With the increased size of the championship from 400 teams last year to just over 600 teams this year, 4 new divisions were added: Tesla, Carson, Carver, and Hopper. Team 254 was a member of the Carson division and ended up seeding first, picking teams 973, 999, and 4499, and then unfortunately experiencing some bad luck and being eliminated in divisional quarterfinals.
However, the team received the Industrial Design Award for their outstanding robot and had a great time in St. Louis on Sunday.
The team played a total of 10 qualification matches on Thursday and Friday. Some matches were tough, but in others the team scored more than 240 points! By the end of Friday, 254 seeded first with a qualification average of 211.1, the highest of any team at the Championship, let alone any official FIRST event.
Here are some videos of our Qual matches, recorded by Team 1511: Rolling Thunder.
Qual 9: https://www.yo...v=JZOhJp0zlb8
Qual 22: https://www.yo...v=RW7emwjSH3I
Qual 35: https://www.yo...v=tT2bwv63cBk (one of our best of the season!)
Qual 47: https://www.yo...v=FUoWPrFWpI4
Qual 63: https://www.yo...v=gWIw4apFnLg
Awards, Alliance Selection, and Playoffs
The team received the Industrial Design Award. This award celebrates form and function in an efficiently designed machine that effectively addresses the game challenge. The judges were impressed with the robot's ability to stack effectively both from the landfill and from the human player station by using a tethered ramp. This year, awards were shared between 2 divisions (about 150 teams total), so to receive the award was quiet prestigious!
During Alliance Selection, Team 254 selected Teams 973: The Greybots, 999: The MechaRams, and 4499: The Highlanders. The alliance was hoping to strike a powerful balance between stacking from both the landfill and human player stations and using fast can grabbers to ensure we would always be able to put up as many stacks as possible.
However, despite all of the alliance's efforts, they were sadly eliminated in the quarterfinals. In their first match, buggy autonomous modes meant 254 was unable to get the 20pt tote stack. Then, after playing a nearly perfect match after that, Team 973 accidentally set down their last second stack on a noodle, causing that stack to fall over and domino another stack. Despite the terrible score, the alliance hoped that they could score at least 215 points in their second match to keep themselves qualified for the semi-finals. Once again, however, 973 ran into 254 during auto, disrupting it and scattering the yellow totes in the way of the cans on the field. Then, after auto, Team 999 tipped over onto the landfill, blocking many of the totes 973 needed to make their stacks. It was an unfortunate series of events and bad luck and the whole alliance was bummed to have been knocked out so early.
However, the boys didn't stay upset for long, we quickly ran around and helped our friends (1114, 971, 1678) competing in other divisions. We loaned batteries to 1114, and cheered on our friends on 1678 as they went on to win the entire World Championship.
Relaxing in St. Louis!
On Sunday, students got to choose to either wake up at 10am and go to the City Museum or sleep in and meet up with the others at the Arch at 1pm. It was a lot of fun and really relaxing to hang out and take photos under the Arch for an hour before heading to the airport.
Overall, FRC Worlds this year was one of the best in a long time. All the students had a ton of fun and no one was really bummed for that long. We're excited to return and hoping to do better next year!
This past week, Team 254A and 254D traveled to Louisville, Kentucky, to compete at the 2015 VEX World Championships. 254A competed in the Science Division, while 254D competed in the Technology Division. Our teams faced off against top teams from places like New Zealand, Texas, China, England, Mexico, and Bahrain. 254A experienced numerous setbacks at the tournament on their scissorlift, such as spilling ketchup onto their Cortex and numerous stripped gears and bent axles. 254A worked around the clock to repair the robot, but unfortunately were unable to fix the robot in time for eliminations. 254D did reasonably well, placing 30th in their division, but also unfortunately did not reach eliminations. On a happier note, the new VEX game "Nothing But Net" has gotten our team members talking about potential designs to shoot balls into a net, such as flywheels and catapults. Unlike previous years, for the majority of the match bots cannot lift above 18 inches, eliminating the lifts that have been dominant in earlier games.
Louisville was also quite a surprise for our teams. The food in Louisville was a lot better than Anaheim, where the majority of previous World Championships have been held. Our team especially enjoyed the Moelicious BBQ food truck and the hot and fresh minidonuts served at the event. Cracker Barrel was also well-liked by students. We also went go-karting in Indianapolis and relaxed at Dockweiler Beach in LA.
This weekend the team participated in the Silicon Valley Regional (SVR). It was held at San Jose State University in the Event Center. There were teams from Hawaii and even as far as China. Overall we did quite well in the competition. As detailed in the previous blog post, our very committed lead mentor Travis Covington won the Woodie Flowers Finalist Award.
