The Hammerheads team has a rich history dating back to 13 years of FIRST competitions. In all that time, we have experienced our ups and downs - or should we say dives into the ocean of FIRST and wallows on the surface - but we have never given up. Owing to our motto (Knowledge is power, but enthusiasm throws the switch!), our enthusiasm for FIRST is everlasting!
Please not: the Hammerhead's history is still developing, and there may be some inconsistencies in the process. If you have any comments, corrections, or additions, please e-mail the webmaster.
In '97, Troy High student Peter Caralis approaches Mr. Moceri (Math/Computers currently) and John Wale (THS shop teacher at the time) with a request to start a Robotics Team. They assemble a group of kids to built a robot and go to Florida for the FIRST Competition. This small, informal group has evolved into what we know as the hammerheads today. It is debated whether Mr. Moore was also a mentor at the time.
After the Team attends the 1997 competition in Florida, a few parents and the Troy School District question rights to take students across state lines. Due to the controversy, the Team did not compete in '98.
Following the conflict in '98, the Team is reborn in '99, just in time for the technological millennium. This the the official rookie year for team #226 (1998 was the first year FIRST assigned permanent team numbers). The Team consisted students from Troy High and Athens High School and Teachers Mr. Moore and Mr. Morrison, a chemistry and physics teacher, from Troy High School. The Team name was "Team Pegasus" because it had several members from Athens. Pegasus was chosen as a mascot because it was a combination of the Troy Colt and Athens Red Hawk mascots.
We worked mainly with Magna/Decoma (a local engineering firm) as a sponsor in '99. They did not provide monetary funding, but allowed us to use their shop and engineering mentor.
The FIRST game was Double Trouble. Teams had to move and position "floppies," "pucks," and their robot on different areas of the field for points. See the FIRST game summaries.
We also participated in JETS this year, in which we had to invent a cheap expandable form of temporary housing. We can in second in Michigan.
The Team was modified again for the 2000 season, becoming team 226, the "Manhattan Project." The team shirts were orange with a tree or mushroom cloud on the back, depending on who you asked. We attended the Michigan Regional (which took place in Ypsilanti and later became known as the Great Lakes Regional, and is currently the site of the MIchigan State Championship) and National Championship events.
General Motors Conveyers Robotics & Welding offered the Team $50000 and use of shop to be our main sponsor. Vin Koli (the father of a then team member) worked at CRW and arranged the sponsorship.
The game this year was Co-opertition FIRST. Robots had to pick balls up off the floor, then load them in to trough 7' off the floor. Between the troughs was a 2' tall ramp with a bar 5' above the ramp; the team got extra points at the end of the match for every robot hanging from that bar.
Our robot was a hopper on an arm. There are stories of the robot's arm ripping itself out of a 2" thick oak table.
The Team received a judge's award at the Michigan Regional.
This is the year Troy Athens (formerly FIRST team 336) lost their sponsor and joined with Troy High to make the Troy Engineering Club. Because of the merger, 226 again changed its name. This time, we formed the TEC CReW, a name we still identify by today. The name is an acronym, standing for Troy Engineering Club with GM Conveyers, Robotics, and Welding. We also adopted the blindingly bright yellow shirts this year. The team attended the Michigan Regional in Ypsilanti and the National Championship again.
The Game, Diabolical Dynamics, was the first and possibly only cooperative game with four teams all working together, to fill two mobile goals with as many balls as possible. The field consisted of two mobile goals and a teeter-totter in the middle of the arena. The team got bonus points if it balanced the teeter-totter by the end of the match.
Our robot was specialized. We sacrificed the ability to put balls into the baskets instead deciding to put most our effort towards a good drive capable of hauling the two goals around (thus the birth of our omni wheel drive system). The TEC CReW made it to the final matches every time because our driver was capable of balancing the robot and both goals on the teeter-totter every time. we were actually credited with having a software program that did it, even though we never managed to get the software side working.
We had some trouble at the finals because the engineers thought they had come up with an excellent idea for a better gripper. They, however, didn't run the numbers and ended up giving the goals something like a 10:1 leverage against the piston. Thus, we spent a good portion of pre-finals attempting to get the new manipulator working and then switching back to the original manipulator. In the process the engineers lost track of which parts went where on the original manipulator. As a result we had a much harder time grabbing the goals in the finals.
The team did OCCRA as well this year. The competition was to recover balls from a rack that was angled 30 degrees to the floor, and place them into a goal made of PVC that was set in the middle of the field. The team was Shari, Bernie, Adrian, the PR girls, and a few others.
While we put a decent amount of time into the OCCRA robot, we didn't build most of it until the night before. When we realized that the original design would not work. Thankfully, we used a wooden chassies and were able to quickly make changes. When things didn't work out as well as we wanted at competition, we decided to redesign and build the robot in the 45 minutes between the end of the preliminary rounds and the announcement of the teams in the finals. While we didn't make it to the finals, it was a whole lot of fun, and the final design was far better than the original.
