
    • Extend assistance for FIRST outreach
    • Continue team training
    • Continue RV outreach
    • Seek continued grants from TWC and other TX sponsors

    Summer Chassis Project - July Meeting

    Summer Chassis Project - July Meeting By Kenna, Ethan, Charlotte, Karina, Shaggy, and Abhi

    Task: Compare & Collaborate on Chassis

    At Big Thought's offices in downtown Dallas, three teams met. Technicbots (Team 8565), EFFoRT (Team 8114), Schim Robotics (12900), and Iron Reign are all part of the North Texas Chassis Project. The goal is for each team to create any number of chassis and improve their building skills by learning from the other teams.

    The meeting began with an overview of all teams' progress. Each team presented their thought process and execution when creating each bot and discussed why/how everything was done. At the end, we all reviewed the rule changes for the 2018-19 season. Once all questions had been asked and answered, testing began.

    Austin Lui of Technicbots gets their chassis ready for testing.

    Using leftover tiles from last season, we set up a small field in Big Thought's blue room. Technicbots provided a ramp to do enhanced testing with. All teams plan on testing:

    • Forward speed
    • 3 second turn
    • Up/Down ramp
    • Balancing stone
    • Weight-pulling
    • Straight line drift
    • 90/180° turn offset

    Connor Mihelic of EFFoRT adds some finishing touches.

    We know from Google Analytics that our website has about 200 visitors a month but we rarely meet the people who read and use our blog posts. Today, we got to meet the mentors of Team 12900 from a middle school in Plano, TX. When they and their students were starting out as a team, they utilized our tutorials and journal. Apparently their teams members are avid followers of our team, which was very meaningful to hear. Some non-FTC friends visited as well and were introduced to cartbot.


    Terri and Grant Richards of Schim Robotics.

    Next Steps

    Using what we learned from the other teams, we will begin to improve all of our chassis. Most of them are at varying levels of completion so now we want to concentrate on getting all of them to the same level of functionality. Garchomp is, notably, the most behind so he will be getting the most attention from here on out.

    Best Buy Grant

    Best Buy Grant By Ethan

    Task: Receive a grant from Best Buy for continued MXP operation

    Last year, we received a $10,000 award to continue our RV operations, cover staffing costs, and pay for additional technology\repairs. This year, we received another grant of $10,000 for the same reason. This is another stepping stone in keeping Iron Reign and BigThought's MXP program sustainable for another year. In addition, any donation amount encourages more donations in a kind-of snowball effect.

    Next Steps

    We will continue to seek out grants for not only the MXP, but also so that our team can remain sustainable for years to come.

    My Summer at MIT

    My Summer at MIT By Abhi

    Task: Spend a Summer at MIT

    Hello all! You might have been wondering where I went the entire summer while Iron Reign was busily working on tasks. Well for those of you interested, I was invited to spend a month at MIT as part of the Beaverworks program. I worked in the Medlytics course and analyzed medical data using machine learning methods. This seems distant from the work we do in FTC but I learned some valuable skills we could potentially use this season. But before I discuss that, I want to talk about the work I did while I was away.

    Traditionally, machine learning and artificial intelligence were used for enrichment of the technology. We have been seeing development of search engines to learn our searching trends and craft new results or online shopping websites like Amazon learning our shopping to suggest new items to buy. With the help of machine learning, all this has become possible but there are potential healthcare applications to the same technology. The new algorithms and techniques being developed have shown potential to save lives in times where traditional approaches had failed. Even with basic implementations of artificial intelligence, we have seen instances where a doctors provided an improper diagnosis while a machine said otherwise. These scenarios have further inspired research for medical analytics, which has become the focus of my course at MIT. The Medlytics course was dedicated to learn more about these issues and tackle some real world problems.

    The work I was doing was very intensive. I applied the algorithms we were being taught to a number of situations. One week, I was analyzing physiological signals to determine the state of sleep. The next week, I was training models to detect breast cancer from mammograms. Within all this work, the underlying structure was just techniques that could be applied to a number of fields. That brought me to think about the potential applications of my work in FTC. The neural networks and similar models I was training learned a number of scenarios of images or signals. I realized that by integrating computer vision, I could come up with something similar in FTC.

    To demonstrate an example of where this could potentially leave an impact, I will go with object detection. Right now, Iron Reign captures a series of images of the object of interest (an example is a cryptobox from Relic Recovery) and attempts to manually fine tune the OpenCV parameters to fit the object as accurately as possible. This sort of task could easily be delegated to a Convolution Neural Network (CNN) architecture. What is a CNN you ask? Well here is a brief description.

    In essence, the model is able to determine a pattern in an image based on edges and details. The image is processed through a series of layers to determine the shapes in the image. Then the model attempts to label the image as seen above with the car. If this was brought into context of FTC, we could train model to learn the shapes of an object (for example a wiffle ball) and then feed the information to the robot. The bot could then navigate to the object and pick it up. There are a vast number of applications to this, with this just being one. I hope that my knowledge can be of use for Rover Ruckus.

    Next Steps

    Wait for Rover Ruckus reveal to see if I can combine my expertise with new code.

    Mentor Involvement from MIT

    Mentor Involvement from MIT By Abhi

    Task: Discuss potential support from MIT

    In a previous post, I mentioned how the knowledge I gained in machine learning at MIT could help the team. But another way our team could be helped is with mentor involvement from MIT. I couldn't have done the research I did at MIT without the help of my amazing instructors. I wanted to bring them on board the Iron Reign way so they could also teach the rest of the team how to be awesome and help us grow. Currently, Iron Reign is speaking with two of my instructors.

    Lyle Lalunio (leftmost in image) is a freshman at the University of California at Berkley. He was an intern this past summer at MIT as part of the Laboratory of Computational Physiology and also the Medlytics program. He is proficient in numerous programming languages including Java and Python. He is pursuing computer science in college but is also interested in the medical applications of the science. Lyle has been an incredible mentor for myself and my teams during my month, inspiring me to invite him to the team.

    Dr. Danelle Shah (2nd from left in image) is a Technical Staff member in Lincoln Laboratory’s Intelligence and Decision Technologies group. Her most recent research has focused on the detection, representation and characterization of human networks by leveraging natural language processing and graph analytics. Dr. Shah earned her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University, where she developed algorithms to facilitate natural and robust human-robot interaction. Dr. Shah has also left a great impact on my life and has a background in robotic algorithms, inspiring me to invite her to the team.

    Next Steps

    Continue discussion with mentors about potentially joining Iron Reign.

    2018-19 Recruitment

    2018-19 Recruitment By Ethan, Kenna, Charlotte, Janavi, Abhi, and Arjun

    Task: Recruit new members for the 2018-19 season

    Last year, Iron Reign lost two members, so we're only looking for 2-3 members to replace them and their particular skillsets. However, our sister team, Imperial Robotics (3734) lost nine members. So, we decided to host a recruitment session at our school to find interested freshmen.

    We put up posters around the school, and got a healthy crowd - 30 people. We talked about Iron Reign's history, needed levels of commitment for various teams, and what the average person will do on the team. We also answered questions about the team from the crowd. Of those people who attended, 17 signed up for a testing session next week, including two former members of Iron Reign, Alisa and Trace.

    Next Steps

    We will hold training sessions to assess each potential members skills, then divy them up with Imperial Robotics.

    Bigwheel Presentation

    Bigwheel Presentation By Arjun and Karina

    Task: Present about Garchomp

    As a new freshman on Iron Reign, I took on the responsibility of a robot we called Bigwheel. Karina and I worked on getting the robot into something that could be put through load tests, meaning tightening the chain, fixing misaligned sprockets, and getting the wiring together. We participated in the Chassis Presentation workshop hosted by technicbots for teams all around the North Texas region to work on one or more chassis, perform various tests with them and then present their findings. We presented our chassis Bigwheel, which is driven by 2 large 8-inch wheels, with a pair of 2 free-spinning Omni wheels in the back. This can be seen in the presentation below:

    To create our chassis we used 2 8-inch wheels, each driven by 2 Neverrest 60 motors. There are also two free-spinning omni wheels in the back. The robot uses REV rails and plexiglass for it's main body.

    Our first test is the 5-second distance test. Our robot had a lot of torque due to the Neverrest 60 motors, so it moved slower than other robots, but was unaffected by the additional 30lbs weight.

    Our second test is the 3-second turn test. Again, some other robots could turn better faster than us. However, due to having no proper mechanism for restraining our weights, along with other mysterious problems such as battery disconnections that only happened during this test, we were unable to try this test with load, however we presume that due to the torque, the results should be similar to those without load. Our center of rotation is also off due to only the front two wheels being powered. As such, the back of the robot makes a wide arc as it turns.

    Our next few test results are unremarkable.

    Our robot had a lot of sideways drift, mostly due to bad build quality. If we intend to use it during the season, we will try to fix this.

    Overall, our chassis performed well under load, but could use a little speed boost. If we want to further develop it, we plan to use Neverrest 20s with more torque on our external gear ratio, so we can get more speed out of it.

    Garchomp Presentation

    Garchomp Presentation By Janavi and Kenna

    Task: Present in the Inviational Presentation Series

    Today, we participated in the Chassis Presentation workshop for teams all around the North Texas region; the project was to design robots and perform various tests with them, then present findings. We presented our chassis, Garchomp, a mechanum wheel chassis as can be seen in the slide photos below.

    Presentation

    To create our chassis we used 4 never rest 40 motors one for each wheel and the structure of the chassis was created by using tetrix rails. We connected the wheels to the motors by using a 1:1 gear ratio. While there are many benefits to using a gear ratio for your wheels be forewarned that if your wheels are not perfectly aligned attaching your chains to mechanum wheels will become a living nightmare as can be seen in our previous posts.

    One of the reasons that attaching the chains was so difficult for us was because we discovered that because we had used wooden sides instead of the aluminum sides that Kraken used our wheels became misaligned to the two different types of wood used for the sides.

    While our robot is not able to do a 360 degree turn as fast as some other robots presented today it is able to hold a considerable amount of speed while moving at a constant speed.

    Since this chassis was designed for last years competition it is able to consistently drive onto the balancing stone

    North Texas Invitational Presentation Series - Worlds

    North Texas Invitational Presentation Series - Worlds By Ethan, Abhi, Janavi, Kenna, Charlotte, Evan, Karina, and Justin

    Task: Present about Worlds to new teams

    This was our last presentation in a series of presentations in conjunction with teams from around Texas for new and returning teams in the North Texas region. This particular presentation was about strategies in awards and the game, as well as general thoughts about FTC and Worlds.

    Presentation

    2018 Kickoff

    2018 Kickoff By Ethan, Evan, Kenna, Charlotte, Abhi, Justin, Karina, and Arjun

    Task: Attend the North Texas FTC Kickoff

    Today, we went to the Rover Ruckus kickoff! This year's main challenge is getting blocks (gold) and balls (silver) into the main lander. The other side challenges, in order of hardness, are hanging, parking, and placing the team marker. The main upside of all of this means that it is theoretically possible to perform every single function on the field with the same mechanism.

