Public Relations Blog

Bellarmine VEX Tournament

The 7th Annual Bellarmine VEX Tournament, hosted by Team 254, will be held November 21-22, 2014. The event is free for spectators. The best time to watch is from the alliance selection process (3pm Saturday), through the finals, which will finish by 6:30pm.

Information

Changes from Last Year

  • There are more teams competing, so if you can, please get inspected on Friday evening (6 – 8pm). We’ll officially open the pits at 7am and start inspections at 7:15am on Saturday.
  • We will have a photo booth setup with a backdrop for professional looking photos of your robot and/or team. This will be located next to the skills challenge field on the 2nd floor of the Sobrato building.
  • We will have a competition Instagram: Use #BELLVEX in Instagram during the tournament and see your picture appear on displays in the Pits and in Sobrato.

Schedule

Friday, November 21, 2014
6 pm – 8 pm Check-In and Inspection (in Liccardo)
7 pm – 9 pm Practice time for teams
Saturday, November 22, 2014
7:00 am Pit Area and Registration Opens (in Liccardo)
8:00 am Check-in Deadline for teams (at Pit Admin in Liccardo)
7:15 am – 8:30 am Inspection (in Liccardo)
7:30 am – 8:30 am Practice Rounds (in Sobrato Theater)
8:30 am – 8:45 am Driver’s Meeting (in Sobrato Theater)
8:30 am – 9:30 am Sign up for judging interview (at Pit Admin table)
8:45 am Welcome (in Sobrato Theater)
9:00 am – 12:30pm Qualifying Rounds (in Sobrato Theater)
12:30 pm – 1:00 pm Lunch Break (We will have Pizza Order Forms)
1:00 pm – 2:35 pm Qualifying Rounds Continue (in Sobrato Theater)
2:45 pm Alliance Selection Process (in Sobrato Theater)
3:00 pm – 5:30 pm Elimination Rounds (in Sobrato Theater)
~5:30 pm – 6:30 pm Finals, Awards, Closing Ceremony (in Sobrato Theater)

Tournament Location & Parking

Bellarmine College Preparatory 960 W. Hedding St. San Jose, CA 95126

Google Maps

Campus Map

For the competition, the pits are in Liccardo cafeteria and the competition fields in Sobrato theater. These are #6 and #7 on the campus map at: //www.bcp.org/about-us/our-campus/index.aspx.

Street parking is very limited due to permit parking restrictions. There is additional parking by Emory and Stockton streets. Check in with the Pit Admin when you arrive, who will provide you with a map of the tournament facilities.

Northern California VRC Championship Qualifications

We are qualifying 8 teams for the Northern California VRC State Championship:

  • 3 Team Winning Alliance
  • 3 Team Finalists
  • 1 Design Award winner
  • 1 Excellence Award winner

Awards Given

  • Excellence Award
  • Design Award
  • Judges Award
  • Sportsmanship Award

Concessions

We will offer pizza for preorder. Info will be sent in a different email. We will have a few pasta dinners available for Friday night and will be offering snacks and drinks on Saturday.

Information For Competitors

  • If you cannot arrive before close of check-in at 8am, please call or text (preferred): 408-377-5330 or email: blindemann@bcp.org.
  • If you want to be considered for the Excellence or Design awards, you will need to sign up for an interview by 9:30am. Go to the Pit Admin to schedule (or change your appointment time if needed). The interview rooms are on the second floor of the Sobrato Theater building near the swimming pool.
  • The skills challenge field is also on the 2nd floor of the Sobrato theater building. Teams are not limited to the number of attempts, however, any team with fewer than 3 attempts can move ahead of other teams waiting in line.
  • Bring your signed VEX competition waiver, available at: //www.roboticseducation.org/documents/2013/06/vrc-participant-release-form.pdf.
  • Check the match schedule when it is published and make sure you are ready for each match. We try hard to keep matches running on time.
  • Be sure your robot is ready for inspection. Double check the requirements here: //www.roboticseducation.org/documents/2013/06/inspection-checklist-vrc.pdf.
  • Have fully charged batteries for each match.
  • Be sure the drivers and coach have safety glasses when they arrive at the field to compete.
  • Bring a power strip. We should have an outlet within 6′ of your table for you to plug into.
  • WiFi will be available in the pits
  • A Help Desk will be available with a limited supply of parts should anything break or you are unable to pass inspection

Information For Novices

It is highly recommended for you to arrive Friday to go through the inspection and try a couple practice matches. Friday will be much more relaxed and our inspectors will be able to help you through the inspection process. Also, our field managers will be able to guide you through the competition process. Be sure to bring fully charged batteries, chargers, spare parts and tools in case anything breaks. Ensure your VEXnet keys are working well.

