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Hamilton robotics team creates robot to launch t-shirts and help community embrace STEM

Hamilton High School students design, build and operate a robotic t-shirt launcher to boost school spirit and educate the wider community about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The robot is called Sonic Boom. It was unveiled this month at the Hamilton High School Homecoming Pep Rally and will be used at Charger football playoff games at Grove Field, if weather permits.

“The response was immediate and overwhelmingly positive,” said Charger Robotics Lead Advisor Dave Woods. “Following the first showing, students began asking the operators about the robotics team and when they could see Sonic Boom next. Many people were astonished that robotics teammates were able to put together something of this nature!”

Sonic Boom began as an off-season training project with the goal of spreading STEM in the community. The t-shirts it launches are made by Hamilton High School’s Graphic Arts Club.

Charger Robotics teammates began working on it in May. “The initial concepts, research and prototyping went quickly, due to the passion and vigor of the students working on it,” said Woods. “Many students have been involved with the t-shirt cannon over its five month run-time, but among the most instrumental students were Tyler Canham, Carly Ungerer, Gretchen Brookes, Aiden Lomax, Logan Wambach, Derek Zhang and Aniket Singh.”

“Sonic Boom is a pneumatic t-shirt launcher, where pressure is stored in a series of tanks, connected by a manifold,” explains Woods. “The robot runs off of a system similar to the FIRST Robotics Competition robots that the team builds during its seasons. The pressure is then released by solenoids resulting in the launch of the t-shirts at an angle controlled by a linear actuator.”

Sonic Boom is intended for wide and varied use within the community, not just at athletic events. “We hope Sonic Boom will allow Charger Robotics to interact more closely with our community as a whole, spreading STEM and maximizing our impact,” said Woods.