Did 2018 affect your robot design and strategy for 2019?

An interesting study would be how the game from last year changed this years design. Did teams focus on rocket because of the scale last year? Is there still the perception that low level 1 cargo/hatch bots are going to not be competitive in the future? Will the meta reverse from last year and have competitive alliances be two level 1 bots and one rocket bot?


Quite the opposite for us. We saw how successful we could be if we didn’t try to “do ALL the things” and after a nightmare of an elevator last year turned around and said HECK NO. Really happy with how we did this weekend.


Yes, for my team 2018 affected our 2019 robot strategy. We built a very successful and competitive switch bot, which made it to the Einstein Field at Detroit Champs, but we always relied on our alliance partners who could do both scale and switch. We didn’t want to rely on alliance partners in 2019. This made us decide to build a 2019 robot that can place both cargo and hatch panels in all levels of the rocket and anywhere on the cargo ship.


I guess what I’m getting at is that I think scoring potential is greater on level 1 compared to the switch from last year. Did last year’s game interfere with your perception of this years game? Do competitive bots at the highest level need to operate at level 2 and 3?

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We reused a lot of systems from our 2018 bot since they were still applicable to this game and would reduce the amount of design work required. For example, our elevator this year is pretty much the same as last year with some minor adjustments to help with this game.


Mainly, we realized how crucial front-to-back game piece scoring is, and it was a major driving force for us, which is why we’ve got a sideways elevator and a pivoting arm. Generally for faster cycle times, though last year front-to-back meant you could get ahead in auto and never lose, and that’s not the case this year.

We realized that assisting another climb is valuable, but risky, and the better your team mate is, the less likely they’ll be willing to climb on you and risk damage, so we knew we had to be able to do it ourselves.

Also, this is now our 4th elevator designed (made two in the off season as practice, and one for Power Up) but counting practice bots and everything, this is our 6th elevator built. So we had improvements from last year, and so far it’s been rock solid.

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I think that last year’s game, and really any past game interferes with anyone’s perception of this year’s game because by being exposed to previous games, everyone has some sort of preconceived notion of how games should be played before even sitting down and thoroughly strategizing. I do think that competitive bots at the highest level need to operate at level 2 and 3 because that is what sets them apart from other bots. Low goals are made to be challenges that any team can complete, but to be the most competitive, teams should be able to complete high goal (levels 2 and 3) challenges.

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We felt more comfortable building an elevator. We saw all the shortcomings of our elevator last year – ones that ultimately led to us being extremely unreliable on the scale. I think we have successfully learned from our mistakes and have a much better system this year. 2018 was the first time any of us had built a multi-stage elevator, and probably the first time the team had ever built a multi-stage elevator. We learned a lot from it.

The one thing that I saw in 2018 that I wish we had incorporated was front/back scoring. Either via a sideways elevator or a passthrough. That being said, we have swerve so I think it’ll be ok. We can rotate on our way between loading station and scoring.


I would say 2018 was a major influence for us. When we decided to do an elevator we already had an amazing resource to build in the form of a 2018 elevator that won an excellence in engineering award. When we decided to go h-drive again we already had an amazing resource in the form of a 2018 h-drive that won the creativity award last year. A small part of our decision to do these things is we already executed them well in the recent past and knew how to do them well.

It certainly did. We tried to “do it all” last year, did not successfully perform some of what we set out to do, and hampered our more successful parts as a result. Specifically, we tried to design an elevator that worked all aspects of cube handling and climbed, but ended up with no climb and a slow (and very top-heavy) elevator. This year, the team decided to go with a more focused approach. We stuck to handling hatches and placing them efficiently at all levels while building a separate climbing mechanism that can adapt to both lvl2 and lvl3. We once again used an elevator for lifting our hatch mechanism, but this time we changed the design radically for the better and made it much lighter and more stable. The result is a hatch bot that can cycle very fast while quickly and firmly placing hatches wherever needed. We also went with a solid and adaptable climbing mechanism that has proven durable and efficient at both climbs, letting us adapt to our alliance partners needs without any chance of sacrificing RPs and maximizing points. All in all, we learned the “designing efficiently to task” lesson from our 2018 season.

2018 definitely helped with our decisions for 2019. We had already tried using draw slides as an elevator and that didnt go too well so we knew what nOt to do. We did have experience with an elevator though, so that allowed us to build on our previous design and custom build our entire elevator this year. Last year also helped our team see all the 3D printing opportunities we have on our robot. We won the Engineering Excellence award at Robot Rumble 2018 mainly for the incorporation of custom designed and 3D printed parts which helped us with the design process this year.
Our team tried to “do it all” last year as well, and it didnt go so well. We realized that the teams that won last year, at least at our regionals, had focused on one part of the game and did it very well. We were very ahead of ourselves last year, which helped us be able to prioritize this year. Instead of going for everything at once, we prioritized on what we thought was most important and even if nothing else worked, what could get us to champs.

TL;DR: 2018 helped us with our elevator design as well as how to prioritize for our robot.

