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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.

 

Now that we’re into September it already feels like the year is winding down. With the final wedding planning stretch ahead of me for the next two months, and Thanksgiving and Christmas after that, I know the new year will be here before I know it. That said, I’ve been really taking time now to consider my planner strategy and how it has and hasn’t worked for me in the last year.

School and work, as I’ve discovered over the past year, require different kinds of planning for me. When I was in school it was important to see exactly what time things were happening, be it classes or IEEE chapter meetings or when was the best time to grab lunch and do homework to avoid being up until 1am every night. (Contrary to popular belief, it is definitely possible to be active, go to class, get homework done, and have some semblance of a social life without losing sleeping hours or too many points from your GPA!) Now in the working world, my days are far more flexible, and they almost have to be by design. With a wandering mind I have to be able to shift focus smoothly from one task to the next, let myself decide on the fly what has to get done that day. Some days are more suited to tedious tasks than others, and I have to be able to take advantage of what mindset I happen to be in. Completing projects is also no longer just a checklist of tasks I have to complete. There is much more involved and if my boss had to provide to me a detailed list of tasks to complete she wouldn’t be able to do her job. I have to be able to take a general list of things to do and figure out the in-between steps on my own and set my own due dates for them to ensure that the high-level milestones are met on time. And when something happens to throw the schedule off course, the best I can do is everything in my power to move from stormy seas to glassy waters again and make up for lost time.

I am a big proponent of writing things down with pen and paper, whether it’s ideas or to-do tasks or noting that yes I did in fact pay rent this month already. I tried using my phone calendar for a couple of years and never remembered anything even with notifications going off every 5 minutes for everything. Since I started using fountain pens almost a year ago I’ve been moving more and more things back to paper. Even two years ago, I never went anywhere without carrying a planner with me, one with extra pages for notes and goal setting and a timed schedule where I could plan every minute of the day if I needed to. It worked well for school, but now I need a new planner that is as flexible as I have to be for work (and one that I won’t wind up wasting valuable writing space should I have to move a meeting at the last minute). I’m jumping into the deep-end of the Filofax/Kikki.K planner community and have already started setting it up for next year. This included a front page with some inspiration for the years to come and I wanted to share it with you:

"The BEST way to predict the FUTURE is to CREATE it"

This spoke to me as an engineer who works to help with the invention of the future. The work I do now could someday put humans on Mars. It could send a space probe to our nearest earth-like neighbor. This front page reminds me that while I’m creating the future of the next generations, I also have to remember to create my own personal future, whatever that may be.

What is your perspective on planning? Do you like to plan every minute or take life as it comes? Are you already shopping for next year’s planner?

I've never been the person that can usually just bounce back from making a mistake, no matter how small. One of my personal development goals is being less harsh on myself. How can I expect to go very far if I want to shrivel up and die every time someone points out a mistake I made?

 

This ties in very well to taazone's last article on Engineering Mind and having no fears of a "don't know" mind. Of course no one person can be expected to have all the answers, but all the reassurance in the world still doesn't make it any easier for me. So how do you deal with mistakes when you're a perfectionist by nature?

 

Realizing you're probably not the only one that's ever made that mistake or wanted to run away is a good first step. I think many of us as engineers are inherently perfectionists, which can be a blessing and a curse. I've been reading a book recently about shame of all things and despite it sounding like a depressing book it's actually been very therapeutic. (If you'd like to read it, it's called "I Thought it Was Just Me" by Brene Brown, or you can check out some of her TED talks.) It talks a lot about how shame is different from embarrassment and why its important to fight back shame. But it helps a lot for that sinking feeling you might feel as a perfectionist when your mistakes get pointed out. Usually it's in a very constructive "build you up" way. "Okay, I can do better next time." But for that rare instance when it comes in the form of something that throws you into defense mode (despite whether the critic meant it that way or not), accepting that criticism can be very difficult, even if it is very valid and useful feedback.

 

So how do you get over the paralysis? One method could be to just ignore it or pretend it never happened. Numb the sting. But that's the wrong way to do it. If you ignore those criticisms, you can never accept that important feedback. Then there's the polar opposite, which is assuming these kinds of comments come from a place of malicious intent just because of the way they made you feel. How are you supposed to breed teamwork and cooperation with a mindset like that? We can't expect to learn anything that way. Neither of these methods do what we need them to do. We have to come at harsh criticism with an open heart and an open mind. Examine the feedback, figure out what about it pushes your buttons, and then try to rephrase what was said in your mind in a way that seems more constructive to you.

 

As a blogger and Instagram user with way too many pictures of her cat, or really anyone that publishes content of any kind on the internet, you have to deal with the internet trolls. Eventually you're bound to encounter them and it can be devastating if you don't take a step back from the comments and analyze them. Look at the comments of any news story or any YouTube video. You can never escape the numbers of people with nothing positive to say. So when I receive criticizing comments, I have to catch myself from spiraling down. Recently, I wrote an article for Planet Analog about radiation testing, and I mixed up Beta radiation with Gamma radiation. The implications in the explanation I was giving were the same, but it was an error nonetheless. This mistake went uncaught until it was pointed out in the comments section. Initially, I felt like an utter idiot, though in reality it was probably just an honest question from a confused reader. Imagine the thought process in my head: "Oh man, why did I even put myself out there if I was going to look so stupid! How can anyone whom claims to know anything about radiation testing possibly mix these things up!? I can never show my face again..."

