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Unread 03-12-2006, 10:00 AM
Chris27's Avatar
Chris27 Chris27 is offline
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Some Disapointments at St. Louis (long)

[some edits] also please don't reply if you won't read it all some people are getting the wrong impression by only reading one or two choice sentences.

Last year we were rookies but that didn't stop us from aiming high. We had some great ideas and worked our butts off. The end result was a very good bot that we were proud of, it was an extraordinary accomplishment for our rookie year.

We went to St. Louis and with a bit of luck we won. We were all excited and we left for Nationals. We liked kicking butt and we almost expected to do a little of the same there. After a few matches we quickly found out that its an entirely new game there. To stay competitive you need to be fast, really fast. Unfortunately we were not. We got our butts kicked there but we gained a lot of experience and now knew the differences between a "St. Louis" bot and an "Atlanta" bot.

This year we applied everything we learned from last year to the new bot. We recruited and trained some new freshmen and doubled our team size. We worked our butts off even more. Almost all days we worked from after school (3:00) to past 10:00. We were not fortunate enough to have rich sponsors that could CNC our parts for us. We had to make up for that in manpower. It takes a long time to machine parts down and it really sucks if you go a .001" too far and a bearing or some other part will no longer fit.

This year the build process did not go as smoothly as it did last year. We actually had to change our whole shooter concept 1/2 way through as a prototype showed it would not work. We were also striving for less mentor involvement and more student involvement. Students were now heading the build teams and not the mentors. I headed the "ball handling" team this year and I found just how convenient having mentors to do everything for you is, and found that I couldn't expect them to continue doing that anymore. For a while We even had doubts the robot wouldn't get finished. This put us in "rush mode" and thankfully we were able to put a finished robot into the box

Also thankfully we had a few days to test and program. We were happy to find out that our robot rocked . We knew then we had succeeded in building an "Atlanta" bot.

We shipped our robot and excitedly waited for regional to come. We all saw the VCU web cast and happily found out that our robot could take on any one of them. We were even more excited for St. Louis

Well we got to St. Louis and had a streak of bad luck. Nothing was working. The camera was unreliable and our robot was just not living up to its potential.

During the practice rounds people started complaining about the speed of our shooter. They did not like our "Atlanta" shooter at St. Louis. One of the safety inspectors had us test the speed every hour. By the end of the day he had us lower the speed so much that we had to let our shooter spin up for about a minute to shoot ONE ball. Under game like conditions we could plop out a ball four feet at most. Thankfully the other safety inspector had a little more sense and let us put our motor speed back up as one shot does not represent gameplay. Our shooter doesn't get full juice during a match, and we dont wait untill the match is over to spin up our wheel to full speed.


The next day we still had problems. We lost our first two matches. The second match left us with a destroyed shooter. Team moral was low but we didn't give up. We put forward a huge team effort to fixe the shooter and got it back in shape for the next round.

Thankfully we won the next round and had a nice boost to our moral. Our autonomous mode was not working at all and we were almost about to just drop it. Thankfully we gave it a second chance. We uploaded our "as shipped" code into it and crossed our fingers in the next match. We got 6 out of 10 balls in, not bad

Well here is when our bad luck seemed to end. We won the rest of our matches with huge margins (so much that are ranking points were looking depressing). We cheered as our shooter jammed the goals with balls. A ref had to be constantly poking our goal with a stick . We also set the the high scores of 95 and 99. We could have easily gone for triple digits but we held back. Slaughtering teams isn't exactly the spirit of FIRST

Our eyes were set for Atlanta when we entered the finals. We got the schedule for the 1st round. We were up against a low shooter another low shooter that was a decent blocker, and a robot whose strategy it looked like was aggressively ramming and tipping over robots.

We get to the field and were greeted with a not so friendly announcement. "We have change the frequencies of the lights, make sure you get the new numbers" Thanks...

So we cant score autonomous because they changed the light and also two robots are aimed out our robot. During the match all three opposing robots rammed/pinned us. But thankfully one of our teammates save our bacon with a well timed volley of balls. the next matches there was more and more rough play until finally at the end of the last match all three of our robots were on the ground at the end of the match. No penalties were called. BTW none of our robots were tippy. The last match we should have won autonomous but one of our balls wasn't counted. It would have won us the match.

