Does HAL9000 Ring Any Bells?

With Ventura competition just around the corner, the robot had to be refined and fixed. Now, generally, this would be done before our first regional competition, but that would be much too easy and, therefore, unrealistic for a High School robotics team attempting to build a robot in six weeks (if I’ve learned anything in the three years of FIRST, that would be it). But good things come from refinement after competition. For us, the fact that the only things that needed to be looked at following competition were the arm and the shooter was a gift from robot heaven.

Unfortunately, that small gift doesn’t come with breaks. And immediately following Saturday’s final showdown in an exciting event, fit to erase last years game from the memories of all who watched, the mechanics and programming department set out to refine and develop more efficient systems.

The arm mechanism is going to be a more simple device. It will be controlled by only one motor (more like the first prototype arm) and hold a lifting shape similar to our current design. Seeing as the portcullis is easily the most pathetic obstacle out there, with teams ramming into it and getting easy access through, we don’t need to get fancy. We’d much prefer to K.I.S.S. it, keep it simple, stupid.

The tracking system is a whole other beast. Following our failure to make it to the quarterfinals, the programming department worked for about, and this is a rough number, four hours, twenty minutes, and thirty-four seconds (I attempted to track it on my Pebble, but I paused it at some point, I don’t know for how long) on the practice field tuning PID loops for the wheels and refining the Pixy vision tracking system as a whole. Once we were practically forced out of the pit areas and into the stands for the final few matches, we took a much-needed break… for about eight hours. We then got to work on Sunday rewriting comments, adding more details and optimizing the code for more efficient work.

On Monday and Tuesday, mechanics worked hard at redesigning and drive train fixed our transmission and gearing problems. Following Monday’s hard work, the drive team and our coach deemed the robot functional for driving and testing the vision tracking. Success. On Wednesday, we worked until about nine-thirty, starting at three, tuning our PID loop even further and fixing new bugs. The result is something amazing to watch. It is so accurate we are capable of turning to the center of a detected object and being within one degree off from the center, and then firing the ball in a perfect, centered arch. That is, in simple terms, crazy accurate and very effective.



So, this is an early warning for those who might come up against us in Ventura. Watch out for Team 702, because this is the first time in three years of robot building where I feel confident in our ability to kick some ass and take some names. And I personally want some revenge from Los Angeles.

– Ezra (Head Programmer)


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