On March 22-24 in Spokane, Washington at West Valley High School, a competition week 4 event, FRC Team 5295 “Aldernating Current”, vault robot of the #4 Playoff Alliance, won its quarterfinal match 2-0, defeated the #1 alliance in the first game in the semi-finals and lost the last two semi-final matches to go 7-9-1 (win-loss-tie) overall. Team 5295 finished qualification matches with a 4-7-1 record (win-loss-tie) ranked #24th of 28 teams. The team went 7-9-1 overall.
The ability to single-handedly move all nine power cubes into the vault attracted the attention of the #4 alliance captain Team 5920 “VIKotics” and host Team 2147 “CHUCK”. Team 5295 “Aldernating Current” selected Team 2147 “CHUCK” as part of our #5 playoff alliance at the Pacific Northwest Championship last April. Our ability to single-handedly fill up the vault allowed our playoff partners to focus on the scale and switches.
Team 5295 had 33 people at the Spokane competition. The 18 students (the most ever at a competition in five years) were from Shelton High (6) and Oakland Bay Junior High (12). The teammates held various positions: Cameron (load-in, pit crew, technician, & load-out); Carolynn (load-in, drive coach, lead scout, alliance selection team representative, & load-out); Dylan R. (co-driver, pit crew, load-out); Dylan S. (pit crew, technician, load-out); Hope (scout & alliance selection); Jacob (scout & alliance selection), Jaeden (load-in, pit chief, technician, load-out); James (scout); Jerome “JJ” (scout), Josh (scout, & alliance selection); Joy (photographer, scout); Juan (scout); Lluvia (volunteer field reset & scout); Rechal (human player, & scout); Robert (safety captain & load-out); Seth (driver, & scout); Te’Yana (human player & scout); Tristin (lead programmer, load-in, driver, pit crew, alliance selection & load-out).
Eight adults participated: M.Bigelow (mentor, chaperon, & volunteer robot inspector), R.Clarey (head coach & travel logistics), F.Newby (chaperon), V.Norwood (chaperon, lunch & evaluation mentor), H.Sedillo (chaperon & lunches), E.Stokely (coach and volunteer field reset lead), A.Walker (mentor, chaperon, & blogspot reporter) and Charlene (bus driver).
Tristin’s grandmother, great aunt, aunt, and two cousins watched matches from the stands.
VOLUNTEERS: For the first time in five years, a student volunteered to help with the event. Lluvia volunteered to help with field reset. E.Stokely volunteered as the field reset lead and M.Bigelow as a robot inspector. It takes about fifty volunteers to run a FIRST Robotics Competition district competition. For more information about volunteering, see https://www.firstinspires.org/ways-to-help/volunteer/event-volunteers
DAY 1: Thursday, March 22, 2018
ELLENSBURG DINNER STOP
The five-and-a-half hour trip was broken up by a stop in Ellensburg (I-5 exit 109) for dinner (heading east at Wendy’s and heading west at Carl’s Jr).
LOAD-IN team of Cameron, Carolynn, Jaeden, Tristin, another team & E.Stokely unloaded the trailer. The adults departed to volunteer registration; E.Stokely to field reset and M.Bigelow to robot inspection. Our four teammates set-up the pit.
DRIVE TEAM MEETING
Carolynn and Tristin represented the team at the 7:30PM drivers meeting. Tripping hazards was given special emphasis.
2018 competition robot Locust again weighed 105# and easily fit inside the perimeter box. The maximum weight allowed is 120 pounds. Due to the 7PM late arrival (pits opened at 5PM) Team 5295 was not able to finish robot inspection by 9PM when the pits closed. Robot inspectors started but did not complete the pneumatic checklist.
DAY 2: Friday, March 23, 2018
Jaeden told the team the status of robot inspection. Carolynn shared information from the drivers meeting and organized the first shift of scouts. Tristin shared tootsie roll lollypops with everyone. With school in session at West Valley High, robot teams were not allowed to show up until 8:15AM when the pits opened. With the extra time Coach Clarey did some team bonding exercises. She explained “Telephone” to those who had never played before. “The funky monkey shews flying.” became “The funky monkey should not fly.” H.Sedillo lead the team in “I am going camping and I am bringing...”. Much laughter at 7:30AM is always a good tonic.