    The main non-robot game changes are the elimination of Supers, the standardization of awards, and Worlds spot changes. The one that particularly piqued our interest was the award standardization. Historically, there have been huge disparities between the awards in North Texas and the awards at Worlds. For example, in North Texas, we continually won the Connect Award for our outreach (while in the rubric, it was the award for connecting with engineers). But, at Worlds, we won the Motivate Award instead.

    Next Steps

    We will do a brainstorming session to figure out are design paths for the next few weeks. In addition, we need to complete sorting of the new members.

    Iron Reign Grants!

    Iron Reign Grants! By Ethan

    Task: Detail the grant awards that Iron Reign and its associated teams received ($11k)

    So, Iron Reign is currently training an influx of new members - so much that we've started two new teams: Iron Star Robotics and Iron Core. Of course, with this programmatic growth comes plenty of growing pains. A major part of that is finding funding for new teams. In that regard, Iron Reign applied for grants for itself as well as for its other 3 feeder teams. Namely, we applied for the TWC grant(s) and the FIRST in Texas Rookie Grant (sponsored by DEKA) for the new teams.

    Today we reaped our results: we received $525 in funding for Iron Reign and Imperial and $1,525 for Iron Star and Iron Core from the Texas Workforce Commission, as well as $1,000 for Iron Star and Iron Core from DEKA. In addition, we've currently received $4,000 from the DISD STEM Department and $2,500 from Mark Cuban, for a cumulative total of $11,400 raised this season.

    Next Steps

    Even though this is a hefty amount of money - one of the largest hauls made by Iron Reign - it still isn't satisfactory. We now have two more teams, increasing Iron Reign's expenses and stretching simple resources such as 8mm M3s thin. So, we will always be seeking more funding.

    Project Management

    Project Management By Charlotte

    Task: Improve Iron Reign's team organization and time management

    Iron Reign sometimes struggles with our team organization and time management. There have been many instances where we have fallen behind in different subteams due to this lack of organization. This year, in order to tackle this downfall, we are going to put an emphasis on project management.

    We started a project in a program called Team Gantt. We learned how to use this program from watching the many tutorials in the program and by trial and error. In our project, we have made task groups that represent our subteams, such as build, code, etc. You can see this in the image above, but I did not include the whole chart to not expose any team secrets. A project manager will be in charge of keeping these subteams on track with the chart, and will update it accordingly along with periodic meetings regarding the chart and our progress. Hopefully, this will really help us in our team organization so that we don't fall behind this season.

    Next Steps

    Continue the use of our Gantt chart in order to improve our organization and give us a big-picture view of our progress for the rest of the season.

    SEM STEM Spark Preparation

    SEM STEM Spark Preparation By Charlotte, Ethan, Janavi, Abhi, Karina, and Justin

    Task: Prepare for and set up SEM STEM Spark

    The National Honor Society at our home school, the Science and Engineering Magnet, has been working hard to prepare for the upcoming SEM STEM Spark event for middle school girls in North Dallas that they have been planning for since last May. A few of our very own members are members and leadership in NHS and have been working to include our robotics outreach as a featured activity as well as working with other activities we are passionate about, such as chemistry and environmental science.

    In the past few weeks, we have confirmed a spot for our outreach in the event and have been trying to recruit middle schools girls to attend the event. A few members even visited the middle schools they attended and spoke to their old science teachers to share information about the event and hand out fliers. Due to some complications, we weren't able to get registration for the event up until a week before, so recruitment has been a struggle and is very time sensitive. Our numbers are increasing quickly though, so we have hope that the event is going to be a success.

    The event is tomorrow, and today we spent a few hours setting up. On our day off, we went to our school and organized all of the materials we collected as donations along with those we bought with our own funds. We ran through each activity to ensure that they would fit in the allotted time frames. Everything seems to be running smoothly and we are ready for the event tomorrow. Fingers crossed! :)

    Next Steps

    We are very excited to run this event and have learned a lot from the work we have put into organizing it.

    SEM STEM Spark

    SEM STEM Spark By Ethan, Charlotte, Janavi, Abhi, Karina, Justin, Bhanaviya, and Alisa

    Task: Volunteer at SEM STEM Spark, a girls-in-STEM event

    For the past year, members of Iron Reign have been planning this event and getting approval. For those not-in-the-know, this event is a women-only STEM event with a guest panel and four different stations: environmental science, chemistry, engineering, and robotics. Iron Reign members had a hand in planning and assisting with 3/4 of these, as well as general logistics. However, most of this is detailed in prior posts - this post is for the actual event.

    Today, we talked to 140 girls in groups of 12-18, allowing us to be able to focus more intensely in our sessions and get more done. We taught them the 3D-printing program and sumobots. Finally, we had a member present as a panel member as a woman in STEM.

    Next Steps

    This event was a great success, and we plan to do more like these in the future. At the moment, we have a date set in March for a second event with entirely new activities.

    MXP Expansion - $150,000 Grant

    MXP Expansion - $150,000 Grant By Ethan

    Task: Plan for major grant to fund replacement of MXP ($150k)

    First, for a brief backstory: Iron Reign built the MXP - or Mobile Learning Lab - two seasons ago so that we could do outreach to underserved areas within our community. To do this, we partnered with BigThought, who received grants for laptops and technology aboard the vehicle. We spent that entire summer renovating an old 90's RV so that it could become the Mobile Learning Lab. Then, last season, we presented at the National Science Teachers' Association in Kississimee, Florida, where we talked to educators in five other cities to start their own similar programs.

    Now, let's return to the present season. As of today, BigThought is receiving $150k in funding to create a second Mobile Learning Lab. This funding is all-inclusive: the RV and technology aboard. As far as we know, this is the single largest fundraising haul any FTC team has ever received. Now, let me be clear, this is not funding to team costs such as registration and parts, but rather a larger-scale programmatic fund to continue and increase Iron Reign's outreach frequency. Luckily for us, we've secured a lot of funding this season already through Mark Cuban, individual donors, and FIRST in Texas grants.

    Now, here comes the less-so-good news. Even though $150k is a monumental sum of money, it still falls short of the cost of a new MXP, by about $100k. However, the guarantee of over half of the necessary funding makes it much more likely that the additional funds will be secured to purchase the brand-new vehicle.

    Next Steps

    So the next steps are obviously to work with BigThought to find the additional $100k, but this is still huge - we may have broken a fundraising record. And besides that, this is what Iron Reign has always worked for: the platonic ideal of outreach. We have the ability to expand our program, make it more comprehensive, and make it sustainable on it's own merit.

    DISD Scrimmage at Hedrick MS

    DISD Scrimmage at Hedrick MS By Charlotte, Janavi, Ethan, Evan, Justin, Karina, and Abhi

    Task: Compete at the Hedrick MS DISD Scrimmage

    Today, Iron Reign competed in the DISD scrimmage at Hedrick Middle School. This was the first scrimmage of the year, so experienced teams and rookie teams alike struggled to get a working robot on the field. We go to this scrimmage every year, and it helps us gage just how much needs to be done to have a qualifier-ready robot. This year, that is a lot. We actually had two robots relatively pieced together, a main chassis and a backup, but we didn't account for many different problems that rendered them inoperable. In the case of the backup robot, the linear slide fell apart easily and was threaded so that it could only extend, and not retract. In the case of the actual robot, most of our problems stemmed from the intake system. Since we built it so recently, we were never able to write any code until in the final few days of preparation. We weren't able to debug the code and it has caused many complications in our robot. Our drive train also had many issues which we have been trying to fix and fine tune.

    Due to these many issues, we did not compete for most of our matches. We spent a lot of time working on our bots and talking to other teams about their progress and plans for the season, as well as see all of the interesting ideas they have put together in fruition in a game setting. In the match we did compete in, we did very badly due to driver error and mechanical errors in the drive train.

    Dallas Chamber Leadership Council

    Dallas Chamber Leadership Council By Kenna, Janavi, Abhi, and Ethan

    Presenting to Leadership Dallas Class of 2019

    Today, we presented to the Leadership Dallas program, run by the Dallas Chamber of Commerce, to fundraise for Iron Reign and BigThought's Mobile Learning Lab program to cover the remaining $100k gap as well as our school programs.

    There were 2 groups of about 10 people who learned about Iron Reign & FTC and toured SEM (Science Engineering Magnet) & its classes. There were employees from Big Thought, Uber, Turner Construction, Ernst & Young, and Channel 8 News. We'd especially like to name Stephanie from Channel 8 and Ryan Dyer for helping us get a website visit from Antartica. We'd been working on having a visit from all 7 continents for all of last year, and it finally came true!

    After that, they got a tour of a deployment-ready MXP, full of laptops, 3D printers, EV3's, and teaching monitors. They were very interested in our SEM education and how it ties into what we are able to do as a part of Iron Reign and FTC. We discussed using our physics experience to conduct experiments for the materials we use on our robot, and SEM's freshmen Java class to do IMU coding.

    We all loved how enthusiastic they were about improving Dallas and learning more about robotics in a high school education. It was a huge opportunity for us to spread STEM and FIRST to the Dallas community, and we hope to do so again in the future.

    Next Steps

    We were lucky enough to talk to Leandre Johns of Uber about what the opportunities they could offer our team and our community in helping underserved communities learn about STEM.

    Agenda for Dallas Personal Robotics Group

    Agenda for Dallas Personal Robotics Group By Bhanaviya, Karina, Kenna, Ethan, Abhi, Evan, and Charlotte

    Task: Set up an outline as to how the DPRG Presentation will operate

    Next Saturday, December 8th, Iron Reign will be giving its judging presentation to members from the Dallas Personal Robotics Group. Our primary purpose from this visit is to gain feedback from engineers in the community on our presentation. The presentation is anticipated to go beyond 15 minutes, so that we can introduce our potential ideas for the near-future, and so that DPRG can ask us more technical questions, that may not have arose from our presentation. Here's our anticipated agenda:

    1. Before the presentation begins, we will play the challenge reveal for this year, so that DPRG gets a basic idea as to what mechanical and technical challenges we must overcome in this season.
    2. Members who were with the team during Worlds will give an overview of what the Worlds championship is like.
    3. We give our judging presentation. (Approximately 15 minutes)
    4. We provide a demo of our robot. This demo will be similar to what we provided to the judges during pit-visits.
    5. We discuss some of our more ambitious build ideas thus far, such as the Superman Subsystem, and potential ways to improve upon these ideas.
    6. Provide an introduction of our Android Studio Control System and discuss the operation of how Big Wheel performs autonomous, and other low-level behaviors based on remote control and telemetry.
    7. We will wrap-up by discussing our expectations for the rest of the season, and answer any other questions DPRG has for us.

    Next Steps

    We will present on Saturday before returning to the house for our regular practice.

    Presenting to the DPRG

    Presenting to the DPRG By Ethan, Janavi, Charlotte, Arjun, Karina, Abhi, Evan, Bhanaviya, and Kenna

    Task: Present to the Dallas Personal Robotics Group about robot vision and Iron Reign

    We reached out to the Dallas Personal Robotics Group to present - we've presented to them in the past about gyros - this was actually our biggest numerical outreach of the season back in the day. This year, we wanted to present again on computer vision, as this is something that they were very interested in, but we also wanted to give our actual presentation as practice for our next tournament. However, after we reached out to them, other Dallas-area groups joined in, such as Computer Visionaries. So, our presentation was advertised all over Dallas Meetup groups, but the main one was here.

