Monday, 11 April 2016

4992 2016 Competition Season

Team 4992, the Spartans competed in 2 regionals this year. The first was in week one at Palmetto in Myrtle Beach. The second was in week 6 at Windsor.

Before the official stop work date the team set off to Myrtle Beach for a 6 day excursion. The first leg was to Virginia for one night and a look at the Udvar-Hazy Center. The team viewed an iMax film with footage from inside the International Space Station. The airplanes on display included war birds from both World Wars, the Enola Gay, a Blackhawk spy plane and the Space Shuttle Discovery. On day 2 we travelled to South Carolina.

This years competition was inspired by medieval knights storming a castle. The robot had to be able to make it over or through outer defences, launch "boulders" (soft vinyl balls) into a tower and finally scale the tower.

Our first night in Myrtle Beach was the stop work date and so we managed to get in a little tweaking before we bagged up the robot in the hotel room. At the competition we worked hard to get the robot functioning and discovered that the chains on our rotational drives stretched too much to be useful. We finished 37th in a field of 64. Team 2386 from Burlington Central loaned us a linear actuator and by the end of the weekend we were almost able to scale towers. The actuator allows us to rotate the lift mechanism accurately. The team had a fun time in Myrtle Beach despite the tornado watch and cool temperatures. The rooms in our hotel had fridges and stoves and so team members could prepare many of their own meals.

During the month of March we worked on a plan and parts to refit the robot with our own linear actuator. We also made more bumper brackets to make changing from blue to red and back again simpler and quicker. With March Break in the middle the month flew by and before we knew it we were on the bus again for a 3 night excursion to Windsor along with the seven other Halton Teams.

At Windsor we quickly converted the robot over to the new linear actuator system to rotate the arm that would be used to "scale" the tower. We had 3 mentors in Windsor thanks to Kelly Dickinson from Stackpole. More adult supervision meant more could be done. Small technical problems meant that our robot consistently underperformed throughout the qualification matches and so we ended up 48th in a field of 52.

Throughout the build and match seasons the team continued to grow and learn. Because the team rehearsed the robot modifications to be done on Practice Day, Thursday, at Windsor the students were able to handle the work independently with the adults just watching. We had a stronger presence on Twitter allowing family and friends to follow our day to day progress. The media crew is churning out video and good photos at a faster rate. Younger team members were able to sit in on a more experienced team's Friday night scouting meeting to better understand the importance of this facet of the tournament thanks to Team 1334, the Red Devils at OTHS in Oakville. Team members had a better over-all understanding of the design and fabrication of the robot allowing them to talk to judges, adults and other teams with more confidence. Team members were able to independently troubleshoot problems and complete tasks like switching bumpers (red or blue), changing the battery and setting up. People working in the pit had a clear knowledge of safety procedures and storage and were able to find materials and tools independently. The team remained positive and enthusiastic throughout the weekend and many of the younger members have already started planning for next year.

Thanks to our sponsors:
York Trafalgar
Discovery Precision Machining
The Halton District School Board.

Mike Druiven is one of the lead mentors on FRC Team 4992, CKSS Robotics, the Spartans.

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