2018 MadTown Throwdown

On November 10th and 11th, Team 3303 attended the MadTown Throwdown, an offseason competition in Madera. Since it is an offseason and not official competition, MadTown Throwdown is a great way to give new team members the FRC experience and for veteran members to have fun.

During qualification matches, our robot performed better than at its prior competitions. It consistently scored 5-6 power cubes per match and even scored one during the autonomous period of the match. While our record (3-6) was not impressive, the 2nd seed team took notice of our performance and picked us for their alliance during playoff rounds. Allied with Team 973 and Team 971, we sailed through the Quarterfinals. In the Semifinals, our alliance won the first match against the 3rd seed alliance but then lost the second two. As a result, our team was eliminated from the playoffs.


2018 Central Valley Regional

From April 5th to the 8th, Team 3303 competed at the Central Valley Regional. During the week leading up to this competition, the team had worked diligently to design an intake ramp that would not catch on the bump in the middle of the field (see previous blog post). We ended up designing a spring-loaded ramp which deflects backward when it hits the bump. Thankfully, we immediately witnessed a vast improvement in the functionality and reliability of our intake system during qualification matches. Our robot was able to acquire and score power cubes like it never had before. Accordingly, our team finished the qualification round with a respectable record of 6 wins and 6 losses. Moreover, our team was selected by teams 3495 and 1388 to play with them in the playoff rounds. Although our season ended when our alliance was eliminated in the Quarterfinals, our team was both relieved and happy that our robot had performed flawlessly.

Team 3303 would like to thank every sponsor who donated this season. You are an inextricable part of our team’s existence!

2018 Sacramento Regional

From March 21st to 24th, Team 3303 competed at its first competition, the Sacramento Regional. Following 6 weeks of build season, this competition was the first real test of our robot’s performance. Immediately, our team realized that our robot had a serious design flaw- the ramp by which the robot acquired power cubes kept catching on a bump in the middle of the playing field, bending our intake system apart. Consequently, our robot struggled to intake and score power cubes. This in turn resulted in our robot finishing low in the rankings and not qualifying for the playoffs. However, our team has been motivated by our shortcomings to redesign our robot’s intake system before our next competition. We look forward to presenting the end result!

2017 Biola Enrichment Program

In the summer of 2017, our team took the wonderful opportunity to help Inspire One’s Biola Enrichment Program. Inspire One is an organization that educates children in creative arts and strives to build cross-cultural and socioeconomic bridges. This enrichment program takes place in the town of Biola, a community outside of Fresno with a population of a little over one thousand. It reaches almost one hundred children.

The opening session for this program consists of singing, dancing, and story time. On the days our team went out there,  the kids had the opportunity to ask several of our team members questions about the robot and FIRST competitions. Then our drive team demonstrated our robot- driving it around, picking up gears, and climbing a rope.

Following this, we divided the kids into groups of five to eight and assigned team members to each group. On the first day, we had one team member in each group pretend to be a robot and had the kids give him commands in order to complete objectives such as picking up a chair. In this way, we demonstrated to the kids that you have to communicate with the robot for it to do what you want it to do. This activity led to a discussion about programming. On our second day there, with the assistance of the team members, the kids constructed a car with clothespins, pipe cleaners, and buttons.

Because of this program, the kids get free breakfast and lunch at the local elementary school. This is also a great opportunity for the kids to bond with teen volunteers. Aside from what we taught them about robotics, the kids got to go on a few field trips including a fishing trip and an ice skating rink. They also got to learn more about cooking and photography. Typically, they finished the week off with a fun water day.

The children who live in Biola often spend their summer days home alone since their parents have to work in the fields. We feel that this program has had a tremendously positive impact on such children. We were honored to be able to introduce them to STEM.

2017 Girls World Expo

In March 2017, Team 3303 members Morgan McRee, Kayley Griffin, and Abigail Callis attended the Girls’ World Expo in downtown Fresno. They were able to speak with almost 1000 young women about the exciting and challenging things we learn through FIRST robotics and the possibilities for women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). The young women talked to had unique sets of interests, and were from all walks of life and age groups. Each one discovered something about FIRST Robotics that intrigued them, whether it be the building and programming of the robot or the business and public relations side.

The three 3303 students also took the practice robot to demonstrate for the girls at the Expo, which sparked wonder and amazement in the eyes of those who watched it. One of the 3303 girls specifically remembers thinking “this is why we are here” upon seeing one young lady intently studying the robot and its electronics and wiring. Our student knew that girl was inspired that day and hopes she goes on to discover great things in STEM!

Team 3303’s members were joined by two other local FIRST Robotics Competition teams, Buchanan Bird Brains Team 1671 from Buchanan High School and Uni-rex Team 5817 from Sanger High. 3303 was also joined be a FIRST LEGO League team, Team P.O.P. Team P.O.P. is an all-girls team with ages ranging from 9 to 14. It was a pleasure to meet them and to hear their enthusiasm as they explained their F.L.L. challenge for the year to us and how they had qualified for World Championships (we actually had the opportunity to wish them luck at World Championships when we qualified at the Los Angeles Regional).