    The initial agenda is hosted on our website, but a quick summary is: a rundown of Worlds, our usual presentation, and our vision presentation. Our presentation went well - it was our usual tournament one for judges - we just took more time for the presentation, went on diatribes, told stories, and the like, and generally made it more entertaining. We answered questions on everything: code, building, outreach, and more. We're going to upload the video here soon. We also asked for feedback from the listeners.

    The main feedback we received for the presentation was to make our awards points more clear. For vision, we were told that we should take a look at Google's foray into computer vision.

    Then, we moved on to the vision presentation, the reason why everyone was there. Again, we'll upload a video of the presentation, and attach the presentation slides below. But, a quick summary of the presentation is that we covered OpenCV and VuForia first, then moved on to TensorFlow and CNN. This is where everyone became really became interested and asked questions. We also got a lot of advice, mainly on training the neural network. The presentation is here.

    DPRG Vision Presentation

    DPRG Vision Presentation By Arjun and Abhi

    Task: Present to the Dallas Personal Robotics Group about computer vision

    We presented to the DPRG about our computer vision, touching on subjects including OpenCV, Vuforia, TensorFlow, and training our own Convolutional Neural Network. Everyone we presented to was very interested in our work, and they asked us many questions. We also received quite a few suggestions on ways we could improve the performance of our vision solutions. The presentation can be seen below.

    Next Steps

    We plan to research what they suggested, such as retraining our neural networks and reusing our old training images.

    Townview Qualifier 2018 - Setting Up

    Townview Qualifier 2018 - Setting Up By Bhanaviya, Ben, Karina, Kenna, Ethan, Evan, Charlotte, Justin, Janavi, Austin, and Jayesh
    Task: Prepare Townview for SEM's qualifier on December 15th

    On December 15th, Iron Reign is hosting an FTC qualifier at Townview Magnet Center with around 30 teams competing. For the past 2 weeks, robotics alums, current members of Iron Reign, Iron Star, Iron Core and Imperial Robotics have been signing up to be volunteers for the very event. By Friday, the day before the qualifier, all our positions were confirmed for the tournament. In addition to getting assigned for the qualifier, we also helped with field set-up. Two fields were set up on each side of the cafeteria, to accommodate for the influx of teams competing. A field was set up behind the cafeteria to act as a practice field for queuing teams. Speaking of queuing teams, 8 tables were set up behind each field for teams to queue in. A monitor was brought in from Mr Boykin's room to display the teams' scores over the course of the match. We helped ensure that enough chairs were set up for the audience members, and that each team had a table of its own to operate their last-minute-panicked-robot-surgery on. In order to delineate the difference between teams competing on the two different fields, we put red and blue tapes on each table, after putting up a plaque card representing the competing teams' numbers.

    After ensuring that the actual competition area was set-up, we worked on setting up the judging rooms for judging presentations. We cleared out chairs in 5 rooms on the first floor, and set up two tables at the end of each room for the judges. Each room was marked with a piece of paper to represent the judging room number.

    Once we were finished setting up, we left to the Virani house, to set up the MXP. The purpose of the MXP being present at the qualifier was to provide the competing teams an area to work with Iron Reign on their robots, in the event they needed assistance. After ensuring that the vehicle was in driveable state, we worked on setting up laptops in the MXP. Then, we stocked it with tools that competing teams could use when needed. Next Steps Be prepared to carry out our respective roles as volunteers the next day, and lead competing teams through judging, queuing, and matches.

    Townview Qualifier 2018 - The Day Of

    Townview Qualifier 2018 - The Day Of By Ethan, Janavi, Evan, Abhi, Charlotte, Karina, Kenna, Arjun, Jayesh, and Bhanaviya

    Task: Run the Townview Tournament

    On Saturday, December 15, Iron Reign hosted 30 teams at the Townview Magnet Center, our home school's campus. This entry serves more as a description as to how we got to the point of hosting the qualifier and what to consider when hosting one.

    First, for a tournament, you need a lot of volunteers of varied ages. Frankly, you need a good amount of younger kids for jobs such as queuing and judge assistance - this makes the tournament run much more smoothly. We had about 10 queuers throughout the day, and while this may seem excessive, we started out the day with a +10 minute surplus and kept every single match on schedule.

    There still needs to be adult volunteers. We had 2 judges per room with five rooms, as well as 6 referees. All of these must be adults. And, we had to recruit from a diverse set of groups to cover our bases - we recruited people from the Dallas Chamber of Commerce meeting, the Dallas Personal Robotics Group, prior FTC tournaments, alumni, teachers from our school, and even our own families. It's hard to get enough judges for a large tournament, so this process had to start early.

    The second item that we'd like to emphasize is the need to make everything accessible by teams. Being an FTC team ourselves, we wanted to make this tournament easier for others. So, we kept a spreadsheet with inspection results on a screen in the pits so that teams could be updated, made pit maps so teams could find one another, and built a practice field a decent distance away from the others for practice. In this, we hoped to take some stress off of teams.

    On the same topic of helping teams, we had volunteers assigned to help fix robots and to assist with code, as well as putting the Mobile Learning Lab in workshop mode for teams who needed it. Iron Reign has been stuck in bad situations countless times, and we wanted to return the favor to those who helped us.

    Finally, we'd like to thank all of our volunteers for being there. It was a hard, long day, but it was worth it, and we'd just like to extend our gratitude. We'd like to thank DISD STEM for providing food for volunteers and Townview Magnet Center for letting us host the qualifier here. Finally, we'd like to give a huge shout-out to our coach, Karim Virani, for doing the logistics of this tournament.

    Next Steps

    We're going to write up a few other posts about interacting with judges, supporting teams, and a postmortem on the tournament. We've got a lot to do over the break, and this was just the kickoff for it.

    REV Headquarters Visit

    REV Headquarters Visit By Ethan, Charlotte, Abhi, Bhanaviya, Evan, Karina, and Arjun

    Task: Visit REV headquarters and learn more about the engineering process

    Today, a group of Iron Reign, Core, and Star members ventured down to the REV headquarters in Dallas. REV is a Dallas-based FTC+FRC parts company that produces their items at an accessible cost for all teams. All the SEM Robotics teams use REV, their parts are easy to use while still giving the ability to create technically impressive mechanisms. So, we were elated when we had the opportunity to visit them.

    We started out with a tour, seeing the workshop in which they host their FRC teams - with RoboGreg inviting some of our members to apply to the new FRC team. Then, we saw the rest of the warehouse. Stretching infinitely towards the ceiling were rows and rows of REV parts in every variety imaginable with a center island of organized bins of parts. The last thing we were able to see on the first floor was the recording studio that REV's working on so that they can record tutorial videos.

    We can't talk about everything we saw on the second floor, as some of it may not actually be released yet, but we can tell you of the Wonderland-like nature of it. As we walked in, we were met by a room dedicated to testing electronics. Iron Reign is accustomed to soldering on the floor or a hastily improvised bench or whatever clear space there is on the kitchen table, so this alone was enough for us to long to use it. And then, we were met by the 3D-printing room. You see, REV has two normal nylon printers that Iron Reign has plenty of experience with - been there, done that - but they also had a resin printer. We've never had the luck to see a resin printer in real life, only in far away youtube videos and whispers of whispers. In this alone, we were extremely jealous. Finally, we got to meet the engineers and have a general discussion with RoboGreg and David.

    First, we got to learn about REV's design process. First, we learned about their revision process. They begin with a general idea, a goal that they want to achieve. Then, they create a small prototype with the tools they have at their home base if they can - after all, they have a reflow over, laser cutter, resin printers, and more we probably didn't get to see. From there, they send out their design for a small batch from a given manufacturer, just enough for testing. From there, they identify faults, fix them, and send for the next iteration, and so on. They end up with a finished product that, at the very least, has no physical/hardware faults; this is important as their philosophy is to give affordable parts to academic programs, and if they release faulty parts, they harm their customers. We learned a lot about the importance of a central design philosophy - something Iron Reign lacks. REV's is twofold: to make their parts affordable for those who normally wouldn't have access and to make their parts accessible for teams of all skill levels.

    Finally, we got to the part in which we presented to RoboGreg and the rest of the engineers. Last year for Kraken, we designed a system called REVolution, which, when printed, allowed any team to turn REV extrusions into shafts. We felt that it made robots easier to build, so we presented it and asked for feedback. They were impressed by Kraken and liked the way in which it was implemented. Then, we learned some things about high-level design. First, an idea doesn't mean anything as long as it's just that, an idea. What differentiates those who do from those who don't is their vision and process to realize their ideas. In REVolution, we had done this. But, then we learned about a little system called Cost-Benefit analysis. As macroeconomics states, if a person chooses to make one choice, they inherently lose out on another, even if it isn't realized. In our case, it was this: if REV chose to produce the REVolution system, naturally, there would be other products that go neglected. And, one has to consider how a new parts system fits with the other parts; if REvolution were made real, one would have to create a whole extra parts library while still maintaining other similar rotation systems, increasing the work. It's not that REVolution is a bad system, its just that it could present too much of a tradeoff. In RoboGreg's words, this is "reality-based creativity."

    We also asked some questions about things that Iron Reign wants to use; for example, where we could get access to a metal-3D-printer. We were informed that a local company down the road from REV, MLC CAD, was likely to provide this service for Iron Reign if requested. We asked for criticism of the REVolution system, learning that under normal operating speeds and temperatures, that nylon has the tendency to fuse with itself and that if possible, we should switch to a material such as Amphora.

    We also presented BigWheel, this year's robot. We had some difficulties setting it up, but overall, they were impressed. The one point that we heard was that, when extended, BigWheel has a very high center of gravity, making it prone to tipping. We've considered it in the past, but really noticed it when it nearly hit someone rising up.

    Next Steps

    We learned so much here, and we'd like to give a huge thanks to RoboGreg and REV for giving us a tour. We want to implement the changes to our engineering process that we learned, and we're going to fix up BigWheel to solve its current in-presentation issues.

    STEM Expo Preparation

    STEM Expo Preparation By Bhanaviya and Benb

    Task: Plan for the DISD STEM Expo

    Tomorrow, Iron Reign along with members from the other 3 teams, is participating in the DISD STEM Expo for our third year. As we have done for the past 2 years, we are bringing the Mobile Learning Experience Lab to the event area in Kay Bailey Hutchinson Center. The purpose of this event is to connect with children in the DISD Area by helping them a foster an appreciation for engineering and the sciences. With the support of the Dallas City of Learning, a non-profit organization operated by Big Thought which helps schedule The Mobile Learning Experience, Iron Reign will have a featured exhibit within the MXP. To maximize event productivity, we will be working alongside volunteers from Microsoft and Best Buy who will help us ensure that the exhibit runs smoothly.

