Nightmare Repairs At Competition

2006 Boilermaker Regional, 1319 had a small drive base and the top shooter was on a full turret. Either at the end of qualifications or in the first elimination match, they got smacked and the top 2/3 of their robot breaks off. Like dragging behind them.
First elimination match after that, they come out with just a drive base and play awesome defense. I think they won that match.
Soon after, everything’s back, working perfectly, Regional Champions. Safety Award. Spirit Award.

Our 2008 robot suffered a Catastrophic breakdown(the disaster occurs at 7:53 at the end of the first finals match which we won. Unfortunately we weren’t coming back from this at that point. Ironically we won the Quality Award.

Ramp Riot. Pretty sure they didn’t play in either event after breaking their turret off. Not because they couldn’t fix it, but because their alliances were eliminated in both of the matches the failures occured in. Somehow I doubt they would have continued playing even if their alliances had remained in it, though.

One of the most memorable ones I witnessed was the last Canada’s Wonderland event where 1114’s robot unleashed a mushroom cloud in the finals. It was like time stopped right then and there.

Judges worst nightmare… :slight_smile:

And the Quality award goes to… The smoldering heap of metal over there

John was chuckling while reading off the award.

Guess there is no “emergency second pick” in situations like that :stuck_out_tongue:

At Duel on the Delaware (Fantastic Off-Season hosted by 365), we were #1 seed. We selected 341 as our first pick, and 1640 as our second. Then, in the semifinals, the giant lazy susan bearing we used on our turret snapped. The turret smashed onto the ground as we crossed the bump on the field. However, with the help of our great partners, and a six minute tme-out, we managed to get enough zip ties (approximately 40 normal size and 10 ludicrously large) onto the turret to hold it in place. It didn’t spin for the rest of the day, but it worked in auton and for scoring, and we wound up winning.

Moral of the story: If you don’t carry about 300 14 inch zip ties, you might not be prepared for your next inevitable breakdown.
Side note: 14 inch zip ties can be used for a number of things, including wiring organization, air tank mounting, turret repair, and mounting/securing almost any part on your robot.

Glad to hear your story, 2791. You guys did great, so close to a win. Maybe if that hadn’t happened…

Team 1100 had its share of problems in eliminations at WPI. After the first match, the slider plates on our lift started to come loose. This wasn’t a big problem so we got out our t-handles and tightened some and replaced some others. When we enabled the robot and moved the lift to make sure everything was working, the lift caught on some wires and cut one in half. The broken wire contacted the frame and short-circuited our digital sidecar. (although we didn’t see the broken wire at the time) Over the next 4 matches, we ended up replacing the sidecar, our compressor spike, and a bunch of PWM wires, with no luck. We were able to drive after the first round of repairs and managed to win a match and advance to semis, but we didn’t get the shooter back to working in time. We only found the problem in the pit after we were eliminated. We were able to fix it there in about 15 minutes.

Thanks so much, team 558 and 2370 for an amazing job keeping us in it for so long despite our problems. We look forward to competing at Boston and at the championships in St. Louis!

At the 2011 Traverse City District Competition, 830’s planetary gearbox casing sheared itself in the middle of quarterfinal matches, and there was no way for us to bring it to the site machine shop to get welded in time for the next match. In a little bit of a bind and not wanting to completely forgo scoring capability, we decided to fix it by using screws to attach a piece of aluminum to the front, middle, and back of the casing to lock the segments together. I very vividly remember saying to one of the pit crew students, “Drill through the casing until you feel the outside of the ring gear or until I hear the change in material.” Surprisingly, it worked up until the last 20 seconds of Finals Match #3!

2011, Logo Motion, was our rookie year. At the time we had, two mentors with not much machining ability, equipment, work location or experience in large scale robotics. We have done underwater robotics (MATE) the year before which was our first year as a robotics team. Our under water robot was made out of PVC so custom metal fabricating was never even considered. After building our KOP frame and getting the drive train running, which took more time then we ever imagined. Not having a programming mentor, we all had to learn Labview together as best as we could which added more delays. We then moved on to the scoring arm. With a very limited budget, we had to make the Robotics Organizing Committee and Ace Hardware’s generous grant go as far as possible. Thanks ROC and ACE! Most of which we had to reserve for travel and accommodation expenses. With extremely limited machining capability here on the big island of Hawaii we had to resort to out of the box manufacturing and parts supplies. We ended up stripping parts from cars at the schools auto shop program to create our scoring system. This helped us gain our third mentor. We recruited the teacher from the auto tech class, more like he recruited himself. We ended up using a flywheel as our rotational arm base and cut out window motors from car doors to actuate our lift and claw. We ran out of time and we were not able to tackle the pole climbing mini robot. Since this was our first time we figured that what we had finished was going to have to be good enough.

