Friday, June 29, 2012

Devil Robotics at the Duel Down Under!! (Day One)

I can't believe how much has happened since the last post where I speculated about the possibility of starting Tasmania's first FRC team... I guess the main thing that's happened is that we did it! We started a team called Devil Robotics and got ourselves to Australia's (and the Southern Hemisphere's for that matter) first FRC event, the Duel Down Under in Sydney, June 28-30.

When we arrived that the venue at about 9:15am this morning, we found that we were the last to arrive. To get our robot here, we had figured the best option was to pull it apart and pack the sections into different boxes that we'd be able to get onto a plane. As a result, we carried our robot bits into a room full of teams busily working on what looked like some darn fine - and clearly fully assembled - robots!

Trying not to feel too intimidated, we set to work re-assembling our robot in time for the first practice matches at around noon. As we worked, lots of local students and mentors offered to help. They genuinely wanted to help us, but I guess it must've looked like we were going to need some serious help if our robot was going to have any chance of being ready in time.

When we brought it out onto the competition area (at about 11:59am!), I was quite surprised to discover that some teams were less ready than us, and that we were actually the third team (out of the seven at the event) ready for a practise game. But that didn't surprise me nearly as much as what happened next.... Our robot played a practise game against two other robots - and was the first and only robot to score any points in that round!!! Unfortunately there was a problem with the drive system. One side of the robot didn't move - which turned out to be simply that a wire that had come loose in transport to the field. Even so, we were off to a great start.

In the next practise game, with the drive system working properly, not only was our robot able to score points, but it was incredibly agile, and was even able to get over the bridge - something that we hadn't been able to test before the practise match.
After the practises, we worked on fixing a couple of elements of the robots - such as how to prevent balls from becoming accidentally stuck within the robot (see the photo) and the placement of the circuit breaker.

Over the course of the day, team members attended workshops on topics such as...
  • Nerd conventions (Going to your first regional and the rookie all-star submission)
  • Chocolates, cookies and lightbulbs (Sponsorship and sustainability)
  • Google apps for your team
 In the evening, we all went to Google's Sydney office for a most inspirational tour. Great stuff!

Tomorrow we'll finish programming the autonomous mode to take advantage of the bonus points that are available during the first 15 seconds and do a little more testing.

If you happen to be reading this before the event has finished, you can watch it live at...

On Friday morning, we're scheduled to compete at 10:00, 10:30, 10:45, 11:15, 11:45. In the afternoon, we're scheduled for 1:45, 2:15, 2:30, 3:00, 3:30.

Our robot is #7777, but your safest best is to look for the big black tube!


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