FIRST Robotics Blog
Everyone had a great time at IRI, reconnecting with old friends like 233, 1114, and 2056, meeting new people on different teams, and eating a lot of delicious corn! We went undefeated in our qualifying matches and seeded first, partially due to our powerhouse human player Brandon Wui with his "Jordan" throws into the robot. After choosing our alliance partners Team 1114: Simbotics, 330: The Beachbots, and 2013: Cybergnomes, we moved up the bracket all the way to the Finals, and after 2 very intense matches, we got second place! We were all very happy with our performance and very happy to have been able to attend IRI this year.
Fun in Chicago!
However, our adventures didn't stop with IRI. After the very early first flight to Chicago, our connecting flight got cancelled. At first it looked like we'd be spending 12 hours wandering around Chicago airport, but the mentors decided to make it an adventuring day through the city of Chicago! We took the famous L train into downtown and had some fantastic Chicago style deep dish pizza at the world famous Giordano's Pizza. Next stop was the Bean in downtown Chicago, then finally we found a nice shady patch of grass in which both mentors and students took very needed naps, and some ended up with a little grass on their foreheads. Finally we made it back to the airport and on our plane home. Thank you to all of the teams and staff at IRI for making such a great competition and we hope to be able to go next year!
Barrage Build Blog
Team 254 is proud to release its 2014 Season Build Blog. This year’s release contains day by day updates along with in-depth discussions into strategies, prototypes, build decisions, and other Team 254 projects.
For technical discussion along with detailed pictures on various robot systems please refer to the 2014 Barrage Technical Binder.
Our robot ran Java this year as it did in 2013. To develop Barrage, we added a bunch of new features like waypoint navigation that drives smooth splines, an internal web server for debugging controllers and modifying robot constants, Cheesy Vision, single threaded autonomous scripting, and more. Check it out!
On Tuesday, June 10th, Teams 254s, 971 and 1868 met with NASA Ames' Director Dr. Simon P. Worden, to celebrate the accomplishments of the teams and thank Dr. Worden for the center's generous sponsorship over the years.
The 3 teams were recognized for their success in the FRC, VEX, and Botball competitions this past year and all the students were given certificates. The teams thanked NASA, their mentors, and their parents for all the support they've received throughout the lifespan of the team.
Members of the audience also got to re-watch some of the exciting Einstein finals matches and relive Team 254's World Championship win.
A dessert reception hosted by Team 1868 and socializing took place after the event.
Team 254 just returned from the 2014 FRC World Championship held in St. Louis. The team went undefeated in the qualification rounds of the Curie Division and paired with teams 469, 2848, and 74 for elimination matches. After a hard fight through the elimination rounds, the team was crowned the champions of the 2014 FRC season after winning the Einstein finals.
The team had some awesome meals while in St. Louis. On Wednesday night the team had BBQ from Pappy's Smokehouse, on Thursday 254 ate with Team 1114: Simbotics, and on Friday and Saturday the team enjoyed local St. Louis eateries.
Curie Qualification Matches
On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday morning, 254 competed in the Curie division qualification matches (the other divisions being Archimedes, Galileo, and Newton) and held a match record of 10-0, seeding first among the 100 teams in the Curie division, 400 in the Championship, and about 3000 current FRC teams in the world.
After a night of intense strategy talks on Friday, 254 made its alliance selections on Saturday after the last qualification matches. For its first pick, 254 chose Team 469: Las Guerrillas from Michigan. The team was excited to get to work with such a strong, compatible, and versatile alliance partner, who could play hard defense and strong midfield during the tele-operated period. In addition, it successfully played the role of autonomous goalie, a rarity in the competition field. 254's alliance strategy talks the previous night had operated on the goal of creating an alliance for winning Einstein, the "Final Four" competition among the division champions, as opposed to winning just the division. As a result, teams were ranked and chosen by virtue of their versatility, since the winning Einstein alliance generally proved the most unpredictable. 254's second pick was Team 2848: The All-Sparks, from a fellow Jesuit school in Texas, for inbounding and defense on powerful opponent finishers. Finally, 254 chose its fourth and backup alliance member, Team 74: Team Chaos from Michigan, to be switched out with 2848 for defense and inbounding.