The pit team quickly finished the pneumatics checklist and got Locust through robot inspection early Friday morning.
The drive team took Locust over to the practice field to connect to the field and practice a match on the actual field of play.
Safety Captain Robert displayed the team’s first aid kit, first responder kit, fire extinguisher, battery spill kit, and an eye wash kit on the safety wall on the side of the pit. No safety equipment was used at the West Valley Spokane competition. Robert taped down tarp seams to prevent spectators tripping nearby in the aisles. Safety advisors asked a question mentors had not prepared our Safety Captains for: “What is the team’s gathering point in case of an emergency?” After discussion, the team decided to meet outside the main doors of West Valley High main doors and to the left, which doubled as the team’s lunch spot.
The team received a housekeeping smiley face for its pit condition early Saturday morning from the Safety Advisors. James displayed a miniature version of the playing field (1/48 scale) made from graph paper. For the second time this year, another team wore flannel shirts besides Aldernating Current. Pendleton Team 6442 “Modern Americans” had a 6’6” mascot dressed as Uncle Sam.
At our earlier competition in Wilsonville two weeks ago, Zoe was responsible for putting a fresh battery in Locust before every match. Jaeden modified the battery log. Dylan R. volunteered to install a fresh battery prior to each match. All batteries used in competition were purchased in 2018: Astroids, Centipede, DK, Froggert, Galigan, PacMan, and Sonic. Like most FIRST Robotics Competitions, power at the high school was very limited. The team charged batteries overnight in the room of Dylan R. and Tristin. The team lugged the 14lbs. batteries and 20lbs charger up to the second floor.
PIT CREW: PRE-MATCH CHECKLIST
Jaeden created a pre-match checklist. It has three sections: electrical, mechanical, and pneumatics. The idea is for the technician to complete this prior to each match.
The team uniform consisted of 2018 T-shirts, and flannel shirts. The front of the T-shirt features the team logo teammates designed February 2017. Zoe and Carolynn designed the back of the 2018 T-shirt. The actual back art design was a compromise between student art and manufacturing constraints of our sponsor BlackStarPrint.com. The retro font and pixelated letters remain a hit. Championship sweatshirts and suspenders were spotted among team members.
Carolynn (Jedi) and Hope (Padawan) acted as our Head Scout with assistance from Coach Clarey, V.Norwood, and A.Walker. Each scout clipboard had a legend written by Tristin. All students participated in scouting except for those on the pit crew or drive team. Adults rarely did scouting, a huge change from last year. Another improvement from 2017 was giving scouts time to take a break and walk the robot pits. Carolynn organized scouts into shifts.
Kevin Ross, co-found of FIRST Washington with Eric Stokely, said there are 1 million alums of the FIRST programs in the world. There are 1000 teams here in Washington State. Two hundred institutions offer over $50 million in scholarships to high school seniors and juniors on a FIRST team. More information at http://www.firstinspires.org/scholarships
DEAN’S LIST INTERVIEWS
Judges interviewed Carolynn (10:15AM) and Tristin (11:45AM), the team’s two 2018 Dean’s List Semi-Finalists. The Dean’s List honors those students who best exhibit the values of FIRST.
Seth added a rope to the robot cart to help turn it around corners. Electrical tape in the middle helped hands grip the rope. Carolynn (drive coach; spoke to other alliance coaches), and Dylan R (co-driver) competed in every match. Backup driver Seth drove Locust in matches 6 and 10 while Tristin was at his Dean’s List interview. Tristin (driver) competed in the other qualification matches and the playoff matches. Cameron and Dylan S took turns as the technician, responsible for any last minute adjustments to the robot. Jaeden was the technician in match 30. Rechal and Te’Yana rotated as the human player. The three human players (one from each team) puts new power cubes on the field at the portal (2) and stacks power cubes in the vault (1). The team used a white board to list the human player and technician for each match.
During qualification matches, teams are randomly assigned. Watch matches at https://www.thebluealliance.com/team/5295. These sometimes are loaded a full day after the match takes place.
