This is not a tip but,

We reached 16,666 followers! This is so cool! Thank you so much for following RookieFIRSTS, and we will be posting another Tip soon! Leave a comment; how did your team do at your competition? 

~ Lynn U, The Girls of SteelFIRST Team 3504


New tip! We are so close to 16,500 followers! I cannot believe it; you all are awesome! Here is a tip from my fellow GoS member, Laurel. 

Scouting

Scouting is possibly the most important key to a team’s success at competition. In Aerial Assist, scouting is even more important than any of the past several games. It is crucial to interact seamlessly with your alliance mates to pass balls in order to maximize your points. To do this, your team will have to be watching every robot to craft the best strategy. For rookie teams, the task may seem daunting, however, it is quite manageable. 
First, set up an area in the stands that can be designated for scouting. Just a row or a few rows of seats for your scouts to sit distraction free in. Because scouting can often feel daunting and tiresome, try a rotation of people. During each match, assign one person to each robot on the field. They should record everything that robot does in the two minutes. A good way to record this is to make a standardized sheet to pass out.
Things to consider while watching a match: 
Autonomous

Does the robot have autonomous?


Did it score?


Which goal did the robot go to?


Was the goal hot while the robot scored?

Tele-op

Is the robot playing offense or defense?


Overall, how well did it play either


Is the robot capable of scoring in both the low and high goals?  


How many goals did the robot make over the course of tele-op? 


Which goals were each point scored in?


Can the robot identify if a goal is hot?


Can the robot catch a ball?


Can the robot pass the ball?


Is it capable of throwing it over the truss?


Though it is also good to scout in the pits by asking a team what their robot can do, it is not something that you want to rely on. Often times, a team’s idea of what their robot can do is optimized. So, recording how it competes throughout the competition will be important.When it come time to compete with or against a robot that your team has scouted, it makes strategizing much simpler.  
Happy Scouting :)

~Laurel D, The Girls of Steel, FIRST Team # 3504
 

New tip! We are so close to 16,500 followers! I cannot believe it; you all are awesome! Here is a tip from my fellow GoS member, Laurel.

Scouting

Scouting is possibly the most important key to a team’s success at competition. In Aerial Assist, scouting is even more important than any of the past several games. It is crucial to interact seamlessly with your alliance mates to pass balls in order to maximize your points. To do this, your team will have to be watching every robot to craft the best strategy. For rookie teams, the task may seem daunting, however, it is quite manageable.

First, set up an area in the stands that can be designated for scouting. Just a row or a few rows of seats for your scouts to sit distraction free in. Because scouting can often feel daunting and tiresome, try a rotation of people. During each match, assign one person to each robot on the field. They should record everything that robot does in the two minutes. A good way to record this is to make a standardized sheet to pass out.

Things to consider while watching a match:

Autonomous

  • Does the robot have autonomous?

    • Did it score?

    • Which goal did the robot go to?

    • Was the goal hot while the robot scored?

Tele-op

  • Is the robot playing offense or defense?

    • Overall, how well did it play either

  • Is the robot capable of scoring in both the low and high goals?  

  • How many goals did the robot make over the course of tele-op?

    • Which goals were each point scored in?

  • Can the robot identify if a goal is hot?

  • Can the robot catch a ball?

  • Can the robot pass the ball?

  • Is it capable of throwing it over the truss?


Though it is also good to scout in the pits by asking a team what their robot can do, it is not something that you want to rely on. Often times, a team’s idea of what their robot can do is optimized. So, recording how it competes throughout the competition will be important.When it come time to compete with or against a robot that your team has scouted, it makes strategizing much simpler.  

Happy Scouting :)


~Laurel D, The Girls of Steel, FIRST Team # 3504

 


Sorry for not posting on Wednesday, so busy! But don’t worry, we have another tip for you! 
Competition: In the Stands
The robots are all in the bag! How was your Build Season? Are you ready for competition? Well, preparing for competition is fun! Posters, cheers, mascots, pins and more are all part of competition outside of the robot. I am the Media Lead, so I am organizing most of these fun activities! There are three main sections of an FRC Competition: the pits, the stands, and the game field. This tip is all about what happens in the stands. Here are some of the things that the Girls of Steel will be doing. 
Posters: 
Our team loves to make posters and hold them up during matches. We have posters that spell out our team name, our cheers, and our robots. We also have a Girls of Steel flag poster, Spirit poster, and Safety poster; and that’s just the beginning. We have so many posters; hopefully we are able to hold them all up. 
Terrible Towels: 
Well, Girls of Steel has that Pittsburgh Pride. Yes, we also have Girls of Steel themed terrible towels. They are red with white polka dots and are awesome! If you see a huge patch of red in the stands that look like a group of red Steelers fans, that is most likely the Girls of Steel. 
Scouting: 
There could be a whole post about scouting (and there have been), but I am going to write a small bit about it. Scouting in the stands is when team members watch a certain robot during a match and track its performance. With this data, we can plan our strategies better with our alliance for a match. Scouting can be done using apps, but the data can be collected on paper as well. 
Cheers: 
There are many cheers that are sung during matches. Common alliance cheers are, “Red (Blue) A-lli-ance” followed by six claps in a specific rhythm. There are also cheers themed around different teams. One example is the announcer at the Pittsburgh Regional likes to say, “Do you want some more?” which we respond, “3504!” Cheers like these are really popular. 
Mascots: 
Some teams have mascots, ranging from huge eagles to just awesomely dressed students. The Girls of Steel’s Mascot is Rosie with a robotic arm. One of our girls will be dressing up in the traditional overalls, wearing our bandana Rosie style and wearing a metal arm. 
So these are a few of the things that happen during competitions in the stands. There are also tons of things that happen in the pit, but I will write about that another time. If you have a question or would like to write something for RookieFIRSTs, email us at rookiefirsts@gmail.com. Anyway, good luck at the competition and have fun! 

