Friday, June 29, 2012

Spectrum Summer Workshop Series 2012

Summer Workshop Series 2012

This weeks marks the start of our first annual summer workshop series. We are spending 7 days learning about many different FRC concepts including the control system, programming in Java, and also Autodesk Inventor.

We invited a few other teams to join for these workshops as well. So far we have had members from four other teams attend our workshops.

We have uploaded the presentation files from the two workshops that are now complete. Please fill free to browse them and to send us any questions or feedback.

Control System*
Power Distribution*
*(Note they don't display properly with the online viewer, download them first to view them properly)

We have 6 more days to go. RSVP Here if you are interested in attending.

Engineering Links of the Week

One of our members made it on to HackaDay: 

- Spectrum

"Why not always act as if the other guy is doing the favor?” - Seth Godin

Friday, June 22, 2012

Moving on to Summer Stage 2

End of Summer Stage 1

This week marks the end of stage 1 of our summer project plan. You can view the entire plan at this link:

We are wrapping up our SPECTaculaR Lego Camp today. It's been a great two weeks at the Boys and Girls Club and we have been able to introduced robotics to over 50 children.

We were able to publish our build log on ChiefdelphiWe are still working on developing several other whitepapers to document some of our projects form this year. We should have whitepapers out about our cart construction, how we used the Sharp IR sensors on our robot and also on setting up vision processing on in OpenCV.

We have made a lot of improvements to Ultraviolet during stage 1 of the summer. It's now a fixed angle shooter. We changed our speed setting algorithm for the shooter to give us much smoother and consistent shots regardless of ball conditions. 

We finished our FLL flyer and have sent it to around 15 schools and we should be able to get wider distribution in the next couple months before schools start back up for the fall.

There are still several things on our list that we didn't get accomplished but hopefully we will catch up during stage 2 of our Spectrum Summer.

Summer Stage 2

Planning for stage two is in full swing. We will be hosting several workshops including the first annual Spectrum Summer Workshop Series. We will be going over the control system, power systems, programming, and CAD. If you're interested in coming to any of these sessions please visit the RSVP link here for complete details: We are also collaborating with Texas Torque (FRC#1477) on a Mentor Workshop. Hopefully this helps strengthen the mentor network in Texas and Houston specifically. The flyer for the Mentor Workshop can be found here.

We have several improvements planned for Ultraviolet before we head to Austin for Texas Robot Roundup on July 28th. We will be completely redoing our collection/elevator system to reduce jamming and to improve the consistency of our ball feed to the shooter. We have observed that this has major affects on the shooter accuracy. We also need to tweak a few problems with the drive train. Most of it is just fixing some damage that we sustained during our competitions. Vision processing is our big goal. We can track targets very well but actually being able to act on that information has been the problem, we have a month to get this right.

We are going to be demoing Ultraviolet at several different events during July. Hopefully we will be able to0 spread FIRST to many people who have never seen competitive robotics.

We're planning to tackle the big task of developing a business plan for our team. One thing the Chairman's Award Judges criticized us for was our sustainability plan. Hopefully by the next FRC season we will have a fully flushed out business plan that will guide Spectrum through future years.

We have a few other whitepapers in the works as well and hopefully these will get published in July.

It's going to be a very exciting month for Spectrum.

Engineering Links of the Week

The Invention of the Battery, presented by MIT K12

Sparkfun's online curriculum is a great resource for learning basics of electronics and hobby microcontrollers. A lot of really good information.

- Spectrum

”Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” - Will Rogers

Thursday, June 14, 2012

SPECTaculaR is Underway

Build Log

Quick note the build log from this build season has been archived and uploaded to Chiefdelphi. Thank you to everyone that helped format and get this ready for publication.


This week is the start of SPECTaculaR "Summer Programs Engaging Children Through Robotics." Our Lego robotics camp at the Spring Branch Family Development Center - Boys and Girls Club.

"This is the bestest thing in science." - one of our campers
That about sums it up for me, the campers are really enjoying the experience and we are having a great time introducing them to robotics.

We will be doing this camp all of next week as well. The campers are having to program their NXT robots to escape a room, race around a track, get out of a maze and many more challenges.

This is very good practice for our team members because we are going to start mentoring Lego League teams next year. All of our members are all learning many new things about the Mindstorms kits.

Engineering Link of the Week

Cornell has assembled an amazing collection of online book about different mechanical mechanism. If you need something to move in a certain way or just can't figure out how to build something there is probably a solution in the this library some where. 

- Spectrum

"It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Preparing for Camp

Lego Camp Preparations
The last couple weeks have been devoted to preparing for the Lego Camp that is starting next week.

Today we were able to run through a few of our lessons with some guests in our lab (siblings and friends).

We built a field that is customizable to a variety of challenges. Each board is movable to make different configurations.

Moving to VEX
Spectrum is changing our fall competition to the VEX Robotics Competition. We have two registered VEX teams 3847A (Agnes) and 3847J (Jesuit), representing our two different schools.

We also put together a few documents to help rookie VEX teams get started.
Suggested Starter Purchases:
Parts Introduction slide show:

Engineering Links of the Week

Leap Motion

- Spectrum

"Everything in the world we want to do or get done, we must do with and through people." ~Earl Nightingale