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The Engineering Mind

86 posts

One of the highlights of build season for any team is Bag and Tag Day, when every team must lock up their robot, not to be touched again until competition. In the case of many of ADI's teams, they will get another 6 hours before each competition for more maintenance in order to have equal robot work time to those still in the Regional system.

 

We probably had one of the least hectic bag days I've ever seen on Team 2655. Everyone makes out bag and tag day to be this crazy rush to the finish, and for whatever reason it didn't feel as pressured as I expected. Maybe because last year we had to start over at Week 3. Most of the day was spent doing driver training and running practice matches. The students discovered at last Tuesday's meeting that apparently donuts and queso taste really good together (think of a cheese Danish, and you get sort of the same idea... Not that I would know from experience!) and insisted that we have the odd combo at bag day, so of course hilarity ensued as the rest of the team watched the programmers dunk donuts into a bowl of queso. So I suppose that's the funny story of the year this build season!

 

At 11:57PM, Team 2655 completed robot lockup, and with that another build season has come and gone. We're all sleepless and tired, but proud of what we have managed to accomplish. It is certainly one of the prettiest robots we've built. With the competition robot bagged, programmers will work with our second driving base to write auto routines and run driver practice.

 

As we move into competition season, I want to introduce you to the other teams that are sponsored in part by Analog Devices.

 

254 - Cheesy Poofs
Yes, this year we are adding a world champion team to the ranks. You can check out more about this top tier California team on their website: https://www.team254.com/

 

900 - Zebracorns

This Durham team is easy to spot at any North Carolina District event, just look for the zebra pants! Read more about the Zebracorns at their website here: http://team900.org/

 

1153 - Walpole RoboRebels

One of our many New England District teams, you can read more about Walpole here: http://www.walpolerobotics.org/

 

1577 - SteamPunk

We're also adding a team from Israel to the ADI ranks! SteamPunk was one of the first Israeli teams in the FRC program. You can read more about them here: http://www.steampunk1577.org/

 

1965 - Firebirds

You met this team last year, led by Colm Prendergast! The Firebirds have helped us put together many of the demo videos for ADI's sensor donations seen in this year's kit of parts and on FIRST Choice. Check out their website here: http://1965firebirds.org/home/

 

2342 - Team Phoenix

I had the chance to talk to Team Phoenix students at GTC last year, and boy do they have some fired-up students! Believe it or not, they have already competed this year at a Week 0 event this past weekend! Learn more about them here: http://content.team2342.org/

 

2655 - The Flying Platypi

You know this team! Check out the Flying Platypi website here: http://www.team2655.org/

 

3215 - Apollo

Our other ADI Greensboro team, more information about this North Carolina District team can be found on The Blue Alliance: https://www.thebluealliance.com/team/3215

 

4761 - Robockets

Robockets hails from Reading Memorial High School, host of the New England Reading District event! You can check out the Robockets team website here: http://www.robockets.org/

 

4909 - Bionics

Billerica Memorial High School is home to another ADI New England District team, Bionics. You can learn more about this team, started in 2013, at their website: http://www.team4909.org/

 

5422 - Stormgears

I got to talk to this team at length at the World Championship in St Louis last year. This team knows their outreach stuff! Check out their website here: http://www.stormgears.org/

 

5459 - Ipswich TIGERS

We met Ipswich in last year's blog series, and they are raring and ready to go this year! Check out their website: http://www.ipswich5459.com/

 

5735 - Control Freaks

You can check out this New England team on Twitter! https://twitter.com/ctrlfreaks5735

 

5962 - perSEVERE

I love this team. Both their students and their mentors have a lot of drive and passion to make the team succeed. And after all the difficulties they had last year (see the blog post I did about them last year) I'm thrilled to see what they come up with in their second year as an FRC team.

 

All in all, this is shaping up to be an exciting year for FIRST Robotics! We have teams both young and veteran in the ADI lineup this year, so stay tuned for competition season to begin next week!

 

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This blog post is part of a series about the 2017 FIRST Robotics Competition season, FIRST Steamworks. We'll have weekly updates during build season from ADI FRC Team 2665 Flying Platypi, and updates from many of our ADI teams performances during the competition season. Stay tuned until the end for coverage of BOTH Championships in Houston, TX and St. Louis, MO in April!

I wanted to wait at least a little bit to give our build team a chance to build the second robot before sharing more videos, because what's a post about robots without cool videos of robots?

 

Week 5 was spent getting vision tracking up and running so that the robot can align itself automatically during the autonomous period. Vision in tandem with ADI's iSensor solution for FIRST makes this an easy task once the code to identify the target is perfected. The vision target location in the camera's window of vision helps the robot determine how far off they are from center, and then they use the IMU to track the rotation command to align perfectly with the target. You can see the camera image on the laptop screen in the video. Each gear lift will have these targets made with retroreflective tape on every field. I'm proud of how far our programmers got on this, since vision was a tactic our team had never done before. Build team has also been working on modifications and improvements upon our original design for the shooter to improve accuracy.