    As part of the exhibit, we will have events similar to those hosted as part of STEM Spark! This includes the LEGO Mindstorm Sumo Robots Event as well as our 3D Printing Keychains activity.

    At the end of the day, modeling and coding are two of the many aspects encompassed in STEM, and more importantly, FIRST. In introducing these activities, we hope to promote a student initiative in FIRST Robotics. And who knows - tomorrow, we might just meet the future members of Iron Reign.

    DISD STEM Expo

    DISD STEM Expo By Bhanaviya, Ethan, Charlotte, Janavi, Evan, Abhi, Arjun, Kenna, Justin, Karina, Ben B, and Jose

    Task: Present at the DISD STEM Expo

    DISD STEM Expo has been our busiest event this year. Overall, we met with over 1000 participants for both the 3D Printing event and the Sumo-Robots station. Despite the fact that this was a first-time event for many of the members helping out, STEM Expo ran smoothly. The purpose of this event is to spread STEM programs to students in the Dallas area who otherwise would have no access.

    We started out by setting up the MXP and the EV3 robots. After ensuring that the MXP was stocked up with laptops and 3D printers, we set up sumo mats, laptops and LEGO Mindstorm Robots in tables outside the vehicle. All the freshmen were given a quick crash-course on how to run the Sumo-Robots session, while the seniors ensured that all of the FTC robots were demo-ready.

    Since the participants were of varying ages, one of our biggest challenges was trying to convey the message of actually coding the robot across a variety of audiences. We learned earlier on that the best way to teach younger audiences how to code the robots was by letting them test out each block of code, so that they could get a sense of what they were trying to accomplish.

    We also had a few connect opportunities. Best Buy (Geek Squad) representatives boarded the RV to ask about our program. Our MXP is funded by Best Buy - we received a $10k grant from them earlier this season - and this was a great opportunity to talk to them again. We spoke about the history of the MXP program, what it currently does, and our plans to create a new MXP with the $150k in funding that BigThought received as well as our need for an additional $100k. Also present at the STEM Expo were several Microsoft employees. We've worked at Microsoft events before, most notably YouthSpark, and they've contributed to the MXP program, so we talked to them again over the same topics, trying to garner up support for the new MXP.

    Next Steps

    Our booth could not have operated as smooth as it did without BigThought, for helping us staff and maintain the MXP, and DISD for giving us the opportunity to introduce FIRST to such a large audience. As hectic as it was trying to teach block programming and 3D modeling to students with little to no technical experience, the event ran much more systematically than we could have expected. It was energizing to see children excitedly “battle” their robots, and to see them walk away, waving a 3D-printed keychain. We are incredibly thankful for having been able to interact with the next generation of engineers, and giving them a platform to see robotics as a comprehensible concept.

    DPRG Visit 2.0

    DPRG Visit 2.0 By Abhi, Karina, Arjun, and BenO

    Task: Present to the Dallas Personal Robotics Group about FTC app and our modifications

    Today we had 2 goals: present the FTC control system and allow everyone in the room to create their own FTC app to deploy to our robot. In the beginning of our presentation, we had a slideshow to show the overview of FTC as well as our progress this season since they last saw us. After this, I went through the process of creating a working opmode for our robot, Iron Reign style. The presentation is given below.

    FIRST in Texas Grant

    FIRST in Texas Grant By Ethan

    Task: Recieve a grant for the Iron Reign program

    Iron Reign has received $1,000 from FIRST in Texas for tournament fees and robot parts. This will go a long way for our team, as DISD STEM has already stepped in to cover the Worlds' fees, which in turn allows us to use these funds for future seasons if needed.

    MXP Expansion

    MXP Expansion By Ethan

    Task: Plan the next stage of the MXP

    In post B-7, we announced that BigThought received $150k on our behalf for the creation of a new MXP. Now, we've created a tentative floorplan for the new RV. The new RV will have these programs\features:

    • Voice recording booth
    • Green-screen - recording video
    • 3D printers - keychains
    • Laptops - 3D printing, EV3 coding
    • EV3s - sumo bots

    As well, the new RV will have two new slideouts, allowing for 20+ children to board safely. As well, the RV will be extended by 5', allowing for more space and a dedicated area to hold equipment.

    Next Steps

    Next, we need to create a full 3D model of the new MXP to send back to BigThought.

    UIL 2019

    UIL 2019 By Ethan, Charlotte, Evan, Janavi, Beno, Benb, Bhanaviya, Abhi, Arjun, Jose, Aaron, Paul, Cooper, and Justin

    Task: Compete at the Texas State Championship

    Today, we competed at the Texas State Championship, UIL Robotics, Division 5A-6A. We finished our robot earlier this week, so this served as a testing ground for our new robot and code.

    Judging and Awards

    There is no presentation at UIL - the judges appear at the pit ad-hoc to ask questions. And, there are no real awards. In this case, we talked to the judges, and they enjoyed our robot, but they happened to watch the game where our robot failed to move due to the gears breaking, so we were not under consideration for any awards.

    Talking to BAE Systems

    Usually at UIl there is a special aisle dedicated to visiting colleges and companies who support FTC teams and want to watch the competition. This time one of the visiting compaines was BAE Systems. Janavi went and talked to one of their employees who was able to connect her to the Dallas team. We plan to contact them to learn more about how they use the conecpts we are learning their jobs. We also hope to be able to give them our presentation and a run down of our robot and its capabilites.

    Code/Robot/Robot Game

    As the robot was freshly built, we didn't have much coded before the tournament. The night before, we did some basic tuning and created an autonomous, but not much. This coding is detailed in an earlier post. Despite this, the autonomous performed reasonably well - we could reliably delatch and sample - our issues came up in scoring the team marker as we failed to consider that the team marker wouldn't fit in the redesigned intake.

    The tournament also served as a stress test for Icarus. Two major issues cropped up: the belt system and the Superman arm. First, the belt system itself worked well - Icarus' arm extended quickly, but it repeatedly got caught on the lander's edge, detensioning the belt and requiring constant maintenance. Second, the gears on the Superman arm were stripped as we attempted to escape the crater in our first match. The stripping itself isn't surprising - Superman applies pressure on the gears' teeth on the order of mega-Pascals, but the quickness of stripping implies that the gears of Icarus do not fit together as well as BigWheel. So far, we plan to redesign the Superman arm with metal gears to reduce the stripping.

    Game 1
    We won. Our autonomous worked perfectly, but we overshot the crater while parking and got stuck (this was due to underestimating the speed of the 20's on our robot). Thus, we were completely stuck during teleOp, but our partner carried us.
    Game 2
    We lost. When we put the robot on the field, we realized that Superman's gears had stripped, but it was too late to change them out. So, we were stranded in the middle of autonomous and couldn't move beyond that.
    Game 3
    We lost. We hadn't fully repaired Superman, so we were again stranded on the field.
    Game 4
    We lost. We set up an untested autonomous, creating a point deficit we couldn't recover from.
    Game 5
    We won. Superman was fixed and our autonomous worked allowing us to pull ahead by 20 points and win the match.

    Next Steps

    These will be detailed in the UIL post-mortem.

    Machining Gears for Superman

    Machining Gears for Superman By Ethan and Justin

    Task: Machine replacement gears for Superman

    Shortly after creating the new Tetrix gear system, we got a response from one of the CNC shops we'd reached out to, offering to machine the 15 and 125-tooth REV gears from the STEP files. So, we took the Superman system off of our old robot, BigWheel, and sent some of the broken 15-tooth gears from UIL.

    In response, the shop sent us the new gears the next day, with added modifications for mounting the gears onto REV extrusion. These gears will make the arm much stronger, making it more robust and able to withstand the shear pressure on the teeth.

    Next Steps

    We need to mount the gears and test them to ensure stability.

    Control Hub First Impressions

    Control Hub First Impressions By Arjun and Abhi

    Task: Test the REV Control Hub ahead of the REV trial

    Iron Reign was recently selected to attend a REV Control Hub trial along with select other teams in the region. We wanted to do this so that we could get a good look at the control system that FTC would likely be switching to in the near future, as well as get another chance to test our robot in tournament conditions before Worlds.

    We received our Control Hub a few days ago, and today we started testing it. We noticed that while the control hub seemed to use the same exterior as the First Global control hubs, it seems to be different on the inside. For example, in the port labeled Micro USB, there was a USB C connector. We are glad that REV listened to us teams and made this change, as switching to USB C means that there will be less wear and tear on the port. The other ports included are a Mini USB port (we don't know what it is for), an HDMI port should we ever need to view the screen of the Control Hub, and two USB ports, presumably for Webcams and other accessories. The inclusion of 2 USB ports means that a USB Hub is no longer needed. One port appears to be USB 2.0, while the other appears to be USB 3.0.

    Getting started with programming it was quite easy. We tested using Android Studio, but both OnBot Java and Blocks should be able to work fine as we were able to access the programming webpage. We just plugged the battery in to the Control Hub, and then connected it to a computer via the provided USB C cable. The Control Hub immediately showed up in ADB. (Of course, if you forget to plug in the battery like we did at first, you won't be able to program it.)

    REV provided us with a separate SDK to use to program the Control Hub. Unfortunately, we are not allowed to redistribute it. We did note however, that much of the visible internals look the same. We performed a diff between the original ftc_app's FtcRobotControllerActivity.java and the one in the new Control Hub SDK, and saw nothing notable except for mentions of permissions such as Read/Write External Storage Devices, and Access Camera. These permissions look reminiscent of standard Android permissions, and is likely accounting for the fact that you can't accept permissions on a device without a screen.

    While testing it, we didn't have time to copy over our entire codebase, so we made a quick OpMode that moved one wheel of one of our old robots. Because the provided SDK is almost identical to ftc_app, no changes were needed to the existing sample OpModes. We successfully tested our OpMode, proving that it works fine with the new system.

    Pairing the DS phone to the Control Hub was very quick with no hurdles, just requiring us to select "Control Hub" as the pairing method, and connect to the hub's Wifi network. We were told that for the purposes of this test, the WiFi password was "password". This worked, but we hope that REV changes this in the future, as this means that other malicious teams can connect to our Control Hub too.

    We also tested ADB Wireless Debugging. We connected to the Control Hub Wifi through our laptop, and then made it listen for ADB connections over the network via adb tcpip 5555. However, since the Control Hub doesn't use Wifi Direct, we were unable to connect to it via adb connect 192.168.49.1:5555. The reason for this is that the ip address 192.168.49.1 is used mainly by devices for Wifi Direct. We saw that our Control Hub used 192.168.43.1 instead (using the ip route command on Linux, or ipconfig if you are on Windows). We aren't sure if the address 192.168.43.1 is the same for all Control Hubs, or if it is different per control hub. After finding this ip address, we connected via adb connect 192.168.43.1:5555. ADB worked as expected following that command.

    Next Steps

    Overall, our testing was a success. We hope to perform further testing before we attend the REV test on Saturday. We would like to test using Webcams, OpenCV, libraries such as FtcDashboard, and more.

    We will be posting a form where you can let us know about things you would like us to test. Stay tuned for that!