Quals Match 1 Blue: Left position. Technician Cameron & Human player Rechal. Our autonomous program was not turned on. Locust got 7 cubes into the vault. 468-204 Win 1-0 2RP (Ranking Points) Dylan R. noticed that our alliance partner, host West Valley High Team 2147 “CHUCK”, had a lot of spirit. We would hear them chant“C-H-U-C-K, we chuck it all the way” whenever their team played a match.
PIT Tristin discovered that our autonomous program did not reset encoder values to zero at the beginning of autonomous. He added a line of code to reset the encoder values. Cameron and Jaeden added two side bolts to hold the plastic triangle more securely on the cube grabber. Jaeden figured out how Locust could hold the cube in the high position at start.
Quals Match 6 Red: Center position. Technician Dylan S. & Human player Te’Yana. Locust moves past baseline and puts a cube in to the switch. In teleop Seth drives Locust and puts 8 in the vault. 215-426 Loss 1-1 +0RP for 2RP total ranked 15th.
PIT Crew discovers that Locust cannot get cubes into the switch during teleop. The lifter does not work as intended. There is no easy fix.
Quals Match 10 Red: Center position. Technician Cameron & Human player Rechal Cross the baseline for five points. Seth drives and moves 9 cubes into the vault. Park on platform in endgame. Alliance partner Team 3712 robot does not show up for the match. 117-380 Loss 1-2 +0RP ranked 20th.
PIT Crew added the surgical tubing to help support the initial cube during autonomous. A robot inspector (not M.Bigelow) signs off on the configuration change.
Quals Match 18 Blue: Left position. Technician Dylan S. & Human player Te’Yana. Past baseline in autonomous. Team 5803 drops a cube on the switch. Tristin drives Locust and moves 9 into the vault. 299-280 Win 2-2 +3RP for 5RP total ranked 16th.
PIT Cameron and Dylan R. remove blue bumpers and install red bumpers. Each tightens two wing nuts and one bolt. Jaeden H. discovers an Anderson electrical connection unplugged hidden by tape. Tristin notices that our pneumatics is losing pressure. E.Stokely recommends tightening the dial and leaving it alone. As all this happens, Team 5920 visits. They are an alliance partner in upcoming match 22.
Quals Match 22 Red: Right position. Technician Cameron & Human player Rechal Locust moves forward in autonomous but not past the baseline. During teleop, Locust gets 9 cubes to the vault. 398-50 Win 3-2 +2RP for 7RP total now ranked 13th.
PIT Crew notices that of the right two motors, one is cooler and the other warmer. Tristin N. says the right motors have died the last two matches. Ben, the lead mechanical guide of Team 4120 (alliance partner for match 28) wonders if enough power is going to both motors. Tristin checks this with a multi-meter and sees power going to both motors. Jaeden has Cameron swap out the #3 motor just in time to queue. Time is critical; there isn’t enough time to go through the checklist.
Quals Match 28 Red: Center position. Technician Dylan S. & Human player Te’Yana Locust moves forward one foot in autonomous and stops. Locust can only move in circles. Places 0 cubes into vault. 261-261 Tie 3-2-1 +1RP for 8RP total
QUEUE The drive moves directly back to the queue for match 30. Jaeden and Dylan R. replace red bumpers with blue ones. Ben with Spokane Team 4120 “Jagwires” sticks around to help diagnose the problem. We discover that no one plugged the motor controller into the new motor #3.
Quals Match 30 Blue: Left position. Technician Jaeden & Human player Te’Yana. In autonomous, Locust crosses baseline. Yeah! The right motors are now working. Both partners place a cube in our switch. Locust and Kettle Falls Team 4980 “Canine Crusaders” get six cubes into vault. 490-228 Win 4-2-1 +3RP 11P total. Our alliance set a new high score for the day. Te’Yana exclaims “We’re in 11th place!”
PIT Jaeden notes that the checklist was used in only four of the first seven matches. Using the checklist would turn match 28 into a win from a tie simply by plugging the motor controller into motor #3. Gremlins now visit us more regularly.
Quals Match 34 Red: Right position. Technician Cameron & Human player Rechal. Crosses baseline in auto. In teleop Team 5295 gets one cube into the vault and then plays defense preventing Team 4980 “Canine Crusaders” from climbing. The strategy does not work and a 289-300 Loss drops us to 4-3-1 +0RP for 11RP total now ranked 16th.
