Build Season 2023
In CHARGED UP presented by Haas, FIRST Robotics Competition teams are inspired to see the potential of energy storage in a new light as they compete to charge up their communities.
MARS/WARS is CHARGED UP and ready for the 2023 season. After Kickoff, MARS/WARS started reading the manual and brainstorming ideas for our robot. On Sunday, the team began to narrow down ideas and our overall strategy. Each subteam was then assigned a specific part of the robot. Many of our mechanical members worked on dissembling the old field and starting the new field, which required a big trip to Menards. The modelers spent hours working on prototypes and different iterations of the pickup mechanisms, which includes the arm and the claw. Programming focused on the vision system and updating the coding software from last season. Business Services was busy during the preseason with organizing the kickoff and it didn't die down once kickoff was over. They are busy planning several events, a couple of fundraisers, our annual open house, and a possible social for the CIR regional.
Shoff Field has been busy this last week. Every day, the mechanical part of the Mechanical Design team has worked hard on finishing the items for the field. Many students have been grouped together and assigned a specific part of the field to build. While mechanical is busy building, the design part of the team, the modelers, are busy with the pickup design. Currently, the team has been working on two different pickup prototypes. This week they have been busy modeling, testing, and then making any changes needed to improve. Some of the other modelers are working on the rest of the arm mechanism. Modelers are looking at what is the most efficient way for the robot to pick up the cone or cube and drop it in the correct location. Control Systems has been working on updating the swerve code and also programming a new code. They have also furthered their work on the vision system. The field has several AprilTags and reflective tape, which will help with placing the game pieces in the correct location. Business Services has officially booked the pre-social for the CIR Regional. We are excited to see the other teams and have a great time at Elevate Trampoline Park. Other exciting news, MARS/WARS is in the middle of our Super Bowl Squares Fundraiser. The team is hoping this fundraiser will help to cover the cost of our new toolbox.
Three weeks in and the field is complete. The team wanted the field complete so they could finally start testing the prototypes. Programming was very busy working on all the codes. They worked on the old swerve, elevator code, arm rotator code, and the claw code. Most of the code was worked on the AlphaBot. The team has been working on two individual robots, the AlphaBot and BetaBot. The AlphaBot is what the team plans on using for competitions, while the BetaBot is used for practice. While programming was busy with the arm and claw code, electrical was wiring both of them. They also did a little work with the batteries. Throughout the week, the team worked on the pickup in hopes of mounting on to the AlphaBot.
The build season is half way over and MARS/WARS is moving right along. This week was very productive as a whole. With the field being complete, the team was able to test the robot and see what improvements needed to be made. The pickup needed some tweaking after a couple dry runs. We noticed that picking up the cubes worked really well, but the pickup need some changes to make picking up the cones easier. The arm, which places the cubes and cones, need a little work. Once it was reconfigured, it worked much better. The improvement on the pickup and arm, allowed our robot to work faster. To help the efficiency, we also took out a stage on the elevator. Programming was busy with coding for picking and placing and also working on getting all of our robots moving (four robots). This week the team also voted on the fun shirt for this season, and finished selling three grids for the Super Bowl Squares. Business Services is continuing to work on the Open House, which is March 4th. They have also scheduled a couple more dates for our outreach program.
As said in week three, the field was completely built, but mechanical added four driver stations this week. Now that it is complete, we have opened our field to other teams to practice on. An actual size field is very rare for robotics teams, so we allow other teams to use it. The students working on the field are now finding little jobs here and there. Some of the students are helping make trophy shelves, organize and clean, or learn about other parts of the team. The programmers have not stopped working. They spent the week working on getting all of the robots running, the robot location, and the drive code. The team chose not to build their swerve drive this year, but plenty of work is still being done on the ones we purchased. This week included a lot of machining because the team is starting to work on the official bot. None of the robots that are built now will be the official competition robot. The robots already built are for prototyping and practice. The modelers were happy to say they finished the model of the elevator and some other significant parts of the robot. With all this going on, the team had the initial drive team test. Next week will be the driver test. The last major event this week was the team's presentation to MABA, a local business association, to educated our community about our team and hopefully spark interest in additional sponsorships.
With this week being the penultimate week, there was a flurry of activity being completed around Shoff Field. With the field now complete, the team was able to have the highly anticipated drive test, where team members get to try out to be a part of the drive team. Many of our mechanical design students were busy this week machining parts for our major components, with many pieces for the final bot being finished and assembled. We also began decoration of the bot, with several pieces being powder coated to our signature black and red. Programming worked on the autonomous pathing for the AlphaBot, while other members worked on creating a system to let the bot travel to any of the numerous April Tags on the field with the push of a button. This has been a requested feature, and has many people excited about the capabilities of our programming. Business Services spent the week working on finalizing preparations for the open house on March 4th, and also developing our scouting app that allows the team to gather information to make match strategy more effective.
Week 7 concludes our official build season. There is still plenty of objectives that need to be done before our first competition. Unfortunately, our team ran into a few bumps in the road this week. The swerve modules needed to be completely taken apart to fix and our limelights died. To fix the limelight problem the team has to switch to photonvision. Even with these issues, there is still a lot of things that programing has to complete. Mostly the robot is done mechanically, but they will still be working on improvements that need to be made. Since we are getting to the end of the season, there isn't much for some of the members to do. Most of these members are cleaning our field and other areas to get ready for the Open House next week. After all the testing, the drive team was officially announced. With the set drive team, the team has been able to practice more. This week we also invited Mechanical Monarchy, which is Washington's team, to come over and practice with us.
St. Louis Regional
The weekend of March 11th, MARS/WARS competed in a Week 2 competition at the St. Louis Regional. Thursday was full of practice matches and our robot seemed to be very promising by the end of the day. On Friday, the start of qualification matches, the team was doing very well and earned lots of ranking points. Throughout all of the qualification matches, the team never dropped below rank 8. At the end of qualification matches, the team finished as the third ranked team. For the finals, we were paired with Ratchet Rockers -1706, Fire Island Robotics - 6420, and USM Robotics Wildcats - 6823. Our alliance did very well, claiming a win at the regional and a spot in the Championships in Houston. This is the first time our team has won the first regional we competed in and the first regional competition win since 2017. This is also the first time the team will be going to the Championships in back to back years. Not only did the team win the regional but they also won the Quality Award, bringing home two trophies, two plaques, and a winners banner.
Central Illinois Regional
After getting home from St. Louis, the team only had a couple days before they would compete again at the Central Illinois Regional for the Week 3 regionals. Once again the team did very well during the qualification matches on Friday and Saturday. Throughout the qualifications, the team stayed pretty high in rankings. When alliance selection came around, the team was picked by the first ranked team, Argos - Team 1756. The other team on our alliance was Ctrl-Z - Team 4096. It was fun for the team to play on an alliance with Argos because they were on the alliance that MARS/WARS beat in the finals at the St. Louis Regional. Thanks to this strong alliance, MARS/WARS won their second regional of the year. This weekend, MARS/WARS made history. This was the first time the team has won both of their regionals in one season. Not only did MARS/WARS win their second regional, but they also brought home the Autonomous Award.