Daily Progress Tracker


Our last practice! On 4/20! And the Whalens weren't even there! They joined by FaceTime as we practiced for all three judging sessions. It was a beautiful day, so we spent some of it outside, as we practiced our Core Values. We finished by finally assembling our poster for Design Judging.


This was a practice where we practiced all of our judging. We focused on our transitions from launch to launch for our robot. One of the rough spots getting launch three ready as it is a difficult transition. Claire and Anisha have to effectively take out the Rack-a-Shack out from under the robot and make sure the core samples don't get loose. They then have to get the Bumble Bee from the cart without the top dropping from its starting position. Once the Bumble Bee is attached, the robot is placed basically anywhere in the SE section of base. They key is taken out of the Bumble Bee and the robot is off to do Crater Crossing, 3D Printer, and Strength Machine. Once Anisha and Claire had practiced the transition, it was smooth as butter. Also, Max got his nails painted!


Only Claire, Max and Cody could attend today's practice, so we focused on the robot, and preparing for Design Judging (the RDES). Coach Whalen thought we would have trouble talking for four minutes without getting stuck, but it was really the opposite: we have way more than four minutes' worth of information to talk about. Claire decided what should go on a poster, so that we can have everything we think we'll need on a single poster to focus our attention; other details can go in the binder.


This practice we really wanted to get our project skit down. Since we had recently changed the skit to modify for the absence of Soren, we needed to memorize our new lines. The new skit seems to work for everyone, since the changes aren't that major. We'll miss Soren's great acting at Worlds!


Today was a weekly Saturday practice. We finally got around to revamping to not include Soren in the second part (sorry Soren, we'll miss you!). We then made revisions and found something that we all liked. We then practiced our hearts out to begin to memorize our lines. We also had to make sure that our skit was under four minutes and forty seconds as we don't know if in Worlds if the clock is started right away or if we have time to set up.


Fundraiser at Jersey Mike's, and Soren was there!! Overall a very fun time! We got to show off our robot and project to people who came by. It was really fun to explain to them what FLL was and how it was a great program to join as it isn't just about robotics.


Today we had practice at Cody's house as we didn't have any school. As coach Whalen has another board at his house, we decided to see how Ragnarok would preform on a new table. While some people were working on the robot, the rest were working on the brochure. Our brochure entails details about our robot i.e. maximum points, attachments, etc. It explained our project and the problem we were trying to solve. We made sure to include all of our experts and out reach that we did.


At this meeting, we mostly spent our time finalizing our plans for worlds. We also debated heavily on how our tattoos should look like. We wanted to make sure that they were visible on all skin types. We ended up having our logo with a white outline around it. We had some thoughts to have gold or silver tattoos but we decided against that as it might be seen as too flashy.


Today was an overall day, we worked on basically everything. We did a core value practice where we stated all of the core values and how they related outside of FLL, as this is a commonly asked question during judging. We then moved on to project and made sure our boards were good and started thinking of ways to change the second part of the skit to take out Soren's live part as he won't be able to make it for Worlds :(. We then ran our robot to make sure everything was going good.


Cody had to modify his CorrectAngle block, and it seems to be working properly now. Hopefully, we never have to see it during a Performance Run! We ran all our missions today, and everything looks great. We started writing out information for our Design Judging posters.


In a brief practice today, Cody implemented a "sanity check" during the CorrectAngle MyBlock - if it sees a nonzero Gyro rate, that means the Gyro is drifting, so it does a GyroReset right there to try to save the rest of the run. Max worked on the PAM design, and then built "the hangover" for the Space Wedgie, to hold the Crew Payload on the track. We didn't get much time to test it, though.


One of the random ideas we had during Sunday's meetup with the other WF teams was to give away temporary tattoos. Claire had researched where we could order some, and she worked on a design today. We also worked on tuning up the Hab Hub run a little better, and spent A LOT of time debating the best way to get the 4klift to position itself correctly between runs.


Today, we drove down to Savage, for a meetup with all three MN teams who are going to Detroit. We learned a little about each other, and each team presented their Project and got questions and feedback from the other teams. It was another great chance for all of us to practice handling questions from a curious audience.


When we showed Claire the new Hab Hub run, it didn't work. The Tube carrier hit the Hab Hub too far to the north, meaning that it wasn't making the turn correctly as it approached. Cody suggested removing the spin, and just letting SuperPUDS work its magic to guide the robot in the right direction. That worked well.

While Cody and Anuva were working on that run, Anisha and Claire had been working on a presentation for Design-Judging-With-No-Table. After fixing the approach to the Hab Hub, Cody and Anuva joined them, and we all worked on writing out the OG Mission Plan from back in September.