Vex logo

Bay Area Science Festival

At the Bay Area Science Festival we got the opportunity to speak with many teams in the area about their robots; these teams included Team 1868, Team 604, and many more. We also talked to developers and engineers around the bay area representing their organizations and companies. The representatives of the Berkeley high school robotics competition (Pioneers in Engineering) were present, and we were able to discuss how to reach out to high schools with smaller STEM programs using competitive robotics. In addition to the robotics booths around our demo area, there were over 100 different stands and booths on the ground floor of the stadium, each bringing STEM to the public in a different and interesting way.

A view of the Bay Area Science Festival

A view of the Bay Area Science Festival

One booth allowed people to separate the DNA from a strawberry plant using alcohol and detergent. Another stand presented a demo for the MIT app maker (//appinventor.mit.edu/explore/front.html) and the presenter created a text to speech android application in front of us in less than 5 minutes! Not only were there copious booths, but amiable and experienced engineers and scientists were everywhere and ready to discuss their field of research. By the fire pits, environmental scientists discussed the future of agriculture. By the portable planetarium, an astronomy professor discussed the reason for Pluto not being a planet with an interested and engaged audience.

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Miggy (team 254 member) relaxing with an impressive view of the festival

At our booth, interested fans asked us about FIRST and how it is organized, as well as the build of our robot and its specs. Children and adults alike had fun driving Barrage using our two joysticks and were guided by our driver, Christian. Even beyond our booth, FRC alumni (including one very kind and complimentary college student who was presenting for the Berkeley Science Review) recognized our team and started conversations about this year’s robot, Barrage, and some of our past robots and competitions.

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Two 254 members with their free merchandise posing with a giant bug

All in all this was a great opportunity for our team to talk to STEM supporters all over the area. We had a lot of interesting and inspiring discussions with many of the people here, and look forward to next year’s Bay Area Science Festival!

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

SHOCKWAVE ON THE LOOSE!

SHOCKWAVE ON THE LOOSE!

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!

USS Hornet Outreach Event

On Saturday, July 26, a few students and mentors demoed both our 2013 robot: Overkill and our T-shirt cannon: Shockwave at the USS Hornet Splashdown event. This event commemorated the 45th Anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 lunar landing mission. The aircraft carrier, the USS Hornet (CVS-12) was the recovery ship for Apollo 11 and Apollo 12. Buzz Aldrin, the 2nd man to set foot on the moon was there and spoke about the importance of the Space Exploration program and how we need to try to get on Mars to promote the next wave of innovators. The team mostly demoed and spoke about but there wasn't enough room to shoot frisbees or t-shirts indoors.

The two robots waiting patiently for the 7000+ people to arrive

Kids got a close-up look and were amazed by Shockwave

Team members also told kids about the control system and how awesome robotics is!

Some other guests were pretty excited to drive the robot too!

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!

Ooyala Demo 2014

Today (June 6th, 2014), 4 students and 2 mentors demoed Barrage to a long-time sponsor, Ooyala. We gave a presentation about FIRST and demoed the functionality of our robot. We were able to demonstrate the pass to the human player and the employees at Ooyala jumped in and threw balls at the robot. We taught those who wanted to learn how to drive our robot. Thanks to Ooyala for being a great audience and especially thanks for the great pizza!

Posing for a picture with Barrage

Mentor Pat pondering the meaning of life.

Teaching a kid how to drive Barrage

Design Automation Conference Demo

On June 3rd, 4 members from our team, along with our 2014 world championship robot Barrage, gave a demo at the Design Automation Conference at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Along with countless other booths, Mentor Graphics, a company that mentors and sponsors teams in the Oregon area had a booth where students presented. We were able to demo the short human pass as well as the auto-intake functionality. We explained the basics of the robot and the game to people from the design industry. This was a new and exciting event for Team 254 and one we hope to attend again in the future.

Godwin, Nick, and Mani posing with Barrage

Shockwave @ Santa Clara Basketball Game

On January 29th, two Team 254 members brought Shockwave to the Santa Clara Basketball game. The two students worked hard to roll the t-shirts before the game so there would not be any problems before Shockwave went out. During two timeouts, Shockwave was able to shoot roughly twenty t-shirts into the student section. We even got a t-shirt into the second section by request of some fans! Overall, many students were excited to see Shockwave at the game and are hoping that it will return for another. We enjoyed shooting t-shirts and hope to return again.

