RoboCup Canada, Day 5: Errors and Exasperation

Today was our first day of competition. Everything we had worked on for the past six to nine months was leading up to today.

We got up early and went down for breakfast, enjoying the local delicacy of pancakes and bacon smothered in maple syrup. We left breakfast with full stomachs and ready minds, keen to get the robot running in the mazes.

We had a late start at the competition, giving us plenty of time to iron out any problems we had. Unfortunately, today was not going to go as well as we planned.

I was the driver of the robot for today, simply because I was literally the only person to have ever driven the robot. I was, as I like to say, the undesignated driver.

The day started with a team meeting, this was to explain the rules and to book slots for our runs. Although we had decided that I was going to be the team leader, we ended up sending Ben instead, as I was busy getting the robot to a functional state. Kyle went with him. Unfortunately, Ben had booked us some of the tougher slots for runs some of which were at very inconvenient times. We had the step field at 1:40, followed by crossing ramps at 2:30 both of which we were confident with. But then we had elevated ramps at 2:50 which were a bit tougher. The real kicker came at 3:30, where we had sensors followed immediately by sand and gravel and then by hurdles.

Also in hindsight, sending Ben and Kyle to the team meeting was a terrible decision. The two of them were quite bad at relaying information but we learnt of some important information about things like what channels we should use on the WiFi and how the slots work. Actually we might have been told other important things too but Ben and Kyle probably forgot to tell me. It’s alright though, Ben got much better at booking slots over the coming days.

We had issues with our cameras today, I think there was a problem with the cable at one point. We eventually fixed it, but not until we missed a run. Later during one of our runs, two of them shut off. Great. We fixed all the problems, checking wiring mainly. Thankfully we didn’t have any other camera issues over the following days, they were one of the few things that worked without much issue.

We ended up missing a couple runs. It was really unfortunate, but we simply didn’t have our stuff working. We also weren’t very good at getting to the course on time. Which we got far better at in later days.

At the time of the sensor test we didn’t have most of our sensors working. We managed to get 2 ½ points. One for vision, one for QR reading and half a point for motion detection.

Sand and gravel was difficult. They fixed it in later days, but today it only had a very small amount of sand. Our wheels kept spinning and we couldn’t climb up the slope.

Hurdles are the bane of my existence. We literally redesigned our wheels just to try to get over them, as described in one of Erin’s posts. While these redesigns helped us get up the single pipe, and therefore, let us make it one way through the maze (and get one point), it was impossible for us to get up the double stacked pipe, so we couldn’t make it back.

At the end of the day, we were feeling a bit out of it.

Although we weren’t too worried. We still had another day (or two, as it turned out) left to rack up as many points as we could and try to make the finals. Instead of being hooligans and staying up to all hours we went to bed quite soon after having dinner.

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