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Build Blog Release

Barrage Build Blog

Team 254 is proud to release its 2014 Season Build Blog. This year’s release contains day by day updates along with in-depth discussions into strategies, prototypes, build decisions, and other Team 254 projects.

Technical Binder

For technical discussion along with detailed pictures on various robot systems please refer to the 2014 Barrage Technical Binder.

Software Release

Our robot ran Java this year as it did in 2013. To develop Barrage, we added a bunch of new features like waypoint navigation that drives smooth splines, an internal web server for debugging controllers and modifying robot constants, Cheesy Vision, single threaded autonomous scripting, and more. Check it out!

NASA Robotics Alliance Celebration

On Tuesday, June 10th, Teams 254s, 971 and 1868 met with NASA Ames' Director Dr. Simon P. Worden, to celebrate the accomplishments of the teams and thank Dr. Worden for the center's generous sponsorship over the years.

The 3 teams were recognized for their success in the FRC, VEX, and Botball competitions this past year and all the students were given certificates. The teams thanked NASA, their mentors, and their parents for all the support they've received throughout the lifespan of the team.

Members of the audience also got to re-watch some of the exciting Einstein finals matches and relive Team 254's World Championship win.

A dessert reception hosted by Team 1868 and socializing took place after the event.

Head Mentor Travis Covington thanked NASA for their support.

Team President Andrew Torrance described how life changing being a member of Team 254 is.

The team took a photo with Ames' Director: Dr. Simon P. Worden

Ooyala Demo 2014

Today (June 6th, 2014), 4 students and 2 mentors demoed Barrage to a long-time sponsor, Ooyala. We gave a presentation about FIRST and demoed the functionality of our robot. We were able to demonstrate the pass to the human player and the employees at Ooyala jumped in and threw balls at the robot. We taught those who wanted to learn how to drive our robot. Thanks to Ooyala for being a great audience and especially thanks for the great pizza!

Posing for a picture with Barrage

Mentor Pat pondering the meaning of life.

Teaching a kid how to drive Barrage

Design Automation Conference Demo

On June 3rd, 4 members from our team, along with our 2014 world championship robot Barrage, gave a demo at the Design Automation Conference at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Along with countless other booths, Mentor Graphics, a company that mentors and sponsors teams in the Oregon area had a booth where students presented. We were able to demo the short human pass as well as the auto-intake functionality. We explained the basics of the robot and the game to people from the design industry. This was a new and exciting event for Team 254 and one we hope to attend again in the future.

Godwin, Nick, and Mani posing with Barrage

VEX World Championship

Overview

This past week, 15 members of Bellarmine's VEX Robotics Team 254 competed at the VEX World Championship. Team 254D (led by Elias Wu '14, Tyler Cuff '14, Jeffrey Kaufman ‘15, and Tarun Midde '15) ranked 7th in it's division, and Team 254G (led by Eric Wang '17 and Goutham Gnanasekaran '14) ranked 22nd in it's division after the qualification matches. Both made it to the Elimination matches as part of the 6th alliance (out of 8 alliances) in their respective divisions. Although the odds were against them, both made it to the finals of their respective divisions. Because of the structure of the competition, both always faced alliances that were ranked higher, and yet managed to make it to the finals. Both even won one of the three finals matches. Team 254D won the overall Website award, and Team 254G won the Teamwork award in their division.

Qualification Matches

After intense qualification matches in the Technology Division, 254G ended with a 6-4-0 record and a 22nd rank. 254G started out strong with three consecutive wins against opposing alliances on Thursday. However, matches after that were much more difficult. 254G would then go on to lose two matches in a row Friday morning, but was able to maintain a winning record through Saturday to finish with a 22 rank in the division. 254G also won the Teamwork Award in the Technology Division, which was a pleasant surprise for the team after their tough matches.

Team 254D also had a series of challenging qualification matches in the Science Division. They began on Thursday with several difficult matches caused by tough opponents and unlucky alliances. Nevertheless, 254D rebounded in the qualification matches on Friday and Saturday to end up with a 7-2-1 record, ranked 7th in the division.

