East Grand Rapids Robotics Lakeview Competition Newsletter

East Grand Rapids Robotics Newsletter

~lakeview competition~

Team #5980 FIRST Robotics Competition Tournament Season News

March 2 — 4 2017


Above, the trailer we used to transport the robot and other necessary supplies to the competition, decorated with our team logo.

After school on Thursday the team met in our room to transport the robot, pit materials and decorations, and power tools to the competition. We planned on loading everything into Jeff Vanden Bosch’s trailer; however, we overestimated the capacity of the trailer and ended up being forced to use most of the space in Vanden Bosch’s van as well. This was a learning and problem-solving experience for the team. We figured out how to fit all the necessary items in our vehicles and set up the pit efficiently and effectively once we arrived at Lakeview High School in Battle Creek.

Each team on our alliance had immense respect for each other despite our loss and we cheered when our alliance partners The Tractor Technicians received the Creativity Award and our other alliance partners the Twisted Devils were given the Entrepreneurship Award; they in turn expressed their joy when we received the coveted Engineering Inspiration Award.

Drive Team

(From left to right) Nathan Strodtbeck ‘19, Otis Dills ‘20, Anton Ludwig ‘19, Emily Bulkowski ‘17, and Chris Bruinsma ‘19

The drive team members entered the tournament with little to no practice. This was apparent when our robot snapped the rope in our very first qualification match. While our pit crew and electrical and programming team worked hard to reattach the electrical board, the drive team met and discussed how we could improve. We determined that what we needed was more communication between each of the members. During the next match we communicated more as a team and began to improve. Yet it was the phrase ‘situational awareness’, coined by our drive team mentor, that we began to really grasp as we tackled more matches. With this new phrase and motto we played our third match very well, ending up with a score of 215 for our Red Alliance to 145 for the Blue Alliance. At this time we felt as though we were beginning to gain a much better awareness of the game and how to


(From left to right) Ella Ludwig ‘17, Carlie Couzens ‘18, and Clara Luce ‘18 posing with their Engineering Inspiration award, medals, and robot, Louie.

At this first competition of our 2017 season our team was delighted to receive the Engineering Inspiration award. This award is the most prestigious award a team can receive regarding the engineering of the robot, and the second most prestigious award overall. FIRST’s official description of the Engineering Inspiration Award states that it’s purpose is to “celebrate outstanding success in advancing respect and appreciation for engineering within a team’s school and community.” Our team received this award by sharing information about our team and how we work together with the judges and explaining the different aspects of the robot. The advanced components and overall aesthetic design of our robot set us apart from the other teams. In addition, our team bonding events showed unity and the community outreach we did demonstrated our willingness to give back to others and spread awareness of FIRST. The Business Plan, organized Judges notebook, and previous newsletter gave us a professional identity. Every member of the team was essential to our receiving of the Engineering Inspiration Award, and we’re grateful for the hard work the team, mentors, and sponsors have contributed.  

Our robot “The Spirit of St. Louis” successfully climbing the rope on the airship at the conclusion of a qualification match.

Qualification Matches

The beginning of qualification matches was delayed by three hours on Friday, starting at one o’clock instead of the scheduled start time of  eleven that morning. Since the schedule was not followed and time setting up between matches was longer than anticipated, the qualification matches proceeded slowly. However, our team was still able to play six times on the first day. Because our drive team had had minimal practice time, our first match was stressful and not ideal but a good learning experience. The robot falling while climbing during the first match due to Emily holding down the operator button for too long, the gear

react to different situations. Taking this strategy into our next matches we improved our skills with every game. We got quicker at placing gears, faster at climbing the rope, and were picked for an alliance. Overall it was a great experience on how to take a bad situation and learn from it.

Pit Crew

(From left to right) Clara Luce ‘18, Chase Shorey ‘17, and Ella Ludwig ‘17, working on the gear mechanism between competitions in the pit.

The Pit Crew faced a major challenge after our very first match of the Lakeview Competition when our robot snapped the rope on the airship and crashed to the floor. Sitting in the stands watching the match, we weren’t sure what we would find when we examined the robot at the pit. The robot did sustain some damage, but luckily it was all fixable, and we were able to finish repairs before our next match. Throughout the day we also faced issues with the robot’s code, which forced us to drop the E-board to allow the coding team to do their work. In this situation, as in many others throughout the tournament, the main challenge we faced was time pressure. We bonded as a team throughout the day and were able to repair the robot and get it back

on the field for every match. Overall this competition was filled with both highs and lows. We learned a lot and are looking forward to our next competition at GVSU.


