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Evan G's Blogtime Array

9 Posts tagged with the brains tag

We did it! Here's my announcement (although much overdue)...Doc VIII: The Fish is moving and shooting with excellence. Keep an eye on our Youtube channel for clips of the robot in action.


These last six weeks has been a long, roller coaster ride. Never could I have imagined such a crazy build season. We attempted a lot and we achieved a lot. Our CAD team wanted to design a simple robot that could shoot the 3-pointer. Our software team wanted to tackle the challenge of using a camera system to track vision targets. Our electronics team wanted to utilize the precision and ease of CAN (Controller Area Network) communication. Our fabrication team wanted to reorganize the work area and use as much equipment as possible. The animation team has worked to create the animation with no mentor support whatsoever. The public relations division rallied to earn more sponsorship funds, a better cleaner website (click here!:, more publicity, and more team spirit. None of these were easy tasks, but with the full force of the largest sized group in team history, we took them head on and came out better on the other side.


Our success, however, did not come without difficulty and some losses. A few burnt out Jaguars and cameras, an entire rework of our C++ robot code, lost audio files for the animation, inconsistent functionality with Windchill 10 servers, and a difference of opinions were just some of the challenges we faced during the build season. Still, we pushed through the frustration, consulted one another, and solved the problems. Most importantly, we learned from these experiences, better improving the breadth and depth of our team. Along the way, we took the time to help other FIRST Robotics Competition teams and offered suggestions to better improve their organizations.


Last Tuesday, our CAD and Design Director Eunice Kokor and I had the honor of being interviewed by technology blogger Kenneth Wong of Desktop Engineering. During the interview, which was arranged by Megan Virtanen of PTC, we discussed many things such as the team name, the robot, our success, and our stuggles of the 2012 build season. Not too sure when the interview and associated article will the published, but until then, read up on other articles by Kenneth:


For now, our team is recovering from the build season and preparing for our first regional two weeks from now in Davis, CA. We looking forward to proud displaying and demonstrating our awesome robot and plan to make a splash. As Kenneth mentioned in our interbiew last week, all the the FIRST Robotics Competition teams are now it what may be called the eye of the storm; the intial shock of build season has past, but the deceptive peace right now will soon be interrupted by the choas of competition. All that can be said now is...IT'S GAMETIME.


Sacramento: t-minus 13 Days, Central Valley: t-minus 34 Days, Championship: t-minus 55 Days


This day has been marked with test and trials, some problems and possible fixes to them, a final run down of necessary parts and things to do, a lot of food and fun, and a huge success for the 1671 Buchanan Bird Brains.


Just a few minutes ago, we successfully configured our CAN (controller area network) Jaguar speed controllers to use the attached encoders to maintain a steady rate of revolutions per minute. Sounds simple yes, but it wasn't entirely. The programming team had to dig through documents and tutorials and configured the the CAN Jaguars' control settings and encoder initialization. I must admit, the quality of the documentation of the WPI Library is quite fantastic, that is if one knows how to use it. It is simple enough, but holds all the information a C++ programmer in the FIRST Robotics Competition would need to know.


Keep checking out our live stream to see what we are up to. or Monday is a holiday, so we will be in shop all day. See you then!


Build Season Counter: Day 37 / 46


Oh dear...I seem to have forgotten all about this blog thing over here...I will have to think of someway to make it out to you all. But in the meantime, here's a well deserved update.


It has been one tough season, but it's not over yet. We are still behind our desired schedule by a week, not very good news when you are seven days away from unveiling your robot the an entire community who has watched and waited for magic to unfolded. However, I cannot complain about the progress our team, the FIRST Robotics Competition Team 1671 the Buchanan Bird Brains, has done.


A few weeks ago, the CAD team was having unimaginable difficulties with Windchill 10. Problem would begin as soon as one started up Creo Parametric 1.0; an initial error message will appear, stating that connection between the coimputer and the server would be lost. Although this problem did not occur when we would try to connect via Internet browser, it denied the CAD team the ability to sync, download, upload, checkin and checkout parts, assemblies, and drawings. But we didn't get it let us down. We turned out misfortune into a learning an experience and found clever and unorthodox ways to resolve the issue. Thanks to the help of Pelco by Schneider Electric employee and frequent Planet PTC contributor Josh Houser and the technical expertise of PTC employee Cosmin Pana, our team was able to work around the difficulties and and continued using Windchill 10.


