What Happens During the Main Competition Season?

The official season kick-off is typically the first Saturday in January when FIRST announces the challenge for the season.


The season starts with a kick-off party which, for 2018, was hosted by Gear It Forward, Team 2338, of Oswego.

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.


The FIRST Robotics Competition webcast for the 2018 Power Up season game reveal.

After the webcasts, the team goes into brainstorming mode.


A group of students brainstorming robot design to meet the season challenge.

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.


Our design review board for the 2018 Power Up season - a pretty tough crowd.

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.


The sub-team for the drive train presents their design to the design review board.

Then, it’s off to making robot parts.


Here, a student is drilling holes into a flat bar.

Once the design is figured out, there’s a lot of parts to build.

One of our students is shown here using a manual mill to precision machine a part to length.

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.


Individual parts begin to form assemblies.

Gradually, individual parts turn into assemblies. Assemblies begin to grow into a robot.

A student is attaching a drive train motor for the robot chassis.

And then finally (hopefully) we have something that looks like a robot.

A student is mounting electrical parts to the 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.

The robot is “bagged” for 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 pit area Thursday morning at the 2018 Central Illinois Regional in Peoria. Some teams were still setting up their pit areas.

The first thing that happens on Thursday morning is the team sets up the pit. Everything has a place.


Pit set-up at the 2018 Central Illinois Regional in Peoria.

At competitions, Roaring Robotics has tradition of showing off their students as part of the pit display.

Every team member had a photo for the 2018 competitions.

There’s always robots on the move in the pit areas at competition.

The robot is going to the practice area at the 2018 Central Illinois Regional competition in Peoria.

Thursdays at competitions provide an opportunity to do last minute programming tweaks.

Our drive and programming teams work out some issues at the 2018 Central Illinois Regional competition.

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.

The 2018 competition robot with the cube lift fully extended.

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.

Jack, the Safety Dinosaur

Judges check out the robots to verify that they meet the requirements for the competition.

Our robot got its FIRST inspection sticker!

The drive team is responsible for getting the robot out to the field when needed.

The drive team is moving the robot from the pit area out to the field.

Competitions are big time affairs often held in university arenas.

The area for the 2018 Central Illinois Regional was the Bradley University Renaissance Coliseum.

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.

Team families having dinner at the Peoria North Country Inn & Suites which the team stayed at for 2018 Central Illinois Regional competition.

Students hanging around the pit area during competitions will often end up talking to judges who take a lot of notes.

A team member talks to judges about the team during the 2018 Central Illinois Regional competition.

Students will often have to explain to judges the intricacies of the team’s competition robot.

A student is explaining how the cube lift mechanism works to a judge at the 2018 Central Illinois Regional competition.

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.

The “blue” alliance’s robots are positioned in front of the drive stations for a match at the 2018 Central Illinois Regional competition.

During matches, the first 15 seconds is autonomous mode where the drive team have to stay “hands off” the controls for the robot.


The drive team is “hands off” during the first part a match. The drive station is shown here during the 2018 Central Illinois Regional competition.

Once the matches begin, it’s up to each alliance to score as many points as possible.

Our team’s robot places a cube on the scale during at a 2018 Central Illinois Regional match.

There’s a lot of stress at the drive station during matches.

Students driving their robots from the drive stations during a 2018 Central Illinois Regional match.

Our team’s robot motors down the field with cube in claws.

Between matches, the robot gets a lot of attention with parts tightened up and repaired, as necessary, and batteries get charged.

A student tightens up robot parts between matches at the 2018 Central Illinois Regional competition.

Family and friends cheer our team on during matches.

Enthusiastic cheering for our team during a 2018 Central Illinois Regional match.

Victory!

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