Bay Area Science Festival 2013

On November 2nd, several members from our team, along with our 2013 robot Overkill, participated in the Bay Area Science Festival. Along with other FRC teams, Team 254 was able to demo our robot to excited youth and adults. We were able to demo our shooter and our unique climbing abilities. We explained the basics of the robot and the game to curious youth and the intricacies of the robot to curious adults. Overall, we had a blast and hope to participate again.Team254@BAYAREA

Take Flight For Kids

On October 19th, several members from our team had the opportunity to participate in the Take Flight for Kids event hosted by Valley Medical Center Foundation. Along with other FRC teams, Team 254 was able to present the 2013 robot, Overkill to the excited youth and adult that stopped by our booth. We explained the basics of the robot to curious youth and the intricacies of the robot to curious adults. Overall, we had a great time and had a lot of fun.

Diversity Day, 2013

On August 7, several members from our team had the opportunity to participate in NASA’s Diversity Day. As a NASA house team, Team 254 was able to present three robots; Overkill, Skyfire, and Slipstream to NASA engineers and staff who stopped by our booth.

Andrew Torrance explains Overkill's hanging mechanism to NASA employees.

Andrew Torrance explains Overkill’s hanging mechanism to NASA employees.

Mani Gnanasivam, James Holden, Andrew Torrance, Namit Mishra, Nick Gunady, Jack Lee, and Chris Sides attended.

After setting up the booth, the team members fielded questions from curious onlookers. Many NASA engineers were asked what program Team 254 used to design the robot, which programming languages were used, and other technical questions. All the team members answered questions asked by the dozens of people who stopped by the exhibit. After lunch, the members demonstrated Overkill’s frisbee and hanging abilities. Andrew Torrance explained multiple times to the crowd the the rules of last year’s game and Overkill’s scoring abilities. After presenting, we packed up and relaxed at the lab.

After work

Afterwards

 

Sponsor Visits

Over the past three days, Team 254 has had the opportunity to visit two of its Gold level sponsors, BAE Systems and Ooyala, and demonstrate the fruits of its labor.

Richard Lin speaking to an Ooyala Employee

Richard Lin speaking to an Ooyala Employee

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Overkill fully extended showing off its hanging capabilities

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Students demoing Overkill

BAE Visit

On June 5, a multicultural group of five students and one mentor celebrated diversity with BAE at the BAE Systems Diversity Fair. The students participating were Nagy Hakim, Scott Cardona, Richard Lin, Abhi Kumar, and Louis Lin. Mentor Dennis Jenks provided Team 254 with the amazing opportunity to come to the fair. People in the event included many BAE engineers and programmers, who added excitement because students had a chance to talk to others who work in the same fields of interest.

Students transported two robots, Overkill and Shockwave, to the event to exhibit the team’s work and extend appreciation for BAE’s consistent support throughout the years. Many of their employees came out to visit the team’s pit and talk about the robots’ designs and controls. After opening ceremonies, Shockwave fired a barrage of T-shirts into a crowd. Later, drivers and operators demonstrated Overkill’s driving and frisbee shooting capabilities.

At the conclusion of the fair, Dennis led the students on a private tour around BAE’s impressive facility. Four tour guides exhibited the workings of BAE, including military vehicles, machines, simulations, and controls.

 

Ooyala Visit

Today, the team visited one of our Gold level sponsors, Ooyala. Our programming mentor Patrick Fairbank, who works at Ooyala, set the day up so the team could demo Overkill. The team visited their office, located in Mountain view and set up. There were about 40 or so members of the company that gathered around asking questions about the various subsystems and function of the robot.

Many members of the company also played Ultimate Frisbee after work on  a team. These members lined up on one end of the space set up while Abhi Kumar and Richard Lin drove the robot around, picking up and shooting frisbees towards the employees(At a much lower, catchable speed). Meanwhile, Nagy Hakim answered questions about the robot. At the end of the demo the team members stuck around for pizza and presented the award to Patrick for Ooyala’s sponsorship.

Team 254 thanks BAE Systems and Ooyala for their continued support in the robotics program.

