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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!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Thursday Preparations

We arrived at the Chaifetz Arena at 8:30 this morning for a day of practice and preparation for the competition tomorrow and Saturday. Outside the doors, we were greeted by old friends from Team 4256, WCA's CyborgCats, and reminisced with them for a time. The day was eventful; I'll divide my recap into several simple portions.

Unloading: Once the doors had opened, we headed quickly to our designated pit area, where Carl, Henry, Addy, and I set up the tent while the others unloaded Serenity and our gear. Christine began removing the lead weights and covering them in radiation-blocking tape, for the safety of all involved.

Scouting: Walter filled out a survey from Team 2838 on Serenity's capabilities: once again, we have a finger in every pie, although her primary function is as a mobile feeding station. Jonah and I checked out some nearby teams: Team 3330, System of the Corn, built a robot specializing in climbing to the exclusion of all else; it doesn't even have a shooter. Team 2978, The Cavaliers, built the opposite: a shooting robot without a climbing function. And good old Team 3284, LASER, has built an enormous robot with a hefty shooter. A climbing robot like 3330's is somewhat disadvantaged, at least according to Walter; with the new rules update, robots can't shoot Frisbees from atop the pyramid, so a robot that can only climb can only score 30 points for its team at maximum. Grace and Addy prepared several sample questions to ask other teams while scouting; using a checklist culled from those questions, Grace, Jonah, and I wandered around the pit to interview various teams and hand out buttons.

Practice Matches: Our first practice match was a bit of a bust. Many things went wrong: the arm conveyor belt was too loose to function, the dustpan broke off, and autonomous mode hadn't been programmed for the lighting conditions in the arena. On the other hand, we weren't out there to try and carry our team; we were testing Serenity's capabilities in the field, such as our ability to block or push large robots (we discovered Serenity can do the first, but not the latter).
Our second match was much more satisfying. We were on an alliance with 4330 Rambunction from Ladue and the 4256 CyborgCats from WCA. The latter was especially impressive, scoring several 3-point shots and climbing to the first rung of the pyramid. Serenity, meanwhile, proved an adequate defender. Also of note is that a pole fell on Carl's head while he was entering the arena before the match. Despite this, he knew what he was doing when it came to driving. Additionally, our autonomous was still a bit wonky.
The third and final practice match went a bit astray when Serenity immediately backpedaled and angled herself against the wall in autonomous. After that, we tried and failed to pick up a few frisbees, before entering our defensive game as usual.

All in all, an eventful day for the team. Mike and Christine are staying an extra few hours to make some much-needed changes to Serenity, but the remainder of the team have headed home to rest up for the coming competition. Here's to another great showing for Team 3397!

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