New to FIRST?

Hello, Robolions team members, mentors, friends, and community members! Welcome to "The Fourth Law of Robotics," home to University City High School's FIRST (For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Team. We hope to use this blog to inform you about what we're up to.
We compete in the FRC (First Robotics Competition), an annual competition where we have six weeks to build a robot from scratch. This year's game is Recycle Rush. We'll post updates here to let you all know what we're up to with building (and competing with) our robot!
We also are now competing in FTC (First Tech Challenge), the next level down from FRC. The game was called Ring It Up!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Doom Day

The rookie team presented Aragog (in all its slightly incomplete glory) to the varsity team today, was evaluated on knowledege of mechanics, electronics, and other important things... and survived!
Additionally, we've started considering which sub-team each individual rookie will be joining. For some of us, the choice was easy -- Henry's been a programmer through and through for a while now, and several of our members like working with their hands over anything else. For others, anything looked good. As the season goes on, though, they'll find a place. We can be sure of it.
Now the question is: what do we do with the two build sessions we have left until kick-off? The most popular option seems to be completing Aragog as a full team, so I suppose that's what will occupy our time next week. Until then, congrats to all around, and here's looking to a bright and gleaming future for the Robolions!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Here's An Idea...

2012 is still the better part of a month away, but here's a good New Year's Resolution for the Robolions team: Become thoroughly acquainted with the rules of the game BEFORE beginning work on the robot.

That is all.

New Camera!!

We got our new camera today! Here are just a few pictures to update our adoring fans on our progress:

 James and Crystal, working on the Rookie Team's robot
 Daniel, working on the Classmate PC
Henry and Walter working on the computer

We just had to have some fun with the camera. It's pretty nice :)

In other news, tonight was a very successful parent's meeting! I feel like the parents now understand the method behind our madness a little more now. They know why their kids spend hours holed up in a robotics lab in the school basement. They all seemed to be pretty okay with that.

That's all for now!!
Captain Grace

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Work Continues

As Doom Day draws ever nearer and Aragog takes shape, it is up to one lone figure to create a script by which our noble team might prove itself worthy to its superiors and thus evade catastrophic destruction. That figure... is me.
Well, in all seriousness, I've started work on the PowerPoint presentation that we rookies will use on "Doom Day" to present Aragog. All of us are required to help present in some way, to show that they actually did something and didn't stand around guzzling our food the whole time. I know none of us have, but we all still have to help present.
The presentation is coming along smoothly, although it's fairly desultory and humorous, in rather the style of my first few sentences. I'm not sure if that'll fly on Doom Day, but it's best to at least get it out of my system before I start writing what we'll seriously use.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Quorra's Camera and Other Progress

We have now mounted a functional camera to Quorra so that we can see what she sees! However, Dan's still working on the programming needed to let us connect with the camera feed without a big ugly wire. More on that when he finishes.

In Rookie news, we mounted the board to the chassis.... but it turned out Marquise wanted a different board cut, and his measurements weren't followed. This, however, is because we experienced a communication error -- this is why we need to consistently leave notes on what we should do at our next build session, and then READ the notes when we come in. But progress is undisturbed; we've successfully mounted Aragog's battery, and we're working on the CRio as I write! So, all's well that ends well.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Captain's Log

Hey guys! This is your Captain speaking. I'll be writing these Captain's Logs posts every so often
to just give you guys a view of what our practices are looking like, what kind of progress we're making, et cetera.
Today we tested out a new schedule! We started the practice off with a meeting stating what we wanted to accomplish today, and wrote it on the board. I also announced the changes in our meeting set up. We now take a set 15-minute snack break, and this has improved our productivity considerably. Instead of having everyone sporadically taking breaks whenever they want, we are able to focus and get the work done, then take a break to refresh our minds.
We also found our old FTC Engineering Notebook from 2009. It was interesting to read through it and see the progress we made, as well as our reflections of frustration and impatience at times. I'm thinking that we're going to keep an engineering notebook this year as well, it will help keep us organized and give us time to really think about what we're doing.
I have to say, I'm especially proud of the Rookies for the work they did today. They set their goal, got to work, and achieved 99% of it today (they still have to finish bolting the board to the chassis, but that won't take long.) It makes me really excited for the rest of the season! I know they are going to do well!
Upcoming Events
Parent Night- December 13th from 7-8. Students, please arrive at 6 so we can get an hour of work done before the parents arrive.
Rookie Team Presentation- December 16th. !!!
7 practices until kickoff!!!!
Follow us on Twitter @Robolions3397
"Like" us on Facebook- UCHS Robolions
We'll keep you updated!
Signing out,
Gracie D, Captain

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Moving Right Along

We have now invaded, converted, and established our new room. We just need to move a bunch of cardboard, wood, and other materials in, and then we will have completely moved in! :D
As for Aragog, well, we've got the frame done and we're working on his pincers now. So far, we've decided they'll be 15 inches long and 3 inches wide. Why? Don't ask me, I don't think spatially. There's got to be some sort of reason, though. :P

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Work on Aragog

Progress is coming along well. The build team of rookies has just about finished Aragog's frame, despite some issues with the Stupid Corner that wouldn't line up right. Mr. Sarber explained to us two Golden Rules when it comes to solutions in building:
1. If you have to fit something through a hole and it's not quite working, you can always just make the hole bigger.
2. If all else fails, whack it with a hammer.
The second one was sufficient in this case.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

51st Post!

