Reflections from the Past

Two posts in one day?  It can’t be!  Well after being blank for a month I thought it would be ok.  This was something I started on the team website before this blog and never got around to continuing.  It’s a segment remembering a robot from the past because it for some reason has worked its way into the present.  Later I will post the first entry here but today I am going to talk about 2 robots, the 2008 “HR-702 S” and 2013 “Sir Nicholas”.

2007 was a terrible season for me, also my first.  And as 2008 began, most of the team had graduated leaving mostly new members and a still pretty new coach.  After reaching too far in our design the year before, we went back to basics, just make it drive really well and consistently score points.  Fortunately as it was a racing inspired game, driving and scoring went hand in hand.  So we built the fastest robot we could with the biggest drive wheels we could find.  We also had a student designed mechanism.  Students rarely are able to design on their own, but we had a particularly gifted designer that year and he made a cage to handle a ball that was bigger than the entire robot.  Dubbed the “HR-702 S” its name recalled the numerical designations of all the great European sports cars.  It performed beyond all expectations and made it to the finals that year where it was finally defeated.  But one of the things I most remember about that year was the tiny pits.  The “New American Gladiators” was being filmed in the LA Sports Arena that year and half their set including the giant water pit was already built into the arena.  This meant less space for everything, including the pit areas.  Our pit was only 8×8 feet.  No one came around and yelled at teams for standing outside their pits because after robot, cart, and tool boxes, the only place people COULD stand was outside the pit.  It was a great year, and a run the team has yet to repeat, although we have come close a number of times.

2013 was marred by 2 major problems that hurt almost every team.  The first was an unprecedented shrinking of the robot size requirements.  Some teams missed the change entirely making the sounds of a sawzall cutting apart frames a common thing at competition.  We caught it a couple weeks into build and shrank our robot.  Unfortunately this led to the robot’s tendency to fall on its face due to the small footprint and tall mechanism.  The other thing was the climbing pyramid, or as I like to call it ‘The altar of Fail”. FIRST always releases plans to make field pieces using easily obtained building materials.  They are typically bad, but this one was the worst.  Clearly the designer never tried to build it because we had 2 other teams in the room with us attempting to get that thing together and it would only twist and break unless held together by bungee cord and rope.  And as it turned out, it wasn’t even an accurate replica because when we got to competition the real one was shaped totally different and our design couldn’t do anything with it.  Fortunately we had a second competition and some really good friends at team “Circuit of Life”.  They lent us their shooter design and we went to quarter finals in Los Angeles.

The reason I bring these two up is that we took the both of them and created a hybrid.  The fast racing frame of 2008 with the borrowed and modified Frisbee shooting design from 2013.  It is currently getting yet another refit, being converted to use the previous control technology of 2010-2014.  Its job now is to be ready anytime a demo is needed to go out, run really fast and play Frisbee with kids and adults alike.  If only it had a name…

-Davis (Head Coach)

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