Up in the Arch

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The Gateway Arch facilities were closed when our team walked the grounds on Friday. Our family decided to revisit the Arch and take the “Journey to the Top” on Sunday before we headed home.

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Waiting for our scheduled tram.

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From the top of the Arch, we could see the St. Louis Cardinals’ game.

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Too bad the Tigers weren’t in town.

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To the right is the Edward Jones Dome where Team #4819 competed in the FRC World Championship.

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Storm clouds with high winds approached St. Louis, and we could feel the Arch swaying at the top!

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The murky Mississippi River.

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With my permission, Rebecca took over the camera for the rest of our visit.

[photo credit: Rebecca]

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[photo credit: Rebecca]

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[photo credit: Rebecca]

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[photo credit: Rebecca]

4.27.14
Gateway Arch
St. Louis, Missouri

 

Scott Field Heritage Air Park

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Although the robotics championship was in St. Louis, Missouri, our team’s hotel was located 23 miles southeast in Illinois. [Much cheaper than staying in St. Louis.] Rebecca was excited our hotel was near the Scott Air Force Base. We didn’t hear or see the amount of air traffic she had hoped, but we discovered this Scott Field Heritage Air Park on our way out of town.

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4.27.14
Scott Field Heritage Air Park
Scott Air Force Base, Illinois

Flat Mountain Mechanics Visit the Gateway Arch

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2014 Official Drive Team – Flat Mountain Mechanics 4819

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Fierce competitors!

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But they do actually know how to smile!

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Since Christian was technically considered the “human player,” who handled the ball alongside the field, our true “drive team” was composed of these highly-skilled young women. Rebecca controlled the robot’s direction, movement, and cannon (ball-launcher). Her teammate to the left controlled the robot’s “arms” and ball intake mechanism. Rebecca’s teammate to the right was the team’s drive coach, who led strategy discussions with other drive teams and coordinated game-time maneuvers.

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Rebecca can kick this high on the Gateway Arch :) Even though our family was unable to attend martial arts practice this spring because of constant robot meetings, our kids have not forgotten their training!

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4.25.14
Gateway Arch
St. Louis, Missouri
Team 4819
Flat Mountain Mechanics
2014 World Championship
FRC 2014 Aerial Assist

Flat Mountain Mechanics go to 2014 World Championship

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The Flat Mountain Mechanics were blessed with a miraculous 2nd season. Successful performances at FRC District competitions in March and our Michigan State Championship in April qualified us for a trip to the 2014 World Championship in St. Louis, Missouri!

We had only 11 days to pray, plan, prepare, pack and procure funds for the trip! Thanks to a state grant covering competition fees, a nearby team offering to share their paid charter bus, our RESD’s coverage of hotel costs and some additional transportation, donations from a few new sponsors, additional monies from active sponsors, and generous gifts from family, our trip was fully funded!

By the way, I must apologize for my bloggy absence. I’ve been buried under photos since April—under 1200 Missouri photos alone! Due to my ridiculously snap-happy camera trigger finger, our challenging internet bandwidth limits, and my procrastination, I’m a bit behind (again). Here’s my first step toward catching up.

I tried to limit the number of photos posted here on my blog, but more pics can be found in this flickr album. Scroll down the album about halfway to find my Missouri photos.

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On Wednesday, April 23rd we traveled 9 hours southwest to the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Missouri. Core team members unpacked the robot crate, which had been shipped to Missouri ahead of the team. The robot nearly swallowed Rebecca during some repairs and adjustments.

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Some more tweaks on Thursday morning.

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Rebecca fielded questions from other teams scouting in preparation for upcoming matches.

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A few practice matches helped fine-tune robot settings.

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Our drive team practiced a strategy we observed at the Midland district competition. Robot launches the ball over truss to the human player, earning points for both truss and an assist. Human player can then inbound the ball to our robot or another alliance bot for the score.

