Talk:DEWBOT VII FRC Championship

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To Do List

Wednesday (5 people only)
  1. Uncrate
  2. Set up pit
  3. Get encryption key
Before Inspection (can be Wednesday)
  1. Switch solenoid to install vent valve for faster deployment
  2. Put Bident back on
  3. Put on calibrated camera
  4. Switch claw to more robust version
Preferably before Field Calibration/Practice (8AM/9AM) Thursday
  1. Tune steering PID


  1. Pits Open: 5PM-9:30PM Wednesday, 7:15AM-8:00PM Thursday, 7:00AM-7:00PM Friday, 7:00AM-5:00PM Saturday
  2. Field Calibration: 8-8:45AM Thursday (both fields)
  3. Drivers' Meetings: 8:15-9:15AM Thursday & 7:45-8:00AM Friday (2 drive team members, Archimedes Dome Field)
  4. Practice Matches: 9AM-Noon Thursday (Dome)
  5. Qualification Matches: 1:00PM–7:00PM Thursday (Dome), 9:30AM–12:00PM & 1:00PM–5:00PM Friday (Pits), 8:15AM–10:30AM Saturday (Dome)
  6. Elimination Matches: Noon–2:30PM (Dome), 4:00PM-6:00PM (Einstein)


There was a Post-Mortem meeting on 4-May. In addition, Clem McKown & Julie Christopher (who could not attend this meeting), both prepared their own observations:

Meeting + Personal Interview Notes:

