FIRST Robotics Blog

2016 FRC Championship


This past weekend, from Tuesday until Saturday, we participated in the FIRST Robotics Competition World Championships in Saint Louis, Missouri. On Tuesday, a smaller group of students left early to set up the pit and make sure everything would be set up for when the rest of the students arrived on Wednesday. We were placed into the Newton division, and with Team 1241, Team 1731, and Team 708 we played some great games in eliminations, but unfortunately were eliminated in the subdivision finals.


On Thursday and Friday, we played 10 qualification matches across both days, and earned 9 wins and 1 loss throughout those games. In qualification match 100, we even managed to push a disabled robot onto the batter, securing us an extra ranking point and winning us the game with a final score of 140-139. The qualifications overall went well for us, as we earned 35 ranking points and ended up as second seed going into eliminations.

Eliminations, Einstein, and Awards

Saturday opened with the alliance selections, and we partnered up with the first seed team, Team 1241, Team 1731, and Team 708. With this alliance we hoped to consistently score highly while preventing the opposing alliance from having free reign on their side of the field. This strategy seemed to work out throughout our quarterfinal and semifinal games, with us scoring around 240 points in most of those games. In fact, we scored 254 points in our second semifinals game excluding foul points; however, a red card on our alliance prevented our score from being recorded that game. Moving into the finals, we matched up against an alliance including Team 217, Team 4678, Team 3476, and Team 188. Although we played hard, we were eliminated from the tournament in the Newton finals.

In the end, we would like to congratulate Team 330, Team 2481, Team 120, and Team 1086 for their success in winning the FIRST Robotics Competition World Championships. Additionally, we are proud of Team 987’s achievement in earning the Chairman’s Award, cementing them as a Hall of Fame team. Overall, we are extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to interact and play against many great teams at the Championships and hope to do even better next year.

Dropshot Reveal

Team 254 proudly presents our 2016 entry into the FIRST Robotics Competition: Dropshot. Dropshot will be competing at the Central Valley Regional this weekend, followed by the Silicon Valley Regional and the last single FIRST Championship. More information on the robot.

FRC Kickoff

This Saturday kicked off the first day of the 2016 FRC season with this year’s game, Stronghold. After the initial game reveal, both students and mentors gathered in the robotics lab to analyze this game’s rules and come up with strategies to tackle this year’s challenge. Once kickoff wrapped up around 4:00, the team began work on designing and prototyping parts of the robot.

Students presenting strategy

2015 FRC Championship


With the increased size of the championship from 400 teams last year to just over 600 teams this year, 4 new divisions were added: Tesla, Carson, Carver, and Hopper. Team 254 was a member of the Carson division and ended up seeding first, picking teams 973, 999, and 4499, and then unfortunately experiencing some bad luck and being eliminated in divisional quarterfinals.

However, the team received the Industrial Design Award for their outstanding robot and had a great time in St. Louis on Sunday.

Qualification Rounds

The team played a total of 10 qualification matches on Thursday and Friday. Some matches were tough, but in others the team scored more than 240 points! By the end of Friday, 254 seeded first with a qualification average of 211.1, the highest of any team at the Championship, let alone any official FIRST event.

Here are some videos of our Qual matches, recorded by Team 1511: Rolling Thunder.

Qual 9: https://www.yo...v=JZOhJp0zlb8

Qual 22: https://www.yo...v=RW7emwjSH3I

Qual 35: https://www.yo...v=tT2bwv63cBk (one of our best of the season!)

Qual 47: https://www.yo...v=FUoWPrFWpI4

Qual 63: https://www.yo...v=gWIw4apFnLg

Qual 70:

Qual 83:

Qual 91:

Qual 103:

Qual 114:

We had to wake up very early on Thursday and Friday to guarantee good seats in the stands for our scouts!

