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.       

Gearing Towards States

The Crimson 6676 Robolancers are moving on to the 2016 FTC statewide championship on Saturday, February 27. The team was notified a week before the competition that there was an opening available for one of Central’s teams. Mr. Johnson, the Robolancers’ coach, offered this opportunity of participation to Crimson, due to the team’s high ranking of 1st place in the previously completed Philadelphia FTC Championship. Currently, the team is preparing for the new upcoming challenge by making improvements to the robot.

Preparing for upcoming challenges, the team intends to fix any mistake that is discovered, to improve the robot. The height of the robot was increased to accommodate for debris. It was then decided that an additional manipulator be added, allowing the robot to drop climbers into a bin during the autonomous period of a match. In the meantime, the team is facing new difficulties potentially from the change in code. Other factors include products that don’t always work, connection breaks and phone crashes. When arrives at the states competition, they plan to do their best despite the low resources and possible problems in the phone. When competing, our drive team plans on earning the most points possible by climbing and hanging to the high-bar. The rest of Crimson will cheer them on no matter what happens. Crimson knows that this will be a true challenge unable to be easily overcome.

No matter what, Crimson won’t disappoint while doing their best.


FTC Meet #1

On January 10, 2016, we went to Temple University after school. People who were on the inspection team left 1 period before school ended and took all of the materials + the robot to Temple. The mechanical subgroup added a mechanism to press a lever on the field but it ended up passing the 16x16x16 inch size limit. We tried to drive it but only 1 motor worked. We worked with Jim to figure out what was wrong with it again.

It turned out that the wires weren’t crimped properly so we had to fix the 3 wires connected to the 3 motors that didn’t work. At first, we thought it was a programming error but then we noticed a faulty wire connecting the battery to the motor control turning on and off. It would turn off every time someone touched it so we checked if the other wires had the same problem. After we fixed it, we had the majority of the wheels working but it was about time to leave so we had a last minute scrimmage with our counterpart, Crimson. We scored 5 points while they scored 47. Our phone on the robot ran out of power and died 40 seconds into the scrimmage. Blocks also got stuck under the robot.

We packed up and came back the next day at the same time. This time, we fixed all of the wires and the phones were charged. The robot wasn’t driving properly. It was reversed and we couldn’t turn properly because the motors weren’t programmed to the right ports. To reverse the wheels, we just reversed the wires in the ports so that the – wire went into the + port and vis-versa.

We were in 2 scrimmages. In 1 scrimmage, we had to hold the controller upside down because the robot’s controls were reversed. The turning still wasn’t working. We almost got up to mid-zone in that scrimmage. In the second one, we quickly reversed the controls so we would be able to to hold the controller properly but that caused us to not be able to turn at all. We stopped moving for approximately a minute but we couldn’t get onto the climbing zone.

After that, we worked on the program until it was time to leave. Overall, it was a good experience. It taught us to be more prepared and to plan head.image (1)

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.

[Gold] Pennsylvania FTC State Competition

Last Saturday, February 28th, was a very eventful day. I started my day off waking up at the prime time of 4 am. The low temperatures were at our disadvantage, none the less we over came this feat with the glorious picture of going to the state competition. The commute to the school was pretty hectic. The teams reside in different parts of the city, making it difficult for us to get to school together and at the same time. As 5:30 am was arriving soon, and the bus was still not in sight. At one point, I ended up running down the street in front of the school with Sabrina. I was scolded by multiple people about it being to cold outside. Shortly after, the bus arrives and we load up. The ride there was relatively relaxing and pleasant. Some were still half asleep, others making conversation with one another, and those, like me, who looked at the scenery the majority of the ride.