This is officially our 51st post on this blog.

....Why this is important, I don't know, but I do know that we have some updates for all our lovely readers/team members/random internet surfers!

This is week 2 of the Rookie Fall Challenge. The rookies are hard at work building a chassis and attaching the gear boxes and wheel mechanisms as we speak. It was difficult for them to start, but they have certainly progressed. We've seen leaders step up out of the group, and we've seen each person's skills begin to show as they set about their various tasks. As an older team member, I can say that we as the Mentor Team are very proud thus far, and cannot wait until December 16th, Doom D- errr, Presentation Day. Some extra practice dates have been scheduled in for the next few weeks so that they can get a few more hours to work.

In other news, next Wednesday is the FRC Open House at Hazelwood Central High School. We will be leaving the school around 3:30. The Open House is from 4-8pm, and we will be showing Quorra.

On November 19th and 20th are the FLL Qualifying Matches at Brittany Woods Middle School. The Robolions will be selling concessions in order to raise money for the 2012 season.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Moment of Silence, Please

It has come to my attention that the robot known affectionately to us all as Butter has been disassembled, after a period of about ten meetings' discussion. This news greatly saddens me. :( I must request a moment of silence, in memory of our buttery friend.


In other news, today we received our Fall Rookie Challenge for 2011. Our task is to design and build a robot that can move a soccer ball 20 feet into a 36-inch-wide goal. So far, we have decided on a robot that grabs and pushes the ball into the goal with its pincers. Expanding on that, we've chosen to decorate it with a spider theme and name it Aragog. But we're only just in the brainstorming stages, so it will be a while before Aragog is scuttling around anywhere.

Everybody's excited to see new faces and learn new names, such as Rashad and Kang. Looking forward to a great Fall Rookie Challenge and a great year! :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

New Members, Rookie Challenge and Other Stuff

Today we got even more new members after the Club Fair. Here they are:

Vel'Toria Johnson, 11th Grade
"I joined robotics because I want to be an engineer"

Charity Smith, 11th Grade
"I joined robotics because I like working with mechanical items"

Kang Chang, 12th Grade
"I joined robotics because I am interested in electricity, building, and programming."

We are so excited to get more new members!
Also, starting next Wednesday, we will be issuing a challenge to all our new members. I can't say anything about it now, but it will be a challenge that has them design and build a robot to perform a given task. We are excited to have the newbies working on something productive.

In other news, we recently recieved a grant from the UCEF for almost $1,000! A big thank you to them.

3 months till Kickoff!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

More new players!

At the meeting today we had a few more new brave souls show up. Here are their bios:

Rashad Scales, 10th grade
"I joined robotics because I'm interested in technology and engineering. I enjoy building things and I think it'll be a great experience for me. Some of my hobbies are bowling, running track, and playing the piano. My favorite color is orange and math is my favorite subject."

James Buchanan, 10th grade
"I joined robotics because Crystal Clay told me a lot about it and what you do while you're in robotics. From what she said I think I might really be interested in this new experience. What I like to do in my free time is play games, go places with my friends, text and play piano. My favorite color is red, and my favorite subject is art."

Alana Mayo, 10th grade
"Hee hee, fun fact time, well I'm more of an actress person and artist-y things. Yay"

Marquel Rogers, 9th grade
"I like to work with technology and robots. I work with software a lot."

Marquise Williams, 9th grade
(Marquise actually joined the team over the summer, but I'm just now writing his bio)
"I joined robotics because it seemed like it would be fun to work with robots and my hands, because I am a hands-on person. My favorite color is turquoise, that's probably why I like to swim."

Patrick Harting, 11th grade
"Since I have been a part of/supporting the robotics team since the start and have just a passion for building things and programming, I joined the robotics team. My dream job is to be a graphic designer, and I think that engineering will help me on that path"

Mervin Collins, 11th grade
"I joined robotics because I'm interested in technology, future business, and computer hardware and software, and since this is relatively similar to what my major is (Computer Hardware Engineering) this will be a great experience for that specific topic. I've also been inspired by a couple of my friends to join, hopefully this time I will be able to make it all the way through. In my free time, I like to draw, and create my own webpages, disassemble computers and learn the components inside of them. My favorite color is green, and not because of money, just because I like it. Nature's cool!"

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

New Members of Robotics, Part 1 of an Unknown Quantity

This season has brought with it several new members (chief among them me, of course... just kidding). I've already introduced myself, so here are two other new members:
Crystal Clay, 10th grade
"I joined Robotics because I enjoy building and learning more about technology, and I like science. I am also thinking about taking engineering as a career or mechanics and I know Robotics can help."
Glenda Nelson, 9th grade
"I joined Robotics because I love the knowledge of engineering and technology. I like to help teams with fundraising because I just love helping people. I love science, communication arts, reading, and math. I would like to have a career in either engineering and/or law."
And I feel like jumping on the bandwagon:
Andrew White, 9th grade
"I joined Robotics because... umm... I'll come back to that... Actually, just check the blog entry entitled 'Hello, Everybody'. That should tell you all you need to know."

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Robolions at Homecoming

This morning we finally made a float for the Homecoming parade. We would have made it really spectacular if we hadn't procrastinated until about forty minutes before the parade began. And by float, we mean Mr. Wurst's truck with paper wrapped around it and paint splattered on the paper. But it actually turned out pretty well, despite a few gears that looked more like suns and circuitry that looked like a bizarre window. (I'm not artistically inclined, okay? The only thing I did right was put smiley faces in the O's in ROBOTICS.)

