FIRST Robotics Competition Blog

Diary of an Innovator Team 1466: The Season Begins

Feb 06, 2024 Written by Team 1466, Webb Robotics and FIRST Robotics Competition Staff




This 2023-2024 FIRST® season, follow along as we hear from four FIRST® LEGO® League, four FIRST® Tech Challenge, and four FIRST® Robotics Competition Diary of an Innovator teams about their season experience and the culture of innovation their team has created.

This post is by Team 1466 Webb Robotics from Tennessee, USA. You can read their first blog post on the FIRST Robotics Competition blog.


Q: We’ve officially released the CRESCENDOSM presented by Haas! What are your initial reactions to the game?

A: We were enthusiastic to see two 2021 Game Design Challenge entries combined to make an intricate game! Our team submitted a Game Design Challenge submission in 2021 and had a lot of fun with the project. Seeing the remix of Storm Surge and Operation Radiation was very satisfying. Our team members think the Amp and chain climbing at the Stage are creative field elements. Those elements might be even more complex than they appear. The Note is a very fun game piece, and one we did not even consider in our pre-kickoff speculation. We expect to see many different robot archetypes and game strategies at our competitions. The human player's High Note scoring caught us off guard but will provide for intense gameplay. Pretty much as soon as our kit was opened, we were measuring out the distance and practicing the High Note toss.


Q: How will your team innovate for this season’s game?

A: Simplicity and reliability in our mechanisms was a successful strategy for us in 2023. We are keeping this in mind as we CAD and build prototypes for CRESCENDO. To find inspiration, we spent a lot of time after kickoff watching previous games and robot designs, specifically ones from 2013, 2015, 2017, 2018, and 2022. As we finalize our CRESCENDO strategy, we want to prioritize autonomous abilities. We hope this will be a good way for our robot to contribute to any alliance. In CRESCENDO, it seems that there are so many possibilities for how robots can contribute during the auto period. We want to do well at our Week 1 regional, and we think consistent autonomous routines could be a differentiating factor once again this year.


Q: What process will your team follow when building your robot?

A: With our season goals in mind, we have established an accelerated schedule for our build season. In our lab space, we've crafted a visual timeline to help keep the team on track.  We start each meeting with a group discussion by our timeline and task board, where we check where we are on the schedule and what we need to accomplish in the next few days. 

Right after the CRESCENDO kickoff, we collectively analyzed the game manual. We categorizing game tasks as either Wish, Prefer, or Demand. This classification helped us to pinpoint our robot build priorities and concentrate our efforts on essential functions. We split up into small groups to work on this task, including new and veteran members, technical and non-technical subteam members. We try to make an effort to have everyone’s ideas heard. Sometimes a new perspective helps to identify unique ways to play the game.

We are currently generating designs in CAD and rapidly constructing prototypes from materials such as wood, plastic, or even cardboard. Some prototypes necessitate spinning wheels, while others simply require confirmation that mechanisms fit within the robot frame. By Week 2 of the build season, our plan is to finish our drive base and test a basic autonomous routine. By the start of the third week of build season, we intend to definitively select a design and its essential functions based on our prototyping and game score analysis.


Q: How are you preparing for judging?

A: We got a head start on our FIRST Impact Award submission and are considering how to present our outreach efforts creatively. We have a few ideas we are working on, such as creating a “playlist” filled with songs that represent aspects of the community we serve. This approach would be a first for our team, so we are eager to gain feedback from our mentors and judges. We are incorporating more types of media (videos, posters, etc.) into how we inform others about FIRST and Webb Robotics.

While all of our team members participate in team community service events, no member participates in every outreach opportunity. To educate everyone about the unique and creative efforts of our teammates, we are creating a trivia game with questions involving outreach statistics and personal anecdotes from the team members involved. We are borrowing this idea from other FIRST teams, and we hope we can ensure confidence in speaking with judges for all team members. Everyone on the team gets a chance to share their story as we are creating the trivia game, and to hear the stories of teammates and mentors as we play the game together. We’ve learned that sharing our experiences in FIRST and in community outreach is a great way to bring new people into the FIRST program.

On the technical side, our involvement in the Open Alliance has enabled us to exchange ideas and receive feedback on our work. Prior to competitions, we diligently review our Chief Delphi thread to refresh our understanding of innovation throughout the build season. Engaging in discussions with individuals from other teams provides us with an opportunity to articulate our strategic choices, strengths, weaknesses, and design considerations. Building a robot is one aspect, but conveying to someone else the methods and reasons behind constructing the robot in a particular way is another skill altogether.


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