10/13/16 by James Jiao
by James Jiao (sophomore)
Pictures by Cindy Chan
Last weekend, Lynbrook High School’s robotics team, the Funky Monkeys, set out to compete at the WRRF's 2016 CalGames offseason competition. This year’s CalGames was hosted by Fremont High School’s robotics team, the Firebots, and consisted of 36 teams from across the Bay Area. It was a tough competition, but we still managed to battle our way up to the 10th seed in qualifications and made it to the semifinals in the elimination matches. We ended our competition on a high note by being the first pick in alliance selection and by receiving the Autonomous Award for our excellent control system programming that enabled our robot to autonomously shoot a ball into the tower's high goal.
The story started even before we arrived at Fremont High School. It was early summer, and we had all wound down after an exciting 2016 season. Our robot had put up a strong performance last season, but we felt that we could do better. So our entire team embarked on a journey to redesign the shooter, taking inspiration from the design of The Spartans #971 of Mountain View. Even the software team was busy, coding a vision tracking system to complement the new shooter. After working all summer long, with countless worksessions and revisions, we unveiled the brand new quadruple flywheel shooter at this year’s CalGames.
Caption: Co-president Ria Pradeep (senior) and Arthur Zhang (junior) load the robot onto the field in anticipation for a qualifying match.
In addition to the robot game competition, our team participated in several judged awards, including the CAD Design Award and the Entrepreneurship Award. Judges also stopped by to interview us about our robot’s design and our autonomous period. They were clearly impressed, as we ended up winning the Autonomous Award and a $1,000 prize from NASA for our stellar autonomous performance.
Caption: Our team's mentor and CalGames referee, Andres Rodriguez, poses for a picture with his newly awarded framed photo.
Our team played in the very first qualification match on Friday. Naturally, we were all a little apprehensive as to how the new shooter would perform, since it had never been tested prior to the night before. Minutes felt like hours while we waited for the first match to begin, certainly of no help to the entire team sitting in anticipation. The match finally commenced, and as the echo of the horn dissipated throughout the room, we found ourselves tensing as our robot lined up for its first shot, autonomous mode notwithstanding.
And… success! Our worries dissolved and our nerves eased with every high goal scored, resulting in a resounding win for our team. The new shooter had proven its worth, and we headed into the next match brimming with excitement. Alas, victory was not to be had by us this time, and our fiery optimism began to dampen. But if anything, our loss only made us more determined to improve our game and pull out all the stops come Saturday. We ended Friday with the rigorous testing and fixing of our autonomous period routine.
Caption: The drivers aim with the help of flashlights, shoot, and score using the newly redesigned shooter.
Saturday started off with a bang, with our team breezing through our first two qualification matches. In our third and fourth match we lost by a tiny bit, with the fourth being only a one point difference. During our last two matches, we pulled through and won both, bring our win to lose ratio to 4:2. At the end of the qualification matches, we were seeded 10th in qualifications and nervous as to which alliance would pick us. When picks for eliminations rolled by, we didn’t even have time to settle when they announced we were picked by the first seeded team, PWR Up, team #4765! As the other alliance members picked their teams, we picked our third alliance member to be our sister FUHSD team, the Fremont HS Firebots, #3501.
Caption: Our robot, Monkey Python, proudly displays it's new redesigned quadruple flywheel shooter.
Our elimination matches were a bumpy ride that was cut off short. During our first matches with the 8th seeded alliance, we worked together with our alliance to secure the win. The semifinals soon followed, but we had some unexpected complications with the electronics that caused the shooter to malfunction. We still managed to win the best two out of three matches against the Space Cookies and the Janksters, bringing our team to the finals. But in a surprise ruling, we were given a red card penalty for two inadvertent safety infractions by our 3 team alliance that ended up overturning our victory. While the ruling was harsh, safety is always a top concern and we take it as a lesson learned.
Overall, the competition was a huge success. We saw all our hard work redesigning the shooter payoff on the field with long range accurate and powerful shots that made our 'bot the top pick on the field. The Autonomous Award was an awesome surprise, that recognized our strong software & control system team as well. Equipped with the new skills that our team picked up from preparing for CalGames, we look forward to competing in next year’s challenge: FIRST Steamworks!