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.

FRC Day 2 – Qualification Matches

Today was day 2 of the FIRST Robotics Competition for Team 4180.

Robbie competed in all 8 of his scheduled matches today and the RoboRiders had several successes in a day to be very proud of.

First, many judges and FIRST people told me that for that accomplishment alone — just having a working robot out on the field at every match — a rookie team should be very proud of its accomplishments. Some never even get to that point, there are so many things that can go wrong.

But beyond just running, Team 4180’s robot actually scored points!

Our robot deposited at least two balls in baskets with its dunking elevator mechanism under control of drivers Alex and Ben. (Were there more than two? I don’t think I saw every match…) And in a large point bonus, it balanced on a bridge while sharing the bridge with an alliance robot in one match. One judge told me that there are veteran teams that didn’t accomplish either of those feats on the first day, so this is pretty cool.

For some riveting footage of the 2:15 bridge balancing match, check out this YouTube video: RoboRiders FRC 4180 Balance.

(Sorry for the shaky video, but John and I got kind of excited watching while filming.)

Keep your eye on blue robot 4180 at the rear. You’ll see a dunking attempt thwarted by an aggressive red opponent and then a gut-wrenching structural failure of the elevator. Then comes the bridge attempt, followed by a beautiful cooperative move with a blue partner that leads to the dramatic balancing act at the end!

Other highlights of the day were some fine scouting and strategic planning with alliance partners by Jack, heroic repair and mechanical work by Ben and Adrian, great software stewardship by Alex, Jordan’s steady behind-the-scene support, and Jorit’s ready inbounding and robot stewardship. And, as always, ample able mentorship by John and Owen.

Thanks also to parents and colleagues who stopped by to lend support.

Tomorrow, Saturday, the action continues. Opening ceremonies are at 9:00 and there are more qualification matches for the RoboRiders in the morning. We may make it into the afternoon finals, depending on how the morning goes. Closing ceremonies are at 5-ish.

The scene and atmosphere in the arena are really unbelievable. It has all the energy and then some of a sports pep rally and game. While this competition seems to be all about robots, it’s not really. That’s just the surface level of what is going on at FIRST. It’s about the students, teamwork, cooperation, and what FIRST calls “gracious professionalism.”

Larger teams have lots of students there just to lend team support, even if they aren’t actually working on the robot. They sport all kinds of great outfits and costumes and everyone is having a great time. You can just tell.

One of my favorite moments was in between matches out on the field and in the stands. I wish I hadn’t filled up my camera already and could have captured it. I think there were some technical difficulties with the field and they were stalling for time. The MC put on a string of dance tunes, from the “Macarena” to “Y.M.C.A.” to a similar current pop tune that I can’t remember the name of. A zillion kids and even some judges all started dancing to it, and most of the people in the stands joined in. It was adorable and infectious good spirit.

At the opening ceremony in the morning, one team sang the National Anthem and I realized how very spoiled we are at Roosevelt by all the fantastic vocal talent in evidence in the singing at our assemblies. Let’s just say that this team had great enthusiasm in its rendition of the “Star-Spangled Banner.” I didn’t hear too much cheering at the high notes the way you do in the RHS gym, though.

That’s all for now. The RoboRiders hope to see you at CenturyLink Event Center tomorrow! We guarantee a good time.


– Coach Davidson

Robbie Runs !

After a very long day of intensive work by Jordan, Adrian, Ben, and Alex, the RoboRiders creation “Robbie” passed his inspection and was certified to compete. This may sound rather perfunctory, but for a rookie team, it is anything but that!

Robbie (#4180) then made his appearance on the competition court for a practice round, with drivers Alex & Ben operating him remotely.
Tomorrow will be a long day of many rounds of competition for testing and seed positions.

Support the RoboRiders

We’d love to have your support!

If you’re interested in contributing to the Roosevelt RoboRiders in any way, we’d love to have your support.

You can contact RoboRidersFundraising@gmail.com for more information or with any questions.

If you’d like to support us with a cash contribution, checks can be made out to the “Roosevelt Robotics Club” and sent to

Judson Miller
Roosevelt HS
1410 NE 66th St.
Seattle WA, 98115

Many thanks!