Workshops, Preparation, and Anticipation

As the build season approaches, Team 3637 has been building, coding, wiring, writing, and fundraising in preparation. We have a lot of new members and we are also lucky to have several great new mentors this year. They have also been helping us during our evening workshops, which are going very well—we have been assembling two different practice frames from kits, one of which is now assembled and wired (and the other is almost done). Building these two very different designs should give our members valuable experience with the many different possible configurations a good robot can take.

We’re all eagerly awaiting Kickoff on January 4th, and we are hoping to have our practice bots done in time for a driving competition shortly after the big reveal. It will test the abilities of both our drivers and our programmers, and everyone will need to work hard in order to claim victory! And of course, the regular build season is in our minds as well, and we are confident that 2014 will find the Daleks at the top of…whatever it is this time.

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Gearing Up for 2014

The new school year is well underway and Team 3637 is already at work! Starting in early September we resumed meeting every week in room 902. Since then, the 60+ strong Daleks have fundraised, done team-building exercises, broken into technical and non-tech subteams, and held our first workshop of the new year. This one was about fundraising and marketing, with presentations by our new mentor Mr. Atkinson.

In addition, we have been working to establish a big presence in both our school and community. Within the school, we have attended Activity Fairs and Homecoming Fest, recruiting members and raising money. But our biggest (and most recent) fundraiser was definitely our event at Five Guys of Flemington. If you’ve been on our Facebook page recently, you know that from November 13-15, everyone who turned in a flyer helped our team as Five Guys donated 100% of the profit from those sales! In addition, we held a bake sale on the premises, where we had delicious treats including brownies, cupcakes, and Dalek cookies. Not only did we raise money, but we also raised awareness of our team, answering questions and talking about our organization from behind the sales table. We’d like to … More

Happy New Year!

The new school year is almost upon us! Say goodbye to your free time while you have the chance, or for those of you in marching band, think really hard and you might be able to remember a time when you still had it. So as the fall approaches, keep a couple things in mind:

  • Team 3637 is always looking for members. With a new school year right around the corner, that especially means freshmen! Does your younger sibling know a frosh who is a skilled programmer? Suggest joining robotics! Have you heard legends of some incoming freshman who builds working water guns out of spare parts in his garage? Suggest joining robotics! Non-technical areas are just as important; we are also always looking for writers, artists, aspiring businesspeople, and photographers. Whether an aspiring FIRST® member has a talent in a specific area or a broad interest in engineering, robotics is the perfect place to develop it, and Team 3637 values the contributions of all its members.
  • Upperclassmen are encouraged to join too! Whether you weren’t able to join earlier or just hadn’t heard of it, we want you if you’re willing to put in the effort to help

Countdown to the Competition

Although the 6 weeks of the build season have ended, the Daleks continue to work on our robot. We have taken full advantage of the rule allowing us to keep 30 pounds of the robot out of the bag so we can modify it. Thanks to some recent donations by our supporters, we have ordered some new parts to get the climber climbing, so we are still making progress despite the challenging end to the build season.

In addition to the climber, we have also been working on things like materials for setting up our pit, buttons, t-shirts, banners, and improving our bumper design. By the time our first competition comes around, Team 3637 will be ready to play!

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(Like Rita Fang’s amazing button art? We sure do! The images have been posted on our Facebook page!)… More

Last Build Day

The build season is over at last, and the robot is in the bag.

Unfortunately, our build ended on a slightly disappointing note. To our surprise, the climber was not strong enough to pull the robot up the pyramid. However, we can still work on the climber, since we are allowed to keep up to 30 pounds of our robot out of the bag.

Other than that, the build went rather well for us. We worked on some code, fixed some wiring, and we also finished the dumper mechanism. That is the part that holds the discs, and during autonomous, will dump them into the lowest goal, while during teleop, it will dump them into the pyramid goal.

The build season is over, but our hard work will continue throughout the competitions. Go Daleks!

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Saturday Double Build

Yesterday, Team 3637 and Team 869 joined forces in a double build.

