Thursday, April 27, 2017

Looking back at .500, A FIRST season on display.

All the matches from our two FIRST Robotics tournaments are now at least in theory available on line.  I say in theory because some of them appear to wink on and off and others may or may not have functional sound.  

It's hard for me to watch these.  Having been so wrapped up in the FIRST Robotics build and competition season I can see too many small things, things that cost us points or a victory.

I have already mentioned our running fight against a legion of mechanical and software gremlins.  They say baseball is a game of inches.  Well, robotics is a game of millimeters.  When you see our robot fail to deliver a gear in autonomous mode it is not missing by a mile, it is missing by a fraction of a degree in its angle of approach. Worn carpet, faulty placement of the robot in set up, heck, maybe evil spirits all come into play. 

The team did heroic trouble shooting and driving improvisation to do as well as they did.  And we learned more by an average tournament season than we would have in either a cake walk or a total system collapse.

Machines are not perfect.  Neither are humans.  You zig when you should have zagged, you reach too quickly or too slowly to drop a game piece into the scoring slot. Even the battered up game field sometimes cost us.  We lost one match when the gear receiver partly broke but play was continued.  A few matches later we were out there again.  This time it fell off entirely and had to be replaced.  We went on to win that match.

Of course with a few elite exceptions all the other teams are in a similar situation. Everyone wins, or loses, matches based on the razor thin balance of glitches made by the machines and humans on your alliance weighed against those of the other side. Being naturally focused in on our own robot we likely don't see those other events very clearly.

All the matches for team 5826 can be found HERE.  Knowing all too well which sensors, which motors, which software parameters were on the fritz at various times I cringe watching some of them.  But in almost all there were some things that were done well, very well in fact.  I consider the best match of the season to be one that we actually lost narrowly but carried our alliance almost all the way to the Victor's laurels.  But in terms of available video that shows Team 5826 running well, I suggest the one below. We are in red colors.  Look for our numbers...

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