The two newest members of our team really enjoyed themselves - they were the only ones really dancing to the music, admittedly. But their enthusiasm made up for the rest of us. One even dressed up in her own lion suit for school spirit!

Many of our members are also in the Latin club, so several of them walked with the Latin float. However, since the Latin float was right behind us, this worked out all right. And in front of us was a BUBBLES-producing bike! BUBBLES! We quite enjoyed the BUBBLES. And yes, the caps are absolutely necessary when talking about the glorious BUBBLES.

Captain Grace will probably post more about Homecoming in the near future, and her posts will most likely have pictures. So stay tuned.

On the not-so-great side, we ran out of candy about halfway through the parade, which did not endear us to many people beyond that point. And my tweed jacket got purple and orange paint on it! But neither of these really matter. The important bit is that we endorsed and advertised the Robolions robotics club, and had fun while doing it.

And don't worry - the paint will wash out.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Hello Everybody

You may have noticed that the previous post, "Butter Shows Off," was written by someone other than Robolions, Captain Grace, or danpolitte. The author of that post was me, Andrew White, and I'm one of the team's newest members. I don't want to drone on and on about myself here, because the blog's about robotics, but suffice it to say that I've joined the team because several of my closest friends have been on the team for a while now, and the more extracurriculur activities I go to, the better. Given that my true passion is for writing, rather than connecting wires, bolting together robots, and (heaven forbid) programming, we decided the best position for me was blogger. I'll be writing up an account of the latest build session every now and again, unless the other authors beat me to it. If you want to know anything additional about me (and I'd be pleasantly surprised if you actually do), you can check out my profile.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Butter Shows Off

Today at our second build session of the school year, we had the chance to take our new robot Butter for a spin and impress a few other denizens of University City High School! Two girls from the school yearbook committee happened upon our hallway, and with Charlie behind the wheel, Butter got a chance to shine - running up and down the hall, nipping at passersby's ankles, and finally ascending a long ramp... sideways!

It's from this sideways motion that Butter takes its name, though only very loosely. And by very loosely I mean REALLY loosely... When it came time to name the robot, the always-hungry boys on the team noticed its crab-like walk and thought nothing more than, "Butter goes well with crabs." This name could most likely have been averted had Captain Grace been there to inject some sanity into the proceedings, but alas she was not.

No matter how bizarre the robot's name, the yearbook girls seemed quite impressed, unless they were just frightened into submission. Several other people were attracted by the incredibly loud ruckus Butter's wheels made, and seemed similarly awed. Regrettably, despite bringing home several awards, the robotics team goes mostly unnoticed by a sports-obsessed student population. Sigh.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Mecanum Drive!

Wednesday was the last of the team's summer build sessions. All the aspects (mechanical, electrical, programming) of our summer goal came together, which was to build (and drive!) a mecanum drive system. It lets the robot go sideways -- without turning. Check out this awesome footage:

This is not Quorra, our competition robot from last season, but a test robot. Its frame is Pele's, re-assembled specially for testing the mecanum drive. Its name is, by consensus of team members at the meeting, "Butter."

And now for a reminder: we have a planning meeting on August 24, from 5:30 - 7:30 pm.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Summer Session Success

Today was the team's second summer meeting, and plenty of progress was made. In construction, headway was made on the mecanum drive system, and parts for it were ordered.
In the category of programming, I made advances in building a recording function. When it's done, it should allow our team to record our drivers moving the robot, and then play it back autonomously. This system could prove helpful for building a better autonomous mode next season. So far, it partially works. When it really gets going, I'll post a video in this space.

- Daniel

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

To Our Readers

Hey! If you are a blog reader who is a teacher, interested parent, or the coach of an FLL or FTC team, and you're located in the area, we would love to come and demonstrate our robot for your group! We would show our robot's capabilities, explain the mechanics and engineering behind it, and teach the kids about what it's like to be part of a higher-level robotics team. It's a great, fun way to get kids interested in engineering, science and technology, as well as get them interested in a program that will teach them life-long skills.

If you are interested in a demonstration, please contact us at We can work out dates and times. Thanks!!

Summer Session #1

Today is our first summer build session. We have, as of today, 3 new members- Henry, Benjamin and Matt. It's good news for our team- Benjamin is interested in programming, which means that we have someone to take over Dan's spot when he graduates year after next. And of course, we always need more people to help build the robot.

Right now we are working on reattaching the CRio module. As you guys know, we had some complications with it at the competition, and ended up having to get a new one during the competition. National Instruments fixed our original CRio and now we are just working on putting it back on Quorra. That's our main objective for the day; that and getting our new members acclimated to the awesomeness of robotics!

Some other objectives for the coming weeks are getting the mechanum wheel system up and running so that we can use them for next season. We also want to do some more fundraising, hopefully selling more lightbulbs. We also plan to attend events and showcase our robot, to gain publicity. Now that we've got trophies, we are a regional Champion team, and have had our team written about in the Post-Dispatch, we feel like we should start doing more locally. Showcasing at Science Nights at the local elementary schools, showcasing at Club Fairs, anything we can do. The robotics program is growing in UCity, and we want to do all we can to help it!

So, this was just a quick update to let you know what we're up to. There will be more throughout the summer. Make sure to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Peace, love and robots!

