District Events 2017

The six weeks flew by and before the Daleks knew it, it was time for the Bridgewater-Raritan District Competition. From cheering, to Chairman’s Award presentations, to scouting, to robot tune-ups, the day was filled with fun and passed before the team realized it. We finished in 22nd place and it was time for alliance selections. We were chosen by Alliance 6 and joined Team 747 and Team 219. Together we scored the high score for the day of 360! With great teamwork we made it to the finals but lost in a difficult match against the first seed alliance. We would like to thank our alliance members for helping us get that far and for a really fun competition experience! The time for awards rolled around and we were presented with the Finalist Award and Creativity Award sponsored by Xerox for our unique climbing mechanism! We are honored to have won our first engineering award. Also, our advisor Mr. M was awarded the Donald Bowers Inspiration Award for being an individual who instills the values of FIRST within their team. We are so proud!

A week later the team hopped on a bus to the Montgomery District Event. As always the Daleks enjoyed meeting new teams and interacting with new people. Between qualification matches, the team danced and cheered in the stands. We placed 20th place, an improvement from the previous competition! At alliance selections we were chosen by Alliance 7 and joined Team 4573 and Team 4575. After two tough matches, we were eliminated in the quarter finals but had a great time! In between matches we were awarded the UL Hard Hat Safety Pin, given to the teams with the Top 3 safety programs, and the UL Pit Safety Award, elected by our peers for the safest pit at the competition. At the awards ceremony we were presented with the Imagery Award in Honor Of Jack Kamen. This award “celebrates attractiveness in engineering and outstanding visual aesthetic integration of machine and team appearance,” and we are grateful to have been given it. Another exciting moment was when Mr. M was given the Woodie Flowers Finalist Award for being an outstanding mentor who leads and inspires. Mr. M, we thank you and are eternally grateful for everything you do for this team.

The Daleks have qualified for the MAR District Championships. Hope to see you there! 

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STEAMWORKS Kickoff 2017

Kickoff is like a robotics team’s Christmas. On January 7th, the Daleks gathered close in the early hours of the morning, some still in their pajamas, for the day we’d all been waiting for. The build room was our living room, the projection screen our Christmas tree, and as for the gifts, there was only one- but one was all we wanted. The task reveal for STEAMWORKS, the FRC challenge for 2017, was only moments away. While others sang along to the music parodies other teams had submitted, a small group of members lined up for a picture with our team’s photographer. These members were responsible for the Daleks’ 2017 Safety Animation, which had just been awarded runner-up recognition for the FIRST Safety Animation Award. As congratulations went around, the lights dimmed, and the voices of the FIRST directors filled the room. After a brief introduction, the task reveal was broadcasted to the viewers. The teams would build a robot to fuel an airship through high goals, low goals, gear placement, and rope climbing. Our eyes went wide as we discovered that the human player, for the first time ever, would be a live participant in earning points during the match. Ideas flew silently back and forth across the room, our gears turning with each and every detail.


When the video ended, chatter broke among the crowd as members began writing, drawing, divulging their strategies to one another. The room quieted as our team leaders spoke, recounting the content of the kickoff broadcast, then issuing the game manual to the members. The following day, after studying the manuals, we would decide what abilities we wanted to bestow upon our robot for the upcoming season. The advisers discussed the schedule for the week, a short debrief was held, and then the silence dissolved into gentle whispers.
Just as the meeting closed, an ecstatic member directed our eyes to the build room’s window, and there it was: beyond the glass, a gentle but steady snowfall graced the world outside. Our robotics Christmas had been a white one, and the thought of it drew us closer, and then we smiled. All of us.

