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.

June 1, 2018

This past year, GRT participated in the 2018 FRC game, Power Up.  The season began early in the morning for the reveal of the 2018 game as the team gathered to watch the kick off live and followed up with a discussion about possible strategies for the game.  Students then discussed the goals of the robot and what capabilities it should have to be successful in the upcoming competitions. The team experimented with possible mechanisms in the Alpha prototyping stage and the designs were demonstrated in front of the team.  After a group meeting, the team decided upon an initial design and the season progressed into the Beta machining phase, where GRT created its first robot for testing. Testing this robot proved that the initial design, which involved a linkage arm to raise power cubes, was not ideal, so the team decided to modify the design.  After designing a new mechanism in CAD, an elevator replaced the linkage. Following this change, Omega machining began and identical robots Omega 1 and 2 were created. One of these robots was sent to competition while the other remained at the shop for continued testing.

This year, GRT elected to use a swerve drivetrain, which allowed the robot to spin while moving in the same direction.  This more complex drivetrain required the drivetrain and controls subgroups to work extremely hard, but in the end the results were successful.  The robot also featured an outer pickup mechanism to bring power cubes into the robot, and then an inner pickup to hold the power cubes while the elevator lifted the cubes into the air.  Both pickup mechanisms used flywheels, which allowed the blocks to be spun out of the robot and onto the switches and scale during the game. The controls teams this year converted the code from past years from Python to Java.  The subgroup also experimented with virtual reality this year, attempting to allow the driver to have a first person view of the game. In addition, controls wrote code for vision tracking, allowing the robot to use reflective tape in the game to both orient and guide the robot.  Finally, the group created the code for the autonomous period of the game, allowing the robot to cross the auto line and place a cube on the switch.

GRT went to three competitions this past year, beginning with the Week 1 Utah Regional, then the Lone Star Central Regional in Houston in Week 3, and finally the Silicon Valley Regional in Week 5.  In both the Utah and Lone Star Central competitions, GRT was an alliance captain, but both times lost in the quarterfinals. At the Silicon Valley Regional, GRT was picked to be on the fourth alliance but lost in the opening round.  Though GRT did not win any competitions, the team won numerous awards, including the Creativity Award and Safety Award from the Silicon Valley Regional and the Innovation in Controls Award from the Lone Star Central Regional.

After build season concluded at the end of March, the team participated in the May Fete Parade in Palo Alto, where students rolled the robot through the parade and demonstrated it to the public afterwards.  Gunn High School graduation was on May 31, and the GRT seniors, some of whom had been members of the team for three years, officially finished high school. As per GRT tradition, the seniors wore red metal chains throughout the ceremony.  This summer, GRT will be holding its first Summer Camp from June 11 through June 15, where GRT students will serve as counselors and teach campers about VEX IQ Robotics and run a few small competitions at the GRT shop. A few GRT students will also be going to the Apricot STEM Fair on June 24, where they will be running the 2018 robot and discussing both the design process and the robot itself.