Sunday, January 8. 2017
Today is the second day of build season. I'm pretty sure the only reason that you could get dozens of high school students up early on a weekend is for robots! Even though it’s a blizzard out and the roads are absolutely horrendous, many mentors and even more students slogged their way through the snow to make it here today.
We spent yesterday reviewing the game manual and then split off into groups to postulate and share different strategies. The students and mentors then all regrouped and shared out their strategies and we began prioritizing which ones we want to base our robot design on. After dinner, students broke off into groups with mentors to begin creating some prototype designs.
And now, as the wind and the snow whip around outside the school windows, we are gathered (more like barricaded) in the tech wing to continue our work. This morning, we finished up our initial designs and we are now discussing the pros and cons of each one. Hopefully, by the end of the day, we will at least narrow our choices down to one or two designs and continue prototyping on our work shop.
Meanwhile, some of the mentors and alumni are (very) hard at work building and painting a copy of the field in the wood shop for us to use while we prototype and build our robot, and to use during our local scrimmage towards the end of Build Season: Rochester Rally XIII! This year’s Rally is on Sunday, February 19th, and it is free and open to the public!
For the rest of the week, we will finalize our designs and prototype them, and hopefully begin working on our final build.
Happy day after Kickoff!
-Student Blogger Katie
Saturday, January 7. 2017
Today is one of the most exciting days of the year that us robotics kids look forward to. Today is Kickoff, when we find out what this year’s challenge is! The taste of excitement fills the air making even the calmest of spirits loud and proud. We all gathered by the sports entrance to our school, huddling for warmth and poking fun at one another. When the big old yellow vehicle rolled up we let out shouts of joy. Everyone rushed out the door and onto the bus. The team this year is larger than ever making the bus extra cramped. Cheers of laughter echoed in the cramped, metallic space of the bus. Once everyone was loaded on and checked off the attendance list we set off to our destination, Spencerport High School. The ride was a bit uncomfortable for some, since several of the kids were sitting three to a seat. It was so cold that the windows where iced over, which made for a good surface to draw quirky pictures on.
When we made it to Spencerport we rushed off of the bus, eager to get inside to the warm, heated building. Spencerport’s robotics team 3015 Ranger Robotics has been hosting the local Kickoff since last year. They have been doing an amazing job by creating a fun and exciting environment for all. They’re even generous enough to hold a raffle give away! Some of the prizes vary from a simple flash drive to a flat screen TV. They also have tons of yummy, scrumptious donuts in their cafeteria for everyone to enjoy. That’s actually the very first place some of us went when we got in…
Once we all filled up on tasty donuts, it was time for all the teams to gather in the auditorium for the live stream. A slide show played on the projector of various pictures submitted from different teams. Whenever there was a picture of our team we would proudly cheer. When everyone calmed down there was some quick speeches from sponsors talking about various opportunities FIRST gives its members, from experience to scholarships. Once all of that was over, the stream began.
It started with a very fun and interesting music video about steampunk (by the end, some of us were unashamedly singing along). We happened to see one or two pics of our team in it, which was very exciting (one of the pics even had me in it while I was wearing the mascot costume!). The stream then went on to show off some crazy shenanigans by the founders of FIRST. When it was all said and done, they finally showed us the game that we have all been dying to see: FIRST STEAMWORKS.
This year’s steampunk-themed game, FIRST STEAMWORKS, is played by two alliances of three robots each on a 27 ft. by 54 ft. 4 in. field. Each match is 2 minutes and 30 seconds long. Robots operate using pre-programmed instructions for the first 15 seconds of each match, and then drivers control the robots for the remainder of the match. The object of STEAMWORKS is for robots to work together to gain points by scoring green balls, or ‘fuel’, into the low or high goals of a ‘boiler’ to build up steam pressure, or by retrieving and delivering gears to the ‘airship’ in the middle of the field. The human players on the airship (yes! Human Players in the middle of the field!) will collect and install the gears, and if enough gears are installed then they will be used to turn the rotors and award the alliance extra points. During the last 30 seconds of the match, ropes are deployed from the airships, and robots can climb up the ropes to score more points. Check out the game animation here!
Here is a picture of this year's field:
We made our way back to our school to begin brainstorming. Some people already came up with a bunch of ingenious ideas on the bus ride back, but before we can put those ideas in to motion we need to go over the game manual. So for the next few days we will be studying the manual and coming up with neat ideas to make the best robot we can, and make this year a great one!
