May 3, 2008

Wake-up time: way too early.

Get there: 8 am.

Practice, practice, practice, then GO!

Anthony had to do some brain surgery on the Create this morning, and we didn’t get a chance to test it before it was time to go on because practice time was over. In the other practices, though, the Create was doing everything it was supposed to do, so that’s great.

Seeding Round 1: 54 points. Legobot messed up its linefollow and fell off the bridge, so it couldn’t go across and push the other side down, so the Create fell off too. The Create’s grabs were somewhat off, but we still got 7 green Tribbles in the solarium and 4 orange in the shelter. Somehow we managed to get the solar sails off the board, which was nice, but 3 of the cups stayed.
7 green tribbles in solarium: 42 points
4 orange tribbles in shelter: 24 points
6 free tribbles: 6 points
3 blue cups: -12 points

We should have gotten 60 points, but they didn’t count our 6 free tribbles on the board for a point each, so we ended up with 54. It seemed like a big deal at first, because I didn’t realize that there were 3 seeding rounds. Plus, they drop the lowest score and take the average of the other two to determine your placement, so it really wasn’t a big deal.

Seeding Round 2: 38 points. The table is so extremely brightly lit that we’re having difficulty line-following the shadow. The Legobot fell off again on the way over, and the Create obviously fell off at the end when it tried to go across because the Legobot didn’t get the other half of the bridge down. We stil got two solar sails off the board, and the third was almost off and we don’t know whether they counted it or not. The Create messed up its pickups, so we didn’t get nearly as many tribbles as usual in their areas.

My approximations:
Good Tribbles: 6 : 36 points
Regular Tribbles: 7 : 7 points
Cups: 2 : -8 points
Umbrellas: 1 : -3 points
Somehow we got 38 points, which is more than my approximation but that’s cool. Hopefully it’s our lowest score and they’ll drop that one anyway. And if it’s not our lowest score.. that’s sad.

Seeding Round 3: 86 points. Legobot made it across the bridge! It was a very exciting and triumphant moment. It knocked the other side down, too, but after collecting the green tribbles from the other side it fell off on the way back. But the Create did an excellent job of collecting Tribbles, and it made it to the other side but barely missed getting into the start box. We also pushed two of their cups into their shelter, which should have added to their negative score, but we also got rid of one of their umbrellas. When it all got scored up, we ended up with 85 positive points, and they had a negative 1, leaving us with 86.

After seeding round, we scored 3rd out of 50! So we got a bye for the first round.

Head-to-Head 1: 88 points for us, 11 for them! Legobot made it across the bridge, but didn’t see the black tape at the end, so never turned around to knock down the other half of the bridge. But by some lucky break, we ran into the wall at a slant and kept driving into the wall, but a little bit crooked, and made it into their shelter! It was very exciting. Unfortunately, we took 3 orange tribbles plus a cup with us, which gave them their 12 extra points. The Create did a great job of sorting through tribbles, but did drop three of our crewmembers over the edge. It also crashed and burned at the end while trying to get across the bridge, because Legobot hadn’t hit the other half down yet. But it was a nice run and the best score so far today!

Head-to-Head 2: A quote from the judges: “We won’t bother scoring that one because it was a blowout.” Nice. We had 11 tribbles in the right spots, though, and they only had one. We’re still working with the Legobot and trying to make it across the bridge even with the bad infrared readings caused by the natural light from the skylights. So it decided to square up on the tape on the other side… before it got to the tape on the other side. So once again, it fell miserably off the side of the bridge. It even continued driving while on its side and hit Botguy further under the bridge. So it couldn’t get across the bridge to put the other half down, but the other team did it for us! The Create sorted the tribbles pretty well and started across the bridge, but one of the wheels got caught on the edge so it got stuck halfway across. Liam thinks he’s figured out why the Legobot was trying to square up early, so hopefully we’ll be better prepared by next round. Soon we’ll start facing the higher seeded teams, but with our constant code-editing we should be ready.

The scores were calculated and we made it into the finalist round. There are only 20 teams left now, and with the 5 tables everything is moving much more quickly.

Head-to-Head 3: We played Lockheed Martin, the team that hasn’t lost so far and scored first in the seeding round. The Create did well with the green tribbles, but once it got to the orange it messed up. It picked them up fine at first, but when it squared up before dumping them in the shelter, it hit one of the cups and squared up at a slant, dropping them outside of the shelter and causing us to miss out on 24 points. Their XBC had an extra arm so that while they went across the bridge, they blocked our side of the bridge. It caused Legobot to fall off the edge, but being the fighter he is, he took them down too. Their Create did a really good job at sorting the tribble piles and blocked the green ones into the solarium, also blocking part of the bridge. The Create ran into theirs, and at first our start switch didn’t make it across. But we were all filled with pure joy when it spun and our start switch was (debatably) on their side. However, it continued its programming since it believed it was on their side and heading for the start box, and it fell off the edge. We lost 79-39.