    REV Beta Test

    REV Beta Test By Bhanaviya, Ethan, Karina, Justin, Arjun, Jose, Benb, Janavi, Evan, Aaron, Abhi, and Beno

    Task: Test the new REV Control Hub at the REV Scrimmage

    Founders of REV working with our team

    REV recently updated the control hubs they've been providing to FIRST Global for the last two years. They are hoping to get them listed as an option for FTC teams next year and so they wanted to test them with a variety of teams. This latest version has a USB-C connector and some internal component improvements. These control hubs take the place of the REV Expansion Hub + Android Phone combo because they effectively have a quad core android device inside. This should make USB disconnects a thing of the past, though teams using machine vision will need to use an external webcam and that will still require good cable management. All the North Texas teams invited to the beta test were also invited to a scrimmage to drive their Rover Ruckus robots with the control hubs instead of phones.

    We had some initial setbacks due to pre-manufacturing issues with the beta unit we were sent. The control board was set to the wrong address and couldn't be used. Once we got it replaced, the primary robot functions worked well. The only exception was vision. Because we lost so much time we didn't quite finish our OpenCV integration so we couldn't test our mineral sampling vision pipeline. Unfortunately we had to turn in the beta unit at the end of the event so we couldn't profile its vision performance. We plan to do so when we get the newest control hubs in May or June. Despite the setbacks, we found that overall, the control hub made robot control more efficient. The driver control was pretty similar to that of the phones and expansion hubs, but it saved us time in trying to ensure that both the phones and expansion hubs worked. We enjoyed the experience of using control hubs, and we hope to use them next season if they are allowed.

    We are incredible grateful to REV for giving us the opportunity to test of the new control hubs as well as interact with other NTX teams before Worlds. This chance to test the control hub was not only a good opportunity to test the potential of our robot with new technology, but it also gave us the much-needed chance to drive-test in a match with other teams before Worlds.

    DPRG RoboRama Prep

    DPRG RoboRama Prep By Jose and Paul

    Task: Prepare for the DPRG RoboRama Competition

    Tomorrow Iron Reign is to send out a team of two people to compete at the annual Dallas Personal Robotics Group (DPRG) RoboRama as well as demo Icarus, our competition robot. Our robot, fittingly name Iron Core(as homage to one of the freshmen teams in our robotics program), is to compete at the sumo wrestling portion of the competition.

    For reference, Dallas Personal Robotics Group is a Dallas-based robotics organization that holds mini robotics competitions, talks on the development of personal robotics, and has, on more than one occasion, given our team the opportunity to present to them about computer vision, and FIRST Tech Challenge in general.

    To prepare for the competition, we used an existing Lego EV3 sumo bot that we use for our outreach and Mobile Tech Xperience (MXP) events and modified it with a 3D printed plow. As for code, we took the existing program of going forward and turning and going backwards after detecting the edge of the ring. We modified this code by adding a sensor to detect nearby robot by spinning until they are found, once located Iron Core will go full force towards the target in hopes of winning.

    We also prepared Icarus for demonstration by tuning it as it has taken some damage from our previous competition. Some minor repairs were required but after just a few minutes Icarus was up and running again.

    Next Steps

    DPRG RoboRama Competition

    DPRG RoboRama Competition By Jose and Paul

    Task: Compete at the DPRG RoboRama and present Icarus

    Ready and prepared, our two man team came to compete at the Annual Dallas Personal Robotics Group's RoboRama.

    The first event was the sumo wrestling event, it featured a double elimination bracket and five teams total came to compete. In our first match we won, our robot seeking program served us well and eliminated the opposing robot on the first try. Unfortunately, we lost our second match after a long, agonizing battle the opposing robot had more torque than Iron Core and slowly pushed our pride and joy off the playing field. This 1-1 record scored us 3rd place for the event.

    Seeing the event, Quick Trip, a test for accurate movement over long distances, I(Jose) programmed a path for it during lunch. With no time to use a gyro sensor, the path was inaccurate, but this could be fixed with a specific starting position. We finished with a total of 4 points, placing us third.

    Along with competing we got to demo our competition robot for FTC, Icarus, to anyone interested, this included DPRG members and Girl Scout Troop #7711b. We demonstrated its capabilities including the articulations, our FTC season as well as show off "tall mode" which is Icarus with the Superman wheel activated completely and the arms extended completely. Overall most were impressed and appreciated the opportunity to see a functional robot.

    Discovery Faire at Central Library

    Discovery Faire at Central Library By Trey, Jose, Bhanaviya, Ethan, Janavi, Charlotte, Evan, and Aaron

    Task: Teach students how to block program and 3D model at the Discovery Faire @ Central Library

    On July 13th Iron Reign attended the 5th annual Dallas City of Learning Discovery Faire at the Central Library. This was our third MXP event where the 250+ kids had access to our 3D printers, Lego EV3 sumo robots, and our four demo robots.

    We demoed 4 of our robots including Icarus, Cart Bot, Kraken, and Argos. Cart Bot was by far the most popular with its can cannon. There were always kids around it, even when we were ready to pack up. Although Icarus had an issue with the superman, we were still able to get it working and show its features to anyone interested as well as Kraken and Argos.

    Over all, the discovery Faire exposed kids to robotics and inspired parents to invest in their child's extra curricular education, furthering the growth of interest in STEM of the community and guaranteeing a future with these kids at the front line. 3D modeling and programming are essential to any FIRST robotics team and by showing them the basics they are likely to explore more about the subject.

    Our booth could not have operated as smoothly as it did without BigThought, for helping us staff and maintain the MXP, and for giving us the opportunity to introduce FIRST to such a large audience. We’d also like to thank Fox 4 Local News for helping publicize our event by taking pictures of the event in progress. We are incredibly thankful for having been able to interact with the next generation of engineers, and giving them a platform to be introduced to FIRST.

    Moonday

    Moonday By Paul, Abhi, Charlotte, Justin, Janavi, Jayesh, Aaron, Evan, Ethan, and Karina

    Task: Reach out to the community and present at Moonday

    Iron Reign went to the Frontiers of Flight Museum again with the DPRG to represent FIRST and SEM during their 50th anniversary celebration of the Apollo moon landings. This was our 4th year presenting at Moonday, and we interacted with over 300 students from as ages as young as 3 to 14. At this event, we helped to spread the message of FIRST and promote STEM. Cartbot and Icarus were present, as well as 10 members of Iron Reign. During this event, we taught students on how to block-program an FLL EV3 robot and 3D-model a keychain, two skills that are very relevant to both FLL and FTC. The event started at 8 AM at Love Field airfield, where the museum is located, and ended at around 2 in the afternoon. We interacted with many parents and students, talking about robotics, STEM, FTC and FIRST.

    During the event, we shared a booth with the Dallas Personal Robotics Group(or DPRG, for short!). For the past 5 years, our team has presented several of our robot designs and articulations with DPRG, and earlier this summer, we competed in a robotics competition organized by DPRG. As such, we were excited to work with them again. Members of DPRG and the participants at Moonday enjoyed watching our Rover Ruckus competition robot, Icarus, in action.

    The motorized air cannon mounted on Cartbot was also used to great effect, much to the amusement of the younger children. Cartbot itself was also used to great effect to help demonstrate our teams engineering capabilities; driving it around the venue was also admittedly very entertaining for both the drivers and the driven.

    As the summer is drawing to a close, we are thankful to both Big Thought and the Frontiers of Flight Museum for the opportunity to once again present our robots, and to educate the next generations of engineers on robotics. We look forward to returning to these events next season as well!

    SEM Nest Camp

    SEM Nest Camp By Bhanaviya, Jose, and Paul

    Task: Introduce incoming freshmen to our robotics program

    SEM Freshmen interacting with our team

    Iron Reign was given the opportunity by our school, The School for the Science and Engineering Magnet, to introduce and present our robotics program to the school's incoming batch of freshmen. This event allowed us to share our achievements this past season, talk about what it means to be a FIRST Tech Challenge team, and emphasize Iron Reign being a team for the past decade. Through this event, we were even able to get some hopeful recruits on our sign-up page! We were able to demo both Cart-Bot and Icarus during Nest Camp.

    We also use this event as a chance to introduce our MXP program. In each session, we met with about 20-30 freshmen and we divided these groups such that one would learn to program EV3 robots and the other would learn to 3D-model keychains on the MXP vehicle. Since these are the two main activities encompassed within our MXP events, showcasing them to the freshmen allowed us to talk about our outreach events and exemplify that Iron Reign as a team focused on both robot-game as well as educating our community about STEM and FIRST.

    This event also allowed us to create a connect opportunity. Individuals from Boeing attended and spoke with us at our sessions here which allowed them to see our team in action at an outreach event as well a chance for them to learn about the MXP and our work in bringing STEM to our communities.

    Next Steps

    We are thankful to SEM for giving us the opportunity to present ourselves and the ideals of FIRST Tech Challenge to the next batch of engineers in the Class of 2023. We enjoyed the chance to meet the future members of Iron Reign and look forward to working with them soon.

    Mayor’s Back to School Fair

    Mayor’s Back to School Fair By Bhanaviya, Jose, and Ethan

    Task: Educate students at the Mayor’s Back to School Fair on robotics

    Students learning to model keychains

    Iron Reign was given the opportunity to present the MXP and its activities at the Mayor’s Back to School Fair. During this event we met with around 260 participants from ages 4 to 12 and were able to teach them about block-programming LEGO EV3 robots and on 3D-modelling keychains. The purpose of this event was to spread STEM programs to students in areas of Dallas were a STEM education was not as prominent.

    This is our fifth year at this event, and it has been our busiest one this season. Alongside our traditional MXP events, we were able to launch cans using the CANnon (pun-intended) to cartbot. Considering the crowd we had at the event, and that the MXP could only hold 10 participants per session, a can-launching cannon allowed us to ensure that participants were able to stay engaged while they waited to board the vehicle.

    During the event, we also met with a representative from the Dallas Innovative Alliance (DIA), a non-profit dedicated to supporting the execution of building Dallas into a city that leaves a legacy of innovation and sustainability for future generations. The representative we spoke with mentioned that the DIA was looking to collaborate with programs dedicated to bringing forth STEM in their communities like the MXP program. As such, we look forward to any future possibilities for working with the DIA.

    Throughout the event, we met several students asked us how they could join a robotics team of their own. Being able to educate such a large group of participants on FIRST and robotics was a gratifying experience for our team and as such, we'd like to thank the City of Dallas for giving us this opportunity. Our fifth year being a part of the Mayor’s Back to School Fair could not have gone smoother, and we look forward to returning again the next summer.

    Letters to Congressional Representatives

    Letters to Congressional Representatives By Bhanaviya, Jose, and Ethan

    Task: Reach out to congressional representatives in our area to improve the implementation of STEM-based legislation

    This past year at the world championship, the founder of FIRST, Dean Kamen, emphasized how much of an influence reaching out to congressional representatives could have on furthering STEM in a community. Drawing inspiration from Kamen’s speech at Minute Maid Park, where the closing ceremonies were held, we reached out to three congressional representatives in our region - Eddie Bernice Johnson, Colin Allred, and Kenny Marchant. We wrote to them about FIRST, Iron Reign’s achievements and our MXP program dedicated to sharing the lessons we have learnt within robotics to the rest of our community. Specifically, we wrote about bills H.R. Building Blocks of STEM Act and the H.R. STEM Opportunities Act of 2019, and how we as a team could improve our outreach programs to help with the passage and implementation of these bills. Both bills are dedicated to promoting STEM education and careers, with the second one narrowed in on promoting the progress of underrepresented groups in STEM.

