All posts by Jack Najarian

3/14/2015 – Los Angeles Regional Day 2

Unlike the other two days, today the team had to find their own rides to the Long Beach Convention Center. Nevertheless, it was still a very early morning. When the doors finally opened at 7:30, the team followed the same routine, pit crew and drive team went to pits, while scouters and everyone else went to the stands.

The pit crew immediately went to work creating a temporary stack clamp that would work for our first match (third match of the day). We turned in the can stabilizer that was at the top of the robot inwards so it formed a triangle, and we attached some tread to the bottom. This stack clamp served its purpose in the first two matches, but on the second match, we clamped it a bit too hard, and it broke off. Luckily we had a long time in-between our second and last match to make a new, better, stronger stack clamp. We got this mechanism on, and it performed just as we wanted.

After our last match we were happy with our stacking abilities, so our focus shifted to manipulating and picking up the cans. we reserved a slot in the practice field and when our time came, we set up the floor like the actual field and began knocking over cans and picking them up. Eventually we got the motions down and we were consistently making two stacks of five capped in two minutes.

During this time, we had also begun to prepare for the alliance selections. Since we were seeded tenth, it was a difficult position since it can be uncertain whether or not we would be the ones picking. As alliance selections were under way, we found ourselves as the captain of the eighth alliance and our partners for the playoffs would be Team 207, Metalcrafters, and Team 4415, Epic Robotz.

The strategy that an alliance performs during the playoffs needs to incorporate all of the individual talents as well as techniques that are accomplished through teamwork. Our plan going into quarterfinals was for Team 207 to create stacks of three, one of their specialties, and for Team 4415 to cap each of these stacks with a recycling can. In the meantime, we would be making stacks of five with a can. Team 4415 also had a mechanism that could grab four cans from the step, something that could allow for the alliance to cap even more of our stacks and gain more points.

For each of the two quarterfinal matches, our alliance performed this strategy to the best that we could. Unfortunately, joystick failures and communication errors plagued our alliance, preventing us from reaching our maximum potential. None the less, we had a wonderful time with our partners and had a great time playing with them. When decisions were being made for who moves on to semifinals, we were ranked fifth and tied the fourth alliance on the playoff average statistic.

Looking forward, our team is even more prepared for the Ventura Regional and we can’t wait to get to play with the many other teams there. The roster is stacked with great teams!

(Thanks to Alexander Luke, our coach, for writing a quick summery of our strategic decisions)

3/13/2015 – Los Angeles Regional Day 1

The day began with another early(er) morning and another bus ride to the Long Beach arena. Once the doors opened, the pit crew immediately made their way to the pits to make a new part that will help us intake the can, without lowering our forks. The pieces were bent pieces of aluminum that would help the cans up onto our forks (like a ramp).

While that piece was being made and tested, Roupen, our welder began putting on the final touches on the spare intake. He fully utilized The Holy Cows mobile machine shop to make it.

During the matches, our robot was not performing too well, and the main problem was the fact that Centurion had to be driven so slowly, the stack holders were not performing up to expectations, and something else had to be made.

After a good days worth of qualification matches, we were ranked 6th at the event. That night, our scouts met over Google hangouts and discussed what other teams would like to see in us. We realized that all of the top teams would not want us to run our three tote autonomous (since we knock over the cans), but they would want us to be making the fastest stacks at the event. With that our priorities were set, any practice time we had, would be spent practicing lining up and making stacks.

We also knew we needed to be able to drive faster so we can make stacks faster. To do this we decided that “sandwiching” the stack in between our forks, and something hard mounted to the top was the fastest, and best solution. This mechanism had one drawback, we would be limited to stacks of 5 capped, but that was a much better alternative to loosing a capped stack of 6.

Our game plan was set for the second day.

3/12/2015 – Los Angeles Regional Practice Day

The team arrived very early to school Thursday morning (6:30 AM) to catch the bus to the Long Beach Arena. After the one hour ride there, the team promptly got in line and began the wait for the doors to open at 8:30.

Once 8:30 struck, the team split up, the pit setup, and pit crew went to the pits, while the scouts and everyone else went to the stands to claim the best seats they could. The pit crew immediately un-bagged the  robot and began replacing the carriage cross member, the constant force spring mount, and mounted the new, lighter, pneumatic system(brass fittings replaced by aluminum ones). They also mounted the new forks, and the ejector mechanism.

Once all physical modifications were made to the robot, the programming team finally got their hands on the robot to update the firmware on the robot and configure the D-Link.

After passing inspection and barely making the weight (118.5 lbs), the team began testing the robot. Everything was going great, until we realized we cannot manipulate the cans anymore because we angled the forks backwards, we needed to lower the minimum point of the carriage. We lowered the bottom limit switch, not that was not enough.

By this time, it was already 8:00 PM, and we needed to leave the pits.



3/11/2015 – Los Angeles Regional Load-in

After school on Wednesday March 11th three members of the team met up after school to drive to the convention center to unload the trailer. The plan was to leave right at 3:00, but because our new floor showed up a few minutes before we were planning on leaving, we decided it was worth delaying our departure if it meant we would have our new floor in time for the regional.

After the hour and a half drive to the Long Beach Convention Center, the load in crew immediately went to work unloading our robot and pit components into our pit.



After the load-in at the event, and a quick dinner, the remaining crew, cautiously carried the HexaWall from the testing zone to the back of the now cleared out Suburban. Once that was done, the load in crew finally got to go home, at midnight.

Day #26 – 1/28/2015 – Taking a Step Back

Lab opening time 12:30 PM

Today was the second unscheduled meeting of the week,  it began like any other Wednesday during build season, a few members trickled into the lab getting ready to continue design on the base plate, and getting ready to cut the rest of the frame. Only one thing was missing, the 1″ by 2″ 1/16″ wall 6061 aluminium stock  was supposed to get delivered today, but because of multiple mistakes made by multiple people, we did not get our material.

This entire situation caused a lot of frustration for many of us, we did not want to make any critical mistakes while frustrated, so we decided to call it a day at 3:00 PM.

Lab closing time: 3:00 PM