Elimination Matches

In the Technology Division, 254G allied with sixth seed 7232C and ninth seed 2213D for the eliminations matches. Despite being one of the lower ranked alliances, they made it all the way to the finals in their division. All of our rounds in division eliminations were difficult, with every one of them going to a third tiebreaker match. The first round ended in a tiebreaker match against an alliance led by third seed 1893B. 254G’s alliance won by just 2 points in that match with a final score of 42-44. Next, they faced the alliance led by 1575D which also ended in a tiebreaker match. However, this one was way more intense. After what seemed like a crushing loss for our alliance, the score was revealed to show that the opposing alliance had suffered a disqualification. The final score of the match was 9-0, with 7232C, 2213D, and 254G advancing to the finals. Our alliance lost the first match by a score of 45-34 to 169E’s alliance, but we were able to rebound and win the next match by a score of 52-32. Finally, 254G and 2213D competed in the last match of the final round. Our opponents won autonomous and were able to defend the goal zone successfully. The final score of the match was 43-30, in favor of 169E’s alliance. 169E, 1460J, and 136M advanced to the Round Robin. Overall, this was a very successful year for 254G and we hope to experience similar success in the future.

During alliance selection, 254D was bumped up to the 6th seed. They declined an alliance with the 3rd seed team, 5139A, instead choosing to captain their own alliance with teams 2941D and 2880A. They went on to face the 3rd seed alliance in the quarterfinals. After losing by a huge margin of 82-4 in the first match as a result of tipping during the autonomous, 254D and its partners went on to beat the 3rd seed alliance, made up of 5139A, 800B, and 4194F, in two consecutive matches. In the semifinals, 254D competed against the 2nd seed alliance, captained by Team 26, along with 231A and 9090A. They defeated the opponents in the first two matches through a combination of a successful autonomous, strong defense, and by changing game strategy with their partners each match. Then, as the 6th seed alliance, 254D went up against their biggest challenge in facing the 1st seed alliance in the division finals. Team 1136A led the opposing alliance with teams 1961C and 6135B. Unfortunately, after playing in every single one of the previous elimination matches, 254D’s robot suffered motor and cortex difficulties in the finals. They lost the first match, won the second, and ultimately lost a tense final match. While this was a disappointing loss for 254D, they nevertheless performed extremely well against highly difficult odds, and they are proud of their accomplishments.

After Competition After a great season, the members of Team 254 enjoyed the traditional evening of fun at Dave & Buster’s. In surprising turn of luck, they collectively managed to score a series of jackpots, pooling their winnings to buy a cheap remote-controlled helicopter (unfortunately, D&B lacked quality yo-yos). After returning to the hotel, Team 254 had fun playing with their new toy. Overall, this year’s VEX World Championship was a memorable experience for Team 254.

The Tarun Yo-yo fund

2014 World Champions!

Overview

Team 254 just returned from the 2014 FRC World Championship held in St. Louis. The team went undefeated in the qualification rounds of the Curie Division and paired with teams 469, 2848, and 74 for elimination matches. After a hard fight through the elimination rounds, the team was crowned the champions of the 2014 FRC season after winning the Einstein finals.

Great Food!

The team had some awesome meals while in St. Louis. On Wednesday night the team had BBQ from Pappy's Smokehouse, on Thursday 254 ate with Team 1114: Simbotics, and on Friday and Saturday the team enjoyed local St. Louis eateries.

BBQ from Pappy's Smokehouse was a team favorite

Great Fun!

Team 1538: The Holy Cows pranked our pits on Friday morning with a ridiculous poster of Holy EJ.

EJ also greeted all of FIRST Friday morning.

On Friday morning Teams 254, 1538, and 16 played against Teams 111, 67, and 103 in a Hall of Fame match that the Weather Channel recorded to promote the FIRST Championship. Team 254's alliance won with a score of 616 to 441 in this 4 minute long match.

Curie Qualification Matches

On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday morning, 254 competed in the Curie division qualification matches (the other divisions being Archimedes, Galileo, and Newton) and held a match record of 10-0, seeding first among the 100 teams in the Curie division, 400 in the Championship, and about 3000 current FRC teams in the world.

