Silver Finish at the FIRST Mid-Atlantic District Championship!

On Wednesday, April 13th, Raider Robotix departed on a three day trip to Bethlehem, PA to compete in the FIRST Mid-Atlantic District Championship. That night, a small crew of five students loaded in our robot and set up our pit in preparation for a long weekend of competing against the 59 other best teams in the region.

MAR PitEarly Thursday morning, the entire team arrived at the Stabler Arena at Lehigh University. While the scouting team organized themselves in the stands and started taking notes on robots playing practice matches, the pit crew was hard at work making improvements to our robot and getting it through the inspection process.

After playing in 35+ matches over the course of our previous two competitions, the tread on our robot’s wheels had been worn down. We replaced all six wheels with brand new ones. The robot also received a brand new hanging hook (painted red to increase visibility and match the rest of the robot’s color scheme), a geared intake linkage to replace the sole piece of chain on the robot, a new set of bumpers, a set of LEDs to indicate possession of a ball, and a new control board and driver station laptop. When lunch time rolled around, the robot looked like a completely new machine.

MAR Aerial Pit

Thursday afternoon our team played in three qualification matches and won them all, placing us near the top of the rankings. We knew our matches scheduled for the next two days would be much tougher. Friday we split our games going 3-3, with two of the losses having small margins of 3 and 7 points. We finished our scheduled qualification matches Saturday morning with an overall record of 8-4 and 35 ranking points, which put us in 11th place.

During the alliance selection process, the captain of the third seeded alliance, Team 3314 – The Mechanical Mustangs from Clifton, NJ, selected us as their first overall pick. As one of the top high-goal shooting robots at the event, they were attracted to our robot’s ability to quickly maneuver around the field bringing them balls to score and consistently scale the tower at the end of the match. We then invited Team 1089 – Team Mercury from Hightstown, NJ to round out our alliance. 1089 was another high goal scoring machine with the ability to score in autonomous and manipulate the category A defenses.

MARPracticeHang

Together, our alliance sailed through the quarterfinal and semi-final rounds with four straight match wins despite our robots encountering some mechanical problems. In the finals, we face the number one seeded alliance consisting of teams 225 – TechFire from York, PA, 341 – Miss Daisy from Ambler, PA, and 1257 – Parallel Universe from Scotch Plains, NJ. We had previously allied with teams 341 and 1257 on the number one alliances at our two previous district competitions, so we knew exactly what we were going up against.

MAR FinalistsWe barely lost the first finals match due to fouls and one of our alliance partners rolling off the batter, which prevented us from earning the bonus capture points. We then came back strong and won the second finals match 159-122. The third tie-breaker match had everyone in the arena on the edge of their seats. Our alliance led in scoring for the first minute of the match, despite 3314’s battery becoming disconnected 15 seconds into the teleoperated period. With the defenses breached and the tower weakened with a minute left to play in the match, we then were able to push 3314’s robot off of the rockwall and onto the batter even against defense from team 1257. This series of events gave the opposing alliance enough time and opportunity to catch up and ultimately win the match.

Overall, we finished as finalists at the FIRST Mid-Atlantic District Championship. We earned enough district ranking points to finish the local season ranked third out of the 121 teams in the Mid-Atlantic. Our cumulative performance throughout the season qualified us to attend the FIRST World Championship in St. Louis April 27-30 at the end of the month! We already have our airfare and hotel rooms booked and cannot wait to compete against some of the best teams in the world!

MAR Awards

Scaling the Competition at Bridgewater-Raritan

This past weekend, April 1-3, Raider Robotix competed in our second Mid-Atlantic Region District Competition at Bridgewater-Raritan High School.

In the four weeks since our robot’s debut at our first competition, the team worked to improve several aspects of the machine. In our first matches of the season, we noticed a significant amount of drift accumulating in the gyro we had been using, which caused the robot to not always drive straight in autonomous. To remedy this, we sourced a NavX sensor board, which contains a much more accurate gyro. We also added an ultrasonic sensor to the front of the robot for increased field awareness.

The second major change we made was improving the robot’s hanging mechanism. We removed the hanger from the robot at the end of the first day of competition at Hatboro because there was too much binding and friction in the system despite our attempts to lubricate it. We added needle bearing rollers to the mast sections and a pair of wheels mounted at the base of the mast to help the robot ride up the wall as it’s lifted.

After arriving at Bridgewater-Raritan HS Friday afternoon, we immediately started the inspection process. Evil Machine 14 weighed in at 117.5lbs. After tweaking some sensor values on the practice field, we participated in a practice match to verify everything was working correctly and had our first successful scale of the event!

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Throughout the qualification rounds on Saturday and Sunday, our team went 9-3-0. Overall, we seeded 2nd with 36 ranking points. Our only 3 loses were to Team 1257 – Parallel Universe from Scotch Plains, NJ, who ended up seeding first.