 

 

Our awards students also submitted their entries for the Chairman's Award and their Woodie Flowers nomination and essay. Driver training is starting now, and we have just one week left. I've been working closely with the drive team to catch them up on strategy and what kind of game we want them to run. In particular, we discovered very quickly how much we had initially discounted defense in this year's game. Our robot is using a Mecanum drive system, which is unique in that it is very agile and maneuverable. However, because of the nature of how the system works, it's not the most resistant drive train to defense and being pushed around. We've been focusing on training evasive maneuvers and graceful driving skills over running reps of gear deliveries. Of course, training to evade defense is a little difficult when you don't have a defense robot to practice against, so let's just say yesterday I got my work out in by pushing last year's robot around. They are NOT lightweight by any means. They are 120lbs without a battery!

 

If you'd like to learn more about how Mecanum drive works, the video at the link below has a great summary of how it allows a robot to maneuver efficiently.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-j9TReI1aQ

 

 

The next several days until bag day will be spent continuing driver training and finalizing all tweaks on the robot. Bag day is next Tuesday! The kids keep saying they want donuts and queso on bag day. Because that's definitely not a thing that they tried and decided tasted good. And I MOST definitely wasn't the first one to try it. Nope, not me...

 

Who else is excited for reveal videos? I'm stoked! Bring on the robots!!!

 

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This blog post is part of a series about the 2017 FIRST Robotics Competition season, FIRST Steamworks. We'll have weekly updates during build season from ADI FRC Team 2665 Flying Platypi, and updates from many of our ADI teams performances during the competition season. Stay tuned until the end for coverage of BOTH Championships in Houston, TX and St. Louis, MO in April!

We have now reached a point where photos and videos are being controlled of this robot, but we are now driving around a complete system. It's probably the most beautiful robot this team has ever built in its history. Driver training will start soon, now that we have our drive team.

 

That's not to say our robot is DONE, however! Have you ever had a design work absolutely perfectly the first time around? We can do all the simulations we want, and there may always be some part of a system that needs some tweaking. The kids learn the real engineering process with this program, including the disappointment of having a system not work 100% as expected the first time. This year's problem child on the robot is the shooter and the hopper feeding system. But considering how much time we have to fix these issues, everyone is confident the bugs will get worked out.

 

Mechanical is starting work on the practice robot so that once the competition robot is bagged, drive team can continue to drill and practice. Scouting team is working hard to develop the tools that the team will use to make educated selections for alliance partners. They shared their work with some other members of the team and everyone was impressed. I have high confidence that the team will be able to make good use of the data analysis tools that my two students are developing. But above all, I'm proud of the hard work they've done over the last four weeks and the work they will continue to do over the next two and a half.

 

This is one of the best parts of being a mentor. You get to see these students grow, and you set them loose on a task and they come back with something amazing. I sat the scout leads in front of a few YouTube tutorials for Tableau, and they picked some of this stuff up faster than I did. I give them the power to make decisions on what data we do and don't collect and they take charge. And when you see how far some of these students have come, you see students that go from wallflowers to the drive team coach in a couple of seasons, it will make your eyes glisten. I actually cried tears of joy and pride the first time I saw our team win Chairman's.

 

Those are the moments that keep me moving forward when I have trouble pushing through the long build season. Sometimes there are nights we don't get home until 1AM, but I remember the impact that we can see this has on the students and you remember why we're here, why we do this. The gratitude we get is more than enough payment, and the pride you get when you see your students succeeding, the fulfillment you can see in their spirits, it makes the sleepless nights a little more worth it.

 

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This blog post is part of a series about the 2017 FIRST Robotics Competition season, FIRST Steamworks. We'll have weekly updates during build season from ADI FRC Team 2665 Flying Platypi, and updates from many of our ADI teams performances during the competition season. Stay tuned until the end for coverage of BOTH Championships in Houston, TX and St. Louis, MO in April!

What a concept!  How effective are you, when asking for help? Do you get what you want, when you ask for it? Or, are you often frustrated with how hard you need to work, in order to get valuable answers to your technical questions? I know exactly how that feels, as I have worked through quite a few difficult cases of acquiring technical insights, which were essential to meeting commitments that I had made. Fortunately, reflection on these stressful exchanges revealed an opportunity for improving my experience in a very surprising place: myself

 

What!?! It can’t be me!

No way!!!  The other person doesn't seem to want to help me!”  “ I am perfect (and humble, just ask me….LOL)!”  Perhaps nobody else has done this, but at times in my career, I have been unwilling (or too slow) to consider the influence that my approach (and behaviors) has on these important discussions.  As a result, many of these discussions took longer than necessary, they consumed more resources than were necessary and they created residual strain on important relationships. 

 

A better way   

Through careful evaluation of my experience and by observing people that I respect, I learned that I have a lot more influence over this process than I would have ever imagined.  Even better, I learned that the changes that I needed to make were fairly simple and actually helped me in other parts of my work.  Even better still, I found that these small changes produced very significant improvements in the outcomes of each engagement.  Answers came quicker, they took less effort and these important relationships were actually strengthened through the process.  There is nothing like developing trust, credibility and mutual respect…with people that you admire and respect!

