Friday, March 28, 2008

as copied from david cardinal's email

Thanks everyone for a great session this morning. You guys got everything done we had on the list and then some.

Special thanks to Steve T. & David B. for getting the SolidWorks licenses in record time and to Lanre for setting up the printer!

My notes:
· The 2 new HP/Compaq laptops are now full set up with Solidworks, the programming tools & eDrawings & Office and ready to go!
· 4 of the IBM Laptops are set up with the programming tools, Office & eDrawings, matching power adapters and are ready to go. 3 of them have also been upgraded to 1.5GB of RAM memory. The 4th (Debbie) could be upgraded for about $50 if needed.
· 2 of the IBM Laptops were donated to Kyle Barriger & Middle School Robotics “permanently” to simplify laptop management
· The 3 Animation laptops were already all set with 3DS, but none of them have Office, and all of them could use a memory upgrade (from 1GB to 2GB) and possibly a hard drive before they get used for next season. 3DS also crashes on one of them, but unless we need all three it’s probably not worth worrying about.
· The HP printer is set up and working on Thor with full ink cartridges, but I don’t think there are spares.
· Thor (the Desktop) is pretty lame as machines go, but now has eDrawings. If it is needed for Solidworks it should probably be replaced with something newer rather than trying to upgrade it. Otherwise it’s fine for basic email/Office/Print/eDrawings.
· All the machine status sheets are in a notebook on the bookshelf.
· Install disks & other CDs are now in a CD holder
· All the notebooks are labeled, with labeled adapters and in labeled computer cases. Quite an impressive stack actually!

Hopefully you guys are now in good shape going forward. Obviously you’ll want some more copies of Solidworks once you decide what other machines you want it on. The good news is that the new version worked fine and doesn’t require a dongle which simplifies things.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008


there are two, beautiful, brand spanking new hp laptops.
they are GORGEOUS.
think of laptop names. (g & h)

we should do something nice for the tech department and also jrock for getting them for us.

also, what are we doing with annie/bonnie/casey/debbie/emily/francey (whoa, they're all ee endings...)
can we just give a couple permanently to barriger so we don't have to worry about sharing them with him?

i'm going to work on getting mplab installed, and i think allie wanted to get solidworks up and running for next year.

ideo people are coming on thursday. :)


Sunday, March 16, 2008

from emily's email

Yes, I know we've barely had a breather after a very exciting season but parents and students alike are asking about this!

Let's try to nail a preliminary date before April 15.

Please let us know what weeks (Monday through Friday, 9 am - 5 pm) you are available between June 16 and August 25.

Please sign up on doodle!

Jessa Lee (Gatorbotics founding team captain) and Karlin Bark (Stanford PhD student) spearheaded this amazing effort last year.

We talked about topics ranging from mechanisms to programming, took field trips to Alan Steel and the Tech Shop, and prototyped with pneumatics and electronics.

Photographs from the 2007 Gatorbotics bootcamp are here:

Let's build on this foundation! I would love to hear from you thoughts on what we could do to make this even better.

A few thoughts:

- Could the entire team take a day to take a class in machining / welding at the TechShop or The Crucible during this week?

- Could the parents have their own parallel 'bootcamp' day or evening where they help the team behind the scenes and plan for the next year?

- Could we bring in guest speakers from other teams and go visit other local robotics teams i.e. Paly, Gunn and Woodside Claremont.

Mentors, teachers and parents, please also put down your own name if you want to get involved with this week. I'm not expecting anyone (myself included) to be available for the whole week to teach, but if we can each contribute a day or even an afternoon of our time, this will be fabulous once again!

Thanks in advance, Emily

Saturday, March 15, 2008

svr results!

summary version:
WE WON THE JUDGES AWARD! that's really exciting
and we also got the safety token count award thing. yay for allie's safety captaining.

in more detail, friday afternoon we had a team meeting and discussed how we were doing. no, we weren't ranked high. with our gripper breaking twice and other teams not showing up/not following the strategies, circumstances were beyond our control.
that said, we came up with a list of four expectations-->goals we had for svr.
2. score more effectively and consistently
3. get chosen for an alliance.
4. get recognition for our efforts.

excepting 3, i'd say we did pretty well. i definitely had a good time. that first match today?! it was AMAZING. score 54-30 and we both hurdled and placed. we should all be really proud.
and WE DID get recognition - the judge's award! no, it's not a national award. but the judges saw us and recognized us as a good team. so YAYYY

the core team needs to sit down and have an intense debrief about the season - what we've done, and what we want to do, and how to get those things done.

thank you to everyone who came and supported us (including all the alum :]), and to emily for being awesome as always with our spiffy cards to use when pitching ourselves.

party tomorrow, 4-7:30 at erin's house. be there. (with food).