Despite issues with the batteries involving low voltage that are still unresolved, the robot performed extremely well. We ranked number one in the qualification rounds, even scoring exactly 254 points one round. We were in an alliance with team 1678 the Citrus Circuits and team 5027 Event Horizon for all of the elimination rounds. Together with our alliance partners we were able to become the Regional Winners, an honor for which each member of our team received a medal and the whole team received a blue banner. The first round of the quarter finals did not go too well for us because the ramp became misaligned, a stack of totes fell out of our robot and an alliance partner knocked over a stack of totes; however we recovered the next round and ranked as number one in both the quarterfinals and the semifinals and won the finals 2-0, scoring exactly 254 points again in the very final match of the competition! For our robustness in concept and fabrication we were conferred with the Quality Award.
It was a great event, and there were many strong robots, but there are a couple teams in particular who deserve recognition for their especially strong performance. Team 1678, the Citrus Circuits from Davis California, who eventually became our alliance partners, had a very effective robot and also won the Gracious Professionalism Award for exemplifying the core values of FIRST. Team 971, Spartan Robotics from Mountain View had a unique but very effective design. They were finalists and received the Excellence in Engineering Award.
The Silicon Valley Regional was a very well run event, which was for the most part on time, and often even ahead of schedule. Despite the annoyance of not being allowed to bring any food or drink into the event center, it was overall a very positive experience. We should all be proud of the accomplishments of both our team and the entire FRC community.
This afternoon, Lead Mentor Travis Covington received the Woodie Flowers Finalist Award at the Silicon Valley Regional!
This prestigious award is given to only one mentor at each regional for that mentor's ability to effectively communicate with and inspire students.
After nominating Travis for this award for many years in a row the entire team was so ecstatic to see someone so deserving finally get recognized. The students and mentors were cheering as if they had just won the World Championships again!
This weekend, from Thursday to Sunday, Team 254's FRC team competed in the Central Valley Regional FRC Tournament held at Madera South High School. Our team had an extremely strong showing, seeding second place in the qualifiers and taking home first place along with Team 1678: Citrus Circuits and Team 1323: Madtown Robotics. Throughout the tournament, our robot, Deadlift, consistently pulled off the three tote autonomous and stacked up six totes with a recycling bin and litter, scoring 42 points per full stack! We were also presented the Quality Award based on our robot's overall robustness and quality of design. Overall, this weekend was very successful for our FRC team and we would like to commend every team that participated in CVR this weekend.
On Saturday, 1/31, 254A, 254B, 254C, 254E, 254F, and 254G competed at Merrill F. West High School at the Tracy NorCal VEX Skyrise Tournament. 5 of our 6 VEX teams at Tracy reached the elimination rounds, a strong showing from the Cheesy Poofs! 254B and 254F joined 824B during the elimination rounds, and reached the semifinals. Team 254C joined 9378A and 9378B, and reached the quarterfinals. Team 254E joined 5776 and 8000D, reaching the quarterfinals.
254A, using an eight-bar side-roller robot design, reached the finals alongside 5369 (the Duckies) and 5327C (Gael Force) as part of the first-seed alliance. Unfortunately, after a long deliberation by the referees, they lost to the second seeded alliance in two matches. Congratulations to 1935A(HEART Academy San Jose), 7579B(Next Generation Science & Technology Group), and 8000B(Head-Royce School)! In addition, Team 254C won the Sportsmanship Award!
Our teams learned a lot at Tracy about potential designs and had a lot of fun, and are looking to make improvements to their robots for the NorCal State Championship, coming up at the beginning of March!
This Sunday, Team 254 went to the Toys for Tots event at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds. Toys for Tots is an organization founded by the United States Marine Corps Reserve and it aims to deliver, through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate youngsters that will assist them in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens. This event was sponsored by BAE Systems, one of our long time sponsors. The team demoed our 2014 Robot Barrage to enthusiastic kids and parents and also helped with the toy distribution. Some team members joined in the festivities by getting their faces painted with Christmas themed items and also the team swoosh. Also attending the event was Team 604, Quixsilver and several FTC and FLL teams, showing off their robots. Overall, this event was super fun and we look forward to helping out next year.
The 7th Annual Bellarmine VEX Tournament, hosted by Team 254, will be held November 21-22, 2014. The event is free for spectators. The best time to watch is from the alliance selection process (3pm Saturday), through the finals, which will finish by 6:30pm.
- Changes from Last Year
- Tournament Location & Parking
- Northern California VRC Championship Qualifications
- Information for Competitors
- Information for Novices
Changes from Last Year
- There are more teams competing, so if you can, please get inspected on Friday evening (6 – 8pm). We’ll officially open the pits at 7am and start inspections at 7:15am on Saturday.
