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3/25/16 and 3/26/16 – Friday and Saturday – Final Countdown and Goodbyes

The day was Friday. The air felt ripe. Team 696 entered the stadium for the last days of qualifications. Setting up in the stands and pit came naturally, much like muscle reflex. Before many of the other teams even entered the stands, Team 696 was ready.

The last of the qualification rounds flew right by, with Team 696 ranked top 8. Feeling good as they left the building, The Circuit Breakers ate a hearty dinner and headed to bed early. They knew a good-night’s sleep was key to being fully prepared for what was yet to come.

The air was chilly with a faint sea-breeze wafting up to the hotel. Team 696 had gathered all their belongings and packed it onto the bus as it was their last day, Saturday, in Ventura.

After a final breakfast meal at Denny’s, Team 696 headed to finish what they started. The time where the top ranking teams chose who to form an alliance with had finally begun.

Team 696 was chosen, but gratefully declined. The team which Circuit Breakers were going to ask to join their alliance was also chosen but declined, meaning they could not be on the same alliance anymore.

Nevertheless, Team 696 chose two other teams from the group of highly potential and hard-workers that is FIRST Robotics teams, making a full alliance.

The matches were close, but Team 696 ended up getting eliminated before the Final round. Staying till the end, Team 696 gave encouragement to the remaining teams.

Following the Final’s Match, it was time to announce the winners of various awards. Team 696 was flattered to receive their first ever Gracious Professionalism Award.

After the awards’ ceremony, Circuit Breakers packed up and were headed for home. While they had lost, spirits stayed positive on the ride home, congratulating each other and speaking praise about the other teams.

Once back at Clark, Team 696 members were given a short speech that warmed everyone’s hearts. Then they all went their separate ways to get a good night’s sleep.

3/24/16 – Thursday – Ventura Practice

The drive to where the competition was being held in Ventura was fairly short, perhaps a little over five minutes. Team 696 walked first to Denny’s Diner from their hotel for a hearty breakfast. By the end of breakfast everyone was fully awake and excited for the day ahead of them.

There was a beautiful and tear-jerking opening ceremony to start off the competition, and wonderful music to follow it. Quickly after the start of the whole event were Team 696 scouts setting up in the stands and the drive team down in the pits readying Banshee.

Being able to participate in many of the practice rounds, Banshee and its drivers showed much improvement. The automatic portion of the rounds ran smoothly, and during operational Banshee scored many low goals.

There was one minor mistake throughout the day, and that was a premature extension of the arms before an attempt to lift itself. Besides this one issue the day ran smoothly for Team 696.

For dinner, Team 696 had the honor of sharing it with Kathy Looman from Haas. Together they went to eat at a nearby Mexican restaurant. Spending over an hour eating and talking with one-another, they eventually parted ways by the end of the night.

3/23/16 – Wednesday – Beach Fun

Early Wednesday day Team 696 was stationed outside of Clark with their bags. As they would be staying in Ventura over nights for the competition, the team brought along bags full of clothing and their personal belongings. After being loaded onto the bus, their journey began.

The first stop would be at the Haas Automation factory. It was here that Team 696 was led on a wonderful tour of the place, being informed of the history and inner-workings along the way.

Afterwards the team headed to Lazy Dog Cafe for some food as they were hungry from the long drive. Dressed in their team’s shirts, the pink train of students filed into the restaurant and filled a row of tables. Even with this many people Team 696 were respectful and remained quiet for the benefit of other customers.

As the actual competition didn’t start until the next day, Team 696 were able to have some fun. After getting checked into their hotel and rooms, they split off into two groups. The smaller group was tasked with pit-setup, and would join the larger group soon. The larger group headed to the beach, a few minutes away via walking. Dressed for the beach, Team 696 members happily made the journey to the beach for some volleyball and relaxation.

Being careful so as to not injure oneself before competition, four separate volleyball teams were created for the two courts at the beach. It remained friendly and not too serious throughout the day, and everyone had a blast. Mr. Hoard was even able to show off his amazing volleyball skills to the team, who stood in awe as they were utterly beaten to smithereens on the courts.

All too soon was it time to return to the hotel and eat dinner. For this night it was In-n-Out, right next to the hotel. Members ordered food and brought it back to their rooms to eat before bed.

Members were ready for bed before 10, and Mr. Black made the rounds to make sure everyone was comfortable in their rooms. Exhausted from getting beaten on the volleyball fields by Mr. Hoard, Team 696 fell into a deep slumber the first night at Ventura – ready for competition the next day.

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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.

3/19/16 – 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.

3/12/16 – 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.

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.