World Championship: We Made It!

posted Jul 19, 2015, 8:00 PM by Up-A-Creek Robotics   [ updated Jul 19, 2015, 8:02 PM ]

Jake O.
April 30, 2015

I don't think very many students on the team appreciated how quiet things are at 4:00 am in the morning until the Wednesday before Championships. I know that I didn't, but that's one of the many perks of having a flight that leaves at 6:00 am in the morning, the same time that most kids are waking up. But I speak for everyone on the team when I say that we would much rather be on that flight than in bed. It was our departure for our first trip the FRC World Championship, and we were excited enough that you could feel it in the air at 6:00 am in the morning.

We arrived at our hotel in O'Fallon, Illinois just in time to justify invading the local Steak and Shake for lunch. Afterwards, three brave and daring students set up the pit, put together the robot, and got the very first taste of competition while the rest of us waited for load-in to finish. At 5:00 pm we joined 608 other FRC teams in exploring, gawking at, and getting lost in the America Center and Edward Jones Dome. Some us attended a talk given by a mentor on team 1114 (Simbotics) about deciding on a strategy for each year's game which we plan to use during our planning next year.

On Thursday was when the fun really started. We had 4 qualification matches that went very well for us. We also had the opportunity to go and look at some of the other teams there. We got a chance to say hi to our friends that we made at our regionals, as well as meet some new people. Teams came from all over the place.  Just in our group of pits alone there was a team from Canada as well as a team from Israel.

Some retired for the night when we got back to the hotel, but the rest of us still had another five hours to keep the energy up for. About a dozen of us changed into new outfits, ranging from genuinely try-hard really-going-to-prom formal wear, to Doctor Who outfits, to those stylish blue t-shirts we wore earlier that day. We attended Roboprom, a dance hosted by Eagle Robotics. It was a marvel to see, about two thousand people packed into a room with music blaring and a floor oscillating several inches in amplitude. We danced for hours, making memorable moments like the giant conga line, sitting in the middle of the dance circle, and crowd surfing.

When Friday came, we had high expectations, but due to a few flukes during our matches, we dropped our rank. After another 6 matches we ended the qualifications at a still impressive rank of 12th with an average score of 146.

On Saturday, we were given the Excellence in Engineering Award for our automated tote stacking and CATObar mechanisms. We were then picked by the fourth seeded alliance, our partners being 3618, 967, and 3026. Together, we made it into the semifinals, but didn't quite make the cut for finals.

After lunch, we watched the Einstein matches from the nose bleed section of the stands. We also stayed to watch the closing ceremonies and concert, which started with two hours of Andy Caldwell dubsteb, with the bass turned up so high that we could feel it in our arms as well as our ears. The speeches given afterwards were touching and thoughtful an inspirational as always, and afterwards, Chistina Grimme and Boys Like Girls performed. Those of us who sat through the whole thing left around 9:30 pm, and got back to the hotel at 12:00 am.

Over the course of this trip, we netted 1 award, 12th seed, semifinalists, 4 days of crazy, 96 hours of awesome, and a plethora of new friends. I don't know what the game will be next year, but I'm willing to bet a milkshake that we're going to be going to back next year.

Colorado Regional: Win #2!

posted Jul 19, 2015, 7:33 PM by Up-A-Creek Robotics   [ updated Jul 19, 2015, 7:50 PM ]

Daniel H.
April 1, 2015

As has occurred for the past eleven years, Team 1619, Up-A-Creek Robotics students gathered in the early hours of the morning at the CDC on Thursday, March 26th, 2015 to make the trip to the FIRST Colorado Regional Competition in Denver. This year, we had already won the Industrial Design Award and won the competition (Thanks 624 and 4334!) at the Utah Regional, and were psyched to have another opportunity to compete with our robot and meet new friends.

While we were pleased with how our robot performed in Utah, we always say “It’s not done until it is overdone.” So in the two weeks between Utah and Colorado, we went back to working hard on improving our robot. This included adding the ability to stack six totes high and tuning some of the software in order to achieve faster and smoother stacking. We also worked on designing and fabricating a “bin raker” in order to get bins off the step in autonomous. We weren’t going to let another bot like the RoboBroncs burgle a bin from right under our nose! With the last tweaks made the night before competition, we loaded up the trailer and prepared ourselves for another three days of fun and cheering. 

This Colorado Regional had so many amazing robots: we saw several extremely advanced land zone feeders such as 801 and 4499. We also saw many robots able to achieve a 3-tote autonomous, such as 1730. And we were again very impressed by 1339’s amazing raking (Peace, Love, Robots!). Our improvements implemented between the Utah and Colorado Regionals paid off, and we were fortunate to end up seeded first at the conclusion of the qualification matches.