~Lynn U, The Girls of Steel, FIRST Team #3504

Sorry for not posting on Wednesday, so busy! But don’t worry, we have another tip for you!

Competition: In the Stands

The robots are all in the bag! How was your Build Season? Are you ready for competition? Well, preparing for competition is fun! Posters, cheers, mascots, pins and more are all part of competition outside of the robot. I am the Media Lead, so I am organizing most of these fun activities! There are three main sections of an FRC Competition: the pits, the stands, and the game field. This tip is all about what happens in the stands. Here are some of the things that the Girls of Steel will be doing.

Posters:

Our team loves to make posters and hold them up during matches. We have posters that spell out our team name, our cheers, and our robots. We also have a Girls of Steel flag poster, Spirit poster, and Safety poster; and that’s just the beginning. We have so many posters; hopefully we are able to hold them all up.

Terrible Towels:

Well, Girls of Steel has that Pittsburgh Pride. Yes, we also have Girls of Steel themed terrible towels. They are red with white polka dots and are awesome! If you see a huge patch of red in the stands that look like a group of red Steelers fans, that is most likely the Girls of Steel.

Scouting:

There could be a whole post about scouting (and there have been), but I am going to write a small bit about it. Scouting in the stands is when team members watch a certain robot during a match and track its performance. With this data, we can plan our strategies better with our alliance for a match. Scouting can be done using apps, but the data can be collected on paper as well.

Cheers:

There are many cheers that are sung during matches. Common alliance cheers are, “Red (Blue) A-lli-ance” followed by six claps in a specific rhythm. There are also cheers themed around different teams. One example is the announcer at the Pittsburgh Regional likes to say, “Do you want some more?” which we respond, “3504!” Cheers like these are really popular.

Mascots:

Some teams have mascots, ranging from huge eagles to just awesomely dressed students. The Girls of Steel’s Mascot is Rosie with a robotic arm. One of our girls will be dressing up in the traditional overalls, wearing our bandana Rosie style and wearing a metal arm.

So these are a few of the things that happen during competitions in the stands. There are also tons of things that happen in the pit, but I will write about that another time. If you have a question or would like to write something for RookieFIRSTs, email us at rookiefirsts@gmail.com. Anyway, good luck at the competition and have fun!

~Lynn U, The Girls of Steel, FIRST Team #3504


Build season is over! Bag and Tag lasted to 11:00PM for the Girls of Steel. After Build Season, I realize how much I have learned since Kickoff. Rachel, a member of Girls of Steel, wrote about what she learned during Build Season! 

            This is my first year on The Girls of Steel robotics team. This year, I’ve learned a lot about robotics, and especially about programming, during build season. Before I started Girls of Steel, I had never programmed before. I learned how to use NetBeans and how to code many things, such as joysticks and lights for the robot. I had to use my knowledge of programming joysticks to try and program a knob that we wanted to use for our robot. It was a lot more complicated than it seemed, and we ended up not using the knob in the end. But it was fun to get to see how it worked and to attempt to program it. I also learned how to test code to make sure it was working on the robot. I didn’t know that you had to write a complete new method just to test some of the code that you’d already written. It’s a really long process, but worth it in the end. I’ve learned a lot about the extent of what robots can do too. I had no idea that robots could do half the things that they can! I also didn’t know how complicated it was to program them to do these things. Since it is my first year, almost everything we’ve done during build season has been a new experience for me but I’ve learned that someone is always willing to help out if you ask them. Most of all I’ve found that it takes a lot of time and dedication to build a robot but it’s all worth it once you see something that you helped to build come together and function properly.

~Rachel C, The Girls of SteelFIRST Team #3504


image

Week 6 is upon us! Yikes! There are only few more days until we can’t touch the robot anymore.

Week 6, for some teams, is the most stressful week of build season. Sometimes things don’t go as planned, weather prevents meetings, or code doesn’t seem to be working. No matter how much work there seems to be, don’t let the pressure stop you or your team. It can be done: just organize, make a plan, and then go for it.

By being focused, a team can get a lot done before Bag and Tag Day (Just a reminder, Bag and Tag is next Tuesday 11:59 PM local time. It is the day where teams put their robots in a bag and teams officially stop working on the robot). Performing under pressure is a great skill to have and Week 6 will defiantly test that skill. Be a team and work hard; the finish line is straight ahead.

Build Season is so close to being over! It is a happy and sad time for me. I am happy; I get to relax for a little bit after working many late hours during the past five weeks. But I am also sad; this will be my last build season, along with the other seniors on Girls of Steel. However, I am ready for the Competition Season to begin. I cannot wait to see all the team’s robots!

Good Luck! And we will see you at the competition!

~Lynn Urbina,The Girls of SteelFIRST Team #3504


image

Happy week 5! Our robot is coming together for the competitions ahead! Here is a post from FRC Team #610 and the summary of their season. 