Such a sudden stop to our hopes to return to Atlanta is a disapointment. It is only human

It seems that many of you guys are dismissing my thread as a childish rant because of a few poorly worded sentences in my post. Many of you don't even bother to see our point of view

To say that you would not show ANY disapointment if you went through a sitiation like we did then you are flat out lieing to yourself.

Secondly somepeople are being quick to asume that we are whining because we didn't win and that we think is all that matters. Read my post again you will find out that I have told about many of the ups and downs and great experiences that we have had. NONE of us regrets ever being in FIRST. We have all had AWESOME memories going through this program.

My disapointment mostly comes from that in my opinion there was too much rough play and "battle bots". I was just hoping that I could explain some of the frustrations that we have had and that next year there will be less "battle bots." Is that a bad thing to ask for?

I'm sorry to those that have found any of my posts offensive. It was not my intention.

Last edited by Chris27 : 03-13-2006 at 08:27 AM.
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Unread 03-12-2006, 10:24 AM
RebelWithARobot RebelWithARobot is offline
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Re: Disappointment (long)

First, let me say I'm somewhat offended by this post.
Second, I was impressed by your bot.
BUT!!!
You clearly didn't read the rules this year. This year in the rules they very clearly stated that there would be much more shoving than normal and that your robot should A) Be robust. B) Be able to shove back.

I am very surprised by your post because I have only had good experiences with your team.

More to the point, stop worrying about whether your "Atlanta bot" got screwed over or whatever. Worry about whether you've got an "Atlanta team."
FIRST is about sportsmanship, not your 'bad beat' stories, as fun as it is to share them.

Please do not come onto Chief and badmouth the St. Louis Regional. For a lot of teams at this regional it was their first, or 2nd, and most teams will only attend St. Louis this year.

For many on our team this year was our year to win the robotics portion of the event. They were also disappointed when they didn't. But like them you should be proud of what you built, proud of the way you handled yourselves in the difficult times, and graciously professional when you lose.

I hope nobody who has read Chris27's post will now think ill of the St. Louis Regional.
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Unread 03-12-2006, 10:26 AM
Mrpalmere Mrpalmere is offline
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Re: Disappointment (long)

Just know that you put in the work. Life isn't fair and things don't always go the way the we would like. I'm sure that you have an awesome robot. We must keep our eye on what this program is really about. It's the kids, giving them the opportunity to learn, experience and solve real world problems.

Our team designed our robot. That is our students. Some of the basic ideas came from the mentors but the concepts were developed by our kids. They spent 150 man-hours developing a shooter and it didn't work. So they scrapped it and said we need to re-design, with 4 days to ship.

They inventored and built and in 2 long days had a new shooter to mount and it works well.

That is what it is about.
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Unread 03-12-2006, 10:31 AM
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Re: Disappointment (long)

This years game was aimhigh. It was about finding inovative ways to use cameras to shoot balls through a hoop. We did that and so did most teams at St. Louis. I am not saying that they were not somre really great robots at St. Louis. I just don't like it when some teams ignore the objective and rely on brute force battle bot type robots whose main objective is to take down other peoples robots.

I don't mean my post to be offesive its just that we put so much time and innovation into our robot that we were really disapointed on how it ended. I'm sure you would too if you put the amount of time into it as we did.

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just know that you put in the work. Life isn't fair and things don't always go the way the we would like.
thats very true but that doesn't mean it doesn't hurt
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Unread 03-12-2006, 10:41 AM
RebelWithARobot RebelWithARobot is offline
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Re: Disappointment (long)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris27
I'm sure you would too if you put the amount of time into it as we did.

Thanks...

Our team didn't actually work on our robot, we shipped an empty crate, said some magic words and BAM!, we got a robot.

You're right, i can't believe anyone would possibly be able to THINK that they put in as much work as you.

We should call this years season "Winnovation" because apparently they are the only team that puts in the work to win. And it's not fair to them if someone outplays them. And they should be able to be recognized for this effort. They shouldn't have to do any community outreach, or be gracious professionals, they should just win because Chris27 said so...

You heard it folks. This years season has a new name.
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Unread 03-12-2006, 10:48 AM
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Re: Disappointment (long)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris27
This years game was aimhigh. It was about finding inovative ways to use cameras to shoot balls through a hoop. We did that and so did most teams at St. Louis. I am not saying that they were not somre really great robots at St. Louis. I just don't like it when some teams ignore the objective and rely on brute force battle bot type robots whose main objective is to take down other peoples robots.
The main objective is to score more points than the other team. You took the "score more than them via the centre goal" approach, while your opponents apparently took the "deny them the ability to score, while scoring a little" approach. They're both valid strategies. A robot that can dump 45 balls into the 1-point chute is just as good as one that can score 15 balls in the centre goal. You can't really expect to make an immobile, defenseless ballcannon and win, because the game is more complex than simply getting balls into the centre goal. Note: I'm not saying your robot IS an immobile, defenseless ballcannon, but if it has trouble with getting blocked and your opponents exploited that weakness, then they had the better strategy.

