On December 3rd, Trial and Error Robotics attended our first qualifier of the 2022-2023 Power Play season hosted by Team #6302 Odyssey at Hartfield Academy in Flowood MS. During the competition, we interacted with and competed in alliances alongside ten other teams from across the state. Since our team’s roster boasts many members new to First Tech Challenge, this was the first competition that many of us had the opportunity to attend.
Our competition began with a bit of a stumble and the opportunity to do a little engineering ‘on-the-fly.’ When team members Jackson and Lucas went in for our robot’s technical inspection, we found out that our beacon was too big and did not meet the color requirements for the alliance matches. The team did not want to give up potential points, so we came up with two designs. The first was cone-shaped, made out of a red solo cup and a lot of tape. After our second inspection, we discovered our beacon could not be cone-shaped. The second design (which passed inspection) was a product of cutting our preexisting beacon in half, wrapping it in tape, and using foam tape to make up the space for the height requirement. The moral of the story is to ensure that you read the rules based on the team marker.
During our first match, we ran into a problem. Our robot contains programmable servos on our claw device used for capturing and holding the game element and team marker. The SRS Programmer we used sets the max right and max left of the servos with the middle point being zero. If the claw is not set to zero, it will mess up the max/min ranges which could cause the cone to fall (opening too much) or break the claw by not allowing the cone to be picked up (not opening enough). The claw was not zeroed (at point zero) which caused the claw to grip the cones too hard and the bottom right claw fell off at the beginning of the match. The problem, however, was fixed quickly and before lunch, we were ranked first in the competition.
During our lunch break, we realized that our first match-up after lunch was a team who did not have a working robot, so we did everything we could to help them. Shayne, our lead programmer, worked with Team #8651 Wait For It… programmer Sawyer Smith to help team #14800 Cyberdine fix some issues they were running into. Like many other FTC teams across the nation, Cyberdine was not able to get a control hub for their robot at the beginning of the season. The android phones they were using caused connection issues which would stop their robot mid-match. Shayne was able to debug their Android OS. He also used his perspective as a programmer to give more technical advice about technology or methods that could be more helpful and effective (control hubs, less USB hubs, etc.)
At the end of the day, we were ranked as the number 4 seed by the end of the regular competition. When we were subsequently chosen as alliance partners by the 3rd seed, Team #12390 Robotic Raiders from Meridian, MS, on the winning alliance, we went undefeated throughout all 6 matches of the elimination rounds. Additionally, we won the design award for our unique lift and battery percentage indicator. For this competition, only three teams qualified to move on to state. Unfortunately, we were not among them, but we are nevertheless happy with our performance and how our teammates worked together. Our goal before the next qualifier is to make changes needed to reach the Mississippi FTC State Championships in Oxford, MS on March 4 2023.
Photo Credit: Boyd Media Studio