SAFETY GLASS TABLE From 4-5PM, James and Juan sit at the safety glass table. They collect safety glasses, clean them, and hand them out to visitors (not team members). Each team signs up to cover one hour at the safety glass table at the entrance to the pit.
PIT Matt, a mentor with Team 4061 “SciBorgs” suggests installing the “Power Over Ethernet” (POE) distributed in the Kit-of-Parts at the radio. Jaeden discovers we did not bring this along. The POE greatly reduces the chance of a power reboot during a match. Mentor Matt hands out a dozen red clips that tie two mating Anderson connectors to each other; they cannot separate. Silverdale Team 3223 also says any wires should be unstressed going into electrical boxes.
Quals Match 41 Red: Left position. Technician Dylan S. & Human player Rechal. Crossed baseline in auto. In teleop got 2 power cubes into our switch and 5 into the vault. Parked at the platform in the endgame. 143-264 Loss 4-4-1 +0RP 11RP total ranked 19th.
PIT Dylan S. and Jaeden replace the green rollers in an attempt to improve Locust’s ability to pickup cubes. Another bumper swap. At Wilsonville (with 37 teams competing), we were done at this point for the day having completed 9 matches. Here in Spokane (28 teams) we have two more matches today.
Quals Match 45 Red: Right position. Technician Dylan S. & Human player Te’Yana. Locust moves forward during auto. It drops a cube into our switch just as teleop starts. Locust moves 6 into the vault. Team 3575 adds three more to completely fill up the vault. 146-338 Loss 4-5-1 +0RP for 11RP total ranked 21st.
PIT Jaeden replaces short bolts with a longer one that hold on the right roller. This should remove the wobble in the roller. Dylan S. files off sharp edges including new cable ties and vacuums chips away from the electronics. Cameron completes the checklist.
Quals Match 50 Blue : Center position. Technician Cameron & Human player Rechal. Locust does not cross baseline in auto. Got a cube in our switch, one on our opponent’s switch and 4 in the vault. Parked at the platform in the endgame. 259-426 Loss 4-6-1 +0RP for 11RP total ranked 24th.
SENIOR PHOTO Kevin Ross exhorts seniors to: recognize that being part of the FIRST community will open doors in the future; stay in touch with your team; and always apply ‘Gracious Professionalism’.
PIT Crew fixed the lift and practice picking up cubes and placing them in the switch. Tristin believes that Locust was in the best condition of the season.
TEAM 488 SUMMER CAMERA WORKSHOP Seattle Team 488 “Xbot” (24-9 so far in 2018) is losing a lot of seniors this year. To mitigate this, they will have a camera workshop this summer covering both hardware and software. Team 488 uses top of the line gear (ZED camera or the professional version of Microsoft Connect camera). One step down from this is the JETSON TX1 (a $200 part available for free at FIRST CHOICE) which does a very good job according to robot inspector J.Wright. Out of the box, J.Wright used his Jetson to video his kitchen and then walked it virtually. At the 2017 week 1 competition in Auburn, robot inspector J.Wright educated Dylan R. and Tristin on how best to write autonomous code. He admires Team 5295 for our mentality of “We don’t have a skill; let’s go get it.”
DINNER MEETING Everyone ate as much pizza as they wanted in the lobbly/dining area at our Ramada Inn. Coach Clarey ordered dinner from a local pizzeria. Having spoken earlier with head coach Clarey, coach Stokely shared some positives: our robot Locust was functional and moved in every match. A.Walker commented that Clarey and Stokely are doing the best job in five years teaching ‘Gracious Professionalism’ to teammates.
DAY 3: Saturday, March 24, 2018
TEAM 5295 RANKS POTENTIAL ALLIANCE PARTNERS
At breakfast – with a good night’s sleep - Carolynn, Hope, Josh & Tristin reviewed the scout sheets for a quick half-hour. They prioritized potential robot partners based on their performance noted on our scout sheets.
Quals Match53 Blue: Right position. Technician Dylan S. & Human player Rechal. In autonomous, Locust drove past the baseline to the switch. Locust bumped the switch wall and accidently dropped a power cube on the opponent’s side of our switch. Locust got 9 cubes in the vault. 302-385 Loss 4-7-1 +0RP for 11RP total and #24 after qualifications.