Sunday, May 8, 2011


Sorry for not writing in a while, we've just been so busy with end of school year stuff- a few of us took AP exams this week, and everyone else is getting ready for finals.

The Robolions haven't been up to much since the competition. We're planning on having a meeting next week to discuss plans for the summer, plans for next year, etc. Here are a few items that may be on the agenda for discussion:

-Do we want to meet over the summer? When? Where?
-Recruiting for next year- possibly build a Robotics float for the homecoming parade?
-Fundraising for next year- team fundraising as well as trying to get sponsorship from local companies
-Speculating on what next year's challenge might be! Several teams have already posted predictions on, a portal/forum for FIRST teams.

Other than that, you probably won't hear from us for a while! But we will try to post updates from time to time to let you know what we're up to. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Last Day of Competition

Yesterday, Saturday, was our last day of competition. We didn't get home last night until 9:30, which is why we didn't post an update yesterday.

Our first match yesterday was early- 8:45! So we got to the pits early and strategized with other teams, and went into our first match with confidence.

Unfortunately, we lost that match. But considering that we were against some of the teams that would later go on to compete in the finals, we don't feel too down about it. We played to the best of our abilities, and our alliance partners did too.

The next match happened soon after the first, and we lost that one as well, but again, it was against a difficult team to beat.

We ended up in 46th place at the end of the day, which isn't so bad, considering that there are 88 teams and this was our first year in the Championship.

Later that day was alliance selections. We went into it hoping that we would be chosen, but we weren't. However, that didn't stop us from having a great time anyways. We watched a few other matches, and then packed up our pits. We came back later that afternoon to watch the closing ceremonies and final matches, The alliance from Galileo, Team 973, 111 and the Cheesy Poofs, won the championship- we were proud of them!

Afterwards was the Food and Friends event, where all FIRST kids got dinner, and then participated in various activities throughout the evening. There were game consoles set up, a few carnival-like booths with games and prizes, a talent show, and time for everyone to just hang out and meet new people. It was a great evening- we met some kids from team 249 who were pretty awesome.

Pictures will be on the facebook page soon! Peace!

Friday, April 29, 2011

CRio problem fixed!

So earlier I had mentioned that our CRio module died during the match today. Well, we just recieved notice from our coach that the CRio has been replaced (so, basically our robot got a brain transplant) and is now working! Horray!

Recap on today

Today was an interesting day at the competition. There were ups and downs. We won 2 out of the 4 matches, and the ones we lost were against really good teams.

Our third match was great. Our alliance partners scored beautifully and we defended like beasts, so all together, it was a great match.

In our fourth match of the day, our robot stopped in the middle of the match. We couldn't move it at all, and couldn't figure out what was wrong. So we took it back to the pit after the match (which we unfortunately lost) and checked it out- turns out our CRio module was dead. Now, this is very upsetting because the CRio is like the brain of the robot, and is not supposed to break. Last I heard they were getting it checked out by a National Instruments guy at the pit, but haven't heard anything since.

We will be back at it tomorrow, with two matches- our first match is at 8:45 am. Then after tomorrow morning, that's it- elimination rounds begin tomorrow afternoon, and we are crossing our fingers to make it to elim rounds, but we are happy to have just made it to the championship at all.

Tonight is the big and special guests show for all FIRST students, so we are all excited for that.

Photos can again be found at the facebook page, UCHS Robolions. Check us out, become a fan! Peace!


CORRECTION- We will NOT be in the Dome today. They switch around which teams are in the dome every day, so we will be playing in the Convention center. There will be bleachers for people to sit in and watch.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Follow us on Twitter!

We are officially on Twitter now! I'm having some difficulties setting up the page, but you can still follow us- @Robolions3397. Check it out!

First day at Championship!

It was a great first (FIRST, haha no pun intended!) day at the International Competition! We met teams from all over- Mexico, Canada, Australia, Israel, and more! There were also teams from all around the country- even Hawaii!

Competitions went smoothly. Our new arm design worked like a dream, until it broke in the last match. But it will be an easy fix. Anyways, we won 3 of our 4 matches, and currently our team is placed in 12th out of 88 teams. It's very exciting! There are so many good teams there- everyone has amazing robots. And of course, everyone is super nice :) Our newest member, Chip, commented on that when he got to the competition, saying "Everyone here is so nice! They just come up and talk to you!" He's right- it's a great, friendly competition!

For those of you who are interested in the mechanics of the competition, I'll just give a few details on that. We have been playing defense, with our new arm designed to fold down and take tubes to our alliance's side of the field, essentially stealing them from the other team. It works well. We have also been blocking the other teams from getting to their pegs to hang the tubes. We choose our strategy depending on who we are up against. If it's a team that's very good at scoring, we will usually try to block them. If it's a team that's a bit slower, we just steal tubes from them, and give them to our team members to hang on our pegs.

Tomorrow is another day of qualification rounds, and our first match is at 10:54 on Galileo field, which is in the Dome. Our cheering section is section 115, so if you would like to come watch, you can find Ucity fans there :) Be sure to wear your black and gold!!

To see pictures from the competition, you can become a fan of us on Facebook. Here's our page:!/pages/UCHS-Robolions/100562556650786

Tomorrow night is the big FIRST concert/party thing as well. and "special guests"- we're hoping the rest of the Black Eyed Peas- are going to be there, as well as the famous Dean Kamen, and rumor has it that Morgan Freeman is going to be there too! They will be walking around the pits, hopefully we will catch a glimpse and maybe get an autograph or two!