We arrive at the venue of the competition sooner than I would have expected. We exit the bus and were immediately hit with a blast of the crisp and cold air. After unloading our things, we enter the building. I took in the amazing and exhilarating view of what States really was. So many teams had already arrived along with their robots; Their robots were jaw dropping. Some might think that the sight of impressive robots at a competition that you are apart of may not be the most pleasant things to see. However, the sight rather intrigued me and gave me a sense of competitiveness, motivation you could say. Once we spotted our tables, Gold immediately got to work. Inspections had to be done by 10:15 am and our presentation time was 8:40. Thankfully, we were rather prepared and were able to successfully compete in a majority of our matches. Though some parts of the robot were not necessarily finished in the beginning, we eventually did. Vincent and Jiong Heng were even able to score 8 points into the rolling goals. One problem over another, I would say we did a rather good job at solving them.

As 10:15 rolled around and the opening ceremony took place, the real hype had just begun. Teams running back and forth to fix parts on the robot, drivers going about getting to their matches, Saturday was fueled by nothing but energy. As a result of the many teams, 36 teams from around the tri-state area, matches had to be run a lot quicker, meaning there was less time for mistakes to be fixed. In between the matches, I had time to explore and mingle with potential alliance partners. Creating strong relations are important and the people there were very pleasant to be around. Not to mention running around in Rock’em Sock’em costumes was also fun to do.

Once the preliminary matches finished, the top 4 teams picked their alliance partners. At one point, Gold’s hopes sky rocketed when the digits “53” were spoken out from the mouth of Tom, of course the ending digits were not in our favor. The team “5319” was chosen instead, which was a bit upsetting to us. However, we won’t continue to be upset about it for what we did accomplish that day was very impressive to me.

Overall, States was a great experience. This was my first year on the team and also my first big robotics competition I went to. From being nervous around the judges, to running around finding individuals, to group dances, it really was amazing. Despite not qualifying for the Super Regionals, I think we have overcome a large hurdle throughout the year. Keep up the good work Gold!

[Crimson] FTC Philadelphia League Championship

Today, I watched and also participated in the Philly FTC Championship, where 17 teams came to Central High to compete for the chance to advance to the States Competition. I never was that into robotics and I only thought of it as a hobby. However, I was drawn back in when I saw this year’s game, which was extremely interesting. Additionally, I was also placed as a temporary coach  for this competition, so that was an interesting experience as well.

Previously, I always had an foolish impression of myself being a tyrannical leader but I learned that being a learned being a leader wasn’t about giving orders and such. Being leader meant that you had the listen,understand, and learn. Between me giving terrible advice to giving amazing pep talks that brought everyone’s morale up, I picked up on my team members’ patterns and strengths. With that information a leader has to divide the problem into jobs for different people based on their capabilities. For example, Diego, not one for the limelight but a hard worker, Michael, perky and full energy, or Viwing, careful and precise are split based on their abilities. Diego mans the pit, which is where we maintenance the robot in between matches, Michael works as a spirit coordinator, and Viwing controls the manipulators on our robot.

As temporary coach you have to be patient and able which I’m neither most of the time. Being the temporary coach was unpredictably stressful because not only does the bestowed responsibility of the coach lie on your shoulders the team’s fate does to. In the first few rounds we hadn’t perform too well and dropped to 15th place. Our servo fell off, there were problems with our battery, and there were other technical difficulties. Each of those mistakes lead to a crushing defeat every time.

In the last match I told my teammates, “Guys I know I’ve said this many times and it sounds really cheesy but I want to tell that you that you guy did me some proud no matter defeat or victory. This is our last match and our last chance chance to them what we’re made of. I want you to give them your all this match.” In the last match we were paired with 5505 Frankford team and through our teamwork we scored 200 to 100 against our opponents. As result they selected us in an alliance during the semifinal matches, followed by so much cheering that our voices went hoarse. In the end, we advanced on to states, so we still have a long way to go!