610: Our Season

Team 610 dedicates a great deal of time in the first semester of school to lay the groundwork of Team 610. During this time we train our team members to be prepared for the uphill battle that is known as build season. We also take on many tasks to prepare. Currently Team 610 is hard at work redesigning their website for a brand new atmosphere. We are also working on a preseason drive train and are fortunate enough to be a part of the 2015 alpha control system testing, which keeps us very busy!

We take on these tasks to build a foundation and learn brand new and exciting things; even our senior members are constantly learning new things. In the end, Team 610 is about the learning experience. The key to a successful build season is a team that is like a family and can rely on each other, old and young, to accomplish one task. We stand up for each other, look out for each other, and give each other advice.

~Gorav MenonThe Crescent CoyotesFIRST Team #610 


    

Happy Week 4! The pressure is on! But to help, here are the Robettes and their Build Season Tips! 

       Welcome to FIRST robotics! Build season is upon us, and you may want to know a few things going in to plan accordingly. Build season can be both an exciting and challenging time for all. It requires great time commitment, focus, and coopertition to create a functioning robot in the allotted six weeks (too short, we know!). Throughout this brief and busy time, tempers flare, things break, and stuff you didn’t imagine could go wrong inevitably will. Build season is a wonderful time of robot and relationship building, but it’s wise to be well prepared before diving in.

        Adjusting to robotics was a struggle I wasn’t expecting. After meeting some of the witty, crazy team members and seeing the giant mechanical equipment, I was floored to become a part of the FIRST community. But after I had made a serious commitment to the Robettes, I saw how much robotics could impact your everyday life. Suddenly, I was spending every waking hour in the crowded build space, soldering wires and planning our electrical board. Stress was not just about school, grades, and friends: it became about our robot. What was working? Would we have enough time to practice with our drive team? Robotics took control, and as build season continued, the pressure only mounted. That said, the fun doubled as well, and, in the end, it was more than worth it!

        The Robettes divide themselves into three build teams—electrical, mechanical, and programming. We have found this extremely helpful in keeping focus and effort in each aspect of our robot. Even if your team doesn’t divide this way, it’s a good idea to divide tasks accordingly so you can plan out how much of build season you should spend on each aspect of robot building. Electrical, my current subteam, spent a short time choosing which motor controllers to use—see what you have in stock already and what you can afford to buy—and laying out our electrical board. The process takes us one to two days, and it is extremely nice to have an organized, central location for the control system, rather than the parts spread across the robot; neat wiring makes troubleshooting infinitely easier, impresses the judges, and is generally more accessible than a “rat’s nest.” Still, electrical layout is completely dependent on mechanical design. The robot isn’t built around electrical components—it’s built around its mechanisms. Once we had made careful decisions about where each component would go—from talons to the power distribution board. would go, we finally started to put the pieces together. The electrical team spent roughly two weeks perfecting our electrical board. We routed, shortened, and beatified our board with time to spare, and what little free time we still had left was offered to other sub teams whose jobs were far from over.

        Mechanical, on the other hand, spent the majority of the six weeks with the robot. They spend a few days designing and prototyping and then get straight to work. The ideal situation is to finish building the robot in about four weeks so that the third sub team, programming, will have time to work out any bugs they have with their code (which they’ve been working on while mechanical and electrical did their jobs). This also gives the drive team a good amount of time to driving the robot. We hope you enjoy build season, and good luck at the competition!

~ The Robettes, FIRST Team #2177


Happy Week 3 everyone! RookieFIRSTS will be posting every Wednesday (hopefully) so get excited! 

Here are some tips from NEMO to Rookie Teams! (Thank you Team 2283 for providing us the information) 

18 Hints For FRC Rookie Teams From NEMO

Published by: NEMO (non-engineering mentor organization)

