Year Two

FIRST Memories

  • 1997 HYPER Team Shirt

One of my favorite robots for sure…and the year FIRST probably started creating new rules based on teams like ours…

One of the things you should notice here in my second musings is how, in the early years, our team gear changed from year to year and involved student created artwork. Recent alums are used to our professional looking Team HYPER shirts [more on this in future musings…] but the early years involved more student driven inspiration and changed from year to year. It helped that we also had lots of wall space in the CTE to draw on and create art…those days seem long gone.

We made it through our first season and entered our second with NYNEX as our sponsor… I didn’t mention in my last musings that we won “Rookie of the Year” our first season, so as we entered the 1996-1997 Toroid Terror competition we had much to live up to…

Side musing – [I just woke up and went to read our QPS STEAMworks diary, a Google doc to help QPS mentors communicate and stay on the same page…ran into Mr. Gendron typing in some thoughts and could say “Good Morning.” Amazing how the world has changed in the 20+ years of our team and back in the year of Bad Dog we were still using landlines and “snail” mail…sense a theme yet to my musings? “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology” truly means something and hopefully many of our alumni have bought into that truth, figuring out ways to create and/or use the technology at our fingertips.]

Anyway, these were the years that it was still every robot for itself in competition and we named our robot Bad Dog. Our team number was 101 that year (more on team numbers in a future musing) and we teased around the idea of playing with a “101 Dalmatians” theme, in the end figuring that Disney might not find it amusing. I still use memories of that robot in my pre-engineering course since we created an arm with a shoulder, elbow and grip to pick up inner tubes and place them on the structure in the middle of the field (see T-shirt picture for idea). We needed to move that entire arm with what amounted to a weak torque, high RPM motor and created this huge sprocket reduction from the motor near the base to the shoulder at the top of the machine…it turned (pun intended) out sweet and worked well. We ran into two issues that year, both that probably caused FIRST to create some new rules.

The first issue involved turning, an issue that 20+ years later teams such as ourselves continue to struggle with…our solution that year was to create our own wheels out of reasonably thin plastic (see the picture of Bad Dog)…this allowed us to turn with relative ease…the downside of the wheels was that in competition when we fought other teams, our wheels tended to burn into the carpet and ruin the field [this was obviously NOT our intended plan, but it was one of the unintended consequences of our design].

The second issue occurred when we went to our regional competition and encountered a team that we have since had much history with – the NUWC team from Rhode Island. We made it to the finals of the competition that year but ran into NUWC that designed a flipper on their robot and basically went out and flipped other robots over and then went on the win the match. I swear I have a picture somewhere of their robot trying to tip us over while we were scoring a tube on the top of the goal just like on the T-shirt. They went on the win the regional while we took second and our engineers designed a flipper for our robot in between the regional and national competition. I don’t remember much about the nationals except we didn’t perform well, but I do know that ever since that year there has been a “no tipping” other robots on purpose rule.

  • 1997 Robot - Bad Dog

When we reached the end of the season, as a school we were hooked on the program, but we were reminded of NYNEX’s two years and move on philosophy. In hindsight, I appreciate the concept of attempting to get schools hooked and then moving on to do it with other schools, but at the time we did everything we could to convince them to stay with us and continue the partnership. It did not work, so we were forced to find another way to continue… I often wonder how many of their other teams are still in existence…