2016 Competition in Duluth, MN – Imagery Award!

We won the Imagery Award in Duluth this year.

We won the Imagery Award in Duluth this year during the Lake Superior Competition on March 4, 2016

On the Blue Alliance this round.

On the Blue Alliance this round.  Early on in qualification matches.  In the end we scored 14th place overall and played in the 8th place alliance.

Making improvements before competition.

The mechanical sub-team working to make the best robot we can not long before bag day.

Open House 2016

Thank you to everyone who attended our open house on Feb 22, 2016. We got the robot to shoot high goals throughout the entire night, which kept parents and little siblings alike entertained. Team members received plenty of good feedback from family members, and overall the open house went pretty well. Guests enjoyed complimentary refreshments such as cookies, pretzels, and water, which gave them something to munch on while watching the show. The robot drove around and demonstrated its ability to breach defenses, while a slideshow of build season memories played in the background. Lastly, thank you to any sponsors who made the time to attend and get a look at our robot. If you can make it to the Duluth or 10,000 lakes competition, we look forward to seeing you there!

Arduino Programming

This Fall we’ll be using Arduino microcontrollers to teach programming and also to  cross-train with the electrical subteam.  Microcontrollers  are small computers that are well suited to  electrical hacking.

We’ll be writing little Arduino programs in C++, which is similar to the Java programming language we’ll use to program the big robots.

We’ll have a few loner computers available, but if you have your own laptop, it really helps to bring it in to the meeting.  Better yet, you can get a jump on things by preinstalling the software from https://www.arduino.cc/en/Main/Software .

Here’s a short video introduction to Arduino:

FireBears at the MN State Fair!

September 1, 2015 – FireBears were with Team 2220 from Eagan High School doing robotics demonstrations in the Education Building at 10 am, 12 pm, and 3 pm.


At the end of each demonstration, FireBears allowed anyone in the audience who would like to drive the robot to have the chance to do so.  There was a line each time.


Next it was time to line up for the State Fair Parade.


Having fun with Ronald right before the parade started.

During the Parade.


We were the only team to successfully get with in  an inch of this box.


In the end we were awarded the 2nd place ribbon!



We were able to give a lot of information to spectators about FIRST and how our competitions work.

Gitchi Gummi 2015

Cabin with sign on it that cautions of bears in the area

That’s right. The bears are here.

This weekend, the FireBears camped out at Spirit Mountain in Duluth for the Gitchi Gummi Get Together, an off-season FRC competition hosted by the Duluth East Daredevils.

The campsite that the FireBears camped at

The campsite that the FireBears camped at

This off-season competition was unique in that there were only ten teams in attendance, and the amount of people the team brought to Duluth was very light. Because of this, everyone on the team was given the opportunity to drive the robot.


Our team did not win unfortunately, our team got 10th place. The ability to train a large number of people in driving the robot was extremely valuable however, and we have the Duluth East Daredevils to thank for that.

What does it take to drive the robot? The drive team has four members, the coach, two drivers, and the human player. The coach has the position of leading the drivers, as they have less of a focus on an individual task and more of a wide view.

View of field from behind the driver's station

View of field from behind the driver’s station as the robot is being set up

The first driver has the job of controlling the robot’s actions with a joystick. Forward to go forward, left to go left, right to go right, and twist to turn the robot. One thing to expect with inexperienced drivers driving a robot with a high center of gravity is tipping. Sometimes it even fell over. For most teams this would mean game-over for the rest of the match, however, our robot this year has the ability to turn itself back upright if the second driver moves the arms of the robot down. Anytime this happened we would cheer and say our robot could do push-ups!

I said to rotate left, not strafe left!

I said to rotate left, not strafe left!

The second driver has the job of controlling the level of the arms for the forklift, and whether or not the arms are open or closed. They do this with a panel of buttons. On the left side of the panel, two buttons for opening and closing the forks. In the middle, a switch that raises the presets up six inches to clear the step for coopertition stacks, and a button which switches to manual control, allowing for slower, more precise lifting. On the right there is a line of presets, each increasing the height of the lift more than the last.

The big green button you see is what we call the celebration button. You flip up the box around it and while you hold the button down a special light sequence is shown.

The robot control panel

The robot control panel

Finally, the human player is in charge of operating the tote-chute door, and throwing noodles. When throwing noodles, they cannot put their hands over the rail and into the field, else they risk fouls for their alliance. Since our robot doesn’t typically feed from the feeder station with our primary strategy, our human player frequently does not control the tote chute. Meaning they have a lot of practice throwing noodles, as it is usually the only thing they will do during a match.

The noodles thrown by human players

The noodles thrown by human players

There are also other miscellaneous things. The drivers have to carry the robot onto the field, typically done be the coach and first driver, setup the drive station, accomplished by the second driver, and move the cart, which is done by our human player. Gitchi Gummi taught our team the values of good drivers, showing everyone that driving isn’t as easy as it looks. Watching our drivers at this off-season competition has us excited for the years to come.

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