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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.