FRC San Diego Regional Rookie Team Experience Part 1

To quote my sophomore programmer, "Today was an educational experience." I couldn't have put it better myself.

The excitement grew as all of the teams entered the Valley View Casino Arena (formerly the San Diego Sports Arena) and as we opened our robot crate, it was like seeing an old friend. Having spent over 100 hours working on it, it was so wonderful to find out that our robot had safely made it. Other teams weren't as lucky.

We tightened up all of the screws and added the winch that we had designed to compensate for the extra torque when the robot is coming back up. It worked beautifully! Now all that was needed was to pass inspection, we would be driving in an hour or so, or so we thought.

We go up to the inspection booth only to find out that our weight was 4 pounds over. Now for one who is not familiar with FRC, 4 pounds may not sound like much but when everything you put on the robot was essential at one time, making the decision what to drill holes in or take off is aggravating. We had already decided to not deploy the minibot simply because we felt it was more important to replace it with the winch. While this may not have been the best game playing strategy, I made that call because it was more important to me that this team had a working big robot.

In the mean time, our team received safety pins, which are the judges way of saying good job. We found some of our old friends like team Spyder, the Holy Cows, and Hilltop's EPIC. They helped us out tremendously, and in turn we were able to help out other teams by lending tools, parts, and knowledge. That is what Dean Kamen and Woodie Flowers refer to when they speak of Coopertition and Gracious Professionalism and some of my students for which this was their first robotics event kept commenting on how nice and awesome everyone was.

The team became a little stressed as the hours ticked by and they had an issue with their cRio's (robot brain) firmware, and bumpers but they kept each other calm and ended up passing every part of inspection with the exception of the bumpers (which were fixed by a student after another long night of working last night). The team kept getting complements on their marketing materials, people were excited to come take pictures of our robot and see it shoot out tubes, but we ran out of buttons way too fast and so we will be making them throughout the day.

Even though the official build season was over, our team learned a lot. Our programmer learned how to download the code much faster, saving us hours of time collectively, our team became experts in drilling holes, and while it sounds cliche the team became even closer than they already were. They keep talking about how they are always going to keep in touch and having fun. Keep in mind these are students from all grade levels and different social circles. That is one of my favorite things about robotics is how it brings people together to have fun and make something awesome!

I will post updates about the team during the Week in Review and you can follow us on @ChaosVortex. Onto day 2 of 3! I hope the team as an equally awesome day (perhaps a little less stressful)!

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