Curie Elimination Matches
In the Curie division elimination matches, 254 faced stiff competition and was said to have had the most difficult elimination bracket. The alliance had a tough quarterfinal match against a surprisingly powerful offensive 8th alliance, comprised of Teams 624, 987, and 3476, who had already played a nearly unstoppable strategy together in Qualification Match 26, which saw a score of 320 - matching 254’s high score. 254's alliance won the quarterfinals in two matches and faced an even tougher semifinal round against a defensive alliance of Teams 118 (another NASA House Team), 359, and 4334, and lost a very close and hotly contested first match. 254 eked out victory in the next two matches and advanced to division finals. 254 won in two matches and became division champions for the first time since its 2011 World Championship victory. The team also won its first ever Innovation in Control Award for its creation and open sourcing of Cheesy Vision, the hot goal detection system used during autonomous by an estimated 50% of teams at the Championship.
Einstein Eliminations and Finals
Having won the Curie division, the alliance went on to the Einstein field. The scouting and strategy team particularly feared the Newton division champions Team 1114: Simbotics (254's rival in blue banners, friends from the Waterloo regional, 2008 World Champions, and the 2012 Championship Chairman's winner), Team 1678: The Citrus Circuits (the finalist team from 254's home event, the Silicon Valley Regional and with back to back Einstein appearances), Team 1640: Sab-BOT-age (division champions from previous years), and Team 5136: The Mechapirates (one of our favorite rookie teams from the Central Valley Regional).
254 first faced the Archimedes Champions 1477, 2590, and 1625 in the Einstein semifinals and won in two exciting matches, scoring 320-235 and 261-245. The Curie alliance went on to face the formidable Newton alliance in the finals. Undaunted by the supposed "Curie Curse," the fact that the Curie Division winners have never won the World Championships, the Curie alliance won its first match 361-236, celebrating madly as 254's 3-ball hot goal autonomous scoring bypassed 1114's attempts to block it by driving a rarely seen autonomous path that drove 254 out to the wall to shoot over the low goal to prevent goalie interference. In the second autonomous match, 1114 pushed Barrage, and 254 hit only one of three autonomous balls. The match was lost from the outset and was scored 240-153 for the Newton alliance. The crowd immediately attributed this sudden unlucky loss to the Curie curse, and the various song-and-dance numbers thrown in by FIRST did little to raise the spirits of the shocked supporters of the Curie Champions. In an intense third and final match, 254's autonomous was successful thanks to 469’s foregoing the use of its goalie pole and instead blocking 1114's movement. Some observers compared the Einstein finals autonomous battle to that of two chess grandmasters. In teleoperated mode, the two alliances went back and forth, but the Curie alliance's incredible defense on the opposing finisher 1114 picked up momentum and resulted in a close 280-250 victory when 254 scored a last-second shot under heavy defense. The crowd exploded in cheers as 254 became World Champions for the second time in four years and simultaneously broke the Curie curse. Cheers included "Curse goes Poof" and the ever-popular "Yeah buddy!"
Team 254 would like to congratulate its alliance partners 469, 2848, and 74 for their invaluable contributions to the Championship victory and Teams 1114, 1678, and 1640 for the most intense matches that 254 had ever played. 254 also welcomes Team 27: RUSH into the Hall of Fame.
by Nathan Duong '16
Competition Preparation: Transportation Crate
The second layer of paint has been applied to the transportation crate and is now finished!
Field Construction: 1 Point Goals
Members of the team have continued to construct the two wooden 1-point goals to mirror the left side of the field.
The pit lights are being restored by soldering the wires after previously being burnt out. In addition, the HTML and CSS for the lights added “knightrider,” “rainbow,” and custom color effects.
The new, extra layer of fabric is being applied to the bumper of the robot, therefore removing the drawback of being “T-boned.”
The team continued to work on and improve the CAD of the future wheel hubs that will also expel drawback time from “T-boning” by increasing the width of the center wheel.
