Tag Archives: Ken Johnson

USF Engineering Expo Delivers Full House for FTC!

Hans Wolf, coach of team Minotaur, explains FIRST

 Organizers estimated 14000 visitors to the USF Engineering Expo over the past two days, making for standing room only 

TDT member Chris K giving a little robot education

 in the FIRST robotics room many times!  Today, the crowds were a little thinner, but pretty much nonstop all day long.  There’s clearly tremendous interest in STEM opportunities for youth, and our FIRST brochures flew off the tables. 

We shared the exhibit room with State Champions, Minotaur, and their Middleton companion team, Ayonius Tyfonas, along with Domino Effect, from St. Petersburg, and ran demo matches and info sessions from 9am until the event ended at 4pm.   

 Our robot proved as robust as ever, managing the toughest of all challenges, being driven by young children!  Everyone had a great time, though, and hopefully we’ll see some new FLL and FTC teams develop in the Tampa Bay area over the next year. 

Driving our robot was the biggest treat, and children lined up for a chance to use the controller.   It was definitely a full weekend, but one well spent, and all four FTC teams went home with honorable mention awards from the University of South Florida for our well enjoyed Expo exhibit.  

Next stop, eWeek at Lockheed Martin in Orlando on Thursday and the Tampa Bay Engineers Week Banquet next Friday, where Ken Johnson will be the Keynote speaker.  Can’t wait!  

Ayonius Typhonas, Team Duct Tape and Minotaur at USF Engineering Expo

Programming Help for “Get Over It!”

programming-siteThis season’s FIRST Tech Challenge game, Get Over It!, presents a lot of challenges, not the least of which is the 40 second autonomous period.

40 seconds!

A programmers joy, or nightmare, depending on ability and experience. Create a strong autonomous program, though, and the rewards are considerable. From the Game Manual:

Batons scored during the Autonomous Period are eligible to be scored again at the end of the Match.

Additionally, the following scores are calculated at the end of the Autonomous Period:
1. Parking a robot on a Cliff is worth 3 points.
2. Parking a robot on the Mountain or any unbalanced Bridge is worth 5 points.
3. Parking a robot on any balanced Bridge is worth 15 points.
4. Having a robot on the Dispensing side of the field (over the Cliffs, Bridge, or Mountain) is worth 10 points. The robot must be completely on the Dispensing side of the field in order to count and may not be touching the Mountain, Cliffs, or Bridges.
5. Dispensing any Batons from an Alliance’s Baton Dispenser on their Dispenser Side of the Playing Field is worth 2 points per baton.

Part of the reason for the increased autonomous period is not just to challenge students, but to provide opportunties for learning (which, when you come down to it, is what any good challenge is anyway!). But with a long autonomous period, if there are no programs running during that time, it could be a really long 40 second game start!

To help move things along – both learning and the game – FIRST Tech Challenge director, Ken Johnson wrote on his blog today, “I’d like to see the FTC community (teams, mentors, coaches) reach out to work with novice teams in the area of programming. There is absolutely no reason we can’t have an exciting autonomous period at every event. Help those teams you are competing with and against. Get them started with some basic code and let them play with it, whatever you can do to help. ”

Team Duct Tape completely agrees! It’s great fun to see four robots start out the gate on their own, as a good robot should, maneuvering about completing (or at least trying to!) a series of tasks. So we’re answering Mr. Johnson’s call for programming help in the FTC community with the creation of a public Robot C templates site on Google Code.
We’ll be adding more information to it soon, and welcome others to share their basic templates and information on the site, as well. If you have an questions, email our lead programmer, Chris, at clwillingham@gmail.com  .

And check back regularly as the season progresses. We’ll Get Over It! together!

Play a (Kick-off) Party Game with Us!

Team Duct Tape is hosting a 2010 FTC Season Kick-Off party game for our Saturday Kick-Off event in Orlando  –  Guess the Game – or get as close as possible – and win a duct tape gift!  We’ll be accepting guesses via email and on the day of the event.  But you can play even if you don’t live in Florida.  Just email us your Best Guess by Friday evening, and we’ll post your guesses here and pick the one closest to the actual game after the reveal on Saturday afternoon.   Winner of the online version of our game will get a small duct tape gift. If you send in an out-of-state guess, write ” [Your State:] FTC Game Guess” in the subject line, and don’t forget to include your team name and number in your email.  Visit Ken Johnson’s FTC blog to see old and (hopefully!) new game clues!

So… What’s Your Best Guess?