Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Merry Christmas...and a Happy Build Season!

A lot has gone on on the Vanden Robotics Team. The Vanden VEX Competition was a big happening. This year, 8 teams from our Manufacturing Technology class competed. All 8 made it to playoffs, and with a team from Buckingham High School down the road, we won our own competition for the first time in its existence. Since the VEX competition in early December, we have been taking inventory for the mechanical and electrical committees, as well as making a day-to-day plan for build season. We are also have a mock kickoff day the weekend prior to the 2016 FRC Kickoff to go through how we will commence kickoff.
We are officially registered for the Central Valley Regional in Madera, California, the Sacramento Regional in Davis, California, and the Idaho Regional in Boise, Idaho. This will be our first trip to Boise for that regional. We competed at Madera and Davis last year, and were finalists at both. We won the Engineering Inspiration Award at Davis last year.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

More History @ Capital City Classic

How close our robot Heimdall's intake
was from the stack in the 2nd finals match.
If our robot had been touching, the stack
would have been void.
Today was Day 3 of the 2015 Capital City Classic. 17 teams attended, including us, the Citrus Circuits, the Buchanan Bird Brains, and Kennedy Robotics. We ranked 6th at the end of qualifications. We were picked by the #1 seed, Citrus Circuits, making history: this is the first time since the creation of our team that we have been picked by Citrus Circuits. At a qualifying regional, we picked the Citrus Circuits ourselves the year that we helped start their team. Ever since, they have ranked so high in all the competitions that both of us attend that we are unable to be in a position where we could pick them. Anyways, our alliance, along with team 751, Barn2Robotics, scored the highest match of the day at 226. We won the finals and came home with a big trophy. During this competition, rookies on our team got the chance to drive and co-drive Heimdall on Day 1 and Day 2.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

"Intercompetitional Imbroglio"

At CalGames on Friday.
Fixing broken tab.
We didn't leave CalGames as we had hoped. Though Drive Team B got much experience from the competition, we had numerous robot and drive team problems throughout the day. It was in our last qualifications match that we realized that the front right Mecanum CIM motor was not responding. After the match, we traced it to a dead Talon that had been unresponsive the entire competition. It was then that we understood why we had made 6-stacks in each match but were unable to fully move throughout the match. Along with that, 2 tabs on our hay squeeze broke, making manipulating containers and totes almost impossible if not for the use of a Dremel and pairs of safety glasses. We had no raw materials. Team 649, M-Set Fish, a team on our upcoming match's alliance, proposed the idea of adding parts of a pair of safety glasses. We tried out the idea, and with rivets and a tape, it happened to be stronger than our originally made tabs. We were able to manipulate containers and toes for the rest of the day. Drive Team B's driver didn't realize that one can't strafe and turn Heimdall at the same time, as it heavily drains the robot's battery voltage. Nevertheless, Drive Team B learned from mistakes and got experience. We end 24th out of 36th, being a 2nd pick on the 5th seeded alliance. The video is a very close attempt of a 3-tote autonomous during practice while at CalGames.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Into CalGames

A lot has gone on since school started. We have almost 20 rookies in the Manufacturing Technology and Robotics classes combined, along with 15 veterans. We just got a new laser cutter (above), and it works pretty well. CalGames starts today. A group of veterans and rookies from out team left during 7th period for San Jose to set up the pit, robot, and do a couple of practice matches. The whole team is leaving tomorrow at 5:30am for Lynbrook High School for all of the matches.
Also, the Vanden Robotics Foundation is now listed as a charity under Amazon. If you shop using Amazon.com, you can help donate to the Vanden Robotics Foundation by simply doing normal Amazon shopping. Our rohotics foundation and team get a portion of the proceeds. All you have to do is shop by clicking the link on our website (www.vandenrobotics.com) or by simply clicking the link below. You can bookmark this link on your web browser whenever you want to shop via Amazon.com!