Thursday, March 13, 2008


hello all!

thursday at svr - practice matches have gone well.

in terms of true changes made:
-we swapped out the lead screw successfully, the arm moves up and down beautifully
-we added arm-raising to autonomous code (after we stop moving)
-new, non-sketchy flag holder
-foamy bits have replaced noodly bits in terms of padding gripper
-JOYSTICKS! oh my god. the aux2 button is just badly built or something, because it has died on two seperate joysticks. but erin's bringing more tomorrow. this is ridiculous.

we have 10 qualification matches over the course of the next two days! i am pumped.
i definitely meant to write down the match schedule but i forgot...
match numbers that i remember which are possibly wrong:
3, 33, 17, 61...

wheeee! i'm excited. :)

i would try to post the match schedule tomorrow, but there isn't internet access at sjsu. :/

oh, and a HUGE thank you to emily and jimmy for playing hooky from work.
and the code documentation booklets are beyooootiful. they make me really happy.
also, thank you to both ms appelget and mourad for coming too.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Hosting Events

You gals rock. Wow, that's serious blogging and stuff happening in the last few days.

Just a reminder about the two seperate opportunities to host groups who are interested in gatorbotics! You are all invited to come help out (especially when the team from Mexico City is visiting). It's your chance to demonstrate your goodwill and to share your passion for robotics!!! Whoohoo!!

Wednesday, March 12
Tour / Talk with Team 2283 from Mexico City
3:30 - 4:30 pm at Science Project Room

Bob Smith, director of the Stanford Center for Innovations in Learning and IDEO alumnus is bringing a visiting rookie team from Mexico City here for the Silicon Valley Regional. They are visiting Karlin's lab, IDEO (I'm hosting, duh) and are hoping to visit Castilleja as well. If any of you want to hear me give an IDEO tour afterwards, you're welcome to join. Way to generate some inter-team spirit here!

Friday, March 21
Observation for IDEO 101 Team Design Challenge
1:00 - 2:00 pm at Science Project Room

A small team of new IDEO-ers and maybe one of IDEO's educational clients would like to visit Castilleja Robotics as part of their two day design challenge to figure out new ways to create exciting challenges for students by exploring non-traditional immersive forms of teaching and outside the book learning. You gals are definitely doing this through robotics. IDEO will donate $100 to Castilleja Robotics for your efforts to share your story!

It was great to see everyone on Wednesday night!


Friday, March 07, 2008


this means that we actually need to change the autonomous code - currently it will count 19 seconds... that's way too long. poor benjitong will die otherwise.

i'm really happy about this.
it turns out that 1000/25 is NOT 19. it's actually 40.

svr prep stuff

yes, i'm blogging yet again

chairmans! we need to
-decide which 3 people are presenting
-prepare whatever we want to take to present
-get letter of reference from barriger, seton
-poster from last year?
-all those counterpoint/around the circle/published articles

has someone contacted local press about svr? i remember hannah saying she did this last year

who is going to uncrate? from what jrock told me, last year julia and kersten and beth martinson as the adult mentor person went down earlier and then the rest of us took a van from school.

within school publicity! announcements at meetings - flyers - bulletin - etc.
also, outside of school. tell people to come.

we've basically repacked. i also edited the packing list.
there are copies of the list in every crate.
actually, the more i think about, the more i do wish we had a wiki type thing. then we could just post everything to that. definitely something to think about for next year.

what about the bumpers? i know they got a little beat, but in general they're fine, yeah? or do we need to do some stapling before svr?

the weights are coming straight to svr? we didn't pack them, since they're at ideo...

code documentations nearly done... which nice person want to bind it for bathroom reading? :)

Thursday, March 06, 2008

worst moments

-dealing with the logistic/emails from FIRST and which to read/delete
-personal responsibility/team unity
-new team members
-not doing enough building
-not being able to come very often
-i wanted to do more
-communication needs to improve b.w subteams, leads, everyone
-:( when jim & em didn't communicate w/ us on the gripper design and plan
-missing fleetstreet
-gaps in communication
-involving recruits
-feelign like i couldn't do enough for the team
-ks ddint' come in and help us until like week 5
-a lot of time was spent sitting vs working on something productive
-lack of communication among leads, b.w leads and recruits, w parents, w mentors, w subteams...
-unwillingness of many people to work w recruits
-unwillingness of recruits to motivate themselves to watch and learn
-parent leads pulling their own weight - getting out emails/meal schedules etc
-overactivism (parents, etc)
-when the gripper motor nearly DIED
-i wish i could have doen a bit more as a new team member
-organization of material and supplies could have been better. this can save time on future work
-imbalance of the team memebrs
-new team members would leave after we tried to encorportate them into the building process
-team dynamics
-what to do with new team members?
-using the term "recruits" all the way through season
-gripper tension (hahah)
-when new people felt unneeded/couldn't stay all night before ship
-when ks came in and people were' communcation and were really stressed and unhappy
-when our alliance almost placed/hurdled 2 but didn't and we lost for the first time
-walking into the project room and having it be ice cold. even though the heat was runnign all day
-when the code wouldn't work
-when we didn't have a gripper five days before ship
-when we lost the cart handle and the drill (but we found the drill)
-when people dind't communicate with each other and made decisions without conferring with others
-we didn't start on the gripper until two days before ship....
-miscommunication/not enough communication between build leads and programming leads. not understanding the other side's pov
-going to home depot and finding that they were sold out of pvc pipe in teh size i needed
-when all ya came to ideo on feb18 and i didn't know what to do
-when there was miscommunication amongst the mentors about gripper. (feb14)
-if team member don't feel comfortable voicing/sharing concerns
-feeling useless/burden
-not knowing waht to do/tell others to do.