At the first day of competition during inspection we were informed that the window motors we used on our claw and lift system were not legal. We had to remove the offending motors and compete without them. Over the course of two days we were able to adapt some donated motors, from a generous FRC pit volunteer, who just so happened to have a few. I sure thought that was odd at the time. :slight_smile:

During the first day, practice matches, and most of the second day, qualifications, the pit crew with our new auto tech mentor rebuilt the claw and lift system to fit the new motors. Thankfully there was an onsite machine shop that made a world of difference! Thanks for being there, the BAE machine shop workers were exceptional. We were able to have a functioning scoring system for our last 3 matches and were able to actually score.
What a relief!

During most of the competition we had no other option but to play defense. And play it well we must of.
We were selected on the third pick by the first seed alliance.
We went on to receive the General Motors Industrial Design Award and the Hawaii Regional Tournament Champions!

So much help was offered and given that I cannot express our thanks enough.
FRC is such a great community to be part of.

Not quite as nightmarish as 801 & 1502 this year. But to us, as the small fish rookie team in the big pond of FIRST, we sure thought it was.

Of course the next year the window motors we used we added as legal motors, even with coupons to get from local auto recyclers.

Go figure….

Psh, amateurs. Try nightmare repairs of the competition](

That one had three year’s worth of nightmares.

The repair I remember making best is not mechanical but programming.

Our team came in on day two of competition and we realized we were not getting feedback from our tachometer on the shooter wheels. We frantically replaced the tach, only to realize it we merely unplugged… Imagine the despair we programmers faced when we realized the PID loops we worked on suddenly became untuned! About 1000 RPM short of target speed…

No sooner did we come to realize this, but we were on the field again, so running down the pits with the robot on a cart and a laptop in hand, we recalibrated PID well enough for our autonomous to work.

But it does not stop there, oh no! In the first finals match, we were hit hard enough for the tach to shift, and low and behold, the values change again!

Lesson learned… Never… Remove… the tach… again… lol

I think my favorite repair story was from 2004. A key piece on our really cool but vastly too large and over-engineered arm broke while competing at the Championships. After a heroically fast trip by one of our college mentors to McMaster-Carr in Atlanta, we managed to get the replacement part we needed and installed. As we were heading out to the field to complete we noticed we were missing a nut. One of the mentors pulled the gum out of her mouth and stuck on the end of the bolt, and we made it out for the match.

…in the match, we drove forward for about 2-3 seconds, hit a ball and flipped the robot over on its back. Good times.

My Junior year (2010, Breakaway) with (now defunct) 562, we had a rack and pinion system to load our shooter. The pinion was pushed into place via pneumatics, and when released it would fire. After a match, we came back to the pit to find that the rack had actually split in half! :ahh:

A quick run to the machine shop and it was welded like new. Quite literally, if we didn’t have the rack we would have been outside of the frame (ever so barely) and we would have had to not participate in the match. It was quite scary for a student who spent most of his time running around in a bulldog suit.

This year at the WPI regional 2168 was going through some rather serious issues with the motor/gearbox setup for their arm assembly. After struggling with this through Thursday and Friday the team made the choice (Friday night after dinner) to completely remove the motor drive and switch to a single pneumatic cylinder to achieve, at a minimum, a stored position and a position required to launch discs in autonomous.

Unfortunately this meant that we spent all morning on Saturday making the changes and dialing in a functional 3 disc autonomous. The parts were supplied by FRC558, hence the use of purple tubing if anyone saw the change. We barely made it out for our last qualification round.

Throughout the regional we had been focusing on defensive driving, and being in picking position at the end of qualification matches came as a surprise. For eliminations we had dialed in the autonomous well enough and it allowed us to support our alliance with some points. We were fortunate enough to assemble a strong alliance based on defensive and smart strategy that ultimately led to the teams first regional win.

That was so long ago! So long ago that this mentor was actually a sophomore in high school. :ahh:

It happened in a qualifying match just before lunch. Our robot ran off in auto and crashed into the ramp used for climbing at the end of the match. We hit it head on at full speed and the rest was a disaster. The whole top section split off and lay a foot away from the base. We watched helplessly as other robots had to run over and around the “guts” (i.e. wires, cords, etc.) that spilled out on the floor.

We worked through lunch and sent the base out the next match to do defense and climb the ramp for extra points. Then we added a beefed up scoring section on top and kept going. We were picked for the winning alliance and the worst day I’ve ever seen in FIRST led to my best FIRST experience.

This was the most inspirational moment of my FIRST experience. It taught me something vital to this program: you can cry (I did), you can be discouraged, you can think it’s all over but you have to keep going. You paid all this money, traveled all this way, and worked so hard for that robot so you owe it to yourself, to your team, and your machine to see it through to the end.

The worst case scenario is your robot completely splits in half. But then again, you could always win the whole dang regional. You never know, so never quit. :wink:

That was awful. I broke out in hives and chewed off all my nails - here in Austin, following the news on CD.

It was awful but so incredibly inspiring. Much like many of these nightmare experiences turn out to be. Because of the spirit of FIRST.

Edit: And actually, the events of this Mission Mayhem, and the way in which the teams and volunteers worked together to make the competition happen, were so inspiring that I decided that I had to travel to Florida and attend Mission Mayhem and support it in some small way. And I did. And it was so much fun! I learned a lot from this off-season on the two occasions that I made the trip.