Blog - March 2014

Pre-SVR Day 7

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.

192: GRT

SVR Prep

Upstairs the team fixed “Barrage’s” intake, and a separate project using some colorful LEDs light up the pit.

Cheesy Poof

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.

Pre-SVR Day 4: Preparation

by Nathan Duong ’16 and Josh Fluegemann ’17

Pit Display

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.

fixing up the web appcalibrating the touch screen

Pit Lights

In addition, notches were made in the pit lights tubing for soldering.

cleaning out plastic dust

Chairman’s Binder

Research is being done for the chairman’s binder; members are compiling a list the alumni’s colleges.

Using Facebook to track down Alumni


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.

Action Items

  • 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

2014 Waterloo Regional

{“data”:[{“type”:”text”,”data”:{“text”:”by Andrew Torrance ’15\n”}},{“type”:”text”,”data”:{“text”:”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.\n”}},{“type”:”heading”,”data”:{“text”:”Summary of Accomplishments\n”}},{“type”:”list”,”data”:{“text”:” – Tournament Champions with Teams 2056 and 865\n – 17\\-2 Win\\-Loss record through Quals and Elims\n – Number two seed\n – Quality Award\n – Gracious Professionalism Award \n – Set the current world record score of 350 without penalties\n – 34 blue banners, more than any other team\n – Highest scores Autonomous and Assist categories over first\\-seeded team\n”}},{“type”:”heading”,”data”:{“text”:”Travel and Extra Fun\n”}},{“type”:”text”,”data”:{“text”:”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! \n”}},{“type”:”image”,”data”:{“file”:{“url”:”//×300.jpg”,”full”:”//”},”text”:”The snowball fight resulted in frozen hands but was a lot of fun!”}},{“type”:”image”,”data”:{“file”:{“url”:”//×224.jpg”,”full”:”//”},”text”:”It was very cold when we visited Niagara Falls”}},{“type”:”heading”,”data”:{“text”:”Qualification Matches”}},{“type”:”text”,”data”:{“text”:”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.\n”}},{“type”:”heading”,”data”:{“text”:”Alliance Selection”}},{“type”:”text”,”data”:{“text”:”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.\n”}},{“type”:”image”,”data”:{“file”:{“url”:”//×300.jpg”,”full”:”//”},”text”:”254, 2056, and 865 formed the second seeded alliance”}},{“type”:”heading”,”data”:{“text”:”Elimination Matches”}},{“type”:”text”,”data”:{“text”:”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.\n”}},{“type”:”image”,”data”:{“file”:{“url”:”//×300.jpg”,”full”:”//”},”text”:”The current world high score without penalties of 350 points.”}},{“type”:”heading”,”data”:{“text”:”A Great Finish!”}},{“type”:”text”,”data”:{“text”:”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.\n”}},{“type”:”image”,”data”:{“file”:{“url”:”//×300.jpg”,”full”:”//”},”text”:”The judges recognized us with the Quality Award for inspiring others with our pits, displays, and robot”}}]}

Pre-Waterloo Day 4

by Jose Moreno ’17


Machining Parts for a New Intake

Today several students were machining several tubes and rods to be made into multiple extra intakes.

New, Longer Hood Extender

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.

Pre-Waterloo Day 2

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.

Technical Binder

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.

Working on the Technical Binder


Other members were working on designing a new CAD for the hood piece of the robot.

Post Madera

Several members wrote 7 articles about the team’s experience at the Madera Robotics Tournament this past weekend.

Action Items

2014 Central Valley Regional

by Jeremy Tanlimco ’15

At the Central Valley Regional First Robotics Competition (FRC), Team 254 earned an outstanding victory. Seeded first place out of 45 total teams and winning 10 out of 11 matches in qualifications, the Cheesy Poofs excelled on the field.

At the final tally, we had 490 total assist points (the second-highest score was 370) and 536 autonomous points (second-highest score being 468). To top it off, 254 was given the Motorola Quality Award for a well-designed and efficient machine.

As first seed after qualifications, we were given first choice in alliance partners for the elimination matches. We chose 973 from Atascadero High School, the team with whom we won the 2011 World Championships. Their robot had been inoperative and inconsistent for the majority of the qualification matches until the end, when their robot began working and performing well. As a result, they were seeded 43rd out of 45 teams in attendance, and 254’s scouting team stunned the crowd by skipping over the 41 teams seeded above them. Our second alliance partner was Team 2135 from Presentation High School, our sister school in San Jose. With them we went on to win our quarterfinal and semifinal rounds in two matches (each elimination match is scored best out of three) and prepared for our finals matches against 1671, 3970 (from Duncan Polytechnical), and 1323 (from Madera High School).

