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Saturday, April 26, 2014

In Thor, We Truss

Day 2 of Qualifications went really well! Our record for the day was 3-1. 

In the 3 wins, our teammates worked really well together. We showed off our trussing abilities throughout the day. We kept employing our strategy of inbounding from our side, trussing to the human player, then getting the second assist on the other side of the field. This is great for a lot of reasons, one of the biggest being it opens up our end of the field for less traffic. Bryce's driving abilities are on full display. He's done spins, jukes, and all other sorts of maneuvers to open up a little bit of daylight for the truss shot. His defensive driving against the other robots is also key. The whole team is so proud of him. 

Not to be out done, Brooklyn can done a masterful job on the hammer and pickup. She did not miss one inbound catch the entire day! Speaking of inbounding, Tyler has been AWESOME inbounding to our robot and adjusting to whichever side we end up on. Documenting it all and helping to keep our spirits up is Heidi. She's taken some great pictures and we CANNOT wait to show them to you in the coming weeks. 

The one loss our team sustained on Day 2 was to FRC Team 16 Bomb Squad and their alliance. They have an EXCELLENT robot (just like us). They harassed a couple of our truss shots but Bryce did an amazing job playing defense on them too. So it worked both ways. We put up a great fight but got the loss. It wasn't discouraging though because we fought our hardest and continued to show off our abilities. 

Chairman's team had their big day on Day 2 as well! They presented to the judges at 1:20pm. All the looks that Jade, Kacy, and Lacey got as they walked through the crowd with their instruments and outfits were hilarious. The girls rocked the speech like they always do. They commented on how nice the judges were and how much the Q&A felt like a genuine conversation. Their hard work this year has really paid off for an excellent presentation and essays. 

The scouting and cheering team in the stands did an awesome job as well. They continued to record data and impressions of robots to help augment our pre-scouting. Texts to the drive team were common and very useful. Karl, Alicia, Mitch, Andrew, Thomas, Dalton, Carson, Zack, Owen, Sam, and the parents (Dan, Mary, Mike, Mike, and Todd).

We would probably be hit in the head by Molly if we didn't mention the fantastic job she did talking to interested teams and judges in the pit on Day 2. Kacy helped with this regard as well. It's so great to have so many teams come up to us with kind words or saying "we love your robot!" 

We have one more match today (Saturday morning) at 8:15am. After that is division alliance selection and then elims!! We are super excited for the day. 

Good luck to all the teams competing! 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Slow Start, Fast End

We started qualifying matches today!!! 

Our record right now is 3-2 and we are in 47th place right now. Top half! Woo! 

The day started out slowly. Our first two matches didn't go that well. In the first match, our alliance struggled to come up with a clear strategy that benefitted all the teams. That created confusion on the field and it didn't go well. Unfortunately we weren't even able to truss. 

In the second match, one of our alliance partners auto modes did not work. They had two balls which really messed with out score. There was also a lot of defense. However, we got some great defense in and were able to show off our trussing. The alliance also worked well together. 

In the third match, we won! There were a ton of foul points for our alliance because the other team tipped us over. We were able to truss a couple times though before that. Also, one of alliance partners, again, dominated the ball. However, the opposing alliance was all demes ice robots so they didn't score many points. 

Fourth match was a close one! We won on some foul points being assessed. But a win is a win. The match was kind of crazy and out strategy didn't quite work but that's ok! 

THE LAST MATCH OF THE DAY WAS AWESOME! We worked with 4039 and 4464. The teams were super nice and we worked very well together. We inbounded and trussed. 4464 passed it off and 4039 finished. We trussed 4 times and one of tem was a total last second truss. Again, it was awesome. 

We replaced the hex shaft on the hammer because it was getting torqued and we had spares and extra time. Also, our window motors on the pickup arms failed. So we replaced those too. 

To end the day, we went on a practice field and tested some stuff. We were having a blast and generally being ridiculous. The fun level ha returne to our team an it was very welcome. 

