Thank you for following along on our FIRST Tech Challenge Rookie Season. We are an all girls team, three year veterans of FIRST LEGO League and recipients of the 2020 Montana State FIRST LEGO League Champion’s Award. This page is arranged chronologically, newest at the top.
5/17/2021 – 2021 Montana State FTC Championship – Results
This is so exciting for us. In our rookie season our robot was the 2nd ranked robot, we were awarded the 2nd Place Inspire Award, the Motivate Award and the Promote Award.
Chief Engineer Lexi, is the Montana Dean’s List Finalist. Lexi advances to a pool of 158 students, from which 10 will be selected as Dean’s List Winners.
Their Promote Award Video (https://youtu.be/peWA7ClgYhA) will also advance to “Worlds”.
This year there will be a FIRST Season Celebration instead of a World Championship this year, online on 6/24 where we will learn the results of the Promote Award and Dean’s List.
Next for us is a much deserved trip to Idaho, where we are meeting up with Girl Scout FTC team #14822 from Spokane. We are going to share FTC knowledge, hang out and have fun.
Beyond that we are going to rest this summer after the longest FIRST season ever. We’ll keep everyone up to date as we do fundraisers for next season.
Thank you everyone for your support and encouragement.
For those that are new to FTC. Here is our complete sixth match from the State Championship, recorded from 2 camera angles. The first 30 seconds is “autonomous” where the robot runs completely based on a written program and sensor inputs. Top rings are 12 points. 15 points for moving the wobble goal to the correct square based on the robots ability to recognize how many rings are stacked in front of it at the start. 5 points for parking over the white line. The next 90 seconds is “teleop” where the robot is remote controlled by 2 drivers. We pickup and shoot rings for points. We are only allowed to possess 3 rings at one time. Top rings are 6 points. The last 30 seconds is “endgame”, 20 points for picking up and moving the wobble goal over the front wall. This match was our season goal of 166 points. It’s so cool that we were able to do this in competition. Side note: You only see 4 girls in the video. Katie (our Lead Programmer) is our scorekeeper and she’s to the left of the scoreboard off camera, but she’s there. 🙂 Behind the goal is Zia, our Ringmaster. To the right, is Lexi the driving coach, Jessie the shooter and Kennedy the driver.
Next season we are hopeful that we will return to traditional live competition. For example, here’s a match from Utah this season. 4 robots in the arena. 8 drivers. Exciting!
5/15/2021 – Montana State FTC Championship – Remote matches, presentation and interview complete! Now we wait 🙂
We recorded our first 3 matches on Tuesday night. Auto went wrong in our first 2 matches, we think this may have been either a starting point issue, or maybe a wheel issue or both. But still, our scores came out good. In our third match we recorded our best official time of the season (to date).
Friday (last night), we gave our remote presentation and judges interview. It went really well. We did realize after, one of the judges had asked about our superfast 6000 rpm motor. We maybe should’ve mentioned that it is slowed down in the programming, because otherwise it would definitely shoot further than the rules allow. Hopefully they look at our code in our portfolio & notebook if they have questions.
We tightened up a wheel, and moved a piece of code in our autonomous to spin up our flywheel at “play”, rather than waiting until it gets to the launch line. We don’t know why we didn’t think of this sooner. That brought our consistent 1 mid, 2 high ring launch in auto, to 3 high rings. 6 more points each match. It hadn’t had enough time to spin up the flywheel to full speed before the belt fed the first ring. Our last 3 matches were great! #alwaysimprovingAll but 1 match were higher than our top qualifier score. Our #UltimateGoal for the state championship was 800+ total points. We are happy to say, we exceeded our goal. We finished off our evening by cleaning up and packing out of the Posse building and having celebratory ice cream sundaes.
Most of the teams had interviews this morning. We hope they all went well. Now its a waiting game. The judges have a tough job ahead the next couple of days. We hope to have results by Tuesday or Wednesday. We’ll share some match video and scores when we get the results. Thank you to our sponsors and supporters. Good luck to all the Montana FTC Teams!
