Friday, December 13, 2013

Field Trip for the Bot-Mobile

On Wednesday, December 11, Quintin took the robot to his pre-engineering class at Vantage Point Education in Duluth, Georgia. He did a presentation about FIRST and all the different levels (FLL, Jr. FLL, and FTC) and his experience in each.

He thoroughly explained the robot design process and how they landed on their final design, challenges along the way, etc. The class watched the FTC Block Party video so they had a better understanding of the game and program.

The kids were very interested and asked many questions. This tied in to the mechanical engineering unit the class was currently working through as well as the Electrical Engineering unit they just completed.

Way to represent, Quintin!

Mentoring v4.0

We were so excited to have another mentor come to a team meeting. Tom Pappagallo is an Electric Engineer who works as a project manager at Siemans. He has lots of programming experience and we learned a lot from him. We learned about things a project manager's a lot of stuff we are doing: brainstorming, designing the project, creating a timeline, making sure everything stays budget.

It was also cool that he is interested in robots and was familiar with FIRST. He had lots of great advice and asked good questions about our scoop design. Thank you, Tom!


After our competition, we spent the entire next meeting debriefing. We came up with lots of things we want to tweak before the next qualifier in January. Some of the things we need to work on are:
  • Our block grabber didn't work well and broke a lot so we want to build a scoop.
  • We want to add another scoring mechanism...a turner to raise the flag. 
  • We want to write mirror of our programming for the autonomous period so we can choose which way we want to robot to go based on what other teams are doing.
  • We need to beef up our engineering notebook and include more details.
We also created a timeline. We only have about 6 meetings to do everything to be ready for the qualifier! We can do it; we can do it; we can do it!!!

It’s Competition Time

We participated in our first competition (called a Qualifier) on Saturday, November 16. We didn’t know exactly what to expect, so we were excited and nervous. It was a long, good day. We’ll give you the scoop here.

Team Ctrl-Alt-Del with The Bot-Mobile

We arrived about 7am, set up our “pit area” (which was a table were we worked on our robot between matches) and then got ready for robot inspections. There are lots of rules we have to follow when building the robot, and if it doesn’t pass either the hardware or software inspection, we can’t compete.

Hardware Inspection
Software Inspection
Then we had some time on a practice field. This was awesome, since this was the first time we actually got to try the robot on a full field.

Next came the judging session. We had 10 minutes in front of 2 judges to tell them about our team and the season. Our goal was to “impress.” We each had a subject to present, which took 5 minutes. Then we showed them our robot. Then we asked what questions they had. Guess what…they didn’t have any! That means we did a great job presenting, right?!

It was finally time for the robot rounds. We competed in 5 matches during the day. The first match was just OK. We didn’t score many points but learned a lot. And it was fun!

During the match, we got an idea for scoring more points, but it meant we needed to change our programming. So we went to the practice field to work on it. Our coaches and parents said, “You might want to think about changing your programming. You don’t want to make it worse!” But we did it anyway J. And we’re glad we did. In our next match, we were partnered with Team SharkBite and together we scored 133 points! That was the highest point total in the competition for the day so far.

Our other matches weren’t as successful, but we learned a lot in each one. We realized that a weak link on our robot is the block grabber. It breaks too easily and we need to come up with another strategy for picking up the blocks.

Our alliance partner from earlier in the day, SharkBite, was the number 3 team at the end of all the matches, so they advanced. The top 4 get to choose alliance partners for the semifinals, and SharkBite chose us! Whichever alliance won the best 2 out of 3 matches moved on to the finals.

We won the first match and were so excited. But then the other alliance changed their programming to block one of our moves, and it caused us to not do as well. They won the next 2 matches and advanced to the finals.

We were very disappointed. But we were also very excited. We think we did really, really well for our first competition…to be selected for one of the final alliances was a huge honor.  Now we can’t wait to get back to the shop and tweak our robot based on everything we learned!

Ready for a match

Team spirit


The judges visit our pit area and ask lots of questions
More programming and practicing


Working on the programming

Problem solving on the practice field

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Quick Robin, to the . . .


We decided we needed a name for our robot. We came up with lots of ideas - some good, some not-so-good :-). We discussed them all and landed on The Bot-Mobile!

Thanks to Coach Kerns for the cape.