The Mech Cadets, St. John’s robotics team, has been putting in a lot of work on their robot since the guidelines for the challenge came out on January 6. This year’s challenge for the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) is Infinite Recharge. The robot has to be able to go through a course and complete a number of challenges such as picking up and shooting dodgeballs, balancing on a pendulum, and spinning a large wheel. The competition is inspired by the Star Wars franchise.
The robot has to be able to grip onto and balance on a pendulum with another robot, shifting its weight to counter the other robot as necessary.
The team members have shown significant commitment and dedication to their craft. They meet everyday during the week except for Fridays and all day on Saturdays. There is a lot of problem solving and teamwork that goes into the finished product. The team is broken up into different subsets: mechanical, programming, electrical, and business.
Kyle Joe ‘20 of the mechanical team said, “Our first completed mechanism was our shooter, which launches balls into a goal 10 feet off the ground. As the season went on, the robot has gained more mechanisms such as two climbing hooks to hang the robot on a five foot high teeter totter, and a spinning wheel to spin a disc. Finally, we recently added an LED system which gives our robot an underglow of any color we want.”
The robot must also be able to spin a large colored wheel a specified number of times or to a certain color.
Mr. McCarthy, one of the team sponsors said, “This is the first year that we’ve worked on using sensors to move the robot instead of human control.”
The robot must be able to shoot balls, or power cells as FIRST calls them, into either a higher or lower hole to earn points.
The team is feeling confident heading into their first competition on March 6 at Walt Whitman. They will get to practice one time on a full size course before that. Last year, the team made it to the District Championships and missed qualifying for the World Championship by one point. However, this year they are hoping to change that.
Joe said, “I predict that our robotics team will reach great success while learning from failures which we encounter. Our end goal for this season is to qualify for the world championship in Detroit, Michigan and I believe that with our team’s current strength, we will be able to qualify.”
Mr. McCarthy said, “I’m cautiously optimistic. I think that after looking at videos of other teams that we’re in really good shape. I really think that this could be our year to go to worlds.”
Next, they are headed for an overnight competition at McDonough School in Owings Mill, MD. If all goes well, they are on to the District Championship in Hampton, VA from April 2-5. You can follow along with the team on Twitter or Instagram @frc4456.
Mr. McCarthy said, “With the new members to the team, I’m very confident that not only will this year be good but we’re good moving into the future. That’s the biggest thing.”