To finish, we went to RoboProm. We danced the night away together. Our team works so well together and we genuinely like each other. Wouldn't want to spend Champs with anyone else. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Arrival and Set Up

FRC team 3313 took the looooong overnight bus on Tuesday night to St. Louis. Bydlon and Lacey did not sleep but most others did. The trip was extremely uneventful (Iowa and Missouri, hello).

After arriving in St Louis, the team had to take the Metrolink down to the stadium. The bus driver had driven as long as he could. Then the team wandered around the town, checking out the Arch and finding parking spaces for the bus and trailer. 

After that, they waited for robot load-in. It was incredibly warm and sunny. Bryce and Bydlon got especially sunburned. Load in went smoothly. The team had already planned out different roles. They were one of the first pits all set up. 

Bryce and Tyler fixed the drive train gears so Thor runs like a champ now. Brooklyn and Molly set up all the banners and tv and stuff. 

We got inspected and had a great practice match. It was so fun to see all the other teams and meet so many teams we interact with all the time. 

Qualifications start tomorrow!! We at at 9:30am and then every two hoes after that. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Leaving Tomorrow!!

Well... The day is here. We leave tomorrow at 7pm from Jefferson High School in Alexandria, MN for the FIRST Robotics World Championships in St. Louis, MO. 

We haven't taken many pictures the past few weeks. Mostly because the things we've been working on are behind the scenes. 

1.  The bus and hotels are set to go. We are taking an overnight coach bus Tuesday night. We will arrive in St. Louis on Wednesday morning, then check out the Arch, and line up outside the dome to load in.. 

2. The generosity shown by our online friends and family, the school, our community, and our sponsors has been so wonderful. We cannot thank everyone enough for all their help. 

3. Our whole team has been working hard on scouting. We re-worked the match scouting sheets. All of the Newton division teams have been inputed to our binders. The pit scouting sheets have also been remade with all Newton teams. The whole team is so pumped to talk to all the other teams!!

4. The plethora of scouting information for FIRST Champs is kind of crazy! Simbotics has a great excel spreadsheet, there is a Google Sheet with info teams have submitted, and 525 put out a cool Strength of Schedule doc. Any team that coming to Champs needs to find those resources. 

5. The trailer was packed on Monday night. We are set to go!!

Remember we will be on the Newton field. Check out our match schedule here. 

If you want to watch us on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, GO TO THE WEBCAST LINKS HERE. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Preliminary Match Schedule!

Before we start, this is super exciting but has to be taken with a grain of salt. The schedule could change a little bit once we arrive at Champs. Given all that...

WOOOO!!! We will definitely spend the next few days preliminary scouting our Alliance partners and opponents. 

You can check out the whole match list here for each division. We are in the Newton Division so if want to see us, that's ours. 

If you want to watch us on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday next week, GO TO THE WEBCAST LINKS HERE. 

And... Here's our match schedule! 

Match 1 - Blue 2
04/24 09:36 Qualification 7 1735  4269  2522       4949  3313  3602 

Match 2 - Blue 3
04/24 11:36 Qualification 27 3238  1640  997       5010  971  3313 

Match 3 - Red 2
04/24 01:30 Qualification 36 612  3313  5057       5016  5310  1710 

Match 4 - Red 3
04/24 03:36 Qualification 57 3824  364  3313       1574  330  5291 

Match 5 - Blue 2
04/24 05:30 Qualification 76 1138  1983  1731        4464  3313  4039 

Match 6 - Blue 2 
04/25 11:24 Qualification 100      340  3313  3880       3256  1305  5190 

Match 7 - Blue 3
04/25 01:18 Qualification 109      597  3284  3313       5171  5136  811 

Match 8 - Blue 1
04/25 02:12 Qualification 118      3313  2283  4645       16  1156  1126 

Match 9 - Red 3
04/25 04:24 Qualification 140      3065  4941  1294       133  2054  3313 

Match 10 - Red 3
04/26 08:21 Qualification 152      610  190  5052       1592  5188  3313 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

NEWTON, Here We Come!