  1. Have at least one mentor and one student join www.chiefdelphi.com to ask questions and get answers. You will quickly find hundreds of ideas and offers of help in this popular free forum! Check out the CD Media papers section for team handbooks.
  2. Explore the FIRST site in depth. Look at existing information on starting a FIRST team.
  3. Develop a mentor relationship with a nearby team.
  • Contact the local Regional Committee to help locate mentors. Ask to borrow an experienced mentor.
  • It’s easy to become overwhelmed when the 6-week build season starts. Having another team to turn to 
can give some reassurance and pointers, and to listen to ideas. There is just so much about the game and FIRST that rookie teams won’t understand and older teams take for granted. Newly recruited mentors will be learning the FIRST ropes along with the students: What should they do first? Who can best answer the questions? What’s critical, what isn’t? What skills will your team need? How robust is “robust”? What are the rules/qualifications/logistics of how a competition runs? What are the common mistakes?
  • Networking is the key. Make as many contacts with other teams as possible. Talking with other teams helps you learn a whole lot more than you could about FIRST from any other source. Teams exchange parts willingly. There is a tremendous amount of support in the FIRST community. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  • Visit a nearby team and see an old robot to get an idea of what you are attempting to build. Ask nearby teams if they have copies of the FIRST documentaries about the competitions to watch as a team. This year, there are a few teams making videos to help rookie teams.
  1. If there is no team nearby, develop long distance mentors. See the FIRST site for a list of mentoring teams. Look at the Rural Support database (Team 103) and ask questions on Chief Delphi.
  2. Develop a realistic business plan. Come up with a mission statement & a plan for approaching potential sponsors. Once this business plan is developed it can be used over again for grant applications and sponsor recruitment. Develop a realistic budget. You can’t stress the “fundraising” too much. Things add up quickly and the more fundraising done before the build season the better off you will be. It won’t be much fun to come up with only the $6000 for the KOP (Kit of Parts) and then not have any money to buy commercial parts needed for the robot and to travel. Ask a veteran team about realistic cost estimates.
  3. READ THE RULES before starting any design or building. Check the updates and the Q&A on the FIRST site daily as rules and deadlines can be changed or clarified.
  4. Actively recruit all parents, individually. Most parents will have no experience with robots but will be surprised at how much their skills will benefit the team. Besides the engineering, parents can help with travel, organization, fundraising, spirit, communication, building the test field and meals.
  5. Leave plenty of time to fill out all the paperwork. The online TIMS (Team Management Information System) registration, yearbook page, program page and surveys all take time. Monitor the email blasts from FIRST for deadlines.
  6. Develop a method for communicating what your team is doing. Target information to the following groups: the team itself, parents, sponsors, school administrators, other students and teachers, local politicians, and the community-at-large. Many teams use email or newsletters.
  7. Encourage the students to look early into college scholarships offered through FIRST. Some scholarships are awarded during the student’s junior year.
  8. Have a pre-season and a post-season. Pre-season is good for getting to know your teammates and encourages teamwork before the stressful build period. Suggestions for activities are Sumo Bots, egg crash cars, bridge designs, egg drops and a scavenger hunt with information about teammates. Try to attend off-season competitions run by teams and demonstrations like technology & community fairs.
  1. Always bring a cart to competitions. Make sure the cart with the robot fits through a standard doorway. Build a cart so that your team can make repairs to the robot on the cart. At competition, especially the Championship, there is a lot of valuable time spent queuing for matches. Teams can use this time to make quick adjustments.
  2. See if your school has students interested in public relations willing to write articles for the newspaper or videotape for the cable local access channel. Look to other clubs at school for help, such as DECA (marketing), FBLA (business), art club (banners, crate decorations, t-shirt design), photography club (for PR and scrapbook).
  3. Keen an historical archive of everything you do. Keep a scrapbook. Take lots of photos, keep the buttons and t-shirts. Document everything your team does. This will help with your Chairman’s award submission.
  4. Don’t say you can’t do it just because you’re a rookie team. Rookies and veterans are on level ground when it comes to imagination and ingenuity. Keep goals high.
  5. Start keeping track of your alumni as they graduate from high school. Sponsors like tangible evidence that the FIRST program is actually inspiring students to pursue careers in engineering, science, & technology. Often alumni will return to help.
  6. Have parents, faculty, administrators, school board members, potential mentors and sponsors attend a regional competition. Develop a VIP list. Often VIP’s will be offered an official tour at competitions. It is very difficult to describe the energy at these competitions. You just have to be there!
  7. Have an adult mentor join NEMO (Non-Engineering Mentor Organization). We host a private online discussion forum at www.chiefdelphi.com, publish white papers, and hold workshops as we are able. Visit www.firstnemo.org for more information, including resources for rookie teams.

Thanks to the following 2004-2005 mentors/teams who helped with these hints. Jenny-007, Rich-103, Kathie-173, Steve-188, Ed-191, Jason-237, Mark-358 & Justin-1212.

Here is NEMO’s website: http://www.firstnemo.org/

~Panteras, FIRST Team 2283


Week 2 of Build Season is upon us! Read about Team 1912, Combustion, about how they go about scheduling for this busy time of the year!

With a tight 6-week schedule, building a robot is demanding, overwhelming, and often confusing for rookies. What to do? Where to start? How should everything be implemented? Lots of questions permeate the air during initial meetings. But from guidance from Team 1912’s challenge captain, we have written out a general guideline that should help rookies get an outlined idea of what to do during the build season!
Week 1: Brainstorming – get creative!
Immediately after kickoff, READ THE MANUAL, learning the game design inside and out
Day 1-3: Members should have strategy discussion and design several general possible paths of construction.
Day 3-7: Begin prototyping
Week 2-5 Production/Assembly
Day 8: Final design decisions (can’t prolong the design process!). Follow the KISS rule: Keep It Simple Stupid. The best designs are often the simple, creative ones, using pieces and attachments for multiple uses during a game. 

Day 8: Coders begin coding
Day 10: Have completed rolling chassis
Day 14: Driving chassis
Day 14-30: Fully implement all pieces onto chassis and have all parts assembled
Day 30-32: Make sure all wiring is done and clean
Week 6: Done!
Day 33-40: Driver practice (VERY IMPORTANT – the amount of time your drivers get with your robot for practice can greatly increase your chances of winning more matches)/Weight Reduction/Final decorations.
Good Luck! 
~Combustion, FIRST Team 1912

Week 2 of Build Season is upon us! Read about Team 1912, Combustion, about how they go about scheduling for this busy time of the year!

With a tight 6-week schedule, building a robot is demanding, overwhelming, and often confusing for rookies. What to do? Where to start? How should everything be implemented? Lots of questions permeate the air during initial meetings. But from guidance from Team 1912’s challenge captain, we have written out a general guideline that should help rookies get an outlined idea of what to do during the build season!

Week 1: Brainstorming – get creative!

Immediately after kickoff, READ THE MANUAL, learning the game design inside and out

Day 1-3: Members should have strategy discussion and design several general possible paths of construction.