During Sunday’s alliance selection, Team 1257 invited us to join them on the #1 alliance as the first overall selection of the draft. We then invited Team 3340 – UCHS MagneGeeks from Union City, NJ to round out the alliance. During our third semi final match, we had to bring in the backup robot Team 555 – Montclair Robotics from Montclair, NJ to replace 3340. Together, we advanced to the finals, but ultimately lost two matches to the 7th seeded alliance and finished the event as finalists.

During the awards ceremony, the judges awarded our team the Industrial Design Award sponsored by General Motors. Here is what they had to say about our robot:

The Industrial Design Award sponsored by General Motors celebrates form and function in an efficiently designed machine that effectively addresses the game challenge. Their product and process reflect the mission of FIRST, by demonstrating sound technology development from start to finish.

This team can do it all, breach the defenses, pummel the tower with boulders, and scale the tower with force. Their program eloquently executes in autonomous mode, and their tires scrub the competition. This robot is reliable, robust, and they scale the tower with 7.14 stones of force at 7 degrees beyond vertical.

Our robot’s performance on the playing field also caught the attention of a representative from Picatinny Arsenal who was looking for two new teams to sponsor. As a result, our team will receive a $6,000 sponsorship for next year! Thank you Picatinny Arsenal! We’re looking forward to the start of a great partnership.

Team Picture Bridgewater

After our showing at our second district event, we are ranked 9th overall out of the 121 teams in the Mid-Atlantic Region. Our standing qualifies us to compete against 59 other top teams at the Mid-Atlantic District Championship April 14-16. Our performance at the District Championship will determine if we qualify for the FRC World Championship in St. Louis at the end of the month!

Evil Machine 14 Debuts at #1

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

Evil Machine 14

EvilMachine14FactSheetImage

Click for fact sheet PDF

Early build season test videos:

Hatboro-Horsham Recap

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.

Troubleshooting Time

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.

Pit Crew 2016 Under Belly

Finally Fixed!

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.

341 Programming Help HH 2016During 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.

Wounded Warriors

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.

RobotOnField

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!”

2016 HH GP AwardOverall, 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).

FRC Top 25 #10

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.

Applebee’s Pancake Breakfast Postponed

Our Applebee’s Pancake Breakfast originally scheduled for tomorrow morning has been postponed due to the snowstorm.

The new date is scheduled for Saturday, March 26, 2016.

If you already bought a ticket and cannot attend the new date, please contact us at breakfast@raiderrobotix.org to request a refund.

New 2016 FRC Game: FIRST Stronghold!

Today was the day over 3,000 teams comprised of 78,000+ students from around the world were waiting for—the 2016 FRC Kickoff event!

After releasing a teaser trailer in October announcing the name of this year’s game, FIRST Stronghold, and a medieval theme, everyone’s interest was peaked as to what our robot would have to do this year.

Team members gathered at Montgomery High School in Skillman, NJ to watch the kickoff broadcast. Meanwhile, a small group of mentors visited the kickoff held in New Hampshire to go hands-on with the official playing field.

The game animation for FIRST Stronghold, below, was shown at the end of the broadcast:

We’re excited for all of the different strategic options available in this game compared to last year’s. Time to go brainstorm! We only have until February 23rd to design, build, and test a robot for this year’s challenge. We’ll check in periodically to update you with how things are progressing. For more frequent updates, be sure to like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter, @RaiderRobotix!

2015 Recycle Rush Season Summary

Week 1: MAR Hatboro-Horsham District
February 27 – March 1, 2015

IMG_4275 We unveiled our new robot, Evil Machine 13.0 AKA Scorpion Stacker, at our first official competition of the 2015 season. As is typical at week one evens, teams were still making tweaks to their robots and figuring out the best way to play the year’s new game. For us, we had only just attached our robot’s can-lifting arm right before we had to bag it up at the end of build season and so we did not have any practice operating it. We quickly realized that since the arm was so long (nearly 6.5 feet), it created a large moment when fully extended and picking up a recycling container. Though it was a bit unwieldy, our drivers figured out how to acquire a can without tipping over. In our first qualification match, we managed to stack a full six stack with a container on top and another 3 stack of totes.

Pit crew members servicing the robot after a match.

Pit crew members servicing the robot after a match.

At the end of the qualification rounds we ranked 4th overall with an average qualification score of 65.67. Due to inter-picking within the top 8, we moved up to the 3rd seed. We selected teams 1218 and 708 to join our alliance. After losing our first match and coming back strong in the second, our overall average score of 52 was not high enough to advance us. We finished the event as quarterfinalists.

