Here's a Pumpkin Bots match for your enjoyment.
Sacramento went well! The robot had no major mechanical failures, although we found a lot of smaller issues in preventative maintenance in the pit. We went the whole event undefeated, and in eliminations followed a tried-and-true strategy: get picked by 254.
Because there was no major drama to report, this is a good opportunity to show what goes on behind-the-scenes of a successful event. We keep a running Google Sheet during each season called the "Fail Faster Database" that tracks every issue we run into at events, big and small. Here is the Sacramento Regional Fail Faster list:
Full disclosure, we were very thorough about tracking issues at Sac, but less so at Hueneme and SVR. This list is what we aspire to do every time.
We always appreciate a team who can do a lot with a little, and simplicity is always one of our goals as a design team. With this in mind, we loved getting to play opposite 8793, the Pumpkin Bots (and wish we could have played with them, at least just once!) 8793 built a simple cube running robot on the KOP chassis. It was comically fast and skillfully driven. With just a roller claw on a pivot, they were outscoring many much more complex machines, and really stood out to us from the stands.
Here's a Pumpkin Bots match for your enjoyment.
Never underestimate a reliable robot in the hands of a good driver, and great job 8793!
Our to-do list after Hueneme is as follows:
The gear ratios on both the arm and wrist are higher, meaning they're much torquier. No more failed fork climbs.
The new intake looks both stronger and more rigid, with aluminum square crossbeams instead of round CF (which snapped at Port Hueneme).
We also got lights on the forks, which looks amazing.
We have some new autos, including this 2.5 + balance.
Here's what drive practice looks like heading into Sac. 15 game pieces means we can conceivably solo the link RP. We apparently had a 17 piece match, but nobody thought to take a video.
The first thing we saw at the event was 973 rocking the Epsilon design that we wanted to pivot to, and it's actuations were some of the fastest I've ever seen in FRC. That put us on edge from hour 1 of the event.
However, as we got into our routine, things started looking up. Our schedule was about as fair as it gets, and we managed an undefeated run through quals landing in a safe 1st rank spot. Heading out of quals, our only real complaint was that the intake was very floppy. It was wiggling around for the entirety of every match, but it held together with help from the best pit crew in the world.
We managed an undefeated run through quals and a 1st seed position, but we were not the best robot of the event. 4414 was consistently outperforming us. During quals though, they tipped other robots a few times while making high speed runs across the field, which drew multiple red cards and dropped themselves to 9th place.
When alliance selection came, we invited 4414 onto our alliance and made a strategy note that they should avoid tipping opponents during our run through elims. During Match 1 of elims however, 4414 and 696 gave an accidental 1-2 punch to 3647, drawing another red card and dropping us down to the gauntlet of the lower bracket. Our run up through the lower bracket went smoothly, with us and High Tide managing some smooth cycles, and 696 managing their match flow very cleanly.
Finals 2 went even worse. The fork climb failed us again, causing us to invalidate the engages of both 4414 and 696 and leaving us out of the community zone without even earning park points. A 16 point loss put us on the back foot for a third time in this eliminations round.
In finals 3 we finally found our footing again, pulling out a win, and leaving everything down to a Finals 4 tiebreaker.
Finals 4 was, to say the least, stressful. The bridge got wedged up partway through the match, and we played most of the way through before the match was foghorned and we had to play the same match again. A fifth finals match. On the final final finals match, the auto failed entirely but the drivers focused up and pulled out a narrow 7 point win, with the fork climb barely making it in time. It was the most excited I have ever seen 1678 for a regional banner.
This event validated our design, and put to sleep our worries about the Epsilon design. It also confirmed for us that traffic in the scoring and pickup areas along with a capped max score makes this a hard game to be exceptional at. The underpowered climb needs to be fixed, too. We're going to have to bring the reduction back up and deal with the risk that the robot can damage itself.
All in all, this was event to remember. 4414 and 696 were great partners. 4481, 6036, and 3859 were scary opponents. We came home with a banner and a to-do list.
17 days until Sacramento.
With the wrist unable to lift a game piece, the wrist pulley blocking the middle of the intake from being used, and the pulleys on the wrist power transfer falling off frequently, things are looking grim. Citrus has never been this far from a competitive robot heading into an event.
In order to open up the middle of the intake, we're biting the bullet and moving the intake motor into the wrist plate instead of back on the carriage with the wrist motor. It's going to make our CG higher and the intake heavier, but at this point we're out of options.
The rope is having some issues staying on track and spooling nicely, and the elevator isn't all that rigid side-to-side. We need to come up with some fixes.
To fix the play in the elevator, we added some reinforcement plates to the front and bottom of the base and first stages of the elevator.
Author's note: The screenshots below are from post-season. I think the bottom plates might have gone on after Hueneme?
To fix the rope rubbing, we moved from a bolt into the drum to a high strength rivet instead, which sits flush and doesn't snag on anything.
Comp's wiring is... okay, but Beta's wiring is truly bad. We made the decision to fully re-wire the machine. While the elevator and intake changes were being made, Rohan and the hardware electrical team measured and pre-cut every wire on the robot. As soon as the new intake was on, they stripped and replaced every single wire.
Every. Single. Wire.
The new wiring is the nicest that has ever been on a 1678 robot. Turns out that electrical is an iterative process as well, who would have thought?
The night of 2/28 was the only time in the 2023 season that the Citrus mentors had to get their hands dirty building. With the robot still incomplete by the end of the meeting, we couldn't justifiably keep the kids in the shop all night on a Tuesday. The coaches stepped in to make up some time. We had a small punchlist of items, including re-riveting the bellypan on with more high strength rivets, finishing installation of the elevator end-plates, tapping some holes in Falcon shafts, and tying down some last few wires. People often wonder how much hands-on work the mentors are doing on "good teams," and this was it for us this season.
With Beta's beautiful new wiring, we decided that Comp would sit out for the first event, and Beta would play at CAPH instead. Is a comp that doesn't play at competition still "comp"? Who knows. Regardless, Beta is finally ripping some fast cycles. Here is a 12 game piece practice match (counting auto).
4414 posted a dope reveal video and we're stealing their format. This took like 30 tries, but we eventually got it clean enough to post. Beta was packed up immediately after filming, and we headed down south to Ventura. There are some serious powerhouses at this event, and we've only been competition ready for two days. Confidence is low, tension is high, but all we can do from here is our best.