One of our more entertaining projects this spring has been the 2013 Red Bull Creation challenge, in which some of our team members and mentors took part. A collaborative project of our sponsor, Learning is for Everyone, the Red Bull Creation build provides yet another avenue of creative learning for people of all ages. This year’s challenge is called “Let There Be Light!” and the competition package included addressable LED strips and a custom circuit board. RBC teams had about six weeks to “create something awesome with light”, an open-ended enough challenge that resulted in a wide variety of entries.
Our build, which we called the “Spectrapiano” gave us an opportunity to play with different technology. Working with Paul Markun, our Super Mentor from Tampa Technik, we helped fabricate an acrylic “bubble wall” around which we fastened LED lights that were activated by the piano keys being played. Our new friend and mentor, Chuck Stephens, an accomplished and artistic jack of all trades, crafted the case for the whole thing.
The whole light show was controlled by an Arduino and a Raspberry Pi, two devices we hope to continue learning more about. We also learned some cringe inducing physics of water pressure in the thin tank, coupled as it was with a lot of electronics, including a Yamaha stage piano! TDT alumni and programming mentor, Chris Willingham, did most of the programming work, with friend and fellow FIRST alumni JR Weis. They archived the and some CAD concepts in a repository on GitHub , for anyone who wants to tinker around with his or her own Spectrapiano idea.
Extra points were awarded for publicly displaying a build, so we took our “Spectrapiano” to the Land O’Lakes Branch Library’s popular Teen Night, where over 200 people were in attendance. We took Sheldon along, too, so people could play with him.
Between a light up bubble piano, a robot and an all purpose game night, the evening was a huge success! You can see our Red Bull Creation build in action in the video.
Enjoy! And Stay Creative!
It’s been a busy spring so far! Fresh off the State Championship in early March, we’ve been able to keep Sheldon the Robot running all month, first at the Orlando Regional, then at the coolTECH business expo, and at the Tampa Bay Mini Maker Faire.
This week we’re heading back out to Orlando for the Tesla League Take Two off-season
FTC event, where team members will be able to take advantage of some CAD, build and programming classes before enjoying some scrimmage time with other teams. It’s a great opportunity for team members ingto get to spend some stress-free time with other teams, and fine tune some of their teamwork and build skills.
And the year is still young!
It’s been such a whirlwind summer, we’ve only been able to tell you where we going and haven’t had time to follow up to tell you how it went! So here’s a digest update of the Adventures of Team Duct Tape since the FIRST World Championship in April:
Orlando Mini Maker Faire – May 26 – We had a wonderful time at Orlando’s first ever Mini Maker Faire, driving around our fresh-from-the-Championship robot, and inviting others to drive it, running some duct tape crafts and simple engineering projects at our booth, and sharing FIRST with visitors. We enjoyed sharing the day with a few other FIRST teams, and wowing crowds with sky high scissor lift which, just a few weeks out from St. Louis, continued to operate beautifully!
Gates High School – May 30 – TDT checked in with Gates High School students on the last week of school, to share FIRST with students there, in an effort led by one our new team members, Mark, who attends the school.
Planet PTC Live 2012 – June 5 – TDT joined Team 5454 and 5656 to showcase FIRST Tech Challenge at the Planet PTC Live conference in Orlando. They even got a little screen time when interviewed about what the team members liked best about being on a FIRST team. (Click the photo at left to find out!)
coolTech 2012 – June 21 – Team Duct Tape members hung out at coolTech 2012 with FTC Team Brick Buddies and some — cool tech! — to showcase FIRST to the high tech community in the Tampa Bay area. Brick Buddies won the People’s Choice award for the most popular exhibit. Way to go Brick Buddies!
Red Bull Creation 2012 Challenge – July 19-22 – In an unexpected but fun turn of events, Learning is for Everyone’s LI4E Makerspace Project team, comprised almost entirely of Team Duct Tape members, made it into the Red Bull Creation 2012 finals on the strength of what Wired magazine called our “overzealous alarm clock“, a goofy little qualifying build entry that moved the LI4E Makerspace team into the top 12 national competitors. Joined by JR Weis, long time member, and now grad mentor of Lyman Robotics, TDT member current and grad joined in a whirlwind 72 hour build at long time TDT friend, mentor and benefactor, Paul Markun’s Tampa Technik shop in St. Petersburg.
Besides being enormous, if somewhat hectic, fun, the contest provided a great venue for some national PR for FIRST Tech Challenge and gave students and mentors a terrific opportunity to exercise teamwork and ply their creative engineering skills in a completely different way, and as always, learned a lot in the process.
Challenged to build a physical game within a small set of parameters, TDT members came up with the Spin Master, a rotating marble game. We didn’t make it into the final four, which earned spots at the NY World Makers Faire in September, but we did get some cool bling from playing, including a “Bullduino” (an arduino configured in the Red Bull logo) , a nice webcam, way cool Snowball microphone, an awesome Iceman II cooler and lots of Red Bull to fill it with it (delivered in person by Red Bull of Tampa!) , which could prove helpful in the upcoming season!
So what’s next? Our first new season team meeting later this month, with an almost all new team – the majority of our team members graduated last season! (Fortunately, most of them have promised to help mentor TDT!) The new season kick-off is September 8th, in Orlando , and we’ve got a whole new tournament format here in Florida to help pilot (so maybe it’s a good thing we have a mostly all new flight crew!).
So stay tuned for the further adventures of Team Duct Tape, as we head into our 5th season, ready to build, program, play, learn and share what we love about FIRST! Interested in being part of the fun? Visit Be Part of Team Duct Tape to learn how to apply. We’ll accept applications through August 24.
Have duct tape, will travel!