On Saturday, March 2, the Cougar Robotics team traveled to Crawfordsville High School in Indiana to compete in the Indiana State Championship. There were 29 other FTC teams there. Out of the qualification rounds, we were 4th seed, with 10 QPs, and only 46 RPs, along with a high score 411. In the alliance selection, the 1st seed picked the 3rd seed, bumping us up from #4 alliance captain to #3 alliance captain. MechHampsters became the new #4 alliance captain. We went on to pick 5294 What the heck is PI and 5295 Steel Pythons. In the semi-finals, we lost the first round, but won the next two and moved onto the finals. At the finals, we won the first two, making us the captain of the winning alliance. Congratulations to 3537 MechaHamsters and 5972 PatronumBots who won the first and second place Inspire Award and are moving on to worlds.
Last Updated on Thursday, 07 March 2013 14:12
Written by Evan Hollins
Thursday, 28 February 2013 00:00
On Saturday, February 23, 2013, we traveled to Owensboro, KY to compete in our second Championship tournament. We won the Promote Award, but did not do as well in the tournament. We came out of the qualifying rounds ranked 9th, after losing one match combined with low ranking points. In the alliance selection we were picked by 4444, The Robocats, who were the number one seed. We also picked team number 5886, R.P.G., to be on our alliance. Unfortunately, due to disconnects during the matches, we lost 1 - 2 to the number 4 seed. We were still very excited about the Promote Award, because our video is now qualified for the World Competition.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 06 March 2013 19:04
Autonomous Programming Q&A from iSpace Kickoff
Written by Joey
Monday, 10 September 2012 22:02
We gave the Autonomous programming presentation twice at iSpace. Here's the Q&A from both.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 October 2012 08:41
2012 Advanced NXT-G Progamming Workshop
Written by The Cougars
Monday, 01 October 2012 14:50
This year we presented the workshop at the Dayton STEM School, Rockwell Automation in Cleveland, and iSpace in Cincinnati. Over 450 kids and coaches attended one of the 3 workshops. Here's some of the material from the Workshop.
We have uploaded our presentation that we gave at the 2012 FTC Kickoff for "Ring it Up." The presentation describes good programming practices and things to consider when designing an autonomous program. It also includes a flowchart of an autonomous routine.
The FIRST Future Innovator Award (FFIA), sponsored by the Abbott Fund, recognizes creativity in effectively solving a real-world problem through the invention of a unique solution beyond the requirements of the FIRST competition season. This award directly links to the FIRST mission to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and to the FIRST vision to transform the culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated.
Editor's note: Parker Owen, a member of FTC Team 4260 and FRC Team 3469 (Spanish Inquisition), received this award. Parker is a senior at the Alabama School of Math and Science, Mobile, AL. The following is his account of how he developed an affordable prosthetic leg for third-world countries. The Cycle-Leg's conception began when a friend asked if I would join him this summer on a mission trip to Honduras. He explained that each year, on average, they raise $10,000 in donations, which only supplies enough capital to buy components for four prosthetic legs. He knew I was heavily involved in FIRST robotics and asked if I could somehow find a way to make a prosthetic leg without all of the cost, while utilizing Honduras’ available resources.
I returned to school remembering documentaries I had watched on various issues in current and developing third-world countries. In the background of all of these films, I noticed a common resource - bicycles. After a little research, I found that third-world countries have a lot of bicycles, which probably means that after a while, a lot of bicycle waste. I began my journey to find a way to make a functional prosthetic leg out of a single bicycle. After hours of starring at a bicycle diagram on-line, I mentally pieced together a functional prosthetic leg.
A few weeks passed and I left school to go home for the weekend. I needed a bicycle to start my project. I went to the American Thrift Store and bought the simplest bicycle I could find for $20. I began disassembling the bicycle into its base components. At first, I thought I must have been putting it together all wrong, for the simple fact that it was going together so easily. After a few hours, though, I had completed the first prototype. Next, I altered the foot design and added tread to the sole of the boot. Taking it a step further, I added muscles to assist movement of the ankle. From the scrap pile I saw a tire and realized that the inner tubes could act as a synthetic muscle for extension of the ankle. After seeing the success of the the ankle, I decided to do the same for the knee by stretching the inner tube over a fulcrum point made from a bolt.