AmazonSmile Shopping Link

Monday, August 24, 2015

Starting School

Mr. Green showing Autodesk Inventor 2016.
This year is going to be a blast. We currently have 4 classes in one period, 7th period: Manufacturing Technology, Automation Engineering, AP Computer Science, and the Robotics/Principles of Engineering class. Currently, the AP CS class, of which consists two students, is working on the assignment for the first quarter. The group of people from Man Tech as well as AutoEng are working on learning Autodesk Inventor 2016 and creating/improving their competency in this program. We have around 30 students this year on the robotics team as of right now.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Back to School

Summer has been hot but great. We hosted our rookies camps in June and August, and they were a big success. Just like last season, about 1 out of every 2 students on our team is a rookie. 1:1 ratio of rookies to veterans.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Intuitive Surgical RoboNanza

A group from our team went to Intuitive Surgical down in Sunnyvale for their RoboNanza. We were expecting a 2015 Recycle Rush field, but IS jazzed up the goals of the game by putting in obstacles...and using tables as protection instead of 10 ft tall plastic. We only had one person from this past season's drive team that went, who was our co-driver, Fish. He decided that since this wasn't an actual competition and really just an "exhibition," anyone could drive the robot. We had 4 different drivers and 3 different co-drivers. We all got a feel of driving the robot in some way.
Fish teaching Gabby the co-driver controls.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Rookie Camp, Day 1

We had almost 20 rookies show up for Rookie Camp at school. We talked about what FIRST is, the game for this past season, matches from the FIRST World Championship, and our 2015 robot Heimdall, along with the reveal video. We did the Human Knot with the rookies, played around with water balloons (a few may have gotten completely soaked), and played dodgeball. Day 1 was a fun, loving, bonding time at Vanden High School.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Programming in Summer

Today, we had our first programming session of the summer. We had about 20 students, rookies and veterans, that showed up for today's class. Everyone received vandenrobotics.com Google accounts. Some alumni from this past school year returned as mentors.

Friday, May 08, 2015

2015-16 Leadership

For the first time in team history, we have two ties for leadership. For business director, Tiara and Mikey tied with 17 votes each. Edesiri and Gabby tied as candidates for outreach director at 16 votes each. They will remain as co-heads.

2014-15 Student Leadership (Old)
President: Leah Green (senior)
Vice President: Omena Mushale (junior)
Engineering Director: Armando Mora (senior)
Secretary: Mackensie Murphy (junior)
Business Director: Patricia Mendoza (senior)
Outreach Director: Edesiri Mushale (sophomore)

Design Heads: Will Asper (senior) and Mackensie Murphy (junior)
Electrical Head: Patricia Mendoza (senior)
Mechanical Head: Nick Fisher (junior)
Programming Head: Aaron Singh (senior)

2015-16 Student Leadership (New)
President: Ryan Lee (senior)
Vice President: Connor Thrasher (junior)
Engineering Director: Nick Fisher (senior)
Secretary: Mackensie Murphy (senior)
Business Directors: Mikey Acosta (senior) and Tiara Dayrit (junior)
Outreach Directors: Gabby Hansen (junior) and Edesiri Mushale (junior)

Design Head: Mackensie Murphy (senior)
Electrical Head: Johnny Perez (junior)
Mechanical Head: Mikey Acosta (senior)
Programming Head: Ryan Lee (senior)

2014-15 RPM Leadership (Old)
President: Mr. Mark Crusoe
Vice President: Mrs. Ruby Mora
Secretary: Mrs. Melanie Green
Treasurer: Mr. Duane Murphy

2015-16 RPM Leadership (New)
President: Mr. Mark Crusoe
Vice President: Mrs. Bernadette Aldrich
Secretary: Mr. Greg Duffy
Treasurer: Mr. Duane Murphy

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Giving Back to Genentech

Today, we visited the Genentech facility in Vacaville. There, we demonstrated our 2013 robot, Beowulf, and displayed its Frisbee-shooting ability to children of Genentech workers, as it was "Bring Your Children to Work Day." We also set up a VEX field for children to drive the little VEX robots around, mounting skyrises and cubes. Heimdall is still in the middle of the U.S. somewhere, probably in a warehouse waiting to be shipped. We gutted Freyja and Fergie, as well as our 2015 practice bot. The only functional robot we have right now is Beowulf, though that will most likely be "refurbished, as many of its elements (e.g. polycord, "Fruit by the Foot", intake design elements) are almost completely worn out.

Sunday, April 26, 2015


We did the unexpected at the FIRST World Championships this past week. In our past 5 trips to champs, we have never made it to division playoffs or won an award. This season, we made H15TORY! In the Curie Division, we ended in 6th place at the end of qualifications. As the captain of the 5th seeded alliance, we chose 1816, the Green Machine, and 5046, Jacked Up Jackets. We lost in quarterfinals, but we we were all so happy with making it this far. On top of that we won the Gracious Professionalism Award, out of 152 teams (Carver and Curie divisions). At this point, we are ecstatic. We've never won an award at champs, and this week, we made H15TORY. At champs, the Gracious Professionalism Award is practically the 3rd Place Chairman's Award. Though we did not win the Chairman's Award this season, we still feel like champions.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Triple Finals...+Championships