Championship Post-Mortem - Competition
  • Teleop Performance: better than double that of Philadelphia and significantly more consistent. Also better than Finger Lakes, and practice definitely helped though still lack some consistency.
  • Hanging Over Ubertubes: our biggest intra-drive team problem. (Apparently we haven't practiced it enough.) We tend to get too close and underestimate whether we're on the peg.
  • Alliance Communication: changes everything. With it, we perform easily in the top 20 of our 88-team division. Without it, the alliance shuts down. We need to figure out how to cope with this. All coaches need to talk.
  • Red cards: were weird at Champs (not just for us). We got a red card in our first qualification match after the robot took off on it's own before the drivers' touched the controls in teleop. It ran headlong into the lane divider and began bending it all the way over. We subsequently e-stopped and received a red card for stopping in the opponent's lane. Further discussion with the head ref revealed that we had not caused enough field damage to warrant the e-stop. Coach is left to wonder how to handle a potential future situation, and we have no probable explanation for the communication loss.
  • Robot Communication Problems: came up in a few more matches. They disappeared after reconfiguring (and re-reconfiguring) the D-Link. Certainly a correlation, causation unknown.
  • Mighty Mouse: rocks! Consistent 1st or 2nd if we had time to spare. Shaking defense at the tower was only an issue in one match. We only ever arrived late if we had to finish a hang in order to win the match. We did this quite well. The faster deployment is great (though easier access to the valve would be great). Mighty Mouse usually only loses to ramp bots.
  • Drivetrain: was more reliable than Philadelphia or Finger Lakes (helps to actually fix what we said we would). A few freezes, but likely due to communication loss rather than mechanical issues. Wheels still turn at different speeds under no load. The left drives (luckily on diagonal corners) are slower. Obvious, even sometimes on the field. Driver not so happy about it.
  • Autonomous: our kryptonite. Despite excellent consistency at DRC, it rarely works on the field. We missed field calibration Thursday morning (due to missing inspection Wednesday night) and struggled to replicate on the practice field. Practice field performance did eventually get more consistent, though unfortunately too late. Coach discussion with some of the top seeds revealed that this is essentially we were weren't picked for an alliance. Straight Line loses consistently around the home zone line (Gary via webcast), the Jag on the inside of the losing turn go undriven at least sometimes (Siri). Scott suggests a deliberate constant oscillation. The Right Wall is barely more consistent, as the IR and sonar sensors will bring it to the right latitude/longitude, though it often happens too slowly or at the wrong yaw angle.
  • Pit Work: essentially nonexistent. Our crew is bored. We had a list (and didn't lose it) and used it mostly. Drive team would appreciate visual confirmation of this, and a few issues were still found in queue. (So still some process problems.) The biggest was missing the arm velcro which, but for a rare trick of gravity, would have paralyzed us for the match and cost us the win. An uncaught tube-popping point on the claw also contributed to one of our 3 official losses. We did fix the tilt on the second Claw II between practice matches. This was done smoothly and only cost us tuning opportunities (nice but not necessary) and a spot in the filler line.
  • Defense: not as bad as we'd feared. We didn't take any major hits in qualifications (though watching elims indicates we probably would have then). We stood up just as well as ever in qualifications. We didn't play it much ourselves as we were always needed on offense.
  • Arm Backdriving: occasionally doesn't work. We don't believe this is any problem functionally, but the refs aren't so hot on us taking an extended arm off the field. Retracting it isn't always an option, as we're often rushing to the tower (and break the 84" cylinder post-deployment), want to keep the claw safe and up and/or want to be ready to score post-deployment.
  • Match Video: We had it (yay!) It should go back to being included in the post-match briefs. (Again with the process stuff.)
  • Scouts: are working hard and had fun. Training is better, but it'd be great to have more people. The information has started to become very valuable. Especially teleop data has influenced strategy in qualification matches. More minibot data would be great.
  • Scouting Infrastructure: still needs some work, though. Sheets are better but data is often still obscure and there are still multiple teams on each sheet. If we'd needed to make a pick list, we'd be in as rough as position as Philadelphia. Siri suggests the scouts take the binder so the sheets can actually stay organized. We should practice scouting at off-seasons, preferably with a coach mentor.
Championship Post-Morten - General Event
  • Fun: We had it! Great event and good fun.
  • Improvement: fewer issues than Philadelphia all around.
  • Pit Setup: quite nice, the pivot display went over very well again, as did the buttons and flag.
  • Rules: we need them, with defined consequences. (This is a consistent request.)
  • Concert: kids loved the BEP concert.
  • Schedule: we need this, especially for food. (This is a consistent request.)
  • Schedule - dos: we're getting better at making and keeping appointments (practice field, load-in meals), but there's still room for improvement.
Overall Season
  • Two Robots: a lot for pivot drive. We really taxed our budget, time and mechanical mentors this year. If we do pivot in 2012, consider using the DB7 duex chassis for DB8 duex.
  • Design Process: let's follow it more closely. We got Go Fever this season that biased us (though not necessarily into the wrong choice).
What's our hindsight assessment on the choice of pivot drive this year? - a conversation we haven't had yet.
  • Communication: main key. We should work on this. One of the main points of dissatisfaction.
  • Confidence: another key. Students are quiet when mentors get excited. (Another point of less sat3isfaction)
  • Space: we're in a tight spot right now. We need a place to live, and it's not going to be easy. Mentors and students alike are ready to work for it. People are excited (despite not being totally satisfied). Members are willing to cope/travel farther, but we'll need a parents' meeting in the future.
  • Fundraising: very important now. Students are ready to sell light bulbs. Ben K suggests they need to pre-buy them and then earn the money back to prevent net loss for the team. General consensus on the idea. Should consider setting standards for fundraising and holding a parents' meeting
  • Summer: we're still not shut down, though. Programming will continue under Julie C (possibly at her house). This is Sensor Season: investigate gyros/accelerometers/ICMs, work on PID (with this I & D), understand how to select sensors (no IRs on diamond plate, picking 1 of the 16 ultrasonics), etc. Refine this year's autonomous as possible at off-seasons and in parking lots. Other pivot keys include driving straight (mechanical, encoders, probably not CAN) and avoiding thermal overload (which was not such a problem this season as last).
Action Plan
  1. Pack (everyone)
  2. Move (everyone)
  3. Meet & Wow the CCIU director (Clem + presentation prep help)
  4. Buy the FIRST lightbulb media kit & 1 bulb (Faith)
  5. Finish 501c3 (?)
  6. Apply for Boeing money after 501c3 (Rich)
  7. Talk to teachers' about recruiting and demos (students: Andrew CAT, Ben R. DWHS)
  8. Recruit friends (students)
  9. Prep for and attend community day demos
  10. Gauge interest in BR^2, PARC (PARC is an SAT day, attendance is looking really low) & IRI (note applications run May 9-18)
  11. Finance report (Siri)
  12. Student handbook with rules and job descriptions (Clem, Siri)
  13. Make dewbotrobot email an administrator on the Facebook group (Siri - done)
  14. Media meeting (goals?)
  15. Website meeting (Siri in July or student-run)
  16. Programming training & sensor project (Julie C - Mike, Ben R?)
  17. Design (process) training with CAD (Clem, Siri, Ben K - Sasha, Andrew, Molly +)
  18. 3Ds Max continue to rock (Ben B, Yahya)
  19. Video & video editing (Nicole, Ian, media team)
  20. Scouting training (primarily at off-seasons) (Siri, Clem - Nicole, scouting team)
  21. Space-dependent: Welding training (Siri, Ben K - kids...)
  22. Space-dependent: Mechanical training

