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Published: Monday, 2/17/2014 - Updated: 8 months ago

HAMMERING AWAY ON PRESIDENTS DAY

Toledo Tech team looks to the ‘Gods’ for robotics prize

BLADE STAFF
Mentor Skip Mozena, left, of Dana Holding Corp., repairs a robot that picks up and kicks a ball while Joe Neyhart, a senior at Toledo Technology Academy, explains the process to Romules Durant, superintendent of Toledo Public Schools. Mentor Skip Mozena, left, of Dana Holding Corp., repairs a robot that picks up and kicks a ball while Joe Neyhart, a senior at Toledo Technology Academy, explains the process to Romules Durant, superintendent of Toledo Public Schools.
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When your robot is named after Hammer of the Gods, you might as well act confident.

A Toledo Technology Academy team spent Monday — a day off for most Toledo Public Schools students — modifying and testing their new competition robot in preparation for the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology competition season. It rolls at about 16-feet per second, shoots a 24-inch ball, and is named Mjölnir, after Norse god Thor’s hammer.

The robot’s launching device looks somewhat like a hammer, thus the name. Brandon Coykendall, 16, said he thinks the hammer device will be unique in the competition, since many teams use a catapult device to launch the ball.

Oh, and Mjölnir is going to win, the team said.

“We’ve seen what this robot is capable of,” driver Joe Neyhart, 18, said.

The TPS magnet high school has been competing in FIRST Robotics events for more than a decade, and won the world championship in 2001. They plan to enter two regional events in coming weeks, with hopes of making it back to the championship event.

About 90 percent of the robot’s production was by about 20 students, with adults helping with the other 10 percent, said Dale Price, a TTA teacher and coach of the robotics team.

The TTA team is sponsored by Dana Holding Corp. Team members get a varsity letter.

Toledo Technology Academy students test drive their robot, Mjölnir. It will be entered in a FIRST Robotics competition. Toledo Technology Academy students test drive their robot, Mjölnir. It will be entered in a FIRST Robotics competition.
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The team has scored in practice rounds from about 14 feet away, though their “sweet spot” is between six and 11 feet, Mr. Price said. Other teams may have more accurate shots because their launching device is set higher than Mjölnir, but putting the hammer further from the ground would have raised its center of gravity, increasing the likelihood it would tip over, the team said.

“Everything has a trade off in engineering,” Mr. Neyhart said.

The team took some tips from a Terre Haute, Ind., crew on how to speed Mjölnir up. Though the competitive nature between FIRST teams is high, there’s also a collegial spirit.

Teams willingly share ideas that work, and help troubleshoot flaws or breakdowns during the competition.

Willingness to work well with other teams will be especially important this year for the TTA crew. This year’s competition is called “aerial assist.” Competing teams of three robots try to launch or throw a large ball into a goal. The teams have to learn to work together to pass the ball or play defense.

The teams have 42 days, starting Jan. 4, to build their robot. They’ll have to have it bagged and ready to ship by the end of today.

Students and volunteers spent Monday tweaking the robot; a potentiometer — which measures the potential voltage in a circuit — failed during test runs, and the team scrambled to find a new one.

District Superintendent Romules Durant also came by to test out Mjölnir. Mr. Price joked about his boss driving so fast that he was drifting into turns on the slick gym floor. Mr. Durant — an East Toledo native — grinned and said it wast just some “East Side driving.”

It’s not likely the TTA team will let Mr. Durant do the driving during the competition.

Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: nrosenkrans@theblade.com or 419-724-6086, or on Twitter @NolanRosenkrans.



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