The FIRST Platform
FIRST is an acronym meaning: For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition) tests many different aspects of a team.
Internally, FRC requires a team to understand the ins and outs of robot design and execution The freedom allowed with fabrication and size limitations add depth to robots and make each team’s building experience unique. Each step of the process: prototyping, CAD, fabrication, wiring, and programming are all major factors taught through FRC.
Externally, FRC teaches leadership, teamwork, and project management skills by imposing a rigorous build season time frame. Public speaking skills, business skills, outreach initiative, and team personality are all encouraged through the many non-robot awards such as Engineering Inspiration, Chairman’s, Rook Award, and the Entrepreneurship Award.
Every year in early January, FRC releases the game for the season. Upon the release of the game, FRC presents a big challenge–a 6-week time limit. Within these 6 weeks, a team must design, build, wire, program, test, and practice driving a fully functional robot. This requires a team to be able to effectively manage and organize their time, resources, and members in order to succeed. At the end of the 6 weeks, teams must ‘bag and tag’ their robot and ship it off to their competition.
The field for FRC is typically 27 feet by 54 feet (for reference, a volleyball court is 30 feet by 60 feet) with field elements of various sizes based on the year’s game. For a robot to compete, it must comply with the restrictions varying year to year. In last year’s game, Steamworks, robots had to be under 120 lbs and have a max volume of either 36 in. by 40 in. by 24 in. tall (~91 cm by 101 cm by 60 cm tall), or 30 in. by 32 in. by 36 in. tall (~76 cm by 81 cm by 91 cm tall). Matches in FRC are 2 1/2 minutes long, broken into two different periods: a 15 second autonomous period where robots are programmed to move and score on their own, and a 135 second (2 minutes and 15 seconds) tele-op period where teams drive their robot to move and score.
FIRST Power Up is the game for the 2018 FRC year, based on an arcade 8-bit theme. This game is played by two alliances (red and blue) consisting of three teams each. Team’s robots compete on a field by placing milk crates which represent power cubes on large balancing scales in order to tip the scales in their favor and gain ownership. Alliances can also trade in the power cubes by scoring them in the exchange zone for temporary advantages called power-ups which can be strategically played during the match. At the end of the match, robots can climb or assist a partner in climbing the tower attached to the balancing scale, located on the center of the field, using a rung attached to the tower for additional points.
This Past FRC 2018 Season: Power-UP
For this 2018 season, we competed at one regional which was the Hawaii Regional.
The build season this 2018 season was rough, leaving us with a non-functional robot with no driver practice at the end of the 6 weeks, but we managed to turn it around. When we first arrived at the regional, our robot barely passed inspection. We spent the entire first day finetuning and adding on all the parts we weren’t able to do in the six weeks leaving us yet again with no driving practice. But by the time qualification matches came around we hit a stroke of luck, we were, fortunately, able to get our robot fully functional. This occurred midway through qualification matches boosting our rank from 36th out 0f 37th to 22nd. This lead to us joining the 2nd seeded alliance where we made it all the way to the finals. We, unfortunately, met our match, but there was plenty of good news to still come our way.
We ended up taking home the Engineering Inspiration Award, which celebrates outstanding success in advancing respect and appreciation for engineering within a team’s school and community, sending our team to World’s in Houston, Texas. One of our members, Ina Klasner, also was a Dean’s List Finalist, qualifying her to compete at Worlds for the Dean’s List Award.
This is a highlight clip from our Hawaii Regional in Oahu. We are team 1378 on the red alliance pulling off a clutch play in the semi-finals.
Building a robot takes a team and we accomplish this by breaking up into many different sub-groups to ensure that all parts of the robot can be completed in time.
Build and Design
The very first step to creating a robot is designing it. The day that FIRST releases the game, known as the kick-off, we work together to brainstorm ideas for what we want the robot to accomplish and how we can make the robot to that. Prototyping takes place next, putting the ideas to test with the aid of CAD (Computer Aided Design) refining all of the worthwhile ideas. Once we have the plan of all the mechanisms that will be added to the robot, Fabrication is underway making it come to life.
Electronics & Programming
Electronics and programming come in towards the end of the robot production so, in the meantime, these sub-teams prepare and ensure that all the necessary components are ready to be put into place. Once the electronics team has wired up the robot, they work together with the programming team to ensure that everything is running smoothly. Robots can be programmed in various different languages, but for this year, we settled for Java.
This year will mark the second time of our club going to worlds since 2013, where we also got the Engineering Inspiration Award. This season truly has been a successful one and which wouldn’t be possible without all of the support that our community gives us. Thank you especially to our mentors, advisers, family, friends, and members for all of the hard work!!!
– The Official FIRST Robotics Competition’s Website
– The go-to forum for FRC Participants
– Results and data from all the FIRST Competitions