Category Archives: Post Bag

3/22/16 – Tuesday – Ready to Go

The day before leaving for Ventura, in a mere 24 hours Team 696 members would be in an entirely different city with many new sights and scenes. But still, even so close to leaving for the Ventura Regional competition, Team 696’s lab was still as busy as ever.

Daniel, who normally hails from the Programming team, continued driving the Practice Robot. The bot might look slightly different, but it handles the same as Banshee, which is why he’s honing in his skills now. He also continued to get the autonomous coding of the robot to work. Alexander served as a type of coach or mentor for Daniel.

CNC Mill members Nanor and Dustin began by helping out the Drive Team with the robot on the practice field. They then shifted to recreating the Gearbox Shafts, a hard task indeed, but one they accomplished nonetheless. Nanor later assisted Business member Anna with loading up the team trailer for Competition.

3/21/16 – Monday – Auto Doc

The day was a quiet day. Daniel, Team 696’s driver continued driving the Practice Robot. He actually got the Automatic Drive to work, and it is flawless.

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Daniel perfecting his driving skills with help from Jack and Dr. Stone.

Nicole of Business team continued printing out booklets. She then redesigned the 2016 Technical Document. Good work Nicole. Other Business member Anna sorted through the team’s buttons – created by Andrea – to count all of them.

Lunch was delicious tostadas. Everyone went back for seconds and some even got thirds.

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Team 696 couldn’t get enough of these delicious tostadas.

Mika, Nanor, and Anthony K. worked together to fix the Technical Document. The trio worked hard to get it to a point where it could be reprinted and represent the best of the team.

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Members working in the Business Room on the Tech Doc.

3/20/16 – Sunday – We’ll Wheel

Sunday, three mere days before the Ventura competition. Team 696 is down to a skeleton crew, as there’s mostly driving practice and robot improving happening.

Daniel of Programming continues to drive the Practice Robot in preparation of driving Banshee. He takes any chance he can to improve his capabilities, even though he’s already really good at it.

Business member Nicole printed out some materials and bound them together. She also started putting together the team’s standard or flag.

Dustin from the CNC Mill team cut out some stock and Pivot Plates. He then patiently waited for the next operation to come, but it never did. He was done machining for the day.

Karin patched up the red bumpers as they had been ripped up from Snapdragon who had been playing the part of a defensive bot during practice runs. She then joined Mr. Black, Dr. Clause, and Dr. Stone on improving the shooter mechanism. They also changed around the wheel configuration to try and find a better configuration so it wouldn’t get stuck or tip on the defenses.

3/19/16 – Saturday – Burning Rubber

Blog writer and local hot-shot Photographer Samuel was very busy for the past few days. He had been sorting the hundreds and thousands of photos and videos taken at the Los Angeles Regional. Then he began writing the blog for those days which he couldn’t as he had been busy the entire day. He got some help with the sorting of photos, but since he’s the only one who could write so beautiful, the blog came down to him alone.

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Blog writer and super cool guy Samuel sorting pictures and writing a blog post.

Of course he gave it his all, for Samuel doesn’t slack or not try. But due to him devoting all his strength to the blog, he was unable to get photos of the day.

CNC Mill member Dustin finished manufacturing the Pivot Plates he had been working on. He and Nanor, another Mill member, setup and almost finished a Gearbox Standoff.

For lunch there was an amazing course of Mediterranean food. The course consisted of pita bread, hummus, chicken, and a great salad.

Lousaper of the Lathe team went back to working the Lathe. Today she made spacers, Gearbox Standoffs, and tension rods. She has definitely come far from where she started the year at.

CAM member Jonna edited some programs. These were for previous parts, to practice her abilities. She then helped finish up the Gearbox Plate spacers.

Andrea of Business cleaned the entire Business Room. All by herself, this was quite the hefty task. She was most successful at it though.

Mr. Black visited Industrial Metal Supply to purchase a 1/4″ aluminum plate. While prices were high, the team had decided to buy the imported material.

Mr. Black also helped Karin disassemble and repair several loose fasteners to the Practice Robot’s drive system. All together it took around 3 hours. He then coached Daniel and Karin on how to improve their driving abilities, playing around 30 matches of drive practice. During these matches where the average score was 6 low goals, 3 breached defenses, and a hang, the drivers discovered that the Practice Robot can do wheelies.

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Practice Robot burning rubber in sick wheelie-donuts.

The lab closed around 11:15 PM.

3/18/16 – Friday – Mr. Roboto

Business member Andrea transferred media taken during the Los Angeles Regional competition onto Team 696’s network. She also finished taking inventory of all merchandise in the lab and proofread the business documents still needing to be printed.

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Nanor running an operation on the Mill.

