Build Season 2017: Weeks 5-6

Week 5

As the weeks have flown by, more of the robot’s subsystems inch closer to completion. We are now driving the robot on a daily basis to find potential issues, debug them, and iterate our designs. We have also been using the drive time to test new robot drivers. Last year’s operator, Adam, will be this year’s driver. After some practicing, we were able to score five gears in two minutes. 

The scouts have made good progress in the past weeks. We quizzed them on their knowledge of the game rules so they now know the game inside and out. Their eagle eyed efforts will be essential when making alliances. Our publicity team is quite busy, designing and creating unique steampunk apparel and decorations tailored for the robotics team. You can see some of our pieces in previous blog posts. As the week comes to a close, it’s exciting to see that the end is nearly in sight.

Week 6

The final week is in progress, and the robot is finally complete. We’re glad to report that our robot is fully operational and ready to take on this year’s challenge! The build team was able to hit all bases with FIRST Steamworks. The robot can obtain and deliver gears, shoot balls in both the low and high goals, and get itself on the rope and hit the buzzer. This level of functionality came from the dedication and creativity of our build team. This year, our robot will perfectly encapsulate the spirit of Team 25, with many logos and colors adorning it. We are also making adorable buttons to hand out on game day. As the final week comes to a close, the tension is building, and we’re excited to prove our mettle in competition.

Travel arrangements are always difficult to make. Coordinating hotel booking, meals, transportation, and luggage delivery is a whirlwind of details. Every year, the Raider Robotix Parent’s Association (RRPMA) makes sure that all the travel arrangements are made in advance for the team. It just one of the many things that RRPMA does for team so that we run smoothly. So much is handled by the Parents Association, Team 25 wouldn’t be the same without their help. On behalf of Raider Robotix, we would like to thank our parents for keeping us running like a lean, mean winning machine.

Build Season 2017: Weeks 1-4

Week 1

The anticipation was gnawing at us as we entered Montgomery High School for the 2017 FIRST Robotics Competition season kickoff. Like thousands of other students around the globe, we were eager to learn the details of this year’s challenge, FIRST STEAMworks. The secrecy was noticeable all throughout the kickoff. Game elements were safely tucked away in a locked trailer and the kickoff video was securely stored on a flash drive. Even files on the FIRST website were encrypted. Finally, all the teams in attendance gathered together in the auditorium to watch the live stream and the game was revealed to us. Our team members got to see wooden models of the game elements (hoppers, boiler etc.) and we started to formulate ideas in advance of our next meeting.


We held our first meeting of the season on the Monday after Kickoff. The biggest topic of the evening was our strategy. We prioritized which parts of the game we wanted to focus our attention on and made a plan for achieving our goals. Two of our mentors, Kristian and Shaun, traveled a long way to help us out. Both of them are team alumni who have influenced many of our older members and their experience has helped our team focus ideas and bring them together.

Week 2

The team was super fired up for the build season. We started creating designs in CAD and figured out ideas for manipulating the game elements. In terms of progress on the robot, we hit some key milestones. We finalized the drivetrain design and started assembling it using parts we had in stock. We are awaiting the delivery of other parts we ordered (like new idler gears) before it can be fully completed.

On the scouting front, Spencer Ng started to create our Android scouting app. This app will be used to record information about other team’s robots during matches. Since it will be hard to count exactly how many balls each teams will be scoring this year, we had to develop a model that allows scouts to estimate these counts.

Last season we graduated a large class of seniors and so we have a very young team this year. It took some time for our newer members to settle in, but they’re finally getting into the swing of things as the build season momentum picks up. All in all, we’ve made some great progress this week!

Week 3

The construction of the robot is developing thanks to the dedication of the build team. With the rest of the parts we ordered in hand, we finished fabricating the drivebase. We decided upon a method for storing balls effectively and framed out the upper portion of the robot (we anticipate being able to hold at least 80 balls). Next, we began to brainstorm methods to successfully climb up the rope. Furthermore, we started creating the robot’s bumpers making sure we had the proper clearance to adhere with this year’s new robot-sizing rules. Once they are complete, the robot will start resembling its final form.