The next difficulties occurred when we began receiving parts from Harris Manufacturing. A few errors in the CAD model and miscommunication caused faulty and misaligned parts. Constant modification to the CAD model in Creo led to the mistakes in the design. Back to the sketching pad we went, fixing, and over-fixing, and refixing the fixes, doing what ever was necessary to get the robot to work. Late nights during the weekends, during the weekdays and school nights, sometimes even staying later than the janitorial service, we worked and worked. Oh what we would have done without the hospitality of parents and sponsors...


In the meantime, the programmers found success in controlling the Kinect system from Microsoft. Loading the code on the previous year's robot DOC VII: In The House, we were able to control the drive system using the motion of our arms. We found more success when we got to control two seperate robot drives with DOC VII and the prototype drive base. Electronics made great strides by using flexible 4-gauge speaker cable recommended by the 3269 Neon Knights to send voltage from the battery into the power distribution board. The public relations team did great work updating the website, documenting the build season, and thanking our sponsors. More recently, our team donated the set of Duplo blocks to the preschool at the Fresno Interdenominational Refugee Ministries for the children to play, use, create, build and learn.


In the past few hours, a pile of metal in the middle of the room has been tranformed into a working and (almost) fully functioning robot. Our tower works, the shooter too, and the drive is better than ever. The implimented tensioning systems working better than excepted, and we will likely continue the use them throughout the years. I might not be able to see in the futire, but I am confident that our robot, will operate quite well in the coming competitions.


Huzzah! I have found out how I can make it up to you all! Step one, set up a live stream: or Step two: post an update everyday until Bag and Tag day February 21. Since I had tests all last week, I should be free all the week to write up blog posts! Best part, two Mondays off in a row. So wish us luck. Ten days remain....


Build Season Counter: Day 36  / 46


End of Week 2: Gone Shootin'

Posted by egiarta1671 Jan 21, 2012

So that explains my absence! Sorry for not posting updates for over a week...finals, homework, and FIRST® Robotics were driving me to the limits of my productivity. Luckily now, with the former two out of the way, I can relay updates from from our 1671 Buchanan Bird Brains team during the past week. Note that the following updates are listed in no particular order:


1. Finished Hoop Station with the help of our mentor and fellow CUSD teacher Richard Kinney. Tons of fun shooting the balls into the rims.


2. Began total tranformation of shooter prototype, went to a four wheel, two top, two bottom firing system. Seems successful for many teams thus far.


3. CAD base in PTC's Creo has under gone SEVERAL changes in the past few days. We will set a final design very shortly.


4. Prgramming team has made progress on the camera tracking abilities. Hopefully this will give us a crucial advantage on the court.


5. With the help of engineer Michael Stokes, the electronics team has begun using CAN (controller area network) to control this year's Jaguar's. Again, this is to give us that advantage on the court.


6. Our public relations has done excellent work posting and editing material on the website. Please check out what they have done at


7. Shooter prototype successfully lauches ball 50+ feet, with fair amount of variability due to human error. Also destoys the balls: at or


8. Bumper assembly in CAD completed and rudimentary starting and ending protocol developed.


9. Developed plan of action to raise enough funds for trip to Championship in St. Louis, MO.


10. Technical Sergeant Luna of the US Air Force visited our team's operation and was very impressed. More news to come.


11. Held two successful parent meetings on the topics of booster club and cross country travels.


12. Awesome pasta dinner provided by the Carbajal family. Thanks!


13. Welcomed back CART/CW team the 3296 Neon Knights from four day finals study break.


14 Visited folks from Duncan Polytechnical High School 3970 Duncan Dynamics. They are one rookie team off to a fabulous start.


15. Burned three Jaguars due to faulty wiring (rest in peace fine pieces of technology).


16. Used closed control loop to test shooter prototype. We seem to have found a way to hit the three pointers. Videos here soon.


17. CAD scheduled to be completed in next two or three days. Plan for next two weeks: contruct the robot Doc 8: [Insert Name Here]


18. Great end to first third of the 2012 FRC season.


That's all for now. I sincerely hope the other teams are doing just as great!