Nicole, another Business member, made some minor corrections to the Business Plan, Brand Guide, and Sponsor Booklets prior to their printing. Anna worked on vinyl and updating certain files.

Lousaper, the sole member of Lathe team, finished compiling the list of necessary materials to take to the competition. This was crucial to ensuring nothing would be forgotten for the Ventura competition.

As members stayed at the lab until after 6:00, pizza was provided as dinner.

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Members choosing their slices of pizza.

Mr. Black welded a new jack mount onto the team’s trailer and filled the tires of both the trailer and Suburban to the proper pressure specification. He then adjusted the Tormach Lathe turret-lock sensor as well as installing coolant wiper and cable loom.

The lab closed at around 11:00 PM.

3/16/16 – Wednesday – Arigato

Back to the usual schedule, Team 696 members met after the end of school in the lab. There was a quick meeting of course, where congratulations were given for the great competition experience and the day’s tasks were assigned.

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Team meeting prior to getting to work.

Once again, Nicole of Business spent the day ordering printed materials before we leave for the Ventura. Business member Andrea began designing the cover for the Tech Doc as well as putting together the actual booklet.

Programming team member Daniel continued his hand at practice driving. Other member Jake helped set up the field as well as setting up the battery on the robot. He also worked on SnapDragon’s code to practice his coding skills.

Lathe member worked on the team’s Trello list. Using her advanced technological skill set, Lousaper compiled a list of all the materials and parts we took to competition for organizational purposes.

3/15/16 – Tuesday – Domo

Business member Nicole worked on finalizing the team’s printed materials and ordering them for the Ventura competition. This will occur in about one week so she’s working on a tight deadline.

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Nicole and Arvin hard at work at their desks.

Other member Andrea worked on the Tech Doc. She spent the day figuring out how to transfer the doc into Adobe to continue working on it.

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Andrea working in the Business Room.

Daniel of Programming spent the time practicing driving. He was the driver for the Los Angeles Regional and will be the driver for the Ventura competition as well, so any practice he can get is extremely important. Other Programming member Jake helped unload the trailer, as it was still packed from the Los Angeles Regional. He also got the batteries read for regular schedule.

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Daniel running through his code one more time.

Lathe member Lousaper assisted in the unloading of the trailer. She also helped set up the practice field for Daniel to drive on with the Practice Robot.

Mr. Black welded the bin and computer cart. This cart was made to hold bins and or computers inside of the Pit Area.

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Freshly welded bin and computer cart carrier.

The lab closed at a healthy 8:00 PM.

3/12/16 – Saturday – Semi-Finals

The final day, the big finish – going by several names, this day is known for one thing –  elimination rounds. Elimination rounds were a series of matches, starting by first alliance to two wins to advance, and to first to three wins in the finals. The losing alliance would stop their advance right there, while the winning would continue to semi-finals, then to finals. Each alliance would be made of three teams, chosen from the top eight teams in order of ranks.

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Two judges asking questions about Banshee at Team 696’s pit.

Before these elimination rounds were to take place, there were still a few more qualification matches to finalize rankings. Team 696 performed fairly well in these as it has been doing for the past two days.

The top eight teams were shortly chosen, and they took their positions on the field. Starting with the first, they’d pick the second of three teams on their alliance. The fourth ranked team, Team 5510 The Da Vinci Coders, asked Team 696 to join their alliance. We graciously accepted the offer and took our place next to them. On the second run through the alliances Team 207, The MetalCrafters, were asked to join our alliance. And with that Team 696 was now part of one of the eight alliances that moved on to the elimination rounds.

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Team 696 Vice-President Alexander standing with the other two teams of the alliance.

One does not know the feeling of anxiety and nervousness until they are watching their robot participate in a ruthless elimination match. Team 696 members sat on the edges of their seats, watching with wide eyes as their alliance advanced through the games, sometimes winning a match, losing the next, but then winning the final one to secure their advance.

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Mika signalling the all-clear to shoot for the low goal during a match.

Team 696’s climb halted at the Semi-Finals. After winning one and losing one against none-other than Team 987’s, The High Rollers, alliance, Team 696’s alliance lost the third round. This marked the elimination of Team 696 from the competition, but that didn’t stop members from proudly congratulating their opponents.

By the end Team 696 members were 987’s matches as if they were their own, crying out and yelling alongside them. The High Rollers’ alliance ended up winning the competition, allowing them to move on to the FRC Championship matches.

Throughout these final matches some members went around in big inflatable-suits to get spirits up. They were a huge success, getting entire groups of spectators to dance along.

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Team 696 member and Alumni posing in their team-colored inflatable suits.

After the conclusion of the matches, there was an awards ceremony where recognition and trophies were gifted upon mentors and teams. Team 696 was actually bestowed the Excellence in Engineering Award, sponsored by Delphi.

