2014 Season kickoff!

The Kickoff for the 2014 FIRST season is coming up. If you are going, you need to be at Blanchett by 6:00am on Saturday, January 3rd. We are going up together – either by carpool or bus – to Mountlake Terrace High School for the regional event. The doors at Mountlake open at 6:00am, but the presentation starts at 7:15 am.

This is a big deal, with high schools from all around the Puget Sound area attending. There is a live presentation from the founders of FIRST, and details of this year’s game will be revealed. There will be break-out brainstorming sessions after the live presentations, where kids from all the different schools will share ideas for the upcoming season. Then, we will receive our kit-of-parts, the base package of parts for building this year’s robot. We’ll bring the kit-of-parts home to Blanchet when the event completes.

Looking forward to seeing you on Saturday.

Shorewood Competition

The Shorewood meet is Friday and Saturday, March 21st and 22nd. Our robot is checked in and we passed inspection Thursday night. The team had some time to practice with the robot before the pits closed.

Matches start today at 11:00. Opening ceremonies and all competition can be watched live online at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/firstwa-blue.

Team BraveBots is in the following matches for Friday. Times are tentative, and if past experience is any indication, the event will fall behind schedule and later matches will probably start later than the scheduled times:

Match 2 11:37
Match 11 1:37
Match 14 1:58
Match 22 2:54
Match 24 3:08
Match 33 4:11
Match 38 5:16
Match 40 5:30
Match 45 6:05

Glacier Peak day 2

Our first FIRST competition of the season is complete. We finished 25th in the qualifying standings and didn’t make it to the playoff rounds. We won the “Gracious Professionalism” award, apparently in large part to Woodie Flowers, president of Mechanical Engineering school at MIT and FIRST co-founder, who witnessed our driver calming down another team when things went wrong. And, we had a weekend with the robot out of the bag, where, between matches, we continued to work on our launcher, which is now almost fully armed and operational. Plus, we all had an incredible time, watching robots battle, talking with other teams in the pits, and soaking in the nerd heaven atmosphere that is a FIRST competition.

Without a launcher, our robot was limited to a defensive role for the competition. Our driver, Dan, proved an excellent strategist and was very good at blocking passes and keeping opposing robots boxed up in the first section, away from the goals. We did score some passes and even some low goals by bulldozing the ball around. One match was tied when the 30-second warning klaxon sounded, but the opposing alliance managed to pull ahead in those last 30 seconds. We ended up losing all three of our matches on Saturday.

At one point on Friday, the arena was having technical difficulties. Each alliance can only have a single ball on the field at a time (except during the autonomous period). There is a pedestal behind the drivers’ stations that lights up. Volunteers put balls on the pedestal when the light goes out, then the teams can take the balls and put them in play. At one point, the light wouldn’t go out, even though our alliance didn’t have any balls on the field. We couldn’t put any balls on the field. We were all upset, but the driver for another team on our alliance was very angry and was yelling at the volunteer manning the pedestal. Dan told him to cool it, and we think this is what impressed Woodie Flowers so much. The pedestal light issue happened in at least one other match. The refs did a lot of conferring about what to do, but in the end, they let the scores stand.

Check out the photo section for pictures of the competition.

Glacier Peak Day 1

Day 1 of the Glacier Peak District Meet was very exciting. We played in 9 matches and finished the day with a record of 4 – 5. Currently we are in 21st place. Full standings can be found here. They are updated after every match, so they are always current. You can watch video of the competition live on the internet at FIRSTWA Blue.

We used the time with our robot out of the sealed bag to finally dig in and do some more work on it. We are getting very close to having a working launcher, and it’s possible we’ll be shooting at the high goal in tomorrow’s matches.

We won our first match of the day. We had some problems that kept our robot off the field for two matches, but our alliance came through and won one of those despite being down a ‘bot. The battling takes a toll on the robot. At one point, our battery was cracked and leaked acid over the bottom of our robot. It was pretty minor and we cleaned it up after the match before it could damage any other components.