One last thing- our views  have gone over 1,000! Thanks to all of our readers! Be sure to share us with your friends and coworkers, and see you at the competition! Peace!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Final Minibot Design- WORKS!

Follow the link to see our minibot work!

(for some reason I couldn't get it to embed...:( Don't know why)

Fresh new look!

So upon entering the AutoCAD room this evening, we discovered a surprise waiting for us. Our teacher sponsorer, Mr. Gibson (who is the AutoCAD teacher as well as football coach) had gifted us with fresh new black-and-gold warmup jackets! They are complete with the logo and everything! The coaches got official-looking coach's polos, and all of us students got the jackets and pants. We look like the awesome team we are now. Thanks, Mr. Gibson! It's a gift better than we could have imagined!

Also, Chris brought in the banner that his mom graciously made and donated to the team. It looks awesome as well- thanks, Mrs. Matthews! Hey, if you are interested in her making banners for your team or business, visit her website,

We also got Boeing lables to stick on our robot to show our thanks for the company, who has donated time, money and mentors to help our team get started and acquire the resources needed to get the most out of this experience! So, thanks to Boeing as well!

Overall, it's been a good day (if you couldn't tell.) Right now the parents and mentors are having a meeting, and the students are working on the final stages of the minibot construction.

We can't wait for the competition to start! Only 48 more hours :) See you at the competition!

Saturday, April 23, 2011


Just a reminder to all our lovely readers that we are still selling FIRST lightbulbs! To refresh your memory, here are the statistics about the benefits of these lightbulbs:

  • They are LED- safe to use, no harmful mercury, easy to dispose of!
  • They shine as bright as a 60 watt lightbulb while using only 7 watts of electricity!
  • They only cost 84 cents a year to run!
  • And they last for 9 years on average!
  • They support a program that teaches engineering, problem-solving, and life skills as well as encourages kids to find innovative solutions to the problems of the future- nurturing a generation that's ready to solve problems like the energy crisis, water crisis, and other issues that will affect every one of us.
At only $20 a bulb, they are a great deal, and the benefits that come with them will stay with you for a long time. Plus, here's a special deal- if you order 5 or more bulbs, you can get a dollar off each bulb!

If you are interested in purchasing lightbulbs for you or your business, you can comment here, or contact us at


Updates- the robot, the closing of Lambert Airport, etc.

Whew, it's been a whirlwind of a month since our last post! Our team has been working hard to finish up the new arm design. The new arm is designed to be more of a defensive apparatus, with a PVC pipe hook-like device that can grab tubes out of other robots' grasps. We are planning to attach the new arm to Quorra on Wednesday night when we set up at the Dome.

In other news, Saint Louis was just hit by a huge storm! We had major thunder and lightning, with heavy rainfall and even a tornado or two. In fact, Lambert International Airport was hit by a tornado, and has been closed indefininitely. This obviously poses a problem to FIRST teams trying to fly in for the competition! Lambert has not said when they expect to have the airport up and running, so for now, teams will most likely be diverted to other airports such as the Chicago airport or Kansas City. For more information and for weather forecasts, please visit:

Now for the exciting news: The competition begins on Thursday! Yay! So for all of you interested in coming out to watch us, we will be on Galileo field. Volunteers can help you find where that is. Here is the rest of the where/when/what information:

Where: Edwards Jones Dome and the Convention Center in Downtown STL. Here's venue information:

When: Matches begin Thursday, April 28th and go until Saturday, April 30th.

And for any of you UCity Students, you can earn extra credit for Mr. Brooks' chemistry class if you come to the competition on Saturday anywhere between 8:15 and 10:30 (our last matches are then.) and get a signature from one of the coaches. Other teachers might consider extra credit as well!

We hope to see everyone at the competition! And good luck to our alliance teams from the St. Louis regional- the Hazelwood East Robohawks and the Camdenton Lasers!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Going forward...

At the School Board meeting last night, we got recognized with certificates for our achievement. Unfortunately they could not pronounce Daniel's last name right. Oh well. It was great to see all the school board members so excited about the compeition and our victory, and everyone's looking forward to the competition in April!

Last Wednesday we had a meeting, just to dicuss what we're going to be doing from here on out. We came up with some plans to work on the minibot, and potentially a new arm system. We have 5 weeks now to do anything that we can without the actual robot, which is being kept in storage until the April competition.

We'll try to keep you updated as we move forward in the next couple of weeks!


Monday, March 21, 2011

News Updates- we're on the news!

Now that the excitement of the weekend has settled down a bit, all the news reporters that were at the competition are now posting their stories. Here are the links to various articles that include our team:

In addition to that, we had a news reporter for Channel 11 come and interview the team today. It will be airing on Channel 11 at 4:00 PM and 4:30 PM today, as well as at other various times through out the week. Be sure to watch us!

Sunday, March 20, 2011


While we're getting so many hits, I figured I might as well put this out there.

