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Building robots is cool and all, but there's much more to FIRST Robotics than just robots. FIRST is all about spreading a passion for STEM and inspiring others to challenge themselves and their peers to see just how far their full potential can go. Last week we focused on Hall of Fame Team 254, the Cheesy Poofs, but what does it take to reach the FIRST Hall of Fame? This week we'll look at one such team that has taken a step towards joining the Hall of Fame, Team 900 the Zebracorns.


To join the list of prestigious teams across the world, a team has to win the Chairman's Award at the World Championship. But to win at the Championship level, you first have to win at either the Regional or District Championship level. But to win at the District Championship level, you first must win at a District event. It's a long road to the top, and the Chairman's award takes into account a team's performance and progress towards spreading and embodying the mission of first across many years, not just a single build season. This is new territory for the Zebracorns, whom have never submitted for the award until this year. And to be honest, I'm not quite sure why they've never tried before.


Most people see Chairman's as helping the greater community and inspiring young minds, spreading the reach of FIRST. But the Zebracorns take a new approach that I've never seen in my time with FRC. If you take a look on Chief Delphi, you will likely see Marshall or any of their enthusiastic students of Team 900 trying to help the FRC community better understand game-changing technologies, from vision processing to programming and beyond. They intend to increase the level of play across the global FIRST community and give even rookie teams the access to higher level performance that has never existed. Team 900 has published countless white papers on Chief Delphi with thousands of downloads, answered numerous questions, and provided technical support to teams across the world. I watched Megan coach a rookie team from their area through the complexities of rope construction within the scope of the game rules while they were preparing to get their new rope inspected. Their students are filled with this fire and this passion for supporting the teams around them that I hadn't noticed in previous years. Maybe it was because I was too busy laughing at the carpet burns and the broken defense pins last year. But something about this team and their fire is contagious.


In addition to bringing home the District Chairman's award, 900 also became the first NC team to reach the 40kPa mark, making them a valuable addition to any pair of powerhouse gear teams. The Chairman's award also wins them a bid to the District Championship, something they had otherwise missed the mark on. It's going to be an exciting weekend! Check out the team's Chairman's Award Video below!



New England

Team Phoenix has now locked in their second event points for the New England district and it's looking very likely that Team 2342 will be advancing to the District Championship after another stellar performance. Finishing ranked 9th overall at their event this weekend, they became captain for alliance 7 after alliance selections got under way. They were eliminated after quarterfinals, but still took home the Entrepreneurship award. At just over 50% lock according to calculations, they have a fair shot at advancing!


Team 1153 is another team that has gone a long way towards locking in their seat to the District CMP. The 4th rank team was asked to join the third alliance. In addition to taking home the Excellence in Engineering award, the Robo-Rebels also made it all the way to the semifinals at Rhode Island. They were eliminated after a tiebreaking match. At 60% lock, 1153 looks like a likely candidate to attending the District championship also.


4909 has now locked in their second event as well, and still has a narrow shot at the championship trip. They advanced to the quarterfinals with alliance number five. Though they were eliminated, they still scored major district points for reaching the elimination round.

Team 5556 rose to the challenge this weekend, becoming the alliance 6 captain after finishing rank 8. They too, however, were eliminated in the quarterfinals. Carriagetown is also expected to make a showing at the District Championship, with a total district point score of 75 and a lock percentage of around 40%.


Team perSEVERE turned things around this weekend, finishing rank 21 and being selected by the number 4 alliance and climbed all the way to the semifinals where they were eliminated by Team 238's alliance.


This Week

Team 1577 SteamPunk will be competing at the Israel District Championship this week, Stormgears will take to the field again in Hartford, and the Poofs will go at it again at the Silicon Valley Regional. 900 and 2655 will take flight at Campbell University for the North Carolina District Championship, and much is at stake. It's set to be an exciting weekend!




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!


Good Engineers Are Always ON

Posted by taazone Employee Mar 27, 2017

It’s Sunday, and I am off work. I’ve got plans to go out with friends to have lunch. I’m happy! I like to enjoy good food, wine and people. But, it’s some while before I leave home. And I catch myself drawing on a square piece of wood, on top of our dining table. It was a request that a coworker made and I said I’d do it. Yes, it was somewhat related to work. Then, I asked myself, what am I doing? Why am I doing this today? Why should I do it on my day off?

