Build Season Update: Week 2

Would you look at that! It’s already the start of the third week of this season of FIRST competition. That means most teams are wrapping up their designs and have begun prototyping their various creative ideas.

The Hitchhikers are no exception. The design for our robot is in its final stages and we’ve begun testing several designs for our shooting mechanism that will adorn the top of our robot. Our first design, a tube, resulted in limited success. It did move basketballs from the inside of the robot to the outside, but it did not do so with a high velocity that would be required for long shots.

But our second design, a wheel-based spinner, has been far more successful. Based on a design popularized shortly after kickoff, we used four KOP wheels to launch the basketballs up to thirty feet away, reaching heights of nearly fifteen feet. These tests were recorded and can be seen here.

On the programming front, our programming team has as well taken some important steps toward a successful robot. Today they culminated the work of the past two weeks of interpreting, testing, and modifying a tracking program for the camera with several successful trials of tracking and approaching the retroreflective rectangle on the backboard.

We also received a partial set of field elements as we closed up today. We now have a ramp and a bump, and we will soon have a set of basketball hoops. These were made by several of our mentors (many thanks to them for their hard work) and we can’t wait to get back and test our robot out on them.

It’s currently sixty days until our first regional, but significantly less until ship. We’ll keep working feverishly on our robot and do our best to hitchhike to a successful competition in South Carolina.

It Begins!

The 2012 season is now in progress! The Hitchhikers spent January 7th in Raleigh at kickoff brainstorming with other teams about this year’s challenge, Rebound Rumble.

This year’s game is called Rebound Rumble, and is based on basketball. The robots can score in hoops positioned at three different heights for 1, 2 and 3 points respectively, and opposing teams must attempt to block the ball before it goes in. During the last thirty seconds of the round, each team has the choice to either continue making baskets or try to balance on a tilting bridge located in the center of the playing field. To promote FIRST’s value of “coopertition”, teams have the chance to earn extra points by balancing their robot on the center bridge with an opposing team’s robot. FIRST’s animation introducing the game can be found here.

We’re looking forward to another exciting season! To all other FIRST teams out there, good luck!