February 1999


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Whew! Another full day of robot competition for the F.I.R.S.T. challenge! Well, if you've been following our progress you'll know we ended up pretty well yesterday and were optimistic of our performance today. Well, we had three more elimination matches this morning, of which we ended up losing only one, so out of 12 total matches for elimination, we won 10 of them! We maintained our 3rd ranking position and easily made it into the finals! (For the finals, teamups are no longer random, the top 8 teams get to pick an ally from the 9 and lower positions, with the 1st position making their choice first, etc.), so we were third to pick an ally, and I think our first two picks were already gone, so we got another robot called HOMER for our ally. The finals are best 2 out of 3 matches, and we had high hopes, but were upset in the first heat and then also in the second, when we had a climber malfunction, knocking us out of the competition! We were a bit sad at getting out so quickly, but we were so very amazed to have made it as far as we did! I gotta tell you guys, this thing was FUN! If you have an opportunity to do this next year with a local school, or if your school has the ability, GET INVOLVED! There are regional competitions all over the country with the finals at DisneyWorld in Florida, so your location in the US should not keep you from attending or getting into it next time around! Our team has the option of going to the Finals this year, but I think time schedules for most of the teams adults will not allow it, so maybe next year!

I will be putting together a full page on our FIRST experience, as soon as I can get the photos developed and scanned (once again, my digital camera sucks, gotta get a better one some day). Someone else did take a few pictures of our robot, here is one. But until I get all my stuff updated, make sure you check out the following sites:

The official US FIRST site
NASA Ames Research Center site
South Lakes High School - these guys have a very full site about the event and have lots of pictures too.

2/26/99 10pm

Wow, what a day! The FIRST competition is an all-out BLAST! We went through this long day with 9 full matches! Our robot 'Golem' (Team #257 from Brandeis Hillel Day School in San Rafael) is taking the competition by STORM! so far (we still have some elimination matches in the morning tomorrow), we are now in THIRD PLACE out of all the other competitors! We have won 8 out of the 9 matches we have been in! AND, we actually got a special achievement award, complete with trophies, for the "Best Play of the Day"! It was in one of our first matches where, in the last 5 seconds of the match, our robot launched up onto the puck, in turn, totally displacing the two enemy robots that were already on there! I am just having WAY too much fun with this. We have had several close calls, including one match that came down to the wire on a possibility of a PERFECT score (540 points), but got barely thrown off by an arena boundary, to one match that was a blatant referee error that they ended up not correcting for us, even afer admitting the fault, but all in all, I am absolutely amazed at how far we have gotten, these kids are fabulous at driving and controlling the functions of our robot! And, the robot itself is working perfectly still! Looking around, many of the other teams are struggling to get ANY part of their robot working, and (knock on wood), our robot consistently operates perfectly as designed every time! Heck, I'm starting to feel as confident as Carlo B.! (We don't need no stinkin' tools!) There are some really cool designed robots at this event! I really like this idea of each competitor having only certain parts to work with, it would (and originally did for me) feel like it might limit you, but I am in absolute amazement at the variety of design and techniques! Maybe a cool idea to integrate into any future robot combat events? Hmm...
Well, I gotta get to bed, BIG day tomorrow, at this rate wehave a great shot at the finals, so keep your fingers crossed if you are unable to get to Moffet Field, if you are able, make sure to stop by and say "hi!". GO GOLEM!

2/26/99 2am

Okay, okay, sorry for the delays. I finally got around to getting some digitized video up from our Underground Robot Street Fight. I still have a roll of film to develop and scan, so the pictures will be along eventually too, but for now, enjoy these video clips!

Today is the day for the elimination rounds for our FIRST robot (The GOLEM) in Mountain View, I will be getting lots of video and pictures from that event too, I wasn't able to get there yesterday for the practice sessions, but from what I heard, our team is definitely doing very well so far! Updates will be posted here, so stay tuned!

So what the heck am I still doing up (now 2am)? Finishing the video stuff for you guys, that's what....hope you like it! See ya, wish us luck at the competition! Better yet, show up and cheer us along!


Our FIRST robot (The GOLEM) arrived safely in San Jose yesterday! Our last practice session on Sunday went well, I brought along Junior to give the kids some distraction while driving the Golem. I'm very impressed at the driving abilities of these kids, they can take the heat very well. After some final last-minute adjustments, the robot was in excellent running condition when we finally put him in his crate for shipping.
The competition starts this Thursday with practice and set-up, and goes thru Saturday with elimination matches and such. I will be there from Friday thru Saturday, if you're able to make it by, stop by and say 'Hi'!


Been pretty busy lately with all the stuff going on, so I haven't had time to put the Underground video and pics up yet, sorry. Maybe this weekend.

Our FIRST robot is coming along very well, we got the 'climbing' mechanism built last night and it tests out well. We have only a few more days until this robot needs to be shipped off for the competition (weekend of the 26th), so we're going to have to make do with what we have finished. The students have been practicing driving it and are doing rather well (from what I hear, I have yet to see the darn thing driven!), so as long as everything holds together, I think we should place rather well.

This past Monday, the robot segment on Bay Area Channel 5 aired, showing our Underground Robot Street Fight shots, along with some old event footage, etc. It was about 5 minutes long and was pretty cool, I taped it and may digitize it to put here too. They showed a little bit of me and Junior, but Trey and Team LaMachine stole the spotlight, man, I sure wish Herc had been able to make it, things would have been a bit different. They botched my website too- they misspelled it, and gave out the mile-long URL and hard-to-remember one instead of, oh well, if people are really interested and resourceful, they should be able to find their way here, right?

Rumors have been flying all over on the Robot Wars Forum about the supposed demise of Robot Wars. Nothing is definite yet, but apparently there has been an agreement between Marc Thrope and Profile that puts Profile in the winner's seat, giving them full control over the future events and potential of Robot Wars with Marc getting some of the profit. I will not comment further on this, as there still is no concrete fact on the table yet, but long-time readers of this site should pretty much be able to guess how I feel about this... More on this later.


Allright! The first (annual? quarterly? monthly? whatever?) Underground Robot Street Fight this weekend in our 'secret' Bay-area location was a big success! Sorry that we had to keep it so secret, but for obvious reasons, it was small and invite-only! It was more of a test and get-to-know session than a real 'event', so it may not have appealled to many of you anyway. In attendance were the following robots and their creators:

- LaMachine
- Ginsu
- DoAll
- Voltarc
- S.L.A.M.
- Junior
(unfortunately, Hercules was a bad boy and had to stay home, so Junior proudly came in his place)

The day went well with an amazing clearing of the rain just in time for us to have our fun! A camera crew from a local news station even attended to film everything (I'll tell ya later when and where to tune in!). We got tons of video ourselves and lots of pictures, so I'll leave it at that for now until I get the Underground Robot Street Fight page up later this week- don't worry, I'll have lots of pics and video for you to see, so stay tuned to see the fun and results!

Hats off to all those who brought their robots out, and special thanks to Team S.L.A.M. who drove 500+ miles just for this! Great job, guys!


Another new month, so I've archived the January 1999 updates into their own section, if you didn't get to read them last month, you may want to check them out!

Progress is moving right along on our FIRST Robot Challenge robot entry. What a cool experience it has been to help out with these kids and a chance to actually do something with a robot! We have only a couple weeks left before the robot has to be shipped off, so we need to make some major progress! Tonight we are getting together to finish construction of our lifting mechanism, which when fully extended will lift the 'floppies' about 9 feet high!

This coming weekend should be pretty interesting. Stay tuned here to find out why!