Cody worked on (and finished!) programming the Tube Module/Gerhard/Core Samples run with the new attachment, and with a new Core pusher that Anisha and Cody built. The whole run is pretty slick now! Anuva contributed a new Gerhard hook, that doesn't catch when trying to pull the hook away dropping Gerhard in the Airlock Chamber.

Before helping with the Hab Hub run, Anisha and Anuva finished strengthening the PAM tower. Anuva also replaced the corners with rounded panels, so now there's quite a lot of room for the robot to drive through after dropping the block on the Escape Velocity strike pad. The strangest problem we had to solve was the block dropping very slowly at first, like it was somehow stuck. Anuva figured it out - the rubber band was too loose, and getting stuck between the chimney walls and the block! We moved the towball holding the rubber band, so it can't get stuck again.

The very last thing we did was trying to run the old program with the new PAM. It should have worked, because the robot uses the black line just west of Escape Velocity to position itself. But it didn't work, and we figured out that it was never finding the black line at all after setting off Escape Velocity. The mat's blue and purple colors looked dark enough to fool our program. We were waiting for the RLI to be less than 20, but the colors at the base of Escape Velocity register anywhere from 17 to 44. So, we changed it to look for white (>80) instead, and then, it worked!


Practice at school. We created Failure Analysis documents for Regionals and Sectionals. We also made the PAM attachment stronger.


Anisha and Anuva worked on a Failure Analysis document about our robot performance at State. You can see it here.

We worked on a new strategy for the Tube Module. The original plan had a large funnel on the Tube carrier, which used the base of the Hab Hub to guide the Tube into position. We realized that we have to improve the robot's ability to hit its target, not simply relying on angled beams to guide the tube carrier into place. Claire added a large wall follower to the carrier attachment, so we can drive over halfway to the Hab Hub with wall guidance. Cody taught Claire how to use SuperPUDS to test the new approach, and it works great!

Max and Soren shifted the PAM elevator shaft sideways by two modules, and removed the outer struts, to make a total of three modules' worth of space. This should allow the robot to get through the space between PAM and the Hab Hub, so the last mission run isn't ruined.

We started the huge cleanup project. And we've lost Gerhard!

Next practice:

    • Improve the Gerhard hook
    • Figure out how to do the Core Samples with the new carrier attachment
    • Research on detergents
    • Thank you notes


Today we went to UMN to share our Project with Prof James Flaten (NASA) and Kale Hedstrom (AEM). They suggested five things:

    • Stick with PVC, or carbon fiber. We've already proved that a PVC structure is strong enough to operate the VAL, so there's no reason to complicate the design with an aluminum frame. PVC is lightweight, strong, and easy to assemble.
    • Include in our design the packing plan for launch. Once we have a launch design, we can ask Kale to vibration test it.
    • The VAL will absolutely require that extra water be launched to support its use. Maybe it would even have its own water-processing system. But, definitely, try to calculate how much water is needed, and compare to the weight of clothing saved at launch time. Or, calculate weight of clothing needed for one year, with and without washing, and the difference is equal to the weight of VAL+water. Then, figure out how that quantity of water can be used for one year’s worth of laundry.
    • The ISS is not actually power-limited. Add a motor to the VAL, because astronauts are really going to want to just push a button to wash their clothes. Keep the crank design for terrestrial and emergency uses.
    • Move the location of the vacuum port, so the agitator wheel doesn’t beat it up.

After that, Kale took us to see all the UAV and Robotics labs.


We tried washing the clothes in a bag with HFE for 15 minutes. It did not work. At all. We also washed T-Shirts using a detergent pellet in the VAL 9000. We made the pellets red so that we could see how well it dispersed. It dispersed pretty well and washed the clothes with only the tougher stains slightly remaining. We also fixed most of the robot runs, so they will be able to run for State.


Today only a few team members could make it sadly, but there they gathered the detergent pellets for testing the VAL. They also ran the Solar Coaster many times but it was unsuccessful.


Today we fixed the VAL9000 (we duck taped the wheels so it would be waterproof.) We then tested to see if we can watch clothes in a vacuum sealed bag. You can! We also tested to see how much water we could get out of clothes with vacuum. We put 5 shirts in a vacuum sealed bag, we then put in 4 liters of water. After washing the clothes on the VAL and vacuuming out excess water we retrieved 2.5 liters of water. We retrieved the water by cutting a hole in the vacuum sealed bag. We then attached some tubing to the hole in the bag. We then put the end of the tubing inside a jug along with a vacuum hose. We sealed the opening in the jug, turned on the vacuum and watched it go. This created a vacuum inside the jug but allowed only air to enter the vacuum not the dirty water.

We also ran all of our runs, but none of them turned out successfully.


Today's blizzard meant that all afternoon activities were canceled. We met by Google Hangouts and worked on the website and documentation.