    As a robotics team in a STEM school, we know how much our education has impacted us in how we function within the team. In a city like Dallas, where economic and racial disparities are large enough that not everyone has access to the same education that we do, we wanted to build upon our existing efforts to improve communal access to a STEM education. If we receive a response back, we hope for an opportunity to discuss these bills with said representatives to see how Iron Reign could further contribute towards bringing STEM to our communities through our MXP program.

    FTC Skystone Kickoff

    FTC Skystone Kickoff By Karina, Bhanaviya, Aaron, Jose, Ben B, Trey, and Cooper

    Task: Attend the kickoff event

    Today Iron Reign attended the FTC 2019-2020 season kickoff event at Williams High School. Team members and prospective members alike turned up to witness the unveiling of this season's challenge. As per usual, we were disappointed by the lack of water in the game, especially considering the amount of water seen leading up to the actual game reveal. Jokes aside, we are excited to tackle the Skystone challenge. You can see the reveal video below:

    (Our robot from Rover Ruckus, Icarus, is featured in the video at 1:10!) There were some things we took away from the conversation prior to the game reveal. For one, we will definitely be using the REV control hub instead of an expansion hub this season, given our bad experiences with OTG cables disconnecting in the past. We also made note of the change in the way tie breaker points are added. The total will be averaged per match played, which will decrease the amount of jumping around teams do in the live rankings.

    We also made some (fairly obvious) strategy decisions, such as the fact that we will not be doing offensive play because we cannot risk the associated penalties. Instead, we will focus on our robot's speed. We also plan to model our capstone after the shape of the stones to make it easier for an alliance partner to stack. Lastly, we will have to move the foundation in the direction that the smaller face of the stones points to minimize the possibility of it falling while maximizing efficiency. We could stack the stones in an alternating pattern, but we would have fewer layers supporting the capstone which would cost us points.

    Part of the reason we needed to brainstorm strategy decisions quickly is because for the first time, Iron Reign is attempting the Robot in 2 Days Challenge. The Robot in 2 Days is usually a challenge taken up by long-standing veteran teams or alumni of those teams wherein they attempt to (and succeed!) at building a functional, coded robot in 2 days after the reveal. We don't think we will have a robot capable of performing all tele-op and autonomous tasks by the end of the weekend but the goal is to build a solid robot that can accomplish at least one tele-op game challenge.

    Next Steps

    Now that we know what kinds of tasks we're facing, we'll be moving forward into the discussion-and-prototyping phase of our Robot in 2 Days challenge. Of course, we'd like to thank REV for giving us a stone! Having at least one game element will make it easier for us to test our subsystems as we attempt to build a robot in a weekend.

    Preparing for the Meeting with Representative Colin Allred's Office

    Preparing for the Meeting with Representative Colin Allred's Office By Bhanaviya

    Task: Reach out to congressional representatives in our area to improve the implementation of STEM-based legislation

    This summer, our team reached out to three congressional representatives in our district - Colin Allred, Eddie Bernice Johnson and Kenny Marchant. We emailed to them letters detailing our Mobile Tech Experience Program (MXP), our accomplishments over the Rover Ruckus season, and how our team has dedicated itself towards promoting STEM education in underserved areas of Dallas.

    This week we received an email back from Representative Allred's office and they agreed to our request for a meeting with a member of their staff. The meeting will occur next week, during which we will discuss a bill pertaining to STEM education - more specifically, the H.R. Building Blocks of STEM A Act. This bill was passed this summer, after our correspondence to Allred. The H.R. Building Blocks of STEM is about improving female participation in STEM and in improving STEM education for younger children. As such, our meeting will focus more on discussing how best to implement the contents of the bill and how we can improve the MXP program to collaborate with Allred's office.

    Next Steps

    We are incredibly thankful to Representative Allred's office for giving us the opportunity to discuss STEM education with them. We look forward to the meeting next week.

    Presenting to Representative Colin Allred's Office

    Presenting to Representative Colin Allred's Office By Bhanaviya, Karina, Jose, Aaron, Cooper, Trey, Ben, Paul, and Justin

    Task: Meet with Representative Colin Allred's office to discuss FIRST robotics and STEM-based legislation

    Today, we presented to Mr Andrew Krause of the 32nd District Representative Colin Allred's office to increase awareness of FIRST and the STEM Outreach that Iron Reign has done in the community. Last year at World Championship in FIRST, the founder of FIRST Dean Kamen emphasized the importance about reaching out to our local representatives to spread the word of FIRST. So, our team reached out to Representative Allred's office, and they agreed to our request for a meeting!

    The legislative bill we wrote about in the email to their office was the H.R. Building Blocks of STEM Act. This bill focused on improving teacher training for STEM educators, increasing funding for STEM-based extracurriculars, and in reforming STEM based education to draw more girls to STEM. As a robotics team coming from a STEM-based school, all of these are issues that we care deeply about, and are issues that we have the privilege to address. During the meeting with Mr Krause, we brought up the National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) Convention that Iron Reign presented at 3 years ago to highlight the importance of STEM teacher training. We also discussed STEM Spark since it was an all-girls event wherein Iron Reign taught middle-school girls how to code and 3D-model.

    We were also able to bring our mobile learning lab, the Mobile Tech Xperience (or MXP, for short) to the meeting. The representatives we met with enjoyed boarding the vehicle to get a first-hand look at the activities we teach during our outreach events. We talked them through the actual process of how the MXP itself was built as well as the plans for its future expansion.

    Next Steps

    Although the Building Blocks of STEM Act was the bill we had reached out to the office about, our main goal for the meeting was to find ways to collaborate with Representative Allred's office to better spread STEM in our community. As students from a STEM-based school, we know that we are privileged in terms of opportunity, and through our existing outreach programs, we hoped to better spread that opportunity to other students in the Dallas community. At the end of today's meeting, we discussed the possibility of members from the Representative office being present at our school-hosted qualifier and our future outreach events. We are thankful for the opportunity to have gotten to present to Mr Krause and we hope to further collaborate with Representative Allred's office in planning our outreach events.

    Investing in a CNC Router

    Investing in a CNC Router By Bhanaviya

    Task: Invest in a CNC router using our grants from the previous season.

    Last year was a very successful season for Iron Reign, financially speaking. We earned around $11,000 in grants and funding from FIRST in Texas, Texas Workforce Commission and Mark Cuban, to name a few sponsors. In addition, this year we received a $200 Gobilda product grant. Most of this money was invested in last season's expenses. But as we found out over the course of our build season, our team incorporates a wide number of 3D-printed parts into our robot, and especially since we were recognized for our design process at the Houston World Championship through Innovate Award Finalist, our design process was one that we could further improve now that we've seen the level of competition at Worlds. Part of this includes using a variety of materials, as illustrated in previous seasons where we've used ice-cube trays and turkey-coolers into our robot's subsystems. So, what better way to improve our design process and spend our grant money than in investing in a CNC router?

    The router itself cost around $3000, and while this isn't cheap, it's a good investment since it now allows to cut our parts out of durable, inexpensive materials like aluminum and wood. So far, we have plans to use the router on the mounting under the turn-table of our robot and a logarithmic spiral that is being modeled to reduce the torque on our linear slide system. There's no end to how much this router can influence our overall design process. Our team is used to using Ninjaflex-printed parts but with the router, we can be more creative with the use of 3D-modeled parts on our robot.

    Next Steps

    Now, we can begin cutting the above-mentioned parts on the router once they've been fully modeled. We can also begin deciding what other parts need to be modeled that can easily be cut on the router.

    Responding to Girl Scouts of Desert Southwest

    Responding to Girl Scouts of Desert Southwest By Bhanaviya

    Task: Respond to an email about the MXP to the local Idaho STEM director of Girl Scouts.

    The Mobile Tech xPerience

    Today, Iron Reign received an email from the STEM director of the Girl Scouts of Desert Southwest saying that they are seeking to create their own mobile learning lab, similar to our Mobile Tech xPerience (MXP). As such, in the email we were asked for the story of the MXP - its deconstruction, construction, design and the like. Considering the MXP is nearing its time for expansion, it was fitting that we received this email. Since the correspondence comes from Idaho, this will also be our first out-of-state connect opportunity of the season.

    In a brief summary, in our response we detailed the interior construction of the vehicle. Buried in this blog's archives is a series of posts that details the whole deconstruction and reconstruction process of the vehicle. Of course, no one from our current team was involved in this process and as such, we made sure to accredit the interior furnishing of the vehicle to our team alumni. This process included replacing the carpeting with wood-grain vinyl, adding new shelving to store LEGO robots, installing new wide-screen monitors, and creating a bay to stock 3D printers.

    The floorplan for a second vehicle

    We also made sure to explain how the MXP is operated. For reference, the vehicle is operated by Big Thought, our programmatic partner, and during the vehicle's deployment at outreach events like Moonday, our team mans and runs the MXP booth where we teach students how to block-program LEGO EV3 robots to battle one another, and how to 3D-print a keychain on SketchUp that they can take home. Now, the MXP is nearing end of its lifetime and Big Thought has plans to expand the program by creating a new, bigger vehicle.

    Next Steps

    We were very gratified by the STEM director of the Girl Scouts of Desert Southwest reaching out to us about the plans for their mobile learning lab. Being able to take part of the MXP's mission to bring STEM education to students in the greater Dallas area has been one of the best opportunities Iron Reign has recieved, and its one we intend to pass on to others in our community like the Girl Scouts. We wish them the best of luck in putting their plans to fruition and are looking forward to answering any more questions they have on the plans for the vehicle.

    Townview Qualifier 2019 - The Day Of

    Townview Qualifier 2019 - The Day Of By Bhanaviya, Jose, Paul, Aaron, Justin, Trey, Ben, Karina, Cooper, Jayesh, Tycho, and Max

    Task: Run the Townview Tournament

    On Saturday, December 15, Iron Reign hosted 31 teams and 300 students at the Townview Magnet Center, our home school's campus. With 31 teams, this was one of the biggest qualifiers in the North Texas region. A video play-by-play of the matches can be found in a separate entry here. This entry serves more as a description as to how we got to the point of hosting the qualifier and what to consider when hosting one.

