The official season kick-off is typically the first Saturday in January when FIRST announces the challenge for the season.
We invite families to the kick-off party so they get a better feel for the what’s going to be happening during the season. The season challenge is webcast by FIRST so everyone worldwide gets the challenge at the same time.
After the webcasts, the team goes into brainstorming mode.
After kick-off, there’s a lot of work that goes into robot design. As part of the engineering process, we have design review boards.
Students on the various robot sub-teams need to present their design to the design review board for approval. We’ve used design boards in the past. We may use a different method to review designs in future years.
Then, it’s off to making robot parts.
Once the design is figured out, there’s a lot of parts to build.
To start with, there’s nothing that would resemble a robot. Many parts have to be custom made. The computer aided designs used to develop the robot serve as a guide when it’s hard to envision a robot when looking at an individual piece of metal.
Gradually, individual parts turn into assemblies. Assemblies begin to grow into a robot.
And then finally (hopefully) we have something that looks like a robot.
But we only have about 6-1/2 weeks from kick-off to what is affectionately known as “Bag Day.” To ensure that every time has the same amount of time for robot building, everyone is required to “bag” their robot on “Bag Day.” “Bag Day” is usually the Tuesday after Presidents’ Day. Once “bagged,” the robot is not to be touched until competition. However, there are some things that the team is allowed to work on for the robot and add to robot at competition.
For competitions, each team is provided a 10' x 10' space to set-up their “pit.” Just like a workshop, every one must have close-toed shoes on and wear safety glasses. Remember to bring safety glasses to competitions!
The first thing that happens on Thursday morning is the team sets up the pit. Everything has a place.
At competitions, Roaring Robotics has tradition of showing off their students as part of the pit display.
There’s always robots on the move in the pit areas at competition.
Thursdays at competitions provide an opportunity to do last minute programming tweaks.
Teams have to sign-up for open times to use the practice area during competitions. It’s always good to take advantage of the practice time to ensure that the robot is ready for the matches.
Of course, our pit would not be complete without Jack the Safety Dinosaur. The safety display in our pit is actually part of the competition.
Judges check out the robots to verify that they meet the requirements for the competition.
The drive team is responsible for getting the robot out to the field when needed.
Competitions are big time affairs often held in university arenas.
After a day of practice and set-up, the team provides a meal at the hotel Thursday evening. Those traveling Thursday afternoon often meet others of the team at the hotel.
Students hanging around the pit area during competitions will often end up talking to judges who take a lot of notes.
Students will often have to explain to judges the intricacies of the team’s competition robot.
For the matches, each team is part of a three team alliance which competes against another three team alliance. The teams within each alliance need to work together to defeat the other alliance. The alliances are either “red” or “blue” and the team’s robot bumper colors are changed for the match accordingly.
During matches, the first 15 seconds is autonomous mode where the drive team have to stay “hands off” the controls for the robot.
Once the matches begin, it’s up to each alliance to score as many points as possible.
There’s a lot of stress at the drive station during matches.
Between matches, the robot gets a lot of attention with parts tightened up and repaired, as necessary, and batteries get charged.
Family and friends cheer our team on during matches.