5/10/2021 – It’s time for the Montana State FTC Championship
We have had a whirlwind couple of weeks getting ready for the Montana Championship. Special thanks to the Flathead County Sheriff’s Posse for letting us move in to their gym for 9 days so that we can have enough room for spectators.
We got the new brain installed and tested.
We also submitted our Engineering Portfolio and Promote Video. We start recording Championship matches tomorrow night.
Promote Video scripted, directed and produced by Dean’s List Semi-Finalist and Chief Engineer Lexi
5/6/2021 – Exhibition Night and Brain Issues
We hosted an FTC Exhibition night and invited our Team Sponsors, families and community members. We gave a presentation, explained this year’s challenge and demoed 3 matches. It went very well, other than our Control HUB random power cycle issues increased in frequency so much that we could just barely complete a match. The next morning Coach Krista called REV support, they sent us a new brain.
5/4/2021 – Kermit is complete
It’s amazing! We started this journey in July and now we have our first finished FTC robot. Tomorrow night we are packing up and moving to the Flathead County Sheriff’s Posse building for the next 9 days.
4/25/2021 – Soldering Lessons
We had a cable for our Blinkin LED Driver that needed an XT-30 connector. After driving practice this morning, team mentor Richard gave a lesson on soldering. Jessie rem
oved the existing connector, cut and stripped the wires and soldered the new connector. Then Kennedy got the Blinkin working! Woohoo! We now have colored lights for Kermit!
4/18/2021 – Pew! Pew! Pew!
In practice today our epic drive team scored an amazing team record. 166!!! No only that, in two hours every practice run but 2 were over 100 points. Most between 112-138. State is 3 weeks away.
4/15/2021 – Shooting Rings and Shooting Video
Driving, driving, driving. Drive practice is the name of the game at this point. Also, we have begun recording voice overs for our Promote Video. We are asking other teams to send us photos of their teams in action to use in our video. Our creative angle in our video is “inclusion”. This is better achieved with photos from many teams, not just ours. If you’d like to send us a photo or short video clip to use, reach out via our “contact us” page. Also, Dr. Dan finished our lower panels and we are excited to get them installed.
4/13/2021 – Programming Complete
We are so relieved, no one more than Katie, that we are done with programming for the season. We have time in auto to maybe do some other things, but with 3.5 weeks until the state championship we need to focus on perfecting what we have. What we have is great! We have a consistent 50-56 point autonomous and a capable teleop program. Our presentation needs a little tweaking. Our Engineering Portfolio is almost done. We have a great script and storyboard for our Promote Video.
4/8/2021 – Epic Outreach
We had an amazing outreach and educational opportunity today at Kalispell Regional Healthcare. Our team was able to learn about and test out the da Vinci Surgical System. All of us were able to use the surgical robot to attempt the dexterity training tasks on the operating table. We also learned about careers related to surgical robots. The surgical staff was wonderful, sharing their time and knowledge with us. We were able to share with them about FIRST Tech Challenge and our robot Kermit. da Vinci can perform major surgery, but can he throw rings? Kermit can! Thank you Kalispell Regional! Here’s a video highlight reel of our adventure.
4/6/2021 – Updating Kermit and Championship News
It’s official! The Montana FTC Championship will take place (remotely) the week of May 8th-14th. Over the weekend we finished up Girl Scout cookie booths, and we did AWESOME! Thank you to NWMT Fair and everyone who came out to support us. This week we added supports for lower body panels, adjusted our autonomous code and made some additions to our engineering journal and presentation. Next week the new low panels go on and we’ll do some weight balancing. It’s all practice and perfecting from there.
3/29/2021 – FTC Montana Regional Qualifier Results
We are thrilled to report the results of our first FTC tournament. For the robot game we had the 2nd Ranked Robot. We are the Winners of the Connect Award, and we received 2nd Place for the Think Award.
We never would’ve guessed in our rookie season, with only 8 months in to FTC, that we would do so well in our first competition. We have learned so much!