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These two excellent photographs were captured by Daniel Ernst. This talented man volunteers his time as an official FIRST photographer for Michigan events, and he even traveled to Missouri to work his magic there! His Flickr profile claims that he is not a professional, but these images certainly appear professional to me. I thank Mr. Ernst for his generosity in sharing his artwork for the advancement of robotics!

[photo credit Daniel Ernst]

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In this match, the team with orange shirts and crazy red hats was from Canada. Throughout the competition we also played with teams from Israel, Mexico, China, and all across America, including Hawaii. What an experience!

[photo credit Daniel Ernst]

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Near the end of match 42, our robot suddenly stopped moving. Video replay reveals that a robot carrying a ball rammed into the back of our robot. That force snapped our plexiglass shield and turned off our robot’s main power switch. Rebecca’s camo duct tape (conveniently hauled around in her backpack) came to the rescue!

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Thankfully, our alliance still won match 42, improving our record to 2-1 with a rank of 48 out of 100 robots in Curie Division.

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Match 78 was our highest-scoring contest of the competition, winning 280 to 102. Here our robot completed a “kiss pass” to Las Guerrillas Team #469 from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, who went on to win the Curie and Einstein championships!

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Friday morning Rebecca replaced some more rivets on the robot.

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Christian became a pro at inbounding the ball.

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I wish I had a video of this match 129. Since rookie Team #5125 didn’t have a working launch mechanism, Christian asserted that his robot code could handle a 2-ball auton. Rebecca argued against it, since our robot had not successfully performed a 2-ball auton in competion. Nevertheless, Christian placed Team #5125’s ball so it was touching both robots in preparation for the legal maneuver.

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As the match began, our robot’s sensor detected the left goal was lit up, so it began to drive forward.

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Robot launched our ball through the “hot” goal for extra points.

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Next, Christian’s autonomous program operated the intakerator wheels to load the second ball…

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and launched it to score! Christian’s program worked!!!

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In that same match, Christian successfully caught a ball trussed to him and passed the ball to our robot so we could score it. Our drive team’s strategical practice paid off, and we won that match!

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Rebecca’s defensive driving skills continued to improve.

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By Saturday morning, we were exhausted, but our team persevered.

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Strategy discussion with upcoming alliance members.

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Match 153 was our last scheduled match of the qualifying competition. Unfortunately, I can’t find a video of it, but these alliance members worked so smoothly together. Their earlier discussions were vital to this win.

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Rebecca played excellent defense against bot 294, allowing our alliance member 4055 to carry the ball down the field.

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Game rules prevent pinning for more than 5 seconds at a time. The ref began her count here, but Rebecca never pinned longer than was legal, avoiding foul calls.

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We won that close match, which moved us into 16th place of our 100-team Curie Division.

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Even after our last scheduled match, team members spoke with one of the blue-shirted judges, explaining unique features of our robot.

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Rebecca filed some rough edges on the “whatchamacallit,” hoping for a chance at further play in the elimination matches.

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Mr. Spiece from Team #68 Truck Town Thunder, with whom we’d won the Midland district competition, shared some welcome advice before we headed to the division alliance selection ceremony.

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Despite an ultimate ranking of 22 (of 100) in Curie Division with a record of 7-3-0, our team was not selected to play in the elimination matches. As the Flat Mountain Mechanics prepared to pack the robot back in its crate, a team member jokingly labeled Rebecca as “Running on empty.” Wasn’t that the truth!

Since our geeky family enjoys playing with numbers, we thought we’d figure out where we statistically placed among all FRC teams. According to FIRST facts, more than 2700 teams participated in this season’s game challenge. The top 400 FRC teams participated in this 2014 World Championship. Rebecca compiled the rankings from all 4 divisions, including Curie, Archimedes, Galileo, and Newton, to see where we landed. Can you believe that we actually ranked 92nd of the 2700+ FRC teams from all across the globe? Amazing! We are so blessed!

4.23.14 – 4.26.14
Team 4819
Flat Mountain Mechanics
2014 World Championship
St. Louis, Missouri
FRC 2014 Aerial Assist