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Build Session – Week 4, Part 2

Saturday, January 31, 2015
On Saturday, January 31, MARS/WARS reached a great milestone for the build season, as the team consolidated their fabricated components into a robot assembly. Although the bot is not complete in its entirety, it is currently equipped with a functioning tote elevator and swerve drive chassis. This significant accomplishment by the team is the turning point in MARS/WARS’s season as it means that our energy will now be devoted to evaluation of existing components and determining how our robot can be improved. With the completion of the major systems of the robot, the programming team can develop and implement more specific programs, having distinct indication of the robot’s composition.

Thursday, January 29, 2015
As the open house draws closer, MARS/WARS continues to make preparations to welcome the community into its facilities to observe the team’s work. The event has been publicized in the local media, on the school’s website, and in the newsletter and organization of the tour route has taken place. The team has contacted the Mad Hatters, an FLL team founded by MARS/WARS, and invited it to exhibit its Lego Mindstorms robot. The Mad Hatters will also give a presentation about their recently completed season, during which they advanced to the Central Championship Tournament at the University of Illinois. Significant progress has been made with the lower frame of the robot and it is nearly ready to be painted. The first swerve module has been finalized and reviewed and construction of the other three swerve modules has been approved. MARS/WARS is excited about the advancements it has made thus far and the team is able to begin constructing the robot assembly in the next few build sessions.

Build Session – Week 4, Part 1

Tuesday, January 27, 2015
During the Tuesday build session, several team members traveled to the practice field at Metamora Industries where they used more specialized machines to fabricate swerve parts. In MARS/WARS’s primary shop, the mechanical team used welders and the CNC machine to build parts for the tote elevator and swerve frame. The electrical team continued to wire components and contrive the layout of the electrical board.

electrical board

Monday, January 26, 2015
MARS/WARS began the week with its customary whole team meeting prior to the build session on Monday, January 26. Subteam stars of the week were nominated and each team member proposed a consequence for tardiness. The most popular of these included reading your three most recent text messages or posting a selfie with the mascot to Facebook with a caption selected by the team. The fabrication of the tote elevator was advanced as parts continue to be machined. In addition to this, the physical construction of the electrical board was initiated.



Build Session – Week 3, Part 2

Saturday, January 24, 2015
With the conclusion of the week, the team conducted a meeting during the Saturday build session to reflect on weekly goals and evaluate the progress of the team. Members of the design and electrical team converged to work on the modeling of the electrical board in creo and integrate it into the robot model. Experimentation with the NAVI board has continued throughout the week and the programming team is beginning to experience success with its use. The fabrication team continued to fabricate parts for the swerve drive and tote elevator and assemble these components of the robot.

cassy, ryan, datillo

Thursday, January 22, 2015
MARS/WARS began its build session with what team members like to call “Thank you Thursday,” a time during which each person expresses gratitude to someone. Both humorous as well as heart-felt thank yous are expressed, with replies ranging from “thanks for putting up with me” to team members thanking individuals responsible for founding MARS/WARS. Chassis fabrication continues as team members machine the lower housings of the swerve drive with the CNC mill and assemble gearboxes for steering components. As the modeling team continues to develop parts for fabrication, it has become apparent that the team needs a method by which prints will be organized and stored. MARS/WARS team members worked during this build session to develop a protocol for the depository of these documents. Several more prints were drafted during this build session, which included documentation of a barrel lifter as well as a concept for a three wheeled frame.

Build Sessions – Week 3, Part 1

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Tuesday, January 20, was the first day MARS/WARS was able to implement its new modeling schedule, which enables team members to work for an additional three hours. During this added work time, the modeling team generated prints for parts to forward to the fabrication team. Production of several of these parts began during the regularly scheduled build session that followed the modeling meeting. In addition to this, the team was able to get a swerve drive module functioning in one axis, an important milestone in the team’s production of the chassis.

Monday, January 19, 2015

School was not in attendance in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which enabled MARS/WARS to conduct a full day build session. Refinements to the tote elevator prototype were made to bring it closer to its completion for review. The modeling team made advancements with adjustments to the swerve drive, securing previously shifting parts stationary. The programming team continued to test the swerve drive and has began to implement their code for testing. A team meeting was held at lunch time and team members were informally quizzed on the teams that will be present at the Central Illinois Regional. The sub teams met individually to determine their weekly goals as well as nominate a sub team star for the week.

Open House Announcement

MARS/WARS will be hosting their annual open house on Saturday, February 7. The event will take place in the Ivan Jern Career & Technical Education wing at Metamora Township High School, beginning at 10 am. The open house will include a tour of the team’s workspace with presentations from each sub group depicting their roles in the team as well as exhibition of the team’s most recent MarsCar – an outreach project in its final stages which will be completed in time for the open house. Robot demonstrations will take place, during which guests can view robots from previous competitions in action. MARS/WARS invites you to this event and encourages your attendance. The suggested price of admission is a can of food which will be donated to the local food pantry.