We headed into the Lone Star Regional looking for a regional win and possible Chairman's blue banner. Basically, we had a vision of walking out with a blue banner. Though we did not receive one this time, we still made it to finals. In all of our three qualifying regionals this season, we have made it to finals. W were the #2 seed almost throughout the whole competition, making the #2 seeded alliance with team 4587, Jersey Voltage (robot: duo, Ratman and Bobin), and team 57, the Leopards after #1 seed Robonauts, team 118, picked #3 seed CRyptonite, team 624. Since we, the Robonauts, and CRyptonite have already earned trips to the FIRST World Championships prior to this regional, all teams on both alliances get to go to the World Championships in St. Louis. We also won the Quality Award, our second award this season.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

The Lone but Fast Star

The Lone Star Regional has come pretty quickly. We've made some adjustments to Heimdall. We added can burglars, since we have come to a pretty unanimous decision that containers are absolutely essential in scoring big in this year's game. We created more tabs for our robot, since we've broken a couple. We continued troubleshooting our 3-tote autonomous program. A lot of practice hours have gone in for the practice bot as we continue increasing our consistency. That is another epiphany we have come to: consistency is key in winning matches, especially in playoffs. Lone Star has come quick, but we are ready for it.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Bringing Home Medals, A Banner, and a Trip to Champs

These past two weeks have been ecstatic for our team. At the Central Valley Regional 2 weeks ago, we ranked 3rd, creating the 2nd seeded alliance with 2102, Team Paradox, and 1662, Raptor Force Engineering. We became regional finalists. Since 1678, the captain team of the winning alliance, already won a regional, we became the wild card team and received a trip to the FIRST World Championships in St. Louis. Now at the Sacramento Regional this weekend, we ranked 5th, being the 2nd pick of the 4th seeded alliance with captain 2085, the RoboDogs, and 568, the Nerds of the North, from Alaska. We became finalists once again. Citrus Circuits won again as the 1st seeded alliance. Our whole alliance is headed to world championships. On top of that, we won the Engineering Inspiration Award. We were shooting for the prestigious Chairman's award, but we will take this any competition.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Out of the Valley, We're Going to Champs!!!

We performed exceptionally well at the 2015 Central Valley Regional at Madera South High School. We placed 3rd overall in qualifications, and captained the #2 seeded alliance with 2102, Team Paradox, and 1662, Raptor Force Engineering. We were #2 through quarterfinals and semifinals. We lost in the final matches to 1678, Citrus Circuits, and 254, the Cheesy Poofs, but since Cheesy Poofs already won a regional, we advance to the FIRST World Championships as a wild card team since we were the captain of the alliance that went to finals.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Working on Practicing

We still have yet to finish the carriage mounting on the practice bot. No bot means no driver practice and programming troubleshooting, so currently that is our first priority. Our second priority is our new battery cart, which is still in the making. Our final deadline for that is next Wednesday, as we head to Madera the following day Thursday for the Central Valley regional. We are hopefully going to have that done by Monday. The Chairman's team is practicing their presentation and working on the video outline. We have many interviews recorded; all we need now is an organized structure of the video.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

(End Build...Begin Competition) Season

We've booked Sierra Vista all week for drive practice and carriage testing with the practice bot. Competition organization as begun: beads being ordered, team spirit gear, and more. We submitted our Chairman's essay yesterday. Our Chairman's video is under way, doing pretty well and full of student and alumni interviews. We've also been working on the battery cart, as that is a major priority for competition.
We also made a compressor backpack for quickly filling up our pneumatic tanks with air. This is just for practice, not for actual use during competition as that violates FRC competition rules.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Day 46: Heimdall NOOOOOO!

We had a great time at the potluck this evening. Heimdall was working decently for some time utnil the carriage slipped and slanted as it dropped a stack of four totes. The carriage is loose and we are officially 0.8 lbs over. We took off a tiny component and bagged and tagged Heimdall. The carriage is still with us as we are going to do further testing with it on the practice bot.
Heimdall with Team 5496 RoboKnights' robot at Sierra Vista during drive practice.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Day 45: Heimdall's Finally in the Trailer

We about finished Heimdall today. We were taking more time than expected to work on the wedges for the carriage and we needed time at Sierra Vista to practice with Heimdall (since we have only practiced driving with the practice bot, not Heimdall), so we stuck with tabs and took Heimdall over to Sierra Vista. We got the camera connected and functioning.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Day 44: Savage