At Middlesex, Team 869 and some of Team 3637 went to work on the robots. We helped them put together the frame we had given them, and we both continued to work on the climbing mechanism that they will be giving us. By the afternoon, The Daleks’ robot was moving, and shortly afterwards, it was still moving, and no longer making a horrible noise (it was the belt skipping when the robot made a sharp turn). In addition, we made a lot of progress on the code, fixing some serious bugs and creating a precision driving mode for when the robot will be approaching the pyramid.

Back at Central, the rest of the Daleks were working on the bumpers for both robots, as well as other miscellaneous tasks. These included planning a layout for our pit (to improve efficiency during the competitions), spirit, and working on our Bill of Materials.

So overall, both teams got a lot done, and on Team 3637, the technical and non-technical groups both did a lot of work.


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The Clock is Ticking!

We have only a few days left to work on the robot, and Team 3637 has been working hard.

One of the most important things we’ve accomplished recently is getting our frame–we designed it in CAD and had it plasma-cut. However, the frame came with “some assembly required,” so our robot is still not quite done. But now it looks like a robot, and thanks to some hard work on the part of our programming and electrical teams, it can move like one too.

The next step is to attach the climbing mechanism, which we will be getting tomorrow from Team 869 (Power Cord), our sister team from Middlesex. In return, we will be giving them a frame just like ours. This exchange is part of a collaboration effort that we began this year, called MCR (Middlesex-Central Robotics). Since we have two teams working together to make similar robots, MCR can build (and compete) more efficiently, while also promoting the ideas of FIRST® through “Coopertition.”

Stay tuned as we dive into those exciting final days of the build season!

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Kickoff and Beyond 2013

All of us were excited for January 5th, when we would learn what the new game would be. After a fun and informative day of workshops, socializing, and speculating, the moment we were all waiting for arrived, and the 2013 build season officially began! After the kickoff, we all went home to read the manual and think of ideas. The next day, we would go to a brainstorming session with our friends on Team 869, Power Cord. After considering a wide variety of ideas, strategies, and designs, we eventually decided to build a robot that would focus on climbing the pyramid more than shooting the discs.

(Discs? What am I talking about?)

The next few weeks were all about making that idea into reality. We knew we had to climb the pyramid; the next step was figuring out how. As time went on, we spent our build sessions thinking, prototyping, and measuring. We decided that we would climb up the edge (rather than the face) of the pyramid, and we designed a system of hooks and other mechanisms that will allow us to do just that.

All things considered, the time since kickoff was very busy, but … More

New Season Underway!

The new school year has brought some exciting times for Team 3637!  We have new mentors, new members, new ideas, and a new partner: this year, we look forward to working with our sister team, Power Cord (Team 869)!  We will be working together during the build season, sharing parts, designs, and code to efficiently make our robots as effective as possible.

This Saturday, we are also looking forward to attending an off-season event, the 11th annual Brunswick Eruption, hosted by our friend Team 25, Raider Robotix!  Brunswick Eruption will be a fun way for us to get back in the competitive mood and give our new members the experience of what a competition is like.

Team 3637 is back and better than ever.… More

Progress Update 3-19-12

We were all very pleased with how our robot performed at the Rutgers competition. However, there is always room for improvement, and this week, we are resuming our build sessions in order to prepare for Mount Olive. If we are in the top 50 of the 99 teams in our region, we will qualify for the regional championship, which will take place at Temple University.

In other news, we were featured in an article in the Hunterdon County Democrat on Friday! The article (which can be found here) also has pictures of our team and the robot.

More updates to come.… More

Builds 3-5-12 and 3-7-12

Monday and Wednesday were our last two builds before the competition. We got a lot done, and not just on the robot. The robot itself is done, but we also worked on some outside components, like the computer station and setting up the joysticks, and some optional things, like painting the tube white. It no longer looks burnt and marked-up, but rather like a sleek piece of machinery fit for a winning robot. Great work, team!

Our first competition, at Rutgers, takes place tomorrow. We’re ready!

