Sunday, October 4, 2015

September 20, 2015 Blog: Rebooting the Team

We are the Charging Champions, FTC Team #8660. Last year, as an rookie Team, we made it to the Super-Regional Competition. We have started fresh this year with more team members and a clear path.
What’s in a name?
A lot as it turns out. Companies spend as much as $8,000 on finding a good name. Nike, a popular brand, bears the name of the Greek Goddess of victory. Apple could stand for a number of things, like the stereotypical apple that you put on your teacher’s desk as a child, symbolising intelligence. Windows could mean a lot based on the way you look at it and the list goes on. A name isn’t just a name, the best names have a relation to what the company does and the personality of the company. So then came the pickle of picking our team name.
Most of the team members who are veterans of the program wanted to keep our name Charging Champions. Two out of 6 were willing to change the name completely, and only one out of those two was radical enough to want to change it completely. In addition to the rookies, there were four team members on team change , 1 in the middle, 6 on team Charging Champions.

The team discusses ideas for the team name.
To start our debate off, we focused on questions about who we are and how we want others to know us, as well as what we are hoping to get out of robotics. The FIRST question that was discussed was "what FTC meant to us". The first choice was the stem learning opportunities and leadership skills. The next question was on what we want to be known as. Fun and outgoing, innovative, and professional and organized were all neck-in-neck with each other at a 72 percent choice rate. So we were looking for a name that was, a little paradoxically, loud and professional at the same time. We also wanted a name that would represent our ingenuity and STEM.
The group that wanted to keep our name had the following points:
1. Reputation that came with the name we had used last year
2. People would recognize us including sponsors
3. Our aspiration to charge to be the champions
4. Alliteration made it sound cool
5. The team itself was familiar with the name
6. Wide variety of search results
The group that wanted to change our name came up with the following points:
1. Not a lot of symbolism
2. Did not completely show our team dynamic
3. Other possibilities could be better and there were more choices than just the one
4. Not able to draw in the less robot integrated community
5. Did not display a relatable theme
6. Not very exciting or funny, like our team
7. Together our team came up with a bunch of names:
  • The Supernova
  • Elektro Knights
  • Syntax Error
  • Citrus Circuits
  • Irvine Engineers
  • Plan B
  • Hephaestus
  • Trial and Error
  • Elemental Chaos
  • Diversity Squad
  • Dream Bots
Eventually through debate, we managed narrow down the choices to two. It was Charging Champions against Hephaestus, Greek god of metalworking and technology in the last leg of the race.
The outcome was, drumroll please. . .


Operation: CAD
With the team name decided, we could now split up and focus on different things. The CAD team met up and introduced the idea of computer designing to the new members.
“CAD is short for Computer-Aided Design.” explained CAD expert Anish J as he navigated through the software and produced a complicated robot. The CAD team last year did a great job and got the Charging Champions to the Super-Regionals with their popular animation.
“In CAD, you have to be committed and patient. The software is not that easy at first, but once you learn some basic functions it becomes much easier to use.” said Arjun, another veteran from the team who helped design the robot and animated it.
As the CAD team finished showing the new members, the mentor of the subgroup, Coach Ravi, stepped in and gave a basic structure as to what the team was going to be doing. He pulled out a whiteboard and gave goals for the next week: Arjun and Anish J (the two veterans) were to create a basic chassis, and the Pallavi, Rushil, and Noopur (the new members in the CAD team) were to download the software and try to learn a little bit. Now, with the basic structure in place, the CAD team felt energized and ready to start designing. To whet their appetite, Coach Ravi asked them, “What drivetrain do you think we should have? With all the obstacles in the way, we need a way to overcome them with ease because these obstacles are the main challenge in this game.”
The team then brainstormed and came up with a couple ideas:
  • A tank tread drivetrain
  • Huge wheels with a lot of tread
  • A tank tread drivetrain with shock absorbers to keep the COG low when the robot climbed over the bars on the ramp.
“If we have a regular wheel, it can get trapped between the two bars on the ramp and the motor will have to work extra-hard to get out of that. In the process, it might lose its tread.” argued Arjun.
“Yeah. Also, for the chassis, we should have triangles because triangles take the weight and distribute it evenly.” agrees Noopur. The team continued for a while like this, but slowly came to decisions as to what to do for the drivetrain. They decided to have a tank tread drivetrain system with a lot of space in the middle for a collecting/disposing system for debris.
“Alright. So your homework is to create a basic drivetrain on CAD by next Sunday,” Coach Ravi said to Anish J and Arjun. Then he turned to the rest of the team and said, “And your homework is to download the software and receive help from Anish J and Arjun if possible.”

Training the rest of the CAD team.
Arjun and Anish J helped the rest of the CAD team figure out how to create basic models on Inventor, the software they used. “So to create an object you draw a shape then give it volume, right?” Asked Pallavi, a new member of the team. “Yep.” Replies Anish J.
Anish J and Arjun then got to designing the basic drivetrain. Rushil, another member, asked, “So how would you create a tank belt?”
“Create a slot and create another slot that is smaller than the one you just created. Then extrude it.” The “veterans” explained. As the meeting slowly came to a close, the team wished each other farewell and left the meeting. Just as the team was leaving, a loud sound suddenly cried out: WHIRRRRRR!!!!! The machines that the coaches had been working on were finally up! 

Our New Mini-Factory!
They had been working all morning to get the new workbench installed and the machines working. Before the season, the team decided to get some industrial tools as they did not have access to these last year and struggled a lot.
On Friday, Coach Raj got the workbench and all of the tools, which consisted up a swivel vise, a drill press, a bandsaw, and a belt sander.
“I think we will definitely need a bandsaw and a drill press. Last year, we would end up cutting the metal with a hacksaw, which wasn’t very accurate. We struggled so much last year, so let’s get all of the tools needed so that won’t happen again.” said Coach Raj.
“Yeah. This time we hopefully won’t have to travel to other workshops and factories to get everything.” said Coach Ravi.
“We need to get twenty-four screws to install all of the machines.” Coach Neeraj counted. It was a hot morning, and the coaches just opened up all the machines. and were excited to install them and get them working. The kids decided not to help the coaches as there were many hazards. As the temperatures slowly soared into the nineties and the air got drier and drier, the coaches decided to take a break for a couple of hours to recoup their energy.
It was almost five o’clock when the coaches started working on the tools again. The team had gotten into a huge debate about the team name. The machines were slowly but steadily getting assembled  and bolted. Finally, at around seven o’clock, they finished, and decided to test out the bandsaw. WHIRR!!!!!! It screamed as it cut a small piece of wood.
They also tested the belt sander, which worked excellently, and the drill press, which could have not been better. As a finishing note, they decided to take a selfie in front of the new machines. 

The coaches take a selfie in front of the new workbench. #selfie 

1 comment:

  1. Hey Charging Champions!
    This is a great blog- Keep up the nice efforts everyone!