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, Rookie Award, and the Entrepreneurship Award.
A big challenge in FRC is the 6 week time limit. In these 6 weeks, a team must design, build, program, test, and practice driving a fully functional robot. A team must be able to organize their time, resources, and members in order to succeed. Once the 6 weeks are up, teams must bag their robot, box it, and ship it to their competition.
The field is typically 27 feet by 54 feet with elements of varying sizes based on that year’s game. Robot limitations also vary with last year’s game having robots with a max volume of 34560 inches, a weight limit of 120 lbs, and a height limit of 2 feet or 3 feet, depending on the length and width of the robot. In 2 minute matches, robots go 3 vs 3 to achieve the highest score. Each game has a central theme in which the different challenges and methods of scoring are based on.
This past season, Steamworks, had airship-themed game where two alliances of three robots each attempted to build steam pressure, start rotors, and prepare for flight in order for their airship to take flight. Robots scored points by collecting fuel (balls) and scoring it in their boiler, building steam pressure. Alternatively, they could gain points through delivering gears to pilots on their airship. The pilots then installed the gears onto the airship and started the rotors. Finally, the robots attempted latch to their airship before the end of the game (climb up a rope) to signal that they were ready for takeoff.
This Past FRC Season: Steamworks
Last March we participated in the Hawaii Regional FRC Tournament.
Our robot, Hugo, lead by our drive team of Koa Hedlund (mentor), Dennis Palad (programmer, junior), and Caleb Rogers (driver, junior) advanced to the quarterfinals in the fourth seeded alliance. Silas Pelkey (senior) was a pilot on the airship and Steve Hinders (junior) loaded gears as human players. But we all worked together in match scouting, pit scouting, Chairman’s, and more. We look for another exciting season next year!
Design and Building
The life of a robot begins at Kickoff as teams brainstorm. Prototyping is done to find out which ideas are worth refining, which is done with CAD (Computer Aided Design). Fabrication comes soon after.
Building at such a large scale requires a good knowledge of how to support each mechanism as well as how the mechanisms will interact within the real game.
Code for FRC robots is written in either C++, Labview, Python, or Java. While our goal is to be able to use all four languages, you traditionally only use one throughout the season. Last season, we mainly used Labview with Java on the side.
In the 2015 season, HVR won the Judges Award, for our continued excellence in our community outreach. HVR is proud to be recognized for our outstanding impact on the community every year, winning the Judges award during the 2012 and 2014 seasons. We hope to continue inspiring robotics in our community in the future.
In the 2013 season, HVR brought home the Engineering Inspiration Award – an award given to a team that has outstanding success in advancing respect and appreciation for engineering within the team’s school and community.
Thank you mentors, family, friends, and members for all your continued support and hard work!