 

So, what was it?

In essence, I learned that the quality of support that I receive from someone else is often going to depend on the quality of effort that I invest in helping myself, before I ask for that help!   Within that context, the “investment” refers to doing whatever is necessary to help the other person understand your problem, your desired outcome and all relevant circumstances surrounding your current situation. 

 

Before asking others, I ask myself.... 

  • What I am trying to accomplish?
  • How am I approaching this goal?
  • Why am I approaching it this way?
  • What do I expect to be observing?
  • Why do I expect this?
  • What am I currently observing?
  • If I was being asked to help with this, what information would I want to have access to?

 

My Personal Challenge

Fortunately, I work for someone that I respect, so I like ask myself the following question, as I prepare to ask for help:

“If my boss was on the other side of the world and could only use my initial request to understand my problem, what information would I include in that request?”

 

Some cool quotes

  • A poorly defined problem has no solution
  • A well-defined problem is nearly solved
  • Many fail to prepare, so in essence, they are preparing to fail!

 

How well do I do at this?  Not as good as I can, but most certainly better than I used to be! My encouragement to you is that when you spend time time thinking about the other person in a conversation, you are preparing for a successful dialog...you are Asking for Helping Yourself

Week 3 is over, and I have to say our team is feeling the crunch. With the robot still not 100% complete (fitting everything in this small volume is tough!) the mechanical and CAD team is feeling the heat. But with hopes high that we will have a done robot at Week 4, our team has started the process of selecting members of the drive team.

 

This year our team has a strategy/rules/scouting team for the first time, which has actually allowed us to devote a significant amount of time towards developing a strategy and getting a good idea of the kinds of robots we expect to see at competition. This also means we have students that likely know the rules better than anyone else on the team, and can effectively evaluate who is best suited to drive the robot or be the pilot on the airship. With quizzes and tryouts out of the way, our little group of 3 is evaluating everyone that tried out and our drive team is shaping up to be pretty solid. Check out this clip from driver tryouts! Driving the mechanum drive base from our 2015 robot (our temporary practice robot until this year's full robot is done) is Sheldon, and making a return from last year is Sir Lance-A-Bot, driven by team alumni David as a defense robot.

 

 

As competition season draws closer, people are beginning to pull together costumes for the event. I can't do much as a referee, but I do have some 3D printed goggles in the works. I still need a few finishing touches, but these are looking good so far!

 

I don't have a student interview for you this week, but I thought I would focus instead on robot photos and make this one quick. Next week we should have some impressive videos of a functioning robot.

 

 

Frame hinge system allows for easy service of robot's internal components

 

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This blog post is part of a series about the 2017 FIRST Robotics Competition season, FIRST Steamworks. We'll have weekly updates during build season from ADI FRC Team 2665 Flying Platypi, and updates from many of our ADI teams performances during the competition season. Stay tuned until the end for coverage of BOTH Championships in Houston, TX and St. Louis, MO in April!

Kristen Chong

Build Season - Week 2

Posted by Kristen Chong Employee Jan 24, 2017

Another Saturday, another week gone in the 6 week build season. Week 2 has yielded a driving base and much of the top of the robot for the Flying Platypi. The climbing mechanism was also tested this week and our programmers made great headway on robot code.

 

The scouting team has been working on learning how to use some industry data analysis tools in order to find trends in other robot performance and strategy. One of our students on the programming team came up with an app to be used by students in the stands to record data on teams as they compete in their matches. We want to find out what they can and can't do, and what they can do well. This is a critical task at many levels of the competition, since good solid scouting data will translate to smart alliance picks should we wind up being an alliance captain in the elimination round. Good alliance picks and solid data can make or break an alliance, especially in a state like North Carolina where the robot capability is typically very closely matched and difficult to accurately distinguish the strongest teams from the weaker ones. The team did a lot of work on creating sample visualizations of data that we will later use once we begin collecting data during the Week 0 event live stream to test our solution. You can check out some of the visualizations our students created this weekend here: https://public.tableau.com/profile/frc.team.2655#!/

 

I also took an opportunity to talk to Susan Miller, whom is the head of our Awards and Marketing team.

 

KC: How did you get involved with FIRST?

SM: I got involved with FIRST when one of my mom's friends told me about the Flying Platypi. I decided to go to one meeting just to see what the program was all about. After that first6 meeting I was hooked, and I've been part of the team ever since!

 

KC: What is your favorite part about being a FIRST Student?

SM: I think that my favorite part about robots is learning something new every day and getting to meet new people. During build season and throughout the year I have the opportunity to learn new things about the robot, STEM, and FIRST. I also get to meet lots of new people. Whether it is a professional engineer, a student from another FRC team, or a little kid asking questions about our robot, I absolutely love talking to everyone and hearing about their experiences with STEM an sharing what I do on Team 2655.

 

KC: What is awards aiming to get done next week?

SM: We are shooting to have a finished Chairman's essay and finishing the questions for it. We also have plans to begin working on our Chairman's video. We are nearing completion of our outreach notebook, which showcases all of the community work our team has done. We will also start working on our Engineering Inspiration notebook now that we've completed gathering information and pictures from the many demos we have done this year.