The team used a tethered ramp that fell down after autonomous to allow us to stack from the human player

The team's autonomous ran perfectly throughout all of the qualification matches

Awards, Alliance Selection, and Playoffs

The team received the Industrial Design Award. This award celebrates form and function in an efficiently designed machine that effectively addresses the game challenge. The judges were impressed with the robot's ability to stack effectively both from the landfill and from the human player station by using a tethered ramp. This year, awards were shared between 2 divisions (about 150 teams total), so to receive the award was quiet prestigious!

During Alliance Selection, Team 254 selected Teams 973: The Greybots, 999: The MechaRams, and 4499: The Highlanders. The alliance was hoping to strike a powerful balance between stacking from both the landfill and human player stations and using fast can grabbers to ensure we would always be able to put up as many stacks as possible.

However, despite all of the alliance's efforts, they were sadly eliminated in the quarterfinals. In their first match, buggy autonomous modes meant 254 was unable to get the 20pt tote stack. Then, after playing a nearly perfect match after that, Team 973 accidentally set down their last second stack on a noodle, causing that stack to fall over and domino another stack. Despite the terrible score, the alliance hoped that they could score at least 215 points in their second match to keep themselves qualified for the semi-finals. Once again, however, 973 ran into 254 during auto, disrupting it and scattering the yellow totes in the way of the cans on the field. Then, after auto, Team 999 tipped over onto the landfill, blocking many of the totes 973 needed to make their stacks. It was an unfortunate series of events and bad luck and the whole alliance was bummed to have been knocked out so early.

However, the boys didn't stay upset for long, we quickly ran around and helped our friends (1114, 971, 1678) competing in other divisions. We loaned batteries to 1114, and cheered on our friends on 1678 as they went on to win the entire World Championship.

Receiving the Industrial Design Award for the Carson-Galileo divisons

Alliance selection with Teams 973 and 999

Lead Mentor, Drive Coach, and WFFA recipient Travis Covington discussing strategy with the driver

The team cheered on our friends on 1678, 118, and 1671 as they battled for the World Championship title.

Relaxing in St. Louis!

On Sunday, students got to choose to either wake up at 10am and go to the City Museum or sleep in and meet up with the others at the Arch at 1pm. It was a lot of fun and really relaxing to hang out and take photos under the Arch for an hour before heading to the airport.

Overall, FRC Worlds this year was one of the best in a long time. All the students had a ton of fun and no one was really bummed for that long. We're excited to return and hoping to do better next year!

The whole team got to relax and visit the Arch on Sunday.

Woodie Flowers Finalist Award

This afternoon, Lead Mentor Travis Covington received the Woodie Flowers Finalist Award at the Silicon Valley Regional!

This prestigious award is given to only one mentor at each regional for that mentor's ability to effectively communicate with and inspire students.

After nominating Travis for this award for many years in a row the entire team was so ecstatic to see someone so deserving finally get recognized. The students and mentors were cheering as if they had just won the World Championships again!

The other mentors congratulating Travis as he won

Travis' smile was bigger than ever!

Chezy Champs: Behind the Scenes

Today teams from across the country gathered to compete in Team 254’s Chezy Champs Aerial Assist competition. After Friday’s hard work setting up the field and teams moving setting up their pits and robots, we’re ready to start a day of competition!

Pre competition hustle

Pre competition hustle

I love the smell of robots in the morning. Starting at 8am this morning, teams were allowed into the pits to start modifying and preparing their robots, and teams entered the Bellarmine gymnasium to stake out spots in the bleachers. And about half an hour later Shockwave was released and tested in the field.

Shockwave showing off for the crowd

Shockwave showing off for the crowd

At 9:30 the opening ceremonies began, introducing our emcee and game announcer, Karthik Kanagasabapathy and Paul Copioli.

Pre game pump up

Pre game pump up

After all teams had staked out seats in the bleachers and the competing robots were in their ready position, at 10am the first match started!

First match autonomous mode begins

First match autonomous mode begins

After match 3 Shockwave decided to come out onto the field to compete with Karthick



After the first match I decided to take a walk around the facilities. Right behind the arena was the CC swag shop, where t-shirts, sunglasses and other swag were sold.