Looking at the robot 3946 is fielding this year, the 2018 experience, and in particular the difference between official competition robot and the off season robot, I’d say a great big YES. I fully suspect that the 2018 off-season robot was the first 2019 prototype.

2018 taught us that for our team, it is more important for the robot to fill a role on the alliance, than to attempt to be the best robot on the field.

Last year we tried to build a really good scale bot, and because of many reasons we were unsuccessful. This year, largely because of the presence of two game pieces, we decided that the best strategy for our team would not be to build a rocket-bot, but to focus on filling a role within an alliance.

I can safely say that our design from 2018 did affect our design choices for 2019. All the jokes aside, I think building a shooter for this game wasn’t the right call, and I can’t wait for someone to do it well and prove me wrong. That being said, we certainly were not fans of the game moving away from us last year and our senior leadership really wanted to build a robot that could adapt and play more aspects of the game and into later parts of matches and the season.

It was, and continues to be a tremendous amount of work, but the boys seem to be up to it!


It’s fun to see how different teams interpreted and learned from their successes and failures of last year!

Our take on this year’s game was essentially that the similarities to 2018 were superficial, and that thinking “we made a good elevator last year, we can do it again!” was a trap for us. Two different types of game piece, very tight target zones, lots of opportunities to score low, and unprotected placement meant that our limited resources were best spent developing low down. I know others had different takes and are finding out how right or wrong they were. I guess we will see in a week or two.

2018 we had a pathetic primary game piece manipulator 3–>6/10 and most awesome climb, we fixed that for 2019. Sad it takes a full season to correct one of the basics “Handle the game piece well” but our endgame climb suffered in 2019 WK 1 we need to try to rectify that by week 5 in our second attempt.

In 2019…We settled on just FIVE design criteria with the intention of specific 10/10 systems in place pulled off 4 in CADM the last system was 5/10, we purposely left L2 and L3 rocket to our partners… Result OPR #5 D ~#1. I hope we get our #1 design criteria going for Ventura to rank higher :point_up_2: Happy to see we can handle game pieces well this season.

In years past we tried to do more with “iffy” systems and “could break” things… we have learned a hard lesson to simplify and plan , increase quality and be robust add in scouting and driving. In our six years we only missed eliminations once last year in SD (Played at SD,OC,VENTURA and CENTRAL VALLEY) with a RAS trip to start us off, never played in Finals…hope to change that soon. Its nerve wracking to miss two SF tiebreakers by a measly 11 points (5 and 6) one of those with 973 in CV.

This year was our longest Planning/Strategizing time…2 weeks before we cut metal and hashed out our strategy. First year doing build at the HS!

Absolutely. Teams all around us had fairly good lifts last year. We had a scissor lift (that worked!), but it didn’t exactly let us to transfer our knowledge to a linear one. We were banking on most teams making a rocket bot, leaving room for a fast cycle time robot with a consistent level 3 climber.

Jack in the Bot was the kind of team that we thought would have a rocket bot.

Not really team-specific, but I’m noticing a ton of teams going for ambidextrous scoring in 2019 after many top teams had dual-sided scoring last year. Specifically, I’ve seen a lot of teams using the 3538 sideways elevator from 2018 to achieve ambidexterity this year.


I was actually wondering this exact question!

For my team, we built a pretty solid elevator last year which was largely VexPro. We saw how consistent scoring with a reliable mechanism could take you decently far, so we decided again to use an elevator this year. There were for sure issues on that elevator, but we fixed nearly all of them on our current revision of the elevator. Our goal was to improve our elevator speed and lift height, so we switched to a custom gearbox with continuous rigging, which has been working well for us so far.

Strategically, I’m not really sure we learned that much, which is a shame. There were a lot of parallels that we had between this season and the previous, but I hope that we can acknowledge them as a team following the season and build upon them for next season.

2018 definitely had a big affect on our team. It was a tough year, and to put it simply, the statement, “Micheal, we are going to prototype a wheeled intake” was not one that anyone wants to hear at the end of week 4. Yet from that moment on, students started getting really into finishing the robot.

Around week 5 1/2, other local teams and mentors were pushing for us to to build a switch bot. I thought a lot about it, because I could convince them to change plans, but I realized something. Looking around at how the students had suddenly became extremely motivated, they needed to know what it was like to work really hard during build season, even if it meant competitively we were a flop.

That experience changed a lot for our students; they now had the passion and drive to do amazing things. They wanted to work hard through all of build season. Leadership developed a plan to train and teach students, while keeping them very engaged. They wanted to make a name for themselves. While we have a long ways to improve, we are taking the steps in the right direction.

We designed within our limits this year, and with a lot of hard work and dedication, made what appears to be the teams most successful robot in the last 6 years.

I’m proud of them. Not because they built a robot, but they built a team. May this be inspiration to all other teams who even have a low point. Take this story, and build yourselves beyond your wildest dream. Feel free to ask if you want to know any more or have questions.

Watch out Indiana, 1646 is back.