 

KC: Where is the team at this week?

SM: We have a lot of progress done this week. Programming finished creating the dashboard for drivers to use to monitor key features of the robot during the match. They've implemented teleop driving code as well. Scouting team is working hard on a cool new scouting app and has committed countless hours researching rising strategies for this year's game to help keep us on track for what is important and what is not in case strategies begin to shift. The awards team has been focused on our Chairman's essay and Outreach Notebook.

 

Where is your team at? Are you excited for competition? Have a burning question you want me to ask a student next week? Join the conversation in the comments below!

 

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This blog post is part of a series about the 2017 FIRST Robotics Competition season, FIRST Steamworks. We'll have weekly updates during build season from ADI FRC Team 2665 Flying Platypi, and updates from many of our ADI teams performances during the competition season. Stay tuned until the end for coverage of BOTH Championships in Houston, TX and St. Louis, MO in April!

In the 1993 film, Jurassic Park, fictional technology helped recreate long-extinct dinosaurs. It gave us a thrilling sense of what these animals looked and acted like. What if real-life technology could be used in a similar way to recreate what a dinosaur might have sounded like millions of years ago?

 

(Please log in to listen) Turn your sound on & click play, to hear the dinosaur sound effects.

Not a member? You may listen to the attached files below.

 

The Parasaurolophus was a kind of hadrosaurid dinosaur native to North American during the Late Cretaceous period. Likely they traveled in herds for protection from predators, walking as easily on two legs as on four. Yet what’s most distinctive about a Parasaurolophus is its large hollow head crest. Of all the uses these wonderful creatures might have had for their crests, one of particular interest to sound engineers is their possible function as resonating chambers for vocalization. Imagine the racket a Parasaurolophus herd could make! But we can do more than just imagine it. Paleontologists at Sandia National Laboratory have simulated the sound, starting with a CAT scan of a fossil crest – see

http://www.sandia.gov/media/dinosaur.htm

 

Unlike the dinosaur cloning in Jurassic Park, recreating the sound of this crested reptile is one experiment that doesn’t need the usual warning of, don’t try this at home! Though ADI’s SigmaDSP chips are primarily for audio post-processing, there’s nothing to keep us from creating sounds with them. GUI programming via SigmaStudio, offering many analog-style processing blocks, makes this incredibly easy. Let’s start by placing feedback around a delay to make an oscillator:

 

Analog versions of circuits like this start up by themselves, except when they don’t. But with the mathematical-quiet of DSP, there’s nothing to get this oscillation going – so we need to provide a noise source. We can also add a compressor and/or a cubic clipper to help regulate the oscillation’s ultimate level:

 

Here, a white noise source starts up the oscillation – and perhaps unsurprisingly, this thing sounds much like blowing air across the mouth of a beer bottle. Not a very convincing animal sound, so we need to do better.

 

The head of our Parasaurolophus measures about five feet including the crest. It’s conceivable that a sound wave could make a ten-foot round trip inside this path— a delay of just over 10 mS. There could also be competing reflections around curves, so I included two more resonant tanks of shorter delay. Finally, we simply don’t know what vocalization the animal might make – so I assumed a trumpet-like series of harmonics to power the resonant chambers. The resulting schematic appears below:

 

What does it sound like? With this project running on a ADAU1452MINIZ eval board, playing with the Honk switch produced sounds we can capture with the Audacity sound recorder:

 

 

To hear the results, click on the Parasaurolophus image at the top of this post. There are two versions. The second one was made with different parameters and added “outdoor” ambient sound. Close your eyes and listen—and feel like you’ve traveled back 65 million years.

 

Even if creating an actual dinosaur remains science fiction, it’s easy and fun to produce “analog” dinosaur sound effects with SigmaStudio – making very old sounds with very new technology!

Getting the code.

It's already installed! The code was shipped with all FRC LabVIEW installations, so you should be ready to start using the software immediately. 

 

Using the code.

You can find the software libraries in the WPI Library>Sensors>Gyro pallet.

 

 

Integrating our ADI gyro into your project is as easy as initializing it in Begin.vi, accessing the data in Teleop.vi, and properly closing communication with the sensor in Finish.vi. 

Note that when initializing the sensor, be sure to set the "SPI On-Board, CS#" according to what the jumper on the sensor board is set to. See below for examples:

 

Close-Up of the Gyro Board. Default: CS0

 

Begin.vi

 

Teleop.vi

 

Finish.vi

 

Example and Additional Resources

The sensor schematic, layout, and additional design documents are also available in the links below. An example 2017 Mecanum project has also been attached to this post. Check it out and let us know if you have any questions!

 

-Juan

Getting the code.

First things first. In order to get the code, head over to GitHub (link) and clone/download the code. Be sure to check back often to download code updates! 

Installing the code.

