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Evan G's Blogtime Array

3 Posts tagged with the success 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


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


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