Brunswick Eruption 2016

The team poured in, bright but bleary-eyed, at approximately 8 a.m., and opening ceremonies were kicked off by the national anthem not twenty minutes later. We snapped our heads towards the game schedule and found we were immediately engaged, scheduled to compete in the first qualifying match of the day. At 9 a.m., Hexcalibur had emerged from hibernation and taken its stance on the field, decked in red alliance bumpers and blinking reverently. The timer sounded, and in a flash, our alliance was victorious 72-60, but the drivers hurried to escort the robot back into the pit. Upon inquiring with the chiefs, it was found that Hexcalibur’s swiss was not functioning during the round, despite a splendid performance. Further inspection revealed that a sensor was loose in the snowblower motor, and was hastily repaired. Even so, we suffered defeat in the following two matches, but returned triumphant in the fourth and fifth, finishing the qualifying games in 6th place, making us alliance captains for the elimination rounds to come.

From the 41 participating teams, we selected our gracious hosts, Team 25, Raider Robotix, and Team 533, The PSIcotics, to ally with us in the upcoming matches. Before the games began, the annual Evil Sundae eating contest took place, stealing representatives from participating teams brave enough to eat the grotesque items hidden beneath the seemingly ordinary scoops of vanilla ice cream. The challenge of the contest is to finish the provided bowl before anyone else competing, though this plight can be thwarted via the distasteful ingredients hidden throughout the treat. This year’s sinister surprises consisted of carrots, peas, brussel sprouts, horseradish, and a zesty dose of soy sauce. Though unsuccessful, our representative put on an admirable performance, one which was met by unrelenting chants of support from our members in the stands. The bowls were whisked away, replaced with several awards presented to deserving teams, and then the playoffs got underway.

The Daleks’ alliance competed in two elimination matches, but their day ended in the quarter-final round. Still, we had a spectacular time, and amazing teamwork with our selected alliance-mates. It felt fantastic to cheer their names alongside ours, and the connections could be seen in the stands by the smiles that flew back and forth across the arena.

Being the 6th Alliance Captain was only the first chapter of our brand new season. Just one day later, and we’re already back in the building room, planning away for the competitions that lie ahead. It seems like this year, there will be no slowing down for Team 3637. But who said we liked going slow anyway?  

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FIRST® Championships

Even after the 15 hour bus ride from Flemington, New Jersey to Saint Louis, Missouri, the Daleks were filled to the brim with excitement. After getting cleaned up the team went to the Edward Jones Dome to set up their pit and start the day of competition in the Galileo division.

The Daleks all enjoyed meeting new people from all over the world. There were teams from all over the US  and Brazil, Australia, Israel, and many others. The team had tons of fun in and out of the competition. When they weren’t competing, team members went to workshops on leadership, diversity in FIRST® robotics, automated driving, scouting strategies and more. They also went to the Innovation Fair to see new technology and demonstrations. During downtime, the Daleks went to the top of the Gateway Arch, the City Museum, and Six Flags. The competition was intense, and although the Daleks didn’t make it past the qualification matches, Team 3637 were proud to have made it as far as they did. The Daleks even won a UL© Hard Hat award for safety given to only three teams in the Galileo and Carson divisions. The closing ceremonies were awesome with Dean Kamen, Woody Flowers, Don Bossi, and even Will.i.am showing up! Some of our seniors got pictures with Woody Flowers, leaving a great ending to their FIRST®  student careers.

Team 3637 is ecstatic to have had a fantastic season.

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Mid-Atlantic Championship

After a successful season in Team 3637’s district events, the Daleks were filled with enthusiasm and spirit heading to the Mid-Atlantic Regional competition. Lehigh University was packed with students ready for a fun and action-packed day of robotics!

As always, the qualification matches were intense, but fun nonetheless. In between matches, the Daleks met new people and collected buttons from the other teams attending. Team 3637 won the UL© Hard Hat award for the top three safest teams of the day and our safety captain, Laura, was presented the UL© Safety Star of the Day! We also passed around our sheets of “Tear-able Puns” and some of them were even announced by the MC during alliance selections. After sitting through a nail-biting alliance selection, the Daleks ultimately were not picked to join an alliance and continue into the quarter-finals.

The Daleks still stayed in good spirits. When the award ceremonies rolled around, Team 3637 was once again filled with anticipation. The Daleks were honored once again with the Industrial Safety Award sponsored by UL©!