Once your code is downloaded, extract the files if necessary and navigate to:

ADIS16448-RoboRIO-Driver/LabVIEW/

 

Copy the "ADIS16448 IMU" folder to:

C:\Program Files (x86)\National Instruments\LabVIEW 2016\vi.lib\Rock Robotics\WPI\ThirdParty\Sensors\

 

If LabVIEW is open, restart it to make the changes take effect. If the installation was performed correctly, you should be able to access the libraries like you would any other pallet. The code will be located in:

 

 

Integrating the IMU code should be as easy as setting up any other library! 

 

 

An example 2017 Mecanum project has been attached to this post. Let us know if you have any questions!

 

-Juan

Kristen Chong

Build Season - Week 1

Posted by Kristen Chong Employee Jan 16, 2017

Week 1 of build season has come to a close and 2655 has been hard at work prototyping and strategizing. The first few days of week 1 are usually the craziest of the season, with the exception of the final days of build. It's one of the most exciting times of build season as the community begins dreaming up strategies and finding ways to break the game.

 

 

As a mentor I primarily help out with strategy and scouting development for the team. We come up with the requirements that our scouting app will need this year and what kinds of metrics we want to track on other teams to make the best decisions we can on how to play a match. We are only two students and a mentor, but I've seen events where scouting was the game changer for match outcome. Our two scout/strategy students focus on learning the rules forwards and backwards including penalties for each illegal action, finding intricacies of the rules that affect gameplay and alliance selection, and of course we monitor Chief Delphi (a popular forum where many students across the program and across the world discuss strategy and seek technical help from other teams). We led the discussion for build priority and plan to focus this week on getting to know the data analysis tool we will be using to dive into the data we collect at competition. (I LOVE statistics! I can't wait to show the kids just how powerful data visualizations can be!)

 

 

I sat down with the team president and Mechanical Department Lead, Seth Brannan, to talk about his experience on the team and how he thinks we're doing so far. Seth is a senior on the team this year.

 

KC: How did you first get involved on the team?

SB: I was introduced to the team and FIST robotics by Ron Lamey, the owner of Blue Ridge Tool, He brought me to the team in 2011 and I have been here ever since.

 

KC: What has the team accomplished this week?

SB: Our team has made incredible leaps in the design process, and by the end of Saturday we had almost all of our major systems drawn in CAD. Our mechanical team has assembled the frame of our robot and is working on prototypes for the other systems we need this year.

 

KC: How do you feel about the progress this week?

SB: I think we are on track to have a finished robot by the end of week 5. We definitely have time to focus on some of the smaller details of the robot this year.

 

KC: What is your favorite part about being on the team?

SB: I love working out different problems and questions that come up when building a robot. The problem solving skills I have gained from the team have made a huge difference in my life already.

 

KC: What is Mechanical aiming to have completed by the end of week 2?

SB: We should have two driving bases assembled and ready for the programmers to start coding with. We also hope to start working on building the major systems for this year's game.

 

KC: What challenge did the team overcome this week?

SB: I think a big challenge our team tackled from a mechanical/design standpoint was creating a concept design that would fit all of our components within the allotted space.

<As a background to this answer, this year robots are confined to one of two volumes they can occupy, so all components and mechanisms must fit inside the volume, both when stored and when in use. It's a rule FRC hasn't seen in a long time.>

 

Outside of the normal build season activities, a few of the students also volunteered at the FIRST Lego League North Carolina State Championship this past weekend as referees. We also showed off last year's robot at the awards ceremony! Stay tuned next week!

 

 

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This blog post is part of a series about the 2017 FIRST Robotics Competition season, FIRST Steamworks. We'll have weekly updates during build season from ADI FRC Team 2665 Flying Platypi, and updates from many of our ADI teams performances during the competition season. Stay tuned until the end for coverage of BOTH Championships in Houston, TX and St. Louis, MO in April!

Kristen Chong

Kickoff Day 2017

Posted by Kristen Chong Employee Jan 7, 2017

Well, this is not exactly how I'd expected to start kickoff day, but I suppose it makes up for the lack of a White Christmas. 

 

Snow. Everywhere.

 

That's right, Merry FIRSTmas everyone, it's Kickoff Day once again and we are ready.

 

Today we were "blessed" (read: cursed) with 7 inches of snow, canceling all kickoff events across the state. We were all forced to watch the reveal video from our homes at 10:30AM this morning. The stream wrapped up by 11:30 and let me tell you, I've never seen a game quite like this! Check out the game animation below! Or, if you prefer, see the game information page here.

 

 

For the first time EVER, there are human players on the field during the match. Yes you heard me. PEOPLE! ON! THE! FIELD!!!!!! The field is every bit as intricate and beautiful as Stronghold last year and I couldn't be more excited. Now with one season under my belt and a game where strategy and knowing your competition is key, I'm ready to go!

 

Right after the stream ended, our entire team jumped on a conference call to discuss strategy for the robot and our build priorities. Given there was no virtual whiteboard for us to use, sometimes this got difficult, but after the call concluded I'm quite proud of the direction we're going. This year, I'm heading up our strategy and scouting development team, so we will be working on an app to record scouting information during matches so that we can take stock of what our competition is capable of. This information is crucial, especially this year, as once we reach eliminations we need to know what robots are too similar to us and which mesh well and round out our alliance. We're also keeping a close eye on resources like updates to the rules and the Robot In 3 Days builds going on, which inevitably shape many teams robots and strategies.

