It was Tuesday when slack blew up a bit, divisions were released! The wait to find out who we would be playing with is over. The results? Great! The team is in the Apollo division which might have been one of the most stacked divisions we’ve seen. To list a few of the great teams we’d be getting to play with, 118, 148, 231, 2468, 2811, 4206 and 6800. With so many great teams we had no idea how alliance selection would end up. One thing was for sure that we’d be playing with the best teams in Texas for a few days and that is fun!
Load in went smoothly I guess? I don’t know I came up Thursday morning and let the rest of the team figure out load in and inspection. I did manage to miss a few practice matches on Thursday and Tyler got to be drive coach for a while. I didn’t really get any time to warm up to the event, I just hopped right in with drive team and went off the practice matches. The first match I was in we manage to get a gnarly slice across our red bumper.
The format for Thursday was interesting, practice matches from 10 – 12 and again from 1 – 3pm. Then Qualification matches starting at 3pm. We had a hard fight for our first qualification match against 2714 and 2881, but we managed to win and get the extra 2 ranking points. Our second match we were teamed up with 6800 Valor, which was an easier win getting a total of 4 ranking points once again. It was about this time the team started questioning when lunch was. They were amused/surprised when I told them it was 5:00pm and we’d be leaving for dinner around 8:00pm.
For DCMP the drive team reuses the drive team buttons, we forgot some of ours and had to get replacements. I had the drive coach button with me so Tyler had to get a temporary replacement for practice matches. I had the honor of wearing the replacement the rest of the day. Our next match was going to be a tough one against 6800 Valor. We got the cargo RP just barely, and when we went to climb we encountered a new issue with our middle poles. The middle poles seemed to bind up about halfway through the climb, they didn’t go towards the middle rung enough to enable the transfer to the traversal rung. We lost the match by a large margin, if we had gotten the transfer to traversal rung we would managed to still get 2 ranking points.
That was our last match for the night so we headed off to the practice field to figure out why the climber’s middle poles were getting bound up and not moving at the same rate. We tested a few times on the practice field before we were able to recreate the problem. During auto and match play we run a command on the climber to keep the middle poles below the low rung so we can pass under it. At some point the value we were keeping was changed from -5 to -8. This caused the winch to pull the rope very tight and when we tried to unwind the winch the rope was pinching. A simple fix, change the value back and the rope doesn’t get pinched. The team headed out of the venue and to dinner.
Well most of the team, I ended up taking two students in my car and we went on an unintentional adventure. We ended up at the wrong restaurant for food, and the second time we went to the wrong address that was posted in slack. We ate at the second place because we were beyond done at that point. The food was good and we beat the majority of the team back to the hotel.
Our first match on Friday was going to be an interesting one. We were playing with 148 against 4206 and 2881, it was a fairly even match up. We came out of auto with a 2 point lead. The rest of the match turned into a shoot out. Our alliance(red) put 22 cargo into the upper hub while the blue alliance put up 18 cargo. Near the end of the match we had an unfortunate run in with the blue alliance robot 457 that resulted us in accidentally tipping them. It happened quick from our point of view and we were unable to back off in time, we had started pushing them from their bumpers on their side. Unfortunately for us and them they were top heavy and ended up tipping. We got a red card for the match. That was painful. We ended the rest of the match strong, getting our traversal off and winning the match 104 – 87, helping our alliance partners get the full 4 ranking points.
The rest of the day we traded blows with some of the best teams in Texas. We lost a few matches that didn’t look to hard, but we had issues with our climber deploying(a continuous problem) or we played poorly. We managed to just barely beat 2468 by 1 point in qualification match 58. Next we had two back to back matches against 148. The first one we lost by 6 points, we managed to get the cargo ranking point, but failed to get the climbing ranking point because we failed our climb again. This time it was the operators fault they deployed too soon and we ended up getting tangled up on the truss.
The next match was once again a shoot out, it was tied coming out of autonomous, our alliance put up 19 cargo and we managed to pull off a double traversal climb. We managed to beat 148 the second time around with a score of 97 – 77. To top it all off we got the two additional ranking points for that match.
That was the last match of the day for us. As we got to the pit we set looking at ways to deploy the climber more reliably. Currently we were un winding the main arm winches to release the climber, if we went too fast the rope would end up re spooling on it self and would tangle up preventing us from climbing. We had a break through idea, we had the passive arms being held down by the servos now, so why did we need to spool the main arms down at all? We tested deploying the arms with just the servo and surprise surprise it worked, we didn’t need to un spool at all! This made the climber deploy faster and eliminated a common failure mode!
We came up with a clever way to store the rope by holding it against a bolt while the main arms were held down. When the servo is rotated now the main arms deploy along with the passive arms. The whole process now takes about a second and a half. We tested the deploy a few times in the pit before calling it for the night!
With the hard work done for the day the team cleaned up the pit and went off to the park next door, Discovery Green. We played capture the flag outside for about an hour as a team building exercise. It was a blast, people had fun, energy was expelled. As we were walking back to the car I couldn’t help but be filled with joy, there was live music, the weather was perfect, and the lighting was amazing. It started to feel like the world is returning to normal.
