If your season is over, what did you learn or accomplish?

What was your first season back like, if your team is now done for the 2022 game?


This was my first season in an actual year and I thought it was awesome. I had a ton of fun working on the robot and even more competing. This was also our first year being an alliance captain in 10 years so that was also pretty cool.


Had a good plus/delta session on Thursday with the students. Some top ideas from kids:


  • 14/15 rookie members came together and built a functioning robot
  • between competitions made updates and repairs to improve performance and reliability
  • made it to elims at second event (and held 1st seed to under 100 points!.. in one match)


  • team needs to focus on CAD and design planning
  • start training sessions much earlier
  • use other two points to build a robot quicker and get actual drive practice! …and let the programmers test everything!

For me, as a mentor, I told the kids that I was impressed with their ability to handle the workload and all the setbacks we had during build. Additionally, they were all psyched to improve for next year. There was no serious (though plenty of joking) mention of disappointment at performance.

I’m glad our back-to-robotics game was a fun one with balanced gameplay and opportunities to diversify specialties and earn RPs.


As a team, we all feel pretty accomplished finishing as semifinalists at OCR (actually being knocked out by y’all haha)

We had a lot of challenges this season, such as the lack of members this year, time commitments, and work ethic. It took us many sessions (and many sit-downs) to finally get our act together and get the robot done, but finishing the auto code and climber mechanism an hour before load-in was probably not the smartest idea.

We all learned how to communicate with each other, how to be more efficient with our time (although we could probably be faster with some of our tasks), and how to outreach with more local teams to gain inspiration and help instead of sticking to our guns and “reinventing the wheel.” Personally, I say that because we kept an open mind toward robot designs and sat down together as a team to figure out what we wanted to make, we were able to create a robot that everyone was aware of, willing to make, and proud of to present.

Moving forward, I hope that 4123 as a team can focus on some of our weaknesses during offseason, so that when the next game challenge comes around, we are ready for action and will hopefully get the robot done with time to spare!

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My team was basically a second year team because we never got to compete in infinite recharge. We missed states by 1 district point, but I feel like we proved that we can hold our own. We are going to use our money that would have gone towards our states entrance fee on swerve and a few other things to try to put ourselves up there. For a team with half new people and half people who haven’t really done much on the robot in the past, we had a great season.

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In my personal opinion, I think my team planned for the type of team we hoped to have instead of the one we ended up with. We had a record high number of students sign up (counting last 5 years) and a record low number of actually active students. We also lost several mentors and only regained access to our normal lab space on the week of Kickoff. Add on a COVID scare right in the first week, and ended up in a situation of biting off more than we could chew.

We didn’t earn much in the way of competitive success, but given the circumstances, the kids are handling it like champs, most of them being first-year team members. After shaking off the initial disappointment, most everyone seems pretty eager to use this season as a learning opportunity.

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We re-learned, for what feels like the hundredth time, that robot controllers that aren’t hardwired will come unplugged and cost you a lost match.


Like many other teams - it feels as if we learned, rather re-learned everything.
Our team has 37 active members.
54% of our team were rookies, 75% of our team had never attended a regional event.
I had forgotten what it is like for a rookie at a regional event - how overwhelming it can be.

Supply chain problems are a real thing. Overnight shipping was usually second or third day delivery.

After two years off from our rookie season, it felt like we were rookies all over again (no returning team members).
Lot’s of lessons learned, but the main one being - we really need a better workspace. We were forced to work on a cafeteria stage this season, so there was no place to set up any kind of field of sorts, on top of having a limited space to build. Our only practice was dumping cargo into a trash can lol. While we could continue on being a resourceful, low-budget team, we realized that we cannot compete with any top teams doing so. There’s a lot to be done before next season, and we really hope to make a big comeback after going 6-10 this year.

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Soon after kick-off our team of 6 students and 3 mentors made goals for each of the two events we attended. For the first event we wanted to dump balls in the low goal and climb to traversal. We were able to accomplish these goals and ended up as captain of the 8th seeded alliance which was able to keep up with the 1st seed alliance in shooting, but didn’t have the climbs to match.

For the second event our goal was to score in the high goal and increase the speed of our traversal climb to about 20 seconds. We accomplished the high goal part and made lots of failed attempts at a faster traversal climb which resulted in replacing an arm or shaft 4 times. We were picked by the 6th seeded alliance and couldn’t get past the number 3 seed.

Overall, it was a great experience for our students, who finally got to see a real competition and make lots of memories.

After making a lot of the robot out of HDPE the prior year, we switched to polycarb this year. We were very happy with the results and loved that we could see through the robot and that the drivers could see the balls inside the robot. The only downside was the increase in cost.

This was our first year to try a WCD style drivetrain and we had no issues with it. At the end of the second event we did notice the chains a bit loose, which then made us realize we didn’t really have good access to be able to re-tension the chains. That is something we will definitely keep in mind for next year.

