paper: Killer Bees 2011 Robotics Season Journal

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Killer Bees 2011 Robotics Season Journal
by: Jim Zondag

This is the complete 113 day journal of the Killer Bees 2011 Robotics Season.

Day by day account of 2011 Logomotion build and competition season as recorded by Jim Zondag - Team 33 - The Killer Bees
Thanks JVN for encouraging me to formalize this.

Killer Bees Robotics Season Journal 2011.pdf (1.16 MB)

Absolutely fantastic, Jim!

Thanks for compiling and posting this.

This is incredibly detailed and awesome. Thanks for posting! I hope this inspires more and more teams to do this kind of analysis.

Thank you VERY much for sharing. I’m sure the FRC community will benefit greatly from learning more about Team 33 and the process you guys use.

I really enjoyed reading it – it is interesting to hear your account of facing some of the same challenges I faced as team lead of 148. This is one of the coolest things about these build journals – I hope everyone who reads these recognizes that we’re all going through the same things!

Thanks for answering the challenge…

Thanks for doing this Jim, it was a great read.
Hopefully next year I’ll have enough time at the beginning of build season to start a journal.

Read the whole thing. Great, great resource. Thanks Jim!

Fantastic read. Thank you very much for putting this together and sharing it with us.

This is exactly the kind of data we are looking to collect in the Systems Engineering survey we have posted ( for a graduate class research project we are doing now. Any other teams have similar documents of their experiences they would like to share?

I really enjoyed reading your paper; informative and gave a unique insight into your team. Clearly your time management skills are amazing. How do you maintain your focus over such a prolonged duration and how do you deal with burnout?

One point I got out of it was the significant advantage of the bag-n-tag events for your first event. We basically had to shut down testing on ship day at noon to get the robot crated for FedEx pickup. Killer Bees worked until 11:30 P.M. before bagging and tagging.

We could have done a lot of tuning and testing during that last day. (And we needed it) :frowning:

We have gotten pretty good at the whole time management thing over the years. I am an Automotive Engineer, and I am used to coordinating big projects with lots of players and lots of facets. FRC is very similar, just way faster. I will say that we have learned a lot about process from the good teams. Talking to 111, 217, 469, 1114, 67, 148 and others has really inspired us to get our act together. These teams do great things and you can really learn a lot from them.
Most of my team are not quite as fanatical as I am. Most of our team works in phases, where some do a ton of work in the build season, and some do a bit more in the testing and training phase. Many people rotate days off. I am pretty much there all the time, but I have found ways to deal with this. Efficiency is the key for me. If I have a plan, a design, the tools, and people with the skills, it is amazing what can get done in a short period of time. I run a plan/execute cycle on about a 1 day loop all the way through. We also have the blessing of a fantastic parent support group, so basic needs like food and Mountain Dew just seem to appear as if by magic exactly when we need them.


I always wondered where our mentors ran off to after the finals matches…

Jim, I love how you organize the design process early in the season! Can you describe the role play activity you did on Day 2? It seems like you got a lot out of it, but what exactly did it look like? Were you using the field at all at that point?

The role playing was very minimalist. We set up two collapsible tables up approximately 54 feet away from each other in a small side street inside Chrysler. These simulated the racks with tape on the table simulating the pegs. Tubes were simulated with mini bagels. Different flavors were the different shapes. The playing fields general dimensions were taped off along with the lanes and such. For gameplay we used students as robots. Before they began they were told what kind of robot they were, what they were able to do, and what their stratigy was for that match. They were each also given yardsticks with which to carry the mini-bagels on. For the minibots students had to stand in a certain area and depending on how good their minibot was would raise their hands to simulate a minibot triggering the tower. Based on our experience we were able to much better determine what was important and how we wanted to play the game.

I highly suggest the exercise to all teams who don’t already do something of the sort.

Did you have Human Players throwing bagels across the room?
If not… the simulation is flawed. :wink:


We did actually throw “Plane…i.e. white ones” in a couple of the strategy matches. They were dogels (hard white bagels) and shattered, so we figured the tubes would pop if thrown :wink: . Throwing white ones was kept in our strategy, but we didn’t think people would get as good as they did at throwing the blue and red tubes. Ironically with the bagels, the blue-berry (obvious) and pumpernickel (red) flew better than the whites. Ironically, if you have ever tried to throw over-inflated tubes, the blues and reds throw better than the whites because the whites would “potatoe chip” when over-inflated.

My favorite moment of the simulation was the mentor battle. I got to play tipsy the high CG robot which culminated in something akin to the curly shuffle.

In 2007, we used minibagels and did a scale model simulation and made the “rack” out of a piece of pipe with bolts sticking off of it like a really cheesey christmas tree.

Wow. Truly inspiring read. I took so much from this! I would like to now create one for our next season (If I find the time). This is no small undertaking, and you did a great job with it! It is interesting to see some of the things you guys thought were obvious, we completely overlooked, and vice-versa.

Excellent stuff! Please keep it up!