Day 3-7: Begin prototyping

Week 2-5 Production/Assembly

Day 8: Final design decisions (can’t prolong the design process!). Follow the KISS rule: Keep It Simple Stupid. The best designs are often the simple, creative ones, using pieces and attachments for multiple uses during a game. 

Day 8: Coders begin coding

Day 10: Have completed rolling chassis

Day 14: Driving chassis

Day 14-30: Fully implement all pieces onto chassis and have all parts assembled

Day 30-32: Make sure all wiring is done and clean

Week 6: Done!

Day 33-40: Driver practice (VERY IMPORTANT – the amount of time your drivers get with your robot for practice can greatly increase your chances of winning more matches)/Weight Reduction/Final decorations.

Good Luck! 

~Combustion, FIRST Team 1912


Kickoff is four days away. FOUR! Let get excited!

The Girls of Steel has another tip about being a team. This is a presentation from that the Girls of Steel has done at different conventions for FIRST. The link is below: 
https://skydrive.live.com/view.aspx?Bsrc=Share&Bpub=SDX.SkyDrive&resid=6B424F00D762C2E!181&cid=06b424f00d762c2e&app=PowerPoint&wdo=2&authkey=!AsjmMh0N9Lxdzjc
~ Simran P, The Girls of Steel, FIRST Team #3504

Kickoff is four days away. FOUR! Let get excited!

The Girls of Steel has another tip about being a team. This is a presentation from that the Girls of Steel has done at different conventions for FIRST. The link is below: 

https://skydrive.live.com/view.aspx?Bsrc=Share&Bpub=SDX.SkyDrive&resid=6B424F00D762C2E!181&cid=06b424f00d762c2e&app=PowerPoint&wdo=2&authkey=!AsjmMh0N9Lxdzjc

~ Simran P, The Girls of Steel, FIRST Team #3504


Need help organizing your team in the preseason? Having trouble teaching team members the necessary skills for a successful build season?
Consider the training method adopted by The Girls of Steel this preseason. 
The Girls of Steel rolled out a 3-3-3 training system. 

3 hours of hands-on mentor training 


3 hours of independent or group work


3 hours of homework

We split out team up into three technical teams: mechanical, programming, and electronics based on each girl’s interests. 
Each team completes four levels of training in one preseason:

Level zero: learn safety techniques and basics of the discipline. All girls must attend level zero for each team. 


Level one: introductory to team’s simple tasks. 


Level two: expands on skills and increases in difficulty. 


Level three: mastery in the team’s skills. 

At the end of each level, a test is administered to guarantee competency and understanding. 
Here is an overview of the levels The Girls of Steel administered this year:

 
Mechanical


Level 0:
• know shop safety rules, be able to name bandsaw, wet saw, drill press, sander, grinder, shear, brake, mill, and lathe.
• Name and use crescent wrench, adjustable wrench, socket wrench, allen wrench, nut driver, Phillips head screw driver, flat head screwdriver (and know where they get put away!)
• Name and use channel-locks, vice-grips, lineman’s pliers, needle nose pliers, clamps
• Name and use ball peen hammer, dead blow mallet, center punch, transfer punch
• Name and use socket cap screws, washer, nut, nylock nut, set screw, locktite, identify screw sizes (4-40, 6-32, 8-32, 10-32, ¼-20)
• Read a part drawing

Level 1:
• Chains: breaking, using master link, using half links.
• Name and use tape measure, ruler, square, protractor, caliper
• Use cordless drill, hacksaw, dremmel cut off tool, clamp
• Andymark gearbox assembly
• Tell difference between aluminum, steel, and hardened steel
• Use drill press, band saw, horizontal band saw, wet saw, replace fluid on wet saw
• Cleaning up cuts with deburring tool, file, sander
• Layout and fab flat part from drawing using drill press, band saw, and wet saw.   

Level 2:
• Hole sizes for standard screw sizes (clearance and tap), tapping
• Riveting (hole size, material thickness, hand riveter, pneumatic riveter)
• Arbor press: press bearings and bushings, broaching
• Drilling on mill: install chuck, vice parallels, use edge finder, DRO, drill point/starter drill), counter sink, reamer
• Test: Drill precision hole pattern in flat part

Level 3:
• Basic Milling: install collets, facing, slots, grooves, speeds and feeds for aluminum
• Basic Lathe: cut plastic spacers, cut retaining ring grooves, with chuck, drilling, speeds for aluminum and steel
• Test: cut plastic spacers to length, cut slip-ring grooves given a drawing, drill a hole. Make a piece that has hole, step, slot, precision length, from bar stock, from provided drawings.

 
Programming

Level 0:
• Understand what a program is, compiling, and Java virtual machine
• Understand how to use existing FIRST system (install NetBeans, check out SVN repo, build code, download to robot, basic robot operation)

Level 1:
• Editor/command line programming tools
• basic program flow
• variables, if/then, loops, basic io (System.out.println, input using Scanner)

Level 2:
• Arrays, methods, file IO

Level 3:
• classes and inheritance

Electronics


Level 0:
• Name and describe function of common electronic components (cRio, power distribution board, digital sidecar, Jaguar, Spike, battery, encoder, motors (CIM, AndyMark, window motor, etc.), limit switches, light
• Name and use wire cutters, needle nose pliers, magic screwdriver
• Battery charging, battery care, and battery beak usage

 
Level 1:
• Read and understand FIRST provided schematic
• Wire gauges, know rules for gauge and color usage
• Electronics board layout guidelines, wire harness layout
• Soldering basics (tin leads, limit switch terminals)
• Crimping big terminals, power cable construction, heat shrink tubing, heat shrink labels, strain relief

Level 2:
• Crimping small terminals, limit switch and PWM cable construction, encoder cable construction, pneumatic valve cable construction.
• Component layout in solidworks, board design, mechanical construction.
• Wire harness for moving parts.
• Installing encoders
• Troubleshooting

Level 3:
• Name and describe function of pneumatics parts (compressor, pressure control valve, pressure control switch, tanks, valves, pressure gauges, fittings, pistons)
• Layout FIRST legal pneumatics system
What are the perks of a training system? 

