Archive for May, 2011


Interesting FIRST

The robot’s this year varied widely as they usually do. The professional team’s robot’s looked sleek as ever and ran really well. [note: by professional teams, I just mean the teams with lot’s mentors, some may even be paid mentors for teams, and large budgets. I don’t mean the team was paid.] The robot’s built up from the kits were anywhere just the kit-bots to some pretty well put together bots on the kit-bot base.

Some of the more interesting robots used unconventional materials. I was most fascinated by the one’s that were made from wood. That’s one material that you don’t really expect to find on a robot. The robot for team 3350, the T-Bots, that I didn’t get a picture of had an elevator similar to a forklift, but built out of wood. It seemed to work well and they were picked in the alliance selection in Dallas.

This robot for team 922 had wooden gears. This is an unconventional use of wood that most probably would have never thought of. However, it seemed to work well. This is a great example of the “go with what you know” principle. If someone understands the properties of wood so that this can work and has the tools to make this, then go with what you know.
Here is a robot in which the tower is made of wood. It was built as a bridge like structure and it seemed to work pretty well. I know a lot of kids do the “bridge build” out of popsicle sticks. This is taking that principle and extending it to a stronger structure (than popsicle sticks) and putting it on a robot.

It just show’s that ingenuity and resourcefulness are a key to robot building. PVC was used a lot, however, not that effectively.

One more thing that’s not really robot related but is unuaual none the less was a ringer. I saw a lot of tubes get close but only one that made a ringer. The ringer was made at the Alamo regional and, while it could have received a penalty, since no mini-bot tried to use the tower, it didn’t seem to have been done intentionally, the refs though it was cool and so let it go.


FIRST Championships – FIRST is changing the world

It was a great year at the FIRST Championships in St Louis. This was my first time to volunteer at the FIRST Robotics World Championships. Between FLL, FTC, and FRC there were 29 countries represented.

Honestly, one of the most stirring things that happened was at the airport as I was leaving. I was waiting in the Security line and the teacher for an Israeli team was talking to gentlemen who just happen to be on the board of directors at FIRST. I overheard her say that they, the Israeli team, thought the whole world hatted the Israeli’s but at the FIRST competition, everyone welcomed them, were friendly, and worked together on their robots. There was no hatred, only Gracious Professionalism. It was a different experience for them and it was because of FIRST. FIRST is changing the world! FIRST doesn’t only stand for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology” It also stands for “Forwarding International Relationships through Science and Technology”.

At the competition, I believe all had a good time and everyone came away a winner…some just had metals to show it. The competition went well; there were quite a few rookie teams there who had a great experience just being there. I know that FIRST rookie teams 3507 (Ubotics) and 3481 (BroncoBotz, FIRST Senior Mentor Mike Henry’s team) did pretty well, learned a lot, and had fun. They both plan on being back next year.

There was a concert given by the Black Eyed Peas and Willow Smith, Will Smiths Daughter. None of my pictures of that turned out because of the Dark Arena and Bright lights on stage. But that’s OK, the concert was great and I’ll always be able to see it in my memory!

Also, there was also a rookie score keeper on the Archimedes field.

There was also a rookie score keeper on the Archimedes field. Morgan Freeman showed up during the finals matches. There was quite a stir with the entourage but we got through the matches. They invited him to sit in at the scorer’s table .
Morgan also took a spin on a Segway; I think his PR guy (or assistant) was a bit nervous that he may crash or fall off. However, Morgan did fine. While on the Segway, he just happen to run into Dean (not literally). So in the picture on the left, Dean isn’t really that much shorter than Morgan, Morgan’s just taller due to the Segway. Also, I apologize to Dean, for the “deer in the headlights” picture, it was just the best one I took of them together.

This was the first time I’ve volunteered at the FIRST World Championships and it was a great experience! Most of the volunteers knew each other and have been doing the Championships for years. I was welcomed and there was the typical FIRST friendliness. It was a great experience to work as an official scorer on the Archimedes field. I got to see the action up close. The reality was, it was about the same as a regional, but the atmosphere was certainly world championship and the level of robot play was well above the regional play. It was also good to see all the event people that I know from around Texas.

Well, I’m tired and I think I need to get caught up on rest. More later.