Interesting stories of the 06 building season

Put your stories of the 06’ building season here.

Here is one for you:

Me and my friend were looking at pictures here at chief del phi and we saw this big black thing in the middle of the picture so then we started looking at the moniter through the side thinking that we could see around it. We did this for about a minute before we realized that it was a picture.

after finishing dinner we had a lot of sauce left from the chiken wings, so some guys put it all in a small plastic cup, and dared eachother to drink it, eventually I did it for 10$, pretty tasty, but I think my tummy was a bit mad at me for the following day =)

Me and another mentor got tattoo’s of a Summation that totals our team number.

Pictures coming soon.

The neatest thing I can recall at the moment was when I found out that our bot’s drivetrain is stronger than I am. I sat down in a desk chair and John pulled it up to the legs and started pushing from a stop. Even with me trying to keep from moving, I was no match for our bot. :eek:

Most of our drivetrain testing is conducted in the hallway outside our build room at the high school. Late last night, Top Gun took off at top speed and hit a row of lockers a glancing blow. The red lockers are now slightly less red for a space of about six inches, and there is a small decorative red patch on the right front corner of the 'bot. This locker wound is about three feet from the one Wooden Thunder made last year…

Interesting things that happened with Buzz this build season:
-lots of dodge ball
-lots of food
-fractured wrist
-a student going to the hospital for stitches
-ingestion of methyl Ethel bad stuff
-an engineer put foam soap all over his face and came into lunch screaming “gahhh!!! i see water!!!”
-a really big 4 inch high by 23 inch long cake
-finding not so identifiable things in the fridge
-cafeteria floor sledding
-all nighters
-new sweatshirts
-started actually building SUPER late

all and all…a fun build season that’s not yet over…few more hours left!

Lets see…

Well there was the locking of members in our crate and then we told ghost stories in there.

Lots of dodgeball.

The newbie who got his shirt stuck in the lathe and so the front of his shirt was twice as long as the back.

Having a basic design for the robot two days after kickoff, but not even having the robot done today.

One of our mentors was telling one of our documentarians to get out of the lab and stop wasting time, but the documentarians, ever thoughful, brave, and good looking, filmed him saying at an angle which fishbowled his face. I’ve been going aroudn filming people saying go away for the past four weeks.

Two birthdays during build season, and singing Happy Birthday in awfully horribly out of tune out of key voices.

Getting to know the janitors by name and having them pop in every soon often to see how our robot was getting along.

Having an epic snowball fight during the snow storm.

just throwing poof-balls at people =)
man I got so good at it, I hit kids heads from across the hall =)

waking up someone to make the flash intro to our website? well all you need is 3 things:
an ultra-LED light (like the ones for key-chains)
a poof balls
and several people saying the kids name over and over and over and over and over again…

put the LED right into his eye, hit him with the poof ball continuously and in the same “beat” the kids are saying his name…
if he didn’t wake up, he found some way to kill himself without moving =)

The evil Baja Table. So yeah we are right across from the Clarkson Mini Baja Team and they have a couch that is right under an aluminum table with very hard sharp edges on it. Each year there are numerous people that go to sit down on that couch and always smack their heads into the table. (yes i was one of them this year and it really does hurt as much as they say it does). But then again the story of the Baja Table can be told every year.

The Day FedEx Forgot Gus
February 21, 2006
by Arthur Dutra

The one thing that every team thinks they want every year is for the FedEx truck to come just a little bit later so they can get just a little more work done on the robot. But what if you really get what you may have subconsciously wanted? What if the FedEx truck never came? That very thing happened to Team 228 on February 21, 2006, resulting in a once-in-a-lifetime story of what they went through to make sure their robot shipped. So sit down, get some popcorn, and relax after the end of a long build season, and hear our story - the story of a forgotten crate and some amazing luck.

The day started off like any other day of the build season, just a little earlier. As the student and mentors started coming in at eight in the morning, no on expected or even fathomed the amount of drama that would occur just twelve hours later. After working feverously through lunch to try to finish mounting the pan and tilt turret on the robot, as well as finish up the human player ball loader. Just a few minutes prior, the programming team had finished their code for getting the CMUcam2 pan and tilt to correspond to the robot turret and shooter tilt mechanisms. The robot was coming along nicely, but we knew we would not be able to finish up a few last things.