Head-to-Head 4: We played a team that had an interesting harvester-type mechanism that swept up the tribbles in a vacuum motion. Legobot made it across the board, but on its way to their shelter it got caught in the spinning of their harvester and ended up just running into the edge. It almost fell off, but luckily it completed its code and didn’t keep going. By running into them, we also prevented them from gaining any tribbles. The Create did not run into the cup in the corner, so it squared up nicely and did a pretty good job with the Tribbles. It only missed the last orange pile. It also managed to knock off two of the cups. It tried to go across the bridge, but since Legobot hadn’t gotten their half down, it got stuck in the middle. But the effort was not unrewarded, because two of the solar space went into space with our robot. We won 66 to 5.

Head-to-Head 5:
We played a team with a basic U-shaped device that just gathered the tribbles to get them to their spots. Our Create did an awesome job at getting pretty much everything it was supposed to, until it saw an umbrella in front of the last orange pile and only got one of those orange tribbles. Legobot made it to their side but ran into their half of the bridge that was still up, and a piece fell off, but we knocked their half of the bridge down. That was lucky, because that was the piece that was stuck, but by that point its code was so messed up that it fell off the bridge halfway and got stuck. The Create finished its routine on our side and began to aim itself toward the bridge that was halfway blocked by Lego bot. I said, “wouldn’t it be awesome if the Create pushed Legobot across the bridge?” But alas, such a miracle was not meant to be. But Legobot did not interfere with the Create’s pure manpower, and the Create just slammed Legobot into space and made it onto their side for an extra 15 points. We ended up winning 83 to 11.
Legobot got totally wrecked and we even had to call for a medic (MEDIC!!), so Anthony and Matt had to don their hospital garb and take the stretcher onto the court. Legobot is now fully healed and ready for the next round!

Head-to-Head 6: We played the TJ team, so obviously Benjin, Liam, and Chris were pretty set on winning this round. Mr. Newcastle asked if Liam would be shoved into a locker if he beat them, and I replied that that happens all the time anyway. Their Create stopped itself as a block to prevent anything from getting across the bridge, so Legobot got stuck on the bridge and didn’t make it over. When our Create finished its Tribble gathering on our side, I was hoping and praying that, on its way across, it would push Legobot across, too. As I stated, “The Create is a BULLDOZER!” But alas, it did not happen. We still won, 65-60.

Head-to-Head 7: (Glen Bernie) We did a great job with the Tribbles, and got almost all of them. Their Create blocked our Legobot, but we still made it across, barely getting to the edge but certainly onto their side for that 15 points. Because the Legobot missed the rest of its routine, the other half of the bridge wasn’t down, but their Create hit it for us. They were the only team that I saw attempt to rescue the green ball that represented the Hydroponic Garden. Their claw mechanism managed to drop it into their solarium, but it then proceeded to roll back into outer space. Even though their Create and our Legobot were both in front of the bridge, our Create managed to plow through them and verify the accuracy of my bulldozer quote. With both bots on their side, we got a great 30 point start, and with all the good tribbles ended up with 101 points to their 9.

Head-to-Head 8: (Cedar Brook) Our Legobot got a quick start across the bridge and did a great job against theirs; they hit each other, and ours managed to mess them up badly. We didn’t get the other half of the bridge down, though, so even though the Create did a great job with the tribbles on our side, it did not make it across the board for that additional 15 points. We still won big, 87-9.

Head-to-Head 9: Lockheed Martin.

Since Lockheed Martin was the team to hand us our first and only loss, we made sure we were ready for them. Both teams did a bit of scouting, so they were ready for us as well. When they came across the bridge, they had an extra arm that would block anyone trying to go across the other half of the bridge at the same time. However, we managed to hit our bridge down onto a piece of their arm and one of their tribbles. They also hit their bridge down onto our arm, so we were pretty much tied. Then, their XBC got stuck on the ramp. We did pretty well with tribbles, and they would have, too, but as I heard one of their setter-uppers say as their Create did too much of a spin and missed a bunch of green tribbles, “The turn function’s off! I told you we needed to fix that!” So we were in luck. Our Create finished its tribble harvesting and tried to go across the bridge, which was blocked by Legobot. It was somewhat disastrous.