all that said, there's clearly room for improving. even so, i think it's important to remember that this season was not all bad - we definitely had fun :) and through this discussion, we will do our best to ensure that we don't have the same issues next year.
thank you everyone for your honest feedback.

best moments

-working w/ the team
-taking apart scotty
-everyone worked well together/listened to each other
-making to team more cohesive
-better school relations
-when i saw you gals prototyping amazing protos ie anndini's actuated arm
-a lot of ideas/enthusiasm in the beginning
-seeing our ideas come to life/using mecanum wheels
-better communication b/w build and prog. but still needs work
-actually taking scotty's questionable drive train and improving SO much. mecanum wheels.
-i like building circuits and cutting wires etc
-scouting results/outcome
-i learned a bunch of stuff
-you guys were awesome and you built a sweet bot
-the portland trip! i feel liek the team bonded well
-working together and it WORKING! :)
-awesome driving
-the separation of work b/w ideo and casti seemd ok if not good
-watchign all the designs evolve and come alive!
-the 1st year recruits wriing up the electronics board
-the mentors were very helpful and going to ideo was fun
-i liked working with the team membbers
-team work
-math wins again!
-i got to see welding
-learnign new thigns about building/wiring/using power tools
-when i was able to work on helping the bot
-soldering the flower for jrock
-making the gripper move and hurdle at 4am
-cleaning the project room with music
-seeing the robot in action
-choosing our alliance/having only girl team lead
-that one saturday at ideo - debuggin&breakingflowerpot&generalfun&STRAFING
-when we broke the flowerpot
-when erin pretended the claw was biting caroline and allie
-soldering new wires on the burnt gts and actually having it work again!
-successful timers 8am the day of ship
-burning th einsulation off the smoking gts (AND DOUG FIXING IT!)
-1am on ship. staying up late to fix benjitong
-when the robot worked on shipday
-lebanese food and modernplace gelato!
-seeing the gripper materialize
-emily riding benjitong down the ideo hallway
-walks to ideo
-seeing ppl drive the chassis

general things to discuss/put out there

-what are we changing for svr/general
-school relations/$$
-what people expected from the season and what they actually got
-personally taking initiative
-how do the parents/teachers feel about robotics?
-compensation for mentors

-animation - new members
-emotional breadth stability and support
-potential hiring of a full time mentor?
-what is the meanign of learning?
-what is the meaning of leadership?
-kpcb mentor $$
-parents: information packed to be signed by by parents to ensure understanding of the team/communication protocol
-more team dinners/social/ice cream eating/story knowing
-intra team relations (pizza party? event on saturday of svr?)
-force separat b/w outside problems and robotics problems
-do we want an entirely student - BUILT robot or a studentdesigned robot? where are we willing to compromise?
-blogs - useful? who reads this, anyway?
-expectations vs. results
-communcation (Team dynamics)
-new team member tasks

-what about the offseason?
-improvements for next years
-independent study - who's intereste?
-how can parents support the team better? eg, software installation
-nontech suff - $$ & ppl for next year (better communication with mentors and tech)
-personally taking initiative
-recruiting earlier - right after tech challenge? what to do with new ppl?
-summer camp! :)
-tech shop classes
-continuity throughout the year
-encouraging nontech to join us over the summer/do nontech stuff over thes umemr
-stuff to do over the year (pre/post season)

one thing people want for the future:
-i want to hire someone to help organize this amazing team
-advertising nt website, picture animation ---> classes
-parent liason
-fundraise earlier, target more sponsors, train nontech lead
-newsletter (parents, school)
-i'd like the team to hire someone to help organize and provide continuity for the team
-ginna = list maker!
-use yahoo calendar to coordinate paretns and food (could also use it for build scheduling)
-keeping recruits involved in final design (ex gripper this year)
-making a list that 1st yr students can do (pics, etc)
-leadership retreat!
-use interested people in the offseason to find sponsors
-a robtoics music playlist
-have monthly meeting with the entire team - short to communicate b.w tech and nontech

