Late to the party.
It’s been so long I can’t remember if I posted one of these a day or one of these a week. So many feels this year. So much newness to it. I feel like I am starting off on the wrong foot and I don’t know if I’ll get my feet back under me before our first competition is over. And based on that…Who knows if I’ll be able to come up for air before it’s all over. I know that isn’t exactly how it is, but that is exactly how it feels.
How things work on the Whidbey Island Wildcats…
Kick off…Normally we go down to MountLake Terrace high school for kick-off, and to pick up our kit of parts. We usually make nuisances of ourselves by spending way longer than anyone else in the lunch room reviewing what we learned in our breakout sessions and going through the kit of parts box. The team Oohs and Ahhs over the various game pieces and someone with a sharpie, Usually Marcus, but now Wheels his younger brother as Marcus graduated and moved on…writes our team number of the game pieces as they are passed around the team. SOme of the more sly, (go getter) kids start planning the robot of their dreams. Others are happy to just be there and see. The new kids try desperately to take it all in, drinking out of the firehose.
We tried this year to make the most of it.
We gathered in the robotics room. Didn’t have to leave home quite so early…Not as far of a drive. And we struggled to figure out how to get the twitch stream of the kickoff up in the classroom given that twitch is blocked district wide. I ended up using my phone as a hotspot. It was laggy and glitchy, but we got through it.
We repeated the game animation a few times on youtube. A part of me feels like we should have just waited and done it that way to begin with.
I made 9 copies of the rules and the team set about going through them. Engineering notebooks out. Trying to find relevant rules that affected the ideas they had in their heads. I tried also, but I kept being called away by kids who had questions or kids who had ideas.
They talked until noon and then left for the day.
For a time we had a full meeting on kickoff day. Going from kickoff back to the high school to start reviewing the rules and brainstorming ideas. A bunch of years ago we let that go and used Saturday afternoon to say goodbye to our families. To celebrate with them as we bellied up to the table that is build season and began to gorge ourselves on robots.
Sunday morning we drifted into it. I had planned on coming in early to get the room setup and to get myself settled. 3 or so of my more eager students knew that I would most likely be there and showed up early also. They were waiting for me outside the gate.
The rest rolled in over the next few hours. The team split into three groups. Each group is going to try to come up with their own solution to this year’s game for our community design competition on Friday. 6:00 PM rolled around way faster than it had any business doing.
And there it is. Just like that there was no more getting ready…It was time. Build season…
I don’t know if I have it in me this year. I know I do because it needs to get done…so I’ll do it…I’ll even try to put my heart into it. I’ll find the 30 extra hours a week…somehow.
This morning it was a pile of unfolded laundry, a wife out sick (stomach bug) and a bare refrigerator. I was thinking of what I could make for lunch and came up empty handed…So…I figured I would stop at the grocery store. But instead of getting lunch for the week, I just picked up a salad and a sandwich…Ate half of it in my car during my prep period. I need to go shopping for groceries…I need to clean up the dishes in the sink…I need to walk my dogs…But it is build season. We have a parent meeting after our team meeting and then I agreed to help one of the mentors install some glass shower doors. It means another late night, and there will be 2 more this week alone. Thursday we have judging for FTC and Friday we have “virtual pits” and our design competition.
Saturday the team is going to an FTC inter-district competition. I don’t go to those. It was part of the agreement with the wife when we started an FTC team. (I wouldn’t go to competitions.) the wife seems to have forgotten that I was only supposed to help coach FTC for the first 2 years. If anyone asks this is year 2 for us…as will be every year so I can keep doing it.
Reading back over this…It seems like a giant pity party. Sorry for the downer vibe. I guess I’m just struggling a little to get into the spirit of things and see past the overall tired of it. Maybe just writing this and getting it out there will improve my mood.
Our three design teams are well on their way.
The first design team Wheels is the first person on the list, is looking to use belts to move balls into the low goal. Their objective is to be quick gathering and scoring balls focusing on floor loading.
Wheels’ team is looking at a quick ramp style climber aiming for a quick climb on the low rung. They decided to move the climber further back more centrally located to avoid the risk of the robot tilting one way or the other.
The second team, Jack is first on the list, is going to try to recreate last year’s robot with a bucket on the top for dumping balls into the low goal. They are hoping they can also use it for loading from the player station.
Jack’s team is also looking at using the climbing mechanism from previous years. Or well…something very similar. I am not sure the community will go for it though because they may see it as a cop out. They may also see it as smart given how new everyone on the team is.
Only one of the kids has been through a build season before.
The third group, Isaac first on the list, is planning on shooting. They plan to focus on being able to shoot into the low goal, and maybe going for a high goal as a reach goal.
I believe Isaacs group is thinking of using either a rack and pinion climber or a centrally located winch coupled with pulleys to help balance out the load.
Looking at their shooter I’m personally thinking the ball won’t have enough time in contact with their flywheel. Might need some work in that department.
All of the groups want to use swerve drive. We have been a strictly KOP drivetrain team for a few years now and we purchased swerve a few years ago in the hopes of embracing something new…learning and growing.
A part of me is a bit concerned about the age of our swerve modules and the lack of availability of replacement parts.
We got the swerve drive a few years ago and the team that makes it has moved on several versions. I’ll have to push the board to let us upgrade…Seems like a waste, but maybe we can use the old ones on a special project.
Enough for now. I’ll try to post often enough that someone could follow along.