Another issue we had was with our swinging arm for climbing. During the second event we ran into issues with getting our arm to consistently go to the position we wanted. We still need to investigate to see if there were issues we couldn’t see with the maybe the versaplanetary gears or maybe the encoder slice in the gearbox. Once again access would have been an issue at competition if we need to swap out the gearbox quickly between matches.

So, I guess one of the lessons we learned is to assume that you may have to replace each part on your robot and to make them as easily accessible as possible.

Another lesson we learned is that it is hard to do real scouting with only 4 or 5 students at the event. Everybody is so tired at the end of each day, that rest is more important than watching match videos to figure out who you should be picking. At our first event we ended up picking the next team on the list (which happened to be the team that drove our robot the day before) and then letting that team pick our next partner. It turned out to be the teams we probably should have picked had we been scouting, but it was not the ideal method.

I personally am looking forward to volunteering at Championships as a Webcast operator and getting to experience the event in that capacity.

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A couple of my thoughts on our season are in the Triple Helix newsletter I sent yesterday.

There are so many amazing stories to share from this event and from this season. Stories about struggle, sacrifice, mistakes, bad fortune, good fortune, commitment, skill, resilience, and reward. Our team members will carry these experiences with them for the rest of their lives.

Sometimes in this community we hear the phrases “More than robots” and “It’s not about the robot” and even “This isn’t a robot”. These things certainly capture a great realization– that our program is about using the robot to build better people, not about using people to build better robots. But if you jump directly to this logical endpoint, and you don’t come to it after first falling for the Randy Pausch-style “head fake”, I worry that the big impact of this realization can be lost. I warn people from taking this shortcut, because I’ve felt that it’s so much more rewarding if you take the longer road to understanding. This is why, as a team, we can take the attitude that It Is About The Robot… it’s because “the robot” is enough. “The robot” can encapsulate all of the things– the hard-won lessons about sportsmanship, perseverance, honesty, ability, and being a member of a team. The head fake is important; “the robot” is important.

On all of those intertwined levels of understanding– man, our team’s robot this year has been a really great one.


We made a lot of progress during the two years without having a competition. We ended up with our best performance in our twelve year history.

I’m not going to speak for the whole team, so this is just what I have personally learned from my position on the team.

The biggest thing we learned is that access to a practice field is huge. We had about half the field setup in a classroom, and we didn’t have the ceiling height to practice high goal shots. The programming team did a fantastic job putting together a five ball autonomous in that room, and they tested one day in a different section of the school to get shooter speed values. We just used a ring on a stand to simulate the edge of the high goal, we didn’t have any sides. We made it to competition, and the cargo sure does go into the goal, but has to go so high in the air to make it there, that they bounce back out. Being able to practice high goal shots with a real high goal would have shown us that we needed to be closer for the cargo to stay in the goal. That hurt a bit to watch at the comp.

We also learned that our scouting system worked very well, but still has many improvements that should be made. Some of it is still more complex than it needs to be, and we didn’t collect as much information as we could have. We will attempt to resolve those problems before next season, and also try and make our projected scores more accurate. Even with the issues we identified on our scouting app and picklist, the rest of the teams at the event seemed to like our scouting data handout (some even used it from their captain position for alliance selection!), as did the judges who awarded the team the Judge’s award for our scouting and data analysis system!

Lots of progress was made, and the team has plenty of ideas for how to improve before next season. Just MN State Champs left for this season, then we can focus on getting ready for next season!

As of yesterday, we are a Hexafecta team.

This is a huge accomplishment for us and I’m so very proud of our students and mentors for making it happen.

We did not have a single in-person pre-season meeting and did not actually meet in-person until after a remote kickoff so we pulled off quite the season given that. It’s been a great season for us.



  • We built a solid functioning robot based from an actual CAD design that accomplished all of the goals we had set out for it and, really, only had minor issues.
  • We used 3d-printed parts in a significant way this year (12 different designs, about 60 individual parts)
  • We learned how to weld polyurethene belts
  • We used custom laser-cut parts in a big way (11 different designs, 18 individual parts, thanks sendcutsend.com !)
  • We had vision-based target-detection
  • We learned how to mark and make very precise holes in aluminum just using a drill press


  • We taught about 15 new kids (excluding the seniors) who had little to no experience in robotics how to design, build and program a functioning robot and how to work together as a team.
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This was the year to actually see if the no stop build day helped us. We learned that having no mandated “stop build day” was a blessing and a curse. We used to always we wish we had a couple more days to finish something on our robot before we had to bag it. It was great being able to test and drive our robot for a few days before we shipped our crate. But, our small team of 4-6 builders and programmers were tired after 8 straight weeks of 5-7 hour days, 6 days a week to complete a competitive robot. Yes, we have already thought about how to change our build schedule to avoid burnout, but field a competitive robot. There is a balance, we just haven’t figured it out yet.

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