2017 Season – FIRST Steamworks 2017 Season
FIRST Steamworks

Worth a Mention
3D-Printed (sponsor):
Battery enclosure (nylon SLS)
3D-Printed (in-house):
  • Drive encoder housings — we CADed up an improved custom design and posted it on Thingiverse so it could be used by other teams
  • Housing is used for interfacing SRX Mag encoders with a hex shaft
Laser-cut (sponsor):
Turret gear and superstructure, intake side plates, bellypan
Sewn (in-house):
Rope for climbing was made out strapping sewn together with elastic in custom sleeving
Notable Firsts:
  • First time using CAN
  • First time using vision tracking
  • First time building a high goal shooter
  • First time using laser-cut parts
Deburring laser-cut parts for our turret, intake, and bellypan, cut by our sponsor Rhino Cutting Systems

Deburring laser-cut parts for our turret, intake, and bellypan, cut by our sponsor Rhino Cutting Systems. For more images, visit the 2017 Gallery.

This was our first foray into advanced design as we took on greater and more complex challenges (such as building a high goal shooter). However, we were pretty limited in what we could use — we had no real in-house advanced manufacturing. The only tools at our disposal were a drill press, vertical and horizontal bandsaw, and a lathe (which was rarely used). We also had very limited 3D-printing capabilities. Despite all this, we managed to build a highly successful and ambitious robot.

In 2017, the year before 6878 officially started as an FRC team, we invited students from St. Jean de Brebeuf to join our team and learn the ins and outs of FRC. These students were involved in everything from the design and build to scouting and competition. This marked the start of our close ties with 6878.

New Implementations

It was around this year that we really started moving away from standard or pre-made items, and more towards making our own. While there is always something to learn from previous years, at this point in time we were still figuring out how FRC worked — so here are some new things we tried:

Custom Battery Mount:
3D-printed from SLS nylon with built-in channels for a strap and a side mounted battery connector. It was designed to include a zip-tie to hold the connectors in place.
Mechanical Limit Switches:
Physical limit switches were used to limit the range of travel on the turret, in order to not tear the umbilical out.
POE Injection:
Took off-the-shelf POE injectors and modified them to plug into our FRC control system.
System Checks:
By the end of the season, we had discovered virtually every single mode of failure for the VersaPlanetary gearboxes in the climber. This lead to us doing routine maintenance on parts that were more likely to fail.

Software and Controls
NavX (gyro and accelerometer), SRX Mag Encoders (part of a gearbox)
Motor Controllers:
Talon SRX using CAN
Series of straight drive paths and arcs, followed with feedback from encoders and gyroscope
  • Automatic turret alignment with boiler featuring fine and coarse manual adjustments.
  • Automatic setting of flywheel speed with the ability to make manual adjustments.
  • Single button shift to high gear.
  • Reversible fuel intake and hopper ball pump for unjamming.
Vision Tracking:
Video stream processing from an IP camera. GRIP was used to generate the Java code needed to interact with OpenCV. OpenCV ran on the RoboRIO itself and performed the vision processing


New Initiatives
Pre-Season Workshops:
Incoming rookie students built dragsters to develop the necessary skills for build season. Students rotated through groups, learning some of the basics of robot control systems, 3D modelling, and programming. They used these skills to complete and interpret the engineering drawings in order to cut, shape, and assemble all the necessary components, as well as to wire up the control systems of these little remote-controlled cars. Working in small groups allowed everyone to get involved and do some hands-on learning, and each group raced their dragsters on kickoff day
Media Team:
This year, our media team produced weekly vlogs during build season and other videos such as our first-ever robot reveal
Awards Team:
Conveying our story to the judges can be tricky, but this year our awards team won us four awards including the Engineering Inspiration award

HWCDSB System Science Fair:
Demoed Oscar to elementary school students, along with 4618 Newman Robotics and 4039 MakeShift (March 2017)
IBM Canada Demo:
Showed two company executives, Dave Robitaille and Richard McDonald, around the Robodrome. They also had a chance to see Penelope drive around the field and learn about the game (March 2017)
Hosted a build challenge for grade 7 students (March 2017)
Heritage Green Community Trust Demo:
Demoed Oscar to Heritage Green Community Trust trustees. A previous written proposal to the committee awarded us a $70,000 grant to outfit the Robodrome 2.0 with a state-of-the-art CNC machine shop. At this demo, the trustees had a chance to drive Oscar around and we got to expand upon how the grant would be used (May 2017)
Scouts Demo:
Gave some scouts a Robodrome tour and a chance to see Penelope on the field (May 2017)
Hamilton Public Library CODEfest:
Interactive demo with Oscar. We also ran a build challenge for the students (June 2017)
Hamilton Maker Faire:
Ran demonstrations with Oscar and our t-shirt cannon, Lola. We were also joined by 4618 Newman Robotics, 4039 MakeShift, 4976 Revolt Robotics, 865 WARP7, and 2056 OP Robotics (June 2017)
Grade 9 Orientation:
Showcased Oscar and our team to soon-to-be grade 9s (August 2017)
IBM Canada 100 Year Anniversary Barbeque:
Interactive demo with Oscar and our t-shirt cannon Lola. We kept crowds of IBM employees (and the President of FIRST Canada!) entertained while they queued for food (September 2017)
Falcon-X Golf Tourney:
Co-hosted a golf tournament fundraiser with the Our Lady of the Assumption Falcons (Fundraiser, October 2017)
Parent-Teacher Interviews Bake Sale:
Hosted a fundraiser bake sale during our school's parent-teacher interviews night. Also ran an interactive demo with Oscar (Fundraiser, October 2017)
STEMley Cup:
A large, highly rated off-season event we co-host with 4039 MakeShift. We loaned prerookie team 6378 LYNX Robotics our robot (November 2017)
ArcelorMittal Dofasco Demo:
Demoed Oscar at ArcelorMittal Dofasco's Executive Garage. All local teams sponsored by Dofasco were in attendance (November 2017)
Grade 8 Night:
Interactive demo with Oscar. Showcased our team to grade 8 students and their families (November 2017)
HWCDSB FLL Qualifier:
Demoed Oscar to FLL kids at halftime. We were joined by 4039 MakeShift and prerookie team 6878 SJB Odyssey (December 2017)