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.

3/4/16 – Friday – Carts and Darts, But No Darts

Mr. Black spent some time helping to finish the small parts organizer cart. He also finished up the battery cart, now full of gorgeous batteries.

Mentors Mr. Widholm and Mr. Larson cut up steel plates. These were then used for the bottom of the cart. They added weight which lowered the center of gravity, increasing stability.

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Beautiful small parts organizer cart stacked full of small parts bins.

3/2/16 – Wednesday – Bolt Sorting

While Banshee, Team 696’s 2016 Competition Robot, was already bagged, there was much to do before the actual Los Angeles Regional Competition.

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Usual meeting to start off the workday.

Samuel, the team’s Photographer, Blogger, and Media member was busy for the day, and for those all the way up to Competition the next week. He was tasked with making the year’s Chairman’s Video, which he had waiting to begin until now. As he was busy, there are very few pictures of the day.

CNC Mill member Nanor finished off the top of a part with the mighty Mill. She then set up tools and made some stock for the Winch Plates. Dustin continued to make the stock after helping with the bolt organizing .

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Members sorting the many bolts of Team 696.

Lathe team member Lousaper continued her task of making spacers. This time, they were smaller, and would be used for the Telescoping Arms.

Jake of Programming team worked on bin organization. He also organized the new Pit Area materials. Other member Daniel worked on making the Leonardo Arduino and programming the Telescoping Arms to test them.

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Daniel checking his coding on the Practice Robot.

Nicole of Business team finalized Alexander’s design for the robot name vinyl. She was also part of the bolt sorting team. Other member Andrea worked on printing needed material for the Competition such as brochures, flyers, and other information-based papers.

CAM member James helped sort bolts. He was put in charge of the wood screws with Roupen and Eden of Welding.

3/1/16 – Tuesday – Fasteners

Programming member Jake helped set up the field after working on some programming. He also helped reorganized the bins and completed another battery test on non-competition batteries.

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Team members fixing together the Obstacles for the Practice Field.

Lousaper of Lathe team continued making spacers. These newest spacers will be used for the Telescoping Arm spring.

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Lathe team setting up the Lathe for some operations.

Business member Andrea worked on the vinyl set up. She also took pictures and sorted through the Business folder throughout the day. Other Business member Anna created the vinyl designs to be printed out.

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Anna creating some vinyl designs to print out.

Mr. Black welded the fasteners bin-cart for the Pit Area. This will hold many needed tools during Competition.

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Pit Area fasteners bin-cart almost ready for Competition.

The lab closed at 9:50 PM.

2/28/16 – Sunday – Carts

Programming team member Bhavin worked on getting output from the axis camera so the Team could visually see off of the Robot. Other member Daniel worked on getting the Shooter to work both on intake and outtake.

Business member Nicole finished the Brand Guide design.

Mr. Black submitted a DonorsChoose project for the scouting tablets. He also modified the AutoMeter BusPro 660 chargers in order for them to fit the new battery cart. Mr. Black additionally finished welding the battery cart for the pit area.

The lab closed at around 9:00 PM.

2/27/16 – Saturday – Gas Shock

Jake of Programming team worked on bin organization. He also helped setup the practice field and began planning the code for the Robot.

Business team member Nicole revised the Brand Guide as well as the Alumni Book.

James of CAM team worked on the Router today. He was able to make some “stop plates” for Mr. Larson using polycarbonate.

Mr. Black installed Windows updates to the new Programming team’s laptops and created a backup image. He also drove to Santa Fe Springs to pick up parts from McMaster Carr. These parts will be used to mount a gas shock to the Arm. Mr. Black then determined optimal placement, and designed, manufactured, then installed the mount and gas shock. The 40 lbs of 8.27″ stroke gas shock improves the motion and control of the Robot Arm by acting as a counterweight.

The lab closed at 9:00 PM.

2/26/16 – Friday – Laptops

Team 696 had a couple of visitors today. One was from the Gene Haas Foundation while the other was from Edge Factor. They were given a tour of the lab and met some members along the way.

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Mr. Black, Mika, and Alexander explaining this years competition to the visitors.

After the guests left, Team 696 started their day off with a meeting. Members were told the schedule and what should be done. Teams set off to accomplish their tasks shortly thereafter.

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Mika and Alexander leading the meeting.

Lousaper of the Lathe team helped setup the drive field in the gym.

Luke of Web and Clark student Maggy looked over the Chairman’s Video Script that Samuel came up with.

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Luke and Maggy helping Samuel with the Chairman’s Video.

Business member Andrea worked on the Alumni Book. She also began working on the CNC Router.

Team members ate pizza for dinner as they stayed later than 6 at Clark.

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Members grabbing pieces of pizza to eat.

Programming member Daniel worked on the Shooter on the Practice Robot. Other member Bhavin worked on vision processing whilst John and Jake helped set up the field.

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Daniel working with Alexander and Anthony C. on getting the Practice Robot to work.

Mr. Black installed SSDs and Windows 7 to the new laptops for the Programming team.

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Mr. Black assembling the computer for the Programming team.

The lab closed at 10:30 PM.

2/25/16 – Thursday – Business

With Bag Day over and done with, members still met on Thursday to continue working. Quickly after the morning meeting, some members moved the bagged Competition Robot to the Programming Room.

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Members attending the morning meeting.

The team also brought out the Practice Robot to work on getting it to run. With the Competition Robot in the bag, this Practice Robot will allow the members to see what works and what doesn’t.

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Alexander and Anthony C. moving the robots.

Business member Nicole revised the Brand Guide. Other Business member Andrea worked on applying vinyl to the Suburban.

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Business team working hard in the Business Room.

Lathe member Lousaper spent the day without her Lathe. Instead, she helped bring the entire drive field from the cafetorium to the gym.

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Lousaper helping other members with the drive field set up.

Mr. Black machined and broached three steel sprockets. He learned that steel sprockets can be harden which makes them impossible to broach. The 1/2″ hex broach got stuck, even with a 4-foot cheater pipe on the arbor press handle. So Mr. Black pressed it out, then machined a 1/2″ hex to .505 from flat to flat on the Haas Super Mini Mill 2 using a 1/4″ 4-flute endmill, and then took it back to the broach, and was able to broach it much easier.

Mr. Black discovered that the HSS tools would be destroyed by hardened steel sprockets but not carbide.

The lab closed at 7:15 PM.