Practice Rounds and a Lack of Sleep

mini golf and ben’s excited!Last night there were some issues regarding bedtime. While we had a 11 o’clock curfew by which we had to be inside a room and relatively quiet, there was no official time that we had to be sleeping. Granted, we wanted to get to practice rounds today as soon as they started at 7:30, meaning wake-up time was soon after 6. But after playing an epic game of mini golf, swinging on the best swingset ever that is located right next to our dorms, playing an intense card game of B.S., and eating lots of starbursts and sour patch kids, somehow sleep didn’t come easily. We dropped off gradually, with a kid going to bed every half hour once it was past 2:30, but there were still five of us who were up until 4:30.

paying close attention during the presentationsWhen the alarm clock went off at 6:15, we had some difficulty waking up. Apparently, at 7:05 (when we were supposed to have left at 7), someone went in Liam’s room, told him the time, and he seemed to have been dreaming that we were still involved in the card game and yelled his disbelief at his awakener. Eventually, we all deliriously shuffled out of the dorms and into the cars.

kevin asleep on the floorWe practiced our head-to-head code, and it ran pretty well. We then headed to the auditorium to listen to three presentations by scientific/engineering related speakers; I’m sure they were fascinating, but my brain definitely didn’t absorb much of it in its sleepwalking state. After the break for lunch, we listened to another speaker, and this one I was able to fully pay attention to since lunch had revived me nicely. His was more of a philosophical talk regarding the role of robots in society and in the media. He showed multiple movie clip examples of machinery and robots being controlling, dangerous, and in control of the society in which they belonged. It is a fairly common plot theme, because the thought of robots becoming powerful enough to be independent of humans is strange and slightly terrifying. So that talk gave us a lot to think about.

Next, we headed for practice round 2 of the day, which was just an hour long so we only got a few runs in. When the line closed, we still had some code edits we wanted to try, so we were planning on coming back to this third round, which goes from 7-9.

stop at sonic after the movieWhile the Beyond Botball head-to-head rounds were going on, we went on the most anticipated field trip of the week. We, along with our adopted team Notre Dame Academy, headed to the movie theater to see the very appropriately themed Wall-E. It was a great movie, and one of the cutest movies I’ve ever seen. Hannah and I said “aww” at least 50 times. The boys didn’t enjoy it quite as much, especially since most of them dozed off at least once during the show. But I loved it.

Now we are at practice round 3 and still not quite done perfecting our code. After a 6th place score in the seeding round, we’re hoping to do really, really well in head-to-head tomorrow. We’re just adjusting little things, nothing big, just hoping we do our absolute best in the morning.

Seeding Round 3

liam being interviewedWe fixed Legobot, but that still didn’t help it out much… it managed to knock down the other half of the bridge, but after that it couldn’t find the tape to square up and get back across. Unfortunately, all it did was take a majestic plunge into space. The Create had less than optimal performance on the Tribble piles, missing at least three oranges and then missing the cups, throwing off only one of the final 3. It still made it across the bridge and into the shelter, but it also dragged in two extra orange tribbles, giving additional points to the other side. So with those points, plus no Legobot on the other side, plus extra cups on our side and a lack of Tribbles, the bonus of the Create making it into the shelter didn’t help us out too much.

go, bots, go!

84 points.
the good luck charm!So now we rest up, have some fun, and come back for practice rounds tomorrow. Head-to-Head doesn’t start until Friday, and we should be able to tidy up our bots before we have to face the competition. So far, we should be in sixth out of 58 in seeding, which is a pretty decent score, and after looking at strategies it seems like we’ll be able to beat most of them in head-to-head.

And here is our good luck charm, who I finished after bringing lots of sewing supplies with me. I forgot to bring him to the watching area for the second two seeding rounds, so I’m contributing the lack of a good luck charm to our worse than usual scores.

Seeding Round 2

setting up the botsSeeding Round 2 was hideous. Legobot made it across the bridge, but didn’t even hit the other bridge down. It just ran into the pipe, turned right instead of left, and kept turning its wheels for the rest of the round. The Create did a decent job on Tribble grabs, but it still missed three oranges. We’re trying to figure out what’s wrong with Legobot; no code was different than last time, so it should have at least hit down the other half of the bridge. It isn’t a problem with wheels or traction because we just tested it. Basically, we’re hoping this is a score that gets dropped, and hopefully we do much closer to our best next round.

78 points.

pensive and watchingedit: We’ve figured out what’s wrong with Legobot! One of the motors was having some major issues, and although it did not fail all the way, it was going slow enough that when we wanted to turn to the left, we ended up going right. A left hand turn is done by making the right motor go while the left motor remains still, so since the right motor was going extremely slow, it actually backfired and caused us to turn right. We’ve switched out the XBC and have now stuck it onto the good chassis, so we should be good to go!

Seeding Round 1

tim speaking!After arriving at 7:30 for the very start of practice rounds, we’re definitely off to a good start. While we would have liked to sleep a bit longer than 6am, it was nice to get into the practice line before the last hour, when the line extended to the stairs to the parking garage. Wow. Everything’s been going smoothly, even though today we just practiced seeding round (since we only have to worry about seeding for today). We then went to watch Tim do his presentation on state machines, which was great and interesting. Yay Tim! Then we had a break for lunch, and at 12:45 lunch ended and there was another 45 minute practice session before the start of seeding rounds at 1:30. Of course, the lines went out the door again, so seeding rounds didn’t actually start until about 2 pm.

After the practices, while we were hosting an intense Mario Kart DS tournament, Hannah ran up to us and asked us to listen to her, but we were enthralled by the game. Then she said “Guys, I mean really listen to me!” So we paused for her, and she told us that the Create’s XBC was really lacking battery power and she couldn’t find the charger. After that brief moment of terror, we got it plugged in, and even though it only had about ten minutes of charge it did fine.

setting it upSeeding Round 1: 125 points. The Create did an excellent job on the Tribble piles, but the Legobot didn’t manage to complete any of its tasks once it got across the bridge. It did, however, manage to hit down the other half of the bridge. We hit their solarium area’s pipe and got stuck, so we didn’t manage to get any additional tribble piles, but we still got the 15 points for having the bot over there. The Create made it across the bridge and into their shelter, so we got that 30 points. It’s a great score, but we’re hoping to do even better in the next round.

We’re here!

waiting in the airport

After spending an extra hour and a half on the Tarmac (which, as Mr. Newcastle remarked, made the cost-per-hour to sit on the airplane go down), we finally were up in the air and going to Oklahoma. After the 2.5 hour flight, we grabbed our bags and then collapsed in the middle of the airport (after all, it was past midnight our time) and waited for the mentors to get our rental vans. By the time we got to our dorms, we were definitely ready to sleep.

practice roundsPractice tables opened today at 8am. Mr. Gras made some joke about going for a run this morning, like they do in the military, but somehow the idea didn’t catch on. However, he still wanted us to start practicing as soon as possible. But knowing how we teenagers would behave this morning after a less than optimal amount of sleep, the Newcastles and he decided that we would be ready at 8, meet in the hallway, and head to breakfast.

looking rather cheerfulSo here we are, at Oklahoma University, with half the team waiting in line to practice. It’s nice – having two sets of bots, we can practice twice as much and find mistakes in half the time. The first two runs were bad; the first Legobot did a good job, but both the Creates did badly and so did the second Legobot. But in between practices, everyone runs back to the table to work on what they can, then they get in line to test again. Tomorrow starts seeding rounds, and hopefully by then we’ll be ready.