 

A lot of our fellow mentors also met up and cleaned up our build space after the snow melted today, and we purged a lot of junk that was still sitting around. Next team meeting is Monday, weather permitting. It's going to be a good build season!

 

Once again, ADI has made available several contributions to the Kit of Parts and options on AndyMark for robot guidance and debugging. You can check out all of our offerings and find more information for each on analog.com/first, but here's a sneak peek of some of them:

 

FRC GYRO BOARD

This is the board that was in the kit last year minus the accelerometer. These are available on FIRST Choice now and will be on AndyMark soon. Code is also available for teams in the official FIRST libraries to get started quickly. This will give robots an ability to maintain heading throughout the match.

 

iSENSOR BOARD

Again, same sensor as last year, and are available only through FIRST Choice. These will give you more accuracy than the raw gyroscope, so they are a great way to give your robot guidance system a leg-up during autonomous operation. Code for these is available on github here.

 

 

Last year we introduced you to many of our ADI sponsored teams during each week of build season. This year, we'll follow my team, 2655 Flying Platypi, through the season with weekly build season updates. I'll show you what build season is like through the eyes of the students and the mentors. Stay tuned for competition season updates from many of our ADI sponsored teams as they compete and take flight!

 

Until next Saturday, happy building!

 

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This blog post is part of a series about the 2017 FIRST Robotics Competition season, FIRST Steamworks. We'll have weekly updates during build season from ADI FRC Team 2665 Flying Platypi, and updates from many of our ADI teams performances during the competition season. Stay tuned until the end for coverage of BOTH Championships in Houston, TX and St. Louis, MO in April!

The holidays bring family and friends together to enjoy delicious treats, festive decorations and perhaps a gift or two. Sometimes, however, the holidays can also bring frustration. When we are running at a frantic pace to deck our halls things don't always go as smoothly as planned. I asked ADI employees, how would you engineer your holiday? Please enjoy this compilation of holiday conundrums, potential solutions and one special memory. 

 

Tiago Amaral, Product Development Engineer, MA

It is one of my favorite times of year, not because of the gifts or the tree, I am horrible at that! But because the only thing I have in mind is to enjoy this time with family and friends. All my Christmas holidays have been surrounded by family and friends, amounting to a good number of them. And of course when we are all together, there's always that one person that brings up a conversation topic that's been politely avoided all night long. For that reason, I wish there was a smart system that would accept a list of banned conversation topics from each person at the beginning of the night. The system would continuously listen to the conversations and alert everyone (possibly with a bright red light on top of the tree?) when an undesired topic was started to avoid wasting time on controversial topics. But then again, it would make this time of year less interesting and funny if we took the drama out of it. 

Happy Holidays! For those who don't celebrate Christmas. 
Happy Christmas! For those who do celebrate with me. 

 

Lisa Allison, Enterprise Community Manager EngineerZone, MA

I am not an engineer but I am a genius with a glue gun. Each year I create at least one decoration, more like ten, that requires some creativity and hot glue. More often than not, I embark on these projects in the last minute while trying to finish a myriad of holiday related tasks. Generally it goes something like this: Plug in glue gun, wander off to another project, come back, "is it hot?" hmmm... no glue coming out. "Is it working?" touch the point of the gun and Ouch! 

 

What I need is a temp sensor that will attach to my glue gun. I want the sensor to tell me when the glue gun is hot. Sounds pretty straight forward, right? Well...I do not just want a light but perhaps a holiday song that plays loudly so I can hear it from another room. The holidays mean multi-tasking and I can use those precious minutes to be wrapping gifts, checking tasty treats in the oven or helping an EngineerZone user from another part of the globe. I hope that Santa and his engineers can combine an Analog Devices temperature sensor with a mini speaker and a holiday play list to make my holidays a bit easier.

 

Mark Cee, Product Applications Engineer, Philippines

Every first week of December when I was I kid, me and my friends starts collecting tin cans and bottle caps as many as we could. We will be recycling this garbage to become musical instruments for our Christmas caroling. The bottle caps will be flattened and pierced in the middle to have a hole using a nail and a hammer. Then a wire will go through the hole to group the bottle caps together. The result? A tambourine. And for the tin can, the opening will be covered with rubber balloons tied with rubber bands on the side. The result? A drum.

 

 

Using these engineered instruments and our little voices, we roamed around the neighborhood to sing lively and joyous Christmas carols in every house on our way. Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas!

 

Kristen Chong, Aerospace Product Test Dev Engineer, NC

As a kid I never did buy or pick out presents for every one, I made them. I suppose most kids made their Christmas presents but even after I was getting allowances I still preferred to make something. I had one of those Shrinkydink ovens so I would always draw some cute thing and make a necklace or a key chain out of the resulting teeny drawing. Now my husband and I have a 3D printer, so perhaps I might have to go back to making things just to have an excuse to print something. I could stare at that thing for hours, just like it was so fascinating to watch the Shrinkydink oven shrink my weird glossy plastic drawings.


