During the week leading up to our next competition at the Guilford County District Event, our main goal was to improve our ball collector. Cargo scored more points, so we decided not to focus on scoring hatches. At the previous competition, we noticed that Deep Thought would lose the ball too easily, so we worked on a way to hold the ball more tightly. The first thing we tried was adding a lower bar with wheels in addition to bar on top that we already had. While it worked decently, we decided to go a different route, opting instead to just add a more full plate of lexan underneath our current collector to act as a holder. We also added another camera with a wider angle to Deep Thought, allowing our drivers to see what they were doing more clearly, and discovered a problem with our drivetrain gearboxes. The drivetrain gearboxes were not screwed in properly, which caused the driving to be jerky no matter what the drivers did. The drivetrain was also less powerful as a result of that error. Fortunately, we were able to fix that issue before our next competition.

The first day of qualification matches dawned bright and early, but we were ready for the competition to begin! Before matches started, we got in line for a practice match to see how our ball collector held up and if we needed to recalibrate stuff to the new field. To our delight, our ball collector worked even better than we expected it would! At Wake County, we could barely hold and deliver three balls to the cargo ship on a good match. In contrast, we collected and delivered six balls easily with time to spare during the Guilford practice match! The visible improvement was welcome, but we were still nervous. We had shown what we could do during our practice match, but we needed to do it during our real matches. We also had to show it consistently if we wanted to do well. With those thoughts in our heads, qualification matches began.

Our first match went very well for us! We delivered several cargo to the cargo ship and then quickly climbed at the end. Our second match, however, was a different story. A robot on the opposing alliance was playing hard defense on us from the start of the match and knocked one of our bumpers off, resulting in Deep Thought getting disabled for the rest of the match, meaning we could not show off our consistent climb or our improved cargo abilities. It also meant that we had to perform well in every match afterwards if we wanted to do well. Fortunately, the rest of our matches went much like our first one, and at the end of qualification rounds that day and the next, we were ranked 1st out of 36 teams!

Alliance Selections followed soon after, and we ended up picking an alliance that consisted of Team 2655, The Flying Platypi, and Team 6729, RobCoBots! After a break for lunch and a strategy discussion with our alliance partners, playoff rounds began, but not before we were thrown for another loop! Because it was not communicated clearly when playoff rounds began, our primary driver left the venue to go buy lunch. Oridinarily, this would not be a huge problem, but we could not get in touch with him due to the poor signal and WiFi at the venue. As a result, our primary driver was seconds away from missing our first match! Despite that, quarterfinals passed smoothly for our alliance. That quickly changed in semifinals.

Early on in our first semifinals match, an opposing robot rammed into us so hard that 25 rivets in our belly pan popped out, causing our whole chassis frame to be crooked with one side much higher than the other. Deep Thought could barely drive much less do anything else. To make matters worse, our alliance got a red card at the end of the match. What happened was that one of our alliance partners lost comms as they were playing defense. Because our alliance partner’s robot had been unable to move the required distance away to cancel a pin before losing comms and the robot they were playing defense on had also lost comms, a red card was called for pining for over 15 seconds. Fortunately, we knew not to panic and kept calm. Once we got Deep Thought off the field, we set about trying to repair the damage that was done to him. Several minutes later, our chassis frame was fixed, and we went back in queue to wait for our next match.

Right before the second semifinals match of the competition began, our head ref went onto the field to announce something. Apparently, there was a WiFi issue during our first semifinals match, which was confirmed by FIRST National Headquarters, so they would be replaying our match, giving us quite the pleasant surprise and new hope!

Soon after, it was time for our replay, and it was not until teleop that we discovered our robot was more broken than we thought from that hit. Our elevator would not go down for the whole match (a sensor inside our frame perimeter got ripped off), but our alliance still managed to pull a win, and we were able to fix Deep Thought before the next match! Luckily, finals passed for us without incident, and at the conclusion of playoffs, our alliance took home the blue banner! We also received the Autonomous Award for our climb!

Carrborobotics, our rookie mentee team, also did well at Guilford. They were captain of the 4th alliance and won the Rookie All-Star Award!