It was fun and more importantly, an honor, to represent FIRST and Central Valley Robotics at this event alongside Uni-rex, The Bird Brains, and Team P.O.P. It is also extremely satisfying to know that we had the opportunity to help change the culture of STEM Education for girls.

2018 Week 2 Update

Week 2 of the build season has been a busy week. Our team is nearing completion of the robot design and has already built the drive chassis of our practice robot. Our plan is to build the robot mechanisms and test them on the practice robot before finalizing them and putting them on the competition robot. During this time the CAD team has been coordinating with the build team, drawing the designs in CAD as progress is made.

Meanwhile, the programming/electrical team has successfully wired the practice robot and will have it driving as soon as a battery mount is attached. Also, they are beginning to write the code for the robot mechanisms. One of the team’s goals this year is to have clean, neat wiring. Having this will allow us to diagnose electrical problems quickly and easily should they occur. By contrast, if our robot has messy wiring, we will not know which wire connects to where.

The public relations team has been working hard on creating the drive team’s costumes for competition to increase our chances of winning the Imagery Award. Additionally, the public relations team has been coordinating with the rest of the team to work on sponsorship. Our goal is to raise $60,000, which would be impossible if not for the generous businesses and individuals who donate.

2018 Kickoff & Week 1 Update

FIRST Kickoff… a day in which all FRC teams assemble their members to eat donuts, Cheez-It’s, and pizza and sit in front of a TV for half a day. Okay, maybe not all teams. However, like all other teams, Team 3303 gathered to watch the reveal video for the 2018 FRC game.

After watching the reveal video and reading the game manual, our team split up into four design groups- Blue, Green, Yellow, and Red (The Red group was later assimilated into the other three groups). Each design group brainstormed ideas and concepts of what our robot could look and function like. Then, during the week, each group prototyped these concepts to determine which would work best. On Friday the 12th, each design group presented their design concepts to the entire team, which voted on which design the team would build. After deciding on a design, the team met on Saturday to construct an overview of the robot’s mechanisms and what materials we would need to build them.

The next week the team began to build more precise prototypes and to roughly draw the results in our Computer Aided Design (CAD) software. Additionally, the public relations subteam began planning how to incorporate the game theme of retro video games into our team image at competitions.

Furthermore, the team started memorizing our team Bible verse, Isaiah 41:9-10, which reads, “You whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off”; fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” 

2017 FIRST World Championship

From April 19 to 22, Team competed at the 2017 FIRST World Championships in Houston, Texas as part of the Galileo Division. At the end of the qualification rounds, our team had a record of 4 wins, 5 losses, and 1 tie. While we did not qualify to compete in the playoff rounds, we were satisfied because our robot performed reliably and to our expectations. Additionally, our team felt so privileged to come this far and compete against the top teams from countries such as China, Mexico, and Israel. We all had so much fun, and hope that the team can qualify next season!

2017 Los Angeles Regional

March 24th through the 26th was Team 3303’s second competition, the Los Angeles Regional.  In the days prior to this competition, the team put in many long nights redesigning our gear mechanism and increasing the speed of our climber. We added these improvements to our robot once we arrived in Los Angeles. These improvements resulted in our ability to pick up gears from the ground and to climb in 2-3 seconds.

The first day of competition went moderately well for our team. We performed satisfactorily and ended the day in 36th place. However, our team performed much better the second day. We were selected by the 2nd seed alliance to join them in the playoff rounds! Alongside our alliance partners, teams 3309 and 2486, we advanced all the way to the Finals.

Although we narrowly missed winning in the Finals, our team received the Imagery Award and a wildcard. The wildcard qualified our team for the 2017 FIRST World Championships in Houston, Texas! The whole team is beyond excited to have the opportunity to attend World Championships.

2017 Central Valley Regional

From March 9th to 12th, Team 3303 had our first competition, the Central Valley Regional. The team had worked hard to arrive at this point; consequently, everyone was excited.

However, qualification rounds soon proved to be a trial for our robot and team. We had to scrap our original gear mechanism that wasn’t working and replace it with a basket-like design. Additionally, we also modified our climber to catch the rope more consistently. Finally, we removed our shooter entirely since we realized shooting would not be a major component of our strategy.

During most of our matches, our robot was on the defensive, blocking robots in route to and from the gear loading station. When teams noticed how effective it was, they sought after to add us to their alliance as a defensive robot. As a result, our team actually ended up being selected by the first seed to play in the playoff rounds, which was an incredible accomplishment for the team!

Although our alliance was eliminated in the Quarterfinals, our team won the Pit Safety Award and the Imagery Award. We are extremely pleased with the results of this competition and would like to thank our generous sponsors for making it possible to compete!