Experiences at Hat Tricks

I was astonished by the number of robots there were and the amount of work other teams put into their robots. I felt very good at the robot’s ability to press the beacons. In fact, on the drive team I felt proud of the accomplishments we made as well as the failures that happened. Whenever failure came upon us, I would always look up to the the rest of the team cheering us on. It felt the best when in mid-game, our robot randomly lost a wheel. I was very worried, but when the robot was still working and the crowd was still cheering, I gained an aura of confidence.

I learned a lot while driving the robot. Even though our robot wasn’t as agile or able as some other robots, our robot was still a great accomplishment. Though our robot didn’t work as planned (able to shoot) we still contributed every game, including cheering on our allies as well as pressing beacons. Though some allied teams decided to disregard our need for help, we still tried to help as much as possible. In between every game, the team always tried to add better parts, fix any problems, and plan on any next changes.

Though our robot was placed last in the competition, I still have confidence that we will be considered one of the most able and agile after some changes. This competition was simply a test to see how our robot functions and any changes that must take place after the competition.  Unfortunately, during the competition, our robot wasn’t able to shoot. We could press beacons as well as lift the cap ball, but was apparently not good enough. I strive for the qualities our robot may need. Once we meet those goals, we would contribute a lot more during the Tournaments. All in all, I am very proud of the robot.

RoboLancers Boot Camp

When I first heard about Robotics from my friend, Frank Yang, I was a little hesitant due to me joining a little late. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it or had the time for it. However, Frank told me to come after school on Friday and join up. So on Friday, I went to Mr. Johnson and “signed up”. That was when I was put into the Carver group.

Upon entering, I was immediately told to report to my room. As I entered, I was of course going to be awkward due to not knowing anyone. With Diego (and others) as a teacher, we learned about the game/ the notebook. Over the course of class, I became more familiar and did some activities, such as seeing the consequences of a 5-minute notebook.

After Notebook class, came Mechanical class. The teachers this time were Vincent and Johnny. After some PowerPoints, we delved right into learning the essentials of building the robot. We learned about the chassis and the basics of the motor, as well as the very basics of the electrical group. Although I like the previous class, this was a little more preferred.

Next up was the Programming class. This was the first class that assigned homework ,I wasn’t happy about it, but I was grateful. The class proved to be very challenging unless you already knew some things. It was the hardest of the classes.

Last but not least, was the Business class. By far my favorite, in the business class we learned of what to do in order to support the club. After a great powerpoint by the teachers, we learned of pictures, and how to ask for grants. We even learned how to dance, kind of.

In the end, I’m glad I was in this because it helped me in the division that I picked. It was overall a good experience.       

FIRST World Championship 2016

For the second year in a row, the RoboLancers traveled to St. Louis to compete at the FIRST World Championship. We had won the Chairman’s Award, the most prestigious award in FIRST, during MAR. It was a dream come true for us to attend Worlds once again.

Winning brought back many memories from last year. Some of those weren’t pretty (16+ hour long bus ride), but it didn’t tone down our excitement. Even though I was excited to go, I was more excited in showing and explaining to the younger members what the event would be like. I told them how great this competition was, how great the teams are from around the world, and the cool gadgets that companies would bring along to showcase. It was to show them the wonderful event they were going to be part of.

Worlds was just like last year: a big arena filled with nerds from all over the world. The stadium was filled with FIRST stuff such a shop for FIRST gear, cardboard cutouts of Dean Kamen, Woodie Flowers, and Don Bossi; and Team 4525’s giant cardboard robot. Roaming around the arena was fun because there mascots also that walked about. I took so many pictures of them that one of my teammates, Henry Dang, started complaining. Whoops.

Mascots weren’t the only things I took pictures with. While walking, I saw out of the corner of my eye someone familiar. I actually yanked Henry back once I recognized who the person was. It was Woodie Flowers. For the second year in a row, Henry and I got to meet Woodie Flowers and get his autograph. We even got to take a picture with him. 

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For the matches we were in the Curie Division. We started off with a 124-66 victory in our first match. Then we moved up to 5th place with a score of 121-105 in our second match. Throughout the day we had a mixture of wins and losses. Sadly, we weren’t picked during the alliance selection but we gave shout outs to teams 1089 and 25 for representing FIRST Mid-Atlantic teams on the Curie Division as alliance captains. We ended the event in rank 30 (much better than last year’s rank 54) with a record of 5-5-0.