Two 254 moms manning the swag stand

Two 254 moms manning the swag stand

I became aware that other items such as snap backs, volunteer shirts, and even life sized EJ faces (for the true EJ fans) were available through preorder.

Team 254 member showing his pride with a life-sized EJ face

Team 254 member, Michael Ramstad, showing his pride with a life-sized EJ face

Next to the swag shop were the official Chezy Champs trophies, including the widely coveted golden corn dog for display of GP throughout the tournament.

The glorious golden corn dog and other trophies

The glorious golden corn dog and other trophies

Lastly I headed out to the pit area in Liccardo to check out some of the other teams. At the admin desk, manned by 254’s glorious president Andrew Torrance, I checked in as a CC volunteer and put my super safety glasses on.

Staff surrounding our glorious student leader, Andrew Torrance

Staff surrounding our glorious student leader, Andrew Torrance

The first team I encountered in the pits was the Buchanan Bird Brains, Team 1671. A few members were willing to answer my questions about the tournament and their team:

Q: Where is your team based?

A: Our team is based in Clovis, California. It’s like the little brother of Fresno.

Q: What is the name of your robot?

A: The name of our robot is “Doc 10” because Doc Buchanan is the founder of our team’s high school and 10 because it’s team 1671’s tenth year competing.

Q: What does FRC mean to you?

A: FRC is like the family you never knew you had, and once you’re in the FRC family you never want to leave.

Q: What do you think of the Bellarmine campus?

A: The architecture is beautiful, it honestly looks like a college campus.

After interviewing the Bird Brains, I decided to talk to some of the teams at the other end of the pit. After a few minutes, I found that the Team 4201 pit was open for visitors!

Me (in the blue shirt) taking notes on my interview with a member of team 4201

Me (in the blue shirt) taking notes on my interview with a member of team 4201

Q: Where is your team based?

A: Our team is based in Hawthorne, California near L.A.

Q: What is the name of your robot?

A: The name if our robot is #straightflexin. The # is part of the name, too! And it can’t be spelled out.

Q: What does FRC mean to you?

A: Since our school doesn’t really have any sports teams, this is our school sport. Like I used to play hockey but there was no hockey team. And, FRC is like the engineering version of a varsity sport. So for me it became a substitute for playing on a team in high school. Really it’s just the best thing ever.

Q: What do you think of the campus?

A: The campus is awesome, we really love your copper pipes. The water is so clean!

Next interview was with Team 696, the Circuit Breakers:

Q: Where is your team based?

A: Our team is based in La Crescenta in L.A. county, a little bit north of L.A.

Q: What is the name of your robot?

A: The name of our robot is Snapdragon. We actually have two robots, the one we use to compete is named Snapdragon and the practice bot we call “Snapdragon upside-down.”

Q: What does FRC mean to you?

A: FRC is one big family, once you’re in it helps you to stay connected with people who share your interests.

Q: What do you think of the Bellarmine campus?

Oh this is a high school? I seriously thought we were at a college. Wow, it’s really big.

After interviewing Team 399 I decided to visit the local food trucks for lunch. Outside we had the food trucks “sticks” and “scoops,” and inside food vendors sold everything from muffins to pizza.

Jared must be so proud

Jared must be so proud

After a short food break/nap in the field, I went back to the arena to make sure everything was ok. Everything was going very smoothly, and all the teams seemed to be enjoying themselves. None of our equipment was blowing up, there were no electrical fires, and none of the gaming servers crashed. I’d say that’s a success!

I had a lot of fun meeting and talking to all the different teams, and hope that the guest teams had just as much fun competing in and watching the matches as we did. Thank you to all the teams who showed up, and those who supported us by watching the event live on Twitch.

Go Poofs!

IRI 2014 Offseason Regional

IRI Competition

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.

Pranks made the event loads of fun, including getting Barrage an awesome claw!

A shot of the stadium and field

Alliance selection with Team 1114

Friday night fun included an awesome laser show featuring 254's logo rearranging itself from "Teh Chezy Pofs" to "The Cheesy Poofs"

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!

The team got deep-dish pizza at the world-famous Giordano's Pizzeria!