The team parents have really been pitching in and making sure that the team has everything they need to succeed. Parents have been taking turns bringing in meals for us every day. Because of their efforts, the team is able to focus on building the robot. Hats off to our team parents for being so caring and supportive!

Week 4

This week we started working on wiring the robot’s electronics. Knowing exactly where the robot’s intake and shooter will be positioned allowed us to map out and permanently mount the control system components. With this task completed, the robot is now driveable! Currently, we are manufacturing the mechanisms required for the robot to pick up fuel from the ground and score it the boiler. We have also created a prototype mechanism for climbing up the rope; however, it has not yet been attached to the robot as we continue to iterate its design.

Our team coach, Mr. Cokeley, has been providing invaluable direction for us. He takes the time to teach us how to use our workshop tools and educate us on safety guidelines. We really wouldn’t be where we are without him! On a team spirit note, Team 25 is producing personalized steampunk themed items like goggles and hats!;

Student News: North Brunswick robotics competition goes medieval

This article originally appeared on, 11:32 a.m. EST November 10, 2016.

On Saturday, Nov.12, Raider Robotix-FRC Team 25 hosts Brunswick Eruption in their 15th off-season robotics competition at the North Brunswick Township High School.

Teams from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York and beyond will be traveling to this event where FIRST Stronghold, the game from the 2016 FIRST robotics season, will be played for the last time by these teams.

Raider Robotix invites the community to attend and learn more about FIRST Robotics and also to bring non-perishable food donations for the local food pantry and gently used shoes for the Raiders’ shoe drive. Admission to this event is free and open to the public. Food and drinks can be purchased at the event as well as souvenir T-shirts.

The doors for the Nov. 12 event will open at 8 a.m.

During the matches, teams will play First Stronghold, according to a news release. This is a medieval-inspired game in which two alliances made up of three robotics teams each will try to capture their opponents’ castle tower by scoring balls, or “boulders,, into openings. Each boulder scored through an upper story window or ground-level goal earns the alliance points and reduces the tower’s strength. If enough boulders are scored, the tower becomes weakened and can be “captured” for bonus points if all three robots surround it at the end of the match.

In addition to scoring boulders, points are earned for driving over or through obstacles placed on the field. In the last 20 seconds of the game, robots may also attempt to climb the opponent’s castle wall for additional points by grabbing a 6.5-foot-tall rung and elevating at least 2 feet off the ground.

During the robotics season, all FIRST events are open to the public and admission for seating is free. For more information on FIRST Robotics, visit

The Evil Sundae contest will be held prior to Elimination Matches, and awards to the competing robotics teams will be handed out at the end of the day. To learn more about Brunswick Eruption, visit or the Raider Robotix’s Facebook page at

Also during Brunswick Eruption, tickets for a pancake breakfast benefitting [sic] Raider Robotix-FRC Team 25 will be available. The pancake breakfast is being held Sunday, Dec. 11, at Applebee’s in Milltown. For only $10, participants will be served breakfast by a champion from Team 25.

Raider Robotix will be at Heritage Day Sept. 24 in North Brunswick

PRESS RELEASE 09-16-2016 North Brunswick, NJ: The North Brunswick Township High School’s robotics team robot that competed in the World Championships FIRST Robotics Stronghold game April 27-30, 2016 in St. Louis will be making an appearance September 24 at the North Brunswick Township’s 34th Annual Heritage Day. The Raider Robotix booth will be open from about 1 pm to 5 pm and will also collect shoes as part of its ongoing Shoe Drive fundraiser. Information on Raider Robotix, Brunswick Eruption and FIRST will be available. So, come down to see the robot in action and bring wearable, used shoes to donate! Heritage Day has a rain date Sunday, September 25.

The next robotics event for the Raider Robotix team is Brunswick Eruption, the FRC Team 25’s off-season event scheduled to be held at the North Brunswick Township High School on November 12, 2016. Robot teams from the Mid-Atlantic Robotics District and elsewhere will compete against each other at this event. To learn more about Brunswick Eruption, please visit or the Raider Robotix’s Facebook page at Public admission and seating are free.

