Swerve Robotic FTC teams had the opportunity to participate in the Idaho ROKS Championships. This meant a three day trip for the team, and allowed us an opportunity to hang out, visit, and get to know each other in a way we hadn’t had the opportunity to earlier in the season. Friday morning, bright and early we met at our space in Woodinville, loaded up the cars and our caravan set out. Driving through mountains and deserts, we played card games and ate chocolate.
We arrived in Idaho in the evening, checked into the hotel and grabbed some dinner before heading over to the competition at Idaho University. After setting up and scouting the other teams, we worked on our robot’s autonomous program. We were frustrated because we hadn’t been able to test the robot, or do any drivers’ practice before we left. Making us even more agitated was the fact that the WiFi connectors weren’t working. Finally, after hours of trying, we retired until the competition the next day.
We woke up early, excited to show off our robot. When we arrived, we could feel the excitement in the air. Teams were coming and going hurriedly, rushing to get a pieces on or off their robots. There were some amazing, ridiculous costumes such as a team dressed all in pink tutus and a boy in a large beaver costume who everyone was rushing to take pictures with. The pits were noisy and stuffy, but there was a sense of camaraderie and anticipation. Part of our team continued writing autonomous programs, while the rest of us worked with other teams and handed out ferrite cores.
The judges presentation was different than we had experienced in Washington because we had twice as much time and we sat down and answered questions instead of performing our rehearsed presentation. Even though the judging was different, we felt pretty confident about it; we had covered almost everything we had wished to, just in a different way.
We continued to work on Deelybob, but unfortunately kept struggling with challenges. For example, we had issues with static, although we attached many ferrite cores on Deelybob. To fix this, we tried attaching some more ferrite cores with no success until deciding to ground the robot on an external wall before each round.
Finally the game started, and it was fantastic to see all the different ways teams approach the same problems. We were proud that we were consistent in getting flag up in less then four seconds, Because of field issues, we had to replay our last match many times, but we eventually won against the other alliance. By the end of the robot games, we had a working autonomous, and were paired with an amazing alliance partner which made our last run by far the best we’d had. Although we weren’t in the top four, we were excited to watch the top alliances compete. It was extremely cool to witness the alliances’ teamwork and dedication to the game by watching all four of their robots hang at once.
After the robot games were finished, our team helped take down the competition fields. We presented a large Valentine’s Day card, which many other teams signed, to an Idaho ROKS representative. We were unsure about our standing for an award, because we had done poorly in competition, and were ecstatic when we won the design award and the notebook came back with a gold star. It was really rewarding to have our many hours of hard work and persistence recognized. After we took everything down, we went to Rocky Mountain Pizza to celebrate our victory, and left the next day.
Idaho cemented our relationship as teammates, and gave us one more opportunity to be a part of the amazing FIRST community. And for that, we are forever grateful.
The Idaho ROKS Championships took place over the weekend of February 15th and 16th. Since the championship is held in Moscow, Idaho, this was a long road trip for the teams.