Almost Ready to Start!

We’re almost ready to start our robotics competition season. This Saturday, our first and only scrimmage of the season is set to be held out in Kaufman, TX.

Our season is full of 3 different league meets followed by a league championship and then a regional qualifier. All of these events carry us through 11-February-2017!

The regional qualifier is the first elimination event where our season can come to an end. If we advance, the next level will be the regional competition (Texas) which is then followed by the super-regional competition (11 southern states).

Most first-year coaches who have advanced to that level have compared it to that of a bug and a windshield. They have all said that the level of competition is so much greater than that at lower levels.

The final level of the contest is the world championship. Given that we are a rookie team, the statistics are not stacked in our favor for us to advance to this level. However, we will be pushing as hard as we can for as long as we can for the entire season.

Making Progress on Robot

We’re making progress on our robot! Speaking as a teacher, it was great seeing the look on my students’ faces when the robot jumped to life.

Our first scrimmage meet of the season is set for Saturday, 19-November-2016 at 8:00am at Kaufman High School.

While it may not yet be much to look at, it is driving in both a teleoperated and autonomous mode! Now, we can get to our actual build.

Our robot has made it for almost 8 hours of off/on driving over 3 school days on a single battery charge. During that same time, we dropped only one set screw and that was early on in the testing. Once it was tightened down, it has held with no problems.

We have had a few issues with the OTG cable between the core distribution module and the on-board phone. We’re in the process of replacing that with a micro-USB (male) to full-USB (female) that will then mate with a full-USB (male) to mini-USB (male). This will allow us to interface with the phone only having to interact with a full-size USB which we hope is more robust than the micro-USB we are working with now.

FIRST in Texas Round 1 Grant Awards

FIRST in Texas Foundation Logo
FIRST in Texas Foundation

The FIRST in Texas Foundation began notifying recipients of their grant awards from the first round of grant application processing on Friday, 28-October-2016.

FTC 11242 (Error 404) from Ferris High School is proud to announce that it has received an award letter from the Texas Workforce Commission for a grant in the amount of 1,525.00 for the 2016/2017 FIRST Tech Challenge Season!

Texas Workforce Commission Logo
Texas Workforce Commission

Texas Workforce Commission is the first official sponsor for FTC 11242 and we are proud to have their support and thank them for their sponsorship.

The grant is set-up to cover the season league fees of $250.00 and can then be used for qualifying expenses for materials and resources. With $250.00 allocated for play within the Citrine League of North Texas, that leaves $1,275.00 for materials and resources.

We will be seeking reimbursement of our $275.00 national registration fee which can then be applied as a credit with Pitsco. We will be using that credit to purchase components where Pitsco is a sole-source supplier.

AndyMark Logo
AndyMark Logo

The remaining $1,000.00 will be used to purchase items from AndyMark such as components of the Velocity Vortex game and parts for the robot.

We are once again, very thankful for the support of the Texas Workforce Commission and their continued support of FIRST Tech Challenge and FIRST Robotics Competition.

Robotics Parts Are Coming!

PITSCO Education Logo
PITSCO Education Logo

After several weeks and months of preparing for this moment, we now have robotics parts on order!

Our first parts will be coming in from PITSCO shortly and will consist of our TETRIX Competition Kit of Parts set as well as additional TETRIX components that are needed that are not part of the basic KOP.

We also ordered a starter communications bundle from PITSCO which contains two Moto – G Second Generation phones, two Logitech control pads, OTG cables for the phones, and a USB hub to allow for the control pads to interface with the driver station phone.

AndyMark Logo
AndyMark Logo

We also have parts en route from AndyMark, which is providing the upgraded motors for our robot along with some of the competition field materials, such as the beacons for us to practice with for the season.

We are extremely happy to have AndyMark as one of our vendors this season and look forward to working with them in future seasons as we expand our program further.

McMaster-Carr Logo
McMaster-Carr Logo

McMaster-Carr is our supplier for general mechanical parts and fasteners. They are providing all of our nuts, bolts, washers, screws, and hand-tools for the robotics team. All of the parts we are using from McMaster-Carr are stainless steel to replace the aluminum parts provided in the PITSCO KOP.

