FRC Horror Stories, a second try

Hello, I wanted to bring up a older thread in a repost to see if we could learn some newer stories from those who wish to talk about them, here is the direct quote for that original post.
The thread sort of died out in 2020 and I hoped to bring it back out.

"What are everybody’s FRC horror stories? I assume every team has at least a few to tell about, and it would be nice to know other teams go through the same types of problems.

My team’s (1339) primary horror story happened in 2016, when a programmer put in a Thread.sleep() in the robot code for logging acceleration. This made the robot only update every 2 seconds or something. The following match, our robot seemed “drunk” and, needless to say, the drivers were very confused why the robot was so unresponsive."

Original Post (last post in thread 2020)

I can go with a couple short stories myself, at GRC 2021 we had two batteries plugged into eachother, 2021 hangar games we had a kevlar string snap on our climber and our robot feel from all the way up on the generator switch, 2-3 feet drop, in 2022 Heartland our robot feel sideways from the mid bar, and at GRC 2022 our shooter had a missing gear we did not notice for multiple matches in semis until at finals we noticed it, making all our high and low shots off.

Ive learned my stories and it would be nice to hear yours, a lot of these stories are vital to understand so we can better our futures, checking such and such.

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This past season we had an extra ring light on our Limelight because of lighting conditions at our workshop and comps. This thing probably doubled the total lumen output, to my untrained but very pained eye. Plus, it was wired directly to the PDP, so there was no toggling. So anyway, we had a cardboard scrap hanging over it in queue…and I forgot to take it off, so we started the match with a piece of cardboard over our camera. Thankfully, the turret didn’t have to move much to aim in auto, so the shots still made it, and we managed to flip the cardboard flap up into the shooter path and blast it off with a cargo ball. Still a bit horrifying.

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During one of our first drive practices this season we hadn’t added a strap to secure the battery yet. At this point we had two limelights on the robot because we were convinced we needed the fov. When one of the people driving the bot had the bright idea to spin at full speed, the battery flew out. The generated energy from the motors as we spun down broke both of the limelights, our vrm, and our pcm. Funnily enough, the power in the school went out right afterwards so we didn’t diagnose the issue until a few days later.

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At DMR in 2020 we had reversed sweeped in quarters, then in semis, and were 1-1 in finals. Our auto up to this point has been very consistent, but for some reason, in the final, deciding match, the robot sat dead still for the first 15 seconds. Going into teleop we had missed out on the points from 6 power cells and auto movement. Through the rest of the match we were down by quite a bit, but thanks to 30 endgame foul points we won the match 148-147. One single point.

Turns out the reason our auto wasn’t working is because the switchboard we used to set which auto we wanted to use, was set to not run any auto at all. One little switch almost lost us the regional.

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Oh let’s see what I can think of.

For starters, one year we went a whole regional with different gearings on either side of our drive train. Only when the programming team put together a graph of drive data did the mechanical team agree to open the gear boxes and check it.

Then there’s our 2018 robot. Probably literally everything about it was a do NOT do. Elevator fell apart completely a week or so before bag night, then again on bag night. Then once or twice on the field. We finally got it to not fall apart, but it never worked. I could go into details, but just look at this thing:

3081 in 2018

Needless to say we learned a LOT that year. We are definitely in a better place now.

Oh and I haven’t even gotten to our T-shirt cannon. Looks epic and the public loves it, but that thing is literal horror. Just ask @nowireless about it. It breaks every time we use it. It’s turning radius is absolutely horrible, it’s too wide for a doorway and too tall to fit in our trailer without taking the top part off. If the batteries die someone has to sit on it to steer it while someone pushes it. Two years in a row of pushing it through a parade. And getting it working in the first place took years. We had dry ice one time to cool down our air compressors as we swapped them out, before we got a proper one. I got a big scar from it because of a big steel burr someone did grind down. Feels like I’m forgetting something else still. Oh yeah then recently when the team was testing it they forgot to bolt down the tower and it fell and broke my team sign I had on the front. And I had been thinking the whole time it was polycarb, not acrylic. Shame I watched that thing get laser engraved. We also crashed this thing into a student’s car and left a hole in the bumper.

The only reason I haven’t burned it (besides it being steel) is because of all the times I’ve watched kids and adults excitedly waiting to try to catch a t-shirt from it, and then seeing the little kids run around the festival in 2xl misprint t-shirts afterwards.

I am in the process of writing a book about that thing, once I’m done procrastinating it.

A few quicks ones:
I put a sewing machine needle through my thumb on bag and tag night.

Our trailer flipped over on the highway on the way back from a competition. The school politics after that…

Getting stuck in the Detroit airport overnight while heading home from Ri3D sucked too. Kinda fun walking around it with no one there, but it got so cold. Definitely have had worse experiences in airports though so that’s not too bad.

We did a custom chassis and I did the CAD, but evidently forgot to check the perimeter measurement, so it was too large and the build team has never forgotten that. They spent a whole Saturday hack-sawing it down to size.

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One year driving back from IRI while towing, the distributor gear on the tow vehicle’s engine stripped all it’s teeth off, leaving me stranded on the side of the highway in the middle of Iowa with no spark. Same trip, trailer brakes had a leak, so no trailer brakes. Loaded with two teams worth of stuff too. Coming down from Eisenhower summit, smoked the front brakes on the vehicle. Big rig in front of me heated up their brakes enough to set their whole trailer on fire.

