Posted by Deliverator on March 21st, 2008
I originally wrote this as an update to the previous entry, but later felt it deserved its own.
Turns out the TRC had one more match today at the end of the day, of which I was not immediately aware as I was already back in the pits working on the new mechanism at the time it occurred. Evidently there are some hurt feelings over this one, not so much over the loss of the match, but because one of our alliance partners, rookie team 2555 wasn’t doing well in the tournament and just packed up and left. I believe in the four years I have been involved, this is the first time I have seen a team just outright leave. I have seen teams with completely non-moving robots still place it on the field in order to cheer what they built or just to cheer their partners. I’ve also seen teams suffer major robot breakdowns, leaving them unable to compete, stay through the end of the tournament and then win an award. We have now had a couple matches where a team hasn’t showed (it is usually because something broke between matches and they were back in the pits repairing something), but to see a team (or not see) just up and vanish and leave you hanging without so much as a word really stings. 2555 is scheduled for 3 more qualifying matches tomorrow and I am not sure how the refs will handle an outright withdrawal from the regional.
Many teams suffer breakdowns during the course of a regional or end up with mechanisms that don’t work quite as well in practice as they did at the machine shop, but what has struck me again and again is how FIRST teams meet adversity, come together as a team and how every other team there pitches in to help that team succeed. There have been near mythical incidences where a team’s robot has been lost in shipping or destroyed in a freak accident and they show up at a regional and a bunch of teams join hands to build a new robot right there on the spot. For me, there is no clearer practical demonstration of gracious professionalism in FIRST.
This evening in the pits, the TRC with help, advice, quickly volunteered tools and supplies from that other TRC (the Tahoma Robotics Club), Newport Robotics Group and Team X-Bot together transformed our robot. Our old, ineffective mechanisms were surgically sundered from our drive train and the new catapult and ball dislodging mechanism attached. A pin release mechanism for deploying the dislodging mechanism was improvised and many adjustments to the elastic tubing and winch subsystems occurred after some impromptu testing on and off the practice field. Many thanks to Dave, aka Shrek 4, the pit boss, the inspectors and other crew who were extraordinarily helpful and accommodating this evening. Also thanks to Mike Tseng who stayed late to help code and to Patricia and Chuck who did a last minute run to the hardware store for this that and the other thing. There is substantial work to be done in the morning in completing reassembly of the robot, particularly in reinserting and hooking up all the electronics boards and then we have to get reinspected prior to competing. Whether we perform brilliantly, run into or through a wall or just don’t run, we will be out on the field tomorrow, richer for the experience and the gracious teams of FIRST will be there to welcome us.
P.S. I sliced up my hand pretty good with a hacksaw, but at least my eyes were safe ;) Thank you FIRST!