While the New England Championship was a great event to bring a climax to the work we have been doing on Pandora. However, it was not the conclusion of our season. While cooling down from an intense build and competition season we have been considering what we need to change to have an even better season next season, and who is going to lead that change in the future.
Post Mortem Review
Much like any corporation with a technical product, we have begun to examine the “after-death” lessons we can learn from this competition season. With help from mentors we have identified the different steps to completing this in an orderly and effective manner.
The first step that we have taken is to gather as much feedback on the current season as we can. We asked all the students to submit feedback forms that report positive things and problems that they observed during the season and optionally what they believed would be a feasible solution for next year.
After collecting data we sorted the feedback that we received into different categories of concern. We identified that the team experiences problems with communication, time management, attendance, how business tasks were planned and organized, management, and team organization. Problems related to these categories were each sorted and teams were created to brainstorm solutions. These solutions will guide the decisions of the future.
To make these decisions in the future we have elected a new class of team leads. Elections took place during school days where students presented themselves with a ten-minute speech about their qualifications and their thoughts about potential team policy. They ran for different positions in our organizational structure which is described in the Team Structure page.
Students all casted their votes and decisions were made by mentors and senior members to place students into the different lead positions based on the election results.
We are excited for next year!
On May 31, 2017, some of our team members took a trip after school to the Reading Public Library to help elementary school kids build robots and learn more about FIRST.
With only one day left until the New England District Championships, the team is hard at work getting ready for the Engineering Inspiration Award and making robot preparations to improve our performance this weekend. We are very proud to be ranked 11th in the entire New England District (made up of 196 teams). Because of our robot merit and Engineering Inspiration Award won at the North Shore District Event, our team has been qualified to compete with 63 other teams at the New England District Championships.
The tech team has been feeling ambitious and we have successfully created an active ground gear pick up that will be attached to our competition robot before competing. The following are some CAD drawings of our brainstormed ideas for this mini project that has lasted for the past couple weeks:
Along with the gear ground pickup, the team is preparing for the Engineering Inspiration Award. Since we won the award at the North Shore District Event, we have been qualified to compete for the award at the New England District Championships, as well. For teams that have been qualified for the award, there is an interview process where a group of up to 10 team members discuss their community outreach and recruitment efforts with a panel of FIRST judges. To prepare for this award the interview group has been chosen, and we have been practicing with mock interviews where our team mentors have grilled us with potential questions about the award. The whole process has given us some tips for presenting ourselves during interviews and public speaking events in general.
We are very excited to be competing at the New England District Championships in New Hampshire, and we hope to see you there!
This weekend, our team surpassed all odds and won the North Shore District Event as an alliance captain. Our team ranked fourth after qualifications, and we chose to team up with 1071, Team MAX, and 5556, Carriagetown Robotics. Our alliance played hard every match and we finally made it to that blue banner. There were many great teams, and the intense competition made for a very thrilling and nail biting event. Forty-three teams across the New England Area competed and as each match progressed, the competition got more and more exciting. Friends, family, and community visitors were there to support the robotics teams, and the Reading Memorial High School Field House was filled with thousands of spectators that weekend. Our team also took home the District Engineering Inspiration Award. This was no difficult task, and our entire team worked long and hard to make this happen. Our performance has qualified us, along with 65 other teams from New England, for the New England District Championship that is taking place from April 5th-8th at the University of New Hampshire. We were honored to host the North Shore District Event at our high school once again this year and we hope to see you at UNH in a couple weeks!
With only less than a week away, the Robockets are awaiting for the upcoming North Shore District Event hosted at our local Reading Memorial High School! This free-to-attend event is a great opportunity for the community at-large in the Greater Boston area to experience excitement for STEM and robotics as forty different teams from around New England compete at this district event. Share the following flyer and invite your family and friends to attend this weekend-long event! We are excited to both compete and see all our friends spectating us as we play this year's game FIRST Steamworks.
