Lessons learned – Komplete Kaos’s FRC 2017 season

KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid!

Your design doesn’t need to be complicated, simple designs are easier to maintain and fix. Creating and building a simple but highly effective, well build design is harder than it seems but is better than a complicated and poorly built design. When your robot breaks during comp (it will), a simple robot is much easier to fix than a complicated one. Simple and smart over complicated. 

Learn CAD and use it

We created parts of our robot using CAD software to design custom parts of our robot. This was essential in manufacturing our custom parts and was integral in us being a competitive robot. We didn’t custom make everything on our robot but it certainly helped us to compete at the level we did.

Be ambitious

As a rookie team we were not seen as a competitive robot at our regionals and the championship. We needed to learn to become independent as we became a competitive robot and ended up coming 4th at one of our regionals. As a team we had to be ambitious as we went into the finals.

Display gracious professionalism always – there will be many curve balls

As many teams do, we faced challenges at the competitions and difficult calls made by referees. A controversial call was made against us however we had to get up and keep going, as a team and an alliance at our regional we accepted the call the head referee made. The way we handled ourselves earned us much praise and respect from teams, volunteers and mentors at our regionals.

Get sponsors

It may sound silly, but talk to everyone you know about FRC; someone will help. Most of our sponsors came from personal contacts; for example my sister’s best friend’s dad that has a plastic manufacturing company – everything helps!

Dedication

FRC takes a lot of time and some money! You need to be prepared for some late nights and intense weekends, particularly if you have a small team like ours.

Be open and direct

Learning to communicate effectively is one of the big life skills that everyone should know. Communication is vital both within your team and externally. You need to be prepared for judges, sponsors and teammates to ask you question you hadn’t even thought of. Within your team it is vital to have important communication to ensure that everyone is on the right page and there are no miscommunication (which we have definitely had).

Repetitive prototyping

This was a really important skill; learning how to have an idea, create the basics for it, test and then improve. It was how we developed our climber and gear intake. We need to test all of our ideas fast; “Fail fast in order to succeed sooner.”

Get your finances sorted as early as you can

As a team we spent what seemed like ages going round and round on finances. Eventually we didn’t come up with a system and we are still working things out. It would have been better if we had put the time into developing a better financial plan to make it smoother going into the intensive build season.

Mechanical, software and other build skills

We learnt how to build and program a robot for the competition. This involved learning to code various different things, from the basic getting started project to vision tracking and use of sensors. We also learn about forces, torque and motor loads, and how to work out the right motors and materials to use for different components and modules of the robot.  

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FIRST CHAMPIONSHIP HOUSTON

Komplete Koas Inc. FRC competed at the FIRST Championship in Houston and had an awesome time. We competed in the Galileo division and after some tough matches we ended up being the first picked by 4537 (RoboRoos) on the seventh seed alliance. Our alliance partners were 3005 (RoboChargers) and 4499 (The Highlanders). Once again we would like to thank our sponsors for helping us get here. A huge congratulation goes to team 3132 (Thunder Down Under) who won the Chairman’s Award. This is the most prestigious award in FIRST and 3132 are hugely deserving. 3132 continues to expand FIRST across Australia and the world. They have done an incredible job to be where they are, we hope to be seeing them for many years to come.

Southern Cross and South Pacific Regional

SOUTH PACIFIC REGIONAL (16-18 MARCH)

This regional was also a success as we met more people, had just as much fun, and also won two awards, the Highest Rookie seed (4th seed) and the Safety star of the day (Jonah). As the fourth alliance captains, we picked 5087 (Marsden Ramjets) and 5988 (Roborebels) to join our alliance.

SOUTHERN CROSS REGIONAL (13-15 MARCH)

The team was very successful and came out from the regionals with the highest rookie seed award and the rookie all star award and the pit safety award, qualifying the team for the FIRST Championships in Houston from the 19-22 April 2017. The team did very well, ranking 8th overall and being picked into the third seed alliance by team 5985 (Project Bucephalus) and third pick 6525 (Ultimo TAFE).

HOUSTON!

We’re going to Houston! As we won the rookie all star award in the Southern Cross regional, we have been invited to compete at the World Championships in Houston, TX from 19-22 April 2017.

We have also gained the help of our three new amazing sponsors, Blackbird Ventures, Ford and AARNet. All of these wonderful sponsors have contributed greatly in assisting our team in competing overseas, as well as our other sponsors

Everything is coming together.

This weekend marked the end of our prototyping and we began manufacturing the production pieces. It was a very hot weekend however I think our team should be commended for their excellent perseverance while battling the 40 degree C heat (104 F). We still managed to get most of our goals completed.

By the end of the weekend we had most of our programming done and tested (YAY!). The code only now needs final iterations until it is competition ready. We finished our fuel system and we are sourcing the production materials this coming week. This weekend was a huge success in terms of our climber though, the production climber is started and we made great progress. Some mock bumpers were also made to test final distances.

It was very exciting to be driving round and testing all the systems together!

To escape the heat of the day, our team headed down to the beach to cool off. After that the team split up and worked on their separate parts during the week

-Theresa

Ahhhh, It’s already the third week!

Today marked to start of the third week in build season.

Unfortunately our start to the day was delayed as many people were caught in a traffic jam. However when everyone arrived we began with a team meeting and a discussion of our priorities.

Two groups worked on two of the climbing prototypes. There was also a lot of work done on reaching out to our sponsors and our team uniforms. While that was going on we looked at putting limit switches onto our flap for our gear system. After our short morning sprint we went to lunch.

After lunch two members went to look at some perforated sheet for the external covering of our robot. After they got back we had a test on our new climbing mechanism which went very well. After several tests on that we began to CAD up some of the parts we needed so we could ask the TAFE teachers to help us create them, including an extra-long Toughbox hex output shaft.

Towards the end of the day the team all came together and we had a BIG discussion about where the climber would be on the robot. Even though this was a very long discussion the team came to a unanimous decision and we left knowing what our next step would be.

– Theresa

Build season is well under way! Day 2

It’s the second day of build season and plenty of things are happening.

Today we got inducted into our new workshop by one of the Tafe teachers which was followed by a safety briefing. For the first time, our whole team got a tour around our new site, and we were excited to see the pneumatics labs and the awesome CNC machines that are available.Our team split into two groups to refine our ideas and create more detailed drawings to present to the other group. After that we had stayed together to eat lunch.

The team began making decision about who would be the driver and who would be on our drive team, leading into discussions on who would be on each team.

In the afternoon we began prototyping our gear system out of cardboard, however after a while the cardboard becomes a bit worse for wear. We are hoping to mock-up a wooden copy soon although we are on the right track. At the same time students also sorted the kit of parts and began working on how we would store all our parts.While some students continued to work on the gear system two people began to plan the essays and create a time frame of when things need to be done.

The team finished with a round of cards before heading home to get a fresh start on tomorrow’s busy day.

– Theresa