- We will have a photo booth setup with a backdrop for professional looking photos of your robot and/or team. This will be located next to the skills challenge field on the 2nd floor of the Sobrato building.
- We will have a competition Instagram: Use #BELLVEX in Instagram during the tournament and see your picture appear on displays in the Pits and in Sobrato.
|Friday, November 21, 2014|
|6 pm – 8 pm||Check-In and Inspection (in Liccardo)|
|7 pm – 9 pm||Practice time for teams|
|Saturday, November 22, 2014|
|7:00 am||Pit Area and Registration Opens (in Liccardo)|
|8:00 am||Check-in Deadline for teams (at Pit Admin in Liccardo)|
|7:15 am – 8:30 am||Inspection (in Liccardo)|
|7:30 am – 8:30 am||Practice Rounds (in Sobrato Theater)|
|8:30 am – 8:45 am||Driver’s Meeting (in Sobrato Theater)|
|8:30 am – 9:30 am||Sign up for judging interview (at Pit Admin table)|
|8:45 am||Welcome (in Sobrato Theater)|
|9:00 am – 12:30pm||Qualifying Rounds (in Sobrato Theater)|
|12:30 pm – 1:00 pm||Lunch Break (We will have Pizza Order Forms)|
|1:00 pm – 2:35 pm||Qualifying Rounds Continue (in Sobrato Theater)|
|2:45 pm||Alliance Selection Process (in Sobrato Theater)|
|3:00 pm – 5:30 pm||Elimination Rounds (in Sobrato Theater)|
|~5:30 pm – 6:30 pm||Finals, Awards, Closing Ceremony (in Sobrato Theater)|
Tournament Location & Parking
Bellarmine College Preparatory 960 W. Hedding St. San Jose, CA 95126
For the competition, the pits are in Liccardo cafeteria and the competition fields in Sobrato theater. These are #6 and #7 on the campus map at: http://www.bcp.org/about-us/our-campus/index.aspx.
Street parking is very limited due to permit parking restrictions. There is additional parking by Emory and Stockton streets. Check in with the Pit Admin when you arrive, who will provide you with a map of the tournament facilities.
Northern California VRC Championship Qualifications
We are qualifying 8 teams for the Northern California VRC State Championship:
- 3 Team Winning Alliance
- 3 Team Finalists
- 1 Design Award winner
- 1 Excellence Award winner
- Excellence Award
- Design Award
- Judges Award
- Sportsmanship Award
We will offer pizza for preorder. Info will be sent in a different email. We will have a few pasta dinners available for Friday night and will be offering snacks and drinks on Saturday.
Information For Competitors
- If you cannot arrive before close of check-in at 8am, please call or text (preferred): 408-377-5330 or email: [email protected]
- If you want to be considered for the Excellence or Design awards, you will need to sign up for an interview by 9:30am. Go to the Pit Admin to schedule (or change your appointment time if needed). The interview rooms are on the second floor of the Sobrato Theater building near the swimming pool.
- The skills challenge field is also on the 2nd floor of the Sobrato theater building. Teams are not limited to the number of attempts, however, any team with fewer than 3 attempts can move ahead of other teams waiting in line.
- Bring your signed VEX competition waiver, available at: http://www.roboticseducation.org/documents/2013/06/vrc-participant-release-form.pdf.
- Check the match schedule when it is published and make sure you are ready for each match. We try hard to keep matches running on time.
- Be sure your robot is ready for inspection. Double check the requirements here: http://www.roboticseducation.org/documents/2013/06/inspection-checklist-vrc.pdf.
- Have fully charged batteries for each match.
- Be sure the drivers and coach have safety glasses when they arrive at the field to compete.
- Bring a power strip. We should have an outlet within 6′ of your table for you to plug into.
- WiFi will be available in the pits
- A Help Desk will be available with a limited supply of parts should anything break or you are unable to pass inspection
Information For Novices
It is highly recommended for you to arrive Friday to go through the inspection and try a couple practice matches. Friday will be much more relaxed and our inspectors will be able to help you through the inspection process. Also, our field managers will be able to guide you through the competition process. Be sure to bring fully charged batteries, chargers, spare parts and tools in case anything breaks. Ensure your VEXnet keys are working well.
At the Bay Area Science Festival we got the opportunity to speak with many teams in the area about their robots; these teams included Team 1868, Team 604, and many more. We also talked to developers and engineers around the bay area representing their organizations and companies. The representatives of the Berkeley high school robotics competition (Pioneers in Engineering) were present, and we were able to discuss how to reach out to high schools with smaller STEM programs using competitive robotics. In addition to the robotics booths around our demo area, there were over 100 different stands and booths on the ground floor of the stadium, each bringing STEM to the public in a different and interesting way.