Other than the competition, the team got to do numerous activities such as attending the Innovation Faire, visiting the Gateway Arch, playing at the hotel’s arcade, and spending the night at Six Flags. Just bonding with friends and doing activities that weren’t robotics was a nice feeling.

Our time for the rest of the school year is running short. Our seniors will be graduating in June, and I can already tell there’s going to be tears during the RoboLancer’s senior send off. (There was so much crying last year). Worlds gave us an opportunity to grow closer as a family. 

This was our third time going to Worlds. Whether or not we go next year, we’ll continue to do our best and continue to spread STEM throughout the city of Philadelphia.

MAR Regional Championships

The Mid-Atlantic Robotic Competition started out as a blazing success for the RoboLancers. The first day of official competition ended with our team in the top 8 ranks, our Chairman’s division brimming  with confidence, and smiles on everyone’s faces. This feeling was something that I always love to feel at first competitions: the feeling of accomplishment that you get when everything goes right.

During the second day of competition we had more RoboLancers arriving to the arena, increasing the amount of cheer and motivation in the stands. The day went off pretty well, our robot worked with great success and we were standing in the top seeds for a while. We had little to no actual technical difficulties. Our team’s moral and excitement in the stands was higher then ever before. Every match was met with a large amount of chanting and cheers from the stands. Our offensive strategy and speed was not something anyone from the qualifying competitions would have expected from us. We were standing strong on our own and even stronger in our alliances. We were all having a great time and were excited for the alliance selection. Then we had a few rougher matches due to robot inactivity and connection problems but we still managed to make it to the 6th ranking alliance so we weren’t out of the mix yet.

Later on though we had to sub out of our alliance due to a gear coming out of place. It was a good competition for us and we could tell it left an impact on the teams around us. Once the award ceremony came around our team was itching for the announcement of the Chairman’s Award. Then when FIRST came around with their classic amount of puns regarding the Chairman’s winner we were all shaking in our seat from excitement because we knew we won the Chairman’s Award for the second year at MAR. Now our season won’t end quite yet as we prepare for the World Championship in St.Louis.

Freire Charter School Event

image (1)image (1)At the Freire Charter School event on Saturday, December 12th, the FTC Gold team settled down and set up our program for the robot. The programmer configured the phones to the robots while our mechanical and electrical subgroups unpacked our supplies. There were technical difficulties because the new laptop we bought was not ready. The programmers didn’t download everything they needed the day before and we had to download everything off of google drive during the event. The code didn’t work and the robot still hadn’t moved after a month. While the team programmer was checking the code, the other members went to robot inspection. We passed 2 out of the 3 inspection expectations, but we needed a moving robot for the 3rd inspection.

A guy named Jim, who was doing the 3rd inspection, helped us download our program and he tried to help us figure out what was wrong with the robot (why it wouldn’t move). Another guy came over and looked at the robot. He said it was the wiring; that the wires/cables were not straight. So we straightened them and the robot finally started moving. By that time, our mechanical subgroup had already started working on the new manipulator. The robot finally moved on the field and then a block got stuck under the robot, which messed up a couple of wires and caused it to stop moving again. The robot would stop moving every now and then. All of that took us around 4 hours. The event ended an hour early. It was stressful overall and all the members were on edge, thinking about the electrical problems and future events.

FTC Scrimmage!

TEAM WORK

On November 21, 2015, the RoboLancers participated in an FTC scrimmage! After an hour and a half long bus ride, we arrived at Oxford High and saw many of the other teams that participated. With their unique manipulators and chassis, we watched in awe. We received the opportunity to take advantage and see what we are standing against in this competition. In the meantime, we, the FTC Crimson team 6676. also worked on perfecting and finishing our manipulator with the help of the mechanical team. We displayed how our manipulator, which was just a modified tape measure, worked to complete tasks of the new game this year.

While testing our manipulator, we came up with some problems, but solved them quickly. One of our mentors, Diego, showed us a very good way to help make our manipulator. He shortened our 16-foot tape measure into a 6-foot tape measure to better fit into our system/robot. With the reduction of length, the circumference of the coiled up tape measure decreased, which stopped it from jamming as much when retracting. This helped us since we didn’t truly have a way of containing the tape measure and its excessive flexibility. When extending upward, it would jam. To further compensate, we started to work on a CAD system to build a case that would fit around the tape measure. Along the way, with everyone working together, we had fun learning new techniques of working, and even communicated with other teams present at the event.

