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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!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Regional

The Saint Louis Regional was rewarding and disappointing on several separate instances, but I think we can conclude the event was overall a great experience for our rookie members.

We arrived at the Chaifetz Arena on Thursday without incident and spent a day setting up our pit and fixing bugs in our robot (of which there were many). Shortly, Inspector Hartwig arrived to speak with us about our robot, and we were all able to adequately describe Thor's capabilities and materials. Our neighbours in the pit were teams: 3519, their area decorated with a rooster; 3330, "System of the Corn"; and 2978, the "Cavaliers," whose pit was particularly impressive with knights in armor and a nicely arranged set of tools. Our pit area was nothing special, but on the plus side, we consistently received :)'s on our safety inspections, and Ben and Mervin were able to hang up our banner (with some zip-tie difficulties).

The most exciting (and annoying) part of our day was when our team tried to show FRC officials our Bill of Materials for inspection. Marquise returned to me (I was in the stands, focusing on a game of dodgeball between the field crew) and related suggested improvements. This was all very confusing to me, as the BoM he handed to me was not the one I had written. With a trip down memory lane, we eventually realized what had happened: when I had finished the BoM, I had been told to save it on our team flash drive, but it was nowhere to be found at the time. Unable to locate it, I did not transfer the BoM for several more meetings, and by the time we did recover the drive I had forgotten all about it. This meant that our BoM was still saved to the CAD laptop in our lab!

Mr. Sarber, of course, drove right back to our lab and collected the laptop, for which we should all thank him. However, attempting to open the BoM on that laptop, I found that Microsoft Excel was not functioning correctly. I ended up saving the BoM to the flash drive as originally intended and opening it on Dan's programming computer, at which point we were finally able to show the correct BoM to the inspectors. There was only one suggestion, and this brought back another trip down memory lane: I had included the cost of our cRio on the BoM, $525, but the inspector pointed out two things. One, no item's cost on the robot should exceed $400. Two, wasn't the cRio included in our first ever kit of parts and therefore its cost was irrelevant? Mr. Sarber and I recalled that Quorra's cRio had burned out last year in competition (thank you, blog, for reminding me) and that we had bought a new cRio to replace it. The inspectors understood this and cleared us.

At one point, members of team 1985, "Team Titanium," stopped by at our area and spoke with Walter. A big fan of the award-winning team (which would later go on to win the Regional), Walter was in hog heaven and geeked out for a few minutes while the rest of us watched bemusedly. We were also visited by team members from Westminster Christian Academy, who also talked to Walter. Walter's friend Grace (not his sister) attends WCA, and Walter had been bugging her to join the team for ages. He was again happy to carry on a conversation with the quality team (I believe they went on to the finals as well).

On Friday, we began to play in the qualification matches, but these didn't seem to be going too well. Thor ended his first two matches on the ground, having fallen off a bridge while trying to balance with other robots. There were many such casualties during the competition -- Rebound Rumble is a dangerous game! Both falls damaged the board protecting our electronics, but we were able to repair the damage.

Our rankings were still promising at the beginning of the day. We found ourselves ranked #15, and subsequently rose to #7 -- within the top 8!! -- but we later dropped to #18 and finally #26 by the end of the day. Still, we were just outside the top 24, so we figured we had hope.

At lunch on Friday, we located a massive game of Ninja consisting mostly of team 3792, the "Army Ants," with a few members of other teams such as 1208, the "Metool Brigade." We joined and performed well, as Benjamin and Marquel are particularly dexterous and agile. Marquel spent most of one match on the ground and still nearly won! I can happily report that I myself did very well in the match I joined, lasting far longer than ever before.

After lunch, we learned that match #7, the first match we had played in, was to be replayed at the end of the day due to a Kinect station error. This was good to know, as we had lost that match and were eager to rectify that and improve our rankings.

Thor didn't again topple over, although he did break his hammer during one match. Eventually, we scored two 2-point shots during the hybrid period, which definitely restored any team spirit we had lacked previously. Congrats to Dan for programming that into the robot!

By Saturday morning, we proved we had more spirit than team 3284, "Laser," in a shout-off between our teams. This just goes to prove that although U. City isn't very good at sports besides robotics and field hockey, we still know how to make lots of NOISE! We got spirit, how 'bout you?

During a between-matches dance with the judges, our Robolions Walter, Grace, and Marquise got up to join them. Congrats for representing our team well on the dance floor! Everyone had best be glad it wasn't me out there.

After some more field resetting and confusion, Thor rose to 19th place, and by lunch on Saturday when alliance selections were made, we rested at 20th place. However, during the nail-biting tension of the ceremony, we regrettably weren't picked by any of the alliances. This came as a great disappointment to us for several minutes, but after a while we realized the Regional was still a great success. As Mr. Sarber pointed out to the rookie team on Friday, we had accomplished what we set out to do: build a robot capable of shooting a few baskets. That was the plan, and that was the end result, so team 3397 has done well this year.

1 comment:

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