The web app is being worked on and members of the team sought to include FRC/VEX hours, the directory, and blog. Also, the logo for the app is being designed. Ideally this app will be available on iOS with open access to the students on their iPads and mobile devices.
- Bumper fabric testingRebuild bumper frames for competition
- 1-Point Goals
- See board
by Nathan Duong '16
The 5’ x 5’ x 5’ wooden crate that will be used for tool transportation in the St. Louis trip is being worked on. The first of two coats of blue paint was applied to patch the blank patches in a lighter color.
Scrimmaging is continually being conducted in preparation for worlds.
Reducing Cycle Time
Testing Bumper Material
In addition, new bumper fabric is being added to lower the coefficient of friction and time “T-boned.”
The team cut six solid metal 2’ x 4’s for wider wheel hubs. This will create more traction on Barrage’s wheels to lessen time “T-boned.”
Field Construction: 1 Point Goals
The team has been brainstorming to create two more wooden 1-point goals based on the measurements from the CAD. These are being constructed in order to have balanced coverage of goals on the left-most side of the field.
by: Brenden Farrer
Today at the lab, other FIRST teams, such as Spartan Robotics, came to practice with our field. The primary focus was on fixing the practice robot and Skystalker to continue driver practice with the other teams.
A “hat” was built for Skystalker that allows it to block and carry a ball. The wheels were retreaded, as the previous ones have worn down. Hopefully these new defense capabilities will provide more practice for the drive team.
Today students began discussion and planning of future projects. However, a second ball settler was attached to reduce the motion of inbounded or caught balls to increase accuracy when shooting. Adding a powerslide wheel was discussed, no changes were implemented today.
Prep for World's
For the trip to St. Louis, all of the tools will be shipped in a 5’ x 5’ x 5’ wooden crate. Using the measurements from the CAD designed yesterday, the wood pieces were cut and assembled.
- See board
by Dan Ngo '17
Today, the team started with a discussion about our performance in SVR, between all of the mentors and members at the lab. During that, the team addressed most of the issues that the robot had during the tournament, which mainly consisted of getting stuck by T-boning from an opponent, which would cause too much friction escape, as well as improving and testing new autonomous, to cover new possibilities and better reliability. The other issues include general fixing, testing, and making of parts and possible ways to improve our alliances.
During the present team meeting, concerns were raised about possible robots blocking the goal autonomous, so it was decided that another autonomous would be made to suit this situation, shooting immediately instead of waiting for a hot goal. Before we could do this, however, Skystalker had to be fixed, with the router unable to connect to our computers.
Thus, Skystalker had to be fixed up and made taller to test the new autonomous that accounted for goal blocking. For practice, the practice Barrage was also updated and fixed, to catch it up with the competition Barrage at SVR. Then autonomous testing began.
The team additionally had to unpack and reorganize all the parts brought back from SVR, as well as general reorganization of the shelves.
With a large amount of untested batteries, the team also decided to test all of them in preparation for Worlds. This was done by hooking the batteries up to a computer, drawing current, and and calculating the condition of the battery once the current drops in value. Additionally, leads were added to new batteries.
Returning from SVR, the team flyer had to be updated to be current with the SVR version of Barrage. The technical binder also had discrepancies and errors to be fixed.
- Continue autonomous testing
- Continue upgrading Skystalker
- Continue testing batteries
- Build new bumpers
- See picture and/or whiteboard
Team 254 rounded out its regional play this past weekend with its annual attendance at the Silicon Valley Regional FIRST Robotics Competition.
The team won 10 of its 11 matches in the qualification round, losing match 47 against the top-seeded team, 971, who had gone and continues to go undefeated in all of regional matches this year. At the end of qualifications 254 was seeded 3rd behind 971 Spartan Robotics and 1678 Citrus Circuits, with the highest accumulated score in Teleoperated Mode. 971 chose 254 as its first alliance partner and the two teams chose 1662, Raptor Force Engineering, as the third.
This alliance went undefeated in eliminations, setting the tournament high score of 325 in its second quarterfinal match and winning its quarterfinal matches by margins of 100 to 200 points. It semifinal and final rounds were closer and more exciting, narrowly edging out the finalists 1678, 368 Kika Mana, and 4171 Bay Bots by 40 points.