Well, I was drawing and painting like a kid would with a brush, paint and a piece of wood on his/her hands. There was a 10-month old child watching, his eyes were radiant, looking at the bright colors in front of him, his eyes were like mine. There was a nice big smile on the face of the painter as if he was creating The Sistine Chapel ceiling. Then I realized what I was doing, I was being myself. I’d got a smile, a 10-month old child that also thinks it’s cool and I liked it. I needed no more explanation to why I was doing it. But wait, could I have chosen another day instead of Sunday, since it was somewhat work related? I guess I could. But that doesn’t mean I should. Why should I postpone something I enjoy doing? It was not any burden to me, it was great! Was there anything else better for me to do? NO! I was already happy. It does not matter what day of the week it is, you do it whenever it makes you happy.



Good work is done with passion. And good engineers are passionate about what they do. They don’t start appreciating what they do from Monday to Friday, they enjoy it, every day of the week, all year-round. They bring out the best from their understanding. Good engineers give all they have, all the time. Good engineers are not reactive, they don’t wait to be asked to show passion for something. They don’t need to be incited, they incite. Their enthusiasm is contagious. I love to watch a colleague whom is passionate presenting. It engages everyone around. People appreciates his/her enthusiasm and learns with it because it is done with passion. Critics are welcomed and not feared. They are appreciated and not ignored. They are friends not enemies. There is no losing only learning. It is because passionate engineers want to do whatever they like the best they can. It’s their will. They allow others to be part of their passions and help. They want others to be part of their success. It’s not a competition for them, it about fulfilling who they are. In contrast, reactive professional’s contribution don’t excite, it is weak. Most of the time empty of substance. Even when they try to cover it up, it comes out as artificial, like a puppet reacting to the ventriloquist. Don’t be a reactive professional, be yourself! Act with passion, whatever you do, whatever you say, do it because you believe in it. By doing this you’re doing yourself a favor and others around you.

Continuing my project on that Sunday, friends showed up and caught me painting. It didn’t took long for them to be part of it because they were also impassioned with the project. Now, not only was I happy to finish it, we all had a great time together and a delicious lunch later that day. I did not ask them to do it, they volunteered. It was not their project, but they bought into it. I can only imagine they reacted in such a way because I believed in what I was doing. 


Are you yourself at work? Do you like what you do? Do you believe in what you do? 
Leave a comment

This week has been an exciting one for ADI teams, with many solidifying their attendance to their district championship and even the world championship. Let's check in!



Team 1577 is a powerhouse in Israel this year. They managed to make it onto the FIRST Updates Now top 40 teams for Week 2, which is an unofficial ranking voted on by people across the community and across the world. SteamPunk finished the district season ranked 2nd in the country in ranking points, earning them a seat to the Israel District Championship after playing at events 2 and 3. A team like this will likely earn a spot to the world championship as well, so keep your eyes on these students!


Their event performance in Week 3 was just as strong as last week, advancing to finals. They were defeated twice in a row, leaving them as event finalists. They still took home the Excellence in Engineering award, which recognizes good design or solid strategy. It's been a successful season for this team, and we are just getting started!



Historically, California and Silicon Valley have always been extremely competitive, so any team that can hold their own here is usually closely watched by many. One such team, with fans across the world, is Team 254, the Cheesy Poofs. Commonly referred to by many as "The Poofs," this hall of fame team is seen by the FIRST community as among the ranks of 148 and 118. They hadn't revealed their robot until last Tuesday, and we can honestly say that their robot Misfire does not disappoint.


Upon initial inspection, one might assume that Misfire is primarily a fuel robot, opting to devote most of its robot volume to holding as much fuel as possible. Their fuel shooter is a sight to behold, with two channels for fuel to exit through at high speed and equally high accuracy. Very rarely did the Poofs fail to achieve an extra rank point for reaching 40kPa in a match. But when they did, it was due to some heavy focus on gears. With an efficient floor pick-up mechanism, this robot has the ability to reduce cycle times for an entire alliance when a gear falls off the lift or gets dropped. They also managed to achieve the fuel bonus ranking point primarily during the teleoperated period, which meant that to reach the 40kPa pressure threshold on their own they had to sink 120 fuel directly into the high goal all within a two minute timeframe before climbing aboard the airship. Speaking of, their climb mechanism is a shocker to watch. Misfire can line up and ascend the rope in 5 seconds, a tough order to beat for many teams, meaning that the drive team can focus on completing last minute objectives during the end game while still hitting the touchpad in time to earn the climbing points.


