Friday, March 9, 2018

Robotics Tournament 2018 - Powering Up!

The first day of robotics competition consists of two parts.  In the morning you have paperwork to attend to and have to pass inspection.  This year our inspection went on for a long time.  We have a somewhat complicated machine, it was a rookie inspector, and actually one valve on the pneumatic system did turn out to be faulty.  We made weight by a superbly engineered margin of 7 ounces.

The second half of the day is in theory a time for the robots to run practice matches.  This helps you adapt to the actual field conditions which in terms of floor surface and many other small areas will vary from what you probably practiced on.

We were scheduled for three matches.  There are provisions for you to jump in for more if scheduled robots don't show, and my goal for the day was six matches.

We got in eight.

I doubt any other team got this much practice, why at one point we finished a match, rolled off the field, put in a fresh battery and went right back on.  This is unheard of.

With so many opportunities to find problems we of course did just that.  A loose cable here, a set of bolts that needed reinforcing over there.  Somewhat concerning our climber device put a big scratch in the field elements on our way up.  This got us a mild scolding today but would have been a penalty in actual play.  A kludged up solution was created at the end of the day, we will work on some other iterations between matches.

A good practice day, and ours was very good, does not guarantee a good tournament.  Conversely a horrid practice day usually presages a bad one.  The game this year is very dependent on cooperation between the three teams on an alliance.  Which means that in addition to the many things that could still go wrong with our machine we have to graciously accept the things that will quite likely go wrong with the many machines that could not "answer the bell" for practice matches.  Some of these issues will help us.  Some will hurt us.

Pizza and a collapse into bed, a busy Friday on tap.

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