All of the members of your team are garunteed have a complete knowledge of their technical team and a basic knowledge of all other technical teams. 


New members will have a well-rounded sense of requirements. 


This is a quantifiable way to track the team’s progress


We made “progress posters” to encourage healthy competition. 


Each time a girl passes a level, she gets a star on the progress poster. 


~Laurel, The Girls of Steel, FIRST Team #3504

Need help organizing your team in the preseason? Having trouble teaching team members the necessary skills for a successful build season?

Consider the training method adopted by The Girls of Steel this preseason.

The Girls of Steel rolled out a 3-3-3 training system.

  • 3 hours of hands-on mentor training

  • 3 hours of independent or group work

  • 3 hours of homework

We split out team up into three technical teams: mechanical, programming, and electronics based on each girl’s interests.

Each team completes four levels of training in one preseason:

  • Level zero: learn safety techniques and basics of the discipline. All girls must attend level zero for each team.

  • Level one: introductory to team’s simple tasks.

  • Level two: expands on skills and increases in difficulty.

  • Level three: mastery in the team’s skills.

At the end of each level, a test is administered to guarantee competency and understanding.

Here is an overview of the levels The Girls of Steel administered this year:

Mechanical

Level 0:

• know shop safety rules, be able to name bandsaw, wet saw, drill press, sander, grinder, shear, brake, mill, and lathe.

• Name and use crescent wrench, adjustable wrench, socket wrench, allen wrench, nut driver, Phillips head screw driver, flat head screwdriver (and know where they get put away!)

• Name and use channel-locks, vice-grips, lineman’s pliers, needle nose pliers, clamps

• Name and use ball peen hammer, dead blow mallet, center punch, transfer punch

• Name and use socket cap screws, washer, nut, nylock nut, set screw, locktite, identify screw sizes (4-40, 6-32, 8-32, 10-32, ¼-20)

• Read a part drawing

Level 1:

• Chains: breaking, using master link, using half links.

• Name and use tape measure, ruler, square, protractor, caliper

• Use cordless drill, hacksaw, dremmel cut off tool, clamp

• Andymark gearbox assembly

• Tell difference between aluminum, steel, and hardened steel

• Use drill press, band saw, horizontal band saw, wet saw, replace fluid on wet saw

• Cleaning up cuts with deburring tool, file, sander

• Layout and fab flat part from drawing using drill press, band saw, and wet saw.   

Level 2:

• Hole sizes for standard screw sizes (clearance and tap), tapping

• Riveting (hole size, material thickness, hand riveter, pneumatic riveter)

• Arbor press: press bearings and bushings, broaching

• Drilling on mill: install chuck, vice parallels, use edge finder, DRO, drill point/starter drill), counter sink, reamer

• Test: Drill precision hole pattern in flat part

Level 3:

• Basic Milling: install collets, facing, slots, grooves, speeds and feeds for aluminum

• Basic Lathe: cut plastic spacers, cut retaining ring grooves, with chuck, drilling, speeds for aluminum and steel

• Test: cut plastic spacers to length, cut slip-ring grooves given a drawing, drill a hole. Make a piece that has hole, step, slot, precision length, from bar stock, from provided drawings.

Programming

Level 0:

• Understand what a program is, compiling, and Java virtual machine

• Understand how to use existing FIRST system (install NetBeans, check out SVN repo, build code, download to robot, basic robot operation)

Level 1:

• Editor/command line programming tools

• basic program flow

• variables, if/then, loops, basic io (System.out.println, input using Scanner)

Level 2:

• Arrays, methods, file IO

Level 3:

• classes and inheritance

Electronics

Level 0:

• Name and describe function of common electronic components (cRio, power distribution board, digital sidecar, Jaguar, Spike, battery, encoder, motors (CIM, AndyMark, window motor, etc.), limit switches, light

• Name and use wire cutters, needle nose pliers, magic screwdriver

• Battery charging, battery care, and battery beak usage

Level 1:

• Read and understand FIRST provided schematic

• Wire gauges, know rules for gauge and color usage

• Electronics board layout guidelines, wire harness layout

• Soldering basics (tin leads, limit switch terminals)

• Crimping big terminals, power cable construction, heat shrink tubing, heat shrink labels, strain relief

Level 2:

• Crimping small terminals, limit switch and PWM cable construction, encoder cable construction, pneumatic valve cable construction.

• Component layout in solidworks, board design, mechanical construction.

• Wire harness for moving parts.

• Installing encoders

• Troubleshooting

Level 3:

• Name and describe function of pneumatics parts (compressor, pressure control valve, pressure control switch, tanks, valves, pressure gauges, fittings, pistons)

• Layout FIRST legal pneumatics system

What are the perks of a training system?

  • All of the members of your team are garunteed have a complete knowledge of their technical team and a basic knowledge of all other technical teams.

  • New members will have a well-rounded sense of requirements.

  • This is a quantifiable way to track the team’s progress

  • We made “progress posters” to encourage healthy competition.

  • Each time a girl passes a level, she gets a star on the progress poster.


~Laurel, The Girls of Steel, FIRST Team #3504







Although we were missing in action for a bit, RookieFIRSTs is back for the new season! Here is an important topic that is talked about often in FIRST.

What is Gracious Professionalism Anyway? 

According to USfirst.org, the FIRST(TM) core value of gracious professionalism is a way of working together and competing against each other in a way in which we celebrate everyone’s contribution.  Many people talk about gracious professionalism as if it is the same as sportmanship (you know–congratulate the winner, don’t pout over losing, don’t gloat over winning), but allow me to illustrate to you in a story (a sports story actually)how it is so much more.

It is documented here:  http://www.buzzfeed.com/mrloganrhoades/player-ties-his-opponents-shoe-sportsmanship

It’s a soccer story in which the keeper realized his shoelace had come undone. Wearing bulky gloves, he could not tie them. As he tried in vain to get the referee’s attention, the opposing team’s striker came up to him. And while it may have been easy at this point to take the ball and score a goal, he instead bent down and tied his opponents shoe.  Because the keeper held the ball longer than 6 seconds, the referee called a penalty and awarded an indirect free kick. Being perhaps the greatest soccer team of all time, the opponents booted the ball out of play instead of effectively taking a free goal.  The crowd went crazy with admiration. The game ended in a tie.

The striker showed gracious professionalism by tying the goalie’s shoe.   The opposing team showed gracious professionalism by not taking advantage of the resulting free kick penalty.   It was a win-win.  They all did the right thing, for no personal gain, and their opponents rewarded them by also doing the right thing. The crowd rewarded them by cheering wildly. If there was a FIRST(TM) team around, they were probably creating a home-grown gracious professionalism award for the soccer players.

What examples of gracious professionalism have you seen in your dealings with FIRST(TM) robotics teams?   Last year we were encouraged to share parts and tools on competition day. We were impressed when some teams came around and gave us a “clean workpit award.” We were grateful for the Girls of Steel and how they still were so helpful to us as a pseudo-rookie team.  How can we as a team embody this core value?  What can we do internally to help the new members over the learning curve?  How will gracious professionalism make us a stronger, smarter team? Lets look for examples, document them, and be the gracious professional ambassadors for the Pittsburgh Region.

Mary Beth RenzeMentor for FIRST Team #4150, FRobotics

Although we were missing in action for a bit, RookieFIRSTs is back for the new season! Here is an important topic that is talked about often in FIRST.

What is Gracious Professionalism Anyway? 

According to USfirst.org, the FIRST(TM) core value of gracious professionalism is a way of working together and competing against each other in a way in which we celebrate everyone’s contribution.  Many people talk about gracious professionalism as if it is the same as sportmanship (you know–congratulate the winner, don’t pout over losing, don’t gloat over winning), but allow me to illustrate to you in a story (a sports story actually)how it is so much more.

It is documented here:  http://www.buzzfeed.com/mrloganrhoades/player-ties-his-opponents-shoe-sportsmanship

It’s a soccer story in which the keeper realized his shoelace had come undone. Wearing bulky gloves, he could not tie them. As he tried in vain to get the referee’s attention, the opposing team’s striker came up to him. And while it may have been easy at this point to take the ball and score a goal, he instead bent down and tied his opponents shoe.  Because the keeper held the ball longer than 6 seconds, the referee called a penalty and awarded an indirect free kick. Being perhaps the greatest soccer team of all time, the opponents booted the ball out of play instead of effectively taking a free goal.  The crowd went crazy with admiration. The game ended in a tie.

The striker showed gracious professionalism by tying the goalie’s shoe.   The opposing team showed gracious professionalism by not taking advantage of the resulting free kick penalty.   It was a win-win.  They all did the right thing, for no personal gain, and their opponents rewarded them by also doing the right thing. The crowd rewarded them by cheering wildly. If there was a FIRST(TM) team around, they were probably creating a home-grown gracious professionalism award for the soccer players.

What examples of gracious professionalism have you seen in your dealings with FIRST(TM) robotics teams?   Last year we were encouraged to share parts and tools on competition day. We were impressed when some teams came around and gave us a “clean workpit award.” We were grateful for the Girls of Steel and how they still were so helpful to us as a pseudo-rookie team.  How can we as a team embody this core value?  What can we do internally to help the new members over the learning curve?  How will gracious professionalism make us a stronger, smarter team? Lets look for examples, document them, and be the gracious professional ambassadors for the Pittsburgh Region.

Mary Beth Renze
Mentor for FIRST Team #4150, FRobotics



During robotics competitions, it is essential to keep spirit levels high. Focusing on spirit helps keep your team pumped throughout the ups and downs of competition, is just WAY more fun, and is one of the best ways to intereact with other teams.The key to spirit? Never stop giving off good vibes!When your robot is up to bat, people must know who that robot belongs to and that you’re proud of it. Your team can create posters, chants, and dances to show your excitement. Announcers are also always willing to help your team out in the spirit department. Having a team flag that they can wave around when they announce your name is a good and reliable way to show off your swag.
It’s also good etiquette to root for other teams as well as your own— it’s what keeps these events exciting.  Cheering with a neighboring team, throwing up a pom pom, or just letting teams know that you support them are all good ways to show your support.Remember, the competitioon is a very exciting time for your team and the entire audience-get pumped! Good luck — and have fun!

~Girls of Steel, FIRST Team #3504

During robotics competitions, it is essential to keep spirit levels high. Focusing on spirit helps keep your team pumped throughout the ups and downs of competition, is just WAY more fun, and is one of the best ways to intereact with other teams.

The key to spirit? Never stop giving off good vibes!


When your robot is up to bat, people must know who that robot belongs to and that you’re proud of it. Your team can create posters, chants, and dances to show your excitement. Announcers are also always willing to help your team out in the spirit department. Having a team flag that they can wave around when they announce your name is a good and reliable way to show off your swag.

It’s also good etiquette to root for other teams as well as your own— it’s what keeps these events exciting.  Cheering with a neighboring team, throwing up a pom pom, or just letting teams know that you support them are all good ways to show your support.

Remember, the competitioon is a very exciting time for your team and the entire audience-get pumped! Good luck — and have fun!

~Girls of Steel, FIRST Team #3504



Call it a checklist or battle rhythm; there are certain things to look at before competing with your robot in each match. On my team, we type it up, print it out, tape in to the cart and give each member of the drive team a copy.
New battery. Nothing, I repeat nothing, is worse than going to a match and watching your robot not move because someone forgot to put in a new battery. Assign one or two people from the pit crew to be battery boy/girl. Before every match it is their responsibility to put a full charged battery in the robot. Between matches they keep the rest of the batteries charging. Cross the Road Electronics sells a reliable battery checker than quickly and easily checks the voltage.(http://www.crosstheroadelectronics.com/Beak.html)
Correct Bumpers. For each match you are assigned to either the blue or red alliance. You must use the correct bumper color or you will not be able to compete. When you make your bumpers, try to design them so that they can easily be taken on or off at a minute’s notice.
Talk to your teammates. Each match you will have two other teams on your alliance. Before the match it is a good idea to discuss a general strategy and plan. If possible, send your strategist and a member of the drive team. This will insure that everyone works as well as possible together to maximize success.
Check robot specifics. Each robot has individualized things to have to be set. A common one is raising pneumatic pressure or flipping an autonomous switch. In general, give your robot a quick look over to see if chains need to be tensioned or if a wire has come loose.
Cheer, smile, rep your team. Matches are intense. However, even in the heat of competition it is important to remember that matches are really fun. Every regional plays music while the field resets, so go ahead and dance to it. When the MC announces your team, do something silly. The crowd and the field volunteers love teams that have some spirit and have fun. People will notice and remember you more than you think. Just be prepared for one or two goofy photos that you might want to delete later.

~Rachel, Combustion, FIRST Team 1912

REPOST

Call it a checklist or battle rhythm; there are certain things to look at before competing with your robot in each match. On my team, we type it up, print it out, tape in to the cart and give each member of the drive team a copy.

  1. New battery. Nothing, I repeat nothing, is worse than going to a match and watching your robot not move because someone forgot to put in a new battery. Assign one or two people from the pit crew to be battery boy/girl. Before every match it is their responsibility to put a full charged battery in the robot. Between matches they keep the rest of the batteries charging. Cross the Road Electronics sells a reliable battery checker than quickly and easily checks the voltage.(http://www.crosstheroadelectronics.com/Beak.html)

  2. Correct Bumpers. For each match you are assigned to either the blue or red alliance. You must use the correct bumper color or you will not be able to compete. When you make your bumpers, try to design them so that they can easily be taken on or off at a minute’s notice.

  3. Talk to your teammates. Each match you will have two other teams on your alliance. Before the match it is a good idea to discuss a general strategy and plan. If possible, send your strategist and a member of the drive team. This will insure that everyone works as well as possible together to maximize success.

  4. Check robot specifics. Each robot has individualized things to have to be set. A common one is raising pneumatic pressure or flipping an autonomous switch. In general, give your robot a quick look over to see if chains need to be tensioned or if a wire has come loose.

  5. Cheer, smile, rep your team. Matches are intense. However, even in the heat of competition it is important to remember that matches are really fun. Every regional plays music while the field resets, so go ahead and dance to it. When the MC announces your team, do something silly. The crowd and the field volunteers love teams that have some spirit and have fun. People will notice and remember you more than you think. Just be prepared for one or two goofy photos that you might want to delete later.

~Rachel, CombustionFIRST Team 1912

REPOST



Safety at Championships: Safety is still important. You don’t want your mentors or students needing stitches. Keep your pit clean and make sure people don’t clutter the hall and only essential members are in the pit. Use tools with CAUTION if you think it may be dangerous, chances are you should take it to the machine shop, and pay attention to other teams, especially the one’s who win the daily safety awards. Whatever they’re doing is working for them.

~Gabrielle, Tiger Robotics, FIRST Team #3164
REPOST

Safety at Championships: Safety is still important. You don’t want your mentors or students needing stitches. Keep your pit clean and make sure people don’t clutter the hall and only essential members are in the pit. Use tools with CAUTION if you think it may be dangerous, chances are you should take it to the machine shop, and pay attention to other teams, especially the one’s who win the daily safety awards. Whatever they’re doing is working for them.

~Gabrielle, Tiger RoboticsFIRST Team #3164

REPOST