Saturday, April 22, 2017

Ventura Regionals March 2017

Day 1 - Building

It was 5:30 AM. The morning was cool and damp, and a layer of fog had just begun to settle in the valley.  We were ready to compete in the Ventura Regional.

We were nervous for the competition, though we were well-prepared. It was our first competition, and we didn't know what to expect.

Upon arriving, we went to the pits, hoping to quickly make the changes to the robot, participate in (and hopefully win) the practice matches, and have a relaxed day. Unfortunately, this hope was immediately destroyed as we were hit by a barrage of setbacks. We had packed our tools and safety glasses in another car, which was arriving much later. We didn't even have the tools to unpack the robot; we would have to wait for at least 2 hours for them to arrive, leaving us with little time to make fixes. And worst of all, we couldn't even get in the pit because we didn't even have safety glasses! It was horrible, and we didn't know what to do.

Luckily, help was on the way. The organizers had safety glasses at the pits, which allowed us to go in, and the teams around us were nice enough to let us borrow their tools. We were able to make some minor fixes to the robot while we waited, and by the time the tools arrived, we were in full session. By lunchtime, most of the required fixes had been made; the robot was ready to compete. All we had to do after this was to pass inspection, and one hour later, we cleared it and were finally able to make it on time for our third practice match. We were excited; it was our first time ever on the field. Unfortunately,it did not go as expected. We couldn't get many gears in, and failed to hang at the end, which had been one of our strengths; it was, however, a chance for us to know what to expect for the real games.

In the meantime, we began to make progress in scouting. We went around the pits, collecting valuable information about the other teams' robots, and within a few hours, we had a full database of team information.

After almost an hour of failed attempts, electrical issues, and disconnections, the practice field was about to close down, and at around 6:55PM the field administrator asked us to pack up and leave. We asked them for a small time extension, and hoped that we could get out autonomous program working before the next day. The program did not work at first, but after we made a small adjustment in the program, it was successful, and we could finally pack up knowing that our autonomous program would work.

Day 2 - competing

We arrived at the college from our hotel at 8:00 AM. Our first match was at 9:30, so we had some time to prepare the robot and get our drivers ready for the match. We began to decorate and set up our pit, and our driver team headed down to the practice field to get warmed up.

After another hour of practice, it was finally time for our first match. Our robot performed excellently, as we were able to place 4 gears and hang, and we won the match by a huge margin. It was a tremendous success for us. The second, third, and fourth matches went similarly, and by the 6th match (which we won by 1 point), we were in 2nd place. We did lose the last match by a small margin due to a large penalty, but it did not set us back by much. At the end of the day, we were in 4th place. And best of all, we hung every single time. We had established ourselves as a strong team.

Our pit team, which was responsible for talking to the judges, was also doing very well. The judges were impressed by our innovative wrench design to grab the rope to hang, and were also impressed at our engineering notebook and our progression through FIRST. Some judges did not even believe that we were a rookie team.

We left the college with high spirits, feeling confident about our chances at the rookie award and at our robot performance.

Day 3 - Finals and Award ceremony

We arrived at the college at 8:00 AM, ready to win some more matches. Unfortunately, we did not have the same success as we did the previous day. We lost our first and third matches because of penalties and mishaps. We did, however, win the second and fourth matches, and at the end of the qualification rounds, we were fourth place. We began to scout for teams, and we looked in particularly for teams that had hung consistently and could drop the gear in autonomous on the side pegs.

After much analysis, it was time for the alliance selection. We picked team 1967 the Janksters and team 3759 the SMARTBOTS for our alliance partners. Both teams had matched our criteria and hung fairly consistently.

We were quite excited at this point. It was our first year, and we had done much better than many other teams, including the very experienced teams. It was a huge achievement for us.

We put our best drivers forward for the quarterfinal matches, which both went really well. All three robots in our alliance hung both times, scoring a total of 305 points. We also scored the gear in autonomous both times, which was also a great confirmation of our strength as a team.

Our semifinal matches were against a fairly strong alliance. However, we did not perform as well as had hoped; in our first match, our autonomous failed, and one of the robots did not hand, and in the second match, we didn't get the second rotor, which cost us the match.

After an hour of exhilarating games, it was time for the awards ceremony, and soon after, the emcee was about to announce the winner of Rookie All-Star Award.

"This team cannot be underestimated. They really made their presence on the field." he said. Our hearts started racing.