When elimination matches arrived, we confidently chose Team 1730, Team Driven, and Team 4593, Rapid Acceleration to be our allied partners.  Throughout the eliminations, the other alliances certainly gave us a run for our money. Semifinal match 6 marked the great tug-of-war match between 4593 and Angelbotics. This was arguably one of our most exciting matches. Our alliance also scored a whopping 214 points in the first semifinal match, beating our last top score of 202. Congrats to teams 1723, 4499, and 5318 for making it to the finals to compete against us. We again were able to pull off a regional win, and now have a second blue banner in a single year to show for our hard work!  Aside from the regional win, we also won the Innovation in Control Award for the robot's well-tuned PID and the self running state machine used when loading totes from the feeder station.

Other than the competition itself, our team had a very active moshpit presence, cheering both our own and other team’s robots. Also, all of our members surely met new people and rejoined with old friends. Our team went Thursday night to a dinner with Angelbotics, and everyone had a blast. Friday night, we went to the yearly CO Regional social, at which the dancing was out of control. And finally on Saturday night we went to the traditional dinner at Red Robins for a night of bottomless (not so much) root beer floats with our medals around our necks. 

Our success in Colorado is not where it ends, however, as Team 1619 has to prepare for the world championship competition in St. Louis. We will continue working hard over the next three weeks, and hope to have as much fun in St. Louis as we did in Utah and Colorado. Yes, chute door!

Utah Regional: Tote-al Success!

posted Mar 23, 2015, 1:37 PM by Up-A-Creek Robotics   [ updated Mar 31, 2015, 11:14 AM ]

On a particularly sunny Wednesday afternoon, nearly 40 team members set off on an eight-hour drive, their bags packed with everything they would need to succeed at the Utah Regional: safety glasses, snacks, blue hats, team shirts, and (of course) boxes and boxes of Milk Duds. It was their second year taking a trip to their Western neighbor Utah, and upon their arrival in Salt Lake City, it was unclear whether any residual disorientation was due to the long car ride or the presence of mountains in all directions (and thus lack of Colorado's primary directional landmark). 

The Utah Regional was a tote-al success for Team 1619 this year. We built probably the most complex robot we ever have, taking the meaning of late nights at robotics to a whole new level to get everything done in time. This year, we switched programming languages from LabVIEW to Java, updated the electrical systems to the new RoboRIO system and switched to Talon SRXs, and programmed our own scouting app to make scouting for alliance members easier and more enjoyable. We were making improvements to the robot until the very end, but through everyone's stack-rifice of many hours of sleep, countless chute door splinters, and one unfortunately shredded pool noodle, we built one of the top robots at Utah. Our hard work paid off, as we won the Industrial Design Award for the first time, which celebrates form and function in an efficiently designed machine that effectively addressed the game challenge.

The competition in Utah was all that it was stacked up to be, and Up-A-Creek Robotics met the challenge with enthusiasm and spirit. Students dressed in blue and adorned with blue hats, ribbons, and dyed hair repaired the robot in the pits, cheered in the stands, and drove to victory. We seeded second overall after qualification matches and accepted the invitation to join Team 624 CRyptonite's alliance for the playoff matches. Together with CRyptonite and Team 4334 Alberta Tech Alliance, Up-A-Creek Robotics achieved another exciting first: winning a regional competition!  They were great alliance partners both on and off the field.  We also want to give a huge shout out to 2122, 3230, and 3405 for an exciting set of finals matches. You are all great teams with great students and mentors.

Our winning strategy saw ATA retrieving bins from the step, while CRyptonite and UACR furiously stacked and (yes,) chute door-ed. Our alliance stacked to victory, winning the Utah Regional after winning both of the first two finals matches. The achievement resulted in ecstatic cheers and screams from everyone on the team. After the awards ceremony, the team celebrated the victory with "bottomless" root beer floats at Red Robins, which we actually managed to find the bottom of, literally eating the restaurant out of ice cream before celebrations were over.

While the Utah regional was certainly a triumph, the season isn't over yet! We're currently busily working on further improvements for the robot to prepare for the Colorado Regional in March and the Championships in April. No matter how the totes stack, though, we're having fun and learning every day!

Having a Ball at IRI

posted Jul 21, 2014, 8:46 AM by Up-A-Creek Robotics

Team 1619 performed well enough this year during the regular season to become one of the 76 teams invited to compete at the Indiana Robotics Invitational this year. This prestigious event gathers the best teams around the globe to compete in that year’s game, and it is considered by some to be even more competitive than the official FRC Championship (12 teams that made it to Championship elimination rounds were not invited to IRI).