One year in San Francisco on a Chezy Champs trip, the fuel pump died in the middle of the city, so I was stranded blocking traffic. The police came to supervise the situation until a tow truck arrived. While the police were there watching, someone in another car hit our vehicle. That was rather comical. Luckily no damage.

One year coming back from Chezy Champs, had a rear tire on the tow vehicle blow out while cruising down the 5 while towing fully loaded. Luckily maintained control and was able to pull off the road. Spare tire was a bit low on air. Luckily we had a
cordless inflator and just enough charge left to get to an acceptable pressure.

Another year coming back from Chezy Champs, we smoked the transmission pulling up a grade and simultaneously had a misfire causing a flashing engine light. Luckily we were close and made it back, but the transmission was done and needed to be replaced.

Two different years going to Chezy Champs we had a rental vehicle broken into (window shattered) and a laptop stolen. Once by the golden gate bridge and once by the In N Out by Bellarmine. Had to ride with safety glasses on to avoid tiny glass particles blowing around on the way to swap out the vehicle for another. If you are going to the Bay Area, don’t leave anything in your vehicle, period, and consider getting the damage insurance from the rental company. When we took them the vehicle they were like “Yeah, this is the 5th one we’ve gotten today, happens all the time.”

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At my senior year state champs event, we were on of three teams eligible to win state chairman’s. As the judges start to announce the final award, that bring up a project pipeline we were working on with a few teams in Norway. The students of our team got jittery and excited, they could barely hold back from running to the field then and there. As the speaker went on though, they start down an unfamiliar pathway. As another team’s number is called out, we realize that they had misattributed a major project we were doing to another team. In the confusion and emotion that was surrounding our team, all I could think was…

“Fudge! I forgot to buy a limited edition state champs t-shirt!”

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Well, we took a dive from the traverse bar this year in qualification match 32 at NC DCMP and landed sideways. We managed to come up at just the right moment to hook the high bar with our intake. It was pretty much a perfect gymnastics move if we’d been trying to catch the the high bar like we were doing a uneven bars routine. As it was, the announcer ends with “as the match draws quietly to a close, there’s a stunned silence”. It was that amazing a fall, but in tribute to the toughness of our robot Loopy, it was undamaged. Oh, and we still won the match. Here’s the video:

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The most horror thing must be we have built our 2022 season robot, but we can’t drive it on the field!
The competition in China mainland had been delayed two times (from March to September and from September to October) and finally canceled!!!
All the teams in China mainland have extended themselves to the construction but all our efforts go down the drain…
And our team could have been able to go to Houston because of the Chairman’s Award, but we can’t. :cry:

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Maybe you should STOP going to Chezy Champs :smiley:

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Right before practice match at one of our competitions in 2022, we noticed smoke coming up from our robots electrical board, right above our roboRIO. We wheeled the robot back to the pits immediatly and spent the next ten minutes freaking out. It ended up being a wire melted from something.

Our team has two other incidents we point to for stories.

  1. In 2018, in our very first match in endgame we went to raise 1023, who had come off of a win in Gibralter, and then we tipped them over. We won, but we were already freaking out.
  2. In the 2019 offseason, programming ran a test chassis straight into a wall, and the robot split apart into pieces. The wall was fine.
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In 2018, we had our first pre-season event, and the scale fell on top of our bot

We ended up changing almost all of our bot for competitions and then getting 3rd place on einsteins

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You ever just stand next to the field and realize the tiny glinting things flying over parts of the field are your team’s ball bearings from the inside of the drivetrain bearings?

10/10 don’t recommend.

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Ever tried to take apart 100 lbs of constant force springs?

Yeah, it’s an experience

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I gave that same warning about the windows to them this year. Happy to report no break-ins and I ate at that very in-n-out yesterday without issue.

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That time they drove the robot into a '64 Stingray Corvette.


edit: 1) Lost comms, likely laptop overheated in summer heat. 2) Wrong robot. This was like a block from the shop and they brought the older robot (and apparently no bumpers). 3) Luckily, our insurance covered this – typically around $500/year policy. It was like $8k in repairs.

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Out of all of these stories this is probably the scariest one lol. I can’t imagine the look on everyone’s faces after that. What was the aftermath?

Uh, the owner was obviously irate. I was the only mentor at that point (another oversight). A friend saw it happen, and also gave me a bit of morale support. I talked as much with owner, trying to assure that things would be made right. Eventual the head mentor, who had left just previously showed up. Happened to be acquainted with the owner from his flooring business, so that seemed to calm the situation a little. The show organizer/city chamber also helped get details and get everything shared with each other. I think some also knew about a classic corvette repair shop, that also did fiberglass that it needed done, so knowing that also helped owner. Then it was all kind of behind scenes working with insurance and repair shop. I actually don’t think that robot was ever driven again. We also haven’t tried to go back to the car show again (5 years). I did incident report with students trying to figure out the issues, and come up with ways to do better for future.

edit: Last note, that it could just as easily been a person, rather than a car. Which would be way worse. The robot partially climbed up the car, until it got knocked on it’s side and battery power disconnected.

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