La Salle Academy Robotics Team 1350 Website
Pictures of La Salle Robotics Team

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Jump to Section: | Year 2013 | Year 2012 | Year 2011 | Year 2010 | Year 2009 | Year 2008 | Year 2007 | Year 2006 | Year 2005 | Origins |

« Year 2013 »

Under construction.


« Year 2012 »

The 2012 game was Rebound Rumble. This game was played with three robots on each alliance shooting basketballs and balancing on bridges to earn points. New this year was the Hybrid Period, where the teams had the option to pre-program the robot or have the robot respond to actions done by the human player using a Microsoft Kinect. After this period is over, drivers can take over and try to score as many baskets as they can before balancing on bridges at the end to earn additional points. In qualification matches, robots could balance on Coopertition bridges with a robot from the other alliance to bridge to score additional ranking points for each Alliance.

Again taking what we had learned in the 2010 season, we kept the robot design very simple. The robot used a four wheel configuration with larger wheels to add traction as well as aid with climbing onto the balancing bridge during the end game. Using belts, the robot was able to grab the balls as they rolled into the opening in the bottom and raise the balls up to the shooter. The shooter had a set angle and used two wheels to shoot the ball.

The team did extremely well in competition. In the qualifying matches, we won six out of our ten matches. During those qualifying matches the robot was able to very accurately shoot baskets and balance on the Coopertition bridge. This placed us at the rank of 16 and we were chosen by team 157, along with team 131, to compete in the playoffs. During the quarterfinals, we were able to win the first match but lost the second, leaving the third game to decide which alliance would move on to compete in the semifinals. This last match was extremely tense, with both alliances wanting to win. Out alliance decided that it would be worthwhile to try a triple balance, which no alliance had successfully done during the entire regional. Our alliance was able to successfully complete the triple balance- the only one done during the Boston regional- and move onto the semifinals with a score of 54-53.

Since we had done so well at the Boston Regional, the team was invited to compete in the world competition in St. Louis. While there we competed in the Galileo Division, winning five out of our nine matches and achieving an overall rank of 68.


« Year 2011 »

For the first time since I have been on the team (2009), possibly the first time ever, the team was without any seniors. The most experienced student team members, 3 juniors, fearlessly lead the team through a relatively successful year.

Determined not to repeat mistakes from last year, a relatively simple design was chosen to compete in this year's game Logo Motion, which both celebrates the 20th season of FRC and honors Dean Kamen's father, and designer of the original FIRST logo, Jack Kamen. The game pieces are inflatable inner tubes in the shapes in colors of the components of the FIRST logo. The object of the game is to place the tubes on a pair of 3x3 grids in font of the alliance wall to create sequences matching the FIRST logo. Drawing inspiration from the 2007 robot, and experience from our mentors who were on the team that year, we went to work.

The robot used a standard 6 wheel configuration with dropped center wheels to aid in turning. The drive utilized a pair of new, lighter, single stage gearboxes from AmdyMark, inc. which, like their predecessors, support 2 motors each. The additional reduction necessary was integrated into the chain drive between the transmissions and the wheels. The arm was driven by two powerful RS-775 motors. Due to concerns with electrical shorts to the motor cases, the motors were mounted in ride-on toy car gearboxes which were completely plastic. Despite this fact, they are still strong enough that when we accidentally lifted the entire robot, some 130 pounds, by the arm, a steel sprocket and an aluminium shaft were the only points of failure, the plastic gearboxes were completely undamaged. In total, the robot had only 7 motors: 4 for drive, 2 for the arm, and the new, lightweight compressor. All other mechanisms were actuated pneumatically or passively via gravity.

The final component of this years 'bot was the "minibot," a small, autonomous device that was carried by the robot for most of the match and deployed on vertical steel poles in the last 15 seconds in a race to the top against 3 other minibots. About halfway through the build season we decided to remove the inefficient gearboxes from the motors to exploit the wasted power by using small yet fast rollers mounted directly to the motors' shafts. Unfortunately, what it gained in speed was effectively nullified by reliability issues.