The last match of the day really showed how robots were wearing down. Two robots broke down during the competition. We accidentally ran over the PVC arms of a robot of our own alliance, crushing them and breaking them off. By the rules, the robot was disabled, so there were only 3 of 6 robots working at the end of the match. We scored a point in the low goal, shepherding the ball into it.

Most of the day, we focused on defense. Our driver, Dan, became very good at blocking other robots, keeping them from moving the ball up the field. A couple times, other teams became so frustrated by the smothering D that they reacted violently, smashing into our robot so hard and for so long that they racked up 100 penalty points for our team.

We finished the day in the pits, working up until they kicked us out, trying to get the launcher operational. We’ll be back tomorrow morning at 8:00 to resume work. We have 3 more matches tomorrow before lunch. Afternoon matches are for teams that qualify for the playoffs. We are on the bubble right now, but our stellar defense might get us picked for an alliance if we can’t move up in the standings.

Glacier Peak Robot Battle

Our first competition is this Friday and Saturday, March 7th and 8th. Thursday night, we got the robot up to GPHS and set up our pit. Some photos of that are up in the photos section. The team worked feverishly on our launcher and also to get the robot to pass inspection. There were a number of minor issues, but we worked through them. It should be an exciting time the next couple of days, while we see what the ‘bot can do. You can watch live-streaming of the competition all day at FIRSTWA Blue.

Robot in the bag

Wow did it come down to the wire. At about 9:00pm on Tuesday, with the deadline to seal the robot in its bag only 3 hours away, we powered it up. And it works! Our intrepid driver, Dan, spent the rest of the evening learning to maneuver the robot. It didn’t take long for him to get the hang of scooping up the ball and depositing it in the goal. Whether or not that is enough practice to perform well in competitions, with other opponent robots trying to block him and balls bouncing unpredictably from other alliance bots, remains to be seen. But after lots of long hours and hard work, it’s great to have a working robot. It’s been sometimes frustrating, sometimes grueling, but ultimately fun and rewarding time building our robot. Way to go Team Bravebots!

Deadline coming

We’ve got a little over a week to go. There is some nervousness, as we have a lot of work to do. Some of our concepts haven’t been tested and won’t be until we near completion. Our robot shares some ideas from the Robot in 3 days project. We have an arm with a roller that will grab the ball and pull it inside. Inside we have a launcher that will punch the ball out towards other robots or towards the goal. We just got in some c-channel to build our frame, so stuff is moving past the prototype. We have a lot of long days in the week ahead.

2014 Kickoff!

Saturday, January 4th, was the kick-off for the 2014 FIRST Robotic Competition. We joined hundreds of other students at Mountlake Terrace High School to see the nation-wide broadcast of the competition announcement. This year’s competition is called Arial Assist, and it requires a lot of teamwork and coordination between different schools that will be paired up at district and regional competitions. The robots will be required to pass and catch a large exercise ball, as well as shoot it into a goal. We just got started and we are coming up with a lot of great ideas for our robot design.

2013 Competition Results

Thank you to everyone for your help and support for FIRST Robotic Team 4682-Audacity – Bishop Blanchet High School! They couldn’t do what they did without your help and support.

Friday we had such a wonderful day in competition. We ended with the 5 wins and 2 losses. Very good for a rookie team.  Before our match, the team members built a cage around the robot to help defense to deflect Frisbees from the other alliance. The cage makes our robot look pretty cool.

We had two matches today. Both gave the drivers challenges they were not expecting. We lost both matches today. The students ended up with a rank of 18 out of 64 teams. We were not chosen to be a part of the finals. (This wasn’t the process I understood.) The top 8 ranked teams are the captains for the alliances and pick the two team in an orderly fashion. They can choose any team they want to be part of their alliance as long as they have not been chosen by another team.

We (all of us) have learned a lot about how the FIRST Robotics Competition works and what we need to do to keep going and improving.

I couldn’t be more proud of TEAM 4682! These students should be commended for their dedication and perseverance.

-Dixie Strunk