Congratulations to all the teams for persevering in these uncertain times. This hasn’t been easy with random quarantines, blended school models, etc. Everyone has had to work really hard to stay engaged and keep moving forward. Congrats to 8271 E-Hackers for winning the Inspire Award, 4133 Fusion for Inspire 2nd Place, and 4133 Fusion for having the Top Ranked Robot. Seriously, Fusion’s robot score blew ours out of the water, WELL DONE! Fusion does well each season, it’s awesome to come in second to them! There’s really some good close competition though, 17097 Protostars take home 4 awards, 4273 Aluminati, 373 Sydney High School and 16133 Talk NERDY to Me also did quite well. State really could be anyone’s game.
Thank you to all of our team sponsors, community supporters, friends and family. None of this would’ve been possible without you. Next, we’ll use what we have learned, improve our robot, Engineering Portfolio and Judge’s Presentation and take on the Montana State Championship Tournament!
Full qualifier tournament results here: https://ftc-events.firstinspires.org/2020/USMTBOQT1
3/23/2021 – We finished all of our robot game rounds for the Montana Regional Qualifier today. We only had one bum robot round. The other five were great. We learned a few lessons today, so we do have a couple things to improve upon before the state championship. We won’t know the qualifier tournament results until next week sometime. Girl Scouts of Montana and Wyoming asked for a video of our robot, so we made this today too. Meet Kermit!
3/22/2021 – We have autonomous! Our first autonomous, and it works every time, every zone! Yay! Montana Regional Qualifier interviews done yesterday. Tomorrow we’ll do our robot game rounds.
3/15/2021 – WOW! It has been quite a season. Sorry for the radio silence, but we have been busy. School has continued in occasionally fractured ways with COVID precautions, quarantines, school from home, etc. We are happy to report that we have all stayed generally healthy all winter. We’ll post a few recent updates below.
Goals before the Montana State Qualifier:
- Pulley system to hold up the intake roller prior to initialization (to fit within 18″ cube)
- Mount camera
- Wire management
- Lots of Driving Practice
- Polish Engineering Journal
- Team Number on Robot
- Finish autonomous programming
- Presentation/Interview Preparation
Add Intake pan and rearrangement of intake rollers
Adding a top platform to mount electronics
3/7/2021 – Kermit v0.83 — Adding stationary wheel to launcher. We thought we were ok with a straight side rail across from the flywheel, but that made the rings fly WAAAAY to the left. We traded it out for a stationary wheel. It is not quite even with the flywheel, which still makes the rings launch slightly to the left, we’ll fix it later if we find time.
Custom plate added with help from Mentor Richard.
2/15/21 – Introducing our Dean’s List Semi-Finalist:
Chief Engineer Lexi! Lexi is a Junior at Glacier High School. This is her 4th year in FIRST, and first in FTC. She has a 3.86 cumulative GPA including a solid 4.0 for the last 3 semesters. Lexi enjoys choir and art and plans to major in Media Arts with a focus in Animation and Graphic Design. She also plans to continue mentoring RoboScout Squad after graduation. Let’s all congratulate her and wish her luck in the interview process.
2/14/2021 – Attaching the conveyor belt assembly
Raising, lowering, evening out, now how to mount the flywheel.
2/9/2021 – Chassis disassembly again – Kermit v0.8
We are on our 4th chassis iteration. Ugh. Next season, we’ll try to not do this to ourselves.
1/10/2021 – Flathead Warming Center put out a wish list this weekend and Girl Scout Troop 3709/RoboScout Squad jumped into action. The troop set a budget from their cookie earnings, price checked items and decided how to best use their funds to fill needs. Water, warm gloves, sweats, orange juice, garbage bags, bleach wipes, backpacks and even some Girl Scout Thin Mints. They made their delivery this evening. You can keep up with Flathead Warming Center and their wish lists on their Facebook page. Thank you to our community for supporting us, so that we can have important learning experiences and support others.