Last weekend (March 11th and March 12th) the Robockets attended the South-Easter Massachusetts District Event at Bridgewater-Raynham Regional Highschool. This event appeared to be a great success for both the local team, Team 88 TJ Squared, and the Robockets. The venue was impressive and the local team's shop, which a few members of our team were able to take a look at, was extraordinary. The Robockets did very well at the event, being selected as the second seed alliance after securing the and winning the Entrepreneurship Award (you can see our Facebook uploads of that and more here). Teams 2168, 88, and 5563 took the event in the finals, and the similarly-numbered team 4176 the Iron Tigers from Easton won the Chairman's award (and capped off the ceremony with a beautiful Chairman's video). The event was a lot of fun to participate in.
In my opinion the best part of the event was the interaction from the crowd. The excitement for robotics was quite palpable as chants for different teams, the blue alliance, or the red alliance grew louder and stronger especially in the playoffs.
For the 2017 North Shore district event I decided to create an interactive map that would show where the different teams attending our event are coming from.
Right off the bat I determined that I wanted to collect data from the different teams attending our event using a service provided by thebluealliance. This service has an amazing REST api that using a simple "event code" provides a JSON payload containing all the information I will ever need about a team.
To plot this data I considered using services like HamsterMap, however, I decided against this because:
The Script First Take
The JSON I got from thebluealliance looked something like this:
Great! Now all I need to do is access this JSON in a script, geocode the addresses using Google Maps' Geocoding service, and using the latitude and longitude that are spit out place markers on the map. I won't bother posting the whole JS script for reasons that will become clear.
Awesome! That means we are do— Uh oh wait a second. What's this?
Errors everywhere! After looking at the google apis dashboard I quickly found out that this was because I enabled the wrong API and needed to enable the geolocation service when loading google maps. This explained that I needed to append the GET parameter "&libraries=geolocation" to the link I was using. With this fix applied I ran into another problem. The browser window began to crash and slow down.
I removed geocoding from my JS and plopped it right into the original python script. Luckily there was already a very good implementation of the API for python (here is the library I used). I later made the decision that it would be nice if I could calculate using the latitude and longitudes of the markers what the bounding box of all teams were. By feeding this bounding box into the google maps API I could make it zoom on a specific portion of the map automatically.
New Python Script
The final addition I made was to make an info window popup for the individual teams when you click on the marker. This would include a team motto, the team name and number, and the team website in a neat little package. I ran into many problems with this but for brevity I'll omit them and the fixes I made for them.
Some of the Final JS
Woohoo! A quick project for a nice looking element on our North Shore 2017 Steamwork's page and a chance to hone skills at utilizing APIs, diagnosing problems in implementation, and working around those problems!
Build season is officially over! After an extensive and intense 6 weeks, the Robockets have completed and bagged the competition robot for the 2017 FIRST Steamworks Challenge. The team invited family and friends to view a live demo of our competition robot right before it was bagged. A special Chipotle dinner and cake was contrived to celebrate the end of a successful build season.
Our first competition, the South East Massachusetts Districts, is approaching soon on March 10th. During the two weeks that remain until the competition, (other than catching up on the sleep they missed during build season) team members and mentors will practice driving with our prototype robot, prepare robot and outreach spec sheets, and plan our pit setup. It's been a good build season and the Robockets are looking forward to the upcoming competitions!
In 2013, our robotics team website was established and was off to great start. It was functional and aesthetically pleasing. However, over years of use, technical difficulties arose and the website had lost its charm. Users were constantly logged out of the site and a change of user interface made the website feel clunky.
This season, the business team constructed a project in which the end goal would be to create a new website that would be convenient, comprehensible, and appealing. To carry out our task, members of the business team brainstormed certain criteria that we wished our new website platform to have. We researched some website platforms that were popular and created a table comparing the features that they had:
Each member was assigned to different website was assigned to one of the four website platforms that we had finalized, and we were given 2 weeks to create a “ mock site” using the platform features. After we had created our “mock sites”, we spent a meeting presenting our sites, and then we voted on which one was the best. The process was clearly effective and our new Weebly website works great! The site is very organized and has a clean user interface. It has a better utilization of drag and drop features, making it much easier to edit pages than the team’s previous website. The hosting platform we chose met all of the requirements we had brainstormed, and we are very happy with our choice!
Calling all robotics teams, STEM enthusiasts, and local spectators! We are hosting the 2017 Steamworks North Shore District Event for FIRST soon. Here (http://robockets.weebly.com/2017-steamworks.html) is the page where you can find all the information you need.