Demo for 2013 Zero Robotics Winners

2013-04-16 18.20.24

Yesterday, Mark Leon and Drew Price arranged for the current Zero Robotics Winners to tour the NASA Ames Facilities. Team 254 represented the NASA Robotics Alliance as part of the tour. The 20 or so members of their winning team filed in to the lab and were given a presentation by Abhi Kumar and Richard Lin as to the history, function, and current robot of the team. Afterwards, Abhi and Scotty Cardona demonstrated the robot’s shooting capabilities and hanging prowess. To finish off the tour, Mark took the group upstairs and talked more about the NASA Robotics Alliance and the summer Robotics Academy. As the members left, we brought Shockwave out onto the field and answered final questions for the group.

Media Technology and Innovation Award Submitted

media_award_screenshotThanks to the collaborative effort of many students and mentors, Team 254 finished and uploaded our submission for the Media Technology and Innovation Award. The new award, essentially replacing the website one, focuses on social media presence and the team's plan for approaching social networking.

It was submitted as a 2 page PDF, which we found to be an interesting constraint. In the end, we found that using graphics to communicate our ideas was often more effective than using text, and more engaging for the audience. This also made it difficult to decide which text to cut from the document, and how to balance the types of content effectively.

Thank you to all of the dedicated members who helped put this together, specifically Eric Van Lare, Alex Powers, Avery Strand, Kyle Schnoor, and Chanan Walia under the guidance of Esteban Parker and David Wilson.

Download this document

Pre-SVR Day 9: Edgy Intake

Overkill:

Tests were conducted using a knife-edged polycarbonate sheet added to the bottom of the intake tonight in order to improve the effectiveness of the intake system. New rails have been integrated into the shooter system. The tests are still underway and there have not been any conclusive results yet.

Shockwave:

Due to issues with establishing connection to the robot students replaced the old cortex and troubleshooted faulty wiring. There is still work to be done and students will continue to work to make Shockwave functional again.

Sponsor Invites:

Invitations to the Silicon Valley Regional were sent to almost all of our sponsors tonight.

Pit Lighting:

Pit members worked on creating an easier means to set-up and transport the LED strips used for Pit lighting. Their fragility and difficulty to set up significantly complicates setting up the pit Thursday morning.

SIA Awards Dinner

Last Thursday night, Team 254 attended Semiconductor Industry Association’s 35th Annual Awards Dinner, where we met Dean Kamen, spoke about FIRST, and spread the message of STEM.

 

We were lucky enough to be invited to SIA’s 35th Award Dinner and Reception, where we talked about FIRST, STEM, and the Cheesy Poofs. The event was hosted at the Fairmont Hotel, and gathered many prominent people in the engineering community together. Dean Kamen, the founder of FIRST (and creator of the Segway) spoke, as well as our mentor, Travis Covington. Our drive team, Abhi and Chris, spoke about the more mechanical topics, while Nagy and I spoke about how the game works, how the team is run, and how we interact with sponsors. Overall, the night was a huge success, allowing the Poofs, Bellarmine, and FIRST to be exposed to an amazing set of people. It was a night that will definitely be remembered.

Members Avery Strand, Abhi Kumar, Chris Sides, Nagy Hakim

Mentors Travis Covington, Ann Roemer

 

PR Update

Alright guys, here’s the PR update of the week. We’ve now had our two introductory meetings for the freshmen and returning members, and are ecstatic about the results. Seventy five freshmen signed up! Add that to our returning members and we’re going to have a great time this year. Over the next three days, we’re going to have VEX workshops, as well as the first parent meeting in awhile, so make sure you attend those! The VEX workshops are going to be amazingly helpful, and the parent meeting is a great way to stay in the loop. Remember to check your emails and the blog! Communication is key.

Upcoming Intro Meetings

There are two upcoming meetings introducing 254 robotics to potential recruits on the following days:

  • Wednesday August 22nd
  • Thursday August 23rd

At these meetings we will showcase our 2011-2012 basketball shooting robot Skyfire as well as give important information about the team.

PR Update

This week we went to Diversity Day, and had an open lab for freshman to attend. Both were huge successes. At diversity day, we had approximately 100 people stop by to see the robot, as well as many who got to play with it. At the open lab, we had about 60 people attend, 24 of which were incoming freshman. We set up five stations for them to attend, all lead by our leadership team and senior team members. We had Machining with Mani, Louis, and Cory, Driving with Aaron and Abhi, Building with Nick (Eyre) and Kyle, VEX with Jonathan Chang, and Programming with Richard. Everything went smoothly and we’re looking forward to the oncoming year.