All eyes turned to this team as they finished the event at the top of the ranks, earning first pick of their first alliance partner, selecting Team 971, the 2nd ranked team at the event. Together with team 4990, the alliance swept the competition in eliminations, never losing a single match in the entire event.


As a hall of fame team, 254 gets an automatic invitation to Championship every year. But as a winner for the event, they further justified their right to the competition. They rarely fail to impress, this team is a force to be reckoned with!


North Carolina

Team 2655 and Team 3215 both competed in their second event for the season, and the Asheville competition was FIERCE! With powerhouse teams coming in from Virginia and Georgia, the Asheville event was full of teams to be reckoned with. Both teams struggled in the face of highly competitive teams, but both were selected as alliance partners, advancing to the eliminations. The Flying Platypi again served as the strategy lead with the data that was collected by scouts. But when their 3rd robot had functionality problems, the alliance struggled. Even a substitution could not help to break the plane. However, with advancing to the semifinals and taking home the Team Spirit award, the Platypi secured their place at rank 9 in the state, meaning they've all but locked in their seat to the district championship in two weeks.


Apollo advanced to the eliminations with Alliance 5, but after a hard fought streak the alliance failed to advance past the quarterfinals. Nevertheless, 3215 is currently ranked 25th in the state and still holds a chance at advancing to the state championship.


New England

The Robockets, Team 4761, had another solid showing, taking the competition in Reading, MA this weekend as the winning alliance captains along with ADI Team 5556 Carriagetown, after finishing qualifications at rank 4. They've now completed their second event and are awaiting confirmation of their seat in the District Championship, which they have all but solidified. They have a very solid shot, but it will depend on what other teams take home at their events. One thing is for sure, however! After taking home Engineering Inspiration at North Shore, Robockets will already be sending a presentation team to the District CMP to compete for the award at that level, which, if they win there as wel, will qualify the team for the World Championship in St Louis.


4909 Bionics also had a very strong showing at North Shore, ending qualifications as the 5th alliance captain. They advanced to the Semifinals, but couldn't close out the round. Either way, the team is well on its way to racking up points needed to compete in the District Championship.


Ipswich has had a difficult season, going 13-17-1 this season with the conclusion of their second event at North Shore. They were selected to compete with Alliance 3 in eliminations, advancing to Semifinals to compete against the Robockets. It's looking like this was their final event for the season, but not every season can be a winning season. Even good teams have their rough years.


5735 Control Freaks also had a great weekend, finishing rank 9 and becoming an alliance captain. After a strong showing at Granite State, this week was a challenge for 5735 after getting eliminated in the quarterfinals by Bionics. But after taking home the Excellence in Engineering award, they're in good shape to have a shot at the District Championship!


The second year of a team is often more difficult than the first year, and this has proven true for perSEVERE, Team 5962. They went 4-7-1 at North Shore and finished Rank 32. We still have one more event for this team next weekend,

so there is time to recalibrate and adjust.



Many ADI employees took time this weekend to help out at their local events. From building the field to running the field, ADI employees took time to give back. In Reading, MA, Brian and Mike helped with field assembly!


Meanwhile in Asheville, NC, Juan and I once again fulfilled the FTA, Robot Inspector, and Referee roles. What I didn't expect to do this weekend was stop robots from taking over the arena.


Of course, I kid, but we really did nearly have escaping robots. It's the responsibility of all field staff to ensure the safety of all attendees and team members. We were having a solid day, on time, no major issues, and no "fog horned" matches (no field faults which forced a restart). Then, on the final qualification match of the day, match 54, we had two faults. The first was the ladder onto the airship was left down at the start of the match. SAFETY ALERT: DON'T DO THAT! So we killed the match, fixed the issue, and restarted. Then we had issues with the red airship not recording scores properly. Kill the match again, Juan opened up the airship and fixed the issue, and we restarted again.


Then I saw out of the corner of my eye a robot slam into the retrieval zone wall and I saw the wall wobble way more than it should have. Upon further investigation I saw this...