 


Week 4: MAR Seneca District
March 20 – March 22, 2015

IMG_4391In the three weeks following our first event, the team rallied hard to make improvements all around. First, the trailer the team uses to transport our supplies and robots to events received a makeover. Thanks to Agin Signs & Designs for doing an awesome job! Second, we used our 6 hours of unbag time to modify the pivot point of the robot’s arm. With a higher pivot point, the arm still had the same reach, but did not reach out as far when picking up a can from the floor.

Friday night we arrived at Seneca High School in the middle of a snow storm, but were able to unload the robot and get our pit area set up. The weather improved the next day and, though we had a few issues with tipping, so did our on-field performance from the last event. Being a week 4 event, many more teams had experience playing Recycle Rush and the competition was stiff. We ranked 17th with an average qualification score of 63.50. Our sister team, Team Mercury 1089 from Hightstown, NJ, seeded 4th and selected us as their first round pick. Team 423, Simple Machines from Wyncote, PA, rounded out our alliance. 1089 recognized our robot’s potential as a strong stacking robot to complement their capping-specialist robot. We removed the arm from the robot to focus on creating as many 5 stacks as possible for them to cap off with recycling cans for the multiplier bonus. Team 423 made additional stacks of 4 and 5. Our alliance was very strong and cleared out all of the totes from behind the player station multiple times. However, due do some strange electrical issues that appeared, our partner was unable to cap them all. The alliance made it to the semi-finals.

We got to visit with FIRST President, Don Bossi!

We got to visit with FIRST President, Don Bossi!

Additionally, our team was selected as the recipient of the Creativity Award sponsored by Xerox for our unique robot design!


Week 6: MAR North Brunswick District
April 2 – April 4, 2015

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Our Chairman’s Award presenters.

Two weeks later, we hosted a district event of our own! No stranger to hosting events since we host our off-season competition, Brunswick Eruption, every fall, we were prepared to both help run the event and compete our hardest. At the end of the qualification rounds, we seeded 8th overall with an average qualification score of 86.33.

We were the first pick of the third seed, Team 4285 – The Camo-bots from Honesdale, PA. We then selected Team 321 – the RoboLancers from Philadelphia to round out our alliance. The alliance made it to the semi-finals and just barely missed the cutoff to get into the finals by an average of less than 7 points.

We were delightfully surprised to win our second Creativity Award sponsored by Xerox of the season!


Week 7: Mid-Atlantic Robotics District Championship
in Bethlehem, PA, USA
April 8 – April 11, 2015

Our team’s performance at our first two district events qualified us to attend the Mid-Atlantic Robotics District Championship. The robot performed admirably, making many stacks of 5 and 6 totes with a recycling container on top, retrieving extra recycling containers from the center of the field, and capping other team’s stacks. The one piece missing from the puzzle was our qualification alliances receiving the co-op bonus points. Our qualification average score was 110.08 points and the co-op points were worth an additional 40 points per round (the first seeded team had an average of 156 points). We ranked 41st and were the first pick of the 8th seeded alliance, Team 4373 – RooBotics from Jenkintown, PA, and joined by Team 56 – ROBBE from Bound Brook, NJ. Our alliance finished as quarterfinalists, but we managed to earn enough points throughout the event to qualify for the FRC World Championship in St. Louis!


World Championship – Newton Division
St. Louis, MO
April 22 – April 25, 2015

Our first qualification match at the Championship and our highest scoring of the season—206 points!

Our first qualification match at the Championship and our highest scoring of the season—206 points!

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This year was the first year of an expanded championship. 600 FRC teams attended and were split across eight divisions. Our team was placed in the Newton Division. Competing with and against the best teams in the world allowed us to put up some of our highest scores of the season. We finished qualification rounds ranked 26th with an average score of 134.70 points. Unfortunately we were not selected to play in the elimination rounds. Many of the top seeded teams were looking for robots that could quickly grab the recycling containers from the center of the field in autonomous mode. The team is proud of our accomplishments and continual improvements we made throughout the season, as well as winning two creativity awards! You can bet we’ll be working harder to improve and refine our processes for next season so we can make it back to the world championship!

New Season + Indiegogo Campaign!

Saturday, January 3rd marked the beginning of the 2015 FIRST Robotics Competition season. Around the world, FRC teams gathered to watch the unveiling of this year’s new challenge, RECYCLE RUSH:

To go along with the new season, we’ve also launched a new fundraising campaign on Indiegogo! Indiegogo is a crowdsourcing website that allows communities to donate funds to help organizations to achieve their goals. Depending on the amount donated, donors will receive different perks and rewards for their generosity. All funds raised via the campaign will go directly towards the expenses incurred as we build our new robot, compete with it throughout the season, and perform STEM outreach activities.

We would very much appreciate it if you could share the link to our campaign with your friends, families, and followers:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/frc-team-25-raider-robotix

We look forward to sharing what we come up with this season with you!