9/29 & 10/6/2020 – More Field Assembly and beginning to rebuild Kermit the robot: Tonight we completed assembly of one tower goal. Handy items this evening would’ve been sturdy gloves for holding the “churro”, a drill for the threading screws, a utility knife for the coroplast and extra zip ties in case of mistakes. The “churro” is a fluted piece of aluminum that isn’t threaded. Sturdy threading screws are provided but cranking those in each end with manual driver wasn’t pleasant without gloves. Gloves are on the list of suggested equipment, it doesn’t tell you why, but that’s why. The churro was a beast. If you haven’t built a tower yet, specifically the power shot setup, have leather work gloves and a power drill.
We watched this very helpful video from FTC and Team Gluten Free #11115 (retired) about how remote events will work. It’s quite thorough, other than it doesn’t cover scoring, which can be found in Game Manual 2 for Remote Events, section 4.5.2. We’ll do a post later about the online scoring system once we have a chance to learn about it.
We started working on Kermit v0.7. We made it as far as the chassis frame, but have since learned we are going to be getting a goBILDA v2 Strafer Chassis Kit with upgraded parts, so we’ll hold off a couple weeks before continuing drivetrain build.
We also got a brief start on intake and shooting prototypes. The two intake concepts we are working on are a gecko wheel intake and a surgical tubing intake. Sadly we didn’t make it far with the shooting prototype as the shaft on our Yellowjacket 1620 rpm motor wasn’t milled correctly so we couldn’t attach it to our flywheel gearbox. We received a replacement within 2 days though, thank you goBILDA for the amazing and prompt customer service! We’ll start again next meeting.
Next week’s goals:
- Setup 1/2 game field and lay the gaffing tape
- Work further on intake, ring handling and shooting prototypes
9/15 & 9/19/2020 – Field Assembly info & tips and scrapping Kermit the robot: We got underway this week with disassembling Kermit v0.6. We have some ideas and new parts to rebuild it with a bit more power. Besides, we’ve done it once, it will be great rookie practice to build it again. The team also sketched out some robot build ideas on a Wacom tablet. CAD may not happen this season, but hand sketching ideas digitally certainly will.
Our field kit also arrived from AndyMark. Not gonna lie, we wish FIRST had been more forthcoming in May/June/July that the field kit could be easily made at home from cardboard, while they were selling the new challenge field kit for $540 (including s&h). Its really just PVC pipe, mesh, net, coroplast, some metal frame pieces, and NERF type rings. Not nearly $450 worth of materials. To say we’re disappointed in money for value is an understatement. For those teams that haven’t already made the purchase, DIY it if your area is having remote competitions, or just get the half field kit for $320. Here are the DIY instructions:
If you do DIY, you can purchase the foam rings from REV for $3 each or a half set of 11 from AndyMark for $27.50+s/h. Or if you need Wobble Goals, you can get them with rings (2+11 rings = $58) or without rings (2 for $35) from AndyMark.
The nice thing about having the official kit is that if Montana moves to in person competition, which it may by March/April next year, at least we’ll be practiced with the real kit and we won’t have issues having built/programmed/practiced in a potentially flawed DIY environment. Silver linings!
In 2 hours, 2 girls assembled one tower. We struggled with the coroplast. It came semi-scored/bent, but not cut. If you’ve never worked with coroplast (corrugated plastic) it folds beautifully if you cut the plastic layer on the backside of your fold with a utility knife (which didn’t come included and we didn’t have on hand). Rookie mistake, we should’ve looked at the instructions before leaving the house. We didn’t realize that additional tools are needed besides the few that came with the kit tools (additional purchase). Here are the field instructions:
Our next meeting we’ll continue to assemble field elements, begin building Kermit v0.7 and start prototyping intake and launch systems. Also, big news coming soon!
September 12, 2020 – FTC Kickoff
We watched the season kickoff event, brainstormed components we might need for a robot this season and we opened our goBilda 2020 FTC Master Kit. That’s a lot of parts!
Here is the 2020-2021 Ultimate Goal Season Challenge (started at the 2 minute mark):
Rings? Did anyone pick donuts for this year’s sports themed challenge? We sure didn’t. But we did guess correctly on the multiple scoring levels. After the broadcast, we sat down together, pulled up Game Manual 2, reviewed the game again and started brainstorming mechanical designs and strategy. We have some great ideas already for our rookie season.