The drive team consisted of Operator Christopher Sides, Driver Christian Jimenez, Human Player Brandon Wui (not pictured), and Coach Travis Covington.

Alliance Selection

After a night of intense strategy talks on Friday, 254 made its alliance selections on Saturday after the last qualification matches. For its first pick, 254 chose Team 469: Las Guerrillas from Michigan. The team was excited to get to work with such a strong, compatible, and versatile alliance partner, who could play hard defense and strong midfield during the tele-operated period. In addition, it successfully played the role of autonomous goalie, a rarity in the competition field. 254's alliance strategy talks the previous night had operated on the goal of creating an alliance for winning Einstein, the "Final Four" competition among the division champions, as opposed to winning just the division. As a result, teams were ranked and chosen by virtue of their versatility, since the winning Einstein alliance generally proved the most unpredictable. 254's second pick was Team 2848: The All-Sparks, from a fellow Jesuit school in Texas, for inbounding and defense on powerful opponent finishers. Finally, 254 chose its fourth and backup alliance member, Team 74: Team Chaos from Michigan, to be switched out with 2848 for defense and inbounding.

254 and the rest of the number one alliance after the Curie division alliance selections

Curie Elimination Matches

In the Curie division elimination matches, 254 faced stiff competition and was said to have had the most difficult elimination bracket. The alliance had a tough quarterfinal match against a surprisingly powerful offensive 8th alliance, comprised of Teams 624, 987, and 3476, who had already played a nearly unstoppable strategy together in Qualification Match 26, which saw a score of 320 - matching 254’s high score. 254's alliance won the quarterfinals in two matches and faced an even tougher semifinal round against a defensive alliance of Teams 118 (another NASA House Team), 359, and 4334, and lost a very close and hotly contested first match. 254 eked out victory in the next two matches and advanced to division finals. 254 won in two matches and became division champions for the first time since its 2011 World Championship victory. The team also won its first ever Innovation in Control Award for its creation and open sourcing of Cheesy Vision, the hot goal detection system used during autonomous by an estimated 50% of teams at the Championship.

254 used the 3 ball autonomous during Eliminations and had 469 use their goalie pole.

Einstein Eliminations and Finals

Having won the Curie division, the alliance went on to the Einstein field. The scouting and strategy team particularly feared the Newton division champions Team 1114: Simbotics (254's rival in blue banners, friends from the Waterloo regional, 2008 World Champions, and the 2012 Championship Chairman's winner), Team 1678: The Citrus Circuits (the finalist team from 254's home event, the Silicon Valley Regional and with back to back Einstein appearances), Team 1640: Sab-BOT-age (division champions from previous years), and Team 5136: The Mechapirates (one of our favorite rookie teams from the Central Valley Regional).

254 first faced the Archimedes Champions 1477, 2590, and 1625 in the Einstein semifinals and won in two exciting matches, scoring 320-235 and 261-245. The Curie alliance went on to face the formidable Newton alliance in the finals. Undaunted by the supposed "Curie Curse," the fact that the Curie Division winners have never won the World Championships, the Curie alliance won its first match 361-236, celebrating madly as 254's 3-ball hot goal autonomous scoring bypassed 1114's attempts to block it by driving a rarely seen autonomous path that drove 254 out to the wall to shoot over the low goal to prevent goalie interference. In the second autonomous match, 1114 pushed Barrage, and 254 hit only one of three autonomous balls. The match was lost from the outset and was scored 240-153 for the Newton alliance. The crowd immediately attributed this sudden unlucky loss to the Curie curse, and the various song-and-dance numbers thrown in by FIRST did little to raise the spirits of the shocked supporters of the Curie Champions. In an intense third and final match, 254's autonomous was successful thanks to 469’s foregoing the use of its goalie pole and instead blocking 1114's movement. Some observers compared the Einstein finals autonomous battle to that of two chess grandmasters. In teleoperated mode, the two alliances went back and forth, but the Curie alliance's incredible defense on the opposing finisher 1114 picked up momentum and resulted in a close 280-250 victory when 254 scored a last-second shot under heavy defense. The crowd exploded in cheers as 254 became World Champions for the second time in four years and simultaneously broke the Curie curse. Cheers included "Curse goes Poof" and the ever-popular "Yeah buddy!"

