The Calm Before the Storm

January 18, 2020

Since there was still work to do for the week, the team came in on Saturday. Mr. Millar, Ms. White, and Mr. Harvey were all busy, but luckily security allowed a parent supervisor for today. Sam somehow convinced his dad to take up this responsibility. Mr. Gluskoter spent the day sitting at Mr. Millar’s desk just straight vibin’. For 4 straight hours, he watched Youtube videos on how to buy a used Ferrari. Looks like Sam will have quite the ride once he goes to college.

Miguel called assembly to come in to finish building the octocanum drive base from last semester so that drivers could start practicing with the new controls we developed. However, the battery mount still needed parts to be cut on the CNC and 3D printed. Additionally, bumper materials had not arrived yet, so assembly was once again left to organise more parts and clean out the FRC cupboards.

Arav, Raj, and Rahul sorting parts

An hour into working, Rhea decided to take a short walk to the Middle School library. After sitting there for a few minutes, she realised that she had accidentally wandered onto the filming set of famous Singaporean Youtuber, JianHao Tan. She then proceeded to fangirl on Slack, all on the wrong channel, once again using up a significant portion of our 10k message limit, like last year. Rahul, Raj, and Arav suddenly also became huge fans of JianHao Tan and decided to try their luck at a fan meet and greet with him. After amassing paparazzi consisting of robotics kids, JianHao Tan’s crew promptly kicked them out of the Middle School library.

As the day went on, more people started to trickle in. Sam, Caden, Marcus, and Joanne worked on the folding table for the Control Panel. Ryan and Shion came back from a VEX IQ regional, where one of our SAS teams made it to the world championship. Shion finished placing reflective tape on the loading bay. Thankfully, all that was needed was a small box under the middle opening, so Shion didn’t need to spend two hours again (not that he needed to last time, anyways).

Marcus working on the Control Panel table

Outreach also had some work to do. Megan came in to start planning out a robotics promo. Angel came in to design cover pages for all documentation. Junior and Aman started planning outreach events that could potentially take place this season, and Rhea worked with NPSI on their upcoming outreach event.

Surprisingly, with their looming Sunday night deadline, only three members from CAD came in. Even more surprisingly, none of them were Ming (*Gasp!*). While Ming peacefully worked on CAD from home, Gaurav, Theo, and Emilio finished up their CAD tasks. As they waited for Ming’s approval on their work, they boasted to other busy members that they were “jobless.” Upon hearing this, Miguel began to list out non-CAD tasks that could be completed. Suddenly, numerous problems appeared in their CAD that had to be urgently attended to. Coincidence? Yeah, definitely.

Emilio, Theo, and Gaurav furiously CAD-ing

Electronics came in to work on the octocanum drive and the prototype flywheel shooter. Keya started on the pneumatics with help from Marcus while Gaurav did inventory of the pneumatic parts. Later, Ming dubbed Gaurav the Inventory Lead because he did such a good job at it. Gaurav bragged about his new title, not knowing he had been condemned to inventorying more parts in the future. Miguel checked in on electronics, which Tanisha claimed was all completed. He looked down at the e-board and could not find a single wire. Tanisha also noticed this and quickly added on that only the wiring needed to be done. But other than the wiring, electronics was definitely completely finished.

A few nights before, Sam was very adamant about everyone eating lunch before coming in and eating dinner after leaving on Saturday. He also made sure everyone had a 30 minute break at 2:45, expecting everyone to not order any food. Junior, wishing to redeem himself from his blasphemous pizza ordering fiasco of last year, passionately disagreed. In the end, it was Sam that broke his own rule, but he made sure to order the food himself so Junior couldn’t suggest eating cardboard again to save on money.

After the break was over, most members returned to their work. However, there were three that were unaccounted for: Rahul, Raj, and Arav. Nearly 20 minutes after the break had ended, they burst through the door, somehow sweaty. When asked about this, Raj quickly responded that they had went to the Apex to work out. Not believing this, Ush and Mihika said they saw them walking around the school in circles as they went to pick up their bubble tea. Arav admitted they got lost. For all we know, they could have visited Sohit at his small community college on the West Coast.

After finding out we had the gym booked again, the team started preparing to test the prototype flywheel shooter with the new Power Cell. After carrying everything upstairs, they found both doors to the gym locked. Sam and his dad made the long journey to security for the key. While waiting, Miguel, Joanne, Caden, and Shion found two office chairs outside the Apex (for some odd reason). They took Lightning McQueen’s wise words, “I am speed,” to heart and raced the chairs around the area.

Eventually, Sam and his dad returned with the key to the gym. Everything was set up, but there were problems controlling the  speeds of top and bottom flywheels. After troubleshooting for 30 minutes, Ush and Tanisha realised that Hari and Vayun had coded over each others code. With both coders not present or picking up any calls, testing would have to wait for another day.