"They have advanced through FIRST, participating in FLL, FTC, and FRC." he continued. More .

"Their heart-wrenching hanging system working consistently, and they hung almost every time." he announced. At this point, we were going wild.

"The winner of the Rookie All-Star award is team 6560, the Charging Champions!"he exclaimed.

We could hardly contain our excitement. All of our hard work from the past five months had finally paid off. We ran up to the line of judges to claim our award. Later during the ceremony, we also won the Highest Rookie Seed Award, which was also a great accomplishment.

After the awards ceremony ended and we finished packing up, we convened outside to celebrate our success. It was a huge success for us: we had made it to the FRC world championship as a rookie team! We went home, feeling happy but too tired to celebrate.

In conclusion, it was a successful tournament. We won the rookie award, and had made it to the semi-finals, beating over 30 experienced teams.

Here is a link to our photo journal of the event:

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Perris Qualifier 2016

The Perris Qualifier was the last of the season’s qualifiers in California. It was cold when we arrived in the morning we arrived, with a good chance of rain. The setup of our pit table was over quickly and soon we were taken to judging.
After robot inspection, judging, and the driver’s meeting, it was finally time for the matches. First, the prompt for this year’s challenge was played and robots for the first two rounds were given the final ok. The judge was a bit suspicious of the sizing of our robot that we would use  for the second round. We had already checked it in robot inspection and were confident that we would be fine. Yet for some reason, when the box was put over the robot, it did not go all the way down. What? The robot had passed the inspection . . . we had added a flap to the back of the robot which, by itself, did not obstruct the box. The zip ties that held the flap in place were preventing the box from going flat on the ground. It was too late for any more adjustments. The match was going to start any minute, so the team had to cut it. As a rule, changing anything during the  eleventh hour without triple checking it , is a no as we learned it  the hard way.
The match actually went fine and  Ganesh, the driver, was able to maneuver the robot around the field without getting any debris stuck under the robot that could prevent it from moving. The matches went well and all of the team members were able to try their hand on the field, although it was painfully obvious who the better drivers were.
In between the matches, judges were walking around and asking questions which we were able to answer while passing around the questions to those who knew the most about that part of the team’s work.
Those of us in the pit were carefully monitoring our ranking on the pit scoreboard as the final competitions came closer and closer. We were in second place and teams were starting to come up to us in an effort to form an alliance. Finally we had to send up our representative, Anish, with our picks. Then the first team, Robo Lions chose us to be in their alliance. We accepted and the Robo Lions chose Quantum Potential as their 3rdpick.
First we played the semis against the second alliance and won both matches. Charging Champions played both rounds with Robo Lions and Quantum Potentials respectively.
Then it was time for the final matches. 1st match. We were playing the fourth alliance that had a hanging robot as well. We lost by 7 points. And then we won by 4. And then again with 20 points more. We won the competition!!!
We finished packing up the pit as  we waited for the awards to be presented. Jackets, display items, laptops, tools and  everything was packed away so that we would not have to spend time after the competition wrapping up.
At the awards ceremony, we realized we had won connect and second place inspire in addition to being the winning alliance. We had also been nominated for Think, Motivate, PTC, and Rockwell Collins Innovate Award.
We are happy with the results from the Perris competition and we look forward to meeting new teams in the Monrovia regional championships!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

September 20, 2015 Blog: Rebooting the Team

We are the Charging Champions, FTC Team #8660. Last year, as an rookie Team, we made it to the Super-Regional Competition. We have started fresh this year with more team members and a clear path.
What’s in a name?
A lot as it turns out. Companies spend as much as $8,000 on finding a good name. Nike, a popular brand, bears the name of the Greek Goddess of victory. Apple could stand for a number of things, like the stereotypical apple that you put on your teacher’s desk as a child, symbolising intelligence. Windows could mean a lot based on the way you look at it and the list goes on. A name isn’t just a name, the best names have a relation to what the company does and the personality of the company. So then came the pickle of picking our team name.
Most of the team members who are veterans of the program wanted to keep our name Charging Champions. Two out of 6 were willing to change the name completely, and only one out of those two was radical enough to want to change it completely. In addition to the rookies, there were four team members on team change , 1 in the middle, 6 on team Charging Champions.