Our alliance formulated its finals strategy: the Poofs would implement our thus far highly successful 3-ball autonomous routine, and 973 would implement its defense routine in autonomous against the accurate 1323. During the driver-controlled period we would attempt as many assists as possible to edge out the other alliance by sheer number of cycles per game; such a cycle involved the Bellarmine human player throwing the ball into the Presentation robot to pass to 973’s robot, which would then launch the ball over the truss for our robot to chase down, retrieve, and score. Unfortunately, due to an unlikely combination of what our competition director called “everything that could possibly go wrong,” we lost our first finals match by a close 130 to 136. The Poofs staged a comeback by winning our next two finals matches 244-158 and 148-109 to take the Regional, setting the tournament high score of 280 on the way.

We are proud of our performance and would like to congratulate our alliance partners 973 and 2135, for their contributions to this alliance victory, and finalists 1671, 1323, and 3970 for a round well played. Furthermore, 254 would like to commend 1671 for its Regional Chairman’s Award win, the highest award in a FIRST Regional.

The Poofs look forward to the upcoming Waterloo and Silicon Valley Regional competitions.

Looking forward, aligning our sights on the next goal - Waterloo!

Day 59: Pre-Madera T-1

by Brendan Conaway ’17


Today the team did some driver training for Madera by driving around the field, scoring some goals, and practicing passing over the truss. Skystalker functioned as an opponent bot for driver practice. The air was refilled on Barrage several times and the wiring was fixed once or twice.

Fixing Barrage


A few of the members worked on the Chairman’s Award binder. The presentation is done and awaits finishing touches. The presenters will be the head of competition (human megaphone), the programming director, and the director of outreach. It is highly encouraged to nag them to practice the presentation. Team members should know who they all are.


Madera is this weekend! There was a shipment of supplies that came in, and it was packed into the black boxes that will be brought to Madera. Those going will be leaving on Friday, March 7th, right after school and returning on March 9th later in the evening. Be ready for a 2 hour drive. Let’s win this!!

Competition Boxes Being Packed

Pit AV

Some students worked on making the pit display for use at competitions. Other students worked on the touchscreen display to be used in the pit.

Day 58: Competition Homestretch

by Dan Ngo ’17

Competition Preparation

Driver practice continued today in preparation for Madera, with the same format as before. One driver controlled with practice Barrage, while the other driver played defense with Skystalker.

Drive team practicing  against a defensive robot

Members worked on attaching power cables to fresh batteries, to be used as soon as possible.

Wiring the Batteries

In addition, competition materials were packed, including the custom-made drill holder, various tools, and spare parts.

Packed Materials


Today, the team also worked on crucial parts of the Chairman’s Award, including the binder, video, and presentation. Progress was made on the binder’s graphic design, and finished in time for the competition. The video was filmed beforehand at school, and one of the members will work on the editing. The presenters practiced the Chairman’s presentation to get feedback from the mentors.

Working on the BOM

Pit Display

The video team crammed work on the competition pit display on the 20″ screen. Next week the team will receive a 42″ monitor.

Action Items

  • Technical BinderBill of MaterialsChairman’s Binder: History, Images
  • Chairman’s Video EditingDriver PracticePrepping BatteriesPacking Materials

Team 254 Presents: Barrage

Team 254, NASA Ames Robotics “The Cheesy Poofs”, proudly presents our 2014 robot: Barrage.

Barrage will compete at the Central Valley Regional, Waterloo Regional, Silicon Valley Regional, and FIRST Championship.

Team 254 is sponsored by NASA Ames Research Center, Lockheed Martin, The Mercadante Family, Ooyala, TR Manufacturing, Qualcomm, HP, West Coast Products, The Magarelli Family, The Yun Family, Google, Modern Machine, The Gebhart Family, Aditazz, Cisco Meraki, Vivid-Hosting, Nvidia, BAE Systems, Gilbert Spray Coat, Pacific Coast Metal, S&S Welding, Good Plastics, Team Whyachi, Applied Welding, World Metal Finishing, The Jimenez Family, Hy-Tech Plating, and Bellarmine College Preparatory.