Build Season Counter: DAY 15


Fun != Easy

Posted by egiarta1671 Jan 13, 2012

"Fun does not equal easy" is what the above title translates to. And although this is an absolute statement, and absolutes are never true (yes, I see the irony ), I feel that this observation makes for a fair generalization. It is the difficulty of a challenge that makes it exciting and intemidating; it is the triumph of accomplishment that raises the human spirit into joy. It's what makes it fun. And if anyone does have an example of something is the fun && easy, I am sure there's a better antithetical example that he or she is overlooking.


So what's point? Well put simply, for the 1671 Buchanan Bird Brains the past week of the FIRST® Robotics Competition has been fun, but also very exhausting. So far, I know of two sick girls, a man with a broken ankle, four asleep-in-class classmates, and a messy shop room. (Actually, its cleanliness can be modelled with a periodic sine or cosine wave with variable amplitude with positive values meaning "super clean!" and negative values symbolizing "...was there an earthquake or something?!". Right now its approximately zero.) But all of this hasn't kept us away from come back for more. FRC is just too good pass up for daily luxuries, such as sleep and food.


The past three days have brought many successes and setbacks, none which were easy to come by, and we are progressing and a faster rate than I have ever seen before. Crude prototypes have help us select an intake and shooter mechanism. A brand new gearbox design has been confirmed operational. Thanks to the help of epic Pelco by Schneider Electric mentor Joshua Houser (his blog here: Joshua Houser's FRC Blog), finished CAD drawings modeled in PTC's Creo Parametric have been set to Harris Manufacturing. Example code in Windriver and the WPI Library have given us a head start on more advanced control features. A fast moving public relations team have submitted grants, written articles, and improved our website ( And our world champion animation team has gotten a running start on the next Autodesk animation submission.


Nevertheless, we are maybe a day and half behind. Things that should have been completed two days ago have just been finished today. Some team members have been absent because of other priorities (which we encourage them to continue pursuing): drama, tennis, choir, volleyball, college, etc. Unwelcomed technical diffculties today forced the CAD team into performing a mass installation of Creo 1.0 Parametric which I led with haphazard execution. After days of searching and rebooting and installing, we finally have a Github server and the 2012 Drivers Station. Following what seemed to be a scheduling delay with the release of Autodesk's animation challenge, the animation is finally brainstorming up some ideas.


During this initial kickoff week in 2012, we have talked to only a few other local teams. 3970 Duncan Dynamics came by to evaluate problems with the electronics components. 3296 The Neon Knights have been making arrangements for their soon arrival into our ship area. 1323 Madtown Robotics is off to great start and has been discussing some ideas regarding their stategy and drive system. We hope to hear news about other local teams by this week or sooner.


In personal matters, I have an economics test in six and a half hours, and I am not sure if all my homework is done...actually it's not. Still trying to complete remaining scholarships and college applications, but the arrival of build season has rendered that more difficult than ever. Semester finals are coming up, and not a moment too soon. Hopefully the entrance of my final high school semester will spell out freedom and success for the rest of the FRC season.


Build Season Counter: DAY 7


And So It Begins!

Posted by egiarta1671 Jan 10, 2012

From what I can tell, Rebound Rumble ( will deliver some of the coolest robots yet. It's impressive for people to shoot baskets accurately--my proof, the NBA. In my opinion, a robot with that ability is at least three times more impressive. And it seems the FIRST Team 1671 Buchanan Bird Brains will be one of those that will be sure turn heads and make points. So far, our CAD team has worked for three straight days, and it seems to be taking off from here.


Our base is 85% finished. Really all that is left to do is draw the parts, check the measurements, and send them off to Harris Manufacturing or Pelco by Schneider Electric. And with a team like ours, it won't take too long. Soon, we will be heading into the design of the shooter mechanism. We already have some prototypes, but unfortunately, they are not operating at what we we call optimal level. Nevertheless, I am confident we will find what we are looking for.


Moreover, FIRST Choice by AndyMark turned out to be better than ever. AndyMark gave 100 credits to each team to "spend" in the FIRST Choice catalog. By our calculations, we got over $250 of parts for just under $40 (shipping and handling)!! A great deal indeed. Much props to AndyMark and all the companies that graciously donated materials. Most of what we ordered were electonic components, and I have to say, Ned Ta, our electronics leader, has done an excellence job in organizing and taking inventory of what we have. Another cheer to CrossTheRoadElectronics for their more than awesome Battery Beak ( Already it has come it handy on multiple occasions.


On the other side of things, our public relations division is also doing fantastic work. The website ( looks better and better everyday! Potential sponsors are often contacting us with ways to contribute to our cause. And we appreciate each one! Our team is also taking advantage of FIRST's lightbulb fundraiser. These energy efficient lightblubs are sure to save money and power for those who choose to buy in bulk. All in all, these bulbs provided many positive features, outlined more on our page: . Our website is loaded with tons of other material that might caught your fancy, so please take a look!


Finally, we were also pleased to see PTC's mention of our team and coach in their recent press release! )As a user of PTC software, I can truthfully say that progams like Creo, Mathcad, and Windchill have opened my eyes to power and potential of engineering and technology. On behalf of the 1671 Bird Brains, I thank PTC for generously donating their software for FIRST teams everywhere to use.


But the day is still young, and there is much to be done and discovered, so I must take some rest before moving fact, my right eye is twitching right now. Hopefully that's not a seriousl problem. Before you leave though, pleace share your thoughts about the challenge this year. Take a look at the top most link and comment on what you think! In any case, I'll post again later!


Build Season Counter: DAY 4




I hope your vacation season was as good as (or better than) mine. Most of two weeks of break were spent by finishing up college applications, a headache indeed. I am thankful they are over, just in time for the New Year's celebrations. In actuality, my completing college applications had rendered my late for a friend's birthday party and new year's get together. But as soon as I walked in the door, they all gave me a round of applause and a hug...if felt real good. Strange thing is, most of them didn't even know the work I had just gone through. They were just happy I was there.


But there have been other things on my mind too. Most notably the fast approaching day of the FIRST Robotics Competition Kickoff this Saturday, January 7th. Even with so little time before the game release, there is still a lot to be done: CAD model of proposed robot drive, order parts from our sponsors at Harris Manufacturing and Pelco by Schneider Electric, prepare purchase orders for common suppliers of robot parts and materials, reclaim practice bot from Duncan Polytechnical High School Team 3970 the Duncan Dynamics (they are rookies!), finalize BOM for aluminum robot cart, configure Gantt chart, get food for kickoff and build season, and a myraid of other tasks.

Albeit, much has gotten done, and I am glad of it! Our Special Projects Director Shahen Ohanian recently completed a monster robot cart with the help of Thomas Bayhi, Central Valley Robotics FLL Director, and Michael Pretzer, Handyman at Fresno Interdenominational Minsitries (FIRM). Our CAD members got to tour Bob Cain's plant of Harris Manufacturing, our primary metal hardware sponsor. Our team's shirt designs are being finialized and ordered. We are preparing plans for the trip to Championships, and we just received three more computers to use thanks to Clovis Unified and the IT department. Several, mentors have sucessfully installed Creo 1.0 and CAD members will be following up as well. Our plan for kickoff is almost finalized and this Saturday should be a blast. Frankly, I don't see it going any other way!


There's much more to be thankful of, but I am too tired to list them all. In miscellaneous news, I finally finished the Assassin's Creed game. It was quite simply, but I am glad I don't need to spend time with that anymore. There's so much to do currently, on top of robotics and all: homework, scholarships, other clubs, and finals. Truthfully, I don't know how I will make it. But I have faith I will, not on my account though, but the Lord's. All will be well!


I will likely be doing a double post today. With so much going on this week, there is enough material. And the season hasn't even started....!


And to all other high school seniors, college graduates, and job applicants reading this, good luck and God bless to your own endeavours for work and school.


So 2012 approaches, too soon it seems. Why it seems that yesterdy it was summertime, and last week I was in Davis for the 2011 FIRST Robotics Competition. Soon enough, we will be at Davis again, and Madera, and then to St. Louis, followed then by my graduation of high school...yes the time does seem to fly.


Nevertheless, let's be thankful for the here and now, and the times we have been able to spend with family and friends and even our enemies, for it is with them where we truly learn and grow. This past week has been both stressful and relaxing, both times of fatigue and energy; I guess that's how life operates. This past Christmas weekend was a very enjoyable one. I was able to see friends I had not seen for awhile. It likely will be another months ar more before I see them again, but fair enough. We went to an amazing Christmas performance at church, followed by delicious dinners and present unwrapping time. I got a bunch of audio equipment, mainly so that I can continue recording music, a mini-multitool, and (my favorite) a laser pointer. And I can't wait to use it in presentations!


Now on to robot and PTC software business. Last week, current UC Berkeley student and 1671 Bird Brains alum Loong-Yi Tan came and introduced himself to newer members of the team and alo gave them a short overview on the basics of robot design. Today, Loong-Yi gave a very compelling lesson to the freshman and sophmore in our CAD group. They seemed to take it in quite well, but we will have to wait till kickoff to see if the information stuck.


Also, over the past few weeks, our team has been working on setting up a license server for PTC's new build of Creo 1. We seemed to make some progress, but lack of school time and team meetings has prevented us from getting things setup and finalized.  With the help of PTC employee Mark Fischer, Schneider Electric employee and team mentor Josh Houser, and CUSD Systems Administrator and Assistant Coach Andrew Nabors, it shouldn't take much longer to get the rest of the requirements into place.


In recent news, I think I have found a bug between the different builds of ProENGINEER or Creo Elements/Pro (same thing really). I was making a robot base and a robot cart, and both assemblies crashed on me. I am guessing it is because of the different software builds I am using on different computers. For more information on the problem click here: At first I was going nuts..."What's wrong with my computer?!?!" But when it happen a second time, I sensed the problem. So I guess this is what happens wn you do some late night designing, you find out errors and discover epiphanies....I think I might do this more often!


In any case, once I can start assembling with having software crash on me, I will post pictures of my pending work.


Build Season Counter: Day -11


A Series of FIRSTs!

Posted by egiarta1671 Dec 17, 2011

Welcome to my first blog post on my first blog site page! I think the title is nice and fitting, and the topic at hand gives nice contrast to my latest article found here: The nice thing about life is that the beginning of an end often marks the beginning of a new beginning. And that's preicely what I am doing here. Today marks the beginning of my first blog and post, the first day of winter vacation, and the countdown of the commencement of the 2012 FIRST Robotics Competition!


Today also marks the first time in six or so months that I was able to sleep in back to back sequences. Lately, sleeping has become a combersome, yet luxurious requirement of my life. I love it, but shouldn't do it (too much work to be done), yet have to! With 2011 drawing to a close, and the school going on break time, I will definitely enjoy being able to sleep in the next couple of days.


I also played Assassin's Creed for the first time tonight. Thanks to my good friend Benny Wong and his PS3, I will be able to play it for the next two weeks! The trouble is not getting to addicted to the game. I spent a long time getting off my game obsession. A few years and months back even, I would stay up late on the computer just playing games and neglecting other important things, like homework (and sleep!). I think I am controlling myself well so far: instead of playing PS3 late at night,  I am blogging! (Okay maybe not THAT much of an improvement haha.)


Yesterday, I made my first down payment. Nothing serious I can assure you; I just paid $10 of a $20 recommended donation for Science Olympiad, promising of course to present the other $10 sooner rather than later. Why so excited you might ask? Because whenever I asked teachers, leaders, and other friends if I could give them a down payment, they refused and said just pay in full later. Although that request is more than reasonable, I just think the idea of a down payment is cool!


And to finish off my list of firsts is a little melody I made up a few nights ago. Now to be frank, I have made musical riffs before, I just haven't recorded them with intensions to create a whole song out of it...until now! I got a nice minor chord progression for a verse in the mix, and lyrics for the chorus. Still needs work, but the fact that it is recorded means I won't forget how to play it this time! (I would have had plently of songs by now, if only I could remember all of them!)


I guess I lied. One last "first" announcement, but this one is kind of cheating. Anyway, I am excited to see my sister back on the 21st of December! We will be picking her up along when a secret guest at the airport next Wednesday.


That's the end of my firsts for now. I hope to have more firsts in the days, weeks, and months to come. It would be especially cool if the next one included something about the 1671 Buchanan Bird Brains and the FIRST Robotics Competition...!! But we will see. Be sure, however, that this is not the LAST you will see (or read!) of me. Peace!


Build Season Counter: Day -22