So out came the shipping crate and a bunch of boxes to pack stuff into. A few extra poof balls were sacrificed on the band saw (read: sliced in half) to make custom padding for the critical robot components. As the shadows waned, and the clock approached three o’clock, we finished crating up the robot, before the FedEx truck came to pick it up. All around the shop, team members and the mentors were letting out long sighs, as the long build season came to a close, and we had a robot being shipped that we were very proud of. But the real action was only beginning.

Just as the last panel was being bolted in place on the crate, one of the team mentors could not find the bar code shipping label for the side of the crate. Everything was everywhere. Anywhere you looked, you could find just about anything from vise-grip pliers to random pneumatic fittings to various sketches of various robot components. (I would have said CAD drawings instead of sketches, but our team engineer loves using good old graph paper and pencil to design everything) It could be anywhere. Without this label, we’d be hosed. An entire team-wide search effort was initiated to look for our shipping labels. Everything in our roughly 40-60 foot shop was turned upside down three times. We searched the computer lab were we usually do all our eating and our team website / Chief Delphi surfing. We even had the freshmen look through the garbage cans. But our search for the missing labels was futile; they were nowhere to be found.

Tensions rising, one of the team mentors decided to look at his house and at his office at work, thinking it may have gotten stuck in a shuffle of papers. Peeling out of the parking lot, the anxiety level of the team was rising. It was approaching three thirty. The FedEx truck could come anytime, and we don’t have any shipping labels on our crate. A few tense minutes passed, and still nothing. A few minutes passed, and yet the labels were still not to be found.

Finally, after about fifteen minutes, a cell phone rang. The shipping labels were found, at the office of one of the team mentors. A few minutes later, we had one of our students duct tape them to the side of the crate. As they were doing so, one of the team mentors – Art, came over and looked at the shipping crate. The student who had put the duct taped the shipping labels to the crate only used short pieces of duct tape. Just as Art was about to get the duct tape to put some more on, he remembered that the crate is only sitting in a truck and/or plane, and that it’s enough duct tape for that. (Duct tape was a second choice anyway, since the team did not want to waste another thirty minutes while Art drove to his house to get a staple gun).

With the labels found and mounted, the half the team more or less dropped dead. As soon as they found the nearest chair, they sat down and sat there, waiting for the FedEx truck to come. As they sat there, some of the students began to discuss what they were going to do for dinner. Art IV (not to be confused with Art III (the mentor) who is Art IV’s father) asked Samantha if they wanted to get a few other student together and go out to a pizza place and maybe a movie or bowling after the robot shipped. The replies came back mixed, so they just sat down and waited for the FedEx truck to come.

The hands on the clock seemed to drag onward and onward, ever more slowly. Four o’clock came and passed. Four thirty came eventually. And yet still no sign of a FedEx truck; however a UPS truck did stop in front of our school to drop off a package at the houses across the street. The anxiety and stress of the build season, which was finally over, was being released in creative ways. A few of the students on the team figured out that by spinning the Thundersticks in the Kit of Parts really fast while trying to throw them, they zoom through the air and act like boomerangs. While the students tried to whittle away time by entertaining themselves with the Thundersticks, four forty-five came and went. Four fifty came. Four fifty five, and then finally five o’clock. And still no sign of the FedEx truck.

As time went on, a horrible thought was growing in the back of people’s minds. What if FedEx forgot us? As five fifteen came and went, and still no FedEx truck, tensions were getting higher and higher by the moment. On of the students kept remarking how when we were done and waiting for the truck to ship the robot, it doesn’t come, but when we are desperately trying to finish it, the truck comes right at three o’clock to pick up the robot.

As time ticked, we began to get more and more nervous. Six o’clock came. And went. As seven o’clock came, and still no sign of the FedEx truck, our mentors and students were scared. Cell phones came out and computers were turned back on. We wanted to know what was up, and when the truck would come. And then we found out the gut wrenching truth – FedEx had arranged for our crate to be flown and shipped, just not picked up. Trying to be helpful, the people at FedEx offered to come the next day to get the robot. But unless the robot was shipped that day, our team would be disqualified for not shipping on the 21st. It was now 7:10. The nearest FedEx distribution center is an hour away, near Bradley International Airport, and it closes at 8:00 o’clock.

