While watching from the stands many team members do not always see what goes on just before a match. Who better to hear from on this topic than a member of our drive team?
Hi, my name is Prash Ramani, and I am a member of the Raider Robotix drive team. I was able to experience the Saint Louis Championships from a unique point of view—on the field. Compared to all of the regionals, the Championship was CRAZY! Queuing, the Pits, and the excitement on the field was ridiculous! This is how my day went, along with the other drive team members:
Our match comes up: We have to get ready to go. The drive team heads down to the pits to get the robot ready for field play. Along with the pit crew members, we make sure the batteries are fresh, zip-ties are locked, the pneumatic system’s air pressure is filled to capacity, the bumpers are the correct color, and the mini-bot is in place and ready to go. Once all systems are checked, we roll out, through the narrow little walkways making sure that innocent bystanders are safe as we tow the robot and control board towards the field. Once we get to the queuer, he/she points us to where we have to be, depending on our alliance’s color and driver station position for our next match. As we are waiting, we watch the intense ongoing matches, seeing tubes getting put up in bunches, mini-bots flying up the poles, and the crowds cheering and chanting their brains out. That’s when the anticipation builds up in my mind and in the minds of the other drive team members, as we eagerly wait for our match to come.
Once we are up, I take the drivers station, and head over to our designated area, and hook up the controls to the field. The other drive team members place the robot on the field, carefully aligning the robot with the desired peg for the autonomous mode. Once the station is set, I head over to the opposite side of the field, to my human player spot, making sure all 9 of my tubes are inflated. Then the teams are introduced, and the anticipation builds up even more. The match begins, and the robot begins to move in autonomous, and I look on from the opposite side, hoping that the robot hangs the tube. When it does, I get excited and pumped up. When it doesn’t, all I think to myself is “Shaun screwed up the alignment…”, but he gets it most of the time, he’s good at that.
Watching the match, I survey what tubes are on the field and what tubes our alliance needs, and I use my overhead toss method to throw them out there. It’s a great feeling when the tube goes straight into the scoring area for our alliance to easily grab, or when the tube goes straight to our robot, and the drivers pick it up and score it. But when my throw is off, I feel bad, and almost embarrassed.
It’s near the match end, and it’s time to see the mini-bot race! I always feel like we are going to win the race, but I know in the back of my mind that one little thing could screw it up. The drivers align the deployment and I try my best to signal them if they are aligned, or if they are off. Then when I see the mini-bot FLY up to the top and see those four lights go off indicating first place, joy overcomes me. That is a great feeling.
Walking back to the pits, I eagerly wait a few minutes to see the score, which can sometimes take a while to appear on the screen. Then when the score finally comes up, and we win, I signal towards our team members in the stand by giving a few emphatic fist pumps.
We then go back to the pits, fix a few things depending on the current state of the robot, and wait for our next match, which is usually around an hour or so later.
But in the playoffs… Imagine this but with 100x more intensity! That’s how it was at the Championships. Not a lot of time between matches, and usually a lot to change or fix on the robot. Even though it got hectic, and tempers even flared at times, it was a great experience and I can’t wait to go through it all again next year.