Raider Robotix, FRC Team 25, unveiled our 2016 robot to play FIRST Stronghold at the Hatboro-Horsham MAR District Competition in Horsham, PA this past weekend.
Evil Machine 14 AKA The Executioner
Early build season test videos:
A Swift Start
Friday night we joined 36 other FRC teams at Hatboro-Horsham High School to load-in and set up our team’s pit area. Our robot’s first official inspection of the season went smoothly. For the first time in years, the robot weighed in well under the 120 pound weight limit at 113 pounds. We were able to play two early practice matches on the competition field. During the first match, our robot successfully crossed the low bar and scored a boulder in the low goal during the autonomous period. We originally thought we might have to make some tweaks to our autonomous routines to account for the real competition field, but this early success set a positive and optimistic tone for the following two full days of competition.
Saturday morning we headed straight to the practice field to obtain some sensor readings and test alternative autonomous routines (shout out to the practice field volunteer from Team 225 – you were amazingly kind!) before playing in our scheduled practice round. Twice during the practice round, our robot became unresponsive for prolonged periods of time while the control system randomly rebooted. This was the first time we experienced such an issue all season and it took us by surprise. We returned to the pit and checked over all of the robot’s electrical connections before the qualification matches started and hoped for the best.
We won our first 6 qualification matches. Our alliances breached the outer works in all except one of them, but captured the tower in another to make up for the missed ranking point. While our robot performed admirably, we continued to experience random roboRIO reboots mid-match. We kept searching for the cause of these occurrences between matches, but were unable to reproduce them in the pits even after shaking the robot and driving it into walls to simulate field interactions. The pit crew and drive team worked admirably to maintain the robot in between rounds and fix other issues that arose, including fabricating a mounting bracket, wiring, and programming a new string potentiometer in less than half an hour of turn around time.
We continued to try to identify the root of the random reboot problem. We replaced the robot’s radio, but the problem persisted in the following match. Our next fix was to replace the roboRIO entirely. As we were about to do so, we discovered the Sauro Connector holding in the power wires to the roboRIO was faulty. After a quick swap, we played qualification match 39 and had our best performance of the day, breaching the outer works and capturing the tower to earn another 4 ranking points without ever rebooting. The problem was solved!
Clinching the #1 Seed
Sunday morning we played 5 more qualification matches before alliance selections. We achieved 5 more wins, 5 more breaches, and 1 more tower capture adding 16 ranking points to our initial 22 from Saturday. Several of these matches saw our opposing alliances’ towers weakened, but not challenged by 3 robots to secure the extra ranking point. We ended the qualification rounds ranked #1 overall, with a 12-0 record and 38 ranking points, 12 more than the teams placed 2nd-4th.
During the alliance selection process, we chose Team 341, Miss Daisy from Ambler, PA, as our first overall pick. Their robot was the only consistent high goal scorer at the event and had a working hanging mechanism. Team 1807, Redbird Robotics from Allentown, NJ, rounded out our alliance to help damage the defenses.
After alliance selections, we noticed the Banebots motor and gearbox on our robot’s arm sustained damage during our last qualification match after accidentally lifting and flipping an opposing robot on its side. Without a spare gearbox on hand, we could lower the intake arm at the start of the match, but were unable to raise it thereafter. This limitation prevented our alliance from manipulating and crossing the Cheval de Frise.
Our alliance was the only one to win our first two quarterfinal matches and not have to play a third. The wins were by narrow margins as all three robots on our alliance suffered from some different type of issue. In the second quarterfinal, 1807 got stuck/lost communications while crossing the moat. A last second play by our team to push them off the moat and cross it ourselves in the process earned us a breach and advancement to the semi-finals.
Our alliance lost its first semi final match against the eventual event champions (teams 1218 from Philadelphia, PA, 2590 from Robbinsville, NJ, and 5407 from Conshohocken, PA). 1807 lost communications again and our robot was disabled for half the match after losing a bumper when an opponent robot made contact as we were crossing the outer works. We called in the backup team, 5181 from Wyndmoor, PA, to substitute 1807 in the second semi-final match. The alliance made a strong comeback, but ultimately lost by 8 points, 133-125, when we captured the tower but failed to breach the outer works.
Awards and Accolades
During the final awards ceremony, our team was the recipient of the Gracious Professionalism Award! Here is what the judges had to say about our team:
The Gracious Professionalism Award, sponsored by Johnson & Johnson, recognizes outstanding sportsmanship and continuous Gracious Professionalism in the heat of a competition, both on and off the field. To win, a team must exemplify the principles of FIRST–fairness, humility, sharing, and perceiving–with a winning attitude.
They spread the mission of FIRST near and far, sharing their excitement for robotics with elementary schools and rookie teams alike. This team has raided their community with excitement. Congratulations to Team 25, Raider Robotix, from North Brunswick, NJ!”
Overall, our team had an extremely strong showing at our first competition of the season. We hit the ground running and were able to iron out several pesky issues that should not return for the rest of the season. We achieved many #1’s, including:
- Setting a world record for the number of ranking points (38) earned in qualification matches at a district event
- Having the highest Offensive Power Ranking at the competition (42.36)
- Being the only team at the event to score boulders in autonomous mode during qualification matches
- Having the only 3 tower captures during the qualification rounds (plus one more in the playoffs, accounting for 50% of all captures at the event).
Many members of the FIRST community noticed Evil Machine 14’s outstanding performance and voted for us in the FIRST Updates Now (FUN) FRC Top 25 web show. Between the FRC experts who ranked us 9th and the community who voted us 12th, our team was announced as the 10th overall best robot out of all the teams who played during the first week of competitions!
Our performance at Hatboro-Horsham earned us 53 district ranking points towards qualifying for the Mid-Atlantic Robotics District Championship and, ultimately, the FRC World Championship in St. Louis. We’re already working on robot improvements for our next competition at Bridgewater-Raritan High School on April 1 – 3.
For more videos and details about our match results, check out our team’s page on The Blue Alliance.