Rivets. Sheered completely off. I ran to grab the head referee's attention, who in turn grabbed Juan and they ran over to watch the corner closely. Perhaps if it didn't move more we would be okay and there would be no escaping robots. Then another robot slammed full force into the wall, shifting it by several inches more. Head referee said NOPE and dove for the E-STOP button, killing the field.


Incidents like this at competition teach a valuable lesson. Sometimes you can't stop every disaster. The best you can do is take stock of the situation, take corrective action (in this case add bolts to the corner of the field) and move on. No matter how bad it might seem, nothing is unsolvable.




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!

Sometimes when you have a challenge in front of you, it will seem impossible to conquer. Maybe it's a big breakthrough project. Perhaps you're the underdog in a football game. Or maybe, you're the number 5 seeded alliance going up against the number 1 alliance, consisting of the only undefeated team at the event, the second ranked team, and a defensive robot.


Granted, there are many cases where rankings mean nothing in FIRST Robotics, but an undefeated team is no laughing matter. And when all you have is one high scoring team and you know there is no way you could possibly just outscore the other alliance, you get creative and you take risks.


This is exactly what happened to Team 2655 this weekend at the Guilford District Event. After finishing ranked 20th, many teams looked the Platypi over as an alliance partner out of an event with 31 teams, except for one. Team 3402 the RoboMonkeys took the chance and looked to the Flying Platypi for strategy guidance. After all, we had half of the team up in the stands collecting vital data needed to make smart game decisions. Together, Teams 3402, 2655, and rookie team 6332 moved past the quarterfinals with ease. But in the semifinals, they met with team 1533 Triple Strange, Team 587 Hedgehogs, and ADI Team 3125 Apollo. It was the underdog vs the powerhouse and that first match saw the #1 alliance win easily.


Platypi decided to take a risk. Clearly, there was no way they could just outscore the other alliance. So instead, 2655 focused on scoring while the other two robots focused on stopping 1533 and 587 at all costs. It was a move that, not executed properly, could have ended in a sure loss. It was a HUGE risk.


But it worked. The impossible was made possible. It was a moment that proved that brains can win over brawn, that merely putting points on the board is not enough to win. You have to be smart about how you use the resources at your disposal, and if you're smart enough you can beat the odds or even flip them around in your favor.


The Platypi ended up getting knocked out in the tiebreaking match, but it wasn't without a hard fight. And after taking home the Engineering Inspiration Award, the second highest award available to teams, it's hard to say the team could have done better under the circumstances they had.


There are many improvements to be made to aide our performance for the next competition, but we are in good shape, and it should be a good run again if all goes well. Leadership met yesterday to discuss what we did well and where we can improve and there is a lot of moving in the right direction. At the end of the week, Platypi are ranked 18th in the state and well on their way to compete at the state championship.


With that, let's check in on our other ADI teams that competed this weekend!


Greensboro, NC

As you read above, Team 3215 Apollo was selected by the #1 alliance to carry the team forward playing defense. Unfortunately, problems arose in the finals matches and Triple Strange, the alliance captain, had to swap Apollo out for the next ranking unselected team. Despite this, Apollo still got carried to the finish as a finalist, with their alliance being knocked out in the Finals Tiebreaker match. Team 3215 still has one more event before their district points are locked in, and at rank 34 in the state and only one team done with both of their events, there's still chance for them to advance to state.


Team 900 is also shaking things up. Many had their doubts about a robot that can only shoot fuel in a gear dominated state. But their offense with fuel is surprising everyone as the team rises to 19th in the state after this week's events. If they advance to state and then to worlds, they have a high chance of doing very well at the World Championship in Houston, TX, fulfilling a role that few robots chose to fill. Don't dismiss this team yet!



SteamPunk did very well at their event in the Israel District Event #2, taking home the Winners banner with a clean sweep of the Finals round. They were ranked 2nd in the event after the end of quals and selected 3211 and 3075 as their alliance partners. This age old team is all but guaranteed a spot at the district championship after this week's performance, especially with the Creativity Award coming home as well. They're competing at their second event right now as we speak, with qualification matches starting once Israel wakes up in just a few hours! Check out the live stream link at The Blue Alliance:


New England

We had 4 ADI teams competing at 2 different events this week, with several doing well enough to be likely candidates for the district championship. Team 1153 went 6-8 at the WPI event, finishing ranked 20th. They were selected by alliance captain 4905, but eliminated in the quarterfinals. There is still chance they could advance to the district championship, however!


