LigerBots are Runners up at Beantown Blitz
October 11, 2018

This past weekend the LigerBots competed in the Beantown Blitz, an offseason competition run by FRC team 125, The Nutrons, at Revere High School.

Ethan helps remove our robot from the field after a match at the Beantown Blitz

Because this was a just-for-fun competition we allowed our rookies, mentors, and team members who have never driven the robot to get a feel for being on the drive team. They had a blast, and several proved to have untapped talent for driving the robot.

Mentors Carly, Dan and Igor have a turn driving our robot during a match

Part of the robot’s intake (one of the arms used to pick up and move game pieces) snapped during one of our matches, which gave the pit crew an opportunity to teach rookies how our repair pit works.

Our robot’s broken Power Cube intake arm
Asa explains on-the-fly robot repair to LigerBots rookies at the Beantown Blitz

We were in fourth place after qualifying matches, and we were chosen during playoff alliance selection along with FRC team 2423 the KwarQs, by the second alliance captain, FRC team 1768, the RoboChiefs. We finished the day in second place, eventually losing to the alliance of FRC team 195 the CyberKnights, team 181 the Birds of Prey, and team 1965 the Firebirds. Five mentors and more than twenty students, ranging from rookies to competition-hardened veterans, came out for the day. Thanks to the Nutrons for hosting a great competition!

The LigerBots at the Beantown Blitz

LigerBots Are Deep in Technical Training
September 30, 2018

The LigerBots always run preseason technical training in robot fundamentals for new students and advanced technical training for our returning members. But, this year, we have greatly increased the number and scope of our projects so that our many new team members will be ready to help build a competitive robot when the new game is revealed in January.

Technical mentor Dan gives a class for new team members in the various types of drive trains

Thanks to a concept conceived by a LigerBots veteran we have two teams of rookies getting immediate hands-on experience by constructing two FTC robots. These are the 18″ robots that compete in the FIRST Tech Challenge program later in the fall. Although we will not be competing with our FTC robots, seminars given by team mentors in drive mechanisms, gear boxes, elevators, arm manipulators, programming, and the integration of the various mechanical systems will allow students to make informed engineering choices that will allow these mini-robots to be fully functional in about six weeks. Then we’ll take the robots apart and give another group of ten to twelve students the opportunity to learn and build.

Team veteran Ali helps new LigerBots construct the frame of an FTC robot

Our CTO, whose leadership of the electrical sub-team was instrumental to the team’s success last year, has organized a fall training program in electrical engineering. Team members are learning fundamentals of electrical and pneumatic components, and about the FIRST rules for required electrical components.

LigerBots rookies learn how to correctly wire an FRC robot, using pictures of various FRC components

We also are offering hands-on soldering and wire-crimping practice by having students create “brush-bots,” a component of a popular activity we do with younger students at our outreach events.

CTO Samy leads a group of LigerBots rookies in the soldering of brushbots
Children use the LigerBots brushbots at Newtonville Village Day in September

Last year we designed our robot’s gearbox for speed and maneuverability. This year we are running project in the design of a new gearbox with a different emphasis: more rotational force (torque), which would help us compete well if the 2019 robot game demands pushing either robots or heavy obstacles on the playing field. We will try to fit our motors over the robot wheels to save space inside the robot for other components, and will test whether we have to weaken our robot’s metal frame when we make the necessary frame changes. Rookies will learn how to cut out the metal plates for the gear box on our computer numerically controlled (CNC) mill and will assist with assembly and testing.

LigerBots veteran Misha’s preliminary design for a new robot gear box. Three motors (grey) are placed over the wheel (white) and are attached to a series of gears (yellow) that transfer power to the wheel.

Since our robot must use software instructions to carry out its complex actions automatically, we need a strong LigerBots programming group. We are using Arduino micro controllers to help students learn how to use sensors to detect their environment and instruct actuators to affect that environment. Arduinos are especially suitable for this kind of teaching because they are simple and because there are lots of web tutorials in how to program them. We have two team veterans and a mentor, all with experience in Arduino programming, tutoring our rookies.

Veteran LigerBots programmer Matthew leads a introductory programming seminar
A new LigerBot writes out some lines of code

We have many more technical projects planned, including design of a swerve drive and an H drive, design of a ball-shooting turret to attach to the 2016 robot we use for outreach, assembly of a quadrocopter, basic training in computer aided design (CAD), practice in drilling and milling, and rewriting of the 2016 robot code in a different computer language (changing it from C++ to Java.)

We hope that our team members will be able to use all of the knowledge they gain over the next three months in these technical training sessions to build a game-winning 2019 robot!

LigerBots Do Outreach at Newtonville Village Day, RoboExpo
September 25, 2018

The LigerBots did two major outreach efforts last weekend. We set up our outreach tent at Newtonville Village Day, an annual street fair for local businesses, including entertainers and musicians.  