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More about the Robot and 2016 FIRST FRC Robotics competition: The robot, Evil Machine, was designed and built by NBTHS Raider Robotix FRC Team 25 team members during the 2016 robotics season, their 20th year of competition. The team gained recognition and status during competition, showing that Team 25 is a force to be reckoned with.

In addition to being the #3 seeded team in their division at the St. Louis World Championships, Raider Robotix also finished as a Finalist and #11 ranked team within the Mid-Atlantic Robotics (MAR) District Championships held April 13 – 16, a Finalist and #2 seeded team at the MAR district competition at Bridgewater-Raritan held April 1 – 3, and the #1 seeded team at the MAR district competition at Hatboro-Horsham held March 4 – 6.

Raider Robotix also won two Judges’ Awards during the 2016 FIRST Robotics competition season. The robot proved to be highly consistent in climbing for additional points, and in fact, had the highest amount of points for climbing across all 8 divisions at the FIRST World Championship. Due to the Raider Robotix climbing mechanism’s design, the robot’s custom drive train wheels, and the ability to quickly score boulders in the low goal both in autonomous mode and under operator control, a panel of industry professional judges awarded Raider Robotix the General Motors-sponsored Industrial Design Award, which “celebrates form and function in an efficiently designed machine that effectively addresses the game challenge” during the Bridgewater-Raritan MAR District Event. At the Hatboro-Horsham MAR District Event held in Horsham, PA, Raider Robotix was also awarded the Johnson & Johnson-sponsored Gracious Professional award, for “outstanding demonstration of FIRST Core Values such as continuous gracious professionalism and working together both on and off the playing field.”

In the 2016 robotics season, FRC teams played against each other in FIRST STRONGHOLD, a medieval-inspired game in which two alliances made up of three robots each try to capture their opponents’ castle tower by scoring balls, or “boulders”, into openings. Each boulder scored through an upper story window or ground-level goal earns the alliance points and reduces the tower’s strength. If enough boulders are scored, the tower becomes weakened and can be “captured” for bonus points if all three robots surround it at the end of the match. In addition to scoring boulders, points are earned for driving over or through a variety of different obstacles defenders place on the field to protect their tower. In the last 20 seconds of the game, robots may also attempt to climb the opponent’s castle wall for additional points by grabbing a 6.5-foot-tall rung and elevating at least 2 feet off the ground. During the robotics season, all FIRST events are open to the public and admission for seating is free. Please visit for more information on FIRST Robotics. The Raider Robotics Team will have a booth at North Brunswick’s Heritage Day Festival September 24, 2016 for those who are interested in finding out more about the Team and FIRST Robotics.

More about Raider Robotix FRC Team 25: Founded twenty years ago in 1996 at North Brunswick Township High School, NJ, this team has been a two-time world champion during the FIRST Robotics FRC Competition in 2000 and 2012. Team 25 has competed in District and Regional matches and has traveled to the World Championships each year since its founding. Raider Robotix is comprised of NBTHS students and mentored by adult volunteers. This highly competitive FRC Championship Robotics team participated in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2014 and has been featured on television, in books and news articles as well. Raider Robotix has secured sponsorship from Bristol-Myers Squibb, Becton Dickinson (BD), ABBE Lumber, American Alloy Fabricators, Inc., North Brunswick Township High School and the Raider Robotix Parent and Mentor Assoc., Inc. for the 2016 season, and continues with fundraising efforts.
More about FIRST and Stronghold: More than 3,000 teams comprised of over 78,000 students worldwide competed in the FIRST STRONGHOLD game in 2016. FIRST Robotics combines the excitement of sport along with the rigors of science and technology. High school student teams comprising kids ages 14-18 in grades 9-12 build and program a robot in six weeks’ time to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors. The teams not only sharpen their teamwork skills, but they raise funds and design a team “brand.” Team members come away with an experience that’s as close to real-world business and engineering as a high school student can get. Over a seven week period, these high school teams competed as family and friends cheered from the stands at over 120 multi-day events worldwide. All this led up to the 2016 FIRST Championship at the Edward Jones Dome held April 27-30, 2016 in St. Louis, MO. During FIRST events, the public is invited to attend at no charge.

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.


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!

hang_edited (1)

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


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.


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.