254 used the infamous 3 ball autonomous even against 1114's goalie pole

The Team's excitement after the final match

EJ's roar after winning was heard throughout the stadium

Travis' selfie with the team

The Team on the field after the awards ceremony

Thank you!

Team 254 would like to congratulate its alliance partners 469, 2848, and 74 for their invaluable contributions to the Championship victory and Teams 1114, 1678, and 1640 for the most intense matches that 254 had ever played. 254 also welcomes Team 27: RUSH into the Hall of Fame.

Pre-STL Day 4: Lighting Up

by Nathan Duong '16

Competition Preparation: Transportation Crate

The second layer of paint has been applied to the transportation crate and is now finished!

Painting on the last layer of paint

Field Construction: 1 Point Goals

Members of the team have continued to construct the two wooden 1-point goals to mirror the left side of the field.

The 1-points goals under construction

Pit Lights

The pit lights are being restored by soldering the wires after previously being burnt out. In addition, the HTML and CSS for the lights added “knightrider,” “rainbow,” and custom color effects.

Testing out custom colors on the pit lights

Burnt out light

Bumper Fabric

The new, extra layer of fabric is being applied to the bumper of the robot, therefore removing the drawback of being “T-boned.”

Taping on the new fabric

Wheel Hubs

The team continued to work on and improve the CAD of the future wheel hubs that will also expel drawback time from “T-boning” by increasing the width of the center wheel.

CAD for the wheel hubs

Web App

The web app is being worked on and members of the team sought to include FRC/VEX hours, the directory, and blog. Also, the logo for the app is being designed. Ideally this app will be available on iOS with open access to the students on their iPads and mobile devices.

Working on the web app’s display

Action Items

  • Bumper fabric testingRebuild bumper frames for competition
  • 1-Point Goals
  • See board

Pre-STL Day 3: Boxes and Boxing In

by Nathan Duong '16

Transportation

The 5’ x 5’ x 5’ wooden crate that will be used for tool transportation in the St. Louis trip is being worked on. The first of two coats of blue paint was applied to patch the blank patches in a lighter color.

Exterior view of the first coat

Splotches in the crate's interior

Scrimmaging

Scrimmaging is continually being conducted in preparation for worlds.

Teams 971, 846, and 192

Reducing Cycle Time

Testing Bumper Material

In addition, new bumper fabric is being added to lower the coefficient of friction and time “T-boned.”

New bumper fabric

Wheel Hubs

The team cut six solid metal 2’ x 4’s for wider wheel hubs. This will create more traction on Barrage’s wheels to lessen time “T-boned.”

2’ x 4’s for the new wheel hubs

Field Construction: 1 Point Goals

The team has been brainstorming to create two more wooden 1-point goals based on the measurements from the CAD. These are being constructed in order to have balanced coverage of goals on the left-most side of the field.

Action Items

Pre-STL Day 2: Robot Repairs

by: Brenden Farrer

Today at the lab, other FIRST teams, such as Spartan Robotics, came to practice with our field. The primary focus was on fixing the practice robot and Skystalker to continue driver practice with the other teams.

Skystalker

A “hat” was built for Skystalker that allows it to block and carry a ball. The wheels were retreaded, as the previous ones have worn down. Hopefully these new defense capabilities will provide more practice for the drive team.

Assembling the block and ball holder

Building and attaching treads

Attaching wheels

Finished Skystalker top

Practice Robot

Today students began discussion and planning of future projects. However, a second ball settler was attached to reduce the motion of inbounded or caught balls to increase accuracy when shooting. Adding a powerslide wheel was discussed, no changes were implemented today.

Attaching second ball settler

Prep for World's

For the trip to St. Louis, all of the tools will be shipped in a 5’ x 5’ x 5’ wooden crate. Using the measurements from the CAD designed yesterday, the wood pieces were cut and assembled.

