Sunday, January 6, 2008

FRC Kickoff!

Today, FIRST released the 2008 game for the FIRST Robotics Competition, "FIRST Overdrive". This year, Motorola was able to host an official kickoff for us, so we distributed the kits from our facilities, and we had the field ready to look at as soon as the game ended. I'm not really too excited about this game, as it's not extremely defensive, and the offensive challenge is quite strange, interesting at most. We're not too thrilled about having to control our robots with TV remotes either, though the addition of the RoboCoach as an additional player is an interesting factor. AND 40in. BALLS! WOAH! I can barely pick it up off the ground.

Opinions:
The Game - FIRST seemed to think about this pretty thoroughly, attempting to fit in the best of both worlds offensively and defensively, though there is slack on both parts. Again, it'll be interesting. My view of the game always changes when I see it played out. We're going to New Jersey first this year, a week 1 regional, so I'll definitely see the true gameplay there. I thought Rack & Roll would be too easy last year, boy was I fooled! 6 weeks to make magic happen...let's go!

Our software guys were really disappointed to see the CMU Camera and green lights disappear in place of IR. It seems like a step back in term of technology, but we must deal with what we're given...it's a challenge! I can't wait to see what interesting things teams come up with, I'm always amazed when pics start popping up on ChiefDelphi in week 4.

As a whole, I think everyone is delighted to see the departure of the "Banebots Transmissions of Doom", and they're more qualified replacements, the AndyMark ToughBox (I think?). We'll probably be using the AM two-speed shifters, but we can still play around with the others.

The Team - 108 is functioning quite differently this year. We lost about 5-6 engineers since last season, so we're only left with a few. Team dynamics are a little better. I enjoyed the open discussion, and that everyone's ideas were taken into consideration, rather than "we're only listening to this guy because he's in charge!" We also planned a few to have meetings pretty much everyday next week, and a design freeze on Saturday, so it looks like we're taking a step in the right direction with strategy first, rather than starting immediately with design, and then failing miserably when the parts come back. It was still a bit chaotic with ideas all over the place and not really any documentation or structure, though it was the first day, so that can be changed for the future. I'm more optimistic this year, and though we have limited resources, I feel we'll have a much better season.

I have a few goals for the team that I'm not sure that people are actually aware of as this transition is taking place, but I think 108 really needs a sense of organization instilled. There is a reason why tasks don't get done, and it's not because the kids are stupid or lazy. Communication is always key. After brainstorming and working at school Mon-Wed, I have a few things that I'm looking forward to presenting at the design meeting on Thursday at Moto already. I wonder what everyone else will come up with?

Me - If I have time tomorrow, I plan on making a mock-up of the field to use when strategizing, as it's much easier to move a piece of cardboard or plastic rather than to say "well if we move our robot around with this doodad here and put the ball over that thingamabob and then do X, then we can do Y!" I'm still reviewing the manual, so I don't have a firm idea of what the robots will look like exactly, or my stand on the best strategy for the game, but I can't help designs from popping up in my head. Launching Autodesk Inventor! Or pen and paper for now. I'd like to have a solid strategy to stand with by Thursday. I was so glad that Dominique said that she wanted to help write Chairman's, as that takes a load off my shoulders, though I still have doubts of if 108 is a qualified team. It's worth a shot...

Kickoff > Strategy/Brainstorming > Design > Build! > Test > Ship > New Jersey > Orlando > Championships (ATL)

Since I couldn't think of an original conclusion of some sort, I'll close with some pictures from today. Enjoy!
Game Element - Big Blue Ball (they come in red too)
brainstorming

perspective of how huge the ball is
more field

more strategy

chaos!

1 comment:

Pamela said...

Happy New Year,
Sounds like your year is off to a good start. Last year, you sounded a little disappointed with your robotics team. Hopefully, things will be great in '08.

Luv ya,
NTP

ps
Since when do you read Portuguese?