Meet Matilda

February 23, 2017

Matilda is the robot designed, built, and programmed by Southwood Robotics' FRC Team to compete in the FIRST Steamworks competition. What became Matilda started on January 7, 2017 when FIRST released the 2017 Steamworks competition requirements and game manual. The game manual defined very specifically the tasks that Matilda was to be built to accomplish and our limitations with regard to size, weight, materials and cost. The game manual doesn't, however, tell you how to build a robot to accomplish these guidelines. Southwood Robotics team members, guided by a talented group of adult mentors, worked diligently to design a robot that, 1)could accomplish the required tasks, 2) meet the many build requirements, and 3) we could build effectively in the six-week allotted build time. The Robotics Team worked after school every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday as well as every Saturday from the January 7th season opening until February 21st at 11pm, the pre-designated stop-build date/time. We believe that we have succeeded in our goal of designing, building, and programming a robot that will bring us a Regional Championship when the Team travels to Kenner, Louisiana in March to compete in the FIRST Bayou Regional Tournament.


Southwood Robotics FRC Team is divided into four sub-teams each with their own specialty. The sub-teams are: 1)Mechanical, 2)Electrical, 3)Programming, and 4)Other Stuffs. The primary responsibility of the Mechanical Team is to build the robot that we have designed. This is accomplished by measuring, cutting and attaching various prefabricated pieces along with a large number of pieces that are fabricated in-house. The skill of the Mechanical Team was put to task with the exacting requirements that Matilda presented; they executed our design to an incredibly high standard. The Electrical Team's primary responsibility is to is to install and connect with wires all of Matilda's electric motors with motor controllers, the power distribution center, the control system(called a RoboRio) and continuously evolve and improve the wiring package to ensure the most efficient operation of our robot. Team Electrical met and surpassed our expectations in the accomplishment of their duties. The Programming Team's job is to program the robot. We programmed  Matilda in C++. The Programming Team also coordinated with Mechanical and Electrical throughout the build process to ensure that everyone was up-to-date on how Matilda was progressing and the latest changes and modifications and how they affect the program. The work for the programming team continues after the end of the build season. We are allowed to, and will, continue to evolve our program through the end of the tournament. Team Other Stuffs is responsible for all non-robotic operations of the Robotics Team. As such they designed and made team buttons to take as gifts to other teams at the Bayou Regional. They created a scout sheet that we will use to scout and assess our competition while at the tournament. Scouting becomes the primary role of Team Other Stuffs while at the Bayou Regional, a role who's importance cannot be overstated.


Matilda is a four-sided robot, as such, each side of Matilda performs a unique task. The front of the robot is designed to retrieve 5" plastic balls from the floor of the playing field and deposit them in a hopper that is 18" off the floor. On the left side of Matilda is our gear catcher assembly. Matilda must catch 11" diameter plastic gears from a chute in the sides of the playing field and transport them to a steel spring stud that protrudes from the center of the playing field. The requirements of the gear placement are exact so Matilda will use a special camera to automate the gear delivery process. The right side of Matilda is the dump side of our hopper. Her hopper is constructed of Lexan and is attached to a lead screw and snowblower motor on the back side. At the driver's command Matilda will raise the floor of the hopper and dump the 5" balls into a collection basin at the side of the playing field. The rear of Matilda is a tour-de-force of robot design. Matilda climbs a rope! This is accomplished using a large electric motor, the largest on the robot, coupled to a 28:1 planetary gearbox that turns a 1/2" hexagon shaft. On the shaft are specially fabricated collars that grab the rope and as the shaft turns Matilda climbs! All four sides of Matilda are designed in a modular fashion; they all bolt to the most dynamic chassis that we have ever created. Matilda's chassis has four very special wheels called Mecanum wheels. These wheels allow Matilda to move forward and backwards as normal, but also truly left and right. Matilda is indeed a special girl, we are very proud of her and proud to represent Southwood High School in Kenner, Louisiana March 22 - 25, 2017.



Click here to meet the team.






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