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.

Go MCR!

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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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Week 3 of Ultimate Ascent

We did a lot of work this past week, and it’s really paying off.

Some of it was non-technical, like designing a newsletter for our sponsors, ordering parts, touching up artwork, and organizing our finances. Some of it was technical as well. Our accomplishments include finalizing bumper designs, prototyping, working in CAD, teaching useful skills to our newer members, and getting the computers to talk to the cRIO and spin the motors. (Previously, we had been having issues making the motors move, and we weren’t sure why. But upon discovering that one of the modules of the cRIO was bad, our coders were relieved that it wasn’t something they had done!)

Anyway, Week 3 of build was very productive for us. However, we’re still very aware that time is always of the essence, so we will continue to work hard during the next weeks to finish the robot. Keep up the good work, Daleks!

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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 very productive. Team 3637 looks forward to competing, and all of its members are determined to make the best robot we can!

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Brunswick Eruption 11

The new school year brought some new changes for our team, including an offseason event: the 11th Brunswick Eruption, hosted by Raider Robotix on November 17.  After so long without using the robot, we thought it would be fun to take it for a spin one more time.

We arrived with our robot at the competition at 7:00 in the morning. We quickly set up our pit and signed up for a practice match to warm up. After the opening ceremonies, the competition got started. However, the qualification matches did not start off well. Plagued by communication errors, our robot could barely move, and we lost our first three matches. However, after taking a match off to work on the problem without being distracted by having to change bumpers, we started to turn our day around. The remaining two teams on our alliance won without us, we fixed the communication problem, and we won the next match as well.

But after losing our final match and breaking a chain in the process, we found ourselves at the bottom of the standings, in a 7-way tie for 23rd out of 29 teams. As the top eight teams began to make their picks for the alliances of the elimination matches, we were worried that our day would be over right then. As each team was picked and 3637 wasn’t called, we became more and more convinced we were done. But then, to our delight, we were picked on the very last selection, joining Miss Daisy (Team 341) and Raider Robotix (Team 25) in the playoffs!

From that point on, things started going very well for us. We had a great time working with our two allies, and we tried to do our part by doing what we do best:  playing defense and preventing the other alliance from scoring, and balancing on the bridge. During one of our quarterfinal matches, we achieved a triple balance on our bridge, earning 40 points!  We ended up winning all of our elimination matches, sweeping the quarterfinals, semifinals, and then the finals in two games each. What started off as a frustrating disaster plagued by communication issues ended with a victory celebration.

Congratulations to all our fellow Daleks, and many thanks to our two allies, Teams 341 and 25! Let’s carry this momentum into next season!


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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.

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MAR Championship 4-12-12 to 4-14-12

After three days of competition, the MAR Championship (held at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia) is over! For us, this also means the end of the season, but I know all of us are very proud of our achievements.

Thursday the 12th was the first day of competition (a few of us went and dropped off the robot at our pit the day before). The event started in the afternoon, and we only had one match.

Friday the 13th was when most of the action happened. We started off slow, losing our first three matches, but then we heated up, winning matches and scoring from Coopertition. By the afternoon, we had recovered from our poor start, usually staying around 15th or so in the standings.

Today was the last day of the event, and we had three matches. We won the first two, but we lost the last one, and failed to earn any Coopertition bonus as well. This hurt our position in the standings significantly. After all the qualification matches were over, the top eight teams took turns picking other teams for their alliances. Being in 32nd place, we were obviously not one of the eight alliance captains, and disappointingly, we were not picked by any of the alliances, ending our season.

Even though we didn’t advance, everybody did a great job today! We did very well this season, advancing to the regional championship in only our second year as a team!

Below are pictures from the second two days of the event.


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Mount Olive Competition (3-31-12 and 4-1-12)

Another competition is over, and it was a great one!

The first day (not counting Friday, when we dropped off our robot) was a fun one. We started off a little slow, but eventually heated up, at one point winning three of our matches in a row. Unlike at the Rutgers competition, there were no mechanical failures this time, due to careful adjustments we had made this past week to prevent them. We ended the day high on the leaderboard.