While things this week might have seemed a bit slow, robot production will finally start this upcoming Monday.

Props and Flops

January 16-17, 2020

On Thursday, we were fortunate enough for the lab to be open from 3-8. While this would normally warrant for as many people coming in to finish various tasks, there was an unusual lack of work to do. However, that’s not to say that there was nothing to do.

With both of last semester’s bots fully disassembled, assembly was assigned with organising all the parts they had left all over the place. Additionally, Miguel asked them to sort two cabinets worth of stacked parts trays. While many had died merely attempting this Herculean task, assembly got almost all of it done since almost all of the members were present (albeit begrudgingly). Marcus convinced Mr. Millar to give us more shelf space behind the whiteboards after moving a few things around so that the parts trays wouldn’t be stacked on top of each other again. Since the CAD would only be finished by Monday, assembly spent the rest of the week cleaning out all our cupboards and sorting all of our parts. Hopefully the organised parts would last. Knock on wood.

Speaking of which, the wood shipment was still nowhere to be seen throughout the school day. Mr. Harvey received an email from the wood company, which promised that the wood would arrive that afternoon any time between 12 and 6 pm. In the meantime, Sam and Caden started working on the Control Panel wheel. Using polycarbonate and wooden standoffs, they were able to finish it before 4, using up their free block, robotics block, and afterschool time to do so. Caden spent the next 30 minutes rolling the wheel all around the robotics room to show everyone that it was, in fact, round, like a wheel. Luckily, at 4:30, the wood finally arrived. Sam, Caden, and Joanne worked on finishing up the small hole at the back of the Power Port and a way to hold the entire thing upright. Caden used some of the string from last semester’s cascade bot to make a leg that could be folded out to the string’s length and folded back in, making it lay flush with the rest of the prop. This made it much easier to carry the props back and forth during testing. Amaryllis, Rohan, and Jason started on the loading bay for the Power Cells.

Caden making the Control Panel wheel

CAD team stayed quarantined in the other room to meet their deadline. Like Tom Hanks and Wilson in Cast Away, Owen made a new friend with the Power Cell from NPSI. He kept the ball on his lap and taught it how to CAD, making sure it had a clear view of his screen at all times. If our flywheel shooter won’t rip apart another Power Cell, maybe the ball could become better at CAD than Ming.

Since Friday was Eagle Day, most people were outside of school for the day. As a result, the room was occupied by only the CAD team and most of the leads and captains, along with some fab. Ush, Miguel, Caden, and Rohan monotonously heated up a piece of polycarb to arc it 90°. Afterwards, Miguel and Caden went to work on the loading bay, while Sam and Rohan worked on the table for the Control Panel. Inspired by the folding leg of the Power Port, Caden decided to use the leftover string to hold the polycarb upright. After attaching the base of it to the bottom of the opening, Miguel put eye bolts along the top of it. He then ran the string through the eye bolts and the holes in the polycarb. This held the arc in place while also creating the three needed separate compartments. They then attached side panels and dividers with zip ties, screws, and scrap wood blocks. Finally, they created two string folding legs to keep the loading bay from falling over. Sam and Rohan also made the table for the Control Panel foldable to make it easy to carry around. 

Loading bay

Shion, wishing to redeem himself from his reflective tape crisis of last year, nominated himself to do all the reflective tape this year. His first task was to place reflective tape on to the Power Port. For the next two hours, Shion diligently sat at his computer, vigorously punching numbers into his calculator as he watched geometry videos. He was determined to do this right. With calculations that would’ve made Math Ryan proud, Shion came up with the exact length that the three pieces of reflective tape needed to be, as well as the angle they needed to be placed at. Using a big protractor, a giant ruler, and a smaller ruler, Shion completed his task successfully. He stood triumphantly over the finished Power Port, admiring his work. He thought about how the Shion of yesteryear would be so proud.

A happy Shion and the Power Port

It was at this moment that Miguel came over to check in on him. Shion told him his redemption story. Miguel commented that the reflective tape just needed to line the bottom three sides of the hexagon hole, which was already made on the Power Port. The angle and length of the reflective tape didn’t need to be calculated, so Shion could’ve saved two hours by following the edge of the hexagon hole that fab had already made. Dumbfounded by this observation, Shion blocked it out of his mind and continued to retell his redemption story to anyone that would listen. Ah, ignorance is bliss.

We still have a lot of work to do, so we’ll be coming in on Saturday to meet our deadlines. With CAD team’s newest addition, Owen’s Power Cell, there is a new hope that the CAD will be completed by 2030.

We’re Back!