Today we worked all day as well. We focused on wiring up the electrical board to the motors and other on-bot electrical components at first. We then shifted our focus to testing the motors and the Solenoid to make sure the electricl components were functioning correctly. We added LEDs to the top of the robot. Many programming modifications were made. The drive team did more practice with the practice bot at Sierra Vista.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Day 43: Ri3D: Day 2 of Heimdall

Today we camped out in the electrical room, mechanical room, and the woodshop. We worked all day today, a 12-hour shift. We riveted the electrical board to Heimdall and continued drilling holes in the frame for the constant force springs and more. Some of us went to the 692 Fembots' scrimmage to scout robots and their way of performing on the field.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Day 42: 6 Weeks Gone... Now, Robot in 3 Days?

3 more days. We've worked on the practice bot to the point where there is nothing else doing for it other than practice and troubleshooting driving and programming. Heimdall is still in the making. We're still attaching transmissions. On the bright side, the electrical team finished the final electrical board (above).

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Day 41: An Early 2nd Semester Final

Today we really went in hard on working on Heimdall's frame. Not all of the holes were drilled before we sent it to powder coating, so we had to drill in holes now (see previous post's picture). The electrical and design teams worked on the final electrical board.

Day 40: Goodbye, Proto

Our main focus today was to take apart Proto. As Heimdall is currently being welded and its frame being worked on (below), we need electrical and mechanical components of our robot design. Our practice bot is fully functional for the use of drive practice, and Proto is now completely unnecessary as we are now already putting together Heimdall. We started taking off electrical components and some parts of the frame of Proto.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Day 39: Practice

A group of us went over to Sierra Vista today to practice driving and programming. Back at Vanden the CNC was still working on Heimdall's parts and welding still took place. More to come soon!

Monday, February 09, 2015

Day 38:=0

We burnt out the pneumatics control module, so we ordered more. The electrical team continued to work on soldering the driver station control panel, specifically the co-driver panel. We discussed putting sponsor banners throughout the drafting room as we prepare for the press release day on the end of build season. At the RPM meeting this evening, we were able to drive the practice bot exceptionally well, being able to stack a container on top of two totes and drive around with it.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Day 37: Conclusion and Inception

Clamping down Heimdall for welding.
Part of the whole team went again to Sierra Vista for more practicing and troubleshooting of the practice bot. Meanwhile, back at Vanden, the electrical team worked on soldering limit switch wires for the new driver station control panel. The mechanical team continued welding the frame of Heimdall which is nearly finished. Freyja is now officially in three pieces: frame, intake, and ballistae. Some others worked on the Chairman's essay and presentation

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Day 36: Bit-Breaking Botheration

A part of the team (drive team and lead programmers) went over to Sierra Vista Elementary, where our practice field is. They did some runs with the practice bot fixed numerous chinks in mechanics and programming. The group that remained at Vanden clamped the chain to the practice bot and worked on tensioning. We worked on the location of the limit switch and other wires, and worked on the idler wheel for speed, distance, and travel.

Friday, February 06, 2015

Day 35: Objectives

Discussing our big objectives to be completed over this weekend. We want to have Heimdall welded by Sunday night so we can send it to powder coating. The electrical team is going to cut out the final electrical board for Heimdall, fix the encoders, and work on the pneumatic sensor intake for the practice bot. The mechanical team will work on Heimdall's forks, X-bracing, and hay squeezer supports. The programming team will work on the disc brake, and the design team will work on wheels.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Day 34: Constant Force Springs

The title can tell you on of our main objectives today. We attached constant force springs to the practice bot, as well as the elevator. We also conducted drive team tests today, for co-driver and driver. Results are being processed currently. Heimdall's parts are still being CNCed and welded.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Day 33: 3Bots

We worked on welding parts for the final robot, and the CNC continued its work of cutting out final parts. The electrical team repositioned the limit switch out of the line of the elevator. We discussed more ideas for holding the tires in place. Practice bot is about finished.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Day 32: Switching Limits

Today the electrical team soldered limit switch wires for the practice bot and added connectors to them. We are still CNCing part for Heimdall, our final robot. We finished gutting Freyja from last year.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Day 31: Practice Bot

Our main objective today was to finish the practice bot. We officially finished the wiring of the PDP. We worked on attaching the hay squeezer.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Day 30: 2Bots

We attached the intakes to the robots. Now all we need to add is the hay squeezer. We plan to finish our practice bot by today and have Heimdall's frame and components sent to the powder coating company by next Monday. In the picture, our practice bot is on the left and our proto version of Heimdall is on the right.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Day 29: Practice Schedule

We put together the intakes and started drilling holes for the electronics frame. We also started creating a practice schedule for the competition drive team to practice with our practice bot (right).