Beginning of box assembly

Finished box

Action Items

  • See board

Pre-STL Day 1: Going Forward

by Dan Ngo '17

Tasks

Today, the team started with a discussion about our performance in SVR, between all of the mentors and members at the lab. During that, the team addressed most of the issues that the robot had during the tournament, which mainly consisted of getting stuck by T-boning from an opponent, which would cause too much friction escape, as well as improving and testing new autonomous, to cover new possibilities and better reliability. The other issues include general fixing, testing, and making of parts and possible ways to improve our alliances.

Programming

During the present team meeting, concerns were raised about possible robots blocking the goal autonomous, so it was decided that another autonomous would be made to suit this situation, shooting immediately instead of waiting for a hot goal. Before we could do this, however, Skystalker had to be fixed, with the router unable to connect to our computers.

Maintenance

Thus, Skystalker had to be fixed up and made taller to test the new autonomous that accounted for goal blocking. For practice, the practice Barrage was also updated and fixed, to catch it up with the competition Barrage at SVR. Then autonomous testing began.

The team additionally had to unpack and reorganize all the parts brought back from SVR, as well as general reorganization of the shelves.

With a large amount of untested batteries, the team also decided to test all of them in preparation for Worlds. This was done by hooking the batteries up to a computer, drawing current, and and calculating the condition of the battery once the current drops in value. Additionally, leads were added to new batteries.

Batteries

Public Relations

Returning from SVR, the team flyer had to be updated to be current with the SVR version of Barrage. The technical binder also had discrepancies and errors to be fixed.

Fixing the technical binder

Action Items

  • Continue autonomous testing
  • Continue upgrading Skystalker
  • Continue testing batteries
  • Build new bumpers
  • See picture and/or whiteboard

2014 Silicon Valley Regional

Drive Team in Eliminations

Team 254 rounded out its regional play this past weekend with its annual attendance at the Silicon Valley Regional FIRST Robotics Competition.

The team won 10 of its 11 matches in the qualification round, losing match 47 against the top-seeded team, 971, who had gone and continues to go undefeated in all of regional matches this year. At the end of qualifications 254 was seeded 3rd behind 971 Spartan Robotics and 1678 Citrus Circuits, with the highest accumulated score in Teleoperated Mode. 971 chose 254 as its first alliance partner and the two teams chose 1662, Raptor Force Engineering, as the third.

This alliance went undefeated in eliminations, setting the tournament high score of 325 in its second quarterfinal match and winning its quarterfinal matches by margins of 100 to 200 points. It semifinal and final rounds were closer and more exciting, narrowly edging out the finalists 1678, 368 Kika Mana, and 4171 Bay Bots by 40 points.

In the awards ceremony, 254 won the Gracious Professionalism Award for its extensive support of other teams in the tournament and model behavior, exemplifying the ideals of FIRST competition. Specifically, 254 sent Robot FIRST Aid teams around the pit area to discuss strategy with its alliance partners and provide assistance to teams who needed it.

This Silicon Valley Regional victory marks 254’s 15th in the 16 years of its and the regional’s existence. Congratulations to alliance partners 971 and 1662, finalists 1678, 368, and 4171, and Regional Chairman’s Winner 604, Leland Robotics.

254 is now ranked #1 in the world on FRC Top 25 for its three regional victories.

Looking ahead to STL

Pre-SVR Day 8

by Brendan Farrer '17

This lab day was mainly dedicated to preparing for the SVR tournament and finishing up the Chairman’s binder and Technical binder.

Pit Display

The final touches were made to the pit display, including fixing the remote light controls and adding a carousel effect for when it is inactive. While programmers edited the code, other members finished the content for the display, such as re-writing the technical page.

programming the pit display

Machining

To assist in collaborative gameplay, a polycarb backing was created to mount on the hood. This allows the human players from other teams to inbound more accurately.

Practicing

To continue driver and human player practice, the pinniped pistons were added back to the robot and the modifications were finished to the catching system. These modifications allow the robot to catch balls thrown by a human player without opening the intake. Several team members were also trained to be human partners for the robot.

Adding the pinniped pistons to the robot

Human player practice

Writing

Several team members contributed to the completion of the Tech Binder along with the Chairman’s Award Binder. Although the majority of the work was completed, they continue to format and edit the content.