Build Session – Week 2, Part 2

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Saturday, January 18, was a day of great progress for MARS/WARS. Progression with the testing of pneumatics has allowed the team to implement them into their prototypes for experimentation. An example of their application was in a claw for the locomotion of recycling containers. In addition to this, a tote elevator was completed and both prototypes were tested. Both of these potential robot components hold great promise and the team is strongly considering their incorporation in the competitive robot. The final decision regarding the employment of these constituents in the robot will take place following the refinement of the design and function of these parts, toward which the team will spend the following build sessions progressing.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

MARS/WARS is approaching the end of prototyping as they work during their build session on Thursday, January 15. Observation of the modelers would depict the assembly of entire robots, as weight tests are being simulated on the designs. The mechanical team has finished several prototypes, including a claw mechanism and chain to lift multiple tubs. In addition to this, a pneumatics board is being fabricated as the team is considering their usage and would like to evaluate several components of their performance. The mechanical team also restocked the toolbox with soy sauce because they were running low. MARS/WARS found great success with their swerve drive in the 2014 season and intends to use a swerve drive again. Programs for its operation are currently being developed and will be tested in future build sessions. Preparations for driver tryouts are being made as analyses for the driving test are currently in development. Following the build session, a driver practice is being conducted.

3 Weeks to MarsCar Presentation

Wednesday, January 14, 2014

The MARS/WARS junior varsity team continues to meet as they work on the MarsCar outreach project. They conducted a build session for the vehicle on Wednesday, January 14. The bed on the original gator vehicle is unable to be used due to the fact that it is too large. To resolve this dilemma the team is building a custom bed from wood to install on the vehicle. Fabrication of this bed was continued during this build session. In addition to this, modifications to the original drive train has left the gator with a large turning radius. The team also spent this build session working to adjust the steering components of the vehicle and enable it to make sharper turns.


Build Sessions – Week 2, Part 1

 Tuesday, January 13, 2015 

MTCO Communications will be publishing an article written by MARS/WARS team members in the February edition of their Connected magazine. Team 4143 began their build session on Tuesday, January 13, by meeting early to take a group picture for this article. The Mad Hatters, an FLL team sponsored by MARS/WARS, joined the team for this photo. Following the picture the team conducted an activity in which each member stated their favorite FRC. Popular teams included Wave, the Roboteers, Robot Casserole, & Bomb Squad. As the drafting of prototypes approaches its end, the modeling team spent the evening dimensioning and printing their designs to forward for production by the mechanical team. The electrical team built the light control for the robot and the programming team began to program it. In addition to this, the programming team documented the control system connections for the test swerve drive.


Monday, January 12, 2015 

The second week of the competitive build season is underway, and MARS/WARS continues to progress as it conducts its first regular build session of the week on Monday, January 12. Construction of prototypes continue and although none are complete with working motors and programs, team members are already able to manually experiment with parts of incomplete prototypes. The build session came to an exciting close, as the majority of the team gathered around a recycling container to test a mechanism constructed to pick it up. Work within the sub groups was similar to the previous build sessions as the team continues to advance towards the completion of prototyping.


Build Sessions – Week 1, Part 2

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Saturday, January 10, was MARS/WARS’s first full-day build session of the season. The modeling team has completed some of the prototypes for the robot and the mechanical team has already begun to construct several of them. The team hopes to complete these quickly so that they can be tested and a final decision regarding robot design and strategy can be made as a team based upon the results. The electrical team continued to make advancements with their construction of the electrical board was well as establish protocols to maintain organization and ensure success. This includes the finalization of organization systems, the development of a battery charging process, and the drafting of wire maps. The programming team used robot builder to set up an example program which can be deployed to the roboRIO and move a servo to two positions. Additionally, the programming team completed the installation of necessary software on all the Caterpillar laptops loaned to the team for the build season.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Despite the cancellation of school due to severe cold, MARS/WARS conducted a regularly scheduled build session on Thursday, January 8. The team finished organizing the tools and storage areas. Construction on the practice field continued as team members began mark field components on the floor, such as the landfill and the autozone. The electrical team began to wire and map the different electrical components of the robot. Prototype modeling was continued and new prototypes were introduced.


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Due to a school cancellation on Wednesday, January 7, MARS/WARS was able to conduct an additional build session. Unfortunately, not all sub groups were able to meet due to mentor work schedules and their availability. The modeling team worked to continue designing potential prototypes for the robot, including an mechanism to lift multiple totes and a method to pick up the recycle containers. During this session the mechanical team progressed with their construction of the field components to be used on MARS/WARS’s practice field at Metamora Industries.

Build Sessions – Week 1, Part 1

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Tuesday, January 6, was the first full night the team could conduct a regular build season session. The majority of this meeting was spent in sub groups as teams began their work for the season. MARS/WARS team members began to fabricate parts for the swerve drive that will be used on the chassis of the robot. Students also worked on modeling prototypes in Creo, with the intention to complete these by Saturday, January 10. The electrical team conducted health checks on the team’s batteries to determine which will can be utilized throughout the 2015 season. In addition to this, the electrical team drafted an arrangement of the electrical board for the robot and the modeling team began designing it. The programming team completed the installation of necessary software and then began developing programs for the swerve motors of the chassis.

Monday, January 5, 2015

MARS/WARS conducted its first regular meeting on Monday, January 5. However, this meeting was cut short due to inclement weather conditions that developed during the meeting. The first 45 minutes of the session were spent conducting an all-team meeting, during which student expectations were reviewed. In addition to this, a tutorial of trello, the project management software used by the team, was conducted. Following this all-team meeting, students broke into their sub groups to set their goals for the week and select which team member would update their sub group’s status in Trello.