Don't let it bug you too much though. I imagine if you ask most teams, they were ALL "almost going to nationals, if it wasn't for those meddling (refs|other teams playing unfairly|small team size|sudden problem|unfavourable rule interpretation)". And I say that as an alumni of a team that was chronically thinking we had an unstoppable robot, if only those other teams and pesky rules didn't get in the way. You gotta adapt to adapt to those problems and play through them. Everyone is disappointed when they don't go to nationals, but only a few teams from every regional gets to. You may have had the best shooter, but other teams probably had a slightly worse shooter connected to a better chassis, or had better tactics and earned their way to finals. I remember in 2003, one of the best teams in a game about stacking at the Toronto regional was a team that was actually incapable of stacking.

Quote:
I'm sure you would too if you put the amount of time into it as we did.
Working 3:00pm-10:00pm every night is pretty much the norm. We would typically work from 7:00am to 11:00pm (excluding school hours, but we might get called out of class) at 1141, and at my current team (1281), it's about the same. Neither team had access to CNC machines, and at 1141 it's basically team policy to not allow adults to touch any component destined for the final robot. It always hurts when things don't turn out the way you want.

Last edited by Bongle : 03-12-2006 at 10:58 AM.
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Unread 03-12-2006, 11:04 AM
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Re: Disappointment (long)

Quote:
Originally Posted by RebelWithARobot
Thanks...

Our team didn't actually work on our robot, we shipped an empty crate, said some magic words and BAM!, we got a robot.

You're right, i can't believe anyone would possibly be able to THINK that they put in as much work as you.

We should call this years season "Winnovation" because apparently they are the only team that puts in the work to win. And it's not fair to them if someone outplays them. And they should be able to be recognized for this effort. They shouldn't have to do any community outreach, or be gracious professionals, they should just win because Chris27 said so...

You heard it folks. This years season has a new name.
yeah, i agree with you on that one. other teams put in just as much time ad work and even more. we put in a lot of time too, we stayed every day to work on our bot.Chris27, you guys are only a second year team, you cant expect to win and thats not what its about. and it wasnt about finding inovative ways to use cameras to shoot balls through a hoop, its about inspiring students in science and technology, like its always been and to teach students Gracious Professionalism. you should try that sometime...

Last edited by Steve S. : 03-12-2006 at 11:06 AM.
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Unread 03-12-2006, 11:21 AM
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Re: Disappointment (long)

I'd like everyone to look up the definition of "ad hominem" before they post any more replies in this thread.

Critical comments directed at individuals are best left for the world of private messages and then again only if they are constructive. Let's try to filter all of that out of this thread moving forward.
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Unread 03-12-2006, 11:31 AM
BRAVESaj25bd8 BRAVESaj25bd8 is offline
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Re: Disappointment (long)