One booth allowed people to separate the DNA from a strawberry plant using alcohol and detergent. Another stand presented a demo for the MIT app maker (http://appinventor.mit.edu/explore/front.html) and the presenter created a text to speech android application in front of us in less than 5 minutes! Not only were there copious booths, but amiable and experienced engineers and scientists were everywhere and ready to discuss their field of research. By the fire pits, environmental scientists discussed the future of agriculture. By the portable planetarium, an astronomy professor discussed the reason for Pluto not being a planet with an interested and engaged audience.
At our booth, interested fans asked us about FIRST and how it is organized, as well as the build of our robot and its specs. Children and adults alike had fun driving Barrage using our two joysticks and were guided by our driver, Christian. Even beyond our booth, FRC alumni (including one very kind and complimentary college student who was presenting for the Berkeley Science Review) recognized our team and started conversations about this year’s robot, Barrage, and some of our past robots and competitions.
All in all this was a great opportunity for our team to talk to STEM supporters all over the area. We had a lot of interesting and inspiring discussions with many of the people here, and look forward to next year’s Bay Area Science Festival!
Competing and Improving
The Dougherty Valley High School (DVHS) in San Ramon hosted this tournament. The team was pleased to see upon arriving that competition boards were placed in the pit area, and that the location of the pit allowed for very quick switching between matches. Unfortunately none of our sub teams managed to qualify for States, but this competition allowed our robots to be tested for the first time and we used this feedback to repair and upgrade our bots. For example Team 254F lost two matches in qualifications and two in eliminations. The members of Team 254F are now working on improving their intake and looking forward to the next VEX tournament.
One VEXing Tournament
Thankfully there were no MAJOR technical issues (robots catching fire, exploding, becoming sentient) and all of our teams learned a lot in the competitive process. The tournament was a success! We would like to recognize teams 21D for their excellent design for the high rises, and also 6089, 5776C, 5327A, and many other teams in attendance for challenging us and helping our sub teams to improve their bots. Lastly, many thanks to DVHS for their tasty and very reasonably priced snacks; oh and also for hosting this fun and competitive tournament. And to the VEX teams at the competition, all of us are looking forward to seeing many of you at the Bellarmine VEX tournament this November!
Today teams from across the country gathered to compete in Team 254’s Chezy Champs Aerial Assist competition. After Friday’s hard work setting up the field and teams moving setting up their pits and robots, we’re ready to start a day of competition!
I love the smell of robots in the morning. Starting at 8am this morning, teams were allowed into the pits to start modifying and preparing their robots, and teams entered the Bellarmine gymnasium to stake out spots in the bleachers. And about half an hour later Shockwave was released and tested in the field.
At 9:30 the opening ceremonies began, introducing our emcee and game announcer, Karthik Kanagasabapathy and Paul Copioli.
After all teams had staked out seats in the bleachers and the competing robots were in their ready position, at 10am the first match started!
After match 3 Shockwave decided to come out onto the field to compete with Karthick
After the first match I decided to take a walk around the facilities. Right behind the arena was the CC swag shop, where t-shirts, sunglasses and other swag were sold.
I became aware that other items such as snap backs, volunteer shirts, and even life sized EJ faces (for the true EJ fans) were available through preorder.
Next to the swag shop were the official Chezy Champs trophies, including the widely coveted golden corn dog for display of GP throughout the tournament.
Lastly I headed out to the pit area in Liccardo to check out some of the other teams. At the admin desk, manned by 254’s glorious president Andrew Torrance, I checked in as a CC volunteer and put my super safety glasses on.
The first team I encountered in the pits was the Buchanan Bird Brains, Team 1671. A few members were willing to answer my questions about the tournament and their team:
Q: Where is your team based?
A: Our team is based in Clovis, California. It’s like the little brother of Fresno.
Q: What is the name of your robot?
A: The name of our robot is “Doc 10″ because Doc Buchanan is the founder of our team’s high school and 10 because it’s team 1671’s tenth year competing.
Q: What does FRC mean to you?
A: FRC is like the family you never knew you had, and once you’re in the FRC family you never want to leave.
Q: What do you think of the Bellarmine campus?
A: The architecture is beautiful, it honestly looks like a college campus.
After interviewing the Bird Brains, I decided to talk to some of the teams at the other end of the pit. After a few minutes, I found that the Team 4201 pit was open for visitors!
Q: Where is your team based?
