Seattle Regionals this Weekend !

Well, it has finally arrived — the 2013 FIRST FRC Seattle Regionals are this weekend!

Team 4180, the IronRiders, will be competing in its second FRC event with a climbing and frisbee shooting robot. Sporting a new name and logo (and t-shirts and buttons), we will be gathering at CenturyLink Arena for the Ultimate Ascent event.

Come out and support the team, have some fun, watch the matches, and experience the “Super Bowl of Smarts.” The best time will be Saturday morning, between 9-12, when we will be in the qualifying matches. If we do well, we move on to the final matches in the afternoon. But either way, it will be fun for everyone. And it’s free.

If you do come visit, be sure to stop in the pit area and say hi to Team 4180!




indiegogo — what’s that? indiegogo is “the world’s funding platform.” It’s a way of crowd-sourcing fund-raising for all kinds of endeavors.

While Team 4180 has been very fortunate to receive a number of generous donations, we’re trying to up our game and raise some more money. The business team (spearheaded by Linden on this effort) has launched an indiegogo campaign for the Iron Riders.

You can see the campaign details here: www.indiegogo.com/frc4180.

We’re asking for everyone’s help to get the word out about this campaign and help us raise another $2000 or so. We’ll use this to pay for lots of expenses at the competition (like food, renting a van, supplies), buying tools and building some pit systems, etc.

Please use all of your networks to spread the word about the campaign. Post it on your Facebook page, Tweet about it, send emails, use semaphore signals, whatever you can! We have two weeks left.

Also, if you know anyone who would rather donate directly, rather than through this campaign, we’re happy to take checks. We even get a little more money that way, since indiegogo takes a percentage of the donations.


Team 4180

PS: Mark your calendars for the competition: March 29-30! More about that later.

In the Bag !

baggedIt’s in the bag!

The Iron Riders robot, that is, as of 9:49 pm on Stop Build Day, February 19. (Over two hours before the deadline, woot!)

After an intense build season, culminating in marathon work sessions over the holiday weekend at mentor Charles Delahunt’s house, the 2012-13 Iron Riders robot is done. Well, done enough to get it officially sealed up until the competition on March 29-30. I missed the demo that night, but saw video evidence that it actually fired frisbees in the street about 30 feet.

There is plenty of work still to be done in, as Katie said, the second half of the build season. There are refinements to the robot, software still to write, t-shirts to make, other things to build, and lots of planning to bring us to the competition arena.

Thanks to everyone who has helped so far!


Kickoff – Frisbees!

The IronRiders begin the strategy brainstorming for the 2013 season.

OK, here we go on the 2013 build season — Frisbees!

We had a great Kickoff day on Saturday, January 5. It started, very, very early (6:00 am in the RHS parking lot) with a field trip to the official event at Mountlake Terrace HS. The students, coaches Ruff & Miller, and a coterie of parents and volunteers went to the video simulcast event where this year’s competition was unveiled and they picked up the kit of parts. Here’s the animation of the Ultimate Ascent challenge:

Following that, the caravan made its way to the UW campus, where they joined coach Davidson and other late sleepers (students, mentors, and volunteers). In a long work session, the team analyzed the game challenge, pored over the rules, and brainstormed a number of strategies for robot design. This session focused on WHAT kind of robot we will build and (painfully) deferred discussion of HOW the robot will work until later sessions.

By the end of the day, we had digested an enormous quantity of ideas, analyzing all of them for potential value, associated risks and costs (not just financial), and talked about the qualitative pros and cons of each possible function (shooting. climbing, scavenging, blocking).

Next week we will decide exactly what the robot will do and move on to the design phase.

Huge, enormous thanks to all of the parents and volunteers who organized and provided the transportation, and most especially fed us all so well!

Winter Assembly T-Shirt Cannon

On Friday, December 14th, 2012, the Iron Riders robot made an appearance at the RHS Winter Assembly!

Last year’s robot chassis was outfitted with a custom-made t-shirt cannon, and it roamed the floor of the gym during the Winter Spirit Assembly, launching rolled-up t-shirts into the bleachers.

The team worked for a few weeks in regular workshop meetings after school to design, build, program, and plan the assembly appearance. The goal was to show the RHS student body what we’ve been up to, generate some noise, and perhaps recruit more team members.

During the assembly, Katie explained what the RHS Robotics Club is all about, while Roxanne and Linden handled the cannon loading and firing. Ben was driving the robot, using the wireless remote control program. Adrian, Sasha, Max, and Eric were supporting from the sidelines.