Team Phoenix, 2342, is well on their way to the state championship, finishing this weekend ranked 5th and becoming an alliance captain. Phoenix advanced all the way to the semifinals before being knocked out in the tiebreaker. Team 2342 brought home the Innovation in Control Award and enough points in the district ranking system to put them in solid running for advancing to the district championship.


Team 1965 Firebirds have had a tough running this weekend, going 3 and 9 and finishing ranked 39th at the end of qualification matches. Can't win all the time, but as long as you're having fun (and knowing these students, I'm sure they did!) it's not the win that matters, but the experiences you gain. Firebirds will compete again this weekend!


Team 4761 Robockets competed at SE Mass this weekend, finishing Rank 7 and selected by a higher seed to join forces. Robockets advanced to Quarterfinals before being knocked out of the bracket, and took home the Entrepreneurship Award.


Stay tuned next week for more results! Almost all ADI teams are competing this week, many of whom will solidify their place in their district championship. Additionally, Team 254 Cheesy Poofs will be competing at their first competition this weekend. It's a big week for ADI Robotics!



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 did not have many ADI teams opting to compete this week, taking the same move the Platypi did and taking stock of the competition and avoiding common Week 1 mistakes. Platypi watched matches from home, testing out our scouting strategy for the season to make sure our system is working. We did have a handful of competitors though!


900 Zebracorns

The Zebracorns opted to practice outside of the NC district where any lack in performance wouldn't hurt their NC district rankings, a smart move especially in the NC district. Team 900 opted to compete in Blacksburg VA with several other NC teams for a practice run for Week 1, and their robot White Rabbit had some successes. The team went 5 and 5, taking home an Excellence in Engineering award while they were at it.


5422 Stormgears

This team goes hard in the community outreach department, but with an award for Innovation in Control, this team may be starting to take their robot performance to the next level this year. They went 6 and 5 averaging close to 200 points in a given match. Unfortunately they were not selected for a playoff alliance, but they have until the end of the month to come up with tweaks to implement before their next competition.


5459 Ipswich TIGERS and 5735 Control Freaks

The Tigers went 5 and 7 with one tie match at the Granite State event. After finishing Rank 22 they were selected for the playoffs by ADI sponsored alliance captain 5735, who finished Rank 3 after qualifiers. The alliance was eliminated early in the Quarterfinals. Both will be competing again at North Shore in a couple of weeks, so there is time to regroup and tweak their strategy.


ADI Volunteers

It amazes me every time how I often learn as much as the kids do when working with FIRST Robotics. There are so many things I once thought I could never do that have been made possible because of my experience through FIRST as a mentor and as a referee. If I compare how much panic and anxiety I had over making sure I called every foul and penalty there was last year this time to this past weekend, it's a whole world of difference. Experience brings you confidence. But you can look confident while you panic internally. It's a lesson I don't think I would have learned as quickly without this experience that FIRST brings.


With that said, it was an exhausting weekend for the Chong crew in Greenville, NC. Juan was the secondary FTA for the event, and field build setup took us until 3am, with a 7am start the next morning. Sleep? Definitely not a thing! My manager, Chandra Cherry ,also served as a judge for the event to help determine which teams received awards. We had some unique difficulties, as there always are with any Week 1 event as things are discovered in the moment. But either way, I wouldn't trade this experience for the world. I love the community and the learning opportunities it affords me to help jumpstart my own career while making new friends along the way and affecting the lives of hundreds of young students.



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!

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:


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:


1153 - Walpole RoboRebels

One of our many New England District teams, you can read more about Walpole here:


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:


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:


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:


2655 - The Flying Platypi

You know this team! Check out the Flying Platypi website here:


3215 - Apollo

Our other ADI Greensboro team, more information about this North Carolina District team can be found on The Blue Alliance:


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:


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:


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:


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:


5735 - Control Freaks

You can check out this New England team on Twitter!


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!



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.



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!!!



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.



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 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



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!

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:!/


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!



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


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, accessing the data in, and properly closing communication with the sensor in 

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


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!



Note for 2018! This documentation is no longer up-to-date! Please see the GitHub page for more information. 


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:



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!



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!




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!