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  • Ryan Lin

Skystone Season (2019-2020): Our Experience

Updated: Jun 23, 2020

This season, most of our members were coming into their second year, and our relatively new group was determined to learn from our past mistakes and improve for this season’s game: Skystone

Process and Development

Meetings: Due to being a geographically-diverse group, with members being from different cities in California to different countries, we spent every Friday on Adobe Connect, meeting with the entire team online to brainstorm, discuss, and implement our plan for the season. Then we tried to meet once a week in the Bay Area to take a full-day to construct the robot physically, apply software in-person, and also to get to know each other face-to-face more.

Hardware: The main hardware components that we decided to use this year were the x-rail and the two claws (one for the block, one for the capstone). Using a linear actuator, we were able to tilt the x-rail so we could move the claws both horizontally and vertically. Also, for the main claw, we had several different servos so that we can make more minute adjustments (i.e., rotation of the claw, grabbing without needing to move the entire robot, etc.). Also, we decided to develop, through CAD and 3-D printing, a separate capstone claw to maximize time saved. A fun note: the capstone pictured below is our school’s mascot.

Software: On the software end, we managed to successfully capture the skystone, move the foundation, and park during the autonomous period. We did this through several cameras, one of which uses Vuforia to navigate, and another uses Open CV to find the skystone. We also implemented software for the teleop period: developing omnidirectional drive and more accurate arm control.

The Tournaments

We made our debut at Jefferson High School’s qualifier in February of 2020, and while we ended up not qualifying for regionals that tournament, we ended up placing 9th and winning the design award. This tournament was a great learning and bonding process for the team, and with our next qualifier only a week away, we used this experience to learn from our mistakes.

Our next qualifier was in Napa, CA -- the Justin-Siena High School qualifier -- and it was an exciting competition. We ended up doing better overall; however, due to some misfortune and close matches, we placed lower than last time. However, due to performing well in the majority of our matches, and making a lasting impact on the judges, we ended the day upbeat. We won the Inspire Award, the grand prize of the FTC tournament, and also the 2nd place Innovate Award and 2nd place Control Award -- because of this, we qualified for regionals!

Though, after a group decision, we were not able to attend regionals because of COVID-19. However, we ended the season with high spirits and even closer than before; we can’t wait for what the future holds for Team 5206, the Knights of Ni. Also, feel free to check out the video below to view one of our matches!

Author’s Note

My name is Sophie, and this was my first year with this robotics team. Before I end, I want to take some time to mention my experience throughout this season, especially as one of the drivers. I came into the team with minimal knowledge with robotics; however, what I loved about this team was that they never made me feel like I didn’t belong, or that I didn’t bring anything to the table, and because of this I was able to improve and better myself. As one of the drivers, I certainly made some errors, but we had an environment where it was okay to make a mistake, and it allowed me to grow. This team stands out from all the other groups I’ve been in throughout my life, and I can’t wait to continue with them for the rest of my high school career.

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