Saturday, February 18, 2012

"Name Our Robot" Comes to an End

Bidding on the Cybersonics Technology Team’s “Name Our Robot” eBay fundraiser ended on February 11th, with a final bid of $127.50. The winner was Kyle J. of FIRST team 1610; he decided on the name Echo Charlie for 103’s 2012 Rebound Rumble Robot.

The name carries quite an interesting story with it, going all the way back to 2004 - the year Kyle joined his high school team, 616, which founded team 1610 in a neighboring high school soon after. The teams remained friendly and worked collaboratively through the 2005 season. The following year, however, the school board backing 616 withdrew their support, causing the team to collapse. Kyle then joined 1610 as a mentor to continue pursuing the passions he discovered with 616. 

Kyle began volunteering at a regional competition and met another volunteer; Cynthia. The two built a strong relationship during their multiple seasons together as they worked in tandem on field construction , reset, repair, and other tasks.  Years later, Cynthia led a class at a Vex robotics camp, in which her students began to call her ‘C’, for her name. They soon connected the name to the programming language they were learning, Easy C, and altered the nickname to EC. Soon after, it morphed into Echo Charlie, hence the name of the robot.

This friend is particularly important to Kyle; he wanted to honor her with this tribute. 103 mentors and students really connected with his story and agreed wholeheartedly to use the name. Many students on the team form bonds like the one between Kyle and Cynthia. They are friendships that no one forgets, even many years after the time they spend on FIRST teams. Mentors of Cybersonics often refer to the team as a “big family” and it is the absolute truth. Students on the team work with each other for a tremendous portion of the day, and it is commonplace for the students and mentors of FIRST teams to befriend each other in ways very deep and indelible.

Written by Luke C.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Cybersonics Uses eBay in an Innovative Way

The Cybersonics Technology Team 103, out of Kintnersville, PA, is utilizing eBay, the most popular buying and selling website in the world, as a sort of fundraiser for the team. Cybersonics, a Hall of Fame team within the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) program created by Inventor Dean Kamen, is selling the rights to name their 2012 robot. The 2012 FIRST Robotics game is “Rebound Rumble,” and revolves around basketball. On alliances of three vs. three, high school students from around the world will compete with their robots, beginning in March. Due to tough economic times, Cybersonics has found themselves a little short on funding this year and is turning to new, unique and innovative forms on fundraising. The team plans on selling the rights to name the robot they will use in competitions across the nation to the highest bidder on eBay. Pioneering this territory, Cybersonics is hoping to generate enough money to carry them through the remainder of the season.  For more information, visit the team website ( where a link will take you to eBay where you can place your bid and visit FIRST’s website for more information about the program (

Place your bid with this link!

Written by Rachel S.

Light Bulb Fundraising

“When we started FIRST Green initiatives for our robotics teams in 2010, we knew we were onto something: a 21st century fundraising technique that not only helped teams become self-sustaining in the short term; but which also helped them in the long term create a better environment which they will inherit someday,” stated Dean Kamen, founder of FIRST, as he addressed teams about the FIRST Green e-watt saver. It is the newest fundraiser that FIRST has created so that teams can make the necessary funds for each year.

The FIRST Green e-watt saver is different from other light bulbs, making it quite a unique item. The bulbs are made with LEDs, which makes them a great deal more efficient than incandescent or fluorescent lights. They use far less energy than traditional bulbs, which was one of the key reasons FIRST created the bulbs; to be environmentally friendly. The bulbs easily reach this goal, generating 450 lumens from only seven watts of power; 88% less power compared to incandescent bulbs. Furthermore, they last over nine years when used about three hours daily, compared to an incandescent which lasts only three to four months at this rate. Based on 11 cents per KwH, this bulb would also cost only 84 cents per year to power, incandescent bulbs costing seven dollars per year. The bulbs are also entirely eco-friendly due to the fact that they contain no harmful chemicals, unlike their fluorescent counterparts. This leaves no traces of mercury or lead and there is no special disposal required. As added benefits, the bulbs exhibit little temperature fluctuation and are far more durable than conventional bulbs.