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Past winners of the Woodie Flowers Award congratulating this year’s winner.

3/11/16 – Friday – Qualifications

This day was devoted to the qualification matches. These are where different teams are assigned with other ones to form groups of three, facing off other groups of three. As many teams were still working on their robots, it wasn’t uncommon to see fewer than the six called teams taking to the field. These matches were for the spectating Scouts to consider the different robots while the teams were being given ranks. Depending on whether they won the match or if they beat all the defenses, teams would be given ranking points, moving them up the rank numbers.

Team 696’s robot Banshee was called up for its first qualification round, the second match of the day. Banshee performed fairly well for its first actual run that wasn’t purely practice. These qualification rounds were played as if they were an elimination match, but with all team robots instead of just the top alliances.

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Banshee lined up for its match.

During Match 2, Banshee was able to score some low goals and even lift itself. This was a huge feat as no other robots have been shown to even be able to lift themselves. To be able to lift itself this early in the competition goes to show how essential Banshee can be in the elimination rounds.

The next time Banshee took the field was in Match 21. During this round, Banshee worked very well with its alliance members. Together, the trio were able to breach the Outerworks, gaining a rank point. Once again, Banshee hung itself at the end of the match.

Round 32 was the last match for the day in which Banshee would participate. During this round, Banshee shot many low goals and breached the Outerworks. At the end of the match, Banshee aligned itself with the enemy castle, hoisting itself up for the third time. Banshee was then the only robot to hang itself each and every time it went up in the qualification rounds. Team 696’s alliance won this match as well, gaining two more ranking points.

During this day, Arvin and Lousaper performed the Chairman’s interview. This took place around 11:20 and went very smoothly, the judges even complimented the duo on their appearance and their graceful professionalism.

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Louspaer and Arvin all dressed up prior to their presentation.

3/10/16 – Thursday – First Day at Competition

The first day of competition, this day would be solely for opening ceremonies, working on robots, and practicing on the field.

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Volunteers setting up the field for practice runs.

Team 696 members  met at Clark Magnet prior to 6:00 AM adorned in their Team’s shirt and black slacks. For many of the members this would be their first competition experience and they were obviously excited and a little nervous. They would be taken to the competition area via bus, which was scheduled to leave Clark at exactly 6:00 AM which is why they made sure to arrive before then.

The ride to the FRC venue, being held at the Long Beach Arena, took about an hour with very little traffic. Members chatted to each other throughout the ride, so it felt much shorter than it actually was.

Once there, Team 696 stood in line outside of the Arena’s closed doors. Once it turned 8:00 AM, they would open up and the teams would flood in, walking to the stands to secure their seating areas. As Team 696 was one of the first in line, they were able to get very nice seats. While waiting in line, members became fast friends with fellow FRC Team 987, High Rollers, who would themselves get the seats right next to Team 696 in the stands.

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Team 696 members waiting outside of the Long Beach Arena.

Team 696 members are split into three groups for competitions. One is the Scouts, who remain in the stands taking notes on different team’s performances. The other main group consists of those down in the pits – which is where the field was, but was also where each team set up their little workstations to modify their robots prior to matches – either working on the robot or making connections with other teams and people. The third group consists of only three people, and that is the Photography group.

The Photography group’s task is simple, take photos and videos to record all the different robots and each match. Andrea and Lauren mostly took photographs down in the Pit Area, taking pictures of each robot to later categorize the teams scouted by the Scouts. The third member of this group would be Samuel, who’s right now making this blog post as well. He would be up in the Stand Area with the Scouts, recording each match for later review by the members when deciding which Alliance we’d prefer.

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Photographer Andrea talking to fellow FRC team member next to Team 696’s pit and robot.

The Pit Crew consisted of a core group containing Jake, Lousaper, Anthony K., and Roupen. There was then the Drive Team who would be in the pits and would drive Banshee during matches. This consisted as Mika as the Human Player, Daniel who was the Driver, and Karin who was an Operator and helped Daniel.

Those down in the pits who weren’t directly working on the robot would tour the other pits and talk to judges. This helped spread our message through brochures that Nicole printed out earlier.

Up in the stands was a whole different story. The core Scouts were Jacob, James, Sipan, Dustin, Anthony C., and Eden. Their backups were Claire and Devon. During matches or qualifications their jobs were to record the data of what occurred for each competing team on their tablets. They used a site setup by member Luke, who spent the day debugging the system so it would be perfect for actual matches.

Banshee took the field a total of four times for the day. Each time it went out, it tried different mechanisms for the Pit Crew to see how much it could do as planned. They found that it had a bit of a problem shooting high goals, but was good in the low goals. Banshee was the only robot to have lifted itself successfully by the end of the day.