It was a great project and really successful team effort! Congratulations to everyone.

(I don’t know how it compared to the teachers all dancing to Jingle Bell Rock, but you can judge that for your self: Teachers Dance.)

Here is a very amateur video of the event, shakily shot on my iPhone.


Volunteer Kickoff Meeting — Nov 15

Hi everyone, and welcome to the 2012-13 FIRST Robotics season!

We are excited to host a kickoff meeting for our team mentors, parents, volunteers, and friends this week. The meeting will be at RHS this Thursday evening, at 7:00 pm in Room 217 (Karl Ruff’s Engineering Lab).

We’d like to share news of our team’s activities so far this year, plans for the season (including an exciting event at the upcoming Roosevelt Winter Assembly), and ask for your help in supporting our awesome team. We should have you on your way by 8:30.

Many of the student leadership team will be there as well as us coaches. A robot may even make an appearance, too.

Student team members receiving this: you’re invited to come along if you like, but it’s not required if you have important stuff like homework to do! You could just let your family know in case they aren’t on this list and want to stop by.

Thanks, everyone, see you Thursday!

• Andy Davidson

• Judson Miller

• Karl Ruff

KOMO radio interview

On the morning of the final day of the competition, I was briefly interviewed on KOMO radio about the FIRST Robotics Competition and this year’s “Rebound Rumble” challenge.

Just for the archives, here’s the 2:27 audio clip: Robot Basketball.

Meeting on Tuesday, April 10


Based on the survey request I put out, it seems that Tuesdays are the best day for everyone to meet, for now at least.

So I would like to have a meeting this Tuesday (April 10) after school.

The goal of this meeting is to finalize the org chart (at least for our needs for the rest of the school year) and then establish leaders for the necessary functions. This will let us get going on planning the various activities we’d like to accomplish between now and the end of June.

So, come up to the RoboRiders conference room (319) after school on Tuesday, and we’ll try to get organized!

You can take a look at this tentative organizational list before then if you want to start thinking about it: http://goo.gl/LwcRD.



Competition videos

Thank to mentor John, we have videos of many of the matches. I’ve posted them on YouTube. Here they are:
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEwprG-bcGw?rel=0&w=560&h=315]  
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2s1wmOK7oYA?rel=0&w=560&h=315]  
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6pAAh6uKBLk?rel=0&w=560&h=315]  
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fdow6Mw5twE?rel=0&w=560&h=315]  
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhXI43jX5RA?rel=0&w=560&h=315]  
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFrEgp2tabM?rel=0&w=560&h=315]  
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0GXd3agagcE?rel=0&w=560&h=315]  
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7nioLzQckI?rel=0&w=560&h=315]  
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8O428EXFjPQ?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

FRC Wrapup

I wish I had written this last Saturday, when it was all fresh in my mind, but I’m hoping that the enthusiasm of the day will carry forward into this account.

For those who weren’t there on Saturday, Team 4180 — The RoboRiders — was monstrously successful, and it was a blast!

We were 4-7-0 in matches and finished 33 / 45 in our division. We scored basket points, balancing points, and cooperation points and competed in all 11 of our scheduled matches. Many FIRST people told me that that last fact alone is an awesome accomplishment for a rookie team.

In addition, we are intensely proud of Team 4180, in no small part because this was truly a team effort. Over the course of the three days, I saw a very dedicated, very focused, very excited group of engineers really pulling together and operating as a unit. I often just stood back and watched the work unfolding.

A frenzy of repairs, strategy, talking, helping, cooperation, and learning. And then time for another match and to roll the robot out of the pit and over to the field.


In addition, one thing I noticed about a lot of the bigger, more experienced, and better financed teams was that they had beautifully outfitted pits, well-designed, very fancy carts, awesome outfits and marketing materials, and of course impressive robots. But many times as you looked in their pit, you saw a lot of mentors doing a lot of the work with not so many students in evidence. We can say with great certainty that our student team definitely did all of this themselves. Mentors and coaches helped, supported, guided, and pitched in, but never took over. That is worth many bonus points in my book.

Thanks to all the family and friends and Mr. Vance who came out to support us on Saturday. I wish I had been better about documenting the days in photos, but it was pretty all-consuming just being there. I hope we can collect good photos from lots of our visitors and assemble an album.

Your coaches and mentors graciously congratulate all of you on the success of Team 4180!

We’re already looking forward to next year.