Overall, we were successful in achieving our goal by applying lessons learned last year. The result was a far more elegant and reliable design. We performed well in Boston getting about 1.5 to 2 logos per match before lunch on Saturday. In our last match we were quite literally shutdown when another robot inadvertently bumped our main breaker. In the end wee were not selected to be on an alliance for the elimination rounds. We also were not able to attend the world championship for the first time since 2007.

Next year we hope to continue to make progress towards making our team the best it can possibly be and to inspire new generations of students to inspire curiosity and interest in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.


« Year 2010 »

The team this year was much smaller than it was in years past due to a large art of the team graduating last year. this posed additional challenges. On top of this, this was our first year competing in FTC, a competition involving much smaller robots.

For this years game, Breakaway, we were tasked with playing a variation of soccer. The field was divided into three parts by two "bumps" each a foot high with 45 degree slopes on each side. In the middle of each bump was a tower from which robots could be hung to gain bonus points.

Due to the severity of the angle of the bumps, we decided early on that it would be cool and useful to have a robot that could continue to play even if it became inverted. Some mechanisms like the wheels, kicker, and dribbler were duplicated on the top and bottom and mechanically connected by chains and linkages. Others such as the firing mechanism, arm, and winch were designed to work form either orientation. The kicker was a spring-loaded, pneumatically cocked, pneumatically triggered "crossbow" style device. Two large cylinders stored vast amounts of energy in four trampoline springs. the kicker was then locked in this position by smaller cylinders while the cocking mechanism moved out of the way. When released the kicker would spring forward to meet the ball. To hang, a telescopic fishing pole was extended from whatever was the "top" to place a large fishing hook, normally used for shark fishing, on the top of the tower. From there our winch did the rest.

This section is still under construction


« Year 2009 »

This year FIRST switched from the IFI controllers to NI cRIO industrial controllers. The game , "Lunacy", requires robots to drive under low traction conditions while towing trailers that serve as goals for the opposing alliance.

For this challenge it was decided that traction control was necessary to maneuver effectively. The drivetrain for this year's robot was centered around a steerable drive module at the back of the robot. This module contained two wheels driven by a single Toughbox transmission. The purpose of this arrangement was to gain better control over the trailer for greater maneuverability. To prevent jack-knifing, the rear portion of the frame tapered inward.

The scoring objects were balls of woven, fabric covered plastic strips called "moon rocks." They were transported through the robot on a round urethane belt conveyor system. A spinning brush in the front pulled the moon rocks into the robot and a second pair of brushes loaded them into, and retrieved them from the hopper. A turret on top of the robot could shoot the balls a fair distance with a roller driven via a belt from a CIM.

The drivetrain alone incorporated seven sensors. Three hall effect gear-tooth sensors, to track wheel speed, and three encoders, attached to VEX omni-wheels located near each drive wheel to measure ground speed fed data into the traction control functions to prevent wheel slippage and one multi-turn potentiometer tracked the position of the rear drive turret.

At the Boston regional, the robot performed excellently and proved to be fairly maintenance free. We were chosen to be part of one of the alliances in the elimination matches. We put up a fight in the quarter finals but, ultimately, we were eliminated after three matches. In Atlanta, the robot continued to run smoothly. The belts had to be tensioned since they had stretched since Boston, but that was about all that needed to be done and we used our time to focus on the cosmetic issues and fixing some of the battle scars that we received in Boston.


« Year 2008 »

Our fifth year of participation in the FIRST Robotics Challenge. Carolina Herrera, DJ Rocco, and Mike Zhu became our new captains. This year's challenge, called "Overdrive," presented the task of moving around balls 40 inches in diameter and "hurdling" them over a bar six feet from the floor of the competition field. The team was collectively stunned by the size of the balls and the height of the "hurdle" for a fair portion of our initial brainstorming session, but we eventually worked out a design that would fulfill the requirements.

Our design plans were, however, torn between two methods of steering. While two wheel steering would allow us easier handling when driving, tank drive would give us superior turning capabilities. We eventually settled on Craft-Ackerman steering, which would allow us to employ both methods and switch between the two instantly during competition. Not only did this provide us with the best of both steering methods, but it allowed us to drive our 'bot completely in tank drive in the event of a failure of two-wheel steering. This redundancy proved to be incredibly useful in many matches!

We also devised two methods for removing balls from the "hurdle" during competition. Not only could our traditional claw, mainly designed to pick up the balls and place them on the rack or "hurdle" them by throwing them over the rack, serve this purpose, but we added two modified skis, which could be raised to the level of the rack and remove any ball under which it would pass. The Skis were amazingly successful, they could remove a ball from the rack at nearly every attempt. This gave us a nearly incontrovertible strategy for the autonomous period.

Our team was mildly successful at Regionals. While we did not achieve a place, we were picked to be one of the final alliances. We only encountered a few minor technical issues while at regionals, mainly due to a loose potentiometer. This problem was eventually resolved at nationals in Atlanta.

Mike Zhu also completely rewrote this site to migrate it from static HTML to use PHP and MySQL, which greatly facilitated the update of this site. Thanks, Mike!


« Year 2007 »

For our fourth year participating in the FIRST robotics challenge, we were determined to be finished by our regional. Mr. Michael Day was our new moderator. About one third of the team had graduated in 2006 and these seniors had made up a majority of the build and administrative teams. We were strong in programming, but lacked experience in building the machine.

At the 2007 kickoff, we were introduced to this year's challenge "Rack 'n' Roll." The team's first reaction was, "WHAT!? How in the world are we going to accomplish this!?" The day after kickoff, we were invited to a brainstorming session with our fellow Rhode Island Teams 1568 and 121. It was hosted at 1568's workspace at The Cooley Group. We talked about strategy, offense and defense, which part of the game was the most imperative to winning, and much more. It was very beneficial and we felt that we were well-prepared to start building a robot.

Build season began and we jumped right into building the robot. The team quickly got our chassis, motors (our "engines" as we like to call them), and wheels set up. Six-wheel, four-motor, tank drive. The team then worked on the rest of the design. What was our claw going to look like? Were we going to have ramps? How were we going to lift them? We went through about six different designs and proto-types for the claw until we finally settled on the claw that is now on our robot. We planned to have two ramps and went through several lift designs (scissor lift, Swiss cheese lift, and a few others). Everything on the robot was done except the ramps and autonomous. It was the beginning of week six and we were just starting to stay really late. (In other years, the lateness starts around week four or five.) We felt pretty confident that we were going to get the 'bot done.

Saturday came around and we went off to Quincy, MA to a scrimmage hosted by HYPER Team 69 without our ramps. Some things on the Rambot broke and we were able to fix them. Had we not gone to a scrimmage, we would not have known the parts wouldn't work until our regional competition. We got back to Brown and took the rest of the night off. Sunday came and Team 1568 came to Brown. Their workspace was closed on Sunday so we invited them to come work on their robot at Brown. It was really great that they came to Brown. We shared our camera code and worked on autonomous together. Monday and Tuesday passed in a panic. We frantically tried to put our bumpers and one ramp on. The FedEx guy came and our 'bot still wasn't in the box. He very kindly went and got a cup of coffee and waited until the Rambot was all packed up. Build season was done!

Now Team 1350 is headed up to the Boston regionals. Who knows what will happen there! We'll keep you posted. Stay classy LaSalle and be careful out there!


« Year 2006 »

For a third attempt at the FIRST robotics challenge, our team had changed considerably. There were now three captains, Mike Day, Tim Fox, and Christina Laboissonniere. In a span of two years, the team had grown by about ten people and almost everyone from the original team had graduated. It was sad to see so many people go, but with a steady supply of intelligent new students, the team could still go on.

At the kickoff, we learned that the challenge this year involved shooting projectiles. This seemed like it was harder than previous years, but fortunately we had a strong programming team. They decided to create an aiming system with binocular vision that used trigonometry and complex equations to aim for the goal and calculate shooting speed and distance. This system was very accurate and quick in theory and would give Team 1350 an advantage.

Now the team definitely knew that we weren't going to make the same mistakes a third time. We divided the team into sub-teams so everyone had something to do and work could be streamlined and more would be done faster. The build season flew by and the NH Regionals came before we knew it. The robot was shipped out more complete than the others but we still hadn't tested the cameras yet. This would come back to haunt us.

Most of the code for the binocular vision was not completely uploaded and debugged so we were auto-aim-less for most of the competition. There were a few kinks in the system and we didn't get it to work for a few days. Just when it was in optimal condition, the team discovered that there was a problem with the ball feeder and the shooter couldn't receive any of the balls. The programming team was able, however, to complete a few protocols for the autonomous mode and the Rambot III was able to drive out and block a few of our competitors from getting valuable shooting time. Despite these difficulties, we finished 4 - 5 and 27th out of 52 teams.

The National competition was a whole different story. Many things on the Rambot were fixed and the binocular vision even worked for a few matches. The feeding ramp problem was somewhat corrected by the efforts of Mr. Day and the build team so the Rambot had an easier time shooting. As for the strategy, much of the time was now devoted to defense and assisting the other robots. Team 1350 was very successful at the Nationals finishing 5 - 2 and 22nd out of 86 teams in our division.


« Year 2005 »

For our second year, our resolution was to face the competition with all the experience that we had gathered from our rookie year and apply it rather than "run around like chickens with their heads cut off". As the beginning of the year rolled around, we held the first meeting at La Salle and the room was almost empty. The captain for this year was now Charlotte Fitzgerald. Most of the 2004 team had been seniors and about 4/5ths of the team had graduated. It seemed like the robotics team had run out of people, but thankfully after the preliminary meetings, the team was back to a full roster. This time, filled with eager, young faces whose grade level ranged from 7th to 12th our team began with the hope that we would do even better than we had done in 2004.

The build season arrived and we worked hard, as usual. Instead of using a random piece of wood to put our chassis on, the team decided to pick out the final chassis first. Unfortunately even as it seemed like the team was making excellent progress, we ended up even further behind schedule than the previous year! This might have been due to the game, which was to pick up tetrahedrons and place them on bigger ones to score points. A fully pose-able arm was more complicated than just a hook. Nevertheless, Team 1350 and The Rambots had still conquered many obstacles just to participate in this event and was an incredible group of kids.

Despite what the team said it would do at the beginning of the season, we ended up shipping the Rambot untested and unpracticed again. Doh! As a result, we had to tighten our belts and go straight to work as soon as we got to the New Hampshire Regional, where we again finished 4 - 4. Oh, I almost forgot! (How could I?!) That year, we went to Georgia by train. That was... interesting. After the 5th hour, it seemed like we would be there for an eternity. How was anyone expected to stay sane on a 28 hour train ride?? At the Georgia Dome, the 13' arm was a sight to behold and it worked pretty well. It even exceeded the expectations of some of our team members! However, on the field, Mr. Day and the drivers soon saw that the arm was too clumsy and long to be of much use. Once they cut it down to about 9', the Rambot was able to play defense well and had an easier time picking up the "tetras". We finished 3 - 4 and 58th out of 85 teams in our division.


« The Origins of FIRST Team 1350 »

LaSalle Academy's Team 1350 was founded four years ago by two students who became our first captains: Adam Lesnikowski and Nick Pasquariello. This is the basis for the principle that still guides Team 1350:

We are student driven.

All aspects of the program are expected to be carried out by students with an emphasis on decision making and hands on participation. Our first moderator was Ms. Pamela Fontaine of the LaSalle Science Department. When she was unable to continue that first year, Mr. Thomas Conboy, a LaSalle alumnus, took over and was the Moderator for our first three years. For the 2007 season Mr. Michael Day, father of a graduated team member, generously agreed to succeed Mr. Conboy, who is still with the team in a reduced role.

Team 1350 was mentored by Team 121 of Aquidneck Island and was given invaluable help in our first year. Brown University provided workspace and technical assistance and Raytheon provided needed funding. In four short years Team 1350 has won several awards and has established a reputation for producing reliable, highly competitive machines while adhering to FIRST's credo of "Gracious Professionalism".