Blog - March 2011

Autonomous Improvements

Now that we are back at home with the practice robot, the programming team has had some time to make the one-tube autonomous routine faster and more reliable and also work on a two-tube routine.

The autonomous tube hanging is so reliable that we have discussed creating an “automatic tube hang” feature to be used in teleoperated once the drivers line up the robot to score.  Having this could potentially speed up scoring dramatically and also make it easier to score over übertubes.

San Diego Results

Exhausted from a long battle with nearly 60 other FIRST robotics teams, Team 254 (The Cheesy Poofs) from Bellarmine College Preparatory emerged victorious at the San Diego regional robotics tournament on Saturday.

After going undefeated in all of their preliminary matches at the tournament, the Cheesy Poofs ran into trouble in the Quarterfinals when they inadvertently earned an immediate loss by red card after “damaging the field”. While slightly irritated, alliance Teams 987 and 3704 were overall very happy with the lightning agility of Bellarmine’s aptly named competition robot, Slipstream. Though the loss meant that Bellarmine would have to win the two remaining matches, driver Nick Eyre and operator Andrew Sides were confident in their abilities and the team, and were able to advance.

In the semifinal match, alliance Team 3704 received a red card after they were pushed into the opponent’s scoring zone, but polite conversation with the regional judges luckily helped to resolve the situation. Despite various obstacles, Team 254 won the regional competition, and as an added bonus took home the Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers Entrepreneurship Award. Presented for a well designed business plan, this award recognizes the aspects of robotics that do not focus on engineering. Walking away with two wins, Bellarmine robotics returns from a challenging weekend and looks optimistically forward to the Silicon Valley regional tournament.

[Article also posted on and]

Travel to San Diego, Webcast Info & Programming


After a late night last night of packing everything we needed, we are off to San Diego.

Webcast Info

The San Diego Regional will be webcast here:

We will be scouting during the event using Cheesy Scout.


We brought the practice robot along on the bus so that we could work on programming and autonomous tuning on Wednesday night before the event.

The programming team working on arm and elevator PID tuning.

Minibot Deployment Success

The deployment is spring-powered and self-aligning.  The pneumatic release mechanism is not yet built so we are releasing by hand in the tests, but it is still completely spring powered.

PR/Marketing Update

The PR/Marketing team has been extremely busy; especially with post-build season material. On the award submission side, we have been working on KPCB (Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers Entrepreneurship Award), Chairman’s presentations, and pit presentations. Chris Campbell along with other students have been working extremely hard to complete the business plan and prepare for the presentations. Recently, they have calculated that the cost for all the publicity that we received for the T-Shirt Cannon, it would sum up to more than $300,000 (based on Google AdWord prices).

All students were asked today to read the chairman’s award submission.  Everybody should be very familiar with all the content in this submission (and lack of familiarity will result in consequences). In addtion, cheat sheets will be sent out to everybody in the next couple of days. All the information should be memorized before competition. The information includes robot specs, outreach events, t-shirt cannon information, and a little more. There will be quizzes on these so everybody is expected to know the information.

We recently conducted a food drive during scrimmage week and the results were HORRIBLE. We only got seven cans of food! This is terrible since everybody on the team went to the scrimmage. Attending this event was a requirement. The food drive is still going on, and I expect to see a lot more cans in the food drive bins in the next couple of weeks.