Just like Girl Scouts sell cookies, FIRST is now selling lightbulbs. But these aren't your normal, everyday 60watt lightbulbs- no, these are amazing, bright, efficient LED bulbs! Here are some of the perks of these bulbs:

  • They shine as bright as a normal 60 watt bulb- but only use 7 watts of energy!
  • They last for about 9 years- with an average life of 10,000 hours of use
  • There is no mercury in these bulbs- making them safe to use and dispose of!
  • LED bulbs are environmentally and economically friendly- using them could save you $150 a year in electricity costs, and they don't do any harm to the environment, so you can help the planet and save money while doing it!
  • The estimated energy cost of these bulbs per year is only $0.84. That's right- only 84 cents!
  • Unlike normal glass bulbs, these are made of a plastic outside, so they won't break!
  • The proceeds of these sales go to helping our FIRST team, which can be quite expensive. They help cover costs such as registration fees, parts and equipment purchases, and other fees that accumulate through out the year. By supporting FIRST through these sales, you are enabling many students to learn the invaluable skills that will help not only themselves succeed, but help the entire world make a better future.
  • At only $20 per bulb, they are much cheaper than the LED bulbs you can buy in stores- which can cost up to $40, and don't support a good cause!
You can find out more information and reviews from these websites:

If you would like to purchase bulbs for you or your business, contact us at

Thank you!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Day 3 of Competition- the finals!!

So, as you all know, today was the big day for the STL Regional! Qualifying matches finished up in the morning (we had two matches, both pretty successful), then Alliance Selection before lunch, with the elimination matches taking place after lunch. I'll try to explain as much as I can about the day; but by this point it's all sort of run together in my mind. Here goes!

This morning, we had two matches, at 10:15 and 10:51. We scouted out our alliance members for those, and discovered that they were all strong offensive teams with working minibots, so we decided not to use our minibot afterall. It was still pretty good though- the minibot, that is. So we played mostly defense for these matches.

By the end of qualification, we were ranked at 16th. So we weren't in the running to be Alliance Captains, and choose other teams to join our alliance. But the alliance selection was still very intense. I'll do my best to explain how it works.

The top 8 teams are the alliance 'captains', meaning they get to choose two other teams to join their alliance for the elimination rounds. It went down the line, and then back up, so team #1 got to choose first and last, and #8 got to choose twice in a row. In today's alliance selection, team #1 asked team #2 to join their alliance, and team #2 accepted. So team #3 moved into #2's spot, #4 into #3's, and so on, until they had to fill in the #8 spot with the next highest ranked team, #9.

It was intense. We weren't chosen in the first round, so when they went back through the line to choose the third team for each alliance, we were crossing our fingers. They got all the way down the line until they got back to the #1 team- and we had pretty much given up hope. I mean, these are the top two teams, they're really good! Why would they choose us?

But they did! We were paired with the #1 team! And it was a darn good alliance too- the other two teams, 1985 and 3284, had really strong offense and were great at putting up tubes. They both also had really effective minibots, and autonomous modes. So we brought the defense, making sure the opposing alliance couldn't get to their tubes, or hanging pegs, or minibot towers. It was a great system- 1985 and 3284 were able to score score score without having to worry about the other alliance, which we took care of. All in all, it was great.

Elimination matches are played best two out of three. We played all the way through the quarterfinals, semifinals and finally (no pun intended) we made it to the final round! They were two very tough matches- the opposing alliance was strong, and put up an amazing fight. Ultimately, however, our alliance (the red alliance! yay!) won. Everyone was on the edge of their seats waiting for the final scores. When they announced that the red alliance had scored 95 points against the blue alliance's 48, the crowd erupted into cheers. There were many highfives and hugs, and of course, handshakes and 'good match!'-es to the other team. I'll post videos of the match later.

So, by winnning this regional, we are moving on to the International Championship, which will take place here in Saint Louis in April. It's extremely exciting- teams from all around the globe will be coming here to compete. We will be up against the greatest teams in the world. It's a huge event. There will be more info when it gets closer.

The entire weekend was a great experience. It's such a wonderful event- so high-energy, and friendly. It's like a sports competition- only how many sports competitions do you know where the whole crowd stands up and does the Cupid Shuffle while they are waiting for the referees to make a decision? How many sports competitions do you know where teams go out of their way to help another team- to help them be safe, to help them strategize and come up with a better plan, to go above and beyond and donate their own time to teach your team a new skill? How many sports competitions do you know where every single player- EVERY player- can go pro in their sport? I could go on and on- it's really amazing what FIRST does. It teaches not only good, friendly competition; but lifelong skills of teamwork, problem-solving, love of technology, and countless practical skills that will be used in the engineering, buisness and many other career fields in the future. These are real things- the kids who do FIRST are going to be the ones who grow up to cure cancer, find efficent, clean energy sources, and solve world hunger. We need more kids to do this, to create a better future. But I believe we can :)

I'll post more pictures and videos tomorrow. Leave a comment or send an email ( with any questions or comments!

And a special shoutout to our AMAZING mentors and coach- without you guys, we would be nothing. You help us through so many problems, and teach us so many new skills. You view things in a more mature, organized way, and help us get back on track when we overthink stuff. So to Brandon, Mr. Simpson, Mr. Dodson and Mr. Sarber, THANK YOU! You mean so much to us!


There will be more of a post later this evening with details, but here's just a real quick update:

WE WON THE FINALS!!! Meaning, we won the STL Regional!! Along with the teams from Hazelwood Central and Camdenton, MO. More info/pictures/details later!

This means we go on to the International competition!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Day two of the STL Regional Competition

Our first day of actual competition is through! It was quite an exciting day for the team. We worked through a lot of problems and struggled through matches, and rejoiced in victory. Some major highlights of the day were:

  • Dean Kamen (the incredible founder of FIRST) made an appearance!! We all got our shirts signed and even got our robot bumpers signed. We got to talk to him a little bit and he made a speech at the closing ceremony.
(Dean is the dude in the denim shirt. He's a major celebrity in the engineering world!)