After receiving a sponsorship from Google, FIRST was able to manufacture the bulbs through TESS (Trademark Electronic Search System), a leading provider of LED lamps, rather inexpensively. Each bulb costs $20, but 75% of the proceeds will go towards the team’s funds. Similar bulbs sold at appliance stores cost $35 each, far more than the price Cybersonics offers.

Constantly striving to have the most cutting-edge technology, FIRST has released the second generation FIRST Green e-watt saver LED light bulb which will be dimmable to five percent light output, the standard among dimmers. It was designed and tested by the Lighting Science Group in Florida and has also been approved by the FCC. Most bulbs only emit light in one direction, but the second generation bulb will have omni-directional light. Their life span is about 25,000 hours which is equivalent to 22.8 years, far outliving the original bulb. The bulbs cost slightly more to run at $1.02 per year for a 450 lumen bulb, and $1.63 per year for the 800 lumen bulb. The second generation bulb initially is a bit more expensive as well, costing $27 per bulb, however the energy savings adds up over their lengthier lifespan. Similar to the original, these bulbs contain no mercury or lead, and require no special disposal.

“The ability to sell LED bulbs and perform energy audits gives the teams a chance to learn not only about viable ‘green’ technology and energy savings; but also strengthens their sales, marketing and leadership skills for whatever career paths they take,” stated Dean Kamen in regards to the lightbulb fundraising. Cybersonics hopes to gain these things from the fundraiser, as well as vital funding for the team to perform this year. With such goals in mind, the team has been and will continue to sell the FIRST e-watt saver throughout the year.
The FIRST Green E-Watt Saver

Written by Joanna D.
Distributed in the January edition of the Cybersonics Newsletter

2012 Kickoff

The FIRST robotics season began this year with a great, familiar feeling of overwhelming work hours, thrill, and the internal countdown until the trips to Disney and St. Louis, Missouri. Not only did Cybersonics get the directions for this year’s game, but the team also found out about great financial assistance toward travel for winning the Engineering Inspiration Award at a regional event. The 2012 game was introduced on January 7th, 2012 via a televised broadcast. During the broadcast, Dean Kamen, and Woodie Flowers amongst special guests Bill Clinton, George Bush, and Will.I.Am, joined members from the Game Design Committee in explaining aspects of the game, signaling to past year’s playing balls and inner tubes throughout. Seconds before the game was announced, hints were made about “fouls” and “making the baskets”. When it came time to announce the 2012 game, 103 was completely sure that it was going to be a basketball-style game.

The 2012 “Rebound Rumble” robotics game is played between two alliances of three teams each on a 27 by 54 ft arena (Fig. 1). Each Alliance competes by trying to score as many of the foam basketballs in the hoops (Fig. 2) as possible during the two-minute and fifteen-second match. This year’s game includes an autonomous mode, wherein the robot must utilize pre-programmed instructions to collect and shoot the basketballs (Fig. 3). During the autonomous mode, only one team on each alliance is allowed to use the Microsoft Kinect to guide their robot to shoot (Fig. 4). The array of four baskets is located adjacent to either teams control station. Balls scored in the top row earn three points, in the middle row two points, and in the bottom row one point. Once in the basket, the ball drops behind the playing field and into the corral where the human player passes the ball back to their team via their inbound station (Fig. 5). At the end of the match, team alliances are awarded bonus points if they are balanced on bridges, located in the center of the field. One robot balancing is a bonus of 10 points, two robots balancing together is a bonus of 20 points, and three robots balancing together is worth 20 points during the qualification matches and 40 points during the elimination matches.

Rebound Rumble is a game of strategy, teamwork, and accuracy, on which Cybersonics spent a great deal of time brainstorming as well as physically playing basketball to get a feel for the game. 103 is looking forward to seeing all of the different robots designed to compete in this complex game.

Written by Kelly S.
Distributed in the January edition of the Cybersonics Newsletter