Summer Recap

Hello all,

It’s been a while so here is a recap of our summer fun!

Live Long and Prosper Thank You Event

Our annual thank you event was this may and it was a blast! There was a custom cake from Pheobe’s bakery, special stands, student and mentor speakers, and, of course, parents, sponsors and volunteers. Over the course of the evening we handed out custom stands and signed poster boards to our sponsors, spoke about the year, then enjoyed the delicious viddles.


Nova Discoveries Camp

Over the summer NOVA middle school held its anual discoveries camp, a camp where 4th-5th graders can enroll at engaging camps from board game design to geology. Presented for the first time this year was a robotics course, which a team member helped mentor. We supplied kids with knowledge and a field from the Amazon Girls Initiative camp. Hopefully we can continue to work with NOVA and other middle schools to better engage our students with robotics from an early age!


Lakefair

Every year ORF runs a crepe booth at Lakefair, Olympia’s annual fair festival beside Capitol Lake. Last year we raised a record amount, and we sold over 600 crepes! This year however we had a lot of bad luck, but thanks to our stellar community we still came out making profit, but only made about half of the profits from last year. The following are the three main reasons we struggled this year.

1.Coldharted Refrigerators

On the first day of Lakefair we were shut down for health code violations. Really only one violation, our food was all room temperature, because our fridge broke. The reason was that we drove it on its side, which messed up the distribution of the coolant, causing the fridge to not cool things, just blow hot air around. Thankfully a team alumni was able to pull some strings at Lowe’s and they loaned us a fridge for the rest of the week, so we were able to sell crepes and store cold ingredients.

2.Inferior, Non-Robotics Related, Life

People have lives outside of ORF, and sometimes the schedules don’t like up. We run the booth for 12-13 hours every day for five days, and we need 4-6 people at the booth at all times. Currently we have roughly 20 people on the team, most of whom have summer jobs and trips planned during July. About a week before Lakefair we didn’t have enough people to run the booth. Lucky for us team 4925 Aldernating Current agreed to send some of their team members over to help run the booth during the week for a portion of the profits.

3.Mother Nature

In mid July even Washington gets hot. We had highs of 95 degrees Fahrenheit and hot griddles running all day in an stuffy tent. When it’s almost 100 degrees out very few people want food, much less hot food. We had very few people come mid day to the fair this year on the weekend, most people opting to stay in air conditioned or shadowy places. But, thanks to a stroke of genius by a team parent we were able to capitalize on the heat. Using strawberry juice from the process of making our strawberry mix and adding a little lemon lime soda the Summer Strawberry Sparkler was born. Served with ice it proved to be a huge success.


Harbor Days

Harbor days this year ran on a skeleton crew, but thanks to our mentors, alumni parents, and team members we were able to man the booth all weekend. The event saw major technical difficulties with the robot, but even without the robot running for nearly two full days, we were still able to reach out to many in our community, and from all across the northwest as people from outside the state on visits came down to the pier. Special thanks to Larrissa for letting us use her work office to store the robot and other expensive equipment during the night, and all of the people on the team who gave up their weekend and friday to man the booth.


That sums up out summer. Stay tuned for more regular updates, new blogs, and a fresh Captain’s Blog next week!

Live Long and Prosper,

Llewyn Merrill

Pacific Northwest District Championships

Two weeks ago ORF went to the Pacific Northwest District Championships to compete with 64 other teams from Washington Oregon and Alaska to see which would go to the World Championships in Houston, Texas from April 18th-20th. Only the top 28 ranking teams in the PNW district, plus teams which had won specific awards, would be invited to Houston. Although our drive team kept us in contention we had some bad luck and finished at 30th place in the district by the end of the competition. We were hoping that two teams would decline their invitations, but only one dropped out so our competition season came to an end.