  • We got our minibot up and working! There were some discrepancies at first as to whether it was allowed to stay on the entire time it was on the field, but we worked that out with the refs.
  • We were partnered with some great alliances, and up against worthy opponents as well! It all worked out. We met a lot of great new people again, as we expect we will meet tomorrow!
Our ranking fluctuated a lot- at one point, we were in 3rd place, but by the end of the day we settled into 15th. That puts us in the running for the elimination rounds tomorrow afternoon, but we still have a few qualifiers tomorrow morning, so we can potentially move up in the rankings.

There were no major problems with Quorra today. There are some issues with the autonomous programming, but Daniel has been hard at work fixing that, and we all believe in him! We've got to give kudos to Sammiyah and the other people who worked on the minibot- without your tireless work, we would not have had a funcitioning minibot.

Here's a picture of the playing field:

It was an exciting day, and we have yet another one to go. Tomorrow is our last day of the STL Regional, and in the morning, we have more qualifiers. In the afternoon, the elimination rounds begin, when teams choose alliances and then compete, eliminating losing alliances until only one is left, and that team will go on to the International Competition, which will be held in Saint Louis in April. More info on that later.

See you at the competition!! :)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Day 1 of St. Louis Regional- set up and practice

Whew, today was a long day! For three of our members, it started at the arena at 7 am. For the rest of us, 8 am was the beginning of what was going to be a very long day of testing, breaking, fixing, and practicing with the robot, as well as scouting out other teams and making friends. We met some really great people- in particular, the team from Bishop DuBorg, whose team number I am forgetting right now. Anyways, they really helped us fix the problems that we had with our minibot, going above and beyond the call of gracious professionalism. So, kudos to them! :)

Anyways, the whole day was filled with testing our robot on the practice field, and recognizing the issues we were having with the bot. One major issue was that the robot wasn't tracking the reflective tape line like it was supposed to, because the lighting in the arena was different than what we had calibrated it to originally. So we had to reprogram that. And of course, we had to get our robot inspected, and it took a while to pass inspection. But we did eventually, so that's all good. We also had to completely restructure and reprogram our mini bot. Let me try to put a picture in your mind of how much progress we made- this morning, we couldn't even get the bot to climb the pole. By 6:30 this evening, it was able to climb- and fast, too, within 8 seconds! Which is pretty awesome.
Here's a picture of our team this morning:

From right- Daniel, our programmer; Mike, our mascot/driver/builder/etc; Grace, our blogwriter/marketing/scouter/oddjob doer; and Sammiyah, our minibot gal/builder/electric stuff-er.

Yep, that's us! Not the whole team, of course. But a few of us. In the photo, we are outside the loading dock of the arena, waiting to bring stuff in to the pits to set up.

Tomorrow begins actual competition. From 9am into the afternoon we will be in scheduled matches with pre-assigned alliances. It's intense but so worth it :) So if you want to see something really awesome, come on out to Chaifetz arena! Here are some basic house rules, however:

-You must be wearing close-toed shoes.
-Long hair must be tied back.
-You must wear saftey goggles while in the pit- these are not necessary in the stands, though. We can provide you with saftey goggles.
-No smoking.

Our pit station is located right at the corner of the pit, so if you go down the steps by section 115 we are right there. We will be wearing grey shirts. Hope to see you!

Good luck to all the other teams! :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Competition Information

Hey, so the competition begins this weekend!

Technically it starts Friday, but we drive over to set up shop tomorrow. Here's the details:

Where: Chaifetz Arena
When: Qualifiers (the rounds we are guaranteed to be in) begin Friday, at 9am, and continue through the day. Then, on Saturday, there are more qualifiers beginning at 9am and ending at 11am. Saturday afternoon is the elimination rounds, which we may or may not be continuing to.
Directions: Chaifetz Arena is located on the SLU campus, at 1 S Compton Avenue, St. Louis, MO, 63103. For directions, visit MapQuest and get directions from your house.
Why: Uh, because this competition is completely intense. Imagine all that we've been showing you with pictures and videos of our robot, times 100. 28 teams. 2 days. It's even more exciting than a basketball tournement. Why watch March Madness when you could come watch the Robotics Competition? Plus, it's COMPLETELY FREE!!

If you have any more questions, shoot us an email at or comment on this status. For even more info, visit:

See you at the competition!! :)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Attempting to post a video...

So this is Grace updating, and I'm trying to post a video. Dan's not here right now to show me how to embed it, so I'm doing my best to remember what he said last time :) So let's try this, I guess! If it turns out okay, it should be a video of our minibot, EVA, climbing the pole. The prototype you see here is most likely the one we will be using for competition. That's all!

Signing out,

Competition week is closing in on us...

So, it's the Saturday before competition week. We will be meeting Wednesday night to finalize schedules and load up the cars with all of our stuff, and then driving in on Thursday morning to set up our pit station.

Today we made a working EVA model, and it looks like at this point, it will be the one we will most likely (if we) use in competition. It basically uses alot of magnets and an inside-out wheel to climb the pole. The only obstacle we have to get around now is the deployment of the EVA.

We will try to keep you posted as we continue to work hard to make this year's competition awesome!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Robot Has A Name!