After all the mechanics were finished, I took my leg to a prosthesis company, Next Step Prosthetics & Orthotics in Alabaster, AL. I presented my bicycle leg to Adam B. Williams CP, LP, an expert in the field. He was so surprised by its functionality, as well as its weight, and explained that it has all of the functionality of a $15,000 - $20,000 modern prosthetic. He suggested a boot to receive the leg, so I began construction and mounted a boot out of the original tires of the bicycle. There is a need for prosthetic legs in current and developing third-world countries. The problem is cost and availability of resources. I did not invent a new product. What I did was find a way to make an existing product, at a low cost, accessible to people all over the world. The cost of a working prosthetic leg can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Not a reality for those with little money and little to no health care. The prosthetics that are available to men, women and children in third world countries are quite primitive, if any at all. Options may not meet the functional needs for active individuals and certainly do not include the muscle fibers and tendons needed for strenuous activity and comfortable locomotion. Another issue of these prosthetics is that they are non-adjustable. They can last for as little as six months after they have been fitted to the individual, due to muscle gain or loss, as well as growth. Until now, prosthetic solutions for the poor have been extremely primitive or non-existent. The Cycle-Leg is a life-changer for many in need.
Prosthetic legs and their mechanisms are an ever-evolving wonder of the world. They change lives. I am taking a readily available material, a bicycle, tearing it down and restructuring it into a functioning leg with muscles and tendons - the Cycle-Leg. This can be done anywhere in the world with very simple tools. The Cycle-Leg uses similar movements comparative to a knee and an ankle with the ability to adjust as an individual grows. The process of making the Cycle-Leg is simple and easy and can be taught to anyone in a 5-step process. The time it takes to make a Cycle-Leg is minimal while the parts needed are inexpensive and plentiful. The Cycle-Leg is made from a single recycled bicycle, aside from three bolts, three nuts, and a few zip-ties. The Cycle-Leg has adjustable muscle fibers and tendons which are made from the bicycle's tire tubes. These become synthetic muscles which provide the resistance and force needed during strenuous activities. The synthetic muscles adjust with simple air pressure. The Cycle-Leg is completely adjustable for any size person. It is designed and built to incorporate growth as well as muscle gain and loss of the individual over the course of a lifetime. The Cycle-Leg can be adjusted for length of the fore leg as well as the thigh. The Boot is also adjustable which can be helpful for changes in muscle tone and growth. The Cycle-Leg is an extremely inexpensive, versatile, and adjustable solution to a huge problem around the world. It provides an extremely inexpensive solution to problems facing those in need of a prosthesis in third-world countries and impoverished nations; places where the bicycle is a common-place item. You can read more about Parker's work and see additional photos at http://blog.al.com/live/2013/02/alabama_student_makes_prosthet.html
We are FTC Team 5018, Brick Buddies, a community team from Florida. Recently, we were invited by XPRIZE to serve as an Ambassador Team for the new XPRIZE After Earth Challenge. Pretty cool! A summer XPRIZE robotics competition is a great way to stay together or to try-out new members and work on your teamwork. We previously competed in MoonBots and it proved an invaluable way to gel with new members before the start of the FIRST season.
The XPRIZE After Earth Challenge is unique. How often do you get the opportunity to preserve humanity? There are two phases to the Challenge. In Phase I, all teams will create a two-minute video. Choose between exploring two questions. What steps should your rover take to assess if Nova Prime is habitable? Or, What are some things you are doing individually and in your community to promote a more sustainable way of living? Learning how to cut and edit video is a great skill for team members to learn. And over the summer, while not in the middle of competition season, is a great time, to hone these skills. For FTC teams, knowing video production is essential.
Judges will select ten (10) finalist teams from the 20 most popular videos in Phase I to move on. Ten Phase II finalists will receive a LEGO® NXT MINDSTORMS® kit and a Sony Handycam HDR-PJ230 to help teams document their experience.
Phase II tasks teams to design a Game for your robot to perform five (5) Missions. Teams create the playing field, the surrounding landscape, and the Missions as required by the Challenge document. Teams are open to use a wide variety of materials, but are encouraged to utilize sustainable, eco-friendly, and recyclable materials. The five (5) Missions are:
NOVA BASE. Create a base placed in one corner of a landscape raised seven (7) centimeters, where the robot will start and end its Mission.
