THE FIRST ROBOTICS TEAM
In the fall of 2013, after the launch of the DIWire Kickstarter, Elliot Owens, a senior at Crystal Springs Uplands School in Hillsborough, CA, contacted Pensa Labs to present us with the opportunity to sponsor the their team in the FIRST Robotics Competition. It would be the first year the Crystal Springs Uplands School would be competing. Under strict rules, limited resources, and time limits, teams of 25 students or more are challenged to raise funds, design a team “brand,” hone teamwork skills, and build and program robots to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors. The 2014 challenge is called the Aerial Assist, a combination of soccer and basketball played with 2’ diameter inflated exercise balls.
For the Crystal Springs Uplands School, the DIWire has been a tool for building lightweight structures quickly, without extensive tooling or training. For their robot, all of the electronics were attached to the base of the robot with a custom wire grid. 1/8” steel rods were soldered together with a propane torch and plumbing solder. Normally, when set up side to side, only 5 motor controllers (Jaguars) could fit into the base. With the DIWIRE, a custom-made zig-zag rack could hold all 6 comfortably. By threading the ends of the wire with 6-32 threads, the cage was restrained to keep it from moving.
The DIWire made the front cage for the robot out of hexagonally bent pieces of wire. This keeps the ball in contact with the rollers at all times while protecting the delicate electronics below. Additionally, custom mounting brackets were made for various components. The Festo solenoid valve is attached to the side of the robot with a custom “U” shaped piece of wire with threaded ends.The DIWire was also used to make a protective camera cage. Lastly, custom “U”s protect the pneumatic valves.
In the spring of 2014, the Crystal Springs Uplands School robot competed in the Silicon Valley Regionals. They went 7-4 in the qualifying matches and were the only rookie team to advance to the elimination rounds.By the end of the competition, they placed 12th out 59 teams, making them the highest ranked rookie team.