2020 FRC Competition Season Blog
The Canadian Pacific Regional
Day 3: Inspection and Practice
We were up bright and early on Thursday with everyone excited for our first regional of the season, and on top of that, our first international regional. Our first few small tests didn't go as planned, and we spent a large part of the morning working with our wiring in preparation for the robot inspection that would allow us to compete.
Our team received our first scare of the day when weighing our robot in front of the inspectors. Despite our previous night's weight of 123.6 lbs, the inspection scale showed that we were 130.4 lbs, nearly four and a half pounds overweight. Much to our relief, the inspectors re-tested their scale and found that it was inaccurate when they placed 100 lbs in weights onto it only to get a reading of 106 lbs, demonstrating that the scale had a six-pound
Bumper crew ready to weigh our bumpers for inspection
inaccuracy. After weighing our robot for a second time and subtracting 6 pounds from its new total, our weight came out to about 124.5 lbs, still more than the night before, but just getting us under the line that allowed us to compete.
The inspection continued to run, and very few issues were found. There were a few corners that were a bit too sharp, but after a quick filing job, that box was checked off too. Everything was going smoothly until it was time for them to check for shorts.
Much to our shock, and in a repeat of our first competition last year, we were once more shorting to our robot's frame. We searched through all our wiring, but couldn't find any place where there was a clear reason for the issue, such as a wire that had been stripped in one place and was touching the frame or one of our Falcon motors doing something strange. After many tries to figure out the issue, we began to take each breaker out of our power distribution panel (PDP), hoping that that would result in us being able to figure out which wire or motor was causing the problem. We were all shocked to realize that that attempt was fruitless, still not showing us what the potential issue could be. So, it was narrowed down to the wire between the PDP and our breaker/power button for our robot. We examined every inch of the wire, but still found problems when we checked to see if we were still having a short.
Then, the shock of all shocks happened. The very definition of weird problems that we had no idea how to explain; when we lifted up one of the two main wires on the PDP, we stopped getting values, but only with that one specific wire. At this point, we were all very confused. We called over a Field Technical Advisor, who recommended that we switch out our PDP for a spare to see if that was the issue. After testing to ensure that we didn't get the same problems with the new PDP, we began
Searching for the problem
the process of removing each and every connecting wire from our old PDP, all the while keeping the multi-meter on to see if anything changed as we removed wires.
Of course, it was the final wire that we pulled out that turned out to be the problem. It was connected to the Roborio, and some how the wire connection was still getting some bit of power despite our robot being completely turned off and the PDP unplugged. After a bit of trouble shooting to make sure that it really was the right wire, and not just some fluke associated with being the last wire in the PDP, we discovered the root of the issue; one of the holafect sensors that was a part of our climbing mechanism was touching the frame and causing a short.
Following this set-back, we passed inspection with flying colors! However, that wasn't the end of the variety of issues that we faced. When we tested the robot for the first time, we found that the only thing that worked was our drive train. So we played defense for our first practice match, but weren't at all discouraged. We knew that we just had to buckle down and get our robot working. We spent the rest of the time we had, until we were kicked out of the arena, working on our mechanisms in preparation for qualification matches the following day!
On Tuesday, March 3rd, we met at our robotic shop at 4:30am to begin traveling to the Canadian Pacific Regional. We caught an 8am flight to Seattle, where we met up with the amazing parent who had driven our robotics trailer all the way up to Seattle, and would be driving it home to California after the tournament as well.
The Canadian Pacific Regional
Days 1-2: Traveling, Border Crossing and Load-In
While in Seattle, we had the opportunity to go on a tour of the Boeing Everett Factory and see how the 747 airplanes are built! We also got to see the brand new 777X, a new type of plane that has carbon-fiber wings that have the ability to fold up near the tips to allow the plane to fit into more airports around the world. It was a fantastic tour, and we learned a lot about what goes into massive assembly lines like the ones at Boeing, such as cranes
Team photo inside of Boeing after our tour.
on the ceiling that can hold thousands of tons to allow large pieces of the plane, like the wings, to be moved around easily and safely. It was also very interesting to see how their tool management system works, and how every tool, fastener, and piece of the plane is always accounted for.
That night we stayed in North Burlington, WA, with a plan to cross the border into Canada the following day. Thanks to our ahead of schedule arrival, we were able to have some team bonding time at the hotel before we went to bed. We met in the lobby after dinner to play games together such as Minecraft and Uno, and everyone had a good time hanging out together.
Our team looking only slightly frightening as we sat together and played Minecraft.
Wednesday morning started off slow, with a majority of team members appreciating the opportunity to get a few extra hours of sleep after our early morning the day before. Before crossing into Canada, we stopped at the Peace Arch, a monument that stands at the 49th parallel to symbolize peace between Canada and America.
Thanks to a United States Park Ranger, known to us as "Ranger Rick", we were able to learn all about the arch and it's history. One fact that we learned was that the arch is always lit up no matter what and that there are even back-up generators to ensure that the lights never go out, as the arch not being lit means that there is no peace present there. Another fact was that it was one of the first, if not the first, creation of it's kind in the entire world.
Standing on the border between Canada and the U.S.
We crossed the border soon after, and it went very smoothly. We got through without even a check of our trailer, and headed straight for the ferry to Victoria. The crossing was beautiful, and it also gave us a change to get to know one of the other FRC teams what would be competing with us in Canada.
The Ferry ride to Victoria
The Peace Arch
Once we arrived in Victoria, a group of five people went to load in our trailer while the rest of us went to dinner. Then, we got some very good news from the team who was at the stadium; our robot was officially within the weight limit! The modified version of our intake had taken off just enough weight to make our robot approximately 123.6 lbs, which fit perfectly in to the limit of 125 lbs. This had been a big worry of our team's after we had to pack up a robot that was over the weight limit, and that was only under the limit when it didn't have an intake. We wouldn't have been unable to compete with an overweight bot, and were more than thrilled that our new intake had been the solution that we needed!
The bus leaving the airport
Meeting back up with the people who drove the trailer
Ready to cross the border