The team discusses ideas for the team name.
To start our debate off, we focused on questions about who we are and how we want others to know us, as well as what we are hoping to get out of robotics. The FIRST question that was discussed was "what FTC meant to us". The first choice was the stem learning opportunities and leadership skills. The next question was on what we want to be known as. Fun and outgoing, innovative, and professional and organized were all neck-in-neck with each other at a 72 percent choice rate. So we were looking for a name that was, a little paradoxically, loud and professional at the same time. We also wanted a name that would represent our ingenuity and STEM.
The group that wanted to keep our name had the following points:
1. Reputation that came with the name we had used last year
2. People would recognize us including sponsors
3. Our aspiration to charge to be the champions
4. Alliteration made it sound cool
5. The team itself was familiar with the name
6. Wide variety of search results
The group that wanted to change our name came up with the following points:
1. Not a lot of symbolism
2. Did not completely show our team dynamic
3. Other possibilities could be better and there were more choices than just the one
4. Not able to draw in the less robot integrated community
5. Did not display a relatable theme
6. Not very exciting or funny, like our team
7. Together our team came up with a bunch of names:
  • The Supernova
  • Elektro Knights
  • Syntax Error
  • Citrus Circuits
  • Irvine Engineers
  • Plan B
  • Hephaestus
  • Trial and Error
  • Elemental Chaos
  • Diversity Squad
  • Dream Bots
Eventually through debate, we managed narrow down the choices to two. It was Charging Champions against Hephaestus, Greek god of metalworking and technology in the last leg of the race.
The outcome was, drumroll please. . .


Operation: CAD
With the team name decided, we could now split up and focus on different things. The CAD team met up and introduced the idea of computer designing to the new members.
“CAD is short for Computer-Aided Design.” explained CAD expert Anish J as he navigated through the software and produced a complicated robot. The CAD team last year did a great job and got the Charging Champions to the Super-Regionals with their popular animation.
“In CAD, you have to be committed and patient. The software is not that easy at first, but once you learn some basic functions it becomes much easier to use.” said Arjun, another veteran from the team who helped design the robot and animated it.
As the CAD team finished showing the new members, the mentor of the subgroup, Coach Ravi, stepped in and gave a basic structure as to what the team was going to be doing. He pulled out a whiteboard and gave goals for the next week: Arjun and Anish J (the two veterans) were to create a basic chassis, and the Pallavi, Rushil, and Noopur (the new members in the CAD team) were to download the software and try to learn a little bit. Now, with the basic structure in place, the CAD team felt energized and ready to start designing. To whet their appetite, Coach Ravi asked them, “What drivetrain do you think we should have? With all the obstacles in the way, we need a way to overcome them with ease because these obstacles are the main challenge in this game.”
The team then brainstormed and came up with a couple ideas:
  • A tank tread drivetrain
  • Huge wheels with a lot of tread
  • A tank tread drivetrain with shock absorbers to keep the COG low when the robot climbed over the bars on the ramp.
“If we have a regular wheel, it can get trapped between the two bars on the ramp and the motor will have to work extra-hard to get out of that. In the process, it might lose its tread.” argued Arjun.
“Yeah. Also, for the chassis, we should have triangles because triangles take the weight and distribute it evenly.” agrees Noopur. The team continued for a while like this, but slowly came to decisions as to what to do for the drivetrain. They decided to have a tank tread drivetrain system with a lot of space in the middle for a collecting/disposing system for debris.
“Alright. So your homework is to create a basic drivetrain on CAD by next Sunday,” Coach Ravi said to Anish J and Arjun. Then he turned to the rest of the team and said, “And your homework is to download the software and receive help from Anish J and Arjun if possible.”

Training the rest of the CAD team.
Arjun and Anish J helped the rest of the CAD team figure out how to create basic models on Inventor, the software they used. “So to create an object you draw a shape then give it volume, right?” Asked Pallavi, a new member of the team. “Yep.” Replies Anish J.
Anish J and Arjun then got to designing the basic drivetrain. Rushil, another member, asked, “So how would you create a tank belt?”
“Create a slot and create another slot that is smaller than the one you just created. Then extrude it.” The “veterans” explained. As the meeting slowly came to a close, the team wished each other farewell and left the meeting. Just as the team was leaving, a loud sound suddenly cried out: WHIRRRRRR!!!!! The machines that the coaches had been working on were finally up! 

