March 8, 2019

Build Season ended about three weeks ago.  In that time, GRT has been to the week one FIRST Robotics Competition in Del Mar.  The team sent a skeleton crew, including the drivers of the robot, subgroup leaders, and the leadership team, to the competition.  This was the first competition for a few of the rookies in the crew and it was a very exciting experience. As this was a week one competition, many teams were still working out kinks in their robots and getting practice driving and competing.  GRT was one of these teams. Del Mar was a good learning experience. Although GRT was working through some problems with the robot and the competition routine in general, being at the competition allowed the crew to get a feel for the competition atmosphere and provided them the chance to problem-solve and learn on the fly.

In the competition, GRT finished as the fourteenth ranked robot out of thirty-five total teams.  Although the team didn’t finish as one of the eight alliance captains, we were selected as the second pick for the eighth seed alliance.  This meant that GRT would be matched up with the first seed alliance in the quarterfinals. This was a difficult match for the team and GRT ended up losing.  Still, the team saw great growth in Del Mar, both in learning how to compete and in the performance of the robot. GRT left Del Mar with a better robot than which it entered with.

The team also won the Autonomous Award sponsored by Ford!  This was a huge accomplishment for our controls team. Though GRT is still improving its autonomous, the new and complex techniques implemented by the controls team led to the judges awarding us this award.

All in all, the Del Mar Competition was a great experience for GRT.  In the coming weeks, we will be preparing for our next competition in Monterey, to which the whole team will be traveling.

February 16, 2019

Build Season is rapidly coming to an end.  The season will end at 9 pm on Tuesday, February 19.  Last Saturday, GRT hosted the annual Beta Review, in which parents came to the shop to see a demonstration of the completed Beta Robot and to hear from Mech Leads and different subgroups about what they have been working on for the past few weeks.

This year, each subgroup prepared a presentation for the Review.  Each presentation had a mixture of veteran leaders and rookie members; it was great to see that the vets were able to pass down information to younger members of the team.  The team also described to the parents the design process of building the robot, including looking back over the schedule as well as discussing the three phases of build season; Alpha Prototyping, Beta, and Omega.  The parents were also shown the full CAD of the robot before everyone went into the shop to see a running demonstration of the Beta Robot.

As Build Season comes to a close, the team is finalizing the machining of the last few parts and is almost done with the assembly of the two Omega robots.  If all goes according to plan, both robots will be fully assembled and the Controls subgroup will have time to test them before one is shipped off for the Week 1 Competition in Del Mar that GRT will be participating in.  Overall, this season has been a lot of fun, and hopefully GRT will be able to see all its hard work pay off during competition season.

February 4, 2019

Beta machining and assembly have both finished!  The Beta robot is currently being tested by the controls team and modifications have been made on the robot’s design for the Omega robots. Over this upcoming weekend, there will be a parent design review for the Beta robot, during which students will present all the work that has been accomplished so far, including the Alpha prototypes and the functioning Beta robot.

The GRT Animation team has also completed its entry for the FIRST Digital Animation Award.  The team created a 30-second-long animation around the theme of “Space” using the animation software Autodesk Maya.  This animation has been submitted to the competition and shown to all the GRT students. It will also be watched by the parents during the upcoming design review.

GRT is four weeks into the six-week-long build season, so there are only two weeks remaining to finish the final robot.  During this time, the team will be working on completing two identical Omega Robots—one of these robots will remain in the GRT shop for continued testing, the other will shipped to the FIRST Robotics Competitions.

The team is still working on the CAD for the Omega Robots, but many parts have already been designed and Omega machining is well underway.  The team will try to finish assembly of the Omega robots with around a half week remaining to allow the controls team time for additional testing.

GRT students are also working on designing a wooden crate to store the robot during transport.  Additionally, design and production of the bumpers for the Omega robots are well underway.

January 22, 2019

Build Season has begun!  On the morning of January 5, the team gathered to watch the FIRST Robotics Kickoff.  Members gathered together while parents brought in breakfast. The new game was released for the 2019 season.  This year’s game is called “Destination: Deep Space.” The game involves placing “cargo” (or playground balls) into the cargo ship and the two rockets and securing the cargo by placing hatch panels, thus preventing the cargo from rolling out and back onto the field.  The match concludes with robots climbing in onto the three levels of the hab platform in the last 30 seconds of the match. This year’s game features a variation on the classic autonomous period of past years. In Destination: Deep Space, a black screen will drop down in front of the driver station, blocking the drivers from seeing the field and the robots.  FIRST has decided to allow teams to mount cameras on their robots and control the robots by viewing the feeds of the camera during the autonomous period. Teams also have the option of operating completely autonomous or driving blind as well.

After viewing the Kickoff video and watching the videos released by FIRST about the various game pieces, the team divided up to read through the rulebook.  Meanwhile, GRT alumni and parents worked on building the field elements in the shop so that the team would be able to test robot mechanisms throughout the season.  After reading through the rulebook, members again divided up and brainstormed different strategies that the team could pursue during the match. These ideas were presented to the entire team at the end of the day.

Over the following days, members created Alpha prototypes of the various possible mechanisms for the robot out of wood.  The mechanisms were demonstrated to the whole team, and afterwards the team gathered to discuss strategy and how the different mechanisms would impact the team’s strategy.

After coming up with an initial strategy, GRT created the CAD for the Beta robot.  Machining began on Beta parts. Currently, the Beta robot is being assembled, and soon it will be tested and run for the team and parents.

After the Beta phase, the team will finalize the design and strategy for competitions.  The CAD will be completed, and machining will begin on the two Omega robots; one of these robots will be transported to competitions, the other will remain in the shop for continued testing.