Our goal at practice today was to improve the attachment for our new run. The wheel was having issues leaving the ramp, so the Crater Crossing wouldn't be triggered. For the attachment that holds the wheel that hits the Crater, we made it shorter so the wheel would hit the Crater and not miss. In addition, we took the tires off of the wheel and added steel balls to make it heavier. We also decided to attach the Satellite Condo to the robot permanently, and rebuilt the satellites, since they were completely wrong. We also fixed PAM. Claire changed the support beams to make them line up correctly. We also noticed that the forklift was getting stuck when trying to drop the bomb - it wouldn't move the bomb arm far enough, and would slide the whole robot sideways instead. We added rounded pieces to the side of frames, and then Claire put a shorter beam on the front of PAM so it couldn't get caught. Problem solved!

Cody and Anuva also wrote an experiment design for next week, when we'll test whether detergent disperses well in the VAL9000 wash bag.


We did many things this lovely Saturday. One thing we did was starting our clothes washing experiments. Today, we tried to see if it was possible to wash clothes in a bag. For this experiment, we had a Ziploc bag, in which we had a piece of cloth that had multiple stains on it, such as ketchup, mustard, chocolate pudding, and blackberry jam. We first put in some normal powered detergent, then the cloth, and then finally some water. After doing so, Soren agitated the bag for about 15 minutes with his hands, then took out the water and added some more rinse water. He agitated that for another five minutes and then drained the whole bag. After all of that was done, we concluded that you could indeed wash clothes in bags as the cloth was rid of mostly all of the stains.

Soren also experimented with the Aerobic Machine, and finally decided that it was just too difficult to be worth the time right now. We couldn't figure out a reliable way for the forklift to push down enough to move the axle, no matter which direction we tried from.


We started programming the 3rd run that would do the crater.


Today we didn't have school, as it was snowing and cold! How did we spend our free day, you may ask? Well, by doing Lego, of course! We started working on our third mission which includes the Crater Crossing, the 3-D Printer, and the Strength Machine. For this, we already had the beginnings of an attachment for this mission (see robot and attachments page). We then added on to accommodate the new missions.


Today was our first practice since Sectionals. We didn't work on any runs but instead reviewed what the judges had said about us and our robot and what we could improve. So, we spent the whole practice making goals for state in ways we could make our runs, project, and core values better.


Today, we improved the website and wrote a Master Control program. It's our last practice before the tournament, so we had to make sure everything was working out okay.


Cody brought in a Core Values challenge today! Unfortunately, Soren and Anisha were not there for it. There were 10 plush toys in a bag - we had to take them out and stack them in such a way that 6 were only touching other plushies - that was easy. But then, we each had to take turns grabbing one of them, assigning them a trait, and give them to someone with that trait - including giving some to the coaches and missing team members. We also practiced the skit and running the robot.


Today was a school practice. Our main objective was to start building attachments to do the northeast side of the board. Claire worked on making the back side of our robot more sturdy to be able to square up on the wall. Soren is working on making the Christmas Cannon better. Cody is in the process of teaching Max about our code, so he can better understand how it works. Anuva and Anisha are working on the website.

Things we actually got done: The bumper got fixed as it was supposed to be, we fixed the Christmas Cannon by adding Lego string to keep the top from falling off (see attachment section to see what we're talking about), and Cody made a MyBlock document to help explain how the MyBlocks work to the judges at the tournaments.


Today we worked on coming up with different plans, plan A and plan B, for the Food Production mission. Plan A is to follow the wall to do Escape Velocity and the Observatory from the side, and then to drive to follow the line to do the Food Production. Then, the robot would push the other team's Solar Panel and put the satellites into place. Plan B would be driving from Base to Food Production by following the line in front of it. Then it would do Escape Velocity from the front, and then drive to push the Observatory. After that was finished, it would push the other team's Solar Panel and then place the satellites in their place. At the moment we haven't decided on a plan to use, but we are leaning towards plan A, since we couldn't move forward with plan B.

Another thing we accomplished this practice was making this website! So far, we don't have a lot on it, but we hope to add more about our robot and its attachments, our project and outreach, and things we have done for Core Values.

Cody worked on SpinAttack, which is a block that turns the robot a certain amount of degrees without using the gyro. At the moment, we don't know if it is reliable. This could be used instead of the gyro for turns.

For the robot changes, we took out the torches on the bottom of the robot to put in long blue pins to be able to add 13 beams as feet to stop the robot from going too far into the Food Production.

Above: The torches being changed to 13-beams.


It's two days before our first tournament, and we discovered something very interesting! We programmed the robot to come back to Base after the Solar Coaster run, simply by driving straight backward. We hadn't done this before now, because it seemed so easy; just use a MegaPowUp block with a negative power setting. We did that, and the robot curved to the right! A normal green Move block didn't do that. We finally figured out that it was a side effect of how we programmed MegaPowUp, with a green block inside a loop. See here for more notes about fixing this in the programs.