Flat Mountain Mechanics @ FRC Troy District Competition

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[photo credit Daniel Ernst]

The Flat Mountain Mechanics took to the road for their second district competition. We drove about 2 1/2 hours southeast to Troy, Michigan for another busy weekend.

During our first match at the Troy competition, Team #4819 experienced a crisis. The robot must not have fully grasped the 3rd-level bar on the tower, causing it to fall several feet to the field floor! The crowd gasped and we were worried that our robot was broken, but our drivers just re-centered the robot and started climbing once again. Despite the fall, we still earned 24 points in that match! Both mentors and students carefully examined the robot afterward, but miraculously, no damage was visible! Praise God!

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[photo credit Daniel Ernst]

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At the Flint district competition, our robot’s sole function was to climb the tower. In the 6 hours the team was allowed to physically work on the robot before this second competition, they added another mechanism to hold and dump frisbees into a low goal.

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Christian worked for many hours in addition, programming the robot to move over to the low goal and dump frisbees in autonomous mode. Frisbees dumped during the 15-second autonomous portion of the competition count with double points.

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In this photo, our robot is on the right side of the image preparing to dump those frisbees through the low goal. The man in the yellow shirt to the far right is the Head Referee, who observes to ensure that no game rules are broken. Foul points can be awarded to the opposite alliance if a robot violates certain rules.

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Team #4819 earned 4 points during each match that the robot dumped those 2 frisbees they were allowed to preload.

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After the first 15 seconds of autonomous mode, the team drivers are allowed to step up to the drivers’ station, using joysticks to control the robot for the rest of the match. Here, our robot was scurrying back to safety under the tower in preparation for its tower climb.

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[photo credit Daniel Ernst]

Team member Daniel manned the joysticks while Allie monitored the computer “dashboard” which displays information from the robot’s sensors. Our Lead Mentor, Mr. Prewitt, stood behind to coach as necessary.

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Because of difficulties with centering the robot for its 3rd-level climb, where the tower bar is narrow, pressure on the robot’s hooked arm caused a fracture later in the day! Back in the pits, team members reinforced the arm to enable it to continue competing.

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Terry was one of the mentors who actively assisted the pit crew between matches. A set of procedures must be followed to reset the robot between each match, and sometimes Christian needed to tweak the programming code to improve the autonomous mode performance.

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[photo credit Daniel Ernst]

Although few other robots were designed to climb to the 3rd level of the tower, we observed that Team #453 was also a consistent inside climber. Our team and theirs were assigned to the blue alliance in a match on Friday evening. We discussed strategy ahead of time with Team #453 because our robots would certainly not fit together at the top of the tower. We allowed their robot to climb first to the 3rd level because their pneumatic system was speedy, and then our robot climbed to the 2nd level. With Team #469’s 1st level climb added in, this blue alliance earned 60 climb points. 34 more frisbee points accumulated for a match total of 94.

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After about sixty competition matches on Friday, of which our team participated in 9, I think our team was in 11th place of all 40 teams at Troy. Not a bad ranking, considering our devastating fall in our first match and the fact that we’re a rookie team.

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The Flat Mountain Mechanics were granted a few minutes of test time at the tower to iron out some alignment issues before we drove to the hotel for the night. Whew! What a long day (at the competition facility from 8am to 8pm)!

Stay tuned for another post with more excitement from the second day of our Troy District Competition:)

3.29.13

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