We were going to use Grainger for these parts, but McMaster-Carr had exactly what we needed and Grainger had some of the exact parts and only approximations of others.

Amazon Logo
Amazon Logo

Finally, we have a our “catch-all” vendor – Amazon. We are receiving numerous items from Amazon that we could otherwise not get from other vendors easily.

We are also using Amazon to purchase all of the Anderson PowerPole products that we need that we cannot purchase from PowerWerx. Unfortunately, PowerWerx only sells products to pre-pay customers. Public school districts are typically post-pay. As such, we had to go with another vendor to get the parts that we needed.

In addition to these Anderson PowerPole products, we are also purchasing battery chargers, safety glasses, fuses, and numerous other components from Amazon for our competition team.

Android Studio Setup for FTC

Robotics Laptops Are Ready
Robotics Laptops Are Ready

Finally got around to setting up the FTC programming team laptops with Android Studio today. We’re using 4 HP EliteBook 840 laptops for programming and 1 HP EliteBook 840 for our design and mechanical team.

The plan is to setup all of the hardware to interface with Github for a common development repository for our FTC programming efforts. Obviously, the programming team will be working with this repository much more than the design and mechanical team will.

Once the laptops were ready, Android Studio was downloaded and installed. The installation went fairly smoothly. The SDK that was installed at this time was for Android 5.0 as this is what our driver station and on-board phones will be running.

moto-g-2nd-gen-dual-sim
Motorola G 2nd Generation

We’ll be running the Motorola G 2nd Generation as both our driver station and on-board phones.

We purchased them as part of the starter kit from PITSCO this year. After the ZTE Speed, the Moto-G 2nd Generation appears to be the next smallest volume phone. As we’ll be fighting for every cubic millimeter of space inside the robot, we need to go with the smallest hardware when possible.

Now, to find CAD files of this phone so my design and mechanical team can build a mounting system to hold this and an OTG cable inside the robot.

FTC North Texas Citrine League

Dr. Carter Tiernan distributed the preliminary draft summary of the league alignments for the 2016/2017 FIRST Tech Challenge season on September 30th.

FTC 11242 (ERROR 404) has been assigned to compete in the Citrine League of North Texas.

As you can see, we are spread across Tarrant, Dallas, Ellis, and Kaufman counties.

The preliminary draft has our league consisting of the following teams:

  • FTC 127 – The Fighting Pickles
    • Ben Barber Career High School (Mansfield / Tarrant County)
    • Rookie Year: 2007/2008
    • Last Year Competed: 2015/2016
  • FTC 2926 – T-Robots
    • Harmony Science Academy (Grand Prairie / Dallas County)
    • Rookie Year: 2008/2009
    • Last Year Competed: 2013/2014
  • FTC 9582 – DeSoto High School
    • DeSoto High School (DeSoto / Dallas County)
    • Rookie Year: 2014/2015
    • Last Year Competed: 2015/2016
  • FTC 9608 – Cyberpride
    • Kaufman High School (Kaufman / Kaufman County)
    • Rookie Year: 2014/2015
    • Last Year Competed: 2015/2016
  • FTC 9609 – Aries Robotics
    • Kaufman High School (Kaufman / Kaufman County)
    • Rookie Year: 2014/2015
    • Last Year Competed: 2015/2016
  • FTC 10734 – Gopher Bots
    • Grand Prairie High School (Grand Prairie / Dallas County)
    • Rookie Year: 2015/2016
    • Last Year Competed: 2015/2016
  • FTC 11085 – MHS
    • Mansfield High School (Mansfield / Tarrant County)
    • Rookie Year: 2015/2016
    • First Year Competed: 2015/2016
  • FTC 11242 – ERROR 404
    • Ferris High School (Ferris / Ellis County)
    • Rookie Year: 2016/2017
    • First Year Competed: 2016/2017
  • FTC Temp 201601746 – Heritage Robotics
    • Heritage High School (Midlothian / Ellis County)
    • Rookie Year: 2016/2017
    • First Year Competed: 2016/2017
  • FTC Temp 201601763 – Eagles Robotics
    • DeSoto High School (DeSoto / Dallas County)
    • Rookie Year: 2016/2017
    • First Year Competed: 2016/2017