Overall, it was quite a learning experience for all of us. We realized what we should or should not do in order to help our team, and at the same time, had fun with everyone.

Ramp Riot 11/14/2015

On November 14, 2015, the RoboLancers went to Ramp Riot. There were two activities: the FRC competition and the FTC scrimmages. When we first arrived, everyone went to the bleachers in the gym where the FRC games would be held. We looked at other FRC teams’ robots, and compared their designs to our team’s 321 robot. Some of the new team members went to the FTC area to scout out the other FTC teams. They asked about team designs and their strategies. We went between the FTC and FRC areas, looking at how the featured FTC games played out, and which teams could do the best; earn the most points. We also watched the 321 FRC team during their matches. Our team, as well as others, cheered for each team and alliance, all the way until the finals. Team 321 made it until the semi-finals, but we still cheered for team 225. Overall, it was an exciting and fun event!

Ramp Riot

On November 14, 2015, the Central High School RoboLancers went to Ramp Riot. It was a joint FRC and FTC competition and scrimmage. For FRC, this was the last Recycle Rush event. (It was the last competition for the FRC 2015 year.) This game was interesting but not the best. In my opinion, games with direct/physical competition between the opposing teams are better. Recycle Rush was an offense game; no defense. For FTC, this event was a showcase of the teams’ robots up until this point, as the FTC 2015-2016 season has just begun. It was interesting to see the other teams’ approaches towards the various challenges that this game presents. Surprisingly, we found that one of the FTC teams even designed and built the same type of manipulator as us!

Central’s Build It!

This year, on the 24th of October, Central High School hosted the annual Build It!, which is a gathering for the robotics clubs in Philadelphia. Both of Central’s teams worked to decorate their cafeteria for the event, preparing to greet fellow competitors from across the city. The primary goals of Build It! were to allow teams to communicate with each other, to get familiarized, and to work together on their robots. The Build It gathering makes the perfect opportunity to show off each individual team’s talents, mechanical figures, and school pride. This year, several teams from the area came, including, but not limited to, Freire Robodragons team 5488, Boys Latin Techeads 6677, and others. Of course, Central’s teams, Crimson 6676 and Gold 5320, were present for the event too. As a programmer, the event was an amazing experience, and it allowed me to see the potential of several teams in Philadelphia. It was also helpful because we were able to see ideas and strategies towards the new FTC game from other teams at the event.

The cafeteria buzzed with activity as teams worked from 9 am-3 pm on their robots. At least one team completed their robot enough to actually test it on the practice field given. Crimson as a whole made great progress on our robot. While our mechanics and electricians were working on the robot’s chassis and electrical components, I walked around the cafeteria scouting other teams and making new friends. I also learned more programming than I would have on any other day. Even though it is called “Build It!” there was a lot more going on than just building our robot. Some teams built their robots and began programming them, while other teams got the opportunity to test their robots. Our team got our basic robot design done, the goal being to test it. Programmers got the code done in a flash, but in the end we couldn’t test it because the phones that were to run our robot were not charged. Overall, this year’s Build It event was a great success!

Build It!

On October 24, 2015, the Central High School RoboLancers hosted Build It! This was a great opportunity to interact with other FTC teams and have extra build time. At Build It, we, the Crimson FTC team (6676), had the opportunity to test our robot on the field, which was great incentive towards completing a testable robot. This way, we could try out our work and figure out what we needed to improve our design. We found out that we were far behind our competitors, but this was another incentive to work just as hard as they did. Our mechanical team was hard at work to build our chassis and supports, so that we could install the electrical system into our robot. Ultimately, our electrical team was able to assemble the electrical system needed to run our robot. Unfortunately, the phones needed to run our robot, as FTC teams were supplied phones to run individual robots this year, were not charged so we could not test our robot. This was very unfortunate because the programmers had finished their code, and if the phones had been charged, we would have been able to see our robot in action. Thankfully, we knew our systems were functioning, and that if the phones had been charged we would have been able to test. All in all, we made a lot of progress and this meeting could be considered a success.