FTC Philadelphia Championship

Hundreds of students across Philadelphia and the region, ranging from 4th–12th grade, will converge on Central High School Feb. 7 for the city-wide robotics championship match. The teams will compete in the 2015 FIRST Tech Challenge, “Cascade Effect.” In this exciting game, 15 teams will face off against each other in an alliance format. Winners of the FTC Philadelphia Championship will advance to the State Championship — and finally to the World Championship. Other awards include the PTC Design Award, the Winning Alliance Award, and the Finalist Alliance Award.


For weeks prior to the championship, robotics teams have been hard at work designing, building, and programming their robots from scratch. The game, “Cascade Effect,” is quite challenging, requiring teams to strategize in order to score the most amount of points. Teams have spent hours after school strategizing and creating a robot fit to compete. Central High School’s RoboLancers  hosted last year’s FTC Philadelphia Championship with hundreds of people in attendance to support their favorite robotics teams. Crowds are expected to be even larger this year.


The robots are remotely operated and are constructed by students using robotics system kits with basic tools and equipment utilizing professional mechanical techniques and creativity. “Cascade Effect” involves 160 white plastic balls with robots seeking to score points by placing the balls into rolling goals. The team with the most amount of points advances to the next round.


Teams from the following schools are scheduled to compete: Central High School, Boys’ Latin of Philadelphia Charter School, G.W. Carver High School, Freire Charter School, Frankford High School, Edison High School, Abraham Lincoln High School, Northeast High School, Murrell Dobbins/Allegheny West Foundation, Academy at Palumbo, and Olney Charter High School


FIRST (For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is an organization founded by Dean Kamen which seeks to inspire students from K-12th grade to pursue and lead STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fields. Competitions such as FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition), FTC (FIRST Tech Challenge), and FLL (FIRST Lego League) blends the engagement of science and technology and the value of teamwork through friendly competitions with other FIRST teams while giving students rewarding experiences that follow them to whatever field they choose to pursue.


The Central High School RoboLancers is a FIRST Robotics Team founded in 1999 originally starting with a small classroom of students and now has grown to over 100 active members. The RoboLancers have participated in robotics events at multiple levels and have helped mentor many teams across the Philadelphia region, such as Girls High School, Independence Charter School, and Martin Luther King High School to raise awareness for the need of STEM education and occupations within Philadelphia and around the world. The RoboLancers have won many awards such as the Engineering Inspiration Award and have traveled to the 2013 FIRST World Championship in St. Louis, Missouri.

Special thanks to our wonderful sponsors: The Associated Alumni of Central High School, The Central High School Home and School Association, PTC, McKean, Comcast, Ignite Philly, Bresslergroup, Johnsonville, and P’unk Avenue.  

[Crimson] Second FTC Meet at Temple

On January 14th, we had our second competition at Temple today. It was, like the last, extremely nerve-wracking. However, unlike the last, we modified the manipulator arm so that it can actually cohesively work with the code. We attached strings on the sides of the arm so it would not drag on the floor. Not only that, our tele-op code also works! In addition, a big lesson learned from last competition was that our batteries kept dying. This time, we walked into Temple without worrying about any battery problems.

When we stepped into the field, there was an obvious improvement on the robot from the other teams. They scored better than last time and seemed to have planned things out more meticulously. Our strategy was to score points during Autonomous mode by moving down the ramp. We also wanted to move our robot up the ramp now that we are no longer as back-heavy as the last time. Furthermore, we also wanted to bring a rolling up the ramp during the last 30 seconds, since it promised more points.

Although we planned better than last time, we still placed only 8th. I think the factors that contributed to our placing include the penalty from accidentally touching the rolling goal as we maneuvered it, the shocking improvement from the other teams, and the autonomous code that can only score us 30 points. Walking out of Temple, our team came up with a lot of ideas for the robot. This include feeders with two rows instead of one, better motors that were faster in speed, a pulley based robot instead of a lever based robot, and so on.  We also that believe if we make a code that can knock off the kickstand, we can do much better next time. With all these things we can improve on in mind, we went home and sketched up ideas inspired from the competition.