Now as an adult I really just want a robot that can wrap presents for me while I'm at work - wrapping presents is much more difficult with a playful cat that definitely still thinks he's a panther stalking his prey. Then again our cat would probably just attack the robot or the wrapping paper anyway, given he loves eating paper and cardboard so much! 

 

Amanda Tucker, Global Social Media Manager, MA

I hung the Christmas lights this weekend! I waited until the unseasonably warm weather wrapped up, and it was good and cold outside before I located the bin of stringed lights in the attic and dragged it out to decorate our front porch. As usual, when I popped the lid on the overstuffed bin, I wondered why the lights were in a jumble rather than neatly sorted into individual rolls. Surely I didn’t store them in a tangled ball? Must have been Frankie, the Elf on the Shelf, my holiday nemesis.

 

I sorted the strings, laid them out on the floor, and readied to test them inside before braving the cold. As usual, the lights taunted me. Half on, half off. Working, then blinking out. Every other light lit…REALLY, how is that even possible? As I struggled to find the one light bulb out of hundreds that when replaced would magically restore the full strand, I wondered who in holy heck engineered these lights so that one little burned-out bulb could cause such havoc. There has to be a better way to light up our porch with holiday cheer. Can my engineer friends work on this please, because there isn’t enough eggnog to get me through this task another year?

 

Well Amanda it looks like our Director of Applications just might have a solution for you.

 

David Kress, Director of Applications, MA

Putting up and taking down holiday lights around the outside of the house is a major hassle every year.   You have to put them up in the cold and maybe snow, and then get them down by Easter. 

 

My Idea: 

Put small fluorescent reflectors around the gutters and door/window frames in September -- this could even be done permanently. Then build a laser driver that sequences between all the spots to light them up. ADI has a variety of laser drivers and also motor drivers, along with microcontrollers that could make this happen. You could even use multiple lasers with different colors. Fluorescence materials can be made with some degree of persistence so that the individual spots would glow in between illumination by the lasers and appear to on continuously. Or you could use non-persistent ones to get a flashing effect. Then all you need to do the day after Thanksgiving is put out the laser box and turn it on. As an added bonus, you could use red/white/blue lasers on the 4th of July and orange ones for Halloween.  

 

Julie Barbeau, Senior Product Development Engineer, MA

The compulsion to fix what’s broken is strong in engineers. So, when I think about how I would engineer my holiday, I think about reducing hassles. Putting up the tree is a big one for me. I’ve gone so far as to reduce the size and therefore the complexity, but the little “Charlie Brown Tree” we now have in my house is met with disdain every year. My family longs for the “real tree” to take its rightful place, center stage in our living room.

 

Before that happens again, the beautiful balsam fir has to be fixed.  And by that I mean, the needles need to be fixed to the branches. Try as you might, even with watering and vacuuming daily, you still find needles in strange places in July. Granted, the smell is nice, but who wants them stuck to your socks?  Hence, my solution is an artificial tree and a pine scented candle.

 

Then there is the decorating of the tree.  As my children grew, so did there reach; and so did their ability to cover every branch with some memento, rich with Christmas lore. Though the problem never was the decorating. That is the fun part.  Put on a little music. Add the ritual of opening the boxes from the attic and everyone has a great time. It’s taking them down and packing all that Christmas lore away for another year. Inevitably, one of our ornaments manages to escape notice and makes it out the door clinging to an interior limb of the balding balsam.

 

So this year, we will have another year with the Charlie Brown tree.  It really does work for my family. We can have it up and decorated in an hour which leaves us extra time for wrapping, but that’s another story.

 

Patrick Lee-McCarthy, Social Media Specialist, MA

As far back as I can remember, my family had cats. At any one time, no fewer than three and as many as five felines were living out one or more of their lives in my childhood home. Having cats around Christmastime is great because you get to decorate your tree again and again throughout the weeks leading up to the big day. Many a Christmas Eve my little brother and I were awoken by a crash in the wee hours. We'd spring from our beds to see what was the matter, only to discover not a miniature sleigh with eight tiny reindeer, but a cat licking her wounds after surfing the balsam wave, toppling our Christmas tree from its upright and locked position.

 

In adulthood, I married a dog person and the tree-take-down tradition went away (though it threatens to return since the arrival of our twin sons 17 months ago).

The "new normal' in my house at Christmastime.

 

It turns out, however, that man's best friend has his own Christmas quirks. In particular, our dogs enjoy drinking water out of the Christmas tree stand. Now, I prefer a pet with pine-scented breath to one that goes all X-Games in the tree at 3 a.m. Nonetheless, it's a nuisance to fill the Christmas tree stand with water only to find an hour later the stand empty and the dogs panting with their legs crossed like they're 50 miles from the next rest stop.

 

So what do? Do I need a self-watering Christmas tree stand? How about a clever device that in proximity to a canine emits a sonic deterrent (preferably one that won't interfere with my "A Johnny Mathis Christmas" record) or an olfactory one that the dogs don't like but to me smells like gingerbread. Help me manage my canine Christmas conundrum, engineers.

