February 16, 2015

State Championship And Beyond

We had a lot of fun at our State championship last Saturday. We had hoped to go to the World Festival but didn't quite make it. This was our last competition in FLL and it will be sad to see it end. Four years went by pretty fast! Some of us will be mentoring a new FLL team next season, Pink Lemonade. They are an all girl team with 5th and 6th graders.

We are already planning a new FTC team for next year. We have a place to build and hold meetings and now we have to do the fundraising. We are all looking forward to working with the big robots. We'll be starting a new blog so come check us out!


February 6, 2015

Week 19

Our last week before competition will be spent making small tweaks. The competition tables at Regionals were pretty bad and we assume they will use the same tables for States. The mats were very wavy which made the color sensors malfunction. We will raise the back color sensor by one stud and lower the front bumper to help smooth the mat for the front sensors. We tried adding Community Learning to the Long Run but there was no reliable way to get it in the same basic place each time. Our final total is 422.

The intro for our video came out great. We had lots of fun recording it and the bloopers are hysterical. The hardest part of the presentation is acting enthusiastic. Most of us are the serious kind of person and acting goofy in front of strangers is hard. We'll need to practice a lot this week.

January 27, 2015

Week 18

2 weeks until the State competition and lots of changes happening. We rearranged the order of missions and reduced the number of runs from four to three. This gives us a better chance of finishing before the final buzzer. We also added Community Learning to the long run for a new total of 460 points. There are a few missions that are not as reliable as we want now that we sped everything up. We'll have to experiment with different settings to see what works best. More things are possible now that we know that the gyro straight program can be used with different headings. In some places we can get rid of the "move straight, turn, move straight" and replace it with a gyro straight move set for the destination heading. It will move diagonally to the same spot and save lots of time. The next version of EV3 should have more sensor ports. We would like to use the ultrasonic sensor for navigation but don't have any open ports left.

The changes to the project script are done and the we made the Minecraft part of the video. It came out great. Now we are going to record an intro at school to show how much fun Histocraft is to use.

January 21, 2015

Week 17

We decided to give our robot a redesign to slim it down and make it sturdier. The box surrounding the robot was changed from axles to beams and is now attached to the wheel axles. This gives the wheels more support and seems to help with turn accuracy. We also balanced the robot better to help with the tires slipping on the mat. The sturdiness is the biggest improvement. It feels much more solid and can now be handled without worry about moving the wrong piece. The hardest part will be getting the old missions to work with the new robot.

Our project is getting a makeover too. We are rewriting parts of the script and making a video demo of HistoCraft. Lots to do in the next 3 weeks.


January 11, 2015

We Are Moving On To The State Championships!

We had a great time at our regional competition yesterday. We earned the Programming award and were chosen to compete in the State Championship. Our robot scores were a little disappointing but some of that was due to the wavy mats. We'll have to find a way to get around the mat issues since they will be the same ones used at State's.

We saw several familiar teams and met many more. We had a good laugh when The Six Sensors had a project very similar to ours. We joked that we would tell the judges that we taught them everything they know! They went home with the Champions Award and we will get to see them again at State's.

Lots of work to do in the next month!


December 21, 2014

Holiday Hope

Weeks 15 and 16

The team spent the morning volunteering for Holiday Hope, a wonderful organization that has helped hundreds of families in our area. Today's mission was to deliver presents to 70 families and brighten up their holiday. Job well done boys!

~ Mrs. B

Week 15 - The long mission is finally finished! It completes Engagement, Sports, Robotics Competition, Reverse Engineering, Using Your Senses, Remote Communications and then goes back to base. The Search Engine mission is complete as well and now we are working on Opening doors, delivering Apprentice and Project Based Learning. Only one week until Regionals and we still have a lot to get done!

Week 16 - The runs are done and we have 410 max points. We completed 10 out of the 14 missions and with 4 programs. The last thing needed is getting the sequencer tweaked. We want it to move to the next mission automatically without messing up being able to scroll through the missions.

December 19, 2014

Middle School Presentations

Weeks 13 and 14

Our team went to 2 local Middle Schools this week to present our FLL project and robot. We received some good feedback to help improve our presentation. We really need to be more enthusiastic while presenting even if it isn't something we find natural. The video will get reworked before our competition to give a better example of what Histocraft can do.

The robot portion went well even with the warped travel board we used. The students seemed interested and asked a lot of good questions. We brought a demo robot that everyone could try out and lots of Lego technic parts to build with.

Week 13 - We spent the week making the changes and improvements listed last week. Josh broke up the programs for the long missions into workable myblocks. Now it is much easier to troubleshoot code and fewer errors are being made. The coach ordered a 3rd color sensor so we can put it on the back of the robot. This will let us use the lines on the board in a more exact way. Our max score is now 340.
Week 14 - Patrick finished the Gyro Straight Myblock and included an algorithm that adjusts the gain depending on the speed. He also included a conversion from inches to degrees so we could stay with the system we have been using. We only use the Gyro Straight Myblock on the few spots that are having a lot of slipping. Now the long mission is more reliable and can recover from most errors. The 3rd color sensor is now on the back of the robot and allows us to fine tune the navigation. We’ve tweaked the three missions that were dependent on odometry and are having a better success rate.

December 15, 2014

Week 12

We had a scrimmage at Lansdale, PA this week and found several things that we need to improve.
  1. Change green line detection from color to light sensor (done)
  2. Size of robot (done)
  3. Stall detection needed (done)
  4. Ramp speed up and down to help with wheel slippage (not effective enough for the trouble)
  5. Make better use of lines for navigation, esp. after sports throw (added rear color sensor for more precision)
  6. Comment programs better so we can find code when tweaking (done)
  7. Write calibrate program for color sensor in light sensor mode (done)
  8. Make a Gyro Straight Myblock (done)
We finally got the Bluetooth to work and it is saving us tons of time. We fine tuned our missions and worked on adding a new one. We hope to have 3 more added by our regional.

For the project we set up a new Minecraft scene to record and will use green screen to add a flag to the background. The video looks good so far. We are having a workshop at our school next week and we are preparing like crazy for it. Hopefully we will do well and teach them a lot.

- Josh

(Edit by Mrs. B) - The team presented their project for the Lancaster Historical Society last week and came away with some very good feedback. We plan to present to them again once the project is finalized. 

Lots of changes to the programming in the last 2 weeks. The robot is much more consistent now and will be even better once the 3rd color sensor is delivered. This year's robot game has proven itself to be quite a challenge.

December 3, 2014

Then And Now - Theo

Nature's Fury - 2013
World Class - 2014

December 2, 2014

Lansdale Scrimmage

Our first competition went somewhat well. The robot went crazy as soon as we got there, as usual. We fixed it to the best of our ability and added another mission to do. Our robot score was tied for 4th place out of 39 teams, which is great! The Posies, a team that we shared a room with last year, got first place! We made sure to congratulate them and compliment their creative robot design. We got three callbacks as well: one for robot design, one for programming, and one for the project. We didn’t win any awards but it was pretty cool to get called three times. We have a lot of work to do and a lot of improvements to make for our qualifying tournament, but we are determined.

(Edit by Mrs. B) The team did very well at the scrimmage. Getting 3 call backs was huge and I couldn't be more proud. I love seeing the boys excited about the project and not spending all of their energy on just the robot game. It really showed in the judging.