SHELTER/DEFENSE. A new settlement in an unfamiliar environment will certainly face threats and challenges from unknown organisms or entities. Nova Prime appears to be uninhabited by higher life forms, but we do not honestly know what we will find there once we arrive. (e.g. natural landscape barriers, sustainable resources for building. Mission: Design and build one shelter item for the robot to visit.
NATURAL RESOURCE. The availability of natural resources (minerals, flora, fauna, water) is important to the success of human settlement on Nova Prime. Mission: Design and build one natural resource item to be placed on the landscape.
RENEWABLE ENERGY. Wind and solar power are in abundant supply on Nova Prime—a planet with two suns and two moons. Mission: Design and build one renewable energy item and place in on the landscape for the robot to autonomously turn or move.
AGRICULTURE. No human settlement can survive without a way to provide food on Nova Prime. Mission: Design and build one agriculture item (food, soil testing, water) and place it on the landscape for the robot to retrieve.
One of our team members attends an environmentally sensitive charter school, so we were very excited to work on this part of the Challenge. A recommendation we have to any teams that might make it into Phase II, is to look at the variety of sustainable and recyclable materials that may be available to you on a local level. We researched a lot of products such as bamboo, cork, jute, sustainable wood, low-VOC, paint, what could be re-purposed and what recycling items could be useful. Since our team was creating a demo Challenge Game, we chose to use a different material for each separate Mission. As a veteran FLL® team, we had a pretty good idea what size some of the Mission items should be in relation to our robot. Working on the new After Earth Challenge for XPRIZE has been so much fun for us. We hope to see a lot of FIRST teams signing up! The deadline to register a team and submit a video is June 7th!
Let me start by saying thank you to every single one of you out there in the FIRST Tech Challenge community. Because of your hard work, FTC was able to wrap up another successful season last week with World Championship.
I especially want to thank those of you who Volunteered at events and Mentored teams, for dedicating so much of your personal time and energy to engaging students in the hands-on learning that is FTC. What you do with your students is what makes this program so special. You put the legs on our mission of inspiring young people to become the STEM leaders of tomorrow.
World Championship was a spectacular way to close out the Ring It Up! season. This year I watched some of the competition, and there were definitely some great matches, but what I really loved was walking around and talking with so many of the students and mentors and seeing what they had accomplished. There were some beautiful robots, great examples of community engagement and it's always fun seeing students connect and network with one another. It was evident that these students had truly internalized what they had learned throughout the season.
Teams arrived at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis on Wednesday, checked in, got their robots inspected and then opening ceremonies took place in the evening. Qualifying matches began first thing Thursday and continued through Friday. World Championship is a two-division event (Franklin and Edison) with four playing fields, alternating division matches. Between the two days and two divisions, our awesome, all-volunteer crew ran 256 FTC matches.
At the end of the day Friday, following an epic Cotton Eyed Joe FTC Mascot dance-off, the top-ranked teams in each division chose alliance partners for the elimination matches. Saturday morning, elimination rounds began and alliances competed for division winners. Those winners advanced to the finals to compete for the top competition spot in FTC.
In the finals, the two alliances were made up of Edison teams CyberKnights, Maelstrom and Batteries In Black; and Franklin teams, Cougar Robotics, Fish in the Boat and Monkey Madness. These six power house teams went head-to-head in intense robot competition, but the Franklin Alliance was able to take the win in just two matches, making Cougar Robotics, Team 4251, the Captain of the Winning Alliance.
Shortly after the final matches, FTC's closing ceremonies took place and there were some fantastic speakers, including Rockwell Collins' Senior VP of Engineering and Technology, Nan Mattai. She congratulated all the teams for their hard work before announcing that Rockwell Collins has committed to supporting the FIRST Tech Challenge for the next three years!
"At Rockwell Collins, we believe in the importance and power of education, which includes science, math and technology. But learning is not just about books and formulas, it's about hands-on experience, and that's why Rockwell Collins is proud to have supported FIRST for more than a decade."
The judges award choices were also revealed during the ceremony. This year a team from Iowa took home FTC's top honor, the Inspire Award. Team 3550 Beta, from West Des Moines, received the prestigious award for their excellent work in all aspects of FTC. Listen to what this Beta team member had to say about their accomplishment:
I want to Congratulate Team Beta, Cougar Robotics and all the FTC teams that competed this season. Whether or not you won, what you accomplished is nothing short of amazing. The experience you've gained and things you've accomplished will give you an invaluable head start on your future.
See you next season (registration opens May 15th)!