We weren’t entirely sure how the scoring would go, since no bots made it across the bridge for the big points, and the tribble count was questionable and hard to see. Waiting for the judges’ numbers was intense, considering Lockheed had beaten us the first time and we wanted to avenge ourselves, plus we couldn’t lose another round without being knocked out. Finally, we heard the announcer ask the judge, “are you sure that’s right?”, and I was unsure whether I, too, could trust their math. But I decided to when he said into the microphone, “Dead Robots, 71… Lockheed Martin, 32.” It was so exciting and we were all cheering and yelling and jumping up and down.

We were the only teams left, and we had each lost once. We had a few minutes of break before the big championship, so we called a team meeting. We realized some sort of change in strategy was necessary; they were editing something, too, and we knew we had to get across that bridge because those 15 or 30 extra points would be crucial. We estimated that waiting just a second and a half longer before dropping the bridge would get it on their arm, and hopefully stop them. Liam told us that he was going to change the code, and as a principle of the Dead Robots Society, code can only be changed at competition by a unanimous vote. Anthony was hesitant about the idea, but after we all raised our hands he decided to go along with it. We used our three-minute time out just in case, and went out to the table prepared.

Head-to-Head 10: The Big One.

Our Legobot waited to drop the bridge as we had planned, and it snagged the arm of their XBC so we could make it safely across. However, their arm just snapped off, so they still made it across the table, and so did we. They had created a huge metal arm to completely block anything that got across the bridge from actually making it onto their side, but we had their little arm as a nice ramp for us, so Legobot made it across, too. Our Create got a little bit confused on its tribble piles, which was only made worse when their XBC got in our way. But we showed them who was extremely awesome (meaning us) when the Create flipped their XBC onto its back like a helpless turtle. It was amazing. We still got all but one of our cups off, but when we tried to get across the bridge we were only slightly misaligned, but enough that we got a bit stuck. It continued the code to try and get into their start box, but it was still on the bridge, so it just sped itself over the edge into space.

They had all of their cups, and one was even in their shelter, but we had more solar sails. We had a tied score when it came to tribbles; they just had all of their orange ones in the shelter, and we had all of our greens in the solarium, but they were worth the same amount of points. We each had a bot that made it across, so overall it was very difficult to discern the winner. The judges tallied and counted and tapped numbers into their calculators, then showed the announcer the score.

We finally got to stop holding our breath, and he said, “Something very rare has just happened. There has just been a tie.” 41-41.

They then proceeded to tell us each tiebreaker rule, and the first three still remained tied with each team. It was the fourth item that would seal our fate, and he read it extra slowly for added suspense and dramatic effect.

“Number … of … crew members … in … the shelter.”

At those words, all of the Lockheed Martin kids began jumping up and down and chanting their “Lockheed … MARTIN” cheer, for they had tied us with tribble numbers, but they had plenty of orange crew members while we had lots of green plants. The logic is clear, for of course on a space mission the people should be rescued before the foliage. So, we came in second place for the seeding round.

It was then determined that we had won first place in Documentation, which I egotistically declare must have had something to do with this spectacular blog. Lockheed got 3rd, but with first in seeding as opposed to our third, and having won the head-to-head, they received first place overall. We landed second, which was a pretty great achievement when there were 48 teams total!

Now it’s break time from the Bot Cave, but hopefully soon we’ll be back to our coding, building, eating, and general mischief as we prepare for Nationals in July!

poor hannah

Blender Party!

We’re still working with the Create; code freeze, apparently, has been thawed. It’s doing better; it’s been grabbing the first cup and doing pretty well at getting the Tribble piles. Hardware needed to fix the claw because the top finger isn’t quite grabbing the Tribble on the top of the pile. To quote Liam, “HARDWARE!”

Seeding Round 1: 45 points.. our worst so far. Legobot didn’t make it back across the bridge with the Tribbles from the other side, so it just drove into the wall for awhile. The Create tried to go across the bridge slanted; that didn’t work out so well as usual so it ended up floating into space.

Seeding Round 2: 118! Much better! The Legobot did its routine perfectly this time: no circle at the beginning, it knocked the bridge down instantly and got across, then got back across with all of its green tribbles. The Create still isn’t done being programmed, but hopefully we’ll be done by tomorrow…

Head-to-Head Round 1: 57 points; we never made it over to their side, so this is assuming the other team didn’t gain any points. Project X failed to deploy and just got stuck in the Legobot, but we still got our three solar sails over the edge so that was nice! But with Project X stuck on us, we were too crooked to get across the bridge.

Head-to-Head Round 2: 86 points! Second best head-to-head score so far! Project X deployed beautifully, but it actually interfered with Legobot’s board-crossing ability. This score was taken after Mr. Gras fixed Legobot and got it back on track; had it been a real round, we would have only had 71 (because we wouldn’t have made the 15 points to get to their side).