However, the experience did provide some great things for our team. Multiple students attended seminars on how to integrate engineering into community outreach and how attract more girls into the STEM program and the Girls FIRST Initiative. Members of the team were also able to meet with the president of FIRST Washington Erin McCallum to discuss our participation in helping run an all-girls day camp this may with Amazon. Other beneficial experiences to come from the event were Odyssey’s first climb, and conversations with Autodesk employees and potential coworkers. We also formed new connections with other PNW teams like team 3218 the Panther Bots who we will be helping with recruitment in the future and a scouting collaboration mostly using ORF’s scouting app with teams 2557 SOTAbots, 4915 Spartronics, 360 The Revolution, and others. Even though we will not be going to Houston, the team will stay busy with the summer camp, fostering these new relationships with other FIRST teams and of course preparing for our celebration events. On May 10th we hosted our Sponsor Thank You event, and later in the school year our team celebration. After the annual postseason discussion the team is already starting next years Chairman’s Award, summer project ideas and recruitment plans.

Despite coming up short, we competed with honor and ORF deserves a K’pla for a fantastic season. The truth about FRC is that it doesn’t end with the competition season. It never ends, even after students leave the team for college. We will always be working towards a better future that can ensure that our community and our team continues to live long and prosper. I will leave the team with these words of encouragement; Houston 2019, here we come.

 

Glacier Peak Competition: Comeback Bot

Two weeks ago, ORF went to the Glacier Peak event in Snohomish. We had expected the competition to be less competitive than other district events, even though we chose it because of the spacing we wanted between first and second competition. However when we arrived we knew that it would not be an easy competition. Teams like Shockwave, Skunkworks, CyberKnights, and the winner of our last competition, Jack in the Bot, were all there.

We started the day with 4 match losses in a row. We were in 35th place out of 36, and if we didn’t get some match wins in the lack of ranking points might have meant that we didn’t make it to the PNW Championship for the first time in the team’s history.  The six scouts in the stands we feeling saddened by the losses and tired after working with the bare minimum amount of scouts. There were not scheduled breaks, and teachers and two members from team 3070 Pronto has to be recruited at Rome’s when Chairman’s award or emergencies in the pit arose.

But then our luck changed. After the build team removed some untested systems that were hindering the bot more than helping it, we had our first win of the day just before lunch; we shot up to 22nd place. After lunch we had a 4 Ranking Point match, were our autonomous succeeded, our alliance won the match, and due to a clumsy error on the blue alliance side we got a free climb for a penalty reward, that combined with a levitate Power Up and one climbing bot, our alliance “defeated the boss” and we had our fourth ranking point. Suddenly we were at 14th place. By the end of day two we had made it to 12th place, and our team was hopeful.

If we could be a 3rd pick by an 3rd or 4th seed alliance we could have a chance to make it to the finals again. Fate had other plans. As the top 8 mostly picked other top 8 teams we moved into position as the 8th seed alliance captain. We did gain more ranking points from this, although we would have gotten more if we had gone to the semifinals and as 8th seed our picks were good, but not as strong as 1st, 2nd, or 3rd seed alliances. We lost in two matches to the 1st seed alliance, not even making it to semifinals.

Overall the competition was not as successful as we had hoped but considering the challenges we faced, it was impressive nonetheless. As Co-Captain Peter Barette said, “It wasn’t as successful as Mt.Vernon for our team, but it was definitely more successful for us as a team.”

We are headed to PNW Districts next Wednesday, so expect a blog update on Thursday and Sunday.

Live long and prosper

Captain's Blog: Mt. Vernon Competition

There are few things like a FRC Robotics competition. The impressive game field, packed seating, hundreds of participants, decked out pits,  and most importantly, robots, can be awe inspiring.

This past weekend ORF traveled to Mt.Vernon High School for our first competition of the season, where we made team history by winning the Entrepreneurship Award and making it to Finals for the first time! The drive team of Peter Barrette, Alina Chandra, Anakin Duncan-Kimble, Colin Eastabrook and Sean Flo performed phenomenally, doing what no other drive team on the team has been able to do with the help of team 4915 Spartronics and team 4215 Bear Bots.

ORF would like to credit our head of the Business Team, Lily Winters, for winning the Entrepreneurship award. According to FIRST, “This award celebrates the entrepreneurial spirit and recognizes a team which has developed a comprehensive business plan in order to define, manage and achieve the team’s objectives. This team displays entrepreneurial enthusiasm and the vital business skills to ensure a self-sustaining program.” Ms. Winters has been working on this project for the entire season and her work shows.