Team 3637 had a great competition season, and will continue at Saint Louis for the World Competition!

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Montgomery District Competition 2016

The time for Team 3637’s final district competition for the 2015-16 season had arrived. The Daleks were focused and determined to make this competition a great one. The Daleks were prepped for the exciting day ahead of them.

As at all FIRST® events, the competition was fierce. Overall, the Daleks placed 2nd in the standings after the qualification matches, an all time high for the team! Later that afternoon, the Daleks, becoming the alliance captain, were joined by Team 869, PowerCord and Team 272, Cyber Crusaders. The Daleks had a blast working with these teams and cheering in the stands with them. But after a rough best 2 out of 3 competition, the Daleks and their allies were eliminated in the semi-finals. Team 3637 is proud to have made it as far as we did and we could not have done it without the help of our alliance partners.

Although the Daleks were eliminated from the competition, the day was not over yet! Earlier in the day, Team 3637 won the UL© Pit Safety award which we were elected for by our fellow teams. We also received the UL© Hard Hat award for the top three safest teams of the day. And last, but certainly not least, the Daleks were presented the UL© Industrial Safety Award which “celebrates the team that progresses beyond safety fundamentals by using innovative ways to eliminate or protect against hazards.”

All in all, the Montgomery Competition was a day of great successes in the competition, in safety, in making friendships, in learning, and in having fun!

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Mount Olive District Competition 05-06/03/16

Early in the morning, the Daleks filed onto the bus filled with excitement despite their fatigue. Mount Olive High School was filled with exuberant students ready for a day of learning and fun! The opening ceremonies built the anticipation for the upcoming matches and at the end of the ceremonies, a special guest made a speech. Who is this special guest you ask? Why non-other than the president of FIRST®, Don Bossi! The team was thrilled to see him and a few of our members even got to talk with him.

The Daleks worked hard and it paid off! At certain points throughout the game we were even ranked #1 out of all 39 teams that attended the competition. By the end of the qualification matches, Team 3637 ranked #3! Never in Dalek history have we made it in the top 8 teams, until now! We were chosen by the #1 ranked team, Team 56 R.O.B.B.E. and Team 613, the NeoWarriors joined us later! The Daleks were ecstatic to be able to work with two great teams and hope to work with them again in the future. In the quarter-finals, Team 3637 and their allies worked diligently and were filled with determination but were eliminated in a tough 2 out of 3 competitions. The Daleks are incredibly happy and proud to have worked with the great teams that we did and we thank them for a marvelous competition experience.

As the day wrapped up, the time for awards had arrived. Earlier that day, we had won a UL LLC © Hard Hat award, given to the top 3 safest teams, for our safety program. And at the award ceremonies, we won the prestigious Imagery Award in honor of Jack Kamen. The Imagery Award “celebrates attractiveness in engineering and outstanding visual aesthetic integration of machine and team appearance.” The Daleks are proud to hold this title and will continue our team’s effort to promote and exude the mission of FIRST®.

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Kickoff 2016

The day finally arrived. The most important day of the year. Kickoff.

The entire team huddled into the mechanical room and the atmosphere was filled with excitement and anticipation. Then, it was time. The video started and the room went silent. Everyone intently watched the game rules with “ooooo’s” and “ahhhh’s.” For those who don’t know, this years game is FIRST STRONGHOLD. On each side of the field there are towers which the opposite alliance must “knock down” by getting boulders (foam balls) through the top or bottom goal. In between are defenses to make it more difficult to get through each side. There are a total of nine different defenses in total, eight of which will be randomized every round.

The Daleks have gone into full gear! The Mechanical Team has begun to prototype designs for the robot after the multiple strategy sessions to decide what route we will follow in the game. The Business Team is finishing up applications for awards while our artist is making the finishing touches on our safety animation.

We are incredibly excited for the new season and can’t wait to see where our quest leads us!