I'd like to take a quick moment to make you aware of how you ended your post. You said you would try again next year. That's exactly the point. The best robots don't always win. You may be mad at how things turned out. However, the idea of FIRST is to learn things. This year you learned that you should perhaps put more thought into a powerful drivetrain for years to come. Maybe you learned to not give away so much on practice day so that the other teams would be ready for what you were trying to do. The fact is, as mad or upset as you may be, FIRST is going to keep you coming back. That is because despite the occasional bad call from referees (who I would like to personally thank for volunteering and taking the time to answer questions when asked), or poor alliance partners for a match, or even the occational tipping due to another bot, you want to come back. There is nothing on Earth like what you get in FIRST. So keep your head up and keep trying. The hard work will pay off.
Also, please don't imply that your team worked harder than everyone else's. I'm not saying our team did. I don't know. How do you judge something like that? There's no formula or scale or graph. I can guarantee that everyone puts a lot of effort into their robot and is seeking reward (winning) for that effort. We worked very hard on our robot this year. We thought it would have an awesome system for shooting until we got to practice day at FLR. We missed three straight practice sessions, only allowing us to go to three others. However, we worked hard and ended up being 4-0-0 going into lunch on Friday. I was the driver so I will take the responsibility of going 2-3-0 in our next 5 matches of the day. We ended the day 6-3-0, good enough for 5th place amongst some GREAT competition.
The final day, we showed up and we found out that one of our matches was going to be replayed due to a field error the day before. This was one of our initial 4 wins. The whole team was a little disappointed but we did not want to win a match the wrong way. We ended up losing that make-up match and tried our best to end the day well. We ended up 7-5-0 and in 10th place. We were the second team picked (thank you so much team 191. X-CATS ROCK!) and had a strong alliance. We made it to the final match of competition with the finals tied at one game apiece. We almost won that last match but came out just shy.
Now Chris, I am not going to say that close loss didn't hurt, because it did. But we quickly went over and congratulated the winners of the competition (which they deserved to be) and became ecstatic with what we had accomplished. Everyone catches tough breaks. Only making it to 3 sessions on Thursday, the make-up match, tipping a couple times in elimination rounds. I could come on ChiefDelphi and complain about all of these but I will not. Because the bottom line is that FIRST is an incredible, life-changing experience that I am thankful to be a part of. I know that through all of the disappointment you are feeling, you are also greatful to be a part of such a wonderful organization. Good luck to you next year.

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Unread 03-12-2006, 11:40 AM
rangersteve rangersteve is offline
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Re: Disappointment (long)

Ok. There was no reason to argue with the original post. He was just posting his teams struggle and disappointment. He did make a few comments about the STL regional but a simple contradiction with good things about the regional would be sufficient. So what if they have had a bad experience there, that is their opinion. News Flash, Dave(RebelWithARobot), Team 931 doesnt work as hard as other teams. We do have 3 sponsors making parts for us and we have an extensive machine shop. Yes we work hard but not as hard as some teams. In my opinion we fall far short of our potential.
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Unread 03-12-2006, 11:55 AM
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Re: Disappointment (long)

Hang in there

This is a complex competition. We've been in it for 11 years and things still happen that surprise us (and even disappoint). You need to keep "aiming high" and trying to put the tough calls behind you. We were disqualified in the elimination rounds of our very first competition, that hurt. We're still at it though and sometimes we get it right. If your team keeps working hard, success will come.


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Unread 03-12-2006, 11:58 AM
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Re: Disappointment (long)

Before this gets any more critical, please please let me implore you to read T. Hoffman's post above. I know it's difficult to read a statement that you may deem contradictory to your own opinion, but remember that everything here is opinion.

I am sure all of your teams worked equally hard. Why? Because you're still here. You're still competing. You have the funds to continue. I have met people from many of your teams and found enjoyable to talk to and learned a lot from them. Let's just leave it at that and practice the good sportsmanship that we preach.
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Unread 03-12-2006, 12:10 PM
TubaMorg TubaMorg is offline
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Re: Disappointment (long)

Hey Chris27: What an extraordinary post! I am impressed with the thought that went into it and how well it is written. I am sure if most people were honest, they would admit to the same sort of feelings at the end of their competitions. I appreciate these feelings because it is reflective of a strong desire to succeed, which should always be encouraged. After all, how can anyone pour their blood, sweat, and tears (not to mention their soul) into a project and expect to come up short?

I hope you realize that your experience this year's regional is as much of a learning experience as last year's national comp. Believe it or not, the nature of the competetion is such that it is very easy for things to go wrong, especially if you put all your eggs in one basket. Successful teams, this year, are ones that have planned several different strategic scenarios: How to counter defensive bots, How to score if our camera breaks, How to defend good high scorers, What is the best way to win autonomous, etc. From the webcasts I've watched it has been a beautiful evolution of strategy as the competitions progress, especially during the finals. One alliance would figure out a way to neutralize a scoring threat on the other team one round, then the next round that scoring threat would readapt and score again. It has been truly amazing how quickly alliances were changing their game plans.

So the point is, while the bitterness of defeat is understandable, and laying the blame of your defeat at the feat of "them" is human nature, you don't want to spend too much time indulging in this. It is a good idea, however, to take a good look at where things went wrong that you CAN fix. What could your team have done differently? Clearly you wanted to shoot the high goal, a hard task to accomplish even if robots aren't ramming you. Perhaps you spent too much time perfecting the ultimate shooter, but forgot about the fact that the other alliance might have robots designed to defeat the ultimate shooter.