The team headed back to the hotel for the scouting meeting. It is seeming to be a team tradition that we grab pizza from a local place and eat while we discuss our scouting picks. This time it would be a little quicker, because of the red card and a few losses we were ranked below the cut off for being a picking team. We ranked so low we didn’t even have the option of declining any picks because, so that was an easy conversation, yes to any who asks! The next pick was a little harder, but the team came up with a ranked list of teams that we wanted to play with as our third alliance partner. I say the team because I only ate pizza and relaxed in a chair in the back.
Saturday is was an odd start for the team, we knew going in that we would only have one match before alliance selections. The event started by gathering up all of the previous Woodie Flower Finalist Award winners and all of the nominations from this year. I was nominated by our students at the Amarillo event so I was on the field talking to some friends, killing a bit of time before opening ceremonies started.
The next part came as a ginormous surprise, Allen Gregory was reading the award speech and when it came to the part where he announced the name he said mine? There are so many great and deserving mentors in Texas and only on Woodie Flowers Finalist Award is given out. It was a flurry of emotions and actions, I walked up and people started handing me things. I wasn’t really all there, I’m happy that I don’t look as lost as I felt in the photos. Over the past 9 years there have been so many great mentors I have been able to work along side. These people have shaped who I am and how I mentor. I will always be grateful for the lessons they’ve taught me.
The first person I saw from our team after was Mike, he got a hug he wasn’t expecting. Next up was Tyler, he was ready and also got hug. Then we had Nanor(also got a hug) join us close to the field. I left one thing behind that we wanted, the Woodie cut out. I waited until the matches started on Mercury before I grabbed the Woodie cutout and made our way to our pit. Woodie spent the rest of the day in our pit, before we took him home to the lab.
It was a little bit tricky to get my mind back into drive coach mode. We queued up a bit early for qualification match 78 and had some time to kill so we spent it doing this?
Nothing like a small work our routine to get your mind balanced and ready for a match. To explain the pictures a little, apparently my ankles can bend more than average and I can easily sit flat footed on the ground. The students were confused at how I could do that so we spent a few minutes doing exercises.
Our next match had the Can alliance, 2881 the Lady Cans and us. We had a fun match and got all four ranking points together. It was a great way to end qualification matches!
Alliance selection played out mostly as expected, except we made it to the 6th alliance captain before we were picked. That was interesting to us, our scouting data has us at the 6th, highest scoring robot, and all of these robots were either picked, or an alliance captain already. Third seed alliance captain 118 first picked 8749 a swerve defense robot, which was also interesting.
Looking at the total district points from the event our team calculated we’d need to make it through the semi finals, or through quarter finals and win a judged award to make it to World’s. No pressure or anything team, just doing what we’ve been doing this whole season, showing up and giving it our all. The first quarter final match we took a 10 point lead during auto and held onto it for the match winning 77 – 68. Coming out of autonomous we had a giant lead 34 – 8. The defense played during the second match was more effective than the first match but thanks to the lead during auto we managed to pull out another win 83 – 76.
Our next match was going to be even tougher. Going against 2468, and 4206, we’ve played against both teams a lot through out the season, and have managed to beat them individually but together its a hard alliance to win against. In the first match we miss our 4th ball coming out of autonomous, which gives us a 4 pt deficit to the red alliance. During the match our intake belt started slipping, the bearings fell out on the intake and the belt would slip under high load. This made it difficult to intake cargo, so for some of the match we were pretending to play to bait the defense from 4219, and allow our alliance partner to score undefended. During our climb we were slightly misaligned, too far the left and one of the passive deployed hooks hit the truss. I saw it happen, and just told the operator to keep on climbing. Poly carbonate is amazing, the whole robot held on two 1/8″ hooks spaced apart with some 3D printed spacers. Watching the match footage you can see the robot rotating around on the single hook, poly carbonate is some impressive stuff.
Unfortunately for us this would be yet another match that was decided by a 1 point margin this year. The red alliance pulled out the first victory of the set, 83 – 82. We set off to fix our intake, it turned out to be a some what simple fix. The pit crew changed around some some spacers to prevent the intake poly carbonate from pulling too far away from the other plate, keeping the bearing retained nicely.
The second match of the semi final was make or break for our alliance. Our autonomous worked well and our alliance came out of autonomous with a 10 point lead. Unfortunately for us our alliance couldn’t match the scoring of the red alliance. We also missed our traversal climb. Our alliance ended up losing the match 98 – 87, and our District Championship run ended there.
It was amazing and fun to play with some of the best teams from Texas. Multiple people told me that this was the best robot they’ve ever seen from 2158, and we were doing very well this year. I’m just happy to be at a large scale robotics event where everyone is having fun again, such a stark difference between the covid years. Even tho we were eliminated and didn’t get enough points to make it to World’s I think the majority of the team had a blast. We showed up, gave it all our, made some friends and had fun.
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