FRC Team Chaos Vortex Week 2 Update

We are near the end of the second week of FRC (FIRST Robotics Competition) and already we are feeling every emotion possible. Yet overall there is a ton of energy and excitement in the class. I am really proud of my Rookie Team - 3477 Chaos Vortex as they have worked together and earlier this week finished refining their design.

I am sure they wanted to start building right away, but the more time you take to plan, the less time you spend fixing it to make it work. So I really got on them about how parts would fit together and detailed measurements. The parts list grew more and more and as I placed our first order of $2000 I felt confident that they were well on their way to success.

Being a small team, we have most of our team focusing on building, with only two figuring out  the programing code and electrical components. They have done an incredible job and I am grateful to Allison of Infinigons and her boyfriend for being there to support them. This was Allison's first major encounter with Robotics and her programming background has been solely with software. So when they figured out how to make the motor turn via the Labview Software, her eyes lit of with amazement. I love Robotics because it provides opportunities for students of all ages to experience something wonderful like that.

Later this week we had Richard from the National City Plaza Bonita JC Penny come to bring pizza and meet the team. In addition to receiving the NASA Grant, they are our primary sponsors. We are so grateful to them, without their support we would not have a team this year. Richard is really interested in our team and school and has a strong passion for community service which he strives to instill in his store employees. He asked a lot of great questions and was amazed at how the students work together. He was most impressed with how he and I could talk for two hours, and yet the team did not need me to know what to do.

This doesn't mean that I am unnecessary to the team, I give feedback and guidance where I can but I do not design or build the robot. Robotics allows students to see the power and potential of what they are capable of and the less I do, the better. They do a marvelous job of managing themselves. Case in point, we had moved forward with a C-Shaped drivetrain because we felt it would be the easiest way to pick up the tubes (watch the game animation) but later that night, the students discovered that this was not allowed by the rules. Rather than freaking out and getting angry or giving up, they talked it out and within 10 minutes or so, were ready to proceed full steam ahead. 

I would encourage all teams to take a second look at the Robot section of the rule book because there are a lot of things that have changed over the last couple of years. We read the manual very diligently and still managed to miss it. Thank goodness for the Chief Delphi Support Forum!
There was Richard, myself and a team mentor in the room when this incident happened and we were all so impressed and proud of the team and how they listened to each other and worked it out with Gracious Professionalism. I am sure it had helped that this team has spent 3 years as a VEX robotics team developing strong bonds and respect for each other.

I cannot wait to see what is in store this week. The robot is starting to come together along with the code and mechanisms. Our FTC Minibot kit came yesterday (thanks to FIRST Choice for providing that to us) and while I am still tired, I am loving every single minute.

How is your team doing? Are you following this blog and wondering how to start your own robotics team? Let us know what we can do to help.

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