The End of our 2017 Season

HYPE’s 2017 season is now over.

By the end of the season, HYPE’s 2017 robot, Salvo could:

  • Score 8 gears in one match
  • Score a gear on the center peg in autonomous, or shoot 10 balls and score a gear on the boiler side peg in autonomous
  • Climb consistently and quickly

By the end of the season, HYPE’s students had:

  • Developed, tested, tuned and iterated on three different gear mechanisms, two of which picked up gears from the floor
  • Developed, tested, tuned, and iterated on four different shooters
  • Developed, tested, tuned, and iterated on two different ball feeding mechanisms, as well as a late-scrapped floor intake for balls, and the scrapped fuel tank actuated walls
  • Learned to program robots from scratch, as all the team’s programmers had graduated
  • Learned to use encoder and gyro values to program the aforementioned autonomous routines
  • Learned about PID on the drivetrain and the shooter to make 10/10 autonomous shots in multiple matches at the Long Island Regional (or, if you trust the boiler’s count, 12/10 shots)
  • Learned about the physics of how a drag force slows down a spinning object and how to keep that object from slowing down (fuel going through the shooter)
  • Led two scouting alliances with brand-new head scouts and a new(really dope) scouting system
  • Played shutdown defense on one of the best gear scoring machines at Finger Lakes
  • Scored 4 rotors in 5 different matches at one event, including all three of our quarterfinal matches, and lost anyway

I’m not laying this out to brag or be arrogant about my team’s students and robot. I know there are better gear scorers and fuel scorers in the world who hit these numbers way sooner than Week 5 of competition season. I’m saying this because I’m proud of what my students have accomplished, and sometimes I think they lose just how incredible they and their accomplishments are through the haze and disappointment of loss. I think the work they’ve done this season, as a team that had limited to no experience filling any of the roles on the team, is absolutely incredible. The robot they built and poured hundreds and hundreds of hours into this season was incredible.

For me, this was the season I first got the chance to be a real mentor. I’ve been a “mentor” for two years now, showing up to occasional meetings and to competitions and helping the students fill in gaps in their knowledge and teaching the things that I can. But this season I saw our students grow so much. From our most experienced mechanical students learning not to touch gears that are spinning upwards of 4000 rpm to our newbie programmers learning not to change stuff that works without then thoroughly testing it, and not without having good reason.

In some sports, teams might call this a rebuilding year. This was a year where we had to develop new talent across the board and learn some hard lessons along the way. This was not 5254’s best year competitively, nor was it our best robot we’ve ever built. We didn’t have the best design, the best driving, or the best electronics job. The robot didn’t look as pretty as last year’s.

But this one one of 5254’s best years ever in terms of growth. Students on HYPE grew from knowing near-nothing to building one of the best robots in the state.

And as our season comes to close, and we look forward on how to improve this team and this team’s skillset going forward, I hope they see it that way too.

The Offseason

We have a lot of plans to improve this offseason. Almost all the key players on the team are going to be returning for 2018.

Nothing is set in stone yet, but there are tentative plans for a second robot for the off-season, like we did in the fall for the Tech Valley Robot Rumble, as well as improvements, both mechanical and programmatically, to Salvo.

Depending on what schedules line up, we’re considering attending a number of off-season events, as well as applying for IRI. Our results at our two events make it seem like IRI is unlikely, but you never know. I think if we attended, we’d be plenty competitive at the event at the least.

Lastly, we’re looking into finding more sponsorships for the team, as well as a more permanent practice location than our cafeteria. If anyone reading this happens to know of companies that would be willing to sponsor us, or places in Ithaca we could find a practice facility, let me know.

And sorry for being so mushy above, it’s hard to describe in words how much this season and this team has meant to me, and how proud I am of them, so I felt the above post was in order.


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