“It’s time consuming, frustrating and a novice team does not try to do it all, but our roll-out will kick butt!” said Paul Xi, leader of one of the four sub groups that form the new robotics team at Hyde. The group’s 16 members, along with adviser math faculty member Matthew Weymar, are working to produce a mechanism that will compete against other Northern New England teams in a test of not only individual skills, but also team work on every level. To compete the team must connect a long list of mechanical, pneumatic and electronic components to create a machine capable of performing simple tasks. At this point the team is working overtime to get the device ready for their first big competition on February 26 in Nashua, NH.
“How do you build a robot?” is the question the team has been working to answer for several months. Robotics, a branch of engineering, combines knowledge of industrial design, manufacturing, electronics, computer science, mechanics and imagination.
Designing the robot fell mostly to Xi, who began by organizing curriculum and teaching other members the CAD software that was used to produce a working three dimensional blueprint. Learning to use the CAD program allowed these novices to exactly place the hundreds of components that make up the mechanism. As Bill Li notes, “What I believe is most important, is that I really practice my creativity. I have to think what kind of design is the most useful.”
Evan Davis, along with other members of the build team, took the blueprints of the yet-to-be-named robot and began the construction process. The team combined an array of parts which included a planetary gear box, processor chip, motherboard, a sturdy frame, casters, wiring, pneumatic lift, pneumatic tubing, and many small fasteners and wires. Although the process is complicated, Xi points out the robot was designed and manufactured to have the least amount of moving parts.
Along with building the robot comes the task of making it work. Programming the robot fell to the coding team. Using JAVA the team input the code needed to operate the many commands that will make the bot function. The coding team led by Robin Lu, wrote the many lines of code that will give a “brain” to the mechanis.
Part of the outreach team’s work was raising some needed funds with a Valentine’s Day message and gift service which was organized by team members Brendan Lutes and Susa Breese. The logo for the team, which can be seen on the Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/frcteam5633 was designed by Breese.
The team received two grants, one from the Robotics Institute of Maine for $6,000, and from FIRST, the organizers of FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), for $4,000 this year and $2,000 next year. The grants were used to purchase components and tools for the build. Also the team was awarded an EKOCYCLE Cube 3D printer, sponsored by 3D Systems and Coca-Cola; this is a $1500 device that can print plastic components from CAD designs.
The group will travel on Thursday for Nashua NH to try their creation along with a score of other teams from northern New England. Team members are Chris Lutts, Brett Van Vort, Brenden Lutes, Max Zerrudo-Turgeon, James Scharpf, Frederick Zaegel, Chris Zou, Bernard He, Bill Li, George Zhang, David Lu, Paul Xi, Josh Fox, Robin Lu, Daniel Morgenstern, Sky Zhao, Susa Breese, Shawn Shao, Max Winsten and Evan Davis.