20 team members, 10 mentors and students alike, traveled to Indianapolis for this competition with mixed expectations ranging from participating in elimination rounds to only winning one match. While we did win more than one match, we didn't quite make the loftiest of our goals. With an overall record of 3-6, we were passed over during alliance selections in favor of other teams. One factor that likely contributed was our poor autonomous scoring, with our previously unshakable routine only connecting once in eight attempts. Even so we managed to beat one alliance in qualification matches (1024, 67, and 2481) that contained two teams who competed together on the Einstein field at the FRC Championship.

The game was played very differently at IRI than at any other competition we have been to so far. At such a high level, autonomous was a large factor, because any missed shots meant that you had a time disadvantage compared to the other team when starting your cycles. When every alliance has a large scoring potential (only 9 out of 118 matches resulting in one alliance scoring less than 100 points) those 10 extra seconds that the other team has make a large difference. Not to mention the fact that it can be difficult to come back from a 75-30 deficit from the start. In addition to autonomous playing a larger role in the outcome of matches, defense was also a staple of play. You had to remind teams to go play defense during regionals, but at IRI it was a given. The robots who could shoot on the run or from a protected area - like the corner where the low goal is placed - had a much easier time than those that required more time to aim in the open field.

Despite our bid for a win ending earlier than we had hoped, the entire team still had a blast! Wandering through the pits to look at different designs, listening to the music from team 254’s robot cart, and cheering on the teams that you watched win the FRC Championship all contributed to what was my favorite event yet. It’s easy to forget when you’re watching a live stream about robots that the hall of fame teams are still composed of other people, and meeting them in person was both inspiring and educational. Our plans for the future include things such as a new pit, planned to be completed before the next build season, along with a battery cart to take to the field during elimination matches. In addition to these projects we also have discussed the idea of “upgrading” our robot cart after seeing the many different ones on display at IRI. Even though we may not have come home with a new trophy, we brought back plenty of things (experience, information, and ideas) that will be much more useful in the long run.

Written by Tyler F. on July 20, 2014

What a season!

posted May 19, 2014, 11:31 AM by Up-A-Creek Robotics   [ updated Jul 21, 2014, 8:39 AM ]

So another season has ended, and all the learning, machining, CADing, drilling, prototyping and all those other things FIRST related have come to a close. This season Up-A-Creek attempted some firsts in the history of the team. For one we made two robots! This let us continue our development of the robot and driving ability all the way up to the competitions. Yes, I used competition in the plural, because we attended two regionals this year, another 1619 first. We attended both the Utah and Colorado regionals and had a blast at both events. We also submitted for the Chairmans award for the first time at both events. At the Utah regional we ranked 1st after qualifiers with a record of 12-0. We allied with Eagle Robotics and Nasko Robotics and reached the Semi-finals! At the Colorado regional we ended 3rd with an 10-1 record. We also managed to win the Woodie Flowers award for the first time our team has ever submitted for it. We allied with 1987 and 4153 and reached the semi-finals again.

But now Up-A-Creek has a chance to strut our stuff on the big stage, and I am not talking about worlds (we didn't quite get that far sadly). We have been invited to the Indianapolis Robotics Invitational where we will compete against some of the best teams in the world.

So, although the "official" season is over, there is still more to come. As a Chief Delphi Poster once said "There are four seasons, the build season, the post season, the offseason and the preseason"

Written by Jake O. on May 19, 2014

Cow Town ThrowDown Recap

posted Nov 5, 2013, 8:14 AM by Up-A-Creek Robotics   [ updated Jul 21, 2014, 8:39 AM ]

On October 31st, Up-A-Creek Robotics set forth from the CDC on a mission to compete in the Cow Town ThrowDown in Lee's Summit, Missouri. We rode there over the course of two days and arrived at the competition on Friday.

We partook in a few practice matches before opening ceremonies, and then we were off to the races. After the two matches on Friday, we noticed that our disc retention mechanism needed some "enhancement", so on Saturday morning we fixed it with the use of a piece of shirt (Thanks, Team Driven!), some duct tape, and some zip ties. We ended the qualification matches seeded fourth overall with six wins, one tie, and one loss.

In the Elimination Rounds at the end of the day, we beat out the fifth seed, two wins to none, but lost to the number one seed with two losses. After the elimination matches, we sat down to watch the awards ceremony and was granted the Best Industrial Design Award ("Celebrates the form and function of an aspect of the robot that effective achieves the game challenge").

The next day, we gathered in our cars and sat down for the ten-hour ride back home (after way too many bottomless Root Beer Floats at Red Robin, of course!). When this trip was all finished, we had finished a great, away competition. Congratulations team, we successfully completed our first out-of-state competition!

Written by Jake O. on November 4, 2013

Thoughts on the competition kickoff

posted Aug 3, 2013, 11:59 PM by Up-A-Creek Robotics   [ updated Aug 5, 2013, 10:07 PM ]

Josie V. shares her thoughts on the 2012 FIRST Robotics Competition Kickoff.