Before and between matches judges come to each pit and interview the pit crew members about the robot and their team. Team members Clara Luce and Ella Ludwig emphasized the effective way in which we divied up the work so that every team member had some role they played in building or creating the robot, as well as our nearly 1:1 gender ratio, which shows that we are a balanced team who encourages girls to participate in STEM. The Engineering Logbook was helpful to have nearby to illustrate the specific design concepts and ideas that were mapped out early on in brainstorming sessions, as well as to give out to Judges for them to study in more depth on their own time. This physical embodiment and summary of our work and our team ensured that we were not forgotten and was a major component to the winning of our award. 33284292905_6a0e76e170_m.jpg

Clara Luce ‘18 and Ella Ludwig ‘17 talking to the judges in the pit at the Lakeview Competition.

Scouting Team

Collaborating with team 4003 Trisonics for scouting proved to be a smart decision for both us and them. Using an app they created we were able to effectively divvy up the work;

the data from an individual match and robot was uploaded in a file at the conclusion of each match. These files that were then combined into one comprehensive data set at the conclusion of the qualification matches. During the qualification                                    

dropping in the hopper instead of in the gear mechanism, and not being able to pick gears off the ground were some of the challenges we faced during the matches.


During alliance selection Team 5980 was chosen by the Tractor Technicians, the 6th seeded alliance. Donny Marwin ‘17, the Scout team captain, accepted the Tractor Technicians’ offer based on a mutual feeling of respect and goodwill between our two teams. The Twisted Devils were chosen for the third team on our alliance and accepted our request. We won the first two quarter-finals matches; however, we lost the first and second semi-final matches. We abruptly lost communication with our robot due to a possible error with the field. We contacted FIRST Headquarters but they declined our request to redo the match. This was very disappointing to our team. but it was very exciting to cheer the red alliance on to victory, which included team 4003, our friends the Trisonics, in the finals.

Media Team

Jack Lang ‘20, Paul Gross ‘18, and Lauren Vandenbosch ‘19 were the members of the social media team during the competition and were tasked with the responsibility of informing the community of events and updates in real time as well as recording every possible moment to put in albums for future purposes. Jack and Paul switched off the single media button allotted to our team which allowed them to enter the competition zone while matches were taking place and be close to the action for quality photos and videos. Jack also took charge of our Twitter account. Meanwhile Lauren was mostly responsible for updating the team Instagram by posting the best pictures, creating stories to showcase the rest, and taking live videos. Although mostly things went smoothly, Paul accidently deleted all of the photos and videos taken on Jack’s camera. While this was a blow, it didn’t end up being a huge problem since there were many other photos taken by parents, friends, and mentors capturing the many intense, crushing, and uplifting moments during the two competition days. The social media posts received a lot of feedback from the community and contributed to the team’s crowning achievement of the Lakeview competition: winning the Engineering Inspiration award. Among the most iconic moments captured was our robot’s drastic and sudden fall while climbing during the first qualification match, one of our most successful climbs during the qualification matches. and the enthusiastic reaction of the team after we won our first quarter-finals match. matches the members of the scouting team occasionally felt the tedium andFile_000.jpeg

boredom of their job, but it ended up paying off in the long run during alliance selection.

Coding/Electrical Team


Above, Anton Ludwig ‘19 and Carlie Couzens ‘18 testing code for the climbing, gear, and ball intake and shooter mechanisms.

Our coding and electrical team faced many challenges during the tournament, the most serious being the failing of our encoders. We first thought that this was a connection issue but ended up being small metal shavings in our RoboRIO shorting out the connections. We resolved this problem at the end of qualification matches, so our autonomous and gear placement vision code was then fully functional just in time for playoffs. Another problem that we faced was the electrical board falling out of our robot twice, which happened because we were only using one zip tie for each attachment point. We solved this issue by adding a zip tie at each corner, so there were a total of eight zip ties attaching the Electrical Board to the robot chassis. This proved successful because we no longer had issues with the E-Board falling out of the robot. However, a few of the problems could not be effectively dealt with until after competition. The LED ring was one example. Due to rough defensive strategies this essential component used for vision was broken; it had to be replaced and fortified with a specially-designed casing during robot unbag time in the two weeks following the competition.





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