2009 / 2010 Season
Big Shoes to Fill
How do you follow up a season where your
team won the FTC world championship? You build the best robot you can
and hope for luck to smile on you.
Last season's team was all 9th graders
and graduated to the FRC Bomb Squad. We don't know what we've got
ourselves into. This season's team is composed of four 8th graders and
two 9th graders. Our mentor tells us what we'll be doing, how much
work it will be, how much fun it will be, and how much excitement there is
at a tournament, but these are just words. Until you go through it,
you don't understand.
We started off brainstorming. First
some practice sessions that soon turned into real game brainstorming.
We worked on game strategy (how do we want to play the game). Then,
how do you make a robot to play the game the way we want. Our game
strategy determined it would be important to score the 8 balls the team
possesses at the start of the match into the high goal in autonomous.
This not only scores points, but it gets rid of those balls to make way for
collection of balls during teleop. This meant we needed to shoot balls
high and use the IR Seeker. Shooting in the off field goals was
ignored because everyone was confident that if we could shoot in the high
goal, we could shoot in the off field goal.
So or robot design came down to two
teams. The first team was responsible for picking the balls up off the
floor and storing them, with a plan to get them to some kind of shooter.
Team two had to design a shooter. With brainstorming ideas in hand,
the two teams started. The pickup team had three prototypes to build.
One kind of worked, the other might have worked, but a compact tywrap
conveyor quickly dominated with amazingly simple construction and
unbelievable effectiveness. A hopper was quickly constructed to store
the balls while the shooting team struggled.
With two designs, a wheel based shooter
that everyone was excited about and a kicker only one of us was interested
in...we built the wheel shooter. There was only one word for it...SCARY!
Ok, and noisy, and didn't work well, and broke easily, but those gears
were scary. How could we make this more robust? How could we
guard the gears? How could we improve effectiveness? Too many
questions! So while everyone now focused on what we could do with the
wheel shooter, one student went off and started putting together a kicker.
A little while later we heard, "hey guys, watch this!". Suddenly, the
wheel shooter was forgotten and new ideas started flowing about how to
automate the kicker, how to mount it. Now the pickup team had
something to design a feeder for.
Now we had a robot. It picked up
extremely fast, could shoot one ball a second, could follow the IR Seeker in
autonomous...it was awesome. We were scheduled to compete in the
Southwest FTC Championship tournament at Arlington, Texas in February.
Our mentor told us that we had the most functional robot that the team had
ever built. It played the game more effectively that any previous
robot. But how would it stack up against other robots in this game.
We weren't confident. When we got to Arlington, it quickly became
apparent that many of the teams were not prepared. Our mentor left our
team and started helping other teams get their code running in the templates
and loading the FCS for them. We got inspected and practiced. In
our first match, our joysticks disconnected from the FCS. We didn't
know what happened but our alliance partner was able to win the match for
us. They ended up being the number one seed with five more ranking
points that us, but both undefeated. Our joysticks continued to
disconnect. Ten out of twelve matches we played. We figured out
how to quickly reconnect the joysticks and even with joystick problems, we
went on to massively out-score all other teams. Our high score was in
a match with a partner that couldn't score but we scored 336 points (all in the
high goal). We never had to score a single ball in the off field goals
to win. When alliance selection came along, we accepted the number one
seeds pick to repay the favor the did by winning our fist match when we were
dead. We cruised through the tournament and won the Think award, but
now with only one worry. Because we chose not to be a team captain,
would we get selected for the World Championship. We felt confident
that there would be enough slots, but having gone every year so far, we were
worried that we made the wrong decision.
On March 16th, the word came...we're in!
Team 92 is invited to the World Championship. World was amazing!
We never believed it would be that big. Competition was tough.
There were a lot of better robots there. Most teams wanting to collect
from the chutes, allowed us to take the eight balls in auto and put them in
the high goal which we failed the first match, got blocked the second, but
began doing regularly after that. We started trying to score in the
high goal during teleop which worked in matches that didn't have capable
robots against us, but ended up scoring the eight in autonomous and saving
anything we picked up for the off field goals. Since we were accurate
and reliable and picked up off the floor well, we quickly became the robot
to get the doubler and score it. At the end of the first day, our
record was 1 win, 2 losses. We were discouraged and confused. We
lost matches 176 to 196 and 241 to 325 while all the top seeded teams were
winning low scoring matches where the losers were scoring less than 50/60
points. In our 241 point loss, we got bumped by an opponent as we shot
the doubler which missed the goal by less than six inches. That would
have given us nearly 500 points and a win. Where's the luck?
The first match on Saturday gave us hope.
We were with a team that was ranked in the top three. Surely this
would be a good match. That's when disaster struck. We broke a
part in our shooter. A piece of angle snapped in two due to metal
fatigue. This ended up being our lowest scoring match of 66 to 138
in a loosing effort. With less than an hour we struggled to complete
the repair just to find out it also caused a motor to burn up and had to
replace that also. Back in business, we started a comeback. 264
to 183 win, 259 to 151 win, 190 to 100 win. We played a lot of the
better teams, but would it be enough. One thing about playing quality
teams, our ranking points were off the charts 1034 while the next closest
team had 761. But qualifying points count and we only had 8 of
them which ranked us 15th. One more win and we would have been 8th.
Where's the luck? A weaker team in one of the seeding losses, six more
inches and a doubler goes in, why didn't we find the weak metal when we
looked over the robot Friday night? We talked to some of the teams we
played with hoping they would see we were one of the best robots out there,
but with only a four team tournament, no luck! We packed up, cheered
on our division winners at the tournament and then moved over to watch our
FRC team. After the season someone calculated the statistics from the
tournament which showed that we were the 12th best offensive robot in the
tournament out of 100. That made us feel pretty good.
All in all, we had an unbelievable
season. From the start where we didn't know what was going on to an
unbelievable experience at World. We all have grown so much and can't
wait till next season. Look out FTC, we are coming back a year older,
smarter, and wiser. See you this fall.