After each team competes in 12 qualification matches, the teams are ranked based on wins and ranking points. The top eight ranked teams become alliance captains and select their two alliance partners. These alliances do not change throughout the playoffs.
With eight teams unpicked, the alliance captain of the #4 playoff alliance – Paulouse WA Team 5920 “VIKotics” (#5 after qualifications) – and its partner host Spokane Team 2147 CHUCK (#8 after qualifications) “graciously invite Team 5295”. Cheers rang out. Team 5295 representative Carolynn C. said we “accept your gracious offer.”
Palouse School District has one elementary school and one high school. Palouse High home to Team 5920 “VIKotics” graduated 14 students last year, and will graduate 23 more in 2018. Its sister school district, Garfield, has one elementary school and a middle school. Neither elementary school has an FIRST Lego League team. Students from both school districts attend the sole middle and high school. There is no FIRST Tech Challenge team at the middle school. Both school districts are FFA (Future Farmers of America). Team 5920 is in its fourth year. Its key mentors came from other teams. A mentor from Tekoa Team 4608 “Duct Tape Warriors” knew the tools and grants to get. Another mentor had been with Pullman Team 4061 “SciBorgs” for seven years. Key funding comes from a fall spaghetti feed which raises $5000. There are only 300 students in the two school districts combined!
After alliance selection, teams ate lunch. After lunch we moved to the other side of the spectator stands and sat with our alliance partners.
QF2-1 Red: Our #4 playoff alliance (5920-2147-5295) faced off against the #5 playoff alliance (6442-4089-2148) in the quarterfinals. The favored alliance wears the red bumpers. Technician Cameron and Human player Rechal. While our alliance dressed in flannel, our three team alliance in the stands chanted “Let’s go Vikings, let’s go!”, “C-H-U-C-K; we chuck it all the way”, and “Al-der Po-wer” to get our alliance in the right mindset. Locust got nine cubes into the exchange filling the vault. Team 5920 and 2147 dominated the scale and our switch early. 418-190 Win 1-0. Another chant: “We are proud of you. Yes, we are proud of you.”
QF2-2 Red: Technician Dylan R. and Human player Rechal. Team 5295 got nine cubes into the exchange filling the vault. Team 5920 controls the scale and both alliance partners control both switches. 342-54 Win 2-0 and advance to semi-finals.
SF1-1 Blue: Our #4 playoff alliance (5920-2147-5295) faced off against the #1 playoff alliance (5803-4513-6076) in the semi-finals.Technician Dylan R. and Human player Rechal. Team 5295 got nine cubes into the exchange filling the vault. Although Team 5803 “APEX” controls the high scale, our alliance partners control both switches. 284-229 upset Win 1-0. We are one game from the finals.
SF1-2 Blue: Technician Cameron and Human player Rechal. Locust got nine cubes into the vault. The #1 alliance protected their switch very well. 274-503 Loss 1-1. The winner of the next match heads to the finals.
SF1-3 Blue: Technician Cameron and Human player Rechal. Locust got nine cubes into the vault. The #1 alliance holds their switch. 279-407 Loss 1-2. Our #4 playoff alliance is eliminated and will not play in the finals. Afterwards a Team 5803 mentor said to Team 5295 “You have a good robot.”
FINALS: The #1 alliance defeated the #2 alliance 2-1 in the finals.
THANK YOU VOLUNTEERS When the volunteers were thanked Dylan R. and Tristin led a cheer of “We are proud of you. Yes we are proud of you.”
LOAD-OUT Cameron, Carolynn, Dylan R., Dylan S., Jaeden, Robert, & Tristin bagged Locust, packed up the pit, and loaded the trailer.
TEAMMATE COMMENTS “Excited” “Fun”
“We were closer than last time.”
“We went here and had fun”
“A little bit stressful and a lot of fun”
“Scouting is fun but tiring”
“Stressful crazy and an emotional roller-coaster”
“We got things fixed a lot”
“Ah we had a problem. Ah they are fixed.”
“Gremlins think we are a rest stop”
“Tired and we are really happy to be going home. It was amazing.”
HOME We arrived back at Shelton High at 11:30PM.