THE MIDNIGHT CICADAS
WHAT IS FRC?
In just six-weeks, the team (grades 9-12) is challenged to build and program an industrial-sized robot to play a difficult field game against like-minded competitors. It’s as close to real-world engineering as a student can get. Every season ends with an exciting FIRST World Championship.
2014 was the year that our little town of Globe, Arizona came forth with a robotics team. Being in large rural area there was absolutely no access to any kind of mechanical engineers that were familiar with the challenges presented by First. The FRC game that year was Aerial Assist. Aerial Assist was a cross between soccer, football, and volleyball, but with exercise balls and large robots as a twist. We were given a small tote of parts and six weeks to build our own robot that could compete in the game. We started off with a small team of five members and one mentor.
The six weeks given to complete our robot was mostly wasted due to our inexperience. By the third week in the build season our only progress on the robot was that our recruiting team, (Superior Robotics, 3321) had done with the base. Things were looking gleem for our team, but a shimmer of hope arrived in form as a mentor named Darrel. After that we started kicking butt on our rookie robot. Before long we had a fully driving robot. On the last weekend of our build season we had a chassis, bumpers, a wooden carapace and extending dowels to steer the game ball. At that point we thought we were competition ready. Sadly, we soon found out at game inspection that our bumpers and frame were an illegal size. When we thought our team was toast, Dragon Robotics came to help us out, teaching us the spirit of Gracious Professionalism in FIRST. With their help we had a successful run during the matches, landing us the Rookie Inspiration Award. Our team knew that after this event the team was going somewhere.
2015: The Year we went to worlds
2015 was the year where the dream of going to World’s in St. Louis became a reality. It was a year of change, a steep learning curve and getting down to business. Our team, consisting of only 4 second year students, 10 rookies and 6 mentors; all took up residence in the robotics workshop, or what we liked to call “the Dungeon”. In the basement of Globe High School, our robot (404 Robot Not Found) was born. It was the beginning of build season, and the game had just been revealed. Recycle Rush was the name, and stacking totes was the game, our ideas came slowly and a progression resulted in a block tackle pulley system. 404 started out as a scissor lift design, but as we found out, the weight limit was breached, so we went back to the drawing board and started anew.
Next came the linear actuator, which proved to be mostly reliable, but slow. At Duel in the Desert (a pre-season mock competition), it made its show. With the weeks counting down, little adjustments being made, we finally accepted that the linear actuator wasn’t competition ready. Then out came an idea, struck down from the start, Liam’s pulley idea was brought forth and made. We were bound and determined to change our design, minutes to midnight, we bagged it, unfinished. Bagged up and sealed, 404 was revealed. At the GCU competition, we built the last of our system, leading us to miss matches, while 404 held up to its name. With its name ringing loud, we sat in the pits, rushing to beat the call of our number to cue. Finally we went out onto the field, and tried our best to recuperate.
It was Alliance selection, our faces were grim, the hope of being picked was obviously slim. When our name was called to be the third partner of the Friarbots/Team Tators alliance, we jumped from our seats, knowing that there was a chance to move on. As the finals drew on, and it became clear that our alliance had a chance to go to St. Louis, the question of money became a shadow to our victory. We had to raise $15,000 in two weeks. Through generous community support, Team 5059’s trip to St. Louis was made possible.
From there, Team 5059 went to the FIRST Robotics Championship in St. Louis. Competing in the Carson division, Team 5059 finished 51 of 75, going home with fond memories of St. Louis. From exploring downtown, to the City Museum, and all of those metro rides to the competition, the season had been filled with sketchiness galore, and after the Championship, there was a yearning for more.
The season was over, the robot shipped home, and TigeRobotics came back to the Dungeon for a last farewell. It was a time of recollection and thoughts of the future. We were losing key But the marks they left (literally and figuratively) were not forgotten. Whether it be the signature trademark of the Rama Bomb, or the player station of plexiglass, those who left are still with us, and got us to where we are today.
It all started with the old, spacious wood shop. It was a gift to be shared, and Team 5059 was grateful for the upgrade. The preseason started off with the creation of another team: Tigeroboteks.Team 10246 (aka Tigeroboteks) was the first FTC team for the school district, and opened the doors a little bit wider for the younger generation to become involved in robotics. But in the dawn of January, eyes quickly shifted to FRC and the 2015-2016 game: FIRST Stronghold.
In FIRST Stronghold, the object of the game was to breach your opponent’s defenses and capture their castle. In order to do so, the robots could shoot “boulders” into the low or high goal, crowd around the castle during the last 30 seconds and even lift themselves up to “capture” the tower.
With the game revealed, Team 5059 got to work. It was decided to build a shorter robot, in order to maximize mobility crossing the defenses. With compactness came the question of how to mount our electronics.
With little space for a traditional side panel, one of our members thought “inside the box”, literally. With the diligence of Alyssa and others, our removable electronics box was born. Another of our reinventions came with the player station. In order to make it more efficient for the drivers to perform a task, Team 5059 inserted individual buttons into the player station. That, along with an added strap, velcro and wood base made for the second generation of our beloved player station. Besides updating our older systems, Team 5059 also built the game obstacles from scratch for the first time.
One of the other questions we faced in the season was whether or not to use pneumatics. We ultimately decided that because one of the obstacles (the portcullis) involved lifting a door, a motor system would ideally have more strength to handle the weight. While the case was strong in theory, the competition proved otherwise with an exceptionally “jumpy” portcullis..
The six weeks were up and it was time for Team 5059 to showcase the Silver Knightshade, our competition bot. Complete with a castle tent, it made its way to the Arizona West Competition. Once at Arizona West, Team 5059 went to work, unloading and unpacking a hope that all the work during the season would pay off. Arizona West was definitely a learning experience for Team 5059. Part of the learning sprouted from our effort to scout and document all of the matches during the competition. Although we did not place very well in the standings (38 of 41), the year was one of growth and learning. We had not made it to World’s, but that did not mean all the hard work was a waste. There is always a hope for the new year, and Team 5059, Tigerobotics, came away with a feeling of renewed passion for the next year. Stronghold was over, but the work for us had just begun.