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Brunswick Eruption 2015

The most wonderful time of the year just passed. No, I’m not talking about Christmas, I’m talking about Brunswick Eruption of course! The off-season event, Brunswick Eruption, was our last competition of the Recycle Rush challenge. The day started at 7 in the morning and the team members were excited despite their fatigue. We started out the qualification matches with our new drivers to help get them prepared for the upcoming season.

Thirty-eight teams showed up, making the entire morning consist of practice and qualification matches. As part of tradition, in the afternoon, one representative from each team went in the middle of the school gym to compete in the “Evil Sundae” challenge. The Evil Sundae is a bit of ice cream with some other ingredients. This year the other ingredients included wasabi, sriracha sauce, hot dogs, chicken hearts, and other things that complement ice cream very nicely. You have to finish this sundae before anyone else. Our representative couldn’t finish it, and we don’t blame him.

Next, the alliance selections took place. We were excited to be picked by the third alliance! Our team members were Team 303, TEST Team, and Team 1923, The MidKnight Inventors. We made it all the way to the finals and came in second, we couldn’t have made it this far without the help from our alliance partners, two very accomplished teams. The Daleks had great chemistry with these teams and had lots of fun in the stands with them, enthusiastically displaying each-others signs and cheering for our mutual alliance. We are proud to say we worked with them.

Brunswick Eruption also marked Mr. Pearl’s birthday! We celebrated at lunch time with cake! But probably one of the most thrilling events of the night was when the awards were presented. Our advisor, Mr. Mastropietro, won the Kumu (Mentor/Teacher) Award! The team doesn’t know where we would be without Mr. M, he is the glue that keeps us together and we are forever grateful for his time and expertise.

Adding to this busy, but fun, weekend, the team continued to mentor our FLL teams and volunteer at the Barnes & Noble Mini Maker Faire. No rest for the Daleks!

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MAR Championships 2015

For the first time since 2012, the Daleks made it to the Mid-Atlantic Robotics District Championships!

Having completed our second MAR District event in week three, all we could do was wait. Thankfully, at 45th place out of 121 teams, we qualified to go to Championships at Lehigh. We were very excited and eager to make an impression.

As 45th out of 55 qualifying teams, we tried to keep our expectations modest, since we knew our competition would be the best of the best in the region. However, we were still hoping for a repeat of the great successes we had achieved in our previous events. We had already seen that we had the potential for it.

On Thursday, the first day, we had 2 practice matches and just one elimination match. Our alliance scored 100 points, and we were thrilled! Although we would later see that such scores were typical, our spirits–just like the match scores–were raised as we saw the great things we could accomplish.

Friday and Saturday saw some intense competition from every team. We proved ourselves as a versatile robot, capable of building gray stacks as well as completing co-op, pulling recycling cans from the center step (in both autonomous and teleop), holding 2 RCs at once, and building from either the feeder station or the landfill. Our pièce de résistance was the can-grabbing mechanism we lovingly dubbed “The Cobra” for its snake-like jumping motion when it deployed.

By lunch time on Saturday, we had risen to 22nd out of the 53 teams there, with a qualifying average of 118.83 points. Being within the top 24, we had hoped to be picked, but unfortunately, we were not. Although we were disappointed, we also realized that we’d had a great season, and since we were competing against the best of the best, it was an achievement just to have made it as far as we did.

We finished in 40th out of 121 in the Mid-Atlantic Region, and we are immensely satisfied with what we have accomplished. Although our competition season is over, Team 3637 is certainly not done for the year. On Friday, May 15th, we will set up a robotics demonstration at Hunterdon Central’s annual Family Science Night, using our ’15 and ’14 robots. Come check it out! We are also continuing our work at Desmares and Barley Sheaf elementary schools. Finally, we’ve formed a Relay for Life team, joining millions of others in the fight against cancer.

Team 3637 would like to thank Hunterdon Central, our advisors, mentors, parents, volunteers, sponsors, and everyone else who made such a great season possible. We couldn’t have done it without you.