what new team members did this year

-screw mecanum wheels (Twice...)
-prototype for arm
-velcroed protective polycarb on board/chassis
-organing the project room/familiarizing with parts
-taking apart scotty
-wiring electronics board
-drilling holes into the chassis for bumpers
-painting/repainting the bumpers
-going on random errands
-watching jim cut/weld things
-soldering limit switch
-taking apart scotty
-writing electronics board
-discussion/making group design decisions
-cleaning project room

there are some obvious trends here.
ginna has volunteered to be in charge of next year's new team members! yay! that's awesome.
we also talked about other things new team members can do and the importance of being willing to simply watch and observe - that's how you learn!

between rounds checklist 06

most of these aren't actually relevant, but i do want to make a more complete list...

Things to do between rounds:

-Check electronics board:
-make sure speed controllers are on tight
-make sure board is firmly attached to aluminum plate which should be firmly attached to transmissions
-Make sure PWMs (LED, pinwheel esp) are plugged in
-replace chain tensioners
-check bumpers:
-need patches?
-still on the robot?-
Check turret set screws
-tighten shaft collars on chassis wheel axles
-tighten shaft collars on wheel o' doom axles-check chassis wheel axles (still straight?)
-replace batteries:
-check voltages
-zip tie 12V
-check wires on turret (not tangled, in chains)
-check PWM jumper for autonomous
one last thing:

code documentation is getting there (we have A LOT of code this year, actually. not in terms of complexity, but length. i think i'm at 63 pages? those case statements take up a lot of room.)
who wants to bind it for us?
how many copies should we make? one for karlin, one for emily, at least 2 for us, ? for judges...
chairman's presentation - is everyone familiar with "our story"? what is "our story"?
box of prototypes
any changes we want to make to the spiffy poster
outreeeeeach pictures

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

from anne's comment

just in case people didn't get to anne's comment.
after only a day, some of this is obsolete, but that's okay :)

we're also potentially changing the gear ratio for the arm from 4:1 to 6:1 (did i say that right? oh well)
and we're having an all-team meeting on wednesday march 5 from 6:30-7:30 (i thought it was 5:00 but erin just sent out an email)...anyway, dinner will be provided :)


also, nandini and erin brought the weights to IDEO today so they could lose some weight (in case we make a separate tower thing for the flag) i'm not sure when we're getting them back though

i think we should repack for SVR (or not exactly repack, but reorganize whatever is in those crates and potentially bring more stuff b/c we have no weight limit...right?) i'm happy to do that but i'll have to do it this week b/c i have no time next week :(

WE NEED MORE DUCT TAPE! i can probably make an ace run for more stuff of the sort sometime this week //they went and bought this stuff today (yay for telling ace people that you're jon (J-O-N) rockman!)


more coming on this soon - we had an all-team debrief today. we got a lot of really good feedback about what worked well this season, what didn't... what people want from the future, etc. it's all documented on postit notes so i'll try to type those up to archive. the feedback is actually extremely useful. it's great to know what people enjoyed doing and what people didn't. that being said, communication should not stop. we're always open to respectful suggestions and comments.

thank you to everyone who attended, and if you didn't i'll hopefully archive all those color coded postit notes soon! that way we'll actually be able to followthrough and change things next year.

it was so fulfilling to hear that both picasa and the blog are being actually used rather than just spending the time and no one using the features.

see you all next weekend for SVR!!!! i'm really excited :)
please do come (practice matches thursday, qualification matches all day friday, until lunch saturday and elimination/playoff after lunch. awards ceremonies both fri and sat evenings.)
we'll be swapping out the lead screw on thursday and benji(tong) will be back and better than ever by friday!

Monday, March 03, 2008

portland! (+svr)

so we're back from portland!
we did really well, esp compared to last year. final ranking was 10th out of 55, and due to the top 8 teams choosing within themselves, we were the captains of the 7th seeded alliance! (we seem to have a thing for being seventh.) playing against 488xbot and 100woodsidecarlmont, we did lose in the quarterfinals.

judges were genuinely interested in our team. being the only allfemale team in portland, we had a corner pit and many many judges and their friends chatted away to us. :) this is a very good sign.

we we'll be back and better by svr! march 13, 14, 15. get pumped.
we're swapping out the lead screw for one with a higher pitch. that way, we'll actually use the arm since it will be faster.

i found the drill in the silent study room this morning... not quite sure how it got there.
time to start planning for svr and our chairman's presentation. thanks to emily for the huuuuuge ass poster.
i'm working on code documentation, so that will be doen by svr.

an ENORMOUS thank you to mr rockman, ms o'malley, emily, karlin and ms mourad for coming with us. :) [and that lebanese food was ammmmazing]