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:

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