This year's game is much different than last year. Last year's game rules were pretty complicated, but the strategy was simple: stack fast and capture rows. This year the game is very simple, but the strategy has never ending levels of complexity. There is no BEST design for a robot. The alliances that are winning have good robots of many designs types (low shooters, high shooters, rambots), but the reason they are winning is because of their game play. One of the best autonomous modes I have seen so far (I'm sorry I forget the team numbers) involved cooperation with two teams in an alliance. One of the teams had an excellent shooter. The opposite alliance had a defensive auto mode designed to ram them to prevent the shooter from scoring. Solution? Another robot from the shooter's team then set their autonomous to pick the blocker so their shooter could shoot. The adaptation was fantastic! Remember this for next year, go through the rules with a critical point of view, dreaming of all the different ways the game can be played and think of options/solutions to all of these.
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Unread 03-12-2006, 12:21 PM
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Re: Disappointment (long)

Quote:
Originally Posted by BRAVESaj25bd8
I'd like to take a quick moment to make you aware of how you ended your post. You said you would try again next year. That's exactly the point. The best robots don't always win. You may be mad at how things turned out. However, the idea of FIRST is to learn things. This year you learned that you should perhaps put more thought into a powerful drivetrain for years to come. Maybe you learned to not give away so much on practice day so that the other teams would be ready for what you were trying to do. The fact is, as mad or upset as you may be, FIRST is going to keep you coming back. That is because despite the occasional bad call from referees (who I would like to personally thank for volunteering and taking the time to answer questions when asked), or poor alliance partners for a match, or even the occational tipping due to another bot, you want to come back. There is nothing on Earth like what you get in FIRST. So keep your head up and keep trying. The hard work will pay off.
Also, please don't imply that your team worked harder than everyone else's. I'm not saying our team did. I don't know. How do you judge something like that? There's no formula or scale or graph. I can guarantee that everyone puts a lot of effort into their robot and is seeking reward (winning) for that effort. We worked very hard on our robot this year. We thought it would have an awesome system for shooting until we got to practice day at FLR. We missed three straight practice sessions, only allowing us to go to three others. However, we worked hard and ended up being 4-0-0 going into lunch on Friday. I was the driver so I will take the responsibility of going 2-3-0 in our next 5 matches of the day. We ended the day 6-3-0, good enough for 5th place amongst some GREAT competition.
The final day, we showed up and we found out that one of our matches was going to be replayed due to a field error the day before. This was one of our initial 4 wins. The whole team was a little disappointed but we did not want to win a match the wrong way. We ended up losing that make-up match and tried our best to end the day well. We ended up 7-5-0 and in 10th place. We were the second team picked (thank you so much team 191. X-CATS ROCK!) and had a strong alliance. We made it to the final match of competition with the finals tied at one game apiece. We almost won that last match but came out just shy.
Now Chris, I am not going to say that close loss didn't hurt, because it did. But we quickly went over and congratulated the winners of the competition (which they deserved to be) and became ecstatic with what we had accomplished. Everyone catches tough breaks. Only making it to 3 sessions on Thursday, the make-up match, tipping a couple times in elimination rounds. I could come on ChiefDelphi and complain about all of these but I will not. Because the bottom line is that FIRST is an incredible, life-changing experience that I am thankful to be a part of. I know that through all of the disappointment you are feeling, you are also greatful to be a part of such a wonderful organization. Good luck to you next year.

-Bobby D
So True. on an off note: i believe that was match 15 that was replayed, which doesnt happem often
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Unread 03-12-2006, 12:27 PM
Gdeaver Gdeaver is offline
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Re: Disappointment (long)

It seams so many individuals on teams don't understand the goals of First. Any team that goes through build season and ships a robot has won the game. They just may not realize it until in a few years they are out facing the real world and using the life skills that First competitions teach. Think of your unfortunate classmates that are not involved in activities like First. The transition to adulthood and the real world can be very tough. As you found out this weekend hard work is not enough. Your best laid plans didn't work out as you thought. Hey, that's real life. The real skill that leads to success is learning to deal with failures and the never ceasing problems that will be thrown at you every day. From your post, it seams that your team did very well at dealing with the problems and showed a very respectable performance. You didn't win but, every one on your team should be feeling very good. How do you think the team that came in last in the rankings feels? They may feel down but, their participation this year has given them a little lesson in life. If your playing the First game, your winning big time. Pick the shoulders up and savor this weekend's experience.
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