You can learn more about the Game Changers: Ultimate Goal Season, here.
After kickoff, we opened up our new goBILDA kit. Here’s our unboxing video of the new goBILDA 2020-2021 Master FTC Kit.
Thank you so much to everyone who’s made this season a possibility.
September 10, 2020 – Housekeeping Meeting: Just a short update. Tuesday night we had a “clean up” meeting. We moved around equipment, put away FLL stuff, still lots of reorganizing to do, but it was a good start. We’ll take photos of our new FTC space once it’s complete. Our goBILDA FTC 2020-2021 Master Kit is scheduled to arrive today. With any luck we’ll film an unboxing video as part of our kickoff celebration on Saturday. The “trading card” template provided by FIRST this season is fun. We’ll have to get some printed.
August 22, 2020 – NW MT Fair Discovery Stage: We spent the afternoon on the Discovery Stage at the NWMT Fair. It was a good opportunity to visit with the community about FIRST robotics. Our FLL City Shaper Innovation Project board and robot “Karen” were on display. We were able to setup 8’x8′ of floor tiles and have driving practice. Also, we found a bug in our code and 2 wires were swapped. All fixed and Kermit v0.51 is now working well. It has an arc on strafe, but we suspect that’s due to uneven weight distribution, particularly the battery sitting over the back left wheel. That’s temporary so we aren’t worried about it.
Earlier last week we did a presentation for our local homeschooling community about FIRST robotics. Maybe some new teams will start up. Normal weekly team meetings will resume on 9/8 and we are excited for the FTC challenge release on 9/12.
August 2, 2020 – Rookie Kickoff: We had a great first day of programming and robot building at our 2020-2021 RoboScout Squad Rookie Season Kickoff! Our #ULTIMATEGOAL was to end the day with our first remote controllable drivetrain. We gathered in the small conference rooms at the Hilton Garden Inn. The morning was spent on:
- Learning all about how to setup and configure the Control Hub and drivers station.
- Learning how to use the FTC Block programming interface
- Writing a program to setup the Logitech gamepad to be a remote control
- Writing a program for our Control Hub to accept remote control
After a splash in the pool and a nice lunch, we got back to work. Our afternoon goal was to build our first FTC robot. Meet Kermit!
We learned a few rookie lessons on kickoff day:
- Running wires in tight spaces is easier to do before motors are mounted
- It’s important to have your in-wheel hyper-hubs positioned so that you can access the shaft clamp screws between the rollers
- If everyone is building, we’re gonna need more metric hex keys (2, 2.5, 3) especially longer ones with better handles for torque and some small metric nut drivers.
It was a great day! At the very end of the day we tested Kermit, and it works! We learned a lot and we met our goal. It feels good for our efforts to prove successful.
Goals for our next meetings are:
- Troubleshoot one of Kermit’s motors
- Build a platform to mount the control hub and battery (tape was just because we ran out of time and wanted to test)
- Add an expansion hub
- Start learning about servos and sensors and how to program them
- Practice driving
- Research different object collection and delivery systems
- Build and program a linear actuator
July 27, 2020 – RoboScout Squad’s rookie season has begun.
Last week we had team Zoom meetings to talk about basics and make parts decisions. We ordered the goBilda Strafer Chassis kit, while rollers, and a few extra parts to get a mecanum drive train built. goBilda has a form you can fill out as an FTC team to get a 25% discount.
Parts arrived Saturday and we dyed our white goBilda mecanum wheel rollers to our team colors, pink and purple. We used Rit Dye More, and probably too much dye for only a 3 qt pot. We cut 20 ga jewelry wire and hung the rollers from a cookie cooking rack. This was 18 minutes in Super Pink and 15 minutes in Royal Purple. The colors came out darker than intended, but they look great!
The floor tiles were purchased directly from softtiles.com rather than from AndyMark.com. If you email Soft Tiles and tell them you’re a FIRST team, they’ll give you a 10% off coupon.
This coming weekend we will have our first in person team meeting of the season and we hope to having remote controllable drive train when we are finished.