On Sunday, the second day, we also did very well. Ending up in 6th place overall, we were one of the top eight teams, which meant that we could pick our alliance members. These alliances would stay with each other for the rest of the elimination matches, which were in a best-of-three single elimination format. We chose Team 75, the RoboRaiders, as well as Team 555, Montclair Robotics.

Unfortunately, we were once again eliminated in the first round, but our excellent qualifying position meant that we have qualified for the Mid-Atlantic Robotics Regional Championship, which will be held from April 12-14 in Philadelphia. Great work, Daleks!


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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.

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Rutgers Competition (3-10-12 and 3-11-12)

Wow, what a competition!

First, on Friday, a few of us went to Rutgers to drop off our robot and set up our pit. Meanwhile, the rest of us were eagerly awaiting the competition.

The first day of gameplay was Saturday, the 10th. We started the day very well, at one point rising to fourth place because of our many Coopertition points (from balancing on the center bridge) as well as team victories. Our robot excelled at crossing the bridges, a task that tipped many other robots, and scooping up balls and giving them to our teammates on the other side of the barrier. However, we fell back in the standings toward the end of the day after a couple of losses in a row, the last one partially due to an inability to connect to our robot during the match.

On Sunday, the 11th, we had five more qualification matches before alliances were made for the final elimination rounds. We won two and lost three, putting us far out of the top 8 in the standings. The top 8 teams got to pick their alliance partners for the elimination rounds, and they would stay with these partners the whole time. Although we weren’t in the top 8 ourselves, the 8th-place team, Team 3142 (Aperture), picked us as well as Team 223 (Xtreme Heat). Unfortunately, we were eliminated in the first round of the elimination matches (in part because of the bridge-lowering arm getting stuck), and our opponents progressed (Team 224, Team 1302, and Team 1811).

Great job, Daleks! What great performance, especially for only our second year!

Our final record can be found here, although it doesn’t mention the additional Coopertition points we earned throughout the competition.

Pictures and video coming soon!

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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 Monday. Good work, Daleks!


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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.

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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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Working on Robot 2-13-12

Here’s a quick look at our robot, being worked on in our shop today (Monday 2-13).

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10 Days to Go–Saturday 2-11-12

Today was another productive but long day. We finished and tested the flywheels that we will be using, and they worked very well! We also finished cutting, drilling, tapping, and mounting the plexiglass sheets we were making, and despite having to re-cut one of them so it would fit in the frame perimeter, we eventually got it done and were able to move on. On the plexiglass, we mounted (and connected) eight pieces that will control the other components, like the flywheels and the mechanism that will feed the balls into the tube. The tube itself is coming along as well–we put in pieces to help it hold its shape as well as little axles for the brushes. Great work, fellow Daleks! We’re getting close!


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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.

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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.

Last, on Friday, new tools came in! We drilled holes into the plexiglass and tapped them. Then, the paper was removed from the plexiglass and it was mounted onto the supports. We added an extra support onto the left side to support some of the electrical equipment, and the first Jaguar motor for the arm was mounted on the right with a support and a hole for the gears. The electrical equipment was rearranged on the board to accommadate the tube and the router was placed underneath the plexiglass with Velcro. We also modified the flywheels and fly heel gear system.

Good work, Daleks! Let’s keep making progress as the competition gets closer!


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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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Season underway

The 2012 season is off to a great start.  More updates to follow.

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NJ Regionals 3-5-11 Day 3

Today was a very fun day! We only had two matches and unfortunately we lost them both. The first match we realized that the changes to the Tele-Op program perfected our drive and were were about to score a third piece before the other team had scored their first. To all the Daleks out there, I am proud of you all!  Below are pictures and videos from today. A list of the pictures can be found HERE!

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NJ Regionals 3-4-11 Day 2

Today was a VERY tiring day. We had many matches and as a team we succeed our goal. Our robot was hitting autonomous perfectly and we perfected the art of feeding a tube to a robot. We have 4 seeding matches tomorrow and we hope to score top row logos in each round! Below are pics and videos of today’s competition. The images in a list can be found HERE.

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NJ Regionals 3-3-11 Day 1

Today was a long day! Our team’s robot started on the weak side. We had to recalibrate the line sensors and remake part of the claw since the tubes are bigger than the ones we practiced with and it made the claw extend to outside the bumper perimeter. Pics from today are below. Also the images are in a list HERE.

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