Team Duct Tape held its first official pre-season meeting last week, a combination CAD education session and Kickstarter fulfillment session, to create the duct tape gifts promised to donors, as well as the gifts for our “Guess the Game” Game winners. Both sessions went well!
This year’s pre-season meeting served as a refresher for last year’s students, and as an intro for a couple of incoming members, whom we’re excited to have on board. Koen comes to us with some VEX experience, and Jacob, although new to FIRST, plunged right in earlier this year at outreach events.
Next week, Jacob and Marissa will be representing TDT when they make an appearance on Daytime, with parent sponsor Learning is for Everyone, in a special back-to-school edition of the Channel 8 morning show (didn’t school just let out?!). The segment they’ll be in is about homeschooling, and since Jacob and Marissa are two of our homeschooled students, they’re great examples of homeschoolers learning by doing, and how FIRST can be integrated into educational environments outside of brick and mortar schools.
Then sometime in the next couple or three weeks, with most of the parts in for our 3D printer, we’ll put that together. We also hope to get in a cool local robotics facility tour, and a day of team building fun at a local YMCA. So by the time kick off rolls around in a month (check out our countdown timer at the top right – it’s counting down fast!) , Team Duct Tape members will be ready to hit the ground running – fingers made nimble (and sticky!) by hours of duct tape construction, minds made sharp pouring over CAD instruction, and teamwork strengthened by working together on a 40 ft high ropes course.
Whatever the new season brings, we’ll be ready – for something!
Since FIRST Tech Challenge broadened the list of possible materials last season, making 3D printed parts allowable, we thought it would be fun to build our own 3D printer as a summer project. When we toured the Backyard Workshop last year, and again at Tampa Bay Mini Maker Faire in March, we really enjoyed seeing Jamie Cunningham’s 3D printer in action. The fact that he made his own printer – and his own CNC machine! – inspired us to start thinking about making our own RepRap machine, or something similar. What better summer project, than to make a different kind of robot that will help make parts for our competition robot!
3D printers make things by layering plastic material (“additive manufacturing“) according to programmed movements to create a finished part. The printer has a frame and three axes: X-axis ( left-to-right), Y-axis ( front-to-back) and Z-axis ( up-and-down.) – 3 dimensions! The plastic extruder sits on the X-axis and feeds melted plastic filament onto a platform to make the object. The printer is usually controlled by a by special software that translates a design via “G-code” into the Cartesian coordinates needed to create an object.
The cool thing about RepRaps is that they’re self-replicating! It can make the parts to make more of itself.
3D printers have come a long way since the first ones were introduced in the early 1980s. Those operated on the principles of stereolithography using an ultraviolet laser. Personal 3D printing has expanded rapidly in the past few years, with the advent of small more affordable machines like the Makerbot and the open source RepRap, both of which are rapid prototyping machines that make objects in relatively short periods of time, both for use as models and as parts.
And they’re just way cool! We can’t wait to get started on ours.
Team Duct Tape members got down to some serious design work last weekend, and with a combination of rudimentary CAD and white board sketches, got a drive train solution and some other ideas under way. They also got in a great visit to the Jamie Cunningham’s Backyard Workshop – exactly what it sounds like, but in the front yard!
Team members enjoyed seeing Mr. Cunningham’s great homemade 3D printer, learning about aluminum sand casting (awesome!) , and seeing his (also homemade!) CNC machine in action, cutting out a big foam letter “T” for Learning is for Everyone‘s upcoming TEDxYouth@TampaBay event. Mr. Cunningham’s resourcefulness and creative approaches to engineering problem solving were both fun and inspiring!
Team members also got in some Robot C tutoring with mentor and TDT grad, Chris Willingham.
It was a pretty full meeting, and there’s another one coming up tomorrow, with our build finally underway, and our ring order finally in, so we can properly test prototypes.
TDT 5.0 may be mostly new to FIRST Tech Challenge, but they’re proving completely up to the challenge of a quality robot build, in the finest Team Duct Tape tradition!