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.

Worky Work Wednesday

Quote of the night: “Are there any more pluggy places?” – Benjin

Tim’s mom brought pizza fondue! It is very interesting and quite delicious. In between bites, we’re performing test after test after test. Mr. Newcastle and Mr. Grasmeder rearranged our practice tables today, so we can work with the board at the exact size it will be at competition. Since we have been working with only a little bit more than half of the board so far, there are a few unexpected changes that need to be made in programming distance. All of the robots have now been programmed to start with the light cue, so we’ve just been running them over and over to make sure everything goes flawlessly (or as close to flawlessly as we can get).

“Don’t leave the light on!” said Mr. Newcastle, to which Mrs. Newcastle added, “Tim will get injured!”. It is true. Apparently some time in the past, Tim has managed to to burn himself on the hot hot lightbulbs. And, according to his mom, he still has a scar.

The fun part about having two tables is the path one must take to set up the robot. It’s a nice little crawl-under-the-table routine, plus the added obstacle of the rather hot lightbulb.

The setter-uppers also have to be able to count up our points, just in case there are any disputes. Obviously, if there is some sort of error on the part of the judges, we have to be able to point it out before the table is reset. Rumor has it that Anthony made a program on his calculator to easily count up the number of points we gain. Its usefulness factor outweighs its nerdiness! Wow!

“9001 – it’s over nine thousand!” Liam typed the number and apparently 9001 cannot be erased. He can’t believe I don’t know what he is referring to, and Benjin can’t either. It’s either “a nerd thing” or “a TJ thing”, but as Tim pointed out, the two are synonymous.

Ben and Benjin are our official setter-uppers, and Liam and Tim are helping them with the checklist. Right now they each have their own checklist, which makes everything more difficult. The setter-uppers also have only 60 seconds for their setting up, so the pressure’s on! The checklist lists every single step, even those as simple as checking to see if the robots are on. As Mr. Grasmeder said, during combat, during public speaking, or during competitions, three of the times when a big brain would be most helpful, one’s brain usually shrinks to about peanut size.

We’ve never run both of the robots at the same time, and the collision factor is a bit nerve wracking. So far in seeding round, the Legobot and the Create aren’t sharing the other side’s start box very well; if we hadn’t grabbed the Legobot out of the way, it would have been brutally crushed by the Create, and possibly tipped over the edge. On the first run, the arms of Legobot got tangled in the cords of the Create right at the beginning, which isn’t a great start. The double-robot factor is adding a few extra strains, but hopefully we’ll get it all figured out tomorrow.

One week to go!

“tim is not a scary person” quoth liam (i disagree)Project X gets points for wearability and stylishness!

The hardware guys have continued their general idleness. At least, as far as robots are concerned. They’ve been eating Chipotle and playing Mario Kart on the Nintendo DS. Not that they can be blamed; they’re basically done, unless something needs fixed last-minute. The bridge-lowering arm on the XBC was a little loose, so they fixed that, but otherwise they’re free to observe software progress, learn about robots, and eat chips.

Hannah and I have been slacking a bit as well, discussing my definite and her indefinite plans of going to Case Western Reserve University in the fall. We made a list of which dorms we like best, and have started mentally decorating… Kevin mocked us for our laziness as he used his time wisely by spinning around on the spinny chair and eating pretzels.

and he pretends to normal.Benjin and Liam seem to be having software problems; apparently, every time Benjin tries to open the file, it doesn’t work. Then Liam tries it and it works fine. It’s a source of amusement for the rest of us.

Mr. Gras says that Liam is about 95% done with the programming on the Create. Liam seems a bit doubtful, but everything seems to be going smoothly and hopefully we’ll be all set by Code Freeze on Tuesday.

The little XBC, however, was acting funny… it had been doing fine at putting the bridge down, going across, and sorting through the cups and Tribble piles. However, if it’s not set up right, everything gets just a little bit off: and that little bit means a lot. But these are the little things that are better to catch now rather than later, so it should be easily fixed.

the game is afoot!
Next Week’s Schedule:

Monday: Go from 95 to 100% on code! Software guys, that means you!

Tuesday: Finishing touches, then Code Freeze! Only absolutely necessary and generally painless code changes after this point!

Wednesday: Checklist – a set of instructions for the setter-uppers to take with them to the board, so when they put the robot down they don’t forget any key details with the stress of competition!

Thursday: Stress Rehearsal – we test out the checklist and submit our setter-uppers to as many difficulties and distractions as we possibly can! It’ll make the actual competition seem like a piece of cake.

Friday: Pack up and Blender Party! We’ll make sure we’ve got everything we need all ready to go, then fire up the blenders and celebrate! We’ll be home at a reasonable hour to leave for competition bright and early on Saturday!

Okay, enough explanation points. But this week is going to be great, and we’re hoping to do really well at competition on Saturday!