-Student Blogger James
Wednesday, January 4. 2017
Kickoff is starting this Saturday, 1/7/17 and we are excited! Here’s a random fact: I’m a freshman, brand new to the team! I’ll be writing a lot of blog posts come Build Season as a new addition and I hope to write interesting blog posts for y'all. So here’s what we know based on the game teaser that dropped on September 20th:
· The theme is steampunk, which is evident.
· There may be an art element, it’s in the logo.
· It may include water and/or steam, there’s no such thing as steampunk without steam.
· The game may include flight, in the trailer they said “And prepare to take flight!”
Super long list am I right?
All jokes aside, goodbye good peoples of the world and I’ll see you (or speak to you over the interweb) later!
-Student Blogger Anne-Marie
Monday, October 31. 2016
Hello! My name is Julia, and it’s my second year on the team as a sophomore. I am on marketing, electrical, and leadership as the FTC (FIRST Tech Challenge) Coordinator. This past Saturday was our 12th annual Rah Cha Cha Ruckus off-season competition. It’s Halloween themed, and hosted by several local FRC teams, including us!
Ruckus is so much fun because we are able to play last year’s game, FIRST STRONGHOLD, one last time. It is also a great way to train new team members on how competitions work and let our drive team practice. While doing this, we are having a fun time connecting with other robotics teams in the area. This year we won the “Restless Spirits” award (Spirit Award!), and were semi- finalists.
We also submitted a FIRST Parody video on our YouTube channel, called "All My Friends Are Robots" and is based off Heathens by Twenty-One Pilots. The footage in the video is from Ruckus, and was filmed and edited by one of our lovely students, Ally Darrer. We were lucky to have a local school band called "Pilot The Universe" do the singing for us!
Julia, Student Blogger
Our view of the field from the stands:
Our "Restless Spirits" Award:
Our lead teacher adviser, Mr. Brewer, dabbing in the stands for the music video:
Tuesday, July 19. 2016
Rachel was a pit crew baby this year (she’s never done pit crew before), and this is what she had to say about IRI Pits: “It felt really good to feel like I was involved in the robot in competition!”
Julia was a hard-timing scouter this year, with me! “I’m glad I scouted for nine hours straight because I got to see all the amazing robots.” I’m just impressed she can find a bright side to that.
Jordan is in charge of our 3D prosthetic hand printing, as well as our human player position. This is what he said: “Andy Baker remembered me – ‘nuff said.” For a bit of a back story, back in our Toronto Regional, Jordan met Andy Baker and talked about prosthetic hand printing for abut ten minutes. Three months later, Andy Baker remembered Jordan and Jordan had a bit of a fan girl moment.
Geoff, our head pit crew student, had this to say about pit crew: “Everything broke and then we fixed it; also, peanut butter tastes surprisingly good on bison burgers.” Well, that’s my brother for you in a nut shell.
Austin is our student Coach, and he stated: “I had an amazing time SCALING the rankings, and we did great considering the LOW BAR we set for ourselves.”
Casey, our driver: “We finally git gud, and we played excellence defense.” This is one of the reasons why we pay him to drive the robot and not write the blog posts.
Andrew, our Auxiliary driver: “It was nice when in pre-match we didn’t have to tell the other teams what to do, and everyone agreed on what the correct strategy was.”
Ian, our other scouter, says, “Shirts. Shirts everywhere.”
Aaron, our electrical pit crew member, says, "BOMBSQUAD ROCKETEERS LARGE BUILDING AMAZING TEAMS BEHIND SCHEDULE 6-stack for the win!"
Zack, my other senior buddy who technically already graduated, had this to say about our AMAZING last competition together with the team, “The scaler broke many times, but it worked in the end.”
Calvin, my other pit crew buddy, says, “It was really amazing to see the best of the best, and to be considered one of them was such an honor.”
Me, of course, forgot to put myself into the quote list, and I have THIS to say about IRI: “My final competition was spent on a hard bench with no back scouting for ten hours straight, and I REGRET NOTHING. Being strategy lead was fun. :D”
We are missing one member: Ethan, because they were not at the meeting where I collected these wonderful pieces of art.