We hope all of you have enjoyed this season as much as we have! We worked hard and reached great new heights. Go Daleks!

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Springside Chestnut Hill Competition 3/13/15-3/14/15

Our second competition was at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, and it sure was exciting!

A few of us went down on Thursday to set up the pit, and on Friday, the matches began. Our robot performed very well, but that was far from our only accomplishment. We also made great use of our new electronic scouting system, allowing our scouts to push data to a pair of tablets that our strategists use in the pits. Our spirit team (including a dancing Dalek) also worked hard, both in the stands and the pits. Watch one of our favorite matches below:

The second day (Saturday) was just as fun as Friday, and Dalek morale was high. Other teams seemed to enjoy our special Pi Day buttons as much as we enjoyed the high scores that we and our alliance members were achieving. At the end of the qualification matches, we were in 13th place, and we were picked by Team 484 and Team 321 for the 8th-seeded alliance. Together, we reached second place in the quarterfinals, but we were knocked out in the semifinals. Nonetheless, we were all extremely proud of our performance, because despite not making it as far, all aspects of our team have improved from our first competition.

Now, we have completed both of our MAR District events, so we have to wait for the other four to be played before we know if we get to go to MAR Regional Championships at Lehigh University. However, just because we’re waiting doesn’t mean there is no work to be done—we have no more out-of-bag time, but we are keeping our RC-grabbing arm (nicknamed “The Cobra”) out of the bag as part of our allotted 30 pounds. We’re also working on upgrading our pit and scouting equipment, and brainstorming strategy.

Regardless of whether or not our season is over, every one of us is thrilled with everything we have accomplished. So far, we’ve built our first robot to see as high a ranking as 8th place, and won our first medal from a District event! Lehigh or not, this season has been unforgettable.

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Hatboro-Horsham Competition 2/28/15-3/1/15

The Daleks were very excited to participate in our first competition of 2015!

Saturday, the first day of matches, got off to a bit of a rough start. Our tote staging hooks broke in a practice match after getting caught, and we had to hurry to fix them before our qualification matches began. Then, a few low-scoring matches did little to help us in the rankings, and we found ourselves with some ground to make up. However, as the day went on, our drivers got more practice, we developed some strategies, and we were on a few high-scoring alliances.

On Sunday, there were two more qualification matches to go before eliminations started. In the second match, we debuted a large hook that pulled a recycling can off of the center platform, which few other teams had done up until then. We must have made an impression, because we were selected by Team 1403 and Team 1640 for the #1-seeded alliance!

We made use of our hook as well as our tote lifter as our alliance powered through all the way to the finals! Although we didn’t win, we are thrilled to have made it so far, and we offer our sincerest congratulations to Team 2607, Team 2590, and Team 5407. Good rushing!

As happy as we are about our performance at Hatboro-Horsham, there are always improvements to be made. In our 6 hours of unbagged-robot time, we’ll be preparing to tackle our next challenge: the MAR Springside Chestnut Hill event.

See you there!

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Kickoff 2015!

Build season has begun! Kickoff went off with a bang on January 3 and the official robotics season has started. This year’s challenge: Recycle Rush®. In this challenge the main goal is to work as a team to build a stack of totes with a garbage pail on top. For extra points, the garbage pail can be filled with the “litter,” otherwise known as a green pool noodle. Here is FIRST®‘s official game animation:

Team 3637 watched the Kickoff from the robotics room at Central. We got right down to business by breaking into 8 teams to brainstorm ideas for our robot. We strategized and came up with a lot of ideas, which were narrowed down and then saved for continued discussion. A large number of Dalek alumni came back to participate in the Kickoff festivities and to help mentor the team along with the parent mentors. We all went home full of ideas and enthusiastic to study the game manual. We are extremely excited for this season!

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Brunswick Eruption 13

It’s been a while since the last competition season, and we were eager to take last year’s robot out for one last spin. The 13th annual Brunswick Eruption gave us the perfect opportunity to do just that. Earlier in the week, we Daleks had worked on the robot a little, fixing some code, wiring, and mechanics, just to make sure the bot was still in fighting shape.