December 4, 2018

As the end of 2018 approaches, the first semester of GRT is beginning to wind down.  The team has been working on the Shop Project for the past few weeks.  Machining for both periods is starting to finish up and the team continues to work on assembling the robots.  After assembly, the robots will go to the controls subgroup for testing. After the robots have been tested, the team will go onto the competition, where the robots from the two class periods will face off!

The end of the first semester also means that Build Season is quickly approaching.  The team will gather together on the morning of January 5th, the date that the FRC game is announced!  This will mark the beginning of six weeks of hard work to make sure that the robot is completed in time for competitions.

As the holiday season gets closer, GRT will also be doing its annual Secret Santa, where each student will get another student a gift.  These gifts will be given out on the last GRT class period of the first semester.

November 12, 2018

The Shop Project game has been announced!  This year’s game requires a robot to pick up differently sized and shaped objects (small wooden cubes, foam balls, and fabric-covered blocks), carry them to a set of shelves, and place them on the different shelves to gain the most points within a time limit.  The two different GRT class periods will each design a robot to compete against each other in the game. Brainstorming has already occurred, and each period has chosen a design for the robot. CADing has begun for the robots and initial machining has also started.  The GRT shop remains open after school for students to come work on the Shop Project robots, as well as continuing training for various subgroups.

The Shop Project aims to prepare GRT students for the types of scenarios that might be encountered during the actual built season.  This is a great opportunity for students to pick up machining or CAD skills, as well as time management and communication tips, that will help the team stay on track during build season.  The Shop Project will be a fun way to introduce GRT rookies to the type of work that goes into building a robot.

October 28, 2018

The GRT Haunted House has been completed!  We are taking the project back to Juana Briones over the next week, beginning after school on Monday.  The project was a great success—rookies were introduced to the shop and learned more about machining and the design process and the finished product was completed on time.  Following the completion of the project, the team met and had a brainstorming session about what went well with the project and what could be improved for the next year. It was good to hear from each team member and, overall, everyone was pleased with the work done on the Haunted House this year.

As the Haunted House Project concludes, the team will be moving into the Fall Shop Project.  The goal of this project is to prepare the team for the type of work that will be done during Build Season.  The game or challenge for the Shop Project will be announced next week, after which brainstorming and machining will begin in earnest.

October 14, 2018

GRT has begun working on the Haunted House project over the past two weeks.  The team has divided into groups of four or five students, each led by a veteran member.  Each group is responsible for creating a mechanism based upon a suggestion from the students at Juana Briones Elementary School.  Though these mechanisms are simple in concept, they are an excellent way for GRT rookies to get more comfortable with the shop and design process in general, as the rookies are the ones who will be doing the majority of the machining for this project.  We hope that the mechanisms will be scary and live up to the expectations of the Juana Briones students when we demonstrate the Haunted House to them around Halloween.

In addition to working on the Haunted House, students have begun subgroup training for the year.  Rookies have been encouraged to attend a number of these different subgroup trainings to get a feel for how each group operates before deciding upon a group to join.

September 29, 2018

This past weekend, GRT went on its annual camping trip.  This year, the team went to Portola Redwoods State Park. Students left for the trip immediately after school on Friday, spent the night, and left the following day.  The trip was a lot of fun for everyone; students cooked food for dinner and breakfast, played group games and cards, and made a campfire for roasting marshmallows. The trip was a great chance for the team to bond and for students to get to know the newest members.

Last Monday, a group of students visited nearby Juana Briones Elementary School to ask the students there for their input on the GRT Haunted House, which will be coming to Juana Briones in late October for Halloween.  This was a great opportunity for the team to expand its outreach in the community by encouraging elementary students to get involved in engineering and STEM in general. GRT received many exciting and scary ideas for mechanisms to add to the Haunted House, and we can’t wait to bring the finished product back to show to the elementary schoolers.

Safety training has ended and students have taken the safety test, meaning that the team is ready to move into the first project of the year, the Haunted House.  The GRT shop will be opening up next week after school, allowing for work on the haunted house, as well as marking the beginning of subgroup training.

September 17, 2018

With the school year beginning on August 14th, the GRT season has been underway for about five weeks.  The year began with rookies being welcomed to and given tours of the shop by veteran members on the first day.  The team then progressed into the annual “Blue Box Challenge” to close out the first week. Each GRT class period was divided into teams that consisted of a mixture of rookies and veterans and were issued the challenge of launching a projectile into a large plastic crate using only the limited materials given to them in a blue box.  The challenge, meant to illustrate to the rookies the creativity, teamwork, brainstorming techniques necessary to compete during build season, was very successful, and each class thoroughly enjoyed the friendly competition.

GRT students have been going through Shop Training over the last four weeks.  Each week, rookies have been going through one of four training rotations: mill, lathe, hand tools, and CAD.  Mill, lathe, and hand tools trainings have been run by veteran leaders, while CAD training has been conducted by mentor Kristina Granlund.  The goal of these training rotations is to make sure that rookies are fully prepared to use all the tools in the shop and that they are acting safe at all times.  While rookies have been going through Shop Training, veterans have been finishing up their mill and lathe “vet parts” to ensure that they are comfortable machining parts for the team.

As training wraps up this week, with students currently going through their final rotations, both rookies and veterans alike are preparing to take the Shop Safety Test.  This test will ensure that all team members are familiar with the machinery of the shop, CAD techniques, and understand all safety precautions. After students pass the safety test, they will be cleared to machine in the shop and the team will move onto future projects, namely the creation and update of the GRT Haunted House.