St. Louis, here we come! This year our team (#5172) was fortunate enough to win the Rookie Allstar Award at the Duluth Northern Lights Regional: our ticket to the World Championships FRC event! Everything was so new to all of us, from building a robot crate to sitting on a 15-hour charter bus ride; the excitement was overwhelming! For those of us new to the world of FIRST Robotics, this was the opportunity of a lifetime.
When we first arrived at the Edward Jones Dome on April 23rd, I remember being amazed by the sheer size of the arena. Everything was up-scaled from the competition in Duluth; the arena, pits, number of people, robots, and even the bathrooms were unbelievably large and yet the place was crowded with teams from all around the world getting ready to learn and compete. Of course, with this being our first year, everything felt a little distant to us. Fortunately, just as in every FIRST event, the teams and staff at the World Championships were tremendously considerate and helpful. We knew from the start that even if our robot couldn’t keep up to the others, it would still be one awesome experience for the Greenbush Middle River Robotics Team.
After setting up our pit area and getting batteries on the charger, we set straight to work on our robot. During the time period between our regional and the World Championships we had assembled new wheels and better “bullhorns” for our pickup mechanism. We had about four hours to install these parts so we knew we would have to hurry. The pit crew quickly tore the bumpers off and began removing the old, generic rubber grip wheels and replacing them with new, high-traction aluminum wheels. Despite all of our hard work, we couldn’t finish the process in time to participate in our practice rounds; our new parts took too much time to install. It wouldn’t have been so bad if they’d worked, but the new wheels actually had too much traction! Our robot lost its stationary turning capabilities! What could we do with a robot that could only turn while on the move? Not a lot in a game like Aerial Assist. We spent the remainder of our practice day and a good portion of the next day coming up with a solution, and we finally found one that worked.
Before the World Championships, we had two rubber wheels on the rear and two omni-wheels on front. The problem with this configuration was that when backing up, it was very difficult to maintain control; the front had a tendency to spin out. On day two of the Championships, we discovered that if we put omni-wheels on opposite corners and filled the remaining two spots with rubber wheels, we could have all the turning capability of omni-wheels as well as the traction provided by two rubber grip wheels. This seemed to do the trick; our robot maneuvered better than ever out on the arena. We were ready to show the world what the Gators were capable of!
Since the majority of robots we were paired with at the World Championships were better scorers than us at the time (we were having trouble with our catapult), we mainly used Triplex as a passing and defensive bot. With our “bullhorn” pickup mechanism and reliable catapult, we were able to both receive, initiate, and truss passes very quickly and efficiently. This, coupled with some excellent driving from the control team, allowed us to finish the tournament ranked 14th out of the 100 teams in the Curie Division. If that’s not a good run for a rookie team, then I don’t know what is! We won the Highest Seeded Rookie Award at the world championships!
Although each match was exciting in its own way, there were two that really stood out to me. For qualification match #97 we were paired with team #254, the team that later went on to win the World Championships. We scored a record high of 366 points in a single match! We had an efficient centipede passing chain going and Triplex did a fantastic job of moving the ball quickly. On our final match of the day, (#162), one of our alliance partners didn’t show up to the arena and we were forced to face our opponents alone with Team 1718 the Fighting Pi. To our surprise, we actually did quite well and ended up winning the match due to great teamwork.
Overall, the World Championship FRC event was the highlight of my first and only FIRST Robotics season. As a senior, I’m sad to say I won’t be back to compete next year but I’ll continue to support the Greenbush Middle River team in any way I can to ensure our team gets this opportunity every year. I just want to give a special shout-out to all the teams who we’ve gotten to work with in the past several months; it has truly been a pleasure! I would especially like to thank our neighbors, team 3750 from Badger, Minnesota for helping us get started our Rookie Year!
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