Salutations metallic monoceros!

Welp, this is it. After a hectic spring break, everything has been submitted; the months of tirelessly working on the robot have paid off. Grogu has served us well, and now we await the judges results. With competition stuff done, we can finally move onto some less stressful projects!

It’s been quite a while since the last blog update, so here’s what our departments have been up to for the past few months:

Over the past [few] weeks, Mechanical has finally finished construction on the robot! Since then we have handed it off to Controls for wiring and testing, while we are basically standing by to fix anything that might (and inevitably will) break. Since then, our full attention has been devoted to Narwhal Connections, which is a program of articles, videos, and projects which are intended for elementary and middle schoolers to get interested in STEM. In the future we will continue working on these lessons while also working on some smaller, less technical projects in the workshop to improve our design and CAD skills.
- Aaron B.

The controls department has been busy with robotic this past month, despite the altered build season due to COVID-19. Throughout March, we fully programmed, wired and tested the base functionality of our Infinite Recharge at home robot, Grogu. We split into two pods this year to reduce contact and risk of exposure; one pod worked on wiring and programming the mechanisms of the robot, while the other pod worked on making and tuning autonomous programs. The first pod got access to the robot at the beginning of the month, and immediately started working to wire up all of the different mechanisms as mechanical finished them up: the drivetrain, intake, serializer, hopper, and shooter. The wiring on this year’s robot is mostly on the bottom of the belly pan, which helps to reduce clutter, and make the robot look neater and aesthetically cleaner. After the robot was fully wired, we developed code for each mechanism on the robot; most of these were fairly straightforward to program, as they were similar to those on last years robot, Cheems: the drive train, intake, the serializer and the shooter on Grogu were particularly akin to those used on Cheems. The biggest difference was the hopper, which was much simpler to program due to it having rollers on both sides that moved the balls evenly. We did some of this programming over google meet in order to engage members who could not come into the workshop. Testing and troubleshooting each mechanism was the hardest part, as there were inevitable gaps in our logic and functionality that we missed, but these were all inevitably resolved following a number of debugging sessions. Tuning the parameters that controlled the shooter flywheel speed was also a difficulty, but in the end we discovered a workflow that greatly expedited the process. Overall, the mechanism pod has made great progress getting the robot to a fully operational state. The other pod, focusing on autonomous programs, used advanced method of autonomous control on this robot. We used a trajectory generator combined with an extended Kalman Filter (EKF) in order to have precise control of our robot that minimized error from sources like drift and friction. The base autonomous programs were written within a few weeks during preseason, utilizing the Kalman Filter we developed to provide location data WPILib’s Ramsete Controller method; after this, tuning the program parameters was the challenge. We initially determined the proper parameters to work on our practice robot, Monarch, early in March, but could not start tuning them on Grogu until the robot was fully ready. As a result, these parameters were tuned and filmed in tandem with drive team, as they worked on filming their own videos for the at home challenges, during the last three weeks of build season. The autonomous pod has been very productive, and has worked to develop a set of autonomous programs for this year’s challenges at a degree of sophistication never before attempted by the team.
- Mason H.

Strategy has just submitted our game last, last week! We made last minute changes and double checked triple checked our submissions before we turned it in live with Chris Low at 2pm Wednesday March 3rd. Now, we are working on preparing for the conference call interview with the judges that will take place between March 15th at April 11th . In addition, we are closely working with mech to 3d print our Field and game elements to that we can use for demonstrations during the interview.
- Yash V.

Business has worked hard over the last few weeks to complete all our deadlines on time. Our game design video group finished editing the video and sent it to the Strategy department for review. Meanwhile, other Business members have been working on the essay quesions on the Nissan grant. Progress on the grant has been going good and we expect to have it submitted by next week.
- Kevin Z.

What Team 3128 has been able to accomplish during these unprecedented times is truly astounding. We were able to return the the workshop safely and effectively communicate between on and off-campus members. This year, we have proved that we are unstoppable: not even a global pandemic can stop us!

Thank you so much to our team presidents, Christopher and Carolyn, and to our mentors and leaders for preventing Aluminium Narwhals from descending into total chaos, and of course, to every member on the team: we thank you for your contributions! We also could not have accomplished such a feat without each of our five departments, whether it be collecting funds for our team, managing our public presensc, or working on the robot itself.

Now, we must patiently (and painstakingly) await for results. We wish everyone the best of luck as the judges decide our fate, and hopefully, by next season, we can leave the pandemic behind :)

For more updates, you can check out our Instagram page at @3128aluminarwhals!

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