A: Our team is based in Hawthorne, California near L.A.
Q: What is the name of your robot?
A: The name if our robot is #straightflexin. The # is part of the name, too! And it can’t be spelled out.
Q: What does FRC mean to you?
A: Since our school doesn’t really have any sports teams, this is our school sport. Like I used to play hockey but there was no hockey team. And, FRC is like the engineering version of a varsity sport. So for me it became a substitute for playing on a team in high school. Really it’s just the best thing ever.
Q: What do you think of the campus?
A: The campus is awesome, we really love your copper pipes. The water is so clean!
Next interview was with Team 696, the Circuit Breakers:
Q: Where is your team based?
A: Our team is based in La Crescenta in L.A. county, a little bit north of L.A.
Q: What is the name of your robot?
A: The name of our robot is Snapdragon. We actually have two robots, the one we use to compete is named Snapdragon and the practice bot we call “Snapdragon upside-down.”
Q: What does FRC mean to you?
A: FRC is one big family, once you’re in it helps you to stay connected with people who share your interests.
Q: What do you think of the Bellarmine campus?
Oh this is a high school? I seriously thought we were at a college. Wow, it’s really big.
After interviewing Team 399 I decided to visit the local food trucks for lunch. Outside we had the food trucks “sticks” and “scoops,” and inside food vendors sold everything from muffins to pizza.
After a short food break/nap in the field, I went back to the arena to make sure everything was ok. Everything was going very smoothly, and all the teams seemed to be enjoying themselves. None of our equipment was blowing up, there were no electrical fires, and none of the gaming servers crashed. I’d say that’s a success!
I had a lot of fun meeting and talking to all the different teams, and hope that the guest teams had just as much fun competing in and watching the matches as we did. Thank you to all the teams who showed up, and those who supported us by watching the event live on Twitch.
On July 11th and 12th, members of VEX Team 254D traveled to Hawaii for the new Hawaii International Games tournament. The tournament featured two competitions, one for the old game, Toss Up and one for the new game, Skyrise. The Cheesy Poofs were fortunately able to secure spots in both competitions, entering the robots Scorpion and Qilin. Although the Cheesy Poofs did not fare so well during the qualifications due to various issues in both divisions, top teams recognized the strength of the Poofs. In the Toss Up competition, 254D was selected by the 2nd seeded alliance while in the Skyrise competition, partnering with 359A, the Hawaiian Kids, and 1973A, the Trojanbots. The alliance lost in the quarterfinals to the eventual tournament victor. In the Skyrise Division, 254D was selected by the 5th overall seed, joining 368A, Team Kika Mana, and 1841A, Buff n' Blue 1, again losing during the quarterfinals. Despite the team’s failure to proceed through the quarterfinals, the Cheesy Poofs gained valuable experience and knowledge in designs and strategies for the new Skyrise game that will carry over to the new season.
On Saturday, July 26, a few students and mentors demoed both our 2013 robot: Overkill and our T-shirt cannon: Shockwave at the USS Hornet Splashdown event. This event commemorated the 45th Anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 lunar landing mission. The aircraft carrier, the USS Hornet (CVS-12) was the recovery ship for Apollo 11 and Apollo 12. Buzz Aldrin, the 2nd man to set foot on the moon was there and spoke about the importance of the Space Exploration program and how we need to try to get on Mars to promote the next wave of innovators. The team mostly demoed and spoke about but there wasn't enough room to shoot frisbees or t-shirts indoors.
Everyone had a great time at IRI, reconnecting with old friends like 233, 1114, and 2056, meeting new people on different teams, and eating a lot of delicious corn! We went undefeated in our qualifying matches and seeded first, partially due to our powerhouse human player Brandon Wui with his "Jordan" throws into the robot. After choosing our alliance partners Team 1114: Simbotics, 330: The Beachbots, and 2013: Cybergnomes, we moved up the bracket all the way to the Finals, and after 2 very intense matches, we got second place! We were all very happy with our performance and very happy to have been able to attend IRI this year.
Fun in Chicago!
However, our adventures didn't stop with IRI. After the very early first flight to Chicago, our connecting flight got cancelled. At first it looked like we'd be spending 12 hours wandering around Chicago airport, but the mentors decided to make it an adventuring day through the city of Chicago! We took the famous L train into downtown and had some fantastic Chicago style deep dish pizza at the world famous Giordano's Pizza. Next stop was the Bean in downtown Chicago, then finally we found a nice shady patch of grass in which both mentors and students took very needed naps, and some ended up with a little grass on their foreheads. Finally we made it back to the airport and on our plane home. Thank you to all of the teams and staff at IRI for making such a great competition and we hope to be able to go next year!