Quarterfinalists at Springside-Chestnut Hill

Quarterfinalists at Springside-Chestnut Hill

Quarter Finalists at Springside-Chestnut Hill
(Week 3 Event, 2018)

Peddie Robotics kicked off its competition season at Springside-Chestnut Hill Academy this past weekend. The team participates in FIRST Robotics, a global competition in which teams have six weeks to design, build, and code a 120+ pound robot. It helps students gain practical, real-world experience in programming, engineering, and business.

This year’s game is called FIRST POWER UP, a 1980s-arcade-inspired game. Teams have to place cubes on a five-foot tall scale and/or a ground-level switch. Whichever alliance “owns” the scale or switch by making the scale tilt towards their side gains points. Teams can also place cubes in the “vault” to gain power-ups, which are bonuses that boost scores.

There are two modes in the game: autonomous and teleoperated. Autonomous mode starts each match and lasts 15 seconds; robots move based on prewritten code. The drivers are not allowed to touch the robot during this time. After these 15 seconds are up, teleoperated mode begins and drivers step up to take control of the robot for over two minutes. The last 30 seconds of each match comprise the “endgame”; teams have the option to climb a foot off the ground to “defeat the final boss” and gain extra points.

The Saturday morning of competition, the robot and team were doing well – we placed an average of six cubes on the scale, switch, or in the vault. However, we experienced a code malfunction during a match’s autonomous mode. The mechanisms that pick up and drop cubes – the intake and the elevator that lifts the intake – had trouble moving up and down to place cubes on the scale. We were limited in our range of vertical motion, which reduced our point-scoring ability. It was disheartening to watch the robot struggle, especially when we thought back to the excellent showing we put on during our first few matches,

Even with concerns looming over us, we moved quickly to fix the robot. We started off by identifying what went wrong. The host team, 1218, generously milled us new parts to replace the ones that were sheared off or damaged. The pit crew went into overdrive to fix the intake and elevator, which let us resume competing. While they could not fully extend at first, the robot was back to full power by Sunday morning. A loud cheer went up from my teammates and me when we saw our robot place a cube on the scale for the first time since Saturday afternoon. We were back in business and roaring to go, just in time for alliance selections and elimination matches!

During alliance selection, we were chosen by the 4th seed alliance – FRC teams 3929 and 709 – to be their partners in the elimination rounds. We finished the event as quarterfinalists.

Sunday night, we returned to the Digital Fabrication Laboratory and headed to Mannino’s for a team dinner after the long adventure that was our Springside-Chestnut Hill event. We were disappointed about the results but looked forward to the coming week so that we could make changes, update mechanisms, and test more with our practice bot. We overcame adversity and turned the event into a learning experience. Our next competition is at Seneca-Lenape High School this weekend; we are going in with high hopes!