In the awards ceremony, 254 won the Gracious Professionalism Award for its extensive support of other teams in the tournament and model behavior, exemplifying the ideals of FIRST competition. Specifically, 254 sent Robot FIRST Aid teams around the pit area to discuss strategy with its alliance partners and provide assistance to teams who needed it.
This Silicon Valley Regional victory marks 254’s 15th in the 16 years of its and the regional’s existence. Congratulations to alliance partners 971 and 1662, finalists 1678, 368, and 4171, and Regional Chairman’s Winner 604, Leland Robotics.
254 is now ranked #1 in the world on FRC Top 25 for its three regional victories.
by Brendan Farrer '17
This lab day was mainly dedicated to preparing for the SVR tournament and finishing up the Chairman’s binder and Technical binder.
The final touches were made to the pit display, including fixing the remote light controls and adding a carousel effect for when it is inactive. While programmers edited the code, other members finished the content for the display, such as re-writing the technical page.
To assist in collaborative gameplay, a polycarb backing was created to mount on the hood. This allows the human players from other teams to inbound more accurately.
To continue driver and human player practice, the pinniped pistons were added back to the robot and the modifications were finished to the catching system. These modifications allow the robot to catch balls thrown by a human player without opening the intake. Several team members were also trained to be human partners for the robot.
Several team members contributed to the completion of the Tech Binder along with the Chairman’s Award Binder. Although the majority of the work was completed, they continue to format and edit the content.
With only two days until SVR, the necessary tools and materials for the competition were prepared to be packaged for travel. Mentors and students went through travel crates, re-labeling and organizing for the optimal set up.
by Samuel Buxton '16
Today was an eventful day at the lab. In preparation for the SVR (Silicon Valley Regional) our drivers trained against some of the best teams in the region, including 1868, 971, 192. and 776.
Upstairs the team fixed “Barrage’s” intake, and a separate project using some colorful LEDs light up the pit.
The “Minion Project” reached a milestone with the completion of a mini mascot costume, which was unveiled this weekend. The costume is based on the original “Cheesy Poof” costume from South Park.
Work continued for the pit display and drivers got the opportunity to sharpen their skills for the upcoming tournament.
by Nathan Duong '16 and Josh Fluegemann '17
The programmers of the team worked on the pit display; they primarily sought to improve the quality of the display through cleaning up the HTML and CSS of the web application. Today, they added lightbox capabilities to the web box.
In addition, notches were made in the pit lights tubing for soldering.
Research is being done for the chairman’s binder; members are compiling a list the alumni’s colleges.
The intake is being put back together after individual parts were sent back from Waterloo. To do so, the plate, motor, and intake roller were reconnected with the skeleton of the intake.
- Manufacture above parts and install on robot (all McMaster parts required have arrived) - Travis/ Colin
- Finish shooter redesign (SDP and VEX parts are on order) - Paul
- Prepare sponsor welcome packets for when sponsors come to SVR - Stephen
- Work on pit-lights and finish assembly - Ken
- Cut/install vinyl labels on hinged-lid totes (light blue, dark blue and black all need new vinyl) - Travis/Mani
- Test LCD mounts - test installation on trussing - Travis/Ken
- Finalize video banner - Ryan
- Improve Pit Display and test with new monitors and projector - Ryan
- Design projector mount for video banner - Travis
- Finalize video banner mount - Travis
- Fix/create hand sanitizer mount - Mani
- Design/build new bumper hangers for truss - Travis/Mani
- Improve technical binder - Andrew
- Improve Chairman's binder - Jeremy/Andrew
- Improve Chairman's video - Jeremy/ Kevin
- Re-print all binders and sponsor packets with correct bleeds and page splits - Jeremy
by Andrew Torrance '15
This past weekend, Team 254 had a great time competing at the Waterloo Regional in Ontario, Canada. We traveled all the way from San Jose, California to compete against some of the best teams in the world and made some new friends along the way. In the end, the team seeded second, picked Teams 2056 and 865 and went on to win the tournament, the Quality Award, and the Gracious Professionalism Award.
