Buster’s Debut: The FTC Davenport Regional Qualifier

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m a mentor for a local FIRST Tech Challenge team (Go Trohawks!) here in Waterloo, IA.  For the past two months, my students have been busy designing, building, and programming Buster, their robot:

Buster: Competition Ready!

This past Sunday, we were put to the test at the Davenport Regional Qualifier.  The students did exceptionally well.  They impressed the judges with their knowledge and teamwork, their robot consistently captured their team’s bowling ball (both autonomously and via remote control), and they somehow managed to survive the bad jokes and the cha cha slide performance of our MCs and referees.

calm before the storm...

We did have a little trouble with the racquetballs though.  Those little devils kept getting stuck in our drive mechanisms.  Usually it was possible to rock the robot back and forth a bit until they dislodged, but it still caused us quite a bit of delay.

Now our main goal, as you may have guessed from the first picture above, was to retrieve and park our team’s bowling ball.  This is something we can do quite well both autonomously and via remote.  However, we were so good at capturing the ball that we were left without much to do for the majority of the competition.  We’ll have to think of ways to deal with avoiding/collecting racquetballs for the next meet.

At the end of the day, we wound up ranked seventh out of twenty-one teams.  Not bad considering the fact that none of us had ever done this before.  And yes, I did manage to capture several of our matches on video using my BlackBerry Storm.  Unfortunately, the video quality is very poor, and nowhere near HD resolution.  Nevertheless, I present to you our fourth match.  Feel free to comment below!

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