    To start off, a full-fledged qualifier requires a large number of volunteers - both student and adult. While there are certain roles that are limited to adults only, many roles need a good number of younger volunteers - especially queuing and judging assistance. If the host team is not participating in the qualifier, then a good way to meet this cap is to recruit from a school's robotics program. In our case, student members from the Iron Reign Robotics program filled in positions such as game announcer, emcee, disc jockey, concessions, and around 10 queuers and runners. Prior to the start of match-play all our members helped with judging assistance. This includes ensuring that all teams are queued up on time outside their judging panels and ensuring that all teams have gone through field and robot inspection. This helps ensure that all teams are on schedule for the start of match-play. Below, you can see what specific roles which Iron Reign members helped fill during the tournament:

    Townview Qualifier Member Work Log

    Team MembersTaskStart TimeDuration
    KarinaReferee7:0012 hrs
    JustinQueuer and Runner7:0012 hrs
    BhanaviyaEmcee and Queuer7:0012 hrs
    BenQueuer and Queuer7:0012 hrs
    JoseGame Announcer7:0012 hrs
    CooperQueuer and Judge Advisor Assistant7:0012 hrs
    AaronQueuer and Runner7:0012 hrs
    PaulDisc Jockey7:0012 hrs
    TreyQueuer and Runner7:0012 hrs

    A good qualifier also needs adult volunteers. We had 2 judges in 4 judging rooms and one room with 3 judges. In addition, we also had 6 referees and one scorer. All of these are adult roles which meant we had to seek volunteers from a variety of sources including prior FTC Tournaments, alumni from our team, and even our own families. All adult volunteers must go through background checks as well as complete other training certifications on the FIRST website so this proccess must start at least 3 weeks in advance to recruit enough volunteers. To do this, we posted a request for volunteers on this blog for any visitors to our website to sign up.

    Fresh off of the Allen Qualifier, we knew the pressure that teams felt at a qualifier - whether its caused by a lack of driver practice, tools or just undulated anxiety, we wanted to alleviate this stress. So, we ensured that a practice field set up away from the pit area for teams to practice right before their matches. We also kept a spreadsheet with inspection results on 2 monitors in the pits so that teams could be updated, and made pit maps so teams could find one another. These maps are also helpful to runners who need to find teams to queue them for their matches or for their judging panels. With so many members of our team floating around the pits, we were also able to provide any build or code assistance to teams who might need it. Finally, one trait all FTC team members share on the day of qualifier is the perpetual need for sustenance so we collaborated with one of our school's, TAG, PTSA to set up a concessions stand while the DISD STEM Department ensured that all volunteers received lunch.

    Next Steps

    By the end of the qualifier, we were able to advance 4 teams to the North Texas Regional Championship, and another 4 to the Wildcard Qualifier on February 1st. The qualifier could not have gone as smoothly as it did without the help of all our volunteers for committing so much of their times on a weekend to promote FIRST and STEM. We'd also like the DISD STEM Department for proving all our volunteers with breakfast and lunch, to The School of Business and Management and our sponsor, Mr John Gray, for supporting the event. Finally, we'd like to thank our coach Mr Virani for managing all of the logistics for the event, including its set up and the qualifier itself.

    FIRST in Texas Grants

    FIRST in Texas Grants By Bhanaviya

    Task: Detail the FIRST in Texas Grants and understand how it will improve our business plan

    It's the last day of the decade! With a new decade, comes new money, and similar to last year, Iron Reign is supporting 3 sister teams, Imperial Robotics, Iron Core and Iron Golem, the latter two being veteran teams with rookie members. This programmatic growth also comes with a financial curve to overcome. As such, we've applied to the FIRST in Texas grants to find funding for all 4 of our teams. This allocates a total of $2000 for the Iron Reign program, but if Iron Core and Iron Golem are considered rookies due to their new members, then our program can receive around $4000.

    This, alongside the $3200 from University of Texas at Dallas for hosting the Townview Qualifier, the $200 GoBilda Product Grant and the the $4000 from DISD STEM Department, which covers our season registration fees, 4 REV FTC kits, and a full practice-field. This brings our total funding up to $11,400 for the Skystone Season . There is no end to how this funding can help with finding new parts, and investing in any machinery like our new CNC Mill. Additionally, since Big Thought our programmatic partner who owns the MXP vehicle, has agreed to invest in building a second, bigger vehicle for the program, this funding can also help us in improving our outreach efforts.

    Next Steps

    We have also reached out to other companies in our area for increased funding and we hope to expand on our business plan as the new year progresses. In the meanwhile, we here at Iron Reign wish everyone in the FIRST community a happy almost new year!

    STEM Expo Preparation

    STEM Expo Preparation By Bhanaviya

    Task: Plan for the DISD STEM Expo

    An FLL Team Gathered Around Iron Reign's Robot at the 2019 STEM Expo

    Next week, a week after our second qualifier, Iron Reign along with members from our 3 sister teams, is participating in the DISD STEM Expo for our fourth year. As we have done for the past 3 years, we are bringing the Mobile Learning Experience Lab to the event area in Kay Bailey Hutchinson Center. The purpose of this event is to connect with children in the DISD Area by helping them a foster an appreciation for engineering and the sciences. With the support of the Dallas City of Learning, a non-profit organization operated by Big Thought which helps schedule The Mobile Tech Xperience (MXP), Iron Reign will have a featured exhibit within the MXP. To maximize event productivity, we will be working alongside volunteers from Microsoft and Best Buy who will help us ensure that the exhibit runs smoothly.

    Iron Reign on the Student Passport at the 20202 DISD STEM Expo

    For reference, every year that we have held this event, Microsoft, Best Buy and Big Thought provide volunteers to help teach kids on 3D-modelling and block-programming, the two key highlights of the MXP program. As the youth voice for this program, we teach these volunteers on how to teach the activity to younger students with little to no STEM experience. For the first time in our years organizing a booth, Iron Reign has been recognized as a vendor on the student passports which will be given to all participants!

    As part of the exhibit, we will have events similar to those hosted as part of our summer outreach events. This includes the LEGO Mindstorm Sumo Robots Event as well as our 3D Printing keychains activity. We will also be bringing our field sets, so both us and our sister teams can demonstrate our robots to participants.

    It is worth mentioning that this may be the last year we run this event with the current version of the MXP. Since Big Thought has approved plans for funding a new, larger vehicle, we hope that we will be able to present the new and improved MXP next season, in time for the STEM Expo.

    Next Steps

    At the end of the day, modeling and coding are two of the many aspects encompassed in STEM, and more importantly, FIRST. In introducing these activities, we hope to promote a student initiative in FIRST Robotics. And who knows - tomorrow, we might just meet the future members of Iron Reign.

    DISD STEM Expo 2020

    DISD STEM Expo 2020 By Ben, Justin, Jose, Cooper, Paul, Trey, Mahesh, and Shawn

    Task: Operate an exhibit at the DISD STEM Expo

    DISD STEM Expo has been our busiest event this year. Many kids, ranging from elementary school to high school visit the expo to learn more about STEM and the great things it has to offer. This is our 4th year bringing the Mobile Tech Xpansion Program to this event, but this will be the last year we bring the MXP as it is. For reference, Big Thought received a grant of $150K last year to expand the program, and the MXP is almost at the end of its pilot stage. This is also the first year we have been named as our own exhibit at the STEM Expo! We accumulated well over 1000 students to our exhibits. Being able to interact with an audience of students this big, many of whom have little to no STEM experience, gave us a great opportunity to not only introduce them to robotics, but also to meet the next generation of engineers. The purpose of this event is to spread STEM programs to students in the Dallas area who otherwise would have no access.

    Although the season has ended for most of Iron Reign Robotics’ teams they were still invited to help us run the exhibit. This gave them the opportunity to get a head-start on their journals for next season by providing an amazing community outreach opportunity. For reference, although all 4 of the teams in our robotics program participate in events like the expo, Team 6832 takes the lead in the MXP events, as Big Thought's programmatic partner for the program, and as the varsity team.

    Preparing for the STEM Expo was a little tricky because the MXP had to be parked in the convention center on Friday night, meaning we had to get all the materials onboard on Thursday. This wasn’t too difficult because most of the learning materials stay on the vehicle. On Saturday morning, we had to setup the practice field, tables, prepare 20+ laptops, reconstruct several sumo-bots, and prepare 4 3D-Printers for the hectic day that was to come.

    The New MXP Floorplan

    Once preparations were complete, iron Reign had to educate the volunteers on how to run the Sumo-Robots session. The Sumo activity required many volunteers, many of which were from Dallas City of Learning or BigThought. We also set up a practice field for our sister teams to demonstrate their robots for our visitors. Inside the MXP, several Iron Reign members hosted a 3D-Printing activity that allowed kids of all ages to build a small keychain and print it on their own. Outside, the vehicle, the rest of us worked with Big Thought volunteers to teach students on how to code an EV3 robot, the kind used in FLL, so that students could experience their first foray into FIRST. Being able to work with Big Thought's volunteers in teaching these students is what sets the expo apart from our other outreach event - apart from the expo being our biggest event of the year, the opportunity to work with these volunteers also gives us a chance to help Big Thought operate the MXP, a role which we hope to continue next year. In addition, since Big Thought approved the purchase for the new, bigger MXP vehicle this year, our team will be helping design the actual vehicle this season as the student voice of this program, and working with Big Thought at events like the expo helps us further solidify that role.

    The great thing about the MXP program is that usually, the participants in these events like the STEM Expo have not had any experience with robotics, and they tend to perceive the concept as something that is beyond them. Being able to show kids that robotics is something that anyone, regardless of age, can understand and enjoy, helps lead them towards considering pursuing a career in STEM. As such, the Expo was a huge success because we were able to reach many students of all ages and technical experience. We met with many VEX IQ and FLL teams and gave them demonstrations of our robots to show them what FTC is about and excite them about their FIRST future.

    Next Steps

    This STEM Expo will be the last Expo with the MXP in its pilot stage. BigThought has officially agreed to purchase the next vehicle with $150K they received in the past year and and move the program out of the pilot stage. We are truly grateful for all of BigThought’s help in maintaining the MXP along with all the help we received today at the Expo! Next year we'll have a bigger and better vehicle which will allow us to reach even more STEM-minded students and show them what they can achieve through FIRST.

    Preparing for the Meeting with Deloitte

    Preparing for the Meeting with Deloitte By Bhanaviya

    Task: Reach out to companies and their branches in the local Dallas area

    Previously this season, Iron Reign has reached out and presented to various companies and individuals in the Dallas area. So far, we have been able to communicate and present our team to the political, non-profit and engineering sectors, including Representative Colin Allred, Big Thought, Best Buy and the Dallas Personal Robotics Group respectively. The one facet with whom we have not yet gotten in touch with , however, is a multinational corporation. As such, this year, we emailed a representative from Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, one of the world-wide "Big Four" accounting services, with a request for sponsorship and a meeting.

    This week, we received an email back from Deloitte's Dallas Branch and they've agreed to meet with us! While Deloitte isn't an engineering company, we are specifically meeting with their Bot-Development team and members of the Dallas Branch with an interest and appreciation for robotics. During the meeting, we plan to deliver our usual judging presentation, alongside an introduction to FIRST Tech Challenge and Iron Reign. We also plan to bring TomBot and demonstrate its capabilities. As such, this meeting will focus more on the technical aspects of our team, but we will dedicate a portion to discussing our business plan, specifically the MXP and its expansion, as well as our plans for the rest of the season, moving into, and hopefully beyond regionals.

    Next Steps

    We are incredibly thankful to Deloitte's office for giving us the opportunity to discuss FIRST and our robot with them. As one of the biggest multinational corporations in the Dallas region, we believe this meeting can help us further expand our robotics program nation-wide and further, as we plan to do with the MXP as it moves out of its pilot stage. We look forward to meeting with them this upcoming week.

    Preparation for the Dallas Personal Robotics Group Meeting

    Preparation for the Dallas Personal Robotics Group Meeting By Shawn

    Task: Create a presentation for the Dallas Personal Robotics Group Meeeting Next Week

    In a week, we will be giving a presentation to the Dallas Personal Group, or DPRG. The DPRG is an engineering-based organization in the Dallas area that has monthly meetings to discuss robotics. DPRG has been involved with Iron Reign for years now, and they have volunteered at our annual Townview Qualifier as well as hosted an exhibit with us at Moonday at the Frontiers of Flight Museum this season. They are one of the biggest engineering groups we have connected with this season. In addition, we have been giving them an annual presentation about our build season for the past 4 years, this year being our fifth time. Through our presentation, we hope to gain engineering-based feedback on our robot but also with regards to our overall presentation. Below, you can see DPRG’s preview of our presentation at their monthly meeting.

    Part of the preparation for this presentation includes drive-testing TomBot and getting it ready for demoing. Last year, when we presented our season to them, they provided us feedback with our robot and our vision capabilities, which was pivotal to our accomplishments through the season. As such, alongside the demo, we will also be bringing our judging box, engineering journal and create a separate deck of slides for our code and vision progress this season.

    Next Steps

    The visit to DPRG will be a good opportunity to practice our presentation in front of an actual audience and ask for feedback on our robot and journal. We have been considering a custom binder cover for our journal made out of engraved aluminum, and we also hope to receive feedback on whether we should proceed with this new design or keep our existing binder for regionals. The article about how the presentation went will be detailed in a later post.

    Presenting to Deloitte

    Presenting to Deloitte By Bhanaviya, Karina, Jose, Aaron, Cooper, Trey, Ben, Paul, Justin, Mahesh, Shawn, and Anisha

    Task: Meet with Deloitte's Bot-Development Team to discuss

    Today, we presented to Deloitte LLC's Bot Development Team in their Dallas branch office to introduce them to our team, our robot, and FIRST. Deloitte is a multinational consulting company and we had reached out to them around 3 weeks ago, with a request for a meeting with their Bot Development Team and they agreed to meet with us last week!

    We gave them our judging presentation but a more extended version of it. Since we were presenting to professionals in bot development with an interest in engineering and robotics, we also spent a significant portion of our presentation demoing our robot for them and answering their questions about this year's challenge, and how our robot's design stood out in solving this challenge. Before we begun our presentation, we also showed them this year's reveal video, giving them more context into our robot capabilities and needs.

    We were also able to discuss the possibility of corporate funding from their office to our team. Especially since this year, we want to construct a new version of TomBot, corporate funding could bring our scope for innovation to whole new level. Once our presentation ended, we had a short Q & A session with the participants, all of whom were very interested in hearing about TomBot's potential and about how we had conceived the idea for its construction and capabilities. ONe feedback we received was that our focus on TomBot's turntable reflected our innovation with regards to our build season strongly. As such, this will be one point which we will be sure to hammer during the actual presentation.

    We even met one professional who had connections to a gecko tape research program at a bio-mimicry lab in Villanova University, and who mentioned she would be able to reach out to the lab to answer any of our questions about potential gripper materials. Since, we are currently looking into implementing gecko tape for our gripper, this was great to hear. Then, we were taken on a tour of their branch, where we were able to see the large variety of tech and virtual media they had implemented across their offices.

    Next Steps

    We would like to thank Deloitte for giving us the amazing opportunity to present at their Dallas branch. We really enjoyed being able to bring FIRST and our robot to their office, and we are incredibly grateful for their interest in our robotics team (and their generosity in providing us with cookies at the end of our visit!). We plan to reach out to them after Regionals, regardless of our qualification status, to find out about the possibility of partnering with them.

    Control And Vision DPRG Presentation

    Control And Vision DPRG Presentation By Mahesh and Cooper

    Task: Present Control And Vision To DPRG And Gather Feedback

    This saturday, we had the privilege to present our team's Control and Vision algorithms this year to the Dallas Personal Robotics Group. During this event, we described the layout of our robot's control scheme, as well as our OpenCV vision pipeline, in order to gather suggestions for improvement. This opportunity allowed us to improve our pipeline based on the feedback from more than a dozen individuals experienced in the designing, building, and programming of robots. We were able to demo our robot on a playing field, showcasing the mechanics of its design as well as semi-autonomous articulations to help improve driver performance.

    Here are is the slideshow we presented to DPRG:

    For this year's game, we chose a four step vision pipeline to detect skystones, which comprised of a blur, followed by a mask, then an HSV threshold, and finally a blob detector to locate the centroid of the black skystone. Although this pipeline worked fairly well for us, differences in lighting and the environment we are competing in may result in varying degrees of inaccuracy. To combat this, the DPRG suggested we used some kind of flash or LED in order to keep lighting of the stones consistent throughout different settings. However, this may result in specular reflections showing up on the black skystone, which will interfere with our vision pipeline. Another suggestion thrown was to detect the yellow contours in the image, and crop according to the minimum and maximum x and y values of the contour, allowing us to focus on only the three stones on the field and discard colors in the background. This suggestion is particularly useful, since any tilt of the webcam, slight deviation in the calibration sequence, or skystones lying outside the boundaries of the mask will not affect the detection of skystones.

    Next Steps

    The most significant input that DPRG gave us during the presentation was the cropping of skystones based on the size of the yellow contour present in the input image, allowing us to detect the black skystone even if it lies outside the mask. To implement this, we would have to test an HSV threshold to detect yellow contours in the image using GRIP, filtering those yellow contours appropriately, and cropping the input image based on the coordinates of a bounding box placed around the contour. Although this addition is not absolutely necessary it is still a useful add on to our pipeline, and will make performance more reliable.

    Presenting to the DPRG

    Presenting to the DPRG By Bhanaviya, Cooper, Jose, Justin, Karina, Ben, Mahesh, Paul, Anisha, Shawn, and Trey

    Task: Present to the Dallas Personal Robotics Group about robot vision and Iron Reign

    We reached out to the Dallas Personal Robotics Group to present. 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. This year, we wanted to present again on computer vision, as this is something that they were very interested in, but we also wanted to give our actual presentation as practice for Regionals. Our presentation was advertised here.

    We presented to an audience of around 15. The initial agenda is hosted on our website, but briefly put, we started off by showing them this year's reveal video, gave our judging presentation, demonstrated our robot, and gave them a presentation on our codebase, particularly vision and our usage of the control hub. You can read about the vision presentation in the Post 94 of our Engineering Section. We recieved and answered questions about everything spanning our design, our approach to this year's game challenge, and on our code decisions. The entire presentation went a little over 2 hours. You can find the link to a video of our presentation here. We're going to upload the video here soon. We also asked for feedback from the listeners, especially with respect to our codebase, and our journal organization

    The main feedback we received for the journal was to keep our introduction at the very beginning of the engineering section shorter and more summarizing of the current robot design. We also recieved feedback with regards to over decision to CNC a journal cover - especially to use either a plywood, acryllic or something more metallic for an edgy feel. In terms of vision, we recieved feedback as to crop our skystones based on the contour of the image. A more detailed summary of how our vision presentation went can be found in post 94 of the engineering section.

    Next Steps

    We are incredibly grateful to DPRG for giving us the opportunity to present and showcase our robot at their monthly meeting, and for giving us substantial feedback about our robot and engineering journal. Overall, our presentation to DPRG was a great experience for us to gain insight from a group of engineers on how to improve our robot performance and other factors of our overall standing at NTX Regionals. Regardless of how regionals goes for us, qualification-wise, we plan to reach out to DPRG later on as we move into the next stage of TomBot's build, which is creating a second, CNC-cut version of all of its subsystems.

    Big Thoughts for xPansion

    Big Thoughts for xPansion By Bhanaviya

    Task: Put the budgetary and technical plans for the second MXP in motion

    A long, long time ago, - well, 4 years ago really - alumni members of Iron Reign converted an old 90’s RV into a fully equipped Mobile Learning Lab with 3D-printers and FLL robots. Today, this vehicle is operated by Big Thought, funded by Best Buy and other donors, and taken to outreach events, by our team, Team 6832, where we introduce children with little to no STEM experience to robotics, and FIRST. We call this program the Mobile Tech xPerience and it’s been in service for around 4 years now! For reference, in the outreach events we take the MXP to, both our team and our sister teams participate, however, Iron Reign 6832 takes the lead in these events , from the set-up, to interacting with younger participants, and training Big Thought’s volunteers, to whom we show how we teach younger students block programming and 3D-modelling.

    Our team specifically and Big Thought, a Dallas-based company, are programmatic partners of the MXP program. Through the success of this program, Team 6832 has proven that the concept of a STEM classroom works, and this has inspired other organizations, like the Girl Scouts of Desert Southwest, who have reached out to us about creating their own version of the MXP.

    With the influence the MXP has had on students in underserved areas of the Dallas community, Big Thought was motivated to make the decision in 2019 to upgrade to a second, bigger version of the vehicle, and as their programmatic partner, our team has been heavily involved in the process, from creating the floorplan to actively seeking out sponsors like congressional representatives and multinational companies like Deloitte. However, this week, we are pleased to announce that Big Thought has voted to begin the budgetary and physical planning of the second vehicle and Iron Reign - 6832 has been provided a budget of $400,000 to map out the utilities and technology of the second vehicle. Additionally, we have been tasked with the responsibility of creating a virtual blueprint and model for the second vehicle in CAD, which Big Thought’s professional engineers and architects will use to complete the physical construction of the vehicle. The new vehicle is expected to have a digital media aspect, with a green screen wall and voiceover booth, and the floorplan will include a wheelchair access lift and 2 slide outs.

    The senior director for the Dallas City of Learning - a Big Thought program which encompasses the MXP program - has created an official title for 6832’s members as the Mobile STEM Ambassadors for the second vehicle. The first MXP was just a concept - a pilot program. The second however will be bringing this concept to reality and it is expected to be unveiled in the summer of 2020. Unlike the first, the newer one will be staffed year-round, meaning that while our team members are off doing non-robotics based activities, like school, Big Thought’s team for the MXP will be filling our roles, keeping the vehicle as sustainable as it can be in one season. The idea is still the same - bringing STEM and FIRST robotics to students who haven’t yet seen its potential - but the quality of execution will improve significantly, with our team, Team 6832 Iron Reign, still taking the lead on the MXP program during its larger outreach events.

    Next Steps:

    Once the new vehicle is unveiled, we expect to go on more deployments as opposed to our normal count in the summer. In the meanwhile, we look forward to planning out the virtual model of the second MXP and discussing how best to use the $400,000 budget big thought has authorized for the planning, going into and after regionals.

    Narrowing Down the Configuration of the New Vehicle

    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!

    Connecting with Motus Labs

    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

    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.