BE is a one-day event, so there were only five qualification matches before the elimination matches. We decided to rotate drivers so more people could gain valuable experience, and the results weren’t too shabby—by lunch, we were 3-2, and in 20th place out of 41 overall.  The morning wasn’t without its frustrations (how on Earth do you break a roller off of a Mecanum wheel if you aren’t actively trying?!), but we faced our setbacks calmly and ended up quickly fixing all our issues.

We were then selected as the 4th team on the 5th-seeded alliance. Along with our partners (Team 25, Team 56, and Team 1302), we advanced through the quarterfinals only to be defeated in the semis. We’d like to extend our hearty congratulations to the winners, and we hope to be back for next year’s BE!

Not only did we have fun at Brunswick Eruption, but we also accomplished many goals. Between the driver rotation, the hands-on work leading up to the event, and scouting, our newer members got a lot of exposure and their first taste of robotic action. By sharing experiences and simulating the environment of a competition, we’ve become better prepared for the challenges that lie ahead.

And I’d be lying if I said we haven’t caught a little case of competition fever.

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Bridgewater-Raritan District Event—3/28/14 to 3/30/14

The Bridgewater-Raritan competition was the Daleks’ last of the season, and it was certainly one to remember.

We arrived Friday night, speedily set up the pit, and made some adjustments on the robot. When we took the field Saturday morning, our robot was sporting new surgical tubing, and a working hot-goal autonomous mode! A few matches in, it would also be fitted with a fresh-out-of-the-box D-link, thanks to a damaged port on the old one that plagued us with communication issues. However, when everything on the robot did work, we were a mighty force on the field. We could shoot high and low, we could go over the truss, our roller scooped up stray balls in seconds, our Mecanum wheels let us maneuver around defenders… in short, we could do almost everything short of catching a truss shot. Our strength was our versatility—whatever role needed to be filled in our alliance, we were up for the task.

Unfortunately, this became reality less often than we had intended. It seemed as if every part of the robot (save the catapult) decided that breaking would be a fantastic idea, and that it would be more fun to break during a match than on the practice field. The D-link was first, but batteries, pneumatic tubing, and even our mighty roller all took their turns as well. Often, everything worked fine, and our robot would perform like a dream. But this was not always the case—”we’re better than our record,” we lamented to each other.

This did not lower our spirits because we knew that our robot was good. Breakdowns are far from unusual on the field; everyone felt for the team whose bumper fell off. So we were confident that others would see past the mishaps and notice that when we worked, we were good. We were right.

On Sunday, there were a few more qualification matches before alliance selections. We were picked by the 4th-seeded alliance, playing alongside our captain, Team 1403, as well as Team 1143. When our turn to play came, our robot was (in every sense of the phrase) a scoring machine. We won our first elimination match, scoring a whopping 235 points. However, in the second match, we lost communication with the robot because heavy strain on the battery had caused the voltage to drop so low that it could no longer sustain the D-link. We were quick to wave our “dead ball” card, but this still left our teammates one robot down. We lost the second match in the best-of-three series, and it came down to one more to see who would advance.

Our opponents had adapted and strategized very well after the first elimination match. They decided to cut the scoring machine off at its knees, disabling our strongest shooters with well-played, heavy defense. It worked—they emerged triumphant, and our season ended. Having failed to advance to the semifinals, we ended the day in 66th place in the Mid-Atlantic region. The top 55 teams go to MAR Regional Championships at Lehigh. We went home disappointed, but also very proud to have gone so far. This was the first year we had made a primarily offensive robot, and we were amazed by how well we had done. We had a versatile robot that made a strong addition to any alliance, and we had learned a thing or two from doing it. That is what makes robotics great.

