USA Tour Diary

5. 4. - Game on

In the morning, we met in front of the arena even earlier than usual, so that we could sing the Czech national anthem before the start of the competition itself. Right after the ceremonies, we did a final test of our automatic phase on the mock filed before heading straight to the real one for the first match. In it, we demonstrated a rarely seen feat, the 3-piece auto. This means that in the automatic phase, when our drivers cannot control the robot, which moves all by itself, we managed to hit a game piece into the speaker for five points, drive up to the next one, pick it up, shoot it for a further five points and repeat the trick for a third one, after which we still had time to drive away from our zone within the fifteen seconds, granting us another two points. Thanks to this trick, we start the remote-controlled phase with seventeen points already on the board, so it is not surprising that we got up to 29 for the whole match. This all happenned despite the fact that in a collision with another team we partially lost control for the last half minute of the game and even before that only shot into the AMP for a single point per shot.

The second game didn't work out for us at all. Our teammates unfortunately, due to more malfunctions, weren´t really able to help us and because of an error in setting up our robot´s wheels we couldn´t repeat our wonderful 3-piece auto. After that, the opponent seized on our situation and blocked our bot with two of their own, so we only managed 3 scored game pieces for one point each. During the climb, for which we would have gotten 3 points, one of our teammates sadly knocked us off in the last seconds, making this a rather contrastingly bad performance compared to the brilliant result of the last round.

The third and fourth matches turned out the same as the first and second. In both, our teammates kept malfuncitoning or just weren´t a good match (like both of them only being to score in one location), but in the third they still tried to help our bot score as much as we can, so we at least won our alliance 2 Ranking Points. We weren't so lucky in the fourth game.

The fifth game showed what we are capable of. This time we got a teammate that was also one of the favorits. We showcased our new 3.5-piece auto where, in addition to shooting three game elements, we also load another one on top ready to fire at the start of the teleop phase. Our new teammate also pitched in and together we managed to score a whopping four Ranking Points, the maximum achievable for a single game. We got two for winning, one for successfully scoring fifteen game pieces, and one for an excellent climbing combination, where we hung both of our capable robots on one chain and the other parked next to us. This game moved us up to 24th place and gave us our hopes of a great result back.

4. 4. - First matches

At 7:30 sharp we all gathered in front of Breck and boarded the classic yellow school bus which took us to the competition venue. Today we only have training matches, our goal is to have everything polished to a perfect, so that tomorrow we can just watch and admire Honza on the field with the other robots. The first item on the agenda was checking the legality of the robot, we went through the detailed inspection smoothly and got this task out of the way quickly. At 11 o'clock our time, six in the afternoon in Europe, came the first opportunity to test the robot. The practice matches didn't start until the afternoon, but already at 11 we could test our skills on a scaled-down version of the pitch, similar to the one we had available at Breck.

After 12 o'clock came our first training match. Unfortunately, it didn't turn out as we imagined, the robot worked well, but the real playground was slightly different from the copy on Breck, so our calculations were a little off. But these were all just details that can be easily fixed. The second training game caused us a little more trouble, during our auto phase, the shooting engine went out and we were toothless. But these are all fixable problems and our hopes and morale remain very high.

3. 4. 2024 - Honza is ready

In the morning, we finished the bumpers, and those who weren't driving and taking care of the robot at the time worked on creating promotional materials. We created a lot of buttons with the R.U.R. logo. and then some big stickers to hand out to the other teams. We added some tuning to our robot cart, added lots of stands and holders for bumpers and the most important tools and gadgets. Meanwhile, the robot has been going around our practice field and has also tried out coordinated movement together with the Breck robot. In the afternoon, we packed up all our essentials and cleaned up the robotics workshop, as we will not be returning to Breck School after today. We said goodbye to our temporary home, loaded Honza and all the gear into the trailer and drove it to the University of Minnesota's Williams Arena, where we will compete starting tomorrow. We set up our tent, which will serve as a garage for the robot in the coming days, and hung up our mascot, the Porg animal from Star Wars, together with the Czech flag and our joint R.U.R. and Stampede (Breck) poster. Together we share the tent and with it the tools and batteries that power the robot. The only seperate tools we have are the ones specific to the metric system we, unlike Stampede, use on our robots.

2. 4. 2024 - Major developments

Today we went to prepare team branded buttons to distribute to the other teams. We also finished the bumpers and put them on the robot. We took him down from the workshop on the third floor to the large gym and made a makeshift field there. We had a few minor issues with installing all the new features, especially with the ground clearance of the robot. Some deliberately lowered elements rub against the carpet, which can slow down the robot and, mainly, confuse the autonomous code of the robot. and it could be derailed from the preset path. On the whole, we'll mark the day down as a success, this is the earliest our robot has ever been driven after arrival, and Honza (that is the robot's name) already has a technological lead over Zkrivan from last year and Ludmila from the 2022 season. Tomorrow we have a full day of testing and training to get into top form for the training matches on Thursday.

1. 4. 2024 - Full speed forward

All 14 of us met up at 4 in the morning at Václav Havel Airport and around six, still sleepy, after a thorough inspection of our luggage, we took off from Prague and after an hour and a half we landed in Amsterdam. There we walked around the airport to get a quick bite and boarded the next flight at ten o'clock. It was a long journey, we passed time by watching movies, TV series and eating airplane food. We landed at 8 in the evening, or 1 PM local time. Given the difficulty of the journey, the early rise and the time difference, you would forgive us if we went to bed immediately. But that was definitely not on our plan. We drove straight from the airport to Breck school, where after a light snack we went straight to reconstructing the robot. He needs a little care along the way to get him into competitive shape. In addition, we encountered a lot of bugs during testing before shipping, which also need to be adressed before matches. We are trying to complete all of this today so that we can fully ride tomorrow and optimize our performance before the competition.

In addition to the necessary repairs, especially the Note conveyor system from the intake to the shooter, we took care of the construction of the so-called bumpers, which must be installed on each robot for safety reasons. We also have the team number sewn on them - 5996 - by virtue of which you will be able to recognize us at the competition.