PCH Check In - Team 1261

We’re happy to bring you our fourth installment of PCH Check In, a series where we invite FRC teams from around the district to share their statuses, updates, and thoughts on the game.

Today, we'll be checking in with FRC 1261, the Robolions. The Robolions have had an incredible amount of success, which includes a win or finalist finish in each of the past three years, and if you look over the past decade, you'll be hard-pressed to find a team that has more consistent on-field success. With that all that being said, they're not a slouch in the outreach department, where they took home their first Chairmans Award last season. 

Team Number: 1261
Team Name: Robo Lions
Location: Peachtree Ridge High School (in Suwanee)
Team Age: 14

At a high level, how do you guys feel about Steamworks? 
Overall we’re really excited about Steamworks! We love the game because it’s more complicated than a normal shooting game, but it does have the shooting element that allows us to do some really cool things on the robot!

Strategically speaking, it’ll be an interesting game to drive in because budgeting your time properly is key, and every match will be very different, but it should be a fun game to play!

What do you guys think is the most important objective in the game? 
We think that the most important objective in this game is shooting. While gears are worth a lot of points, we anticipate that generally during playoffs (especially as we get later into the season), most or all the gears will be scored in playoffs. Since fuel is essentially the only unlimited source of points in the game, we think it’ll become key to be able to shoot a great deal. We also think it’s more feasible for a single robot or two robots to score enough fuel to earn a ranking point than it is to score enough gears to earn the ranking point. 

What do you guys feel is the most challenging part of the game? 
The most challenging part of this year’s game so far for us has been that there’s a lot going on on the field that you have to build for. It’s a lot of subsystems to fit into a small space and get coordinated properly (especially since bumpers are part of the frame perimeter now). Getting the whole robot to work cohesively to play every part of the game is a complicated challenge.

As we progress into competition season, budgeting time during each match and deciding how much time to spend on each part of the game will become more challenging. Match to match quick strategy decisions will have to be made on how gameplay should go each time. Essentially it’s just the variety of things happening on the field at once that make this year’s game complicated.

What objectives is your team building for? 
We’re focusing on high goal shooting first, followed by scoring gears and climbing. We’re hoping for a versatile robot this year! One of our biggest goals revolves around our programming, as we want a robot that can vision track the goals and shoot in autonomous as well as teleop.

It’s currently week 5, what’ve you guys been up to so far in the season? 
We’ve done quite a bit more CAD this year than in the past, so we’ve spent much of our season designing, prototyping, and CADing. Last week we started the build of the robot and our practice bot, and now as parts come in, we’re continuing to build other components, as well as detail a plan for our electronics. The programmers have been working on some of our more complex plans, like motion profiling and vision tracking for the robot.

1261 KSU Fabrication

What kind of challenges has your team faced so far in the season? 
One of the key challenges we’ve had is simply managing the space on the robot properly. The allowed sizes are pretty small this year, and retaining enough empty space inside the robot to hold a good amount of fuel has been more difficult than we initially thought.

Incorporating CAD at a much higher level than we ever have before has also been a challenge this season. It’s proven to be a difficult leap to make, logistically speaking, but we’re glad we did it as much more energy went into planning beforehand and precision than ever has before.

One of the major challenges we faced in the programming team this year was motion profiling. We've started working with motion profiling to build highly accurate autonomous movements, but we've had to fight through many problems to build this system. Issues like path generation and trajectory playback have presented significant challenges to our programming team, but we've learned a lot about how to be successful doing this.

Is there a message that you’d like to send to other PCH teams? 
Most importantly, don’t forget that bumpers are a part of the frame perimeter. Don’t get to competition with a robot that’s too big! Also remember that you can’t ever extend outside of whichever dimensions you pick.

Since we’re nearing bag-and-tag, our biggest piece of advice is to prepare well for competition. Make sure your robot is legal and running, always tighten your screws, and have replacement motors, etc. at the ready! Once you get there keep your batteries charged and work on forming relationships with other teams: if you’ve never scouted before, this is a great time to start.

If you need a platform to collect scouting data with, we invite you to use our scouting app: it allows you to create teams, add individual members, and create your own questions that you can export the data from after your scouts collect it. It can be found at https://scouting.prhsrobotics.com. Feel free to contact us (robolions@prhsrobotics.com) if you have questions about it’s usage.