World Championships

The championship is now over. I’ve no clue who won. As it turned out, the robot performed fairly well compared to some of the teams that got there by winning regionals. However, it was difficult to drive, aim, etc. We also discovered the solution to all our gearing system problems in a Mexican team’s beautiful gearing system, but by that time it was too late to fix our problems.

To be short, we lost because we did. I am not bitter, however. Although all no one besides myself will be returning next year, I now see many ways by which next year’s robot may be perfected. Actually, we have been having overall trouble arranging team meetings for activities other than frenzied building. For this reason, we had not had our end of year party when the Championship appeared more than month after the initial regional.

I am glad that robotics is over for the season, however. The activity loses some charm when people begin to stress. Besides that, it’s springtime and I have a cold. Now that the championship is past, I may safely flaunt it to family members as something other than allergies. I would like to go outside into the pollen and enjoy it. We spent an estimated 42 hours inside in the past week hunched over the robot.

I have discovered that I need to spend more time writing. Some quality is lost. Is it better to be blind of your faults but happy and willing to continue; or to see your faults and to be dissatisfied, wishing to stop?

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T-minus 0

Time has slowed down, a good thing too–we had lots to work on. Our robotics competition is on Thursday. Today will be the final leg.

We must practice, practice, and somehow get our average up to 50 pointsOur Robot in one minute, forty seconds. That’s a point every two seconds, so we probably won’t get it that high. We need to work on our program especially after we saw that some teams (FTC 3) have eight autonomous  modes according to whom they are playing. We also need to do a general maintenence check. I’m not going to be begging for parts from other teams during the competition. (hopefully) Even if we do have to beg, all the teams there are really nice and will pity the idiot enthusiasts who got to go at last minute.

We will be giving away nifty pens and wearing green. We will also be sneezing over everyone (me at least) because we have allegies. I recommend that you wave to us from across the room. *kidding*

T-minus 2 days

What an odd, strange ride it’s been. Robotics still dominate my days. We must have spent 30 hours on the robot in the last few days. I am beginning to feel like a fool surrounded by geniuses. You can almost hear the brain circuits buzzing; perhaps that’s the humidifier.

It almost seems that for every problem we solve, there’s another problem right around the corner. All of our problems from last week were solved by a brainstorm, but now the five-year-old kits are beginning to break down. We had to sauter a wire tonight just so we could practice. We have been reduced to overnight shipping and begging other teams so we can use a lawful wire at the competition.

Other than that, I have been struck by how similar this is to the small handi-crafts I had been doing, especially sorting screws and inserting things into tight places. I even got out my sewing kit when we were trying to thread the wires back into the connection.
Pray that our team as well as our robot does not break under the strain. God wants us to do this; He’ll get us through it.

Championship

Well, by circumstances almost beyond my comprehension, it appears that team 420, and I with it, are going to  the FIRST nationals! Usually, only teams who won first place or the inspire award get to go. However, so many teams won first place at multiple competitions that they had a drawing for lowly teams like ours to come as filler.

I am somewhat peeved. The drawing took place eight days before they told us, and we now only have a week to get ready. We are coming to try to compete, you know. FIRST also slapped us with a humongous entrance fee in proportion to the notice they gave us.

We found a sponsor, however, so we won’t have to pay the fee. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to go. Now I have an incredible amount of work before me.

  • We must stabilize an annoying semi-twisting shaft.
  • We must reprogram the thing.
  • We must practice driving.
  • We must find a way to be sure of the arm’s height.
  • We need to finish all the publicity stuff, t-shirts, lists of what to bring and remember, etc.

Despite this all, I’m rather happy to go. Next year the nationals are being moved to California, which is far outside the reach of my casual haunting. I wish to make the most of this last championship. Perhaps we might even win something. 😉

Laundry

robot 420So, I survived this competition. Unfortunately, Jeremiah wants to go shoot for the Inspire Award in North Carolina. I don’t think he’ll get very far. (Our team, FTC 420, got the Think Award; I’m rather satisfied.) There were some rather cool teams at the competition. I thought it was rather funny when Jeremiah had to go up against his role model team, FTC 3.

The main theme of my month, besides robotics, has been laundry. You could hide a small child in my heap of clothing. (You would be able to tell where a large child was in the heap.) I think my laundry has developed personality. Currently it is malicious, and I cannot find anything I need. Soon it will become affectionate and will cling with warmth that could only come from the fact the heating pipe runs under my closet floor. Eventually it will be jealous and I will begin to repel people.

Until that stage is reached, however, I am alleviated from the chore of putting it away especially because I may not have the space to put it all. Helpful too, it has been raining. Rain? We’ve been having a drought, but I woke last night to find that the rain was literally pounding on my window in sheets. It was kinda cool. Thunderstorms have lost your attention after age nine unless you get a big one. When you do have a big one, your impulse, rather than fear, is Look, there’s a big puddle; let’s jump in it!

Problems with the Robot

Building our robot goes reasonably well, but it is strange how something so calculated and mulled over could be so hard to gauge the success of.

Our robot is basically designed to pick up rings and slide them over a stick. That would not seem so hard. It is. We finally got an arm worked up to skew them and raise them to the level of the stick. Problems remain.

  • We have barely enough room to mount the arm and stand a high chance of bending the rod it is mounted on.
  • We cannot tell if we will actually be able to pick the rings up. This cannot be accurately tested until we have the arm mounted.
  • Somewhat humorous, with all this weight, will we actually be able to move the product of our genius?

Bright spots, however, remain. We have large omni-wheels, making it infinitely easier to move the thing. Soon we will have zip-ties, and world domination will be accomplished. That is, until we test it. Figures they would change to different parts next year.

Robotics by committee

To my complete and utter happiness, I am now developing ideas for a
robot. Transferring them to an actual metal structure, is sadly a much
different process.

Our first task was brainstorming. Once the rush of ideas had stampeded
past, there was not much left to do, so we wanted to build. Our mentor
(in all his wisdom and machine development) got us to slow down and
think things through, averting mad chaos. Once we had some good ideas,
we again decided that we wanted to build. Three-quarters of the team
(as well as our mentor) weren’t there. That wasn’t a problem…. So we
built a model of an arm.

The second task was actually developing ideas and finding workable
compromises. However, by this time, three-quarters of the members on
BOTH our own and our sister team had to attend meetings for the LEGO
robot team they were also on. Much to my chagrin, the VEX and the LEGO
teams met simultaneously. What was left of our two teams merged and
talked, in essence getting both entire teams prepared for the task of
building.

Afterwards, I took left of the arm we had first built home to improve
upon it. (The rest of the arm had gotten destroyed in the mad rush of
building.) I began to work on it. I suddenly had a mad desire for a
degree in machine development. (It looked so pretty on paper.)
Suddenly I understood that this would be hard work.

Due to the fact my parents had to go out of state the next meeting and
I had all the parts as well as the engineering notebook, the next
meeting must have been one of immense unproductively. However, Slowly
as it may be, we do make progress.