Even though our season is over, our work is not. Our fantastic non-technical team has never ceased organizing events and continuing outreach. The Lego drive has been an amazing success, and we had great turnout for our most recent fundraiser at Panera. And the technical team hasn’t scrapped the robot for parts yet either (as of this writing). We’re considering doing an off-season event, since we had so much fun in 2012 with Brunswick Eruption 11.

This season has been a blast, and seeing the great things of which we are capable tastes just as sweet as victory.

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Mount Olive District Event—2/28/14 to 3/2/14

Team 3637’s first competition was an eventful one. We arrived at Mount Olive High School on Friday to set up the pit and worked until they cut power at 10PM. The next day, we all woke up with competition fever. Since we hadn’t had a principally-offensive robot in years, we were eager to see how we would fare against other strong competitors. In addition, we had an autonomous mode that could attempt a shot, which we hoped would make us a valuable addition to any alliance.

At the end of Saturday, we were 5-6. Our catapult certainly had no shortage of power, but at times we had trouble holding onto the ball. This was soon fixed, thanks to some truly massive zip-ties. Our autonomous mode also gave us a little trouble, but we quickly got it to get us the mobility bonus. The next day, it would be fully up and running, and we would be taking shots. At the end of the day, our robot had made an impression as a versatile machine. The roller worked like a charm to pick up balls in seconds, and by running the motor in reverse, we could send a controlled, easy pass down the field to an alliance partner. Our shooter saw some heavy use as well—although we rarely used it for the high goals, letting more consistent partners make those shots when possible. However, pinpoint precision is not required for a truss shot, and when combined with the serious power behind our throw, the result was an impressive Hail Mary pass, which would snag us 10 additional points to boot.

Sunday was the day of our final qualification match (a victory) shortly followed by alliance selections. Ranked 21st, we were near the cutoff for being in an alliance, but we hoped that the other teams had been impressed with what they had seen of our robot. Indeed, we were picked in the second round by the number 5 seed, Team 3340: The UCHS MagneGeeks! With them and our final partner, Roxbotix (Team 4361), we looked forward to an exciting elimination round. Unfortunately, we were eliminated in the quarterfinals, but we weren’t discouraged. Our alliance had played well and we saw that with a little more work, our robot could become even stronger.

Another reason we were pleased is that we are a growing team. For the first time, our new members got to experience the atmosphere of a competition, and they got to experience the relationship between effort and success. As teams grow, they expand in all directions. In our case, that meant more hands on the robot, but it also meant fundraisers, business, and outreach (like our LEGO collection). In fact, it is this that snagged us an award at Mount Olive—we were the proud recipients of the Chrysler Team Spirit Award! Being recognized by the judges made for a great ending to a very fun weekend.

We’ll keep working until our next competition, and by then, The Daleks will be a force to be reckoned with. We are a great team in the making, and we’ve seen very clearly that hard work can get us there.

See you at Bridgewater!

Pictures from the competition can be found here.

Countdown to Mt. Olive

by Ashley S.

The team has had a very busy week. We had our final build last Tuesday and worked all day Saturday, Sunday, and Monday before that. We spent most of the time doing some last minute tasks and cleaning up some of the sharp corners on our robot. The bumper team has been working very steadily to build the frame, glue on the pool noodles, and cover our bumpers. Our button team has also been very hard at work. With the numerous designs and the number that they have made, I am sure there is no way we will run out.

Saturday we spent figuring out the final tasks that the mechanical and electrical team need to complete in order to get the robot running. The catapult system was on the robot and running rather smoothly. We did a lot of pneumatics work for the pick-up system, making sure everything was wired correctly. The programming team worked to get our catapult working off of code and began programming for the solenoids on the pick-up system.

On Sunday, some of us met at a team member’s house to continue running the robot and checking to make sure everything was running smoothly. After we had unloaded the robot and the tool boxes,  we realized how underpacked we were. We ended up sending two people back to Central for some more equipment. After they had returned from that long adventure we had most of the tools and parts we needed. By then end of the day the catapult was working smoothly and the Mecanum drive was being worked on.