 

But I had to stop myself there. "Now wait a minute, we're all human here, we all make mistakes. That's ok. What wouldn't be ok is if I just pretended this comment never happened." I took the comment and tried to determine the underlying meaning rather than pay attention to the words and how they were phrased. What are they really trying to say here? What do they have to say here that is helpful to me? "Hey, did you mean gamma or beta radiation? I thought gamma was photons and beta was electrons, but here you said gamma is electrons." Toss the rest, and respond to that bit of helpful information. Now I've taken harsh criticism, rephrased it in a way that was helpful for me without losing the underlying message, and reacted in a much more constructive way than ignoring or exploding or hiding ever could. "Hey, thanks for pointing out my mistake. I got mixed up my apologies. But the implication to the subject is the same, here's why." I also promptly had the article corrected to reflect more accurate information. As a perfectionist, this helps me now shift the thought process from "I am a flawed person" to "my work had a flaw, but I can fix this."

 

What's the harshest criticism you've ever been given? How did you deal with it? Tell me about it in the comments below!

taazone

We Are Not Afraid!

Posted by taazone Employee Jul 31, 2016

Yes, I am not afraid! Engineers should not be afraid! But wait, afraid of what? --- Afraid of a don’t know mind.

Don’t let the plague catch you! Do not abide to the know-all mind. The knower’s mind is full of itself and impedes progress.

 

In the engineering field, especially in the semiconductor industry you must be improving the existing technology to keep up with the technological demands of our society. But improvements needs a fresh start, a new approach to solve a problem, collaboration between engineers, it needs many iterations, it has many failures, it is a learning process where many times we need to let go of what we know. Yeah, I know! You’ll start all over again. And there’s nothing I can say to comfort you in this aspect of starting all over again, I believe life is great because it won’t let us sit still for too long. Every day is a different day and these days are days of change.

 

“At times of change, the learners are the ones who will inherit the world, while the knowers will be beautifully prepared for a world which no longer exists” (Alistair Smith).

 

 

fearless-money-life.jpg

Be courageous against a know-all mind; challenge it. You are not fooling anyone by trying to hide it. Remember, there are more experienced people around you. They might have gone through it. They CAN HELP you. It’s ok to get stuck, the problem comes if you pretend you’re unstuck. Even if you believe you’re the most experienced person on the block, if you can’t deliver… Well I’ll let you finish this sentence.

 

Don’t let the sour faces scare you. It’s ok to fail. Sometimes, it’s better to fail. Walt Disney got fired for a lack of imagination, Steven Spielberg was rejected multiple times by the University of Southern California, Thomas Edison was called stupid, and Albert Einstein was too slow. Do not be afraid, be susceptible to a don’t know mind, are you ready to inherit the world? The ball is in your court!
@EngCritics

 

 

 

Image Source: Chang, Julia. 6 Leaders Share Their Secrets For How to Be Fearless About Money and Life, Forbes.

                                  Retrived from http://b-i.forbesimg.com/learnvest/files/2014/01/fearless-money-life.jpg 

taazone

Engineers are Kritikos

Posted by taazone Employee Jul 11, 2016

What am I calling you? You probably have an idea from the blog title but, are you certain that you have understood it correctly? Before I explain why engineers are Kritikos, I want to say that if you are an engineer YOU SHOULD BE KRITIKOS. Alright, let’s define what that means. According to The American Heritage Dictionary (AHD), from Greek, able to discern. Which is what we call in the English language “critic”, also according to AHD it means:

 

A person who forms and expresses judgments of the merits, faults, value, or truth of a matter, analyzes, evaluates, and reports on creative works, who tends to make harsh or carping judgments;

 

Unfortunately, the majority of people tend to only define this word as “making harsh or carping judgement”, which is very damaging to the engineering profession, in my humble opinion. It tends to make the critic NOT criticize, and the criticized NOT ACCEPT the critique. (Say that ten times fast.)

Noooooooo! Please there are many more words to define this, “able to discern”, YOU ARE SMART and INTELLIGENT. That’s the reason you can criticize. By criticizing, you are making it “better, stronger, faster”. When we sit to discuss a design, we are invited to give our feedback, to think about that matter, to judge the approach being used to solve that problem. We look for faults, we value the work and we tell the truth. But, value can only be added if the critic CRITICIZES and the criticized ACCEPTS the critique. This will create an environment where new ideas will be accepted, and the old “I HAVE DONE IT THIS WAY SINCE….” will stop being the wall between improvements.

 

As engineers, we always try to get better, this is what the competition does. And the improvements can only come with analysis, evaluation and judgement of a matter. We need to be prepared to accept the criticism and be ready to criticize whenever appropriate. If you are being criticized, don’t think of it as a bad thing, if people are looking at your work, it is because it is interesting. If you are criticizing, don’t think you know everything, be humble and remember you also make mistakes, no matter how old you are. We all make mistakes.

           

From the many criticisms I have received and mistakes I have made, I recall one, and think it is a good example: it happened when I was building a voltage divider with eight different voltage outputs, and I was putting a lot of effort trying to make the voltages as precise as possible. I looked at all the errors from resistor network, the voltage source, put all data in an Excel spread sheet, and made the divider look like something very complicated. A lot of work, only to have a colleague say that none of that was needed because I was measuring the voltages at each resistor and the only thing I needed was to make sure my DMM was precise enough. I thought, really?! Not that the divider wouldn’t work, but it certainly would make the setup much more complicated than it needed to be; more time, more parts and same results, that’s not what we want. Well, I accepted the criticism and changed my setup which made my work better and faster.

 

As a critic, I have contributed my share, this is the easiest. Recently, I needed to test a couple of parts using an Automated Bench Equipment (ABE) and I criticized how long it was taking to make the measurements I needed and suggested some changes that would improve its performance. And it was accepted and considered, a couple of changes were made which made the system “better, stronger, faster” actually while I was typing this, my colleague just walked in to say that the measurement is much faster. This is GREAT! This is what it means to be kritikos. We work together, we accept the criticism as well as criticize then we move forward!

 

Figure Source:Figure_1 : https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjnu_6Qzq_MAhUIeD4KHasmBIUQjRwIBw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ecoblender.org%2Fnew-collaboration-model-for-a-field-ecology-lab%2F&psig=AFQjCNGbuE3-WG04EEMcHO3JVTqlx209kg&ust=1461873720090361

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjnu_6Qzq_MAhUIeD4KHasmBIUQjRwIBw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ecoblender.org%2Fnew-collaboration-model-for-a-field-ecology-lab%2F&psig=AFQjCNGbuE3-WG04EEMcHO3JVTqlx209kg&ust=1461873720090361Figure_2 :https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjLh-2zzq_MAhXLVD4KHRPuCTsQjRwIBw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fdrellenalbertson.com%2F2015%2F12%2F29%2Fgive-up-your-inner-critic%2F&psig=AFQjCNG53Nrv0ok4_eKucdyMrVYrNFPiWA&ust=1461873793728568

In case you were watching fireworks and missed it, NASA put the Juno probe into Jupiter orbit last night at around 12:30AM with a near perfect execution (the burn to slow the craft down lasted just a minute more than they had expected to take). I happened to be watching the live stream when JPL received the tone signaling that burn time was over and they were in orbit. It felt like I'd imagine landing a probe on Mars or the moon would feel like: this sense of accomplishment that humanity has made the impossible very possible and that we are on the verge of new discoveries. It actually moved me to tears.

 

PIA16118_hires.jpg

A computer-generated image depicts NASA's Juno spacecraft firing its main engine.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech 

 

 

This is the very same probe to which amateur radio operators across the globe all transmitted "HI" in Morse code in unison. The signal was picked up by the probe as it did a gravity assist around the earth to slingshot off to Jupiter. A coworker of mine actually participated in the global transmission, which happened in 2013. Being a HAM operator myself, this made the achievement that much more exciting.

 

 

Juno is on a mission to take measurements close to Jupiter's surface in an attempt to discover how it and other planets came to be. It's a daring mission as far as electronics are concerned. While all devices we make for space must be radiation tolerant to a certain degree, Jupiter blasts out much higher rads than you would normally see in the depths of open space. Many of the critical electronics had to be encased in a titanium vault to protect them from Jupiter's harshest radiation bands. Still, it will come as close as 2,600 miles from the surface, closer than any previous mission. All of this is to determine what is actually under all of those orange and red clouds. Is there rock under there? Or is Jupiter all gas? And what is generating that massive magnetic field that causes those nasty radiation bands in the first place?

 

This is one of the reasons I love my job so much. There's just something special about being part of something this big. It's one thing to say you worked on some part in a cell phone or a car. But it's something completely different to be able to say "I worked on devices that are in the XYZ probe that just did that cool thing!" The kinds of projects I work on go to the very edges of human knowledge and discovery and that is something that is truly special.

 

If you want to learn more about this monumental mission check out the mission website at: Juno | NASA and Jupiter Orbit Insertion Press Kit and read more. There's also a live stream going on of the mission as Juno repositions itself into the tighter orbit of 14 days (vs. the 53.5 days that it first entered last night) here: NASA JUNO / Jupiter Real Time Simulation : Now In Elliptical Orbit - sit back enjoy the ride - YouTube.

 

What are you most excited to find out from Juno's findings? Do you remember when we landed on the moon or on Mars? Join the conversation in the comments below.

 

(Cover photo credit Juno Mission to Jupiter (2010) Artist’s Concept. Credit: NASA/JPL)

We all have dumb moments, some that actually pay off.  As promised in my previous blog: If you're not feeling dumb, you're not doing it right, this is my dumbest moment.

 

You'll recall from the previous blog, one of my mentors, John Kerley, had just drug me through one of his whiteboard sessions and I was at my lowest, from the sheer mental exhaustion towards gaining understanding of what we were discussing (he really liked to push).  As we reach the end of the session, he capped off the talk by discussing the wavelength of signals, and how - using air as a dielectric - we could propagate signals down a line.  Those of you familiar with your E&M will recall that while the wave front moves at the speed of light, the wave lengths are long at a frequency of 1 MHz, and thus the line would spend the majority of its time either in a high or low state.

"However", John said, "If we get up into the 30 GHz range, how many pulses could we send down a 30m line before we see the first rising edge exit the other end?"

I stared at him - my mind a complete blank.

"Oh, come on," he said, "Think!  What's the speed of light?  One..."

More blank stare from me.

"Nanosecond," John said, "per..." and he points to his boot.

 

"Shoe?" I said

 

To spoil the punchline, the answer is: the speed of light in a vacuum travels at approximately one foot per nanosecond.  John was using the inverse to throw me off, and in doing so created the fictitious unit (and joke) "One over shoe."  This effectively ended our session as he saw how brain dead I was, and created a running joke that still haunts the very mention of my name in the halls of Maxim Integrated's Colorado Springs office.

 

Thanks John.

 

This month we embark on a new-ish adventure.  Over the coming posts I'll discuss how new College Graduates can ready themselves for careers in the field, as well as how to tackle complex problems when first starting out.  I cater more of my writing to the Electrical Engineering Discipline, but these techniques can be used anywhere, in any field.

In shamelessly referring back to my own previous post Panic, Cry, Do it Anyway, you'll remember I warned about problems lying in wait ("Thar be dragons..." they say).  This post is an introduction to what we'll be talking about, namely how to think about and tackle complex problems, and how to handle (at times the requirement of) biting off more than you can chew.

 

Let's start with a breakdown.  No, not what you and your friends do, emotionally, during Finals week.  I'm talking about how complex tasks are handled.  This blog was specifically chosen because engineering tasks feel exactly like what I described... allow me to elaborate.

 

There are a number of various quotes and adages all relating to a more simplified statement: "How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time."  Likewise, there are a few others all relating to how engineering (or, rather, absorbing any difficult content) is like "Drinking from a Firehose."  I'll sum it up accordingly:

 

As an Engineer, you'll be expected to work on some pretty overwhelming tasks while simultaneously learning about the complexities of the task you're currently working on.

 

It's a bit of a catch-22 in some respects. "How can I work on the task I've been assigned, if I don't know about the task I've been assigned?"  Yes, it'll feel overwhelming, but it's manageable.

 

In essence, you'll have to "Drink from the Fire hose" (i.e. take in a large amount of complex material), whilst also "Eating the Elephant" (i.e. tackle complex problems in bite-sized, manageable chunks).

 

Over the coming posts, we're going to break this down a little further by talking about both of these nuances, what they mean, why they're important, and how you can prepare yourself when you enter the Engineering field.  Until then, this should give you something to chew on.

 

As always, if you like reading my blog, be sure to check back or Follow The Engineering Mind, and don't hesitate to comment below if you have questions, or if you'd like to use the "One over Shoe" unit in your latest Research Calculations.

One of the things I do as a product engineer is data analysis...... A LOT of data analysis. Any time something funny or odd happens, as any engineer does, I get to do the stereotypical "give me MORE data" dance via email. I love a good problem to solve, and any excuse to stare at graphs and look for clues all day usually means it's going to be a good day.

 

I think it's important that engineers, or any professional in any field that has to find trends buried in data on any sort of regular basis for that matter, be aware of how the human brain works when it comes to formulating assumptions. More specifically, they should be aware of the illusion of causality. I won't dive into too much detail (you can read on if you'd like to know more details about studies that were done), but what it boils down to is this:

 

Your brain is wired to associate things that happen in succession to have a causal relationship (i.e. you put your hand on the stove, your hand got burned, therefore the stove must have burned your hand). This is extremely useful as a basic skill in learning what will and will not kill you, but when it comes to very complex problems, it can fool your brain into holding onto the first assumption it comes to and being unable to accept new information that proves your first assumption wrong, unless you are actively trying to have an open mind about what is actually going on.

 

This example from the article linked above explains the phenomenon of the Illusion of Causality very well:

 

"

In phase one of the study, the student volunteers were divided into two groups — a “high illusion” one that was presented with mostly patients who had taken Drug A and a “low illusion” one that saw mostly patients who hadn’t taken the drug. Each student volunteer saw 100 patients, and in each instance, the students were told whether the patient had recovered. The student volunteers weren’t told that the drug didn’t work — the recovery rate was 70 percent whether or not patients took the drug. Yet, as expected, people in the high illusion group were more susceptible to erroneously concluding that it had an effect.

Presumably, because the student volunteers in the low illusion group had more opportunities to see the syndrome resolve without the drug, they were less prone to assuming that recovery was linked to it. Previous studies have shown that simply seeing a high volume of people achieve the desired outcome after doing something ineffective primes the observer to correlate the two.

Phase two of the study is when things got interesting. The experiment was repeated, except this time some patients simultaneously received two drugs — the ineffective one from phase one and a second drug that actually worked. This time, volunteers from both the high and low illusion groups were presented with 50 patients who’d received the two drugs and 50 who received no drugs. Patients in the drug group recovered 90 percent of the time, while the group that didn’t get meds continued to have a 70 percent recovery rate. Volunteers in the “high illusion” group were less likely than participants in the “low illusion” group to recognize the new drug’s effectiveness and instead attributed the benefits to the drug they’d already deemed effective. The prior belief in the first drug’s potency essentially blocked acquisition of the new information.

"

 

This can be extremely deadly for an engineer. If you think you know what is going on before you've seen all of the data, then every little instance that proves that theory will stick and you can quickly turn a blind eye to anything that points in another direction if you're not careful. We like to see our ideas confirmed and hate being wrong. Sometimes it's simply a matter of wanting to solve the problem quickly and so we latch onto the first idea that makes sense and explains most of what is going on. Regardless of why it happens, engineers have to be aware of this when designing experiments to prove or disprove a theory or when sifting through mounds of data. Assumptions can help you narrow down what to look for, but you've also got to question everything.

TheFeminineEngineer

Drones that Perch

Posted by TheFeminineEngineer Employee May 31, 2016

Drones and quad-copters are clearly becoming the next big thing. They're being used for everything to surveillance to aerial photography to playing pranks at the office. But many of these drones are big and noisy...NOT a great thing when you're trying to be discrete.

 

However, with a smaller drone, you now have to consume enough power to stay afloat, but you don't exactly have a large amount of space for enough power to stay airborne for more than a few minutes. So what's a drone to do?

 

A group of Harvard roboticists took a queue from nature and developed a neat way for these micro drones to "perch" on any ceiling surface using what amounts to artificially generated static electricity - the same force that makes your hair stick to a charged balloon. The result is a simplistic elegant method of adhering to a surface without having to grip onto it which would require an incredibly complex and impossibly small scale mechanism, or use a tacky substance which would require a large amount of force to detach and thus null any energy saved by perching in the first place. This static charge method is also extremely power efficient compared to other options.

 

You can read more on Harvard's website at the link below, but I've included the video here. The result looks like a fly taking a rest to assess its surroundings.

 

 

Link: Using static electricity, RoboBees can land and stick to surfaces | Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Ap…

It's May, which means it's time for new college graduates across the US to enter into the next phase of life. For some it's filled with promise, and for some it's filled with uncertainty.  Looking back at the start to my summer, it was actually filled with some of both. I was preparing for my graduation trip to North Carolina to learn how to SCUBA, and I was in the middle of the interview process with another offer on the table. In this last year since graduation, a lot has changed and I've learned more than I ever thought I could.

 

I think the biggest lesson I've learned is how to be patient with myself. There's no doubt that I'm a child of the instant gratification generation. New skills have always come to me almost instantly with the immersive kind of experience you get in school or in an internship. When a full time job comes along, the learning curve is both steeper and shallower at the same time, if that makes any sense. You want so badly to learn everything at once, because you're used to the fast pace of an internship (you only have 3 months!) or school, but you can't because there is so much that your internship actually never exposed you to. The projects I work on now take place over the course of 15 months, five times as long as any internship project! It's a big adjustment to make. I can't imagine the Aerospace group is much different in that respect to typical products also (though I'd imagine they have slightly shorter project cycles, we are an oddball group after all). It's also a change from school, since most homework assignments or projects don't last longer than a month. You're no longer just thinking to the end of each 4 month period.

 

It's not that long-term projects are any more difficult or tedious, they're just different. There are more tasks to do in more time, and it can be easy to lose track of what's ahead if you don't pay attention to the schedule. And when something happens that changes the schedule you have to be on top of the changes. Everything has to be flexible but also rigid in a way.

 

What lessons did you learn during your first year of "real life" or what do you hope to learn, if you're graduating this month?

All I can say is WOW. This has been an amazing season. It's been a good season for all of our teams. We'll check in with our three championship teams and then I can get into just the sheer size and awe of this event.

 

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Team 1533 Triple Strange had a good run of it. At the end of Friday they finished qualifications ranked 31 out of the 75 teams in the Carson Division, with a record of 6 wins and 4 losses. They also took home the Creativity Award for their division for, you guessed it, their awesome SWANK drive system! When I was talking to their students on Thursday, they mentioned specifically targeting this award with their drive system. I'd say mission accomplished, team! I've come to love this team and its students and mentors, now seeing them at every event they've been to this year and seeing them at the local practice space hosted by the Platypi. The improvement this team has made at each event is astounding and even though they did not advance to their divisions elimination rounds, I couldn't be more proud to support this team.

 

The Flying Platypi, 2655, also did extremely well in the Carson Division. With a record of 5 wins and 5 losses, with most losses happening early while they were trouble-shooting some programming issues (turned out to be a PID loop that fell out of tune while playing with their practice robot).  They ranked 27 out of the 75 teams in Carson. I've had the opportunity to watch these students grow from timid wallflowers to leaders that can take the lead without much need for guidance. These students drove this team to where they are now and there are some students I almost don't even recognize anymore. Maybe we can score Einstein next year???

 

The Stormgears had a good run in the Archimedes Division. Finishing rank 73 of 75 may not sound that great, but just 5 minutes talking to the students and mentors on Friday showed me this team has the drive to do amazing things as they gain more and more experience. They've made it to Championship every year they've been in existence, and even in just their two years they've done so much for their local community and the global community They told me about their STEM Splash in a Box and how they're already working with companies to get them distributed to as many schools as possible. These students are going to change the world for the better. They also showed me pictures talking to Vince about FIRST and their robot. Team 5422 is going places!

 

ADI Tech in FRC

Our sensors came in many forms for teams to use. We of course have our donations - the small accel-gyro board that went to every team, the M1K in the kit of parts, and the iSensor IMU board available through FIRST Choice. There was also a board available to teams that has an ADI gyro on it that I found several top tier teams using to their advantage. I already told you about one team on Friday. Let's meet a veteran team that had the same idea.

 

Team 148, The Robowranglers, out of Greenville, TX, a team I used to follow a lot back in my days of volunteering at the Dallas Regional event. They are using the same Spartan board that Citrus Circuits, 1678, was using this year. This team has typically been a very mechanically strong team. They enhanced their edge with the ADXRS453 sensor on the Spartan board, and this competitive team went on to become the number 1 seeded team on Hopper. They selected Citrus Circuits as one of their partners in the eliminations and went on to advance to Einstein.

 

Speaking of Einstein, let me give you a feel for just how big this is. Think of the Superbowl. Then multiply that by five times. And then throw in some STEM. It was a full quarter mile walk from the back of the pits in the convention center to the fields in the dome. I've never walked that much since school. And the sheer number of people was such that you could have 4G LTE signal and nothing would get through. Robotics took over downtown. Here's a quick video of just how many people were in the stands for Einstein.

 

The games began with the quarterfinals on Einsten going well for the Robowranglers and Citrus Circuits. They won both of the matches and advanced to a hard fight in the semifinals. Winning the first match and losing the second, it went to a tiebreaker that resulted n a loss. Watching Citrus Circuits in action was the most impressive thing I've ever seen. The fact that these students built this robot in just 6 weeks is amazing. I've posted some videos below.

 

 

 

 

This powerhouse alliance had a good fight, but the best was yet to come with the Finals matches. It was Tesla vs. Carver and the two teams were extremely evenly matched. The scores came down to the last wire. After the tiebreaker match the score posted on the screen was a TIE with 225 points on each team. However, 5 of those points awarded to the Red alliance were due to a foul called the Tesla blue alliance. This meant that Carver's alliance took home the gold per the tiebreaker rules. It was an amazing sight to see and an unforgettable championship.

 

That's a wrap! Thank you FIRST for an amazing run of a season, thank you to ALL of the volunteers that made the event possible, and thank you St. Louis for being an amazing host city. But perhaps the best part was hearing this moving song performed live.

 

 

 

This blog post concludes the series about FIRST robotics and the impact that ADI has on teams of students across the country and the world. Stay tuned for more posts during the next year's season and some updates during off-season! Follow the conversation about FIRST with the hashtags omgrobots and morethanrobots on all social media platforms.

Today was the end of the qualification matches and it's been an intense day of robots. Here are some updates from the teams.

 

Team 1533 Triple Strange is really jiving today, winning almost all of their matches. They held the record high score of 170 for the Carson division for a good period of time until later this afternoon, when it was beat in another of their games by none other than Team 2655's alliance with a score of 187. WOW! Keep in mind, this is without the bonus points that come from breaching and tower captures. I caught video of their robot performing a scale with a scored boulder just before time ran out.

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Team 2655 squashed more bugs early this morning with autonomous and the ball intake. Judges also stopped by the pits to ask the team about the robot and how it works and how they came up with the design. Fun fact, the Platypi's robot is actually a 3-week robot build. They went through multiple iterations of tank treads before ditching the idea and moving to a tire drive system.

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I stopped by the Stormgears pits today and got to hear all about their outreach programs that they have around the world. They came up with a kit for building spaghetti towers (uncooked spaghetti joined together with mini marshmallows) and sent them around the world, as far as India! They also showed me the circuitry they came up with (and soldered themselves!!!) for expanding the I/O they have on their MXP connector of the RoboRIO (the same connector our IMU donation uses). When I stopped by, they were testing their vision system after replacing the 3D-printed pieces that hold their ball in the intake, since they were a different color than the old ones. This different color was causing their vision system to be a little more inconsistent. This team REALLY knows that there is definitely more to FIRST than just the robots. I was so impressed with their custom tank drive design as well. Everything could pivot so going over uneven terrain was no match for this team.

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I also spent some time asking teams about what gyros and IMUs they used to find the teams that used our donated parts, or a solution with one of our sensors on it. I happened across Team 1678, Citrus Circuits. They were using the Spartan board (link), which has an ADXRS453 on board. They pushed this sensor to its full potential! In autonomous, it was being used to keep them headed straight over defenses, something that caused many teams grief. They also used it to rotate towards the goal and then used vision to check themselves. They had a coprocessor which would take the vision information, calculate what angle they were off, and then use the gyro to rotate that many degrees. They'd then check the vision system again to ensure they were now properly aligned, and then make the shot. They also used this process for lining up during teleoperated mode, and it was an impressive sight (check out this video). This team is a defending world champion, and I have a feeling we might just see them on Einstein tomorrow. They were ranked 5th last time I had checked in with them. THIS is the kind of stuff that ADI has enabled for these teams! Citrus Circuits has been using the Spartan board for two years now and they told me they haven't looked back since!

 

Tomorrow morning will be the elimination rounds for all the divisions, plus the finals matches on Einstein!!! It's always an exciting day with some intense competition and you WON'T want to miss it!

 

Don't forget to check out the live stream or watch recorded matches online! And check in on the live action on Twitter with the hashtag #ADIrobots! I'll be live-tweeting the Einstein finals matches tomorrow afternoon

 

 

This blog post is part of a series about FIRST robotics and the impact that ADI has on teams of students across the country and the world. Stay tuned for more posts during the FRC build season and competition season, culminating with coverage of the FIRST World Championships in St Louis in April 2016! Follow the conversation about FIRST with the hashtags omgrobots and morethanrobots on all social media platforms.

Thursday was a rough start for some of the teams. It was a day full of tweaking and testing new ideas.

 

Triple Strange was the second match of the day on the Carson field, and it was a rough way to start the day for sure. Autonomous started and robots took on the challenge of the defenses in front of them. Triple Strange got stuck trying to get over the rock wall. Having brought their bumpers within the guardrails of the defense, they at least received the points for a Reach. Teleoperated period began and drivers took the controls. They raised their ball shooter in an attempt to tip themselves over the rock wall, and it worked! But they unfortunately fell on their backside and were unable to right themselves for the rest of the match. The match ended with a score of 53 to 42 and 1533 took a loss for their first match. The team seemed hopeful though and charged back to their pit and the practice fields to fix what they had. Some of their mentors joked that they were showing Gracious Professionalism since there was so much talk about their swerve + tank drive system and they just flipped themselves over so everyone could see it! Team 1533 finished their day with a 2-2 record and ranked 48th in the division after they had solved the issues that was causing them trouble.

 

Platypi had a similarly rough start to their competition as well. In the fourth match of the day on Carson, 2655 had a few problems with the autonomous codes they had spent the entire week tweaking on a secondary robot. In addition, the pressure on their tires was lower than normal, making the robot a little less stable than usual. A defensive robot from the other alliance happened to drive into 2655 while it was off balance and the robot took a fall onto its side. Alliance partners tried to right the fallen robot, but it was too late. At the end game for the match, the last 20 seconds, the defensive robot still hadn't left the courtyard to join their team in challenging the other tower. In the panic to get out, they bumped into every single blue robot, giving every team on the Platypi's alliance a Scale (the rules state that robots may not touch the opposing alliance in their own courtyard in the last 20 seconds, else the robot they touch gets awarded the points for a Scale (climb) of the nearest tower face). This fatal mistake on the part of the red alliance ended with 2655 winning their match. At the end of the day they figured out what was causing them problems with their autonomous code and are confident for the day ahead. The Flying Platypi finished their day with a win/loss record of 2-3 and ranked 34th in the Carson Division.

 

Stormgears had a much less stressful start, although a little more of a rough time in the competition. In their first match of the day, match 3 on Archimedes, they charged forward under the Low Bar in autonomous. Their alliance made efforts to shoot boulders into the high goals of the tower but the nerves must have had all of these teams struggling. With completely damaged defenses on both sides of the field and all 6 robots challenging the towers, it was the boulder scores that ultimately decided the match. Team 5422's alliance scored one high and one low goal. Stormgears finished Thursday with a record of 1-3 and ranked 68th in their division.

 

At the conclusion of all of the matches, there was a massive opening ceremony, where there was an AMAZING funk jazz band and several inspirational speakers from sponsors of the event and of FIRST. There were beach balls all over the crowd. They brought all 4 levels of the program to the arena and had a stage set up behind Newton and Hopper fields (there was a curtain hiding it the rest of the day). The speakers also announced several of the Dean's List winners for this year as well. At the conclusion of the ceremony, all students and alumni were invited to come up to the front of the stage for a photo to show the world who the FIRST community is. I scurried downstairs from the Invited Guest lounge and once down there I felt proud to be the one representative there from my old FTC team (at least that I knew of). It was an amazing feeling to remember where I've come from, with all of the current students around me. These kids are going to do huge things. They're the brightest of the bright, a shining light for the future of the world.And I'm so proud I've had the chance to impact these students.

 

Friday is the last day of qualification matches, and it's shaping up to be a big one! Remember you can watch the matches from home at FIRST Robotics Competition | 2016 FIRST Championship or watch recorded matches from yesterday at http://www.thebluealliance.com/events#championship-event and click on the name of the division you want to see. There are play buttons next to matches that have been archived.

 

 

This blog post is part of a series about FIRST robotics and the impact that ADI has on teams of students across the country and the world. Stay tuned for more posts during the FRC build season and competition season, culminating with coverage of the FIRST World Championships in St Louis in April 2016! Follow the conversation about FIRST with the hashtags omgrobots and morethanrobots on all social media platforms.

Here we are. Six weeks of building, seven weeks of competitions, and now we're at the world championship. There are over 600 teams from across the globe here to compete for the title of world champion. And three of them are OURS!

 

I just have to start with this child-like wonder I had getting on the last flight to St Louis. You could already hear the buzz of students from all over talking strategy, swapping contact info, finding out what worlds lie outside their own home town. Gave me goosebumps. And getting off the plane on the ground, there were people everywhere wearing team gear and FIRST logos everywhere! I bumped into an FLL team from the Netherlands on the train to downtown. The number of people and cultures all intersecting in this one city is a sobering reminder of how small this globe really is.

 

Enough of the sappy stuff though, we're here to talk robots! Teams arrived this afternoon to set up their pits and open their robot crates and begin work fixing anything that needs tweaking. Practice matches were also held in the evening, so I got to catch some robots in action! Take a look at our ADI teams and their robots!

 

Team 1533 Triple Strange

The famed SWANK drive bot. I had the pleasure of getting to inspect this Greensboro NC team's robot at a couple of their district events. I managed to get some video today - it glides around the field as if it were levitating. Team 1533 is playing in the Carson Division.

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Team 2655 Flying Platypi

Ask me why I Platypi! Sir Lance-a-bot is ready to go again. After a rough state championship this team is ready to take the field by storm. The students have been working furiously on autonomous code and I'm proud of the kind of initiative and drive they showed in pushing us mentors to help them! These kids are going places! The Platypi are also playing in the Carson Division.

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Team 5422 Stormgears

They literally brought a storm with them! (No really, it's been stormy and rainy so far!) The Stormgears will be playing in the Archimedes field. I haven't had a ton of time to watch this team closely, but after seeing them at our General Technical Conference, I'm excited to see their robot in action up close.

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So how does these divisions work???

At the world championship, there are 8 divisions. It's essentially 8 individual competitions happening at once, each with around 80 teams. Things progress as usual, and a champion team from each division is decided. After that, the winning alliance from each division advances to Einstein. These 8 alliances will face off elimination style (just like any eliminations at any other event) and a winner is crowned at the end of the finals. It's a lot of teams and a lot of robots and more action than you could even imagine. I feel like a giddy two year old in the candy store just thinking about it!

 

Tomorrow starts the qualification matches! jchong and I are on the ground talking to teams and capturing all the action on social media. Catch up on what's going on with the hashtag #ADIrobots to see what we're up to! Check in tomorrow night for an update on how our teams did in their first day of qualifications! And as always, you can check out the action live at FIRST Robotics Competition | 2016 FIRST Championship!

 

 

This blog post is part of a series about FIRST robotics and the impact that ADI has on teams of students across the country and the world. Stay tuned for more posts during the FRC build season and competition season, culminating with coverage of the FIRST World Championships in St Louis in April 2016! Follow the conversation about FIRST with the hashtags omgrobots and morethanrobots on all social media platforms.

Championships is just a week away, and all of our New England teams have their results from the District Championship! Let's see who we'll get to talk to in St. Louis!

 

Team 5422 Stormgears

While 5422 didn't get to compete with their robot in Hartford, they did get to present their work for the Engineering Inspiration Award, having won it at a previous event. Of the teams which qualified to present, two were selected to advance to world's, and guess who made it! I had the opportunity to talk to some of the students while visiting Boston for our General Technical Conference and see their robot (unfortunately no pictures). I'm excited to see their robot in action next week! Congratulations team, you earned it!

 

Team 5962 perSEVERE

This team has been amazing to watch all season. And after getting to sit down and talk with two of their mentors, the name perSEVERE really suits them. I'd heard a lot about what had happened from what I heard from students, but actually sitting down and talking to them in person, you could feel the passion radiating from this team's leaders. The competition at the district championship was just too rough for this team though, and they just missed the cut for advancing to world's. This team has earned its place in the hearts of many, and their drive to help others and to succeed in the face of all the odds stacked against them earned them the Rookie Inspiration award this weekend. I'm proud of what they did this season and can't wait to see what they come up with next year.

 

So... Who's going to St. Louis Again???

We have THREE Analog Devices FRC teams advancing to the World Championship in St. Louis, and I'll be there cheering them on and talking to teams that found our products and donations useful. Here's a preview of all the teams I'll be interacting with:

 

FRC 1533 Triple Strange - How strange? TRIPLE strange! This beautifully engineered robot hopes to tear up the field again with their awesome SWANK drive. Very excited to share video of this cool robot and talk some more with this amazing team.

 

FRC 2655 Flying Platypi - You know who they are, they've been dominating the North Carolina district all season and we can't wait to see if they'll do it again at worlds!

 

FRC 5422 Stormgears - There's a storm coming... This team advanced via Rookie All-Star last year and they've done it again this year with Engineering Inspiration!

 

 

There will be multiple divisions going on at once next week, and you can always find all of the streams at www.thebluealliance.com/events to tune in live. Practice matches start next Wednesday for FRC teams!

 

 

This blog post is part of a series about FIRST robotics and the impact that ADI has on teams of students across the country and the world. Stay tuned for more posts during the FRC build season and competition season, culminating with coverage of the FIRST World Championships in St Louis in April 2016! Follow the conversation about FIRST with the hashtags omgrobots and morethanrobots on all social media platforms.