The IRI – The Indiana Robotics Invitational. After twelve years of building robots, Team 1511, Rolling Thunder finally got a chance to compete at what many consider to be the most competitive off-season in the world of FIRST (Yes, even more prestigious than Ruckus. Which is, by the way, the 29th of October, 2016. Find us at the Main Street Armory in Rochester, NY).
Our competition started out at six-thirty in the morning on Thursday, so we could leave as early as possible for the ten hours’ drive to Indianapolis. Was the drive fun? Not really. Did we catch lots of Pokémon at the rest stops, OF COURSE?!
We had amazing Mexican food Thursday night, where Zack, Austin, Geoff and I ate the three hottest hot sauces that the restaurant had to offer. Austin was more adventurous, and combined the top five hottest, poured it onto his burrito, and then proceeded to cry while eating said burrito, but they were tears of manliness and determination, my friends. Jordan had a taco that he claimed to be the best taco of his life, and Calvin stared at us all like we were crazy. Many tubes of sour cream and glasses of iced tea were consumed that night, pro bono from the restaurant, because they all agreed with Calvin that we were crazy. It was a good night.
Our team managed to put together a whopping total of 12 backpacks. When you realize that only 13 students went, that’s a pretty cool number. All of the backpacks included things like rulers, notebooks, pens, pencils, and coloring equipment for elementary students. The backpack drive is a charity drive that IRI holds every year.
Qualification matches started at 10:30 am the next day, and our first match was incredible! We scaled in under three second, won the match, and got four ranking points. Sadly, after that, our scaler’s motor disengaged, no longer worked, and we plummeted in the ranks. We had fun anyway.
That night was a finale, fit for FIRST kings and queens. We were treated to Dean Simmons and the Kamen Brothers, and a cool laser light show! They’re an incredible band that takes pop songs and classic rock songs and turns them into Heavy metal FIRST covers. In Casey’s words, “I’ve never cringed so much in my life.” Geoff says, “They were good at playing, good at singing, very creative, but they weren’t good at putting the right number of syllables in their sentences.” In my words, “IT WAS AMAZING.” But then again, I am the colorful metal head of this team.
Friday brought more qualification matches, and a higher standing in the rankings. We ended qualifications at 37th out of 69th, and we’re pretty happy with that. Our first time at the competition, and we ranked about smack dab in the middle. That ain’t bad. We weren’t chosen for eliminations, but that was okay, because that meant we could all take a corn break and go outside to eat the corn that Team 1024 graciously provided at their corn cookout fundraiser.
Backstory: Apparently, in Indiana, it is very common to have corn cookouts at big events. We can no longer eat New York corn without being slightly sad. We spoke with the locals (Team 1024) and asked them if the cookout was a normal thing. They said, “Of course! You should see our state fair. It’s centered around corn and fried stuff.” I thought this was strange, until Jordan pointed out, “Well, our state fair is centered around chocolate milk and potatoes.”
He is very right.
That night, we ate dinner at a local restaurant (the bison burgers were certainly interesting, especially when covered in peanut butter), and we walked back to the hotel to give one of our parent-mentors a birthday cake. He didn’t know it was coming, and we sang happy birthday 1511 style in the middle of the hotel lobby. This was great. Personally, I was surprised that we didn’t get kicked out.
We spent an extra night, and drove home at 7 am on Sunday. We slept for most of the ride home. It was also great.
For Zack and I, this was our last competition with our team. We both joined four long (but very short) years ago as Freshman, and we both think we ended this year with a bang. Not only did we make it to the Einstein field for the first time in our team’s history, but we also made it to IRI, and then ranked reasonably well. Our robot was robust, our drive team was efficient, and the scouters were more dedicated than ever.
I’m very proud of this team.
This will be my last blog post, and I hope that you’ve enjoyed the fun we’ve had together over the past four years. I pass my torch on to Katie now, and I know that she’ll do amazingly.
It’s been real, FIRST. And for 1511, one more thing: I expect to see you on Einstein again, and I’ll be watching from my dorm room. I’ll be cheering with you, and my roommates will probably hate me for it.
-Recently graduated, now Alumna blogger KT
Rolling Thunder's IRI Crew with the Donated Backpacks!
Team 1511 Penfield Robotics
The Thunder just keeps getting louder!
Welcome to the blog of Rolling Thunder, FIRST Robotics team 1511. The team is from Penfield High School in Penfield, New York and mainly sponsored by Harris Corp. To find out more about the team and FIRST, please visit the Who We Are page.
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