Summary of Accomplishments
- Tournament Champions with Teams 2056 and 865
- 17-2 Win-Loss record through Quals and Elims
- Number two seed
- Quality Award
- Gracious Professionalism Award
- Set the current world record score of 350 without penalties
- 34 blue banners, more than any other team
- Highest scores Autonomous and Assist categories over first-seeded team
Travel and Extra Fun
The team flew from San Francisco airport to Chicago and then to Buffalo. We drove the rest of the way to Waterloo. On Thursday night we had dinner with our friends from Team 1114, the SimBots, and had the chance to meet and make new ones. After elimination matches, all the students ran outside and had a huge snowball fight with Teams 1114 and 865. Most would agree that the Canadians won. On Saturday night, all 16 students hung out in the hotel and had fun talking and bonding. On the way home, we also stopped briefly at Niagara Falls for some more great memories!
The team set up the pits on Thursday and participated in practice matches, including one with powerhouse teams 1114 and 2056. On Friday we presented Chairman's, spoke to judges, and played 10 qualification matches. Throughout the entire day, a group of mentors and students constantly ran around the pits to discuss strategy with our partners. Oftentimes we would help temporarily modify our alliance partners' robots for a specific role in a strategic cycle we had planned. We frequently helped them fix autonomous code and intakes so they could inbound and pass the ball more easily. On Saturday the team won its remaining 3 qualification matches, allied with 2056 in one match and against them in another. Finally, we were seeded second behind Team 4039 and in front of 2056.
During alliance selection, the first-seeded team, 4039, chose 1114. To counter this, we chose team 2056 and later 865 to help inbound and play defense. Other powerful alliances formed included Team Dave (3683) and 1241. Even with our small group of students and limited scouting team, the mentors and students worked hard and believed they had picked a winning alliance.
The elimination matches saw some of the fiercest competition. All throughout the quarter and semi finals the robot faced heavy defense and was getting some nicks and scratches, but still managed to hold up well. In the second semifinal match we managed to run the "Go for Gold" cycle nearly flawlessly, scoring 60 points each cycle when 2056 caught our truss throw. This match put up a new current world record of 350 points without penalties. On the other side of the bracket, Team 4039 and 1114 were defeated by the number 4 seeded alliance with Team Dave and 1241. The Simbots lost two of three matches specifically through technical fouls (50 points each) that shifted the favor to the blue alliance. In the finals against Team Dave's alliance, we managed to edge out a victory in just 2 matches running the "Omaha" cycle and playing defense on Team Dave. The exciting finish was celebrated with a huge snowball fight outside with members from 1114 and 865.
A Great Finish!
During the awards ceremony, Team 254 ecstatically received the Quality Award for their beautiful robot with a 3 ball autonomous and clean pit. We also received the Gracious Professionalism Award for helping so many teams at the tournament with everything from repairing electronics and drivetrains to fixing their code. We are so grateful to have participated in this regional and extremely thankful to all the Canadian teams, volunteers, and others, who were extremely welcoming and friendly. We had a great time making new friends and a lot of the team discussed the possibility of returning to the regional next year.
by Jose Moreno '17
Today several students were machining several tubes and rods to be made into multiple extra intakes.
Most of today, the team focused on making a new hood extender, which is now able to reach the third bolt hold, and extends an extra inch for a new shot angle.
Today students edited the Madera articles for the Carillon Online News Source, the Cardinal Newspaper, the Bellarmine Website, and others. They also edited the script for the Chairman’s Award Video.
by Ford Hooper '17 and Brendan Conaway '17
VEX State Championships
Since much of the team is busy preparing for the VEX state championships, the number of team members attending was below average today. Even so, the team was able to make critical improvements in working towards becoming prepared for the Waterloo regional.
Today, most of the members at the NASA lab were focused on reconstructing the technical binder. This binder is the summary of the robot and the steps the team has taken to design it. The binder is a large part of the judges’ decision on the winners of the Quality Award.
Other members were working on designing a new CAD for the hood piece of the robot.
Several members wrote 7 articles about the team’s experience at the Madera Robotics Tournament this past weekend.