Our second season of FTC, Res-Q, led to improvements in all aspects of the competition. Our roster consisted of Aaron, Benjamin, Braden (new), Gray, Jacob, Matthew, Nicholas, Richard, and Samuel (new). Our team mentors included Mr. Glen Phelps and Mrs. Cathy Fisher. Coaches were Coach Linda and Coach Andy.
At the beginning of the season we evaluated our team’s performance from our previous season. We discussed what we were most proud of, what improvements should be made and how, meeting goals, pre-season preparation, team organization, etc. We took place in a LEGO Robotics challenge at The Citadel, and had many fun outings and get togethers in the offseason. Over the offseason we also greatly improved and updated our business plan, held a fundraising event, and had basic summer training for the new members. We formed sub teams to help keep our members more focused on the tasks that needed to be completed. This helped us to be more efficient, but members in some of the smaller sub teams frequently ran out of things to do.
Our season started with us learning all of the changes that would take place. We had a new programming and field control system to work with this year, along with new robot controllers. We also started using Google Docs and Google Drive for our engineering notebook and file organization and PTC Windchill for our Creo parts. Workboard was an online organization software that we tried to use, but it was a little to difficult for us to make good usage out of during the season. A 3-D printer was also set up in the lab where we work, and we were allowed to use it.
Once the challenge was released, we immediately got to brainstorming. We compiled a list of all of the challenge objectives and ranked them from highest priority to least. We then decided our master strategy so that we could focus on creating a good robot right away and not waste too much time deciding on goals, a mistake we made last season. Once we got a functioning drivetrain we got to work on adding our subassemblies. At this time we also made a Creo model of our drivetrain and assemblies, something we had declined to do before. After a main chassis and attachments were created, minor improvements were made on them up until the competition to create a more consistent robot. At this time we did not try to think of more ideas for the robot and just stuck with what we had. Some improvements included, grooving the treads and merging two arm attachments into one.
As a side note, about a month away from state our Power Distribution Module quit, which made it impossible to program or run the robot. This made us all rather frustrated and scared, but because we weren’t trying to do anything new at this point, we did not fall behind at all.
Aside from working on the robot, we had several outreach events. Some new FLL and FTC teams visited us during meetings to see how we functioned and to learn some tips. We hosted an FTC scrimmage and took our robot to many STEM events and engineering conventions. We obtained several new sponsors and went on plant tours of some of the companies.
After State we evaluated our performance both as a team and compared to our competition. Our improved scouting allowed us to pick winning alliance partners, and we agreed that improving that even more for the South Super Regional would be even more important. A few more minor changes were made, like adding small flaps to our beacon triggers and reinforcing our winch system. We attempted to add a debris collection system to our arm, but we ran out of time shortly before it was ready. In the interim we finished a full 3-D model of the robot and raised funds for our trip to Texas.