No school = No Meeting
Today we worked on programming an autonomous for the robot. We first tried our original code. As expected, it didn't work (X_X). We tried tweaking a few things with whileloops, if statements, nots rather than equals, etc. However, nothing worked. We then tried mimicing what people did on vex forums, however our copies failed. We didn't want to copy the code directly so we could learn programming. We then resorted to directly copying the code, and it still didn't work.
After that, we resorted to timer loops. In about 30 minutes, we got an effective code which scored 12 points consistently and 15 points on occasion.
the code was a slight twist to the standard middle zone autonomous: Push a bucky into the goal zone while knocking off a large ball. After that, we return to the alliance tile. Human driver realigns and we push the second large ball, but we back up and open the funnels. Human driver aligns against the bump for the third time, and the robot drives forward. On specific time intervals, the funnels close on the buckies and return to storing position to facilitate driver control
We did a bit of research and found a inspection checklist to make sure the robot passes inspection. We scared ourselves when we found out we needed a backup battery. It wasn't until the end of the meeting that we found our back up battery connector. During the meeting, we did a combination of last minute engineering notebook stuff and packed for competition. We wrote biographies and took photos, we finalized a budget and cost for the robot, and we selected the best 9 collages out of the 33 we created to impress the judges. We believed they intended to have biographies as a personalized aspect to the team, so in the biographies we tried to include challenges team members faced and other "Aw" factors to grab a positive bias from the judges. With the budget, we tried our best to make fast, yet professional looking spreadsheet containing all expenses on the robot. Rounding up (robotics pun?), we calculated our robot was about 1500 dollars. To our pleasure however, all parts of the robot were recycled from previous years, making our cost 0. We then created a fundraising sheet which included all our grants we wrote, as well as demoing outreaches and other donations we received that weren't monetary.
In addition to this, we would like to thank Tampa Prep for loaning us a controller. Not to mention, a controller right out of the box, the day before competition.
After the meeting, we held a sleepover at the president's house (dracothedragon), and the driver practiced driving, the team briefed visiting FTC members on judging, and we printed out the engineering notebook.
Competition day went fairly smooth. We were quite surprised with the level of competition. We didn't expect many robots to hang, and have robots consistently scoring buckies. Because of this, we had to adapt our strategy. Rather than routing to our 2vs1, we stuck to a semi improvised strategy based off of the REX competition. We took advantage of the autonomous period and won the autonomous in 3 of the 5 matches, and tied with the other 2. One tie was rooted to both teams missing the second large ball and our failure to bump the buckies, and the second tie was rooted to what i believe was a field failure (Our opposing alliance completely lost connection, our ally lost connection, and our lift over extended to twice it's height, causing us to tip). One of our highlights was using our newly perfected righting ability. Similar to currahee's hang, we backed the robot up and flipped up the lift. Due to the flip, our intake lost connection, so we were like the black knight, pushing in balls to the middle zone and large balls to the goal zone. Another highlight we had was a battle over large balls, there was a point where a large ball slipped off our intake prematurely, and got stuck on the barrier. We had a push fight with another robot but won due to our more forward center of gravity
We had a robot skills score of 29. For some reason, our robot battery was red on the field, but off the field it was green. We then lost connection for maybe 20 or so seconds. We tried a second time, but the lack of practice, pressure, and confusion from the improvisation got to the driver.
After the competition, The president wrote a reflection
This was a reflection targeted towards the robotics team. It;s completely unedited, with all grammatical errors and typos
The vex team tried their hardest to bring in the gold from competition. I would say, we were successful. Though we weren't tournament champions, nor were we the excellent award winner, we got the design award, which advances us to Florida States and U.S. Open. From what I understond, the U.S. open is a competition for a region, or super region in its FTC counterpart. However, after a bit more research it is a competition which advances us to a competition "open" to the best robots throughout the world
With this award, we basically advanced to states and a worlds competition.
Though due to the growing competition in states, this is not considered "THE world championship", but rather a national level championship open to qualified teams.
