2021 End of Year Wrap Up Newsletter

Happy New Year from the Manchester Machine Makers! Below is what the team has been working on:


  • The Manchester Machine Makers also received a matching grant up to $500. Consider making a tax deductible donation to the Manchester Machine Makers 4-H Club. All gifts will be matched up until January 31, 2022! Donate here or scan the QR code. 


  • We have completed our drivebase! With the drivebase fully constructed and operational the team has met its deadline of November 23, 2021.
Above: Our robot’s first test drive on the field. \Right: The drivebase!
Above: Our robot’s first test drive on the field.
Right: The drivebase!

The intake and the delivery system

  • The intake system is critical to picking up pieces of freight. Currently we are in the process of building our intake system. We started the process by drawing a few rough sketches. We then started trying to put the intake together using the rough idea and eye-balling the process. Learning how to disconnect the metal chains only to realize we couldn’t reattach the chain. The plastic chain seems to be working very well and it is much easier to adjust the size. As a team, after getting a SolidWorks representation of the intake, we decided to change the sprockets to all one size. We learned the hard way that the sonic hubs should be fit onto the axle before putting them into the gecko wheel.
Isaac and Takoda present
the finished slide mechanism.
  • The delivery system is how the freight is moved from the robot to the delivery hub. All of the inserts have been successfully 3d printed (thank you Amy Wright at BBA) and issues with length of the inserts revealed that super gluing them together was unnecessary- the screws are sufficient. In addition, there was no system to drive the final stage of extension, so a bearing was added to the back of each of the lower slides. The slide assemblies were built and mounted to the custom angle brackets, and standoffs were mounted to that bracket. There was some horizontal expansion in the slides, so some small spacers may be needed along with the standoffs. Once the final bearing is attached to the back of the slides, they will be able to have four stages of extension, meaning the greatest remaining challenge is wiring the pulley system.


  • This fall, the team has taken part in the beta test of the FTC Machine Learning Tool. Part of this year’s challenge involves training a TensorFlow model to allow the robot to recognize a custom-designed object on the field. The FTC leadership has designed this tool to make machine learning more accessible to teams and make it simpler to construct the large datasets needed to properly train a model. Our team gained access to the tool early in order to provide feedback, improving the experience of other teams as it is opened to the whole FTC community.
  • In January the Manchester Machine Makers will be mentoring the Lego Team, the Fiery Froggies! Isaac Vernon and Charlotte Ruley will meet with the team to support them as they get ready for their competition.
  • The Manchester Machine Makers held a virtual open house on December 22. See the recorded session below to hear about our progress from the team!

Happy New Year!

2021 VASE HOST Grant

This fall we applied for the Vermont Academy of Science and Engineering (VASE) Hands-On Science and Technology (HOST) Grants program. The VASE HOST grants are given yearly and are primarily intended for science, technology, and robotic clubs/teams in Vermont. Typically about 10 grants are awarded ranging from $500-1,000.

This year the Manchester Machine Makers has been awarded a grant of $1,000 to create two Programming Boards. In the past we borrowed school programming boards so it will be helpful to finally have our own. For those who don’t know what a Programming Board is, it’s basically the necessary hardware needed for a programmer to test and develop code (see photo below). Interested? Check out our programming board page to see how to make your own!

We are getting ready for the upcoming season!

The Manchester Machine Makers are gearing up for the upcoming season. The team currently has nine members who are students at Burr and Burton Academy, Long Trail, Dorset, and Arlington Memorial Middle School. That includes the team’s four new members that have joined this spring: David, Piper, Finn, and Katie.

We are all excited for the FIRST Tech Challenge announcement this fall, on the 18th of September, revealing this year’s robotics challenge. In the meantime, the Manchester Machine Makers are preparing the best we can for the upcoming season.

Since the team frequently uses MATLAB and Solidworks as we build and design robots, new members have been learning and practicing how to use this software over the summer.

As time draws nearer to the FIRST Tech Challenge kick off, we are working hard to prepare for the upcoming season so we can hit the ground running!