Created by Josie V. on January 7, 2012

Team banquet recap

posted Aug 3, 2013, 11:56 PM by Up-A-Creek Robotics   [ updated Aug 5, 2013, 10:07 PM ]

There are very few times in my life where I have felt so embraced and fully a part of something. The UACR banquet was one of these very few experiences. I cannot even express in words how amazing it was to reunite with the entire team and recognize everyone for a job well done over the course of the season. This was the first event like this that I have ever been to. I couldn’t believe how much of a cohesive and strong unit we had become over such a short time. What Nathan, John, and others had said was so true, we were a family. I loved every bit of the banquet. The prizes were phenomenal, so much so that I was literally on the verge of tears. When I received my award I was so overwhelmed mainly because I was so happy that someone would think so highly of me. I couldn’t even believe that I had won an award just for being me. When I saw all my fellow team members being recognized as well for their contributions to the team I was so happy for them and so proud to be a part of something so fantastic. Robotics has made my life so much better in so many ways. The people, the experiences, and the everlasting memories and friendships I have made make the experience one of the best things I have ever chosen to be a part of. The banquet was like a celebration of all the positive things our team has done as a whole. Robotics is amazing and I am beyond proud. UP-A-CREEK!

Written by Josie V. on May 20, 2011

Finding my direction

posted Aug 3, 2013, 11:55 PM by Up-A-Creek Robotics   [ updated Aug 5, 2013, 10:07 PM ]

Thinking back to the day of the first Up-A-Creek Robotics meeting, I had no idea how it would change my life. I remember going to the ice cream social and feeling completely out of place, like I simply didn’t belong there. When I heard a little bit about the Spirit sub-team, I thought that it had nothing to do with making robots. Whenever I would think about anything that had to do with robotics, I felt intimidated, so I decide that joining the Spirit sub-team was something that would be easy and fun. Going into the team, I didn’t think that I would learn any new skills that would be useful later in life.

At that time, I was interested in going into a career in the medical field. For the longest time I thought that becoming a pediatrician was what I was meant to do. Little by little, I started working with the Mechanical sub-team. I found myself walking away from the Spirit team projects to go work with the Mechanical team. After this, I started doubting the plans that I had for my future. A few weeks past and with the help of other team members and mentors, I was convinced that Mechanical Engineering was what I really wanted to do.

I think the thing that I’ve liked about the team the most, is all the people. Although at times I came up with questions that I thought were stupid, they always answered all of them with pleasure. If it wasn’t for every single person on the team, both mentors and students, I would still be thinking about doing something in the health field. Now when I think about doing that, I do not feel the same way I felt about it before. I am very glad that I realized this now, and not a few years into college.

I am really thankful for the opportunity that I was given. I know that not everyone has the advantage to join a club like this one. The most important part of the team is the mentors, because if it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t be as successful as we are. I thank all of the mentors for being part of the foundation that they have help build and for helping me discover what I really want to do, to become a Mechanical Engineer.

Written by Isis P. on March 14, 2011

We are family!

posted Aug 3, 2013, 11:52 PM by Up-A-Creek Robotics   [ updated Aug 5, 2013, 10:07 PM ]

Why hello there!

^_^ This is Sarah aka: Skittles. ^_^ So this season so far... Well we all went to the kick-off and saw this year's game. Some game huh? I think it's the most challenging, thought provoking, mind boggling, insanely awseome game ever. It made us really think long and hard about what we were doing and what we wanted to do. This year we've had a lot of challenges, but as a team we were able to pull through them all. (Don't worry. I'm sure there'll be plenty more. ^_^) I joined this team way back in 2005, and I am amazed at how much of a change the team has gone through. Over these past 7 years I have learned so much more than I ever thought possible. I have met the coolest people and made the best of friends. Early on, this team molded itself and became one of the top teams around. Over the past few years however, we have become more than just a team. We've become a family. Now a lot of people probably don't know this, but I used to be a very shy person, I still kind of am. But when I joined this team, my fellow teamates instantly made me feel like I belonged. Through the years I have become more and more of a... shall we say... "social flower"... and I have made some great friends. And every year I make more, whether it be from new team members or meeting people at the competition. Throughout my time on the team there are a few things that I can easily conclude: 1. We are a very closely knit group. 2. Every year we continue to up our standard of what engineering excellance is. and 3.

We are all going to do great things, go to great places, make great mistakes, and love every minute of it. ^_^ So this is everyone's not-so-subtle reminder that life is too short to be taken seriously, so let's have fun, do our best, and come back next year and do it all over again. ^_^

Written by Sarah H. on March 11, 2011

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