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!
With our first competition coming up this week, we’ve got autonomous programs on our minds. Figuring other teams probably do, too, our lead programmer, Chris W., updated our public FTC Robot C Templates site with a wiki entry on writing autonomous programs. Chris is a firm believer in creating lots of functions to handle low level movement commands to make autonomous codes not only easier to understand, but also to reuse each season. What he lacks in grammar skills, Chris more than makes up for in solid coding ability. (Although we’ll keep working on that grammar, too!)
But we hope you find the templates and the wiki info helpful. Share freely, and have fun!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org .
And check back regularly as the season progresses. We’ll Get Over It! together!