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FIRST Robotics

FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST FIRST (gotta get some seo going)

Kimball, wilson

FTC 2020

Covid Sendoff

Battery Longevity

130% charge is fine.

Depth of discharge. Should be discharge to 100% max from 130%. No less than 100%

Also don't want to charge too fast. (3A is max). Unfortunately default charger in kit is 5A.


2019 FTC

FIRST Robotics Activity

Engineering Passport @ Houston

  • What were the most cool/innovative uses of programming that you saw at different teams' booths?
  • Sometimes there are multiple ways to solve a problem a team faces. Are there any strengths of programming over other methods? Weaknesses?
    • One example is our own robot. We needed the strength of multiple motors to flip our robot up onto the HAB, but needed the motors to work together in sync. A mechanical perspective would be to use a steel axle to prevent one motor from turning faster than the other, whereas a programming perspective would be to use encoders and measure the difference in rotation and correct the commanded speed “in software”.
    • Modern systems often combine the learnings of several disciplines to get a superior solution. Did you see any examples of this?
      • Bonus Question: Interestingly, we were able to combine both mechanical and programming solutions on our robot, but the steel axle used visibly “churro-ed” after a few opening matches at PNW championships. Why might this have happened?

Hands-On Orientation Activity

I want to ask the kids, see what they would like to do. Most things they think of are pretty cheap, I think.

LED strip on X

  • Can use basic design from helmet led strip to put in other places like bicycle or … gaming computer/console? Kinda spendy at $7/meter, but seems pretty popular.


Really depends on what we want to do…

  • $3-4? Cheap and hands-on option is etched plexiglass with top or side led lighting. Can probably power led with aa battery or 3v lithium battery.
    • Downside is no customization or animation

  • $20 somewhat light android phone that's normally $50. These are incredibly feature filled and versatile for the price. It's quite silly.


  • Offer to help with programming on other teams. Is there a way to broadcast availability?
  • Help with food prep
  • Great extended opportunity to talk and listen to students talk about their interests and struggles, especially non-technical ones.
  • I'm finding I don't like watching the <other teams'> prelim matches so much. They're fun, but I want to be useful. Quarter and semi finals are fun though.


  • Listen to indian investing guy?
  • Figure out ESPP / RSU thing for taxes
  • Read ERN mortgage article and sequence of return risk. Prep for financial presentation.
  • Evaluate Don M. food service investment
  • Finish Sankar photo upload stuff

Big-Picture Realizations

  • I initially thought that humanity would be better served by having kids working on more real-world problems than putting a ball in a hoop. Thankfully I think everyone involved in FIRST recognizes this and is open to a better activity to do. However, their current iteration is pretty good.
    • Pluses:
      • Guarantees many interesting tasks for people to work on and to collaborate on.
      • Very engaging project (an actual robot!) that moves and is easy to see bugs with
      • Uses all the same tools as on-the-job.
      • Is funner and more whimsical than “work”.
      • Provides opportunities for teams to investigate advanced concepts (vision tracking + path planning = auto hatch placement) while not making a large disadvantage to the teams that aren't able to do it yet (can still place manually).
    • Minuses:
      • $2K-4K for parts for robot + kit of parts + competition costs + finals registration ($5k + $5k + $5k)
      • No real opportunity to work on your own non-robotics “science fair” project. But, that's what the rest of the year is for. And you have everyone on the team to leverage when you have an issue machining a part or coming up with a solution for something.
  • I do have pre-conceived thoughts/feelings about people of a particular religion, background, or high school. Yikes! This is a great opportunity to get to know them and realize how incorrect your mental shortcuts are.
    • I started out envying / judging the Catlin Gabel team for being rich and kinda snooty at the start of the Wilsonville competition (their robot was jaw-droppingly good). As the season went on, we ended up being on their alliance and I got to know some of their team a lot better! I had a great time reading their engineering manual and talking with them in their pits. One member even wore an AEMBOT t-shirt at Houston!
  • Everyone starts out inexperienced but full of energy. Before you know it, they're impressing you with their understanding and grateful for your tutelage. Just give them time and don't keep them in a box
  • The kids keep you on your toes. Will is starting to do deep learning things and is interested in path planning.
  • The main reason L'wood does it is because of the opportunities for kids to hang out and rub off on one another. He really appreciates his eagle scout time because it allowed him to see what kids from a functioning family are like. The rest of his siblings are arguably still “stuck” because of his parents' divorce, where as he found some role models and was able to … do different.


Decorated mini-shops for repairing robots in between matches and to talk “shop” (mechanical, programming, electrical, strategy, marketing/design) with other teams. Thankfully teams are open to explaining their robot because they're proud of what they did and want to see other teams do a good job too. cooperation + competition = “coopertition”

Some of the robots are very impressive. (start at 40 seconds, cheesy poofs hatch placement)

Liberty Robotics / AEMBOT

Orientation Project


Here's the name badge: YouTube Trotec Canada Acrylic LED Badges | Calgary Mini Maker Faire | Trotec

Is a lanyard a better idea vs a nametag clip thing? Here's some clips: safety pins I mean I can keep rolling on the concept, mostly wanted a thumbs up Found CR2450's, 30 hour runtime

2019 Robot

Main goal was to get onto the 3rd HAB, guaranteeing ranking points. Otherwise you'd need to fill a rocket to get an RP, which is hard.

Flip is a really simple way. Eventually turned into triple flip to allow multiple robots to be on the top level of the hab.

Other stuff

Also does suction to get cargo and Chris plays really good defense.


L'wood would like a t-shirt shooter.


Light up LED things. Nametag

Trinket that clips onto backpack.

Beach Ball
  • A cheaper option would be a beach ball, and could use the Magnus effect to have it reach higher in the stands.
    • But is a beach ball useful / fun? Yeah…I guess so. Play easy/fun soccer/baseball/with it. Hopefully kids figure out you can patch it using tire patches.
    • However, not as visible as say t-shirts or water bottles.
  • Could add a rubber band around it to counteract the reverse magnus effect.
  • Also could add a small sticky weight on one side to make it do funny flips on the way up. Or add a small amount of water, which might be a different effect.
    • Hmm…is there any way to have it spin in a spiral?

Other stuff

Catlin Gabel mentor that works for Autodesk and does intern stuff too.

home/first.txt · Last modified: 2020/10/26 18:45 by admin