Build 3-5-12 pictures:

Build 3-7-12 pictures:

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Build 2-27-12

Monday’s build was the first build to take place outside of the regular build season. While the robot itself is packed up and untouched, we were still able to work on our PVC tube that rolls the balls up to the flywheels, since it is under 30 pounds. Much of our work consisted of reducing the weight of the tube. It is a heavy item, and we want to make absolutely sure that our robot will be under the weight limit of 120 pounds, so we cut long pieces out of the sides. However, how much we could cut out was limited due to small details, like making sure it still works. We tested it and found that it did, and here’s hoping it sufficiently reduces the weight too.

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The Last Night (Build 2-21-12)

Today was the last day we could work on our robot! We had to make the most of our nine-hour build, and boy, did we. Some improvements included cutting a piece of plastic to the precise curve of the tube to hold it in place, as well as mounting a bar across the frame to hold it, while dealing with asymmetries and hard-to-reach screws. We also connected the tube mechanisms, like the brushes and flywheels, to power and did a final, complete test–the shooting system worked together perfectly! The bar pushed the balls into the tube, which rolled them up to the flywheels, which, as we determined a while ago, does a great job of sending them flying. In addition to the tube, we also finished the bumpers, which had been no easy job considering the obstacles (like axles in different areas, different-sized wheels, the gap in the front of the robot) we had to overcome.

But we’re not done yet. After bagging up the robot at midnight, we are allowed to keep 30 pounds of it out to work on. We chose the tube, and are going to work on it during our next build, which will be on … More

Build 2-20-12

Today was the penultimate build, and our robot is looking good! We made a mount for the tube and finally attached the tube to the robot. We tested it, and the roller, tube, and flywheels work together beautifully. We also made progress on the bumpers, which were fitted for the frame painted with the team number. More was done with the pneumatic tubing, and we secured parts of the plexiglass shields to protect the Jaguars. We only have one build left — let’s make it a good one!

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Build 2-18-12

Yesterday was our last Saturday build of the season! We got a lot done, like putting all the brushes onto the tube, which was very difficult because we had to adjust them so the gears properly connect to the motor. Once the brushes were finished, we attached the flywheels (which run on a separate motor) and tested them, with great success. We have also completed the pneumatics, with the exception of the parts that have not come in yet. The code is well underway too–our Kinect is currently being wired and programmed to work with the robot, since we have just added a bunch of new hardware components that formerly couldn’t be programmed because they didn’t exist.

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More on Friday’s build

Only a few days left, and there is no time to lose! Yesterday, we continued to make great additions to our robot by finishing the arm that will put down the bridge. We also installed a second plexiglass shield and mounted it in its place above a row of motors. While some of us were attaching the shield, others began to put the flywheels on the tube, which can be very hard to do–they have to be perfectly lined up or else the ball won’t shoot properly. Some work was also done on the Kinect station in preparation for the autonomous mode at the beginning of each match.

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Build Friday 2-17-12

We had a good, productive build today! Pictures and further details will be posted tomorrow, but in the meantime, here are a couple of new videos.


Look — A Robot! (2-15-12)

Our robot is really starting to look like one!  Some of the improvements we made yesterday are very visible, like adding lights and finally attaching the arm that will put down the bridge.  In addition to the external components, we also continued to work on the internal components that will move the ball.  We made good progress on the flywheels as well as the front roller, which we mounted onto the chassis, hopefully for the final time.  (The front roller is the tan bar in the pictures.)  For a long time, we have been working on the bumpers.  We are re-using the same ones from last year, but the wheels are in a different place on this year’s robot, so we have had to drill new holes in the side bumpers and move the pieces that hold them on.  And we did this for both the red and blue sets of bumpers!   While the mechanical team was working on the robot, a few of us finished editing our applications and essay for the chairman’s award. What a busy week!

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Build 2-13-12

Yesterday, we made some more good progress. We mounted the arm on the robot, complete with chain and motor. More wiring was done as well and we started adding the pneumatics for the air tanks. We continued to improve the flywheels, and we also prepared the tube for the addition of the brushes. Part of the brush system was then mounted onto the robot. And as always, we continued to work on the programming. Great work, everyone!

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Flywheel Testing 2-11-12

Today (Saturday 2-11), one of our projects included testing a version of the flywheel mechanism. Here’s a quick video of it in action.


Week of 2-6-12 to 2-10-12

What a week! We hit milestones, built pieces, and overall did a lot of great work!

First, on Monday, edits to the drive train were made. Gears and chains were fixed (again), and we began construction (heating, bending) of a new tube for transport that will be the final version we use on the robot. We dismantled the old prototype tube and took off the brushes for use on the new one. The programmers collaborated so they could all view and edit the code, and some edits were made.

Then, on Tuesday, the gears for the flywheels were greased and put into place. We made some good adjustments to the chassis and the code as well.

On Wednesday, we got our robot to actually drive! It needs a hard connection to a computer, but the motors and code are running together nicely.

During Thursday’s build, we cut supports for a plexiglass board and attached them to the chassis. The plexiglass itself was cut, as well as the arm, and plans were made to attach it to the chassis. Finally, the electrical board was transferred from the old wooden board to a metal grid, and we attached it to the chassis.… More

Six-hour Saturday (build 2-4-12)

Yesterday was a long day, but a good one! We spent a good bit of the time working on the system of motors, gears, and chain that will make our robot move—getting the chain to be just the right length can be really tricky, but we worked it out by running the chain over small pieces of plastic to change the tautness.  We also worked out a couple previously-unnoticed issues with the tube that will shoot out the balls, finished building and attached the mechanisms that will pick them up, and continued working on the software and the “brain” of our robot (shown below).

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Build 2-3-12

Yesterday was a productive day!  HC Polytech built us a model bridge like the ones that will be used in the competition, and a few of our team members tested its strength and used hammers as weights to model a balance system we plan to include in our robot.  We also worked hard on the robot itself, refining our shooting mechanism and making great progress on the drive system.  Keep up the good work, everyone!

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Build 2-22-11

Today was the last day, and by far the most stressful. With the new cRIO firmware, our sensors began to act erratically at random times. And, the firmware decided to corrupt and cause dangerous actions, such as causing the drive motors to spin in opposite directions at full speed by themselves, nearly killing half the team. Of course, though, we were wearing safety goggles 😉  Additionally, we bagged and suffocated the robot, as you can see below:… More

Build 2-21-11

Today we finished building and wiring the robot. This left autonomous. We were able to successfully program an autonomous mode that worked just about every time. Additionally, we finished the drivers console. It is made of plexiglass, which looks really sharp. 🙂

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Build 2-19-11

Today, our team finished switching out the ultrasonic sensors, and added a gyro to the scissor lift. The gyro didn’t work so team 75, the RoboRaiders, offered to give us their KOP gyro. Additionally they gave us TWO KOP s ball screws! Thanks Guys!
Our operator console team finished making the Plexiglass sheets, and now we just need some Plexiglass glue to finish building it.… More

Build 2-18-11

Today was a long build day. We rewired ultrasonics for the 3rd time, as we had given up on getting the Parallaxes to work. We replaced them with Vex ultrasonic sensors, which, thankfully, work. Additionally, we had a separate team work on creating a driver’s console. We are making it out of the extra plexiglass that we had. That stuff was ancient as well, so the protective adhesive was hard to peel off. The team had to spend a few hours just to peel off one! I myself programmed autonomous fully. The code, theoretically, should work after it is calibrated to real sensor values, instead of only pseudo values. Significant work has been done on the minibot deployment system, and it is expected to be done soon. We are hoping to get it on before we run out of time.

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Build 2-17-11

Today, we worked on getting the WiFi to work on our robot. As of now, we still can’t connect via WiFi. We also ran our robot through the inspection list, and it seems that we’ll pass! I hope to dedicate tomorrow to autonomous.… More

Build 2-16-11

Today, we added a second pin onto every ultrasonic sensor. Also, we wired our crossover cable from the camera to the cRIO. The Chairman’s Award (the rookie all-star award) is finally submitted, so now we can focus on other things, such as finalizing the minibot deployment system. All that is left is now to program autonomous, which could be problematic with the ultrasonic sensors still not working.… More