The team also visited "The Bean" in Millennium Park

Cory needed a much needed nap in Chicago, but things got a bit grassy!

2014 Build Blog Release

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.

Technical Binder

For technical discussion along with detailed pictures on various robot systems please refer to the 2014 Barrage Technical Binder.

Software Release

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!

NASA Robotics Alliance Celebration

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.

Head Mentor Travis Covington thanked NASA for their support.

Team President Andrew Torrance described how life changing being a member of Team 254 is.

The team took a photo with Ames' Director: Dr. Simon P. Worden

2014 World Champions!


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.

Great Food!

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.

BBQ from Pappy's Smokehouse was a team favorite

Great Fun!

Team 1538: The Holy Cows pranked our pits on Friday morning with a ridiculous poster of Holy EJ.

EJ also greeted all of FIRST Friday morning.

On Friday morning Teams 254, 1538, and 16 played against Teams 111, 67, and 103 in a Hall of Fame match that the Weather Channel recorded to promote the FIRST Championship. Team 254's alliance won with a score of 616 to 441 in this 4 minute long match.

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.

The drive team consisted of Operator Christopher Sides, Driver Christian Jimenez, Human Player Brandon Wui (not pictured), and Coach Travis Covington.

Alliance Selection

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.

254 and the rest of the number one alliance after the Curie division alliance selections

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.

254 used the 3 ball autonomous during Eliminations and had 469 use their goalie pole.

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!"

254 used the infamous 3 ball autonomous even against 1114's goalie pole

The Team's excitement after the final match

EJ's roar after winning was heard throughout the stadium

Travis' selfie with the team

The Team on the field after the awards ceremony

Thank you!

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.

Pre-STL Day 4: Lighting Up

by Nathan Duong '16

Competition Preparation: Transportation Crate

The second layer of paint has been applied to the transportation crate and is now finished!

Painting on the last layer of paint

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 1-points goals under construction

Pit Lights

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.

Testing out custom colors on the pit lights

Burnt out light

Bumper Fabric

The new, extra layer of fabric is being applied to the bumper of the robot, therefore removing the drawback of being “T-boned.”

Taping on the new fabric

Wheel Hubs

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.

CAD for the wheel hubs

Web App

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.

Working on the web app’s display

Action Items

  • Bumper fabric testingRebuild bumper frames for competition
  • 1-Point Goals
  • See board

Pre-STL Day 3: Boxes and Boxing In

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.

Exterior view of the first coat

Splotches in the crate's interior


Scrimmaging is continually being conducted in preparation for worlds.

Teams 971, 846, and 192

Reducing Cycle Time

Testing Bumper Material

In addition, new bumper fabric is being added to lower the coefficient of friction and time “T-boned.”

New bumper fabric

Wheel Hubs

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.”

2’ x 4’s for the new wheel hubs

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.

Action Items

Pre-STL Day 2: Robot Repairs

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.

Assembling the block and ball holder

Building and attaching treads

Attaching wheels

Finished Skystalker top

Practice Robot

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.

Attaching second ball settler

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.

Beginning of box assembly

Finished box

Action Items

  • See board

Pre-STL Day 1: Going Forward

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.


Public Relations

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.

Fixing the technical binder

Action Items

  • Continue autonomous testing
  • Continue upgrading Skystalker
  • Continue testing batteries
  • Build new bumpers
  • See picture and/or whiteboard

2014 Silicon Valley Regional

Drive Team in Eliminations

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.

Looking ahead to STL

Pre-SVR Day 8

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.

Pit Display

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.

programming the pit display


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.

Adding the pinniped pistons to the robot

Human player practice


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.

Revising the Chairman’s binder and Tech binder

SVR Packing

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.

Organizing the boxes

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 app

calibrating 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

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 snowball fight resulted in frozen hands but was a lot of fun!

It was very cold when we visited Niagara Falls

Qualification Matches

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.

Alliance Selection

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.

254, 2056, and 865 formed the second seeded alliance

Elimination Matches

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.

The current world high score without penalties of 350 points.

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.

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.