AJ helps a visitor shoot a ball from our 2016 robot at Newtonville Village Day

We had a variety of activities for the public to enjoy, including painting with our brushbots, learning about circuits with salt- and sugar-based pastes, and driving both our 2016 and 2018 robots.  

Visitors paint with the LigerBots brush bots

Numerous kids tested the elevator on our 2018 robot with a large beach ball and even more drove our 2016 robot and used its catapult. At one point our 2016 robot even danced along to the jazz being played across the street!

A Supernova FLL team member helps a visitor pick up a beach ball with the LigerBots 2018 robot
Visitors look over our outreach literature at Newtonville Village Day

The Supernovas, an FLL team being mentored by LigerBots, joined us in our booth and demonstrated their LEGO robot for the public.

The Supernova FLL team and its 2017 robot at Newtonville Village Day

Also last weekend, the LigerBots went to RoboExpo, hosted by FRC team 1058, the PVC Pirates, at the Pheasant Lane Mall in Nashua, NH. RoboExpo is a yearly outreach event that gives teams the opportunity to show off their robots on a half-field, with game elements from the previous season.

The half-field at RoboExpo. The LigerBots 2018 robot can be seen at the bottom of the picture

This year seven FIRST Robotics Competition teams attended the event (FRC 1058, 1073, 1519, 2342, 2877, 3467, 5813), along with one FIRST Tech Challenge team (FTC 3737) and a couple of FIRST LEGO League teams. We brought our 2018 robot, “Chronos,” and showed it off on the field to thousands of visitors.

Ethan and Gill attend to Chronos at RoboExpo
Ethan explains features of the LigerBots 2018 robot, “Chronos,” to a visitor at RoboExpo, in front of the LigerBots outreach table

The LigerBots had a great time showcasing our robot and spreading the message of FIRST to the visitors at the mall.  We thank FRC team 1058 for inviting us to this great event.

LigerBots Welcome Many New Members at Open House
September 21, 2018

Last Monday the LigerBots hosted our annual open house for prospective team members. New students took part in various activities hosted by our returning members to give our rookies a small sample of the technical and business opportunities they will have on the team. Our executives presented a short overview of the team and the FIRST organization, and showed some competition videos.

Sophia explains a mill to new LigerBots

Activities included three milling and wiring stations, LED programming, a LEGO tower contest, a paper airplane challenge, a display of 3D printing, button making, a photo scavenger hunt, a story board writing project, and an opportunity to drive our 2016 and 2018 robots.

The shop and graphics room at Newton South were full of new and veteran LigerBots at our open house
Jiaming helps new LigerBot Mark mill a piece of metal
Maggie tests Sebastian’s LEGO tower for its ability to stand up to wind from a fan

Each completed activity earned a raffle ticket stamp, and we pulled tickets out of a bowl to give away prizes at the end of the evening. Then we celebrated the beginning of our 11th season with dessert. For more photos of our open house, visit our Flickr.

The LigerBots enjoy cake at the end of our open house

We have new team members interested in many of the activities the LigerBots has to offer, including engineering, programming, graphics, photography, marketing, fundraising, public speaking, writing and finance. We are set to have a great year!

Over the next few weeks, we will be expanding our strategy council and launching into our preseason activities, including intensive technical and marketing skills training.

Our strategy council has already begun recruiting new members.  In addition to scouting other teams at competition to assess their robots’ skills, the newly formed council will do game analysis as soon as the 2019 game is revealed. Approaches developed by this group will help inform our robot design choices and strategies during competition.

Our fall outreach blitz continues! Please join us at RoboExpo in Nashua NH on Sept. 22, and at Newtonville Village Day on the afternoon of Sept. 23.


LigerBots Preseason Begins!
September 14, 2018

School has begun, and the LigerBots have dived right into STEM outreach, member recruitment and preseason training. Ramping up our task planning during the summer months has given us a big head start on our fall.

Team veteran Ethan helps new LigerBots take apart the 2014 robot

During the first two weeks of the preseason returning LigerBots have shown our many new new recruits around the Newton South workshop and have helped them take apart the 2014 robot to teach them the basics of assembly and disassembly. We also start every year with a seminar on shop safety and use of our power tools.

Our team execs show a robot game video to new LigerBots
Coach Igor gives his talk on shop safety to new LigerBots

We have a new game strategy council which has begun discussing which FIRST competitions to enter in the spring, how to incorporate game strategy earlier and more thoroughly into our robot design, and how to improve our system of collecting performance data on other teams.

The strategy council meets

Our team STEM outreach is already underway.  We will be at the Newton Free Library’s STEAM Expo on Saturday, Sept. 15, at RoboExpo in Nashua NH on Sept. 22, and at Newtonville Village Day on the afternoon of Sept. 23. Our team members have already put in lots of time to get ready for these events. And, all hands will be on deck on Monday, Sept. 17, when we will have an exciting open house with many activities for prospective team members. Please join us at these events!