Our only option now was to drive the crate ourselves to their distribution center. Luckily, one of the adult mentors on our team owned a pickup truck. But unluckily, we did not know how to get a 400 pound crate into the bed of the truck. By now, two thirds of the team members had already left, leaving only a dozen students and mentors. But there was one problem – the entire bed of Art III’s (the mentor) truck was filled in sheetrock and construction debris, which water had permeated and then frozen solid. There was no way to get the crate into the truck until we got the frozen sheetrock. So Art IV grabbed two crowbars from the wood show and they ran down to the school’s dumpsters as the truck was pulled up next to it. With four students and two crowbars, the entire truck was cleared in about three minutes. Just as we finished dumping all of this into the school dumpsters, the head janitor comes out. He did not recognize us as the robotics team since it was dark out, and he thought we were illegally dumping. It did not help that Art IV was already running back to the wood shop carrying two crow bars. So not only do we have to worry about how to get the robot crate onto his truck, but now we have to explain everything to an irate janitor about to call the police. Luckily, a phone call from the team coach cleared things up, but the dumping incident only added more drama to the unfolding problem, which would soon grow worse.

Back at the shop, attention turned on how to get a 400 pound crate into the bed of Art III’s truck. Various ideas were proposed and slaughtered quickly, until some of the students and mentors grabbed a dolly cart, a 4x4, a bunch of 2x4s. By putting the timber underneath the crate and making a sort of a ramp, we used brute strength and some of the 2”x4”s as levers to shimmy the crate up and into the truck. Just as we thought we had got the crate up, we were beginning to hear splintering noises. The 2x4’s were beginning to shatter under the weight of the crate. Using one last ditch spurt of effort of brute strength, the ten or so members and mentors were able to get the crate into the truck. One more problem down, but there was many more to come.

As we picked up remains of the 2x4s and brought them back to the shop, we decided that four people would go with the robot crate as we attempted to get it up to the FedEx distribution center. Art III (since it was his truck), his son Art IV, our team engineer Ben, and Samantha (another student on the team). As the rest of the team packed up and left, we took off. The clock was already approaching 7:15. Our time was ticking.

Just as we got on the entrance ramp to Interstate 91, Art III noticed a white thing fly from the bed of the truck. Samm asked whether or not we should stop and take the shipping labels, which we had working so hard to find, off before they blew off and became lost. Hoping it was not the shipping label that flew off, we decided to continue onward, and if the shipping labels blew off, we’d let FedEx deal with it. But it was never far from our minds that such a small amount of duct tape was used to mount the labels. All Art III kept thinking of as he later remarked, is the wind catching the edge and tearing them off.

As we drove onward, luckily there was not any heavy traffic on I-91 northbound. As we began to push the speed limits past the 80 mph mark, we were hoping that there weren’t any speed traps or unmarked patrol cars anywhere. That is the last thing we needed was to be pulled over while trying to get to the FedEx distribution center before they closed. Within minutes it seemed as if we were passing through Cromwell, and then Newington, and then Hartford, and then approaching the Bradley connector. It was at this time that our luck began to change for the better, as well realized that at least it was not in the middle of a two foot blizzard like the previous weekend. As we approached the Bradley Airport, we saw a FedEx truck drive by. The driver probably thought we were nuts, as we took pictures of his truck as we passed him.

As we rounded a bend in the road, there is was. Like an oasis in the middle of a desert for a stranded traveler, we found it - the huge FedEx distribution center. As we drive into the parking lot, the last employee of their offices was just leaving. Ben darted out, and asked them if they were still open. The man replied that they were not, and they closed fifteen minutes ago. But Ben firmly stated that they would were not closed anymore, because we had a robot to ship. So the employee turned around, went to an inter-office phone, and came back a few minutes later. He asked if we were another one of the robotics teams, and he started naming all the towns that they had went to. Avon, South Windsor, East Hartford… But not Meriden. Doh’t!

But all hope was not lost. After another call to the shipping and receiving dock, we learned that if we could drop it off there and it would be shipped that night. A smiling Bengineer turned back to our car. There was one employee left in the shipping and receiving dock, they he could take our crate.
So off we went, in search of Loading Dock Six. As we drove around the building, Samm remarked that “Loading Dock Six” is the land of the misfit robot crates, and we all enjoyed the joke, as we are extremely happy that we could get our robot shipped.

As we wove between more FedEx trucks than you can shake at, we finally found Loading Dock Six. We drove our entire truck up the ramp and into their shipping warehouse. There was a sole employee who was waiting there with a robot. Cheers were let out. Finally, we could get our robot shipped. As he came over, and eased the crate off the truck with the forklift, we learned that it was only by a fluke chance that we were still there. Usually, he told us, he goes over to one of their other facilities after 8 PM. It was 8:20 PM. It was only because a co-worker asked for some help moving the last bit of packages that day that he was still there, and that he had also just finished about two minutes before we arrived and was just about to leave that facility.