The 400 (or so) teams that go to the FIRST Robotics World Championships are divided into 4 Divisions: Archimedes, Newton, Galileo, and Curie. Each Division is basically a Regional unto itself (qualifications, awards, and elimination rounds). So, obviously, the teams in a Division are incredibly important.


As you enjoy that beautiful man's picture, we have a couple links here.

First, this is a link to an excel spreadsheet of ALL the teams and what division they are playing in.
Excel Spreadsheet of ALL teams

Second, this is a Google Spreadsheet that we created that only has the teams in our division, NEWTON!!
NEWTON Google Spreadsheet

Third, this is a link to Simbotics AWESOME scouting database. Seriously, check that baby out.
Simbotics Champs Scouting Database

Fourth, here is a list of all MN FRC Teams and their field assignments.
MN FRC Field Assignments

Some notes about NEWTON after a SUPER QUICK glance...

MN Teams:
525 Swartdogs (honorary MN team, actually from IA)
3018 Nordic Storm
3313 Mechatronics
5339 Hurricanes

International Teams:
610 Canada
1114 Canada
1156 Brazil
1285 Canada
1305 Canada
1574 Israel
2283 Mexico
3065 Israel
4039 Canada
4069 Canada
4355 Mexico
4481 Netherlands
5291 Israel

We will have some more analysis/fun stuff in the coming days. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

FIRST Championship Info!

We wanted to pull together some resources we've found through Chief Delphi, FIRST websites, and discussions with other teams.

First, if you're not going to St. Louis... All the matches will be broadcast live online.
Obviously, the links aren't up yet but they will be on there. Once we know our Division, we will let everyone know. Then, our wonderful fans can watch that Division's broadcast.

Ok... Now to the good stuff. We will post some links and then give a summary/commentary about that link.

FIRST Championship Website

Why is this important?
DIVISION LISTS WHEN THEY ARE RELEASEDDDDD! We're excited about this just a little bit.
Also, let's be honest, the website has all the links we include below...

What do we need you for then?
Our witty responses and good looks? But seriously, we have some commentary on each link below.

FRC Schedule of Events

Why is this important?
Well this is kind of a no-brainer. The schedule that FIRST made is going to be kept to as much as possible. This should be posted in your pit, in the stands, and in your hotel rooms. We even thought about getting a tattoo of it on the back of someone's head so we will always have it near. Basically, pits open at 7am each day and close at around 7 or 8pm. Be prepared for loooooong days.

Anything particularly interesting?
New schedule! Qualification matches are spread out to all day Thursday, all day Friday, and Saturday morning. That's a big change. This will allow for 10 matches for every team which is awesome. The load in, inspection, and practice matches are all on Wednesday afternoon and evening. Wednesday night is going to be super intense with practice matches, inspections, pit set ups, pit scouting, driver's meetings, and loads of other things. Teams better have a plan in place as soon as they enter the Dome on Wednesday afternoon.

You didn't even mention the Awards changes...
Right! Awards will be spread out and concentrated on the Division level as opposed to the Championship level. No super long breaks between Einstein matches! More teams getting recognized! But hold your horses, we will tackle that in depth down below.

FRC Championship A-Z Guide

Why is this important?
INCREDIBLE AMOUNTS OF INFORMATION. All head coaches/lead mentors/team captains should at least skim through this document.

Anything particularly interesting?

  • Teams are responsible for their own schedules. You have to know your match numbers and times. Very little audible queuing. 
  • Chairman's Interview sign ups are at 7am on Thursday morning at Pit Admin. The interviews will be from 10am to 6pm on Friday. Teams will get spread out between 4 rooms. 
  • If you're driving, there's awesome directions and parking help in the document.
  • Have to have robot's crated up by 4:30pm on Saturday (with a few exceptions). 

Weren't you going to talk about Awards again?
Oops! Got so excited about other things. So all the normal Regional Awards will be offered at the Division level. Your typical robot and outreach awards (Quality, Team Spirit, Rookie All Star, etc.) are all offered in each Division. These awards will be handed out before Quarterfinals and after Semis in the Division playoffs. The only major exclusions are Woodie Flowers (done on a Champs level on Friday morning), Dean's List (done on a Champs level on Friday at Noon), and Chairman's (done on a Champs level before Einstein Field on Saturday afternoon). One cool thing, all Engineering Inspiration Award winners at the Division level will be offered a spot at Champs next year (fees paid). That's incredible!!

2014 FIRST Championship Conferences

Why is this important?
FIRST teams have tons of great knowledge to share. Champs is a collection of the best of the best teams in the World. Listen to what they're doing and it might make your team a little bit better.

Anything particularly interesting?
All of the conferences will be wonderful! However, we have a few conferences that we are really interested in.

  • Chairman's Chat. We love Chairman's and are super excited to hear what other winning teams have to share about their processes and experiences.
  • Programming with C++ and Java on the RoboRio. Next year we get new controllers! WOOO! You can see more information about it here. There are a ton of changes associated with that. We want to be ready when that change comes.
  • Fundraising for FIRST teams. The Fundraising Toolkit that Renee Becker and others put together is awesome. Link here. We know Renee and Evan well. They have some great ideas to share with FRC and FTC teams about increasing funding and awareness. 

That's a lot of conferences... What if we have a small team?
Really narrow down on what you think will most benefit your team (that's what we are doing). Some of the best lessons are learned in the pits too. Don't sacrifice "pit wandering" time for a random conference that you're not that into. All the conferences will be great! Just keep focused, that's all we're saying.

FIRST Championship App

Why is this important?
It's an app with A TON of information. Schedule, map, events, photos, news, team lists, and a ton more. The UI isn't perfect but it's still pretty awesome!

We will try to add more links as we get closer to CHAMPS! If you have a link that you think we should add, please tweet at us @team3313 or email us at 3313coach@gmail.com. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Shipping Thor, Fundraising, and Thank You

On Monday, FRC Team 3313 Mechatronics met with smiles still plastered on their faces but knew it was time to get down to business. We brought out our giant crate from the corner of our robot room and painted it. It has been gathering dust for who knows how long. It originally came from our team's first year, 2011, before the "Bag and Tag" rules.

We enlisted the help of some art students at our school to spray paint it. It turned out really nice! We loved the planets and space theme. Lots of team spirit on it as well.

You can see a full photo album of it here.

The reason we even needed the crate was to ship our robot to St. Louis. Teams are required to ship their robot by the Thursday after their last event. It was sad but we said goodbye to Thor on Thursday. It's kind of surreal that this whole FIRST Championships thing is even happening. We keep pinching each other but we are confident that it's real. Haha.

We have started our journey on the long road of fundraising. We are bagged groceries at Eldens again yesterday! We raised over $1000!!! WOW! We also hope to talk to organizations in Alexandria for assistance. The school is going to help as well.

We posted a donation site on Piggybackr, here is the link if you would like to donate. It would be greatly appreciated!


The support from the Alexandria community has been INCREDIBLE. From parents of team members to local companies to sponsors to the superintendent to the mayor to our school and classmates, so many people have given us congratulations and donations. It's all a little overwhelming and humbling but we are so appreciative. Words cannot describe how supportive Alexandria has been and how thankful we are.

We are also thankful for all the amazing tweets, facebook posts, tumblr replys, and emails from other FRC teams and friends and family. We love the FIRST Robotics community and how prevalent coopertition can be.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Empty Bowls Fundraiser

Last Tuesday, March 25, FRC Team 3313 Mechatronics made an appearance at United Way's "Empty Bowls" Charity event.

This event helps fight hunger at a local level. They have a huge selection of homemade pottery from the pottery classes at Jefferson High School which people could buy along with tickets for the chili that was served to feed all of the hungry mouths of the masses. Performances by many groups entertained the people, from smooth jazz, to belly dancers, to the awesome robots at the entrance.
While setting up we noticed how low the ceiling was and were immediately discouraged. It was almost too low to shoot out ball, it could go right into the ceiling and Jefferson High School has had enough beatings from it's many years and didn't need any more. But the people were waiting and expecting a show, so we ultimately just said "what's the worst that could happen?". We gave Karl the OK to drop the hammer and it just barley brushed the ceiling. So we were able to have a lot of fun showing what Thor can do, only knocking a couple of ceiling tiles. Once again it was another fun day in the world of robotics.

The Empty Bowls Fundraiser ended up raising over $7000 for the hungry in Douglas and Pope County. Yet again, our community shows its generosity and willingness to help others.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

10,000 Incredible Moments


FRC Team 3313 Mechatronics won the 10,000 Lakes Regional this Saturday on an alliance with Team 2052 KnightKrawler from New Brighton MN, and Team 2227 Tigers Robotics from Fridley MN. 

The largest accomplishment of the competition for our team, however, was being awarded the Chairman’s Award. The Chairman’s Award is given to the FIRST Robotics team who best represents a model for other teams to emulate and best embodies the purpose and goals of FIRST. It is the most prestigious award handed out and an incredible honor to receive it.

Winning this award qualifies Team 3313 to present their Chairman’s Award at the World Championships in St. Louis, MO at the end of April.

“We have worked so hard to mentor other FIRST teams and get the Alexandria community excited about STEM education. It’s great to see our work pay off,” said senior Kacy McCormick.

The 10,000 Lakes Regional started off with qualifying matches to help seed the teams. Alliance partners from other schools are randomly paired into teammates and opponents for each match.

The scouting team in the stands and in the pits worked together as a team to provide strengths and weaknesses for all the alliance partners and opponents throughout the competition. This information was integral to the team's success.

We definitely had a tougher time during qualification matches than our last competition in Duluth. The PVC grippers broke on two different occasions; however, the repairs were quick and easy. The drive team—Bryce Klang, Brooklyn Krohnfeldt, Tyler Floding, and Jeremy Bydlon—fought through these, and many other, challenges.

Before the playoffs started, the top 8 teams selected their Alliance partners. Team 2052 from New Brighton chose 3313 from Alexandria and 2227 from Fridley to partner up. The playoffs went well with the teams passing the ball from robot to robot to gain bonus points. Our pre-programmed autonomous scoring was spot on. Programmers Karl Santelman, Thomas Pederson, Allen Odden (mentor), and Dalton Myhr (mentor) did a fantastic job.

The cooperation shown between our Alliance was almost unstoppable. The Alliance swept the playoffs and were crowned champions! The right side of our drive train failed in the semifinals. We tried to fix it but did not have the parts available. 2052's drive team did an amazing job transporting the ball from robot to robot and still pushing our alliance through for the win.

Team 2052 KnightKrawler had already won 3 regionals in a row prior to 10,000 Lakes. Yes, we said three! That means that now, they have won four regionals in a row and that's incredible. It has been super fun getting to know their team, and we look forward to seeing them at World Championships.

By the wild card rules of FIRST, the alliance caption of the finalist alliance, FRC Team 4536 MinuteBots, will also be going to St. Louis. Joining them in St. Louis are the Rookie All-Star of 5019 and Engineering Inspiration of 2500. 

But in all of this success there is a question lingering in the air: how are we going to cover the expenses? Let's just say we have a lot to do.  We need to work with our school and plan as many fundraising events as we can possibility fit in a three week period, all to raise $5,000-$10,000. Along with this we need to figure out how we are going to get all of our equipment to St. Louis. It's a long, but exciting, road ahead...

You can help get us to Champs by contributing to our Piggybackr fund. Check out the website here. Any donation at all will GREATLY appreciated. The generosity already displayed is overwhelming.