 

We hope you have enjoyed our holiday musings. Do you have a different solution to one of our festive quandaries or one of your own? Please tell us how you would engineer your holiday in the comments. 

 

Happy Holidays from our family to yours! 

 

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Analog Devices has designed a sensor board to help make navigating competition fields much easier. The FRC Inertial Sensor board features a single-axis gyroscope sensor (ADXRS450). It plugs directly into the RoboRIO SPI port for easy installation and use. This board is available as part of the FRC Kit-of-Parts.

 

 

WHAT IS IT?

The ADXRS450 Gyro board is a complete ±300°/sec z-axis angular rate sensor (gyroscope) mounted on a simple circuit board designed to plug into the RoboRIO SPI port. 

The ADXRS450 is intended for industrial, medical, instrumentation, stabilization, and other high performance applications. The advanced sensor design rejects the influence of linear acceleration, enabling the ADXRS450 to operate in exceedingly harsh environments

 

WHAT DOES IT DO?

The module senses angular rate (acceleration) up to 300 deg/sec around the Z-axis.  With this data, it can help improve autonomous performance and provide advantages in tele-operated control.  

 

HOW DO I USE IT?

The module gets inserted into the SPI port of the RoboRIO, and it can be programmed from there. Installation and application videos along with sample code can be found online at: http://www.analog.com/first

 

FRC Sensor board in roboRIO SPI Port.

More Information:

 

Product Specifications:

In Kickoff Kit?

Yes

Weight

 

Size

Input Voltage

3.3 V

Interface Port

RoboRIO SPI

Numer of Axes (Gyroscope)

1

Maximum Rotation Rate (Gyroscope)

300 deg/sec

 

More information and code examples will be included as the build season progresses.

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Analog Devices has designed a sensor board to help make navigating competition fields much easier. The FRC GYRO & ACCEL board features a single-axis gyroscope sensor (ADXRS450). It plugs directly into the RoboRIO SPI port for easy installation and use. This board is available as part of the FRC Kit-of-Parts.

 

 

WHAT IS IT?

The ADXRS450 Gyro board is a complete ±300°/sec z-axis angular rate sensor (gyroscope) mounted on a simple circuit board designed to plug into the RoboRIO SPI port. 

The ADXRS450 is intended for industrial, medical, instrumentation, stabilization, and other high performance applications. The advanced sensor design rejects the influence of linear acceleration, enabling the ADXRS450 to operate in exceedingly harsh environments

 

WHAT DOES IT DO?

The module senses angular rate (acceleration) up to 300 deg/sec around the Z-axis.  With this data, it can help improve autonomous performance and provide advantages in tele-operated control.  

 

HOW DO I USE IT?

The module gets inserted into the SPI port of the RoboRIO, and it can be programmed from there. Installation and application videos along with sample code can be found online at: http://www.analog.com/first

 

FRC Sensor board in roboRIO SPI Port.

More Information:

  • Video Tutorials
  • LabVIEW Example. A working example project is included in the LabVIEW installation examples. These can be found in the LabVIEW 2016 installation directory in the examples\FRC\roboRIO\SPI\XRS450 SPI Gyro directory.
  • C++ Class Description. The C++ Drivers are included in the FRC2017 C++ Libraries. These can be found here.
  • Java Class Description. The drivers are included in the FRC2017 WPILib Java libraries. These can be found here.
  • ADXRS450 Datasheet

 

Product Specifications:

In Kickoff Kit?

Yes

Weight

 

Size

Input Voltage

3.3 V

Interface Port

RoboRIO SPI

Numer of Axes (Gyroscope)

1

Maximum Rotation Rate (Gyroscope)

300 deg/sec

 

More information and code examples will be included as the build season progresses.

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Analog Devices has donated the "M1K" kit to FRC Teams to assist in debugging Electronics Hardware and Software problems.

 

WHAT IS IT?

The ADALM1000 Active Learning Module (“M1K” for short) is an easy to use tool available from Analog Devices Inc. that can be used to introduce fundamentals of electrical engineering in a self or instructor lead setting.

M1K

WHAT DOES IT DO?

The ADALM1000 enables the user to transform any laptop into a two channel oscilloscope:

  • Two channels signal generation—voltage or current output
  • Two channels signal measurement
  • Two fixed power supplies
  • Four digital signals
  • USB power/communications

 

M1K Specs

HOW DO I USE IT?

Work on code without needing to complete your mechanical system by using the ADI M1K to test your RoboRIO outputs before attaching hardware. Test out a control loop by using the M1K as a data acquisition system, or use it to generate a signal and see if your RoboRIO is producing the correct electrical result.

For more information, check out: https://www.analog.com/first

 

MORE INFORMATION:

From the analog.com/first website, scroll down to “M1K Included in the Kit of Parts” to find helpful demo videos.  You can also go to  the Active Learning Module  wiki page, this includes links for the software, datasheet, and tutorials. More information about how to use the "M1K" to help diagnose robot software and electronics problems will be updated here as the build season progresses.