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Day 26: Website Changes and More

We made some edits to our website homepage. We added the dates of our competitions. We also added a countdown clock counting down to the end of build season. Along with that, we added a picture slideshow of our platinum sponsors. We added the final electrical board to the practice bot to make sure it fit and how it looks. The mechanical team that stayed after school worked on attaching the spool to the practice bot. The programming team worked on programming the Xbox controllers for each driver.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Day 25: No More Soddering

The electrical team finished Soddering the limit switch wires and encoder wires. After shrinking heat shrink tuning in the wires at the panel connections and soddering sites, we attached them to Heimdall. We are still working on the elevator. We about finished the final electrical board.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Day 24: DRIIIVE!

We got Heimdall drving today (above) and picking up totes. We are programming it for driving over the ramp. Soddering finally finished today with the limit switches. We've made a practice bot (robot frame with Mecanum wheels for drive practice) and Heimdall, the protobot-soon-to-be-finalbot.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Day 23: Changing the Elevator Design

We drove in certain scenarios and tested current readings to better understand how proficient the motors were. We removed the hay squeezer and tried a different design for it to go lower to the ground. We started adding stoppers for the elevator.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Day 22: Tweaking

We added a stage to the motors for more power for lifting the elevator. We attempted to fix the hay squeezer design, and did many tests on the new elevator with currents to see the amount of energy and how we can fix the motors. We also worked on the final electrical board (right).

Friday, January 23, 2015

Day 21: Heimdall

We chose our robot name: Heimdall, who is the gatekeeper of Asgard. As you can see, we've now added the elevator design to the new Mecanum chassis.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Day 20: Continuation

Today the electrical team continued working on the final electrical. We thought of names for this year's final robot. We mounted I-Bolts for the elevator. We continued working on robot components.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Day 19: Finalizing Edits

The mechanical team mounted the spool to the first prototype. The second prototype frame was fitted with its transmission mounts. The electrical team started working on the final electrical board. The design team started working on the second version of the intake and the detachable hay squeezer design on Autodesk Inventor. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Day 18: Switching Gears

Today we really went in hard on switching to Mecanum wheels and driving. We were able to, today, start strafing with our prototype using those wheels. The electrical team continued soldering encoder cables, and the design team continued working on fixing kinks in the Autodesk Inventor design of the robot.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Day 17: Cut Connection

We continued working on the connection between the drive chassis and the elevator. The electrical team worked on soddering encoder cables. The design team continued working on the elctrical board on Autodesk Inventor.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Day 16: Slide 'n' Ride

Today we worked from 10-4. The programming team worked on slide drive. Fish worked on welding the carriage for the elevator. We began attaching the elevator to the drive chassis.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Day 15: Intake

We drove our current prototype today for the first time, of course without the intake design. We added the intake motors to the prototype. The design team cleaned up the electrical room while the mechanical committee worked on the intake.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Day 14: Omni-Everything!

     We worked for 4 hours yesterday from 3-7. Our scoring platform feild pieces were completed. The gears ordered finally came in and were installed into the omni frame. The omni frame was given to electronics and the electronics board is installed. Our goal is to have the omni frame driving at the latest on Sunday, preferably as soon as Saturday. It's all up to programming now. The hay squeezer resizing has been finished. The design team finished designing our new intake and tomorrow we will CNC them out and install them onto the omni frame.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Day 13: Progressive

We redid the electrical board because the aluminum underneath the Talons was barely cutting into the space of one of the motors. We angle filed the aluminum to fit its dimensions and then put all of the electrical components back together. Also, the Buckingham Charter High School team came over today, and we helped them with encoded motors (see above).

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Day 12: Work, Work, Work

We finished the prototype electrical board. There's room for improvement, but now programming can program using the new board for this year. We finished programming omni drive, and also finished resizing the elevator. We received our new slide. We finished designing the hay squeezer on Autodesk Inventor.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Day 11: Run-of-the-Mill

Today was busy as usual. We started working on the elctrical board and bolted the PDP, pneumatics control module and voltage regulator module. We still have yet to position the RoboRio, and the Talons are still in the working. We continued designing the layout of the electrical board on Autodesk Inventor.We started putting together some of the custom CNC transmission mounts. We reset one of the RoboRios.