Revising the Chairman’s binder and Tech binder

SVR Packing

With only two days until SVR, the necessary tools and materials for the competition were prepared to be packaged for travel. Mentors and students went through travel crates, re-labeling and organizing for the optimal set up.

Organizing the boxes

Robotics Engineering Day 2014

By: Chanan Walia

On March 30, 2014, Team 254 hosted their first robotics engineering day. Nearly sixty middle school teams signed up to attend.

To kick off the day, Godwin Vincent presented an introduction to robotics and how the engineering process is universal throughout every type of engineering. Chris Correa and Andrew Torrance discussed VEX and FRC and its relationship to engineering.

After the introduction, teams split up into groups, and a couple 254 members led each group. After meeting with their leaders and brainstorming their robot design, the students took a short break.

Team 254 then began to demonstrate Overkill, the 2013 robot for "Ultimate Ascent." The middle school students caught the Frisbees, and some were lucky enough to catch 254 T-shirts thrown by "Shockwave," the T-Shirt launching robot. Elias Wu demonstrated 254A/F's VEX Robot, made for the 2013-2014 Toss-Up challenge.

Students then returned to groups to finish brainstormingtheir VEX IQ robot designs and start building their robots. They spent two hours building their robots, and after a brief programming demonstration, theywere able to complete their IQ robots.

Finally, after their robots neared completion, students tested their robots on the fields and competed against each other. At the end of the day, parents were welcome to view their children’s creations. Overall,this was an awesome event and one we hope to host again in the future. Thank you to all the participants and volunteers!

Andrew talking about FRC at the beginning

Beginning to build prototypes

Godwin talking to parent about robotics

Eli demoing 254D VEX robot

Noah working with middle schoolers to build intake

Taking a break to catch some t-shirts from Shockwave

Scrimmage Time!

Pre-SVR Day 7

by Samuel Buxton '16

Scrimmage

Today was an eventful day at the lab. In preparation for the SVR (Silicon Valley Regional) our drivers trained against some of the best teams in the region, including 1868, 971, 192. and 776.

192: GRT

SVR Prep

Upstairs the team fixed “Barrage’s” intake, and a separate project using some colorful LEDs light up the pit.

Cheesy Poof

The “Minion Project” reached a milestone with the completion of a mini mascot costume, which was unveiled this weekend. The costume is based on the original “Cheesy Poof” costume from South Park.

Work continued for the pit display and drivers got the opportunity to sharpen their skills for the upcoming tournament.

Pre-SVR Day 4: Preparation

by Nathan Duong '16 and Josh Fluegemann '17

Pit Display

The programmers of the team worked on the pit display; they primarily sought to improve the quality of the display through cleaning up the HTML and CSS of the web application. Today, they added lightbox capabilities to the web box.

fixing up the web app

calibrating the touch screen

Pit Lights

In addition, notches were made in the pit lights tubing for soldering.

cleaning out plastic dust

Chairman's Binder

Research is being done for the chairman’s binder; members are compiling a list the alumni’s colleges.

Using Facebook to track down Alumni

Intake

The intake is being put back together after individual parts were sent back from Waterloo. To do so, the plate, motor, and intake roller were reconnected with the skeleton of the intake.

Action Items

  • Manufacture above parts and install on robot (all McMaster parts required have arrived) - Travis/ Colin
  • Finish shooter redesign (SDP and VEX parts are on order) - Paul
  • Prepare sponsor welcome packets for when sponsors come to SVR - Stephen
  • Work on pit-lights and finish assembly - Ken
  • Cut/install vinyl labels on hinged-lid totes (light blue, dark blue and black all need new vinyl) - Travis/Mani
  • Test LCD mounts - test installation on trussing - Travis/Ken
  • Finalize video banner - Ryan
  • Improve Pit Display and test with new monitors and projector - Ryan
  • Design projector mount for video banner - Travis
  • Finalize video banner mount - Travis
  • Fix/create hand sanitizer mount - Mani
  • Design/build new bumper hangers for truss - Travis/Mani
  • Improve technical binder - Andrew
  • Improve Chairman's binder - Jeremy/Andrew
  • Improve Chairman's video - Jeremy/ Kevin
  • Re-print all binders and sponsor packets with correct bleeds and page splits - Jeremy