On Friday, March 2nd the advanced team left for Mt.Vernon at approximately 1:30pm, sacrificing school time and their Friday evening for the team. The next day the rest of the travel team came to P9 for a 6:30am departure. This is where the troubles started. The OSD van that was supposed to transport some of the team was locked up at OSD headquarters until eight o’clock. Thankfully there were enough parent volunteers, and our new mentor Andy Tran drove his car up, and everyone made it on time. Upon arriving at Mt. Vernon High School, the team was greeted with the words, “We’re sorry to hear about your robot. Is it going to be okay?” from other teams.

The robot was being unresponsive to controls from the driver station. The robot had essentially become a 120 lb paperweight. The issue lied not with the robot, but with the driver station. For some reason the driver station was not registering an ethernet cable connection. In addition to our myriad of problems, our drive team was not given much time to practice driving the robot. Thanks to a fabulous FTA, we were able to revive our robot and our first match ended with a win! Things weren’t looking to bad when the build team tested the climbing apparatus, which then broke. The drive team switched strategies with amazing results. Using our autonomous program to place a power cube into our alliance’s switch we were able to guarantee at least 1 RP per match, provided the other robots on our alliance could move forward in auto. By the end of day one we were ranked 8th, in position to be alliance captains. Then, due to a mistake while uploading the data, all of the scouting data for the day was deleted. Luckily, Team 4915 had agreed to share their scouting data with us, and thus another bullet was dodged. By the end of day two ORF was also ranked 8th and became the captain of the 5th seed alliance. We made it all the way to the finals where we lost to the 3rd seed alliance led by team 2910 Jack in the Bot (who will be at the Glacier Peak district event. Rematch!).

After the awards ceremony, the team was happy and exhausted. We had the strongest event of the team’s history because of the hard work and dedication of the team for the past two months. “As I was going past the judges, I heard one of them say, ‘I don’t know how they did it.’” recounted mentor Brenda Diettrich. “I know exactly how we did it. We made it to finals this weekend because we persevered.” Or as mentor Richard Corn said, “We dug deep.”

The semifinals curse has finally ended, portending a new era for team 4450. If the first competition is any indication this should continue to be an excellent season.

Live long and prosper!

Captain's Blog: The Vandalism of Our Workspace

Captain’s Blog Stardate 95721.3

Over the last week, The Olympia Robotics Federation experienced several instances of break-ins and vandalism.

Wednesday morning, the water jugs left outside of our robotics portable were found smashed in the morning. Thursday night, we found one of the windows smashed and the portable broken into. Thankfully, nothing of value was taken or destroyed. We were only missing a fire extinguisher which was sprayed around our workspace. The back door was propped open and it was assumed that the vandals were interrupted mid-break-in and planned to return.

On Saturday night, the vandals did return. Unfortunately, they did much more damage than on Thursday night. They tore down the board that covered the broken window and shattered the adjacent window. Many of our awards on display were broken, pieces scattered around the room. One of our wall-mounted monitors was torn off the wall and smashed. Two of our desktop monitors were also hit. Our equipment and supplies were taken off the tables and were scattered all over the floor. Last year’s robot, Enterprise, was shoved to the ground. Thankfully this year’s robot suffered minimal damages after the table it was being built on, and many others, were flipped over.

We do not condone any sort of vandalism, and we hope these perpetrators are caught soon. We’ve dealt with adversity in the past, and while not to this extent, we always persevere. We are a resilient team, and we will continue moving forward.

Thank you and as always,

Live Long and Prosper

Captain's Blog: The Next Generation

Captain's Blog Stardate 95677.8

Hello all,

For those of you seeing this as your first Captain's Blog, welcome! This "Next Generation" will consist of a weekly blog written about a singular subject, by a team member. For example, on March 4th there will be a blog about the competition and our matches. The next week there might be two blogs, one about our fundraising efforts (tips and strategies for example), and the other about Bag and Tag.                                         

Thank you for visiting our webpage, and stay tuned for articles every Sunday!

JOKE OF THE WEEK

Never trust and atom

they make up everything!