While we were blender partying, Benjin was hard at work on the Create. Great job Benjin! Now it’s time to pack everything up carefully and nicely so we’ll be all ready tomorrow! Who’s excited??

Stress Rehearsal!

Today is the day when we put our setter-uppers, Ben and Benjin, to the test. And when I say “to the test”, I mean an endless barrage of guitar hero, rock band (with tim’s singing), an air shooting gun, and plenty of other distractions. It should be fun and exciting for us, and adequately stressful for them. After this, the actual competition won’t be difficult at all!

And let’s start the practices!

Seeding Round 1: 85 points for us. The Create was messed up from the start, and missedall of its tribble piles. From that point on, it was grabbing at invisible tribbles and the alignment was totally off. The Legobot still performed well, grabbing green tribbles from the other side and bringing them back, and then parking itself in their start box. But the Create, though its goal was to join the Legobot in the start box, was so off that it just ran itself into our wall. PLUS, it didn’t shut itself off within the 2-minute time limit, which would disqualify us in competition. A major thing to fix.

Seeding Round 2: 127 points. Neither of the robots made it to their start square, which caused us to miss out on 45 points. Legobot made it to their side, but time ran out before it got into the box because at the beginning it did a full rotation before knocking down the bridge. The Create got all of its Tribbles, but became misaligned when it was time to throw its final cup off the table. After that, it started at a diagonal across the bridge, and ended up falling into space.

Seeding Round 3: 77 points. Ouch. The Legobot did its little spin at the beginning again, so once more it didn’t make it all the way to the other side’s start box. It got messed up soon after making it to the other side, so it pushed a few Tribbles over the edge plus it ran into the wall for awhile. The Create fell over the edge of the bridge again. We’ve set up an excel spreadsheet to easily calculate our points, and it’s pretty handy.

Seeding Round 4: 52. We’re getting worse with every round, which is bad. The Create was still grabbing for invisible Tribbles, and ended up staying on our side. It was ugly.

Seeding Round 5: 119 points! We’re coming back! The Create managed to actually find some Tribble piles this time, and the Legobot’s spin didn’t go too far. But the Create still got somewhat messed up and pushed three cups into our shelter, making them even more negative points. However, they both made it to the other side. The Legobot got all the way into the start box, but the Create didn’t get properly lined up so it couldn’t fit.. loss of 15 points.

We’ve had enough of the seeding round.. it’s time to practice the head-to-head with my favorite project X! We haven’t had distractions yet, just a few board mix-ups (badly placed tribble piles, cups, umbrellas, and bridges down). Distractions and fun stuff can only come after we’ve gotten through enough mistakes to take more time for each run.

Head-to-Head 1: We beat them by 89 points (we had 86, they had -3). Obviously, the head-to-head will be much more interesting with real competition. Deployment of project X went nicely, but the Create is still not doing as well as we’d like: it missed the first pile, and didn’t toss the cups over the edge, rather, it pushed more of them into our shelter.

Head-to-Head Against Ourselves: No robots made it across, because the Legobot on one side got the bridge down before Project X was deployed, so they just crashed into each other in front of the bridge and stayed there until the 119 seconds was up. The side running by head-to-head programming ended up with a 55, and the side set for seating round only had 8. It was interesting to see them go against each other. The Creates are still having difficulties picking up the cups; more often than not, they’re pushing them into the shelter rather than tossing them over the edge, which adds to our negative points.

Stress time!

Seeding Round 6: 54 points. Not a great seeding round. The Create continues to miss its cups during the second half of its routine. The Legobot didn’t make it back across the bridge to our side with their green tribbles, after which it would have gone back to their start box. That lost us a lot of points. Both bots got stuck going across the bridge, and at the end each was halfway off. Once again, we lost plenty of good points that could have been gained had we gotten to the other side.

Head-to-Head Against Ourselves 2: Don’t know what the score was, but it seemed about even. Once again, Project X didn’t get there in time, and the robots fought each other. However, the epic battle ended when the seeding round’s Legobot fell off the bridge into space. It was hilarious. The Create threw some orange tribbles off the edge instead of cups; off course, we’d love to lose the positive points instead of the negative ones! How did it know?

Head-to-Head Without Opponent 2: Project X backfired and we almost kept ourselves from getting across, but somehow the weight of the bot prevented the bridge from becoming too much of a ramp. It still made it across, but ended up misaligned; since it lacks a safety, it just ran itself into the wall for awhile. The Create did well with its tribbles, but ended up falling over the edge of the bridge again.

Hardware’s got some quick fixes to do; all of those plunges into deep space have caused a bit of distress to our beloved bots. Software has one or two things to work on as well; hopefully the little things can be quickly adjusted.

Tomorrow is time for pack’n’party! Hopefully the bots look a little nicer before we pack them away.