After he finished unloading the crate, he asked if we were another one of the robotics teams. He told us that he was told they would be receiving a bunch of large crates that day from robotics teams, but he had no idea what that meant. So when we arrived, he began asking us all about our robot, what we did, about FIRST, and more. He was really enthusiastic about getting our robot shipped and about learning more about FIRST and the robotics competition. Soon, out came the notepads, and we had his email address, as he had asked if we could send him some pictures and video of the robot before we shipped it. This employee was the greatest ever. Thanks Tony Milner at FedEx for saving our team this year!

Had we come five minutes later, we would have missed both the office employees as they were leaving, and the loading dock employee. That would have spelled doom for our team, since had we missed them; we would not have been able to ship our robot on the 21st. That would have disqualified out team from competing in the 2006 season, which would have been terrible considering the hundreds upon thousands of man-hours that went into getting that robot finished. But, despite all the negative things that occurred, everything worked out perfectly in the end for our team. As we left the distribution center, we were filled with a sense of extreme joy and relief. Every few minutes we would all burst out in laughing over the entire incident. There would be a lot of telling and retelling of the story in the coming days. But we have now learned a valuable lesson and we have an amazing story that we will never forgot. Never wish for the FedEx truck to come “just a little later” because they may not come at all!

Wow, that was intense. Just incredible. I’m glad you got it shipped okay

Wow. Uhm… wow. Thats about all I can say. 6 weeks of work almost down the drain, saved by 5 minutes. I really don’t think any “Interesting stories of the 06 building season” are gonna top that!

Scary Story!

Well Art, that’s worse than our story. (Basic recap - there’s a difference between FedEx Express and FedEx Freight, and I got transferred to the wrong one. See post #30 in the “What time is FedEx coming?” thread.)

Just curious - after printing out the paperwork from Passkey, did you telephone to schedule the pickup?

wow intense story =), glad you made it,
I guess I had the same story with the Animation and autodesk not “showing up” (or working in my case), glad you made it =)

as steampunk’s say: against all odds =)

Fedex came a day early and tried to pick up our empty crate……Boy would that have been bad!

I think that your team and ours would fight over which FEDEX employee should get the employee of the year award. Our team (538) had a very similar experience, except it wasn’t FEDEX’s mistake. This tired experienced sponsor made a rookie mistake. I followed all the instructions on the FedEx Passkey but forgot to call for our pick-up. When they hadn’t shown by 3:00 I sent the kids home and said I would wait for them. By 3:30 I was very nervous. I came inside and called the FedEx number in the phone book. They transfered me to many different departments and I finally talked to Berry in FedEx Ground Freight. He finally informed me that he could not find anyone willing to come. My exact words to him were “I am going to have a heart attack. One year of my students hard work is going out the window.” He replied “Not on my watch!”. He then preceded to put me on hold and talked to countless managers and supervisors until he reached Chuck Wells at the Huntsville Ramp. Between the two of these fine, wonderful gentlemen they found a driver willing to come back to work and come to our location, a hour away. When the driver arrived I offered to kiss his feet and he told me seeing me dry my tears (these were literal tears at this point) and smiling was all he needed. The Hutsville ramp employees stayed until or robot arrived so that it would be shipped on time. **Thank you FedEx, Berry and Chuck, you definitely saved the day!!! ** :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

Art you made my whole day! I am laughing so hard because I can picture all of you doing this. I’m glad it all worked out because what would a competition be without my friends from Gus there? See you in a couple of weeks in Hartford!
P.S. You realized that you passed the venue on your frantic way to the airport, right??? :rolleyes:

[quote=artdutra04]The Day FedEx Forgot Gus
February 21, 2006
by Arthur Dutra

I think this is both the scarest and the funniest thing I’ve read in a very long time. I’m printing it out and taking it to my english class! :slight_smile: I’m glad you got your robot shipped![/quote]

Thanks for all the comments on our saga last night! Shipping is always the last thing to worry about, but this obviously points out the fact that more teams need NEMO volunteers. The engineers / fabricators / programmers / students are all far too tired and stressed to handle the simple task of scheduling a package pickup.

However, this whole shipping thing still baffles my mind. As a CT team going to the CT regional, our robot gets transported to the airport, flown to Tennessee, unloaded / reloaded, flown back to CT, and delivered to drayage 30 minutes down the road from it’s original pickup point. All this in 3 days, for (typically) a few hundred dollars (donated by FedEx…) Wow!

By the way, after kickoff I was questioning how a midnight deadline really helped any teams. I guess I now know my answer.