This happened when I was a freshman back in 2000 at the J&J mid-atlantic regional. We started off with two-wheel drive tank steering, which we had never tested on the carpet. In our first few practice matches, it didn’t work. We could go forward, but we couldn’t turn, and when we tried to turn, our traction caused us to nearly rip up the carpet. The judges told us we had to do something about it or we would be disqualified for damaging the field.
We removed the treads on the non-drive wheels. Now we didn’t rip up the carpet anymore, but we were not maneuverable at all, and we lost our first several matches. By the end of the first day, we were close to dead last place.
The nexy day, someone realized that we needed to replace our non-drive wheels with casters. But where do we get casters? We checked small parts, but they didn’t have any. Finally, someone came up with a brilliant idea: our CART had casters. So we traded casters for wheels. Now, instead of a non-turning robot and a maneuverable cart, we had a turning robot and a non-turning cart.
It then became clear that we were amazingly fast. We consistently beat our opponents to the opposite side of the field to grab both black balls. In one match we went from 34th seed to 19th seed. We slowly climbed up the rankings.
For our last qualifying match, we knew that ChiefDelphi was going to be one of the robots. We all hoped that they would be our partner, because they had an amazing robot. When the alliance was announced, we were disappointed to learn that we were going to be on opposing alliances. We all thought we were going to lose. 5 seconds before the end of the match, the ChiefDelphi alliance was barely ahead of us. Both of their robots were hanging from the bar. We flew up the ramp and slammed into CD’s partner. It started swinging back and forth on the bar, then FELL. But now it was on the ramp, which still counted for 5 points and would have won the match. But their robot was top-heavy and had a stabilizing wheel on the back, which at the end of the match was touching the ground off the ramp, so they didn’t get the 5 points, and we won the match.
We made it into elims and won the regional, then won the Philadelphia regional the next week.
So much fun to go from dead last to first place