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12-November-2011. Due to the late drop-out of team 1391 (Metal Moose), FRC Team 1640 had the opportunity to field two robots at Ramp Riot. DEWBOT VII Prime, our competition robot was fielded under the 1640 team number by our competition drive team. Deux entered the competition under the nom de guerre 1641 operated by drive-team trainees, giving them invaluable competition driving experience. We also ran two pits, providing training in this area as well.

This is the first time Sab-BOT-age had ever run two robots in a competition and my heartfelt thanks go out to all those who worked so hard to bring Deux from arm-less engineering test bed up to competition condition in the space of one short week.

1640 finished qualifications as 14th seed; 1641 as 29th.

1640 was selected by the 3rd alliance, comprising teams 103 (Cybersonics) and 365 (Miracle Workerz). An awesome alliance. We won the quarterfinals and our first semifinal match. Alas, 1640's minibot deployment was unreliable throughout the day (critically, it failed in the 2nd semifinals match) and 103 broke down in the 2nd semifinal match. As a result of these two factors, our alliance was defeated by the 1st alliance (2016, 222, 1403), who went on to become champions.

By a bizarre twist, 1641 was brought into the last finals match as a replacement robot for 2607 (allied with 303 and 2199). We lost, but ended up as Ramp Riot Finalist.

1640 has participated in Ramp Riot every year since the team's inception, making this our 7th Ramp Riot.

The resurrection of Deux

Our 2nd 2011 robot, Deux, had been reduced to a inert hulk before Duel on the Delaware. The arm and minibot systems were removed to convert it to a generic testbed chassis. Two pivots were pulled to provide spares for Prime. The line photosensors were pulled. The solenoid module was removed from the cRIO for another Duel team which needed it. Altogether, Deux was far from a competition-ready robot on 4-Nov when we learned of the 2nd robot opportunity.

In addition, improvements made on Prime were to be incorporated in Deux as well, primarily the (3) photosensor line-following (we didn't have a 3rd sensor).

Four long nights later, Deux was ready to compete. Thanks to everyone who put in the effort to make this happen!

Preparations for a 2-robot competition

Team Sab-BOT-age had never operated two robots in a competition before, and preparation was necessary to make this possible.

From the "mechanical" side, we ordered two additional batteries and chargers; we built a 2nd driver station (purchasing a new Cypress); and we also converted our retained set of blue DEWBOT VI bumpers for DEWBOT VII. Faith McKown and Mrs. Drago devised very sharp and practical velcro-attached red bumper covers to allow an alliance color change without requiring a 2nd set of bumpers.

From the "process" side, we established pit check-lists mounted on the robots, organized two pit crews with an integrated battery management section. Preparation was a key aspect to the success of this 2-robot expedition.

Who was there

Students: Sasha, Andrew, Douglas, Ian, Nicole, Molly, Kira, Yahya, Ben, DJ, Jack, Lucy, Patrick C, Sarah, Patrick D

Mentors: Clem & Faith McKown, Julie Christopher, Siri Maley, Gary Deaver, Scott Featherman, Rita Wall

Family & Friends: Marianna Curran, Jarryd, Andrew Horvath & Reagan

1640 Driver: Andrew
1640 Operator: Sasha
1640 Human Players: Yahya, Jack, Ian
1640 Coach: Siri Maley
1640 Field Assistant: Patrick C
1641 Drivers: Douglas & Lucy
1641 Operators: Jack & Kira
1641 Human Players: Patrick D, Ian & Andrew
1641 Coach: Clem McKown
Scouts: Nicole
Pit Mentors: Gary Deaver & Siri Maley (Mechanical), Julie Christopher (Programming) & Scott Featherman (Electrical)
Pit Crew: Molly (1640 Pit Coordinator), Douglas (1641 Pit Coordinator), Lucy, Kira, Sarah, DJ, Patrick C, Patrick D

Problems Encountered

  1. The Minibot became unreliable on 1640. At least two discrete problems were identified: a) the action of deployment and pin-pulling appears to turn off the switch on minibot #1 (a Prime problem only); and b) rough driving tends to unseat the minibot from its cradle (Prime & Deux).
  2. On 1641, deploying the minibot generally required more than one trigger action, resulting in lower rankings.
  3. During the 2nd semifinal, Clem's laptop lost comm to the arm control
  4. Autonomous failed to work on both 1640 and 1641 in all matches.
  5. We bent the living daylights out of the claw linkages on 1641 (during a particularly egregious entanglement-zone crossing incident). 1640's were also severely bent throughout the competition without being addressed. Luckily, the latter didn't entirely restrict functionality, and the former happened in 1641's last match. These are on the checklist but were largely ignored despite reports of the claw sticking.
  6. Velcro remains the bane of Prime's existence.

Lessons Learned

  1. The difference in preparation (vis-à-vis Duel on the Delaware) was critical. We may not have won, but we reasonably could have and the degree of chaos was kept low.
  2. All batteries were tested and clearly labeled prior to competition. Suspect chargers were also tested prior to competition. (2) new batteries and (2) new chargers were purchased with the result that we had (9) batteries and (7) chargers at the competition; and were able to trust all of them. No battery problems encountered. Good battery protocols are essential. Batteries are a significant capital investment for the team.
  3. We had a good pit checklist, which was attached to both robots to facilitate pit checks. 1640 followed the list & checked. 1641 followed the list but did not document.
  4. We had pit/match check/data lists as well. Again, 1640 provided good data (though also missed some critical information); 1641 less so but some.
  5. We've had a number of hints towards systematic minibot deployment issues in the past (not with the minibot or basic deployment system itself, but with a tendency for the minibot to become unseated during aggressive robot competition). We did not aggressively solve these problems. We paid for this today.
  6. We are capable (now) or running two robots in competition. The benefits of doing so are significant (in terms of training and drive team experience). We need to do this systematically in the future and plan for it.
  7. Scouting - this was resource starved and yet Nicole did a great job here. Thanks!
  8. We should have kept a tower base together for practice & development (general lesson - not specific to Logomotion). This would have allowed us to test the revised minibots and, in retrospect, probably would have won us the competition.
  9. Bumper covers can be helpful.
  10. 1640 has reached a new level of competence. We are well-respected in our alliances and understood to have a firm grasp of wise strategy, as well as the ability to communicate and execute on it. We play good Logomotion, and we make and keep friends for it. The two things that damaged our reputation here were autonomous (lack thereof) and the minibot.
  11. However, 1640 still has places to improve regarding smooth coordination within the drive team and alliance. In terms of alliance coordination, we need to understand how to deal with teams that do not communicate as fluidly as we do.

Once again, DEWBOT VII Prime & Deux performed extremely reliably in competition. These robots just don't break! Gotta love it.


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