Now as for competition, We had a lot of things we did wrong, but we also had a lot of things we did right.
For example, one of the things we did wrong was overstretch the sleepover meeting. Even though the drive team went to bed early enough for sufficient sleep, other members went quite late. This in turn could have lowered our efficiency within judging, making us lose the excellence award in judging. Another fault we had was the chaos within the engineering notebook. Even though everything was saved electronically, printing a file this large (I believe 107 pages) in one sitting was extremely difficult. We definitely underestimated the time it took to place papers in plastic files, categorizing stuff, tweaking, and pasting necessary content. Another blunder we had we had was the organization of rides. Though the event was created over summer, we lost sight of other events. As a result, organization was too lax, and rides were a worrying task. Another issue we had was overseeing the small materials. Though we were certain we packed all the tools we needed, we oversaw the most common tool we use in robotics: We forgot to bring extra hex keys. Due to this mistake, only 2 people could work on the robot at a time, when we built the robot to have as many as 5 people work as the same time.
Other than our organizational mistakes, we also had a handful of competitive mistakes. For example, there was one instance of miscommunication between the coaches and the head scout. Though it was only one mistake, it cost us one match, which is pretty significant in a competition of 5 matches. Another area we can improve on is overall knowledge of the game. For example, scoring values were known, but the values did not come fast enough to calculate average scores of win or loses. This could of then led to the final problem, bad scoring decisions. For example, I remember seeing that we chose to push a large ball from the middle zone to the hanging zone rather than push a large ball on the barrier into the middle zone (though we score one point for our opponent, we prevent them from scoring another 4).
In turn though, many of these issues are fixable. If we push work a little bit more during meetings, we dont need to stress over overnight meetings. If we chunk out our work rather than brute force our way through a single night, we wont need to stress the next day. WE can also use the beginning of meetings during the last couple weeks of school to remind about events.
many of the mistakes in competition occured from lack of experience with the robot. As more expose is made, we can increase the skill of the drive team.
The things that we did well should not be forgotten. As expected, following the FTC format for the VEX notebook was extremely beneficial. The length made it obvious of how much effort we placed in the robot. Our color and collages gave judges a positive bias to our team. The biographies color and decoration were useful for personalization. Finally, spoon feeding criteria was very crucial. If there was anything we can improve, the biggest point would be to add more charts and add breaks to make it easier to gain information. Another thing we did well was inspect the robot before competition. If we didn't realize that the robot needed a back up battery, we probably would have been dqed for the entire tournament. Another thing we did correctly was assign jobs to specific members. There were redundancies in the roles, but these redundancies were quickly identified, nullified, and removed due to laziness (which is not necessarily a bad thing). With better planning this may go even smoother. Another thing we did well was organizing ourselves during competition. We had time frames were we practiced judging, practiced driving, programming, etc. etc.
As for the actual competitiveness, teams were a lot more competitive than we originally expected. A lot of teams could score buckies extremely quickly, 4 teams could hang, and many other robots had a few weeks of driver practice under our belt. However, i think i can argue that we were pulling our alliance partners. I think it's fair to eliminate our very last match as a variable because the other 3 robots got dced and our robot flipped over in autonomous for the first time. Anyhow, excluding the final match, we had the second highest SP. This means that we had the second hardest match up, or we had a robot that scored effectively and decided to score for both teams (obviously the second option is false). Our biggest advantage routed to 2 things, we had a 10 point autonomous (even if it's supposed to be 13), and we could manipulate large balls. Because not many teams could score large balls and because we were not familiar with bucky stashing, we relied primarily on the large ball strategy, deeper within our overall strategy. By de-scoring opposing large balls and scoring our own large balls, we would cause flux of about 25 points on average. A few bad parts though was that our robot could not drive fast, we didn't have the same efficiency as 2 drivers, and we had difficulty grabbing wall buckies. By next competition, we should expect robots to do large balls as well, but it's uncertain whether we want to outscore them via large balls, or out manuvre them via hanging.