Clem McKown noted (written 30-April):

  • We need written rules (and consequences) of behavior, performance
  • Also set expectations
  • Hanging performance much better (4 tubes) when the drive team, communications and allies had their act together. (2) tubes when they don't or when alliances don't work. Drive team performance mostly good but still irregular. This is a significant and welcome improvement over Regional performance.
  • We got a red card in our first qualification match. Robot went wild coming out of autonomous and careened into the lane divider wall. We disabled, but refs called a red card.
  • We continued to have communications problems. We changed the D-Link, which improved things for a while, then problems reoccurred. Reset the D-Link and problems were eliminated and did not return.
  • We drop a lot of tubes when we are hanging over ubertubes. We tend to drive too close and force the tube angle out on top.
  • Autonomous reliability remains extremely low, despite high reliability at DRC.
  • Individual drive speeds (off-ground) are different, left-rear & right-front (right drives) are faster than right-rear & left-front (left drives)
  • Minibot reliability and performance were quite good. All purposeful deployments ended with a successful minibot run. We always placed 1st or 2nd. We did not, however, test this system in elimination matches. Also, ramp bots are quite fast.
  • No real repairs were needed. The pit job was deathly dull. Remember, we only saw qualification matches.
  • We had a pit check list.
  • There was a projecting point on the polypropylene claw which apparently punctured a white tube we were trying to hang during our 4th match. Subsequently corrected, but we lost this match and could have reasonably won it.
  • Alliance communications during qualifications are difficult. Can we improve?
  • We found the main air leak in the pneumatic system (and fixed)

Julie Christopher wrote (extracted from a 4-May email):

What I think went well at Championship:
  • The pit seemed to be well run and the bot well maintained.
  • The pre-match routine seemed to work well and queuing seemed to go smoothly.
  • Scouts seemed to be working hard collecting information.
  • The team, especially the drive team, never gave up even despite an early setback and comm losses during matches.
  • We were able to get to the practice field and use our time there to the fullest, with no wasted time or missed chances.
  • Overall: Everything seemed to go smoothly in terms of the bot and being ready for matches.
What I think could use improvement (for competitions in general):
  • The team should have a clearly defined team schedule so that mentors and students know ahead of time where they are expected and when.
  • Tasks should be assigned and known to all so everyone knows what everyone else is responsible for.
  • The scouting team should have a plan for breaks if they need them, utilizing all available and willing people as necessary.
  • It would have been nice to be a little more organized so that everyone could try to sit together for matches.
  • Overall: Communication is key and I believe better communication could make us a more tightly-knit team.
Suggestions for next season (in particular, to make autonomous more reliable):
  • If we have two bots again, we need to have sufficient time to thoroughly compare their behavior to one another before ship date.
  • We should explore mechanical ways to lock the pivot wheels so that they can only go straight (and then unlock them again).
  • We should look into gyros and speed/distance encoders.