January 13-15, 2020

Here’s what’s happened in the past 10 months:

  • Sohit went to a small community college on the West Coast
  • Ming quit robotics and is now pursuing a career in the arts
  • Ushmil is still lost in IKEA
  • Caden died of a corn overdose
  • Megan won 7 Oscars
  • Junior tried to frame his twin, Buddy, for all of his thieving, but got both of them arrested since they’re, you know, twins
  • Sam CNC-ed another knife (only for it to be stolen by Junior)
  • Jason flew drones near Changi Airport, which started an avalanche of drone regulations
  • Amaryllis can only speak in song and rhyme after going to karaoke for 8 months straight
  • Caroline left her robotics kids at an orphanage
  • Owen drilled an accurate hole
  • Aman got promoted from Boy Scout to Man Scout
  • Duncan lost his Alpha Male status
  • Ethan joined MI6 and prevented many terrorist attacks using only his “defence is the best offence” philosophy
  • Mihika started a graphing paper company
  • Rohan made every IASAS sport and became class president
  • Kinaree got addicted to anime
  • Belen fell into a Sarlacc pit
  • Ryan became permanently blinded by the Limelight
  • Rhea got her hand stuck in another printer
  • Tanisha got electrocuted
  • Archit was found buying cigarettes at a gas station
  • Rohit was placed into a psychiatric ward and is probably muttering something about a climber while rocking back and forth in a corner
  • Miguel was deported
  • Shion is now captain

And all that is definitely true. As true as the fact that Shion, our new captain, is still chasing a squirrel.

Shion, FRC Captain

Don’t worry, none of that happened. Well, most of it. A recap post of our time in Sydney and Detroit will come soon, but for now, here’s what’s happened so far this season.

A few days after the game release, the members still in Singapore met at Ming’s place to discuss possible designs. Those still overseas called in. Unsurprisingly, Ming had already created a partial CAD of his design. It involved a flywheel shooter, ball storage, and many other aspects.

The CAD will not be fully complete until after the first week of school, so this week was spent prototyping and making props. We were able to schedule meetings from 3 PM to 6 PM every day this week, as well as Saturday from 12 PM to 6 PM. Monday afterschool, a full team meeting was held to explain the design to members who weren’t present during our initial design meeting over the break. Afterwards, fabrication started working on making props. In just a few hours, they were able to complete an accurate Power Port that could be taken apart for convenience. Great progress!

Tuesday, things started picking up. Unfortunately, our new shipment of wood had not arrived yet, so prop making was on hold. Instead, fab and assembly started taking apart last semester’s rookie and veteran bots to strip them for parts. Tara shook Gaurav’s claw bot and an SAS tuition’s worth of bearings rattled out and fell to the floor. Amaryllis gathered them all up and said something about bearings becoming a new currency. Ming’s cascade bot was disassembled shortly after. CAD stayed in the other room to quarantine themselves from any distractions so that they could finish before next Monday. Programming worked on reusing last semester’s custom e-board to power a prototype of a flywheel shooter. Marcus assembled the new 775pro motors while Sam worked on the makeshift frame.

Soon enough, the prototype flywheel shooter was ready for testing. The team gathered around to witness our first mechanism in action. The prototype was able to shoot the ball over twice the width of the fire lane and through the Power Port when angled correctly.

Prototype flywheel shooter testing

Two days into the first week, and the team had made significant progress. While the new recruits remained optimistic, members from last year anxiously anticipated some kind of setback, which they knew was inevitable based on last year. On Wednesday, it happened.

Wednesday was spent finishing the disassembly of last semester’s bots and creating a bigger frame for the prototype flywheel shooter. Fab helped with assembly again since the wood delivery was delayed to Thursday. The previous frame for the prototype was able to shoot the ball, but the ball was being too compressed. The prototype was taken outside to test how different speeds of the flywheels would affect the height and distance as the ball travelled. As Sam, Miguel, and Rohan fed the ball into the shooter, and Vayun changed motor speed values, Derek started to notice small scratches appearing on the ball’s surface. He didn’t think much of it, so the testing continued.

Suddenly, as the ball was inserted into the shooter one last time, there was a loud ripping noise. The ball shot straight up, but came down with yellow tatters trailing it. The ball’s surface had been torn apart, exposing the foam underneath. Sam and Miguel had flashbacks of last year’s deflated ball, something they had somehow repeated with a ball that didn’t even need inflation.

There was still testing that needed to be done in Gym 4, so a solution was needed quick. Marcus wrapped the entire ball in multiple layers of duct tape. When he finished, he marvelled at his genius idea and argued that it was even better than our previous ball because a layer of duct tape could be removed if it ripped again. With no other option, testing resumed with the duct tape ball, which resembled a knockoff red Angry Bird. Fortunately, our new friends at NPSI generously lent us one of their balls while Ming and Ryan visited to lend them our DART, a few motors, and Talons for the season.

We’ve had a few setbacks, but overall, things are looking promising so far. Knock on wood. Oh wait, it still hasn’t arrived yet.

In memoriam
Power Cell (2020-2020)