Our New Mini-Factory!
They had been working all morning to get the new workbench installed and the machines working. Before the season, the team decided to get some industrial tools as they did not have access to these last year and struggled a lot.
On Friday, Coach Raj got the workbench and all of the tools, which consisted up a swivel vise, a drill press, a bandsaw, and a belt sander.
“I think we will definitely need a bandsaw and a drill press. Last year, we would end up cutting the metal with a hacksaw, which wasn’t very accurate. We struggled so much last year, so let’s get all of the tools needed so that won’t happen again.” said Coach Raj.
“Yeah. This time we hopefully won’t have to travel to other workshops and factories to get everything.” said Coach Ravi.
“We need to get twenty-four screws to install all of the machines.” Coach Neeraj counted. It was a hot morning, and the coaches just opened up all the machines. and were excited to install them and get them working. The kids decided not to help the coaches as there were many hazards. As the temperatures slowly soared into the nineties and the air got drier and drier, the coaches decided to take a break for a couple of hours to recoup their energy.
It was almost five o’clock when the coaches started working on the tools again. The team had gotten into a huge debate about the team name. The machines were slowly but steadily getting assembled  and bolted. Finally, at around seven o’clock, they finished, and decided to test out the bandsaw. WHIRR!!!!!! It screamed as it cut a small piece of wood.
They also tested the belt sander, which worked excellently, and the drill press, which could have not been better. As a finishing note, they decided to take a selfie in front of the new machines. 

The coaches take a selfie in front of the new workbench. #selfie 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

February 22, 2015 - Starting from Ground Zero!

Hello Blogger,

We are the Charging Champions, FTC Team #8660. This is our third blog (for February 22, 2015). Over the past couple of weeks, we have been making several changes to our robot.

We just competed in the Los Angeles Regional Tournament in Monrovia High School. Last Tuesday, we found out that we were moving on to the super-regional tournament (Hooray!). So we decided to redo our robot, as our old model was not very scale-able.

Earlier, our robot had one point for entry, and the same point let out the balls. This time, we plan to have a robot that collects balls in one end and lets them out through another end. We also plan to drag the rolling goals around.

We also planned on having two pulleys, one on either end to lift up the basket. This will give our basket stability.

There were several ideas put on the table for our basket. Some included:

  1. A square basket with a gate in the back to let out the balls
  2. An L-shaped tubular basket that tilts to let out the balls.
Those were the two main basket ideas. There were a lot of ideas, but team members with similar ideas combined ideas.

We hope to decide our basket design by the end of this week. 

That's it for this week! Stay tuned for more!

The Charging Champions
FTC Team #8660
YouTube Channel:
Facebook Page:
Google Plus Page:
Follow us on Twitter @FtcTeamCC!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

January 24, 2015 Blog: A tilting basket and major changes

Hello Blogger!

We are the Charging Champions, FTC Team #8660. This is our second blog (for January 24, 2015). Over the past couple of weeks, we have been making several changes to our robot.

As shown, the pulley is made out of 80/20 bars. The first bar is a 1020 bar, and all of the other bars are 1010 bars. Now, the pulley only has 1010 bars, so it is a lot smaller.

Earlier, a servo motor used to pull up the brush on an 80/20 bar. However, the servo was very weak, and could not pull it up more than 3 or 4 times before burning out. To solve this problem, we used a DC motor with a re-purposed tank tread idler wheel to wind up the brush.

The basket was being flipped up and down by a servo. However, in the January 11, 2015 Perris Qualifier, the link to the servo was weak, and it caused the whole basket to tilt at a 45-degree angle. Because of this, we were unable to drop balls into the center goal. After the competition, we replaced the servo that tilted up the basket with a DC motor.

Because of all of these new DC motors that we added, there were no ports left in the controllers. As a result, we had to butt-splice the drive motors so that both of the left-side drive (2 motors) was fed into one controller. We did the same thing on the right side.

That's it for this week! Stay tuned for more!

The Charging Champions
FTC Team #8660
YouTube Channel:
Facebook Page:
Google Plus Page:
Follow us on Twitter @FtcTeamCC!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Our first Blog!

Hello Blogger!

We are the Charging Champions, FTC Team #8660. We are a rookie team from Irvine, California.

We have participated in 2 qualifiers; the January 11 Perris Qualifier and the December 7th Monrovia Qualifier. We are also really excited that we are moving onto the regionals!

Please visit our facebook page, our google plus page, our youtube channel, and follow us on Twitter @FtcTeamCC!

Facebook page:
google plus page:
youtube channel:

Stay tuned for more posts!