Monday morning started at Ethicon where Team 56 had allowed us to use their practice field for some testing. We added a few new parts and began our testing. We were very happy with the results and found our robot could shoot from a wide range of distances. After Ethicon we headed back to the school, where we spent some time talking about what exactly needed to get done. We also started working on our pit design and what parts and tools we are going to need to bring.

Tuesday was our last build day. We finalized our list of things to do and got immediately to work. We added sensors and attached bumper mounts. We also added a spacer to the gear box for the winch system. We began work on a battery holder and rods that would be placed on either side of the robot to help with ball control. By the end of the day we headed down to the 700s where there is a carpeted classroom to test our driving. When we got there, we realized there was something not working properly. We ended up putting a brand new Spike on the robot and re-cut some pneumatic tubing that was leaking air. We had fixed our problem and was able to drive. We spent the last hour in the cafeteria testing the catapult arm. After we had got it running we started having better results. We were able to pick up the ball off the floor, load it into the catapult and fire the catapult. All in all we finished our last build day very excited.

We have high hopes for our robot, which is currently bagged and will be opened soon so we can have our 6 hour period to work on it.  Our drive team will be Eric W. as head driver, Ryan S. as co-driver, and myself as human player.  Our first competition is this weekend (March 1-2) at Mt. Olive. We hope to see you there!

The Third Week of Build

The Daleks are on a roll…literally! Despite losing several build days due to poor weather, we still made a lot of progress this week, including a nearly-finished drive train. The drive team and the electrical team have been working hard together in the workshop, and by the next build, the wheel base should be fully up and running. Team 3637 is so big that we’ve expanded into nearby rooms—our ball launcher has been flinging with such power that we’ve stationed it in the stairwell. Here’s a gif of it in action!


Meanwhile, the programmers have been working hard in the computer lab across the hall, and the non-technical team has been busy planning fundraisers and designing our competition t-shirt in a physics classroom. Back in the workshop, our ball retrieval mechanism is almost finished, and once we get some parts we ordered, we should be ready to mount it on the robot.

At the rate we’re going, we’ll be very ready by the time February 18th rolls around…and we might have commandeered a few more classrooms along the way.

Click here to see more pictures.

Bridgewater-Raritan Competition 4-6-13 to 4-7-13

The Bridgewater-Raritan Competition was full of downs and some very high ups.

On Saturday, the first day of actual competition, the Daleks were 2-7-0. At first, one might think it was a disappointing day. But there were a lot of good things as well. We had new pit walls, which looked sharp in team colors. We had a lot of fan support, which we didn’t have nearly as much of last year. And most importantly, we had also redesigned part of our climber, and we were confident that we could contribute valuable points to our alliances. Sure enough, in match 43, we made it to the top of the pyramid–a feat only accomplished by one other team during the entire competition!

We all went home happy about having finally achieved our season-long goal: to get to the top. We would never do it again.

At the end of the day, both figuratively and literally, we had a very inconsistent robot. We only accomplished a handful of 10-point climbs, a few 20-point climbs, and that one amazing trip to the top. But our amazing senior leaders showed incredible strength–they worked nonstop throughout the competition, even when we were about to go onto the field (and sometimes in the queue). Our robot didn’t always make it onto the pyramid at all, and a couple times it fell off. Our team never gave up, despite the frustration that all of us were feeling. The Daleks poured their heart and soul into this robot, an effort that, while the robot wouldn’t make it to the top again, would come back in the end to reward us in a different way.

The next day, we arrived determined to be drafted into the elimination matches. We worked hard on our robot and nobody wanted to see our season end before lunch. This hard work paid off–we won all of our three matches that day. Despite our victories, we were still only 26th in the rankings before alliance selection, and we sadly didn’t make it into the playoffs. But we were still winners that day, because we were the proud recipients of the prestigious Gracious Professionalism® Award, for “outstanding sportsmanship and continuous Gracious Professionalism® in the heat of competition, both on and off the playing field.” We are honored that the judges selected us as embodying the spirit of FIