Sparky Update

Friday “Welcome” Meeting and Three Chopt ES Festival

Greetings Sparky!

We almost have a Sponsorship Packet!

Thank you to Jalaj “Jell-o” S. for “getting the ball rolling” and thanks to students that worked on it Wednesday night at Flexicell.

We also worked on presentations for new members at Friday’s meeting. I sent the invitation to new students this morning. Continue working on your presentation. (Stuck? Writer’s block? Send text or email, I can help)

Recruitment continues!

If you happen to meet someone in your travels around Tucker that might be a good fit for us, invite them to join us!

Note: Meetings for new students are Fridays only until we get required forms and transportation issues sorted out. We hope to take new students to Flexicell for our Oct 21 meeting.

Three Chopt Elementary School Fall Festival – Friday Oct 16, 4:30-6:30pm

Our big autumn outreach event is a week from tomorrow. This is important! Here’s the deal…

  1. We will carpool from Tucker back parking lot. Parents please help!
  2. Arrange to be picked up at Three Chopt ES at 6:45-7pm. We will need time to clean up — parents please be flexible.
  3. We need folding tables! If your family has a 4-6 ft folding “banquet” table please allow us to borrow it.
  4. Sparky shirts for all
  5. Bring your Community Service form — a Three Chopt ES rep will sign it for you.
  6. Pretty sure they’ll have pizza, might want to bring a little money.

Address: 1600 Skipwith Rd, Henrico VA 23229

We are confirmed for two District events for 2016:

Go Sparky!

Favorite Free Ice Cream!

Sparky 384 Needs You!

It’s the hardest fun you’ll ever have!

Combine the excitement of sports, science and technology, business management, marketing, and fundraising while competing with your teammates in a unique varsity Sport for the Mind. In just six weeks with the guidance of adult Coaches and Mentors, your team will design, build, program and test your robot to meet the season’s challenge.
  • More than $20 million in opportunities available
  • Over 170 Scholarship Providers
  • Nearly 900 Scholarship Opportunities

Find out more

Thursday, October 1 after dismissal in Cafe 2.

Check out our 2015 Sparky 384 Recruiting Brochure

Sparky members reflect on the season

From Michael, our Programming Lead

As this drive team’s time together comes to a close, after seven competitions and two years together, it’s clear that we are a team, in the truest sense of the word.  We celebrate each other’s success, and work through our failures.  If one of us has an issue, then we all have an issue, and we work through it.  Over our time together, we have developed more than just as students and team members, but as teenagers turning into adults.  It’s obvious to me, and to us, that what happened in St. Louis was not a fluke, a lucky chance, or a mistake, but was a culmination of four years working together, two years driving together, countless hours and late nights working with each other, and successful competitions.  But equally as important, if not more so, are the matches lost, the heated discussions when tensions are high, and the quiet drives home after failure.  These successes and these failures make us who we are.

In the truest sense of the word, we have become a team.

Sparky members reflect on the season

From Brooke, our Engineering Lead

Sparky, as I have come to learn, has a unique way of approaching FIRST robotics and the many challenges we face as a team. Whether its planning our yearly outreach efforts, or building another robot, there are a few ways of thinking that we believe have become a part of who we are. We as a team strongly believe in the concept of “keep things simple but elegant, and if you can’t outsmart the world, out-work it”. Simply put, we always strive for the simplest, most efficient solution to a problem, and if we don’t reach that near-perfect solution, then we work ten times harder than before until we get an answer (or a product) that meets the standards that we set for ourselves.

For example, when we wanted to spread Jr.FLL into Haiti among other third world countries, and were told that FIRST did not have the resources at the time, we simply had to work harder to achieve our goals. Sure creating our own Jr.FLL themed program took a lot of hard work, but in the end of the day, if extra hard work is the cost we have to pay to give back to the world, then so be it.

This same mentality applied to our robot as well. To be honest, Recycle Rush threw us for a loop. We had done all of this pre-season work designing robot parts that would benefit an open field game, which we thought was the trend, but to our dismay, the opposite happened. In addition, we didn’t know what to think of the uniquely-different game pieces of Recycle Rush. At first glance, these game pieces were not easy to manipulate. What this meant for Sparky was prototype after prototype, revision after revision, test after test, never ending late nights, and even more refinement after that, until finally we got a product that we felt met our standards. By the end of the build season, Sparky 16 (Sparkenstein), had received multiple rebuilds and redesigns, both in the physical world and in the conceptual one.

I think that this high pressure and demanding environment is what Sparky needs to be successful. I think as a team, we need a challenge, and we need to be pushed, in order to reach our heights. Sure we don’t always do things the easy way on Sparky, but when we are faced with a challenge, we only have one thing to say: bring it.

FTC Gear Files

The attached files are 3D models of the following gears from the FTC Tetrix kit: 40, 80 & 120 tooth gear. They have been saved as a step or stp files that can be read from a wide variety of CAD packages or 3D printers. Use these files at your own risk: created by Solidworks converted by SPARKY team 384. The Solidworks 2014-2015 version of all the files can be found here:

Here they are. The .zip archive contains three files:
Gear 40 Tooth.stp
Gear 80 Tooth.stp
Gear 120 Tooth.stp

2015 slideshow from Mr. Clarke’s workshop presentation Central Virginia FTC-inventor2015

FRC Workshops 2014

Greetings Sparky!

FRC Workshops at VCU School of Engineering West Hall
Saturday, Nov 22, 7:45am – 3:30pm

Look over the FRC Workshop Descriptions 2014, you may find several that interest you, and you may see some familiar names!

Parents — We REALLY need help with transportation. You’re welcome to attend the workshops too if you like. Please volunteer to drive students by replying to this message. Thank you!
We will carpool from Tucker. Details to follow.

Complete the registration form to confirm your attendance. And please ask your parents to help with carpooling. Go Sparky!

RoboRIO Beta Testing

Hello all!

If you haven’t heard, Sparky has been Beta Testing the RoboRIO for the past two weeks, and will now be updating this blog once a week, possibly more often if an exciting discovery is made in between.

SO FAR, we have:

–Hooked it up and wired it (picture coming soon)

–Given it power (no magic smoke)

–Installed Eclipse and the plug-in, and deployed code

–Experimented with the web interface and through it, the CAN

The main thing for people to watch out for: 32-bit Eclipse and Java required.  Stay tuned!