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.