At today's minibot building session, the team has selected a name for our main robot.
It is:

It is pronounced like Cora (core-uhh), but not spelled like it.

The minibot will continue to be known as Little EVA.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Robot is shipped!

The build season is over! After six weeks of work on the robot, the big robot, which is yet to be named, was shipped off last Tuesday. For these weeks until the St. Louis Regional Competition (March 17 - 19 at Chaifetz arena), work is now focused on our minibot Little EVA, which did not have to be shipped. Also on tap: a non-electronic signalling device to communicate which game piece we want, a robot name, and fliers about the competition to put around the high school.

Here's a video of the robot scoring in autonomous mode on our mini-field. I regret that I have no videos of the now-motorized EVA deployment tray, which is really awesome.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Ship Date is rapidly approaching...!!

In a week from Tuesday, we will be packing up our robot (who has yet to be given a name) and shipping her via FedEx to the competition. It's hard to believe that it's been nearly 6 weeks already...but everyone on the team has been working diligently and everything is coming together. We've added Sunday sessions to our work week, to get in those few extra hours.

As of now, our robot MAGIC!

Just kidding.

We have a working arm, as you can see in the previous videos and posts. Mike is going to explain to me how it works, and I will try my best to explain it to you here.

It consists of a PVC pipe that is secured to the robot. Inside of the pipe is another smaller PVC pipe, and that is attached with webbing to the bottom. The smaller pipe comes up through the big pipe and connects to a motor. When that motor turns, it pulls the webbing creating a sort of pulley that lifts the inner pipe. It extends upward, and has a horizontal pipe on top that picks up the tube and lifts it onto the pegs.

So far it's been pretty successful! If you want to see more video of our robotic arm, check out our new YouTube channel (which we can no longer access from the school via a wired computer. Nyah.) at: robolions3397. Dan is busy uploading videos right now!

Also, don't forget to become a fan on facebook: UCHS Robolions. Our picture is our awesome mascot.

Shoutout to our amazing mentors and coaches! We couldn't do what we do without your incredible leadership and brains.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

February 12, 2011: Great Progress!

These last two weeks have been very productive - too productive, in fact, to leave time to post. Most of the progress has been on three areas: the robot's line tracking for autonomous mode, the lifting arm for hanging the tubes on the wall, and Little EVA deployment. And boy do we have some progress. Here's a video from Thursday of the robot tracking the forked line that we've set up on some carpet.

This next video, from a few days ago, shows prototyping work on the lifting arm.

But today, the arm was fully mounted, and we got it to hang tubes on a wall equivalent to that on the competition field. Watch the first tube be hung, with Mike driving:

This is the winch that powers the arm. The grey cylinder, a Fisher-Price motor, is controlled by a Victor motor controller between the braces for the gearbox stand.

The current version of the arm is only able to reach the middle level pegs, but ideas have been floated to extend its range, and about Little EVA deployment. Perhaps some of them will come to fruition tomorrow.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

January 29, 2011: It moves!

Today's meeting was super-productive. The robot above, with all parts necessary for driving attached, is the end result. (Although we still plan to build the upper deck to store the electronics better and hold a mini-robot deployment mechanism.)

This burst in progress was fueled by brain power, pizza, and the electronics which were still on Pele. Our first FRC robot is now just a frame. Below, Walter disassembles it.
Overall, though, a very good day.

My Life is First

Check it out-

Friday, January 28, 2011

State of the Robot: January 28, 2011

Behold the big robot! As you can see from the photo above, we've got a complete robot frame and drive system and a mounted pneumatics system. The electronics are not yet attached.
A major goal of this weekend is to make the robot drivable, which will mean building an "upper deck" to mount more electronics on.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

We're Live!

This is Grace writing, and my introduction isn't half as cool as Daniel's, which he is writing and posting as I type. You see, we're working on this from two different computers, at the same time, which can at times be confusing (for both us and blogger...) Anyways, we're a FIRST robotics team, which is cool. You can read all about it in Dan's post. I just wanted to say that you can find out more about FIRST through the FIRST website,

Our blog name, The Fourth Law of Robotics, is (if you haven't already gotten the reference, in which case you should reconsider reading this blog.) a reference to Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics which state:
  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey any orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
We thought it would be a clever name. But it turns out there actually IS a fourth law- well, technically a zeroth law, which Asimov later added to precede the other three. It states:
  1. A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.
I guess that's good. We wouldn't want our robot to take over humanity. Or any robot, for that matter.

Also as I am writing, the awesome guys who actually do the work around here are testing the pnuematics systems we are going to use for our robot (who is yet to be named). We keep hearing big blasts of air from the other room. But we really appreciate them, because without the people who are smart and awesome and build the robot, me and Dan wouldn't have jobs. You see, we're the computer people- he does programming, and I do PR and marketing along with other random stuff.

So yeah.

I'll end my rambling now; we just tested the air system that's going to be used for the arm, and there are still some kinks to be worked out, but it's getting there! Woohoo!

Welcome to a Brand-New Blog

printf("Hello, World.");

Hello, Robolions team members, mentors, friends, and parents! Welcome to "The Fourth Law of Robotics," home to University City High School's FIRST (For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Team. We hope to use this blog to inform you about what we're up to.
You may know that we are almost three weeks into our six week FRC (First Robotics Competition) build season. The game for which we are building our robot is LogoMotion. We'll post updates here to let you all know what we're up to with building our robot (actually, two, as you can see in the game video at the link).

Programmer, signing out.