Monday, April 17, 2017

FIRST Tournament - Terminus

Friday update.

Odd that it felt OK to lose our first match.  We were rather overmatched against some "uber" teams and made it close with our better tricks - rope climbing and autonomous mode being done crisply and cleanly.

Of course we continue to struggle with an array of mechanical issues.  There is actually a certain probability that just the right collision with a solid object might tear loose our battery box dragging the electronics along with it.  And at exactly the allowed upper weight we have few options to reinforce.  

In the entire Minneapolis event we ran ten matches.  Two practice and eight qualification matches. Between yesterday and today we have already run eleven with at least three more tomorrow.  Our official record at the end of Friday is 4 -3.  Not bad at all for a team that has been a half step ahead of a pack of mechanical gremlins.


I tossed and turned, sleeping poorly.  Surely the odd quarter inch shift in the position of our battery box meant that something was amiss.  And why had our earlier reinforcment of the attachment points failed?

First thing in the morning I had the pit crew tip the robot up and found that the battery box, holding a 14 pound battery mind you, was being held on precariously by a solitary bolt.

With that fixed we felt that we were finally a full step ahead of the gremlins.  Pit crew gave the drive team the OK to open up the throttle. We went on to win... and to lose some additional matches.  We ended the event 5 - 5 but with the robot stronger than it had been all competition season.

So what went wrong with the losses?  Ah, its hard to say.  There were a number of small tweaks we should have made earlier but had to deal with potential catastrophes instead.  Our alliance partners made some bad calls.  No doubt they feel the way about a few of our driver's decisions. But I can't say the final outcome was unfair, we were an average team this season.  But considering the extremely high caliber of FIRST teams in general, and the enhanced level of competence that all robots show late in the competition season, being average in this instance is not at all a bad thing.

We aimed very high this year.  We attempted things that no sensible second year team should. They did not all work out.  But most of them did.  I am proud of the team. FIRST teams and their robots are really not expected to run 24 matches over the course of 10 days but they did it.  And by the end they were doing it with zero input from the now redundant adult coaches.

We made a big step up in sophistication this year.  We expect another one next year. Having said that all team members have been instructed to rest and not to think about robots for at least a week.

Ah, actually most teams are not doing Sawzall surgery on their robot the third day of a tournament...

The short guy in the red suit is an unofficial mascot.     

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