With the redesign, we had hoped to grab the goal in the center and run around with it. The final design involved two 2' long hooks with a good 6" radius of curvature. We attached these hooks to a pair of windshield wiper or seat motors. As a result, the hooks would travel through their entire 180 degree range of motion in about half a second and lift the 100lb robot a few inches off the ground. It made an amazing amount of noise when we tested it on the stone tables of the school's physics room, and we learned that 4 am is not the time to test things with out warning people.
We made the claim that our wheels would never slip. Either during the next to last or last round of Nationals, we played on the main arena. The announcer started mocking the fact that our robot appeared to be slipping - at least until the camera zoomed in and showed our robot's wheels ripping the carpet off the ramp.
Only one overheated bulging robot battery went out the window into the snow.
The OCCRA robot lived in Mr. Morrison's room for the rest of the year. Thus during class I heard the following interaction multiple times, the first from a non-robotics team student.
Student: Mr. Morrison, can we drive the robot around the halls slashing at peoples ankles?
Mr. Morrison: Yes! I MEAN NO!
The TEC CReW name remained for 2002. The shirts were still yellow, but redesigned slightly. We attended the Great Lakes Regional, Western Michigan Regional, and Championship Event (FIRST changed the name this year to include global teams).
The game was Zone Zeal, a race to score soccer balls in the movable goals, then capture the goals in their "scoring zone."
Our robot featured an Omni wheel drive system that was "monstrously maneuverable" as quoted by one of the build alumnus. It had two different manipulation setups on opposite ends of the robot. The first was a wide arm with a roller that would lay flush with the ground to gather up balls. It could lift up and backwards to dump gathered balls into a goal that had been latched onto by the other manipulation module. This module would impale goals with a pneumatic scissoring device, locking the robot onto the goal for easy transport.
Robot Drivers: Dave Edwin & Scott Duhaime
The TEC CReW was on the winning alliance for 2001's Kettering Kickoff event.
Part of the points was getting your robot in the home area at the end of the time period (just a part of the robot, not the whole thing), so one tactic that evolved later on robots was some kind of extending bit or deployable component to race back to the home zone in the final 10 seconds of play. One robot had a thing that would unwind behind it, and another robot had a completely separate 2-wheeled mini-robot attached to a power/data cable tether, which would drive its way back to the home zone.
So, Scott went and added 2 flat pegs to our ball arm (called it a mice grabber? meececatcher? micetrap?), and in one spectacular match, used them to hook under the data cable of one of these mini-bots, and (by just lifting our ball arm) drag it's tiny butt out of the home zone, in a rather spectacular fashion, leading to our win. It was pretty awesome. We were the only team to incorporate anti-mice tech into a robot, so go Scott! ~Nate
The Spirit/Management group decided the team needed to rebrand. The current members held a vote to decide what the new mascot would be (Not very dramatic, I know). The choices were Hammerheads or Alligators (and perhaps one other that wasn't very popular). You all know which one won. The new color was to be blue, we designed an oval logo, and Sharkie was born.
This was the first year that the team actually had to qualify for the championship, as 1999-2000 all teams had access to open registration and in 2002 even numbered teams could register. The team was disappointed by a loss in the semi finals at Buckeye but went on to win Great Lakes Regional with teams 67 and 302, qualifying the team for the Championship event.
The drive train was a shift on the fly tank drive w/treads. High gear moved somewhere between 12-14 feet per second and low gear could pull 250+ lbs. across carpet. The manipulation was modular and had two variations. The main variation was a tall tower that could stack the bins. The other was a pair of scizzoring arms that extended using pneumatics. arms scissored out sideways, allowing us to push boxes around with greater surface area. Only used once in matches, though.
On winning alliance at Great Lakes Regional.
Won the "Beautiful Bot Award" for our Duct Tape Shark Cover.
While demonstrating the dangers of pinch points, Hans managed to get his thumb squished in the manip. It was black and blue for weeks. Nobody else made the same mistake. ~Allison
Another part of this year's game involved a 15 second period in the beginning where your robot could operate autonomously, doing whatever you could get it to do, with the only condition being that your driver/manip couldn't cross a line or touch the controls during that time period. Another part was that your robot would start on the opposite side of the field, so robots would move further away(towards their opponents driver station) then turn inwards and travel up a ramp(heading back home, take a look at a map), and knock a stacked wall of boxes into your side, where they would be worth points.
One hilarious situation, we apparently didn't test the autonomous behavior well enough(it was really just a programmed set of motor commands, there was no sensory information; extremely dumb), so during the match, our robot just accelerates towards the opponents' driver stations, and rams into the protector wall at very high speed. And these were like 130lb of metal too. So, it shook the drivers station quite badly, and ended up knocking one teams's(one of our opponents') control board off their driver station. They jumped forward to save it(it got unplugged anyway), and in crossing the line, they were disqualified, their robot deactivated for the match. :/ US FIRST made an addendum to the rules after that though, to allow a team to save its control board, in the event of such a treacherous attack. ~Nate
In our pit this year we had a small tank that we filled with some water and a small toy shark. One of the chicken's give aways that year was their token rubber chicken. When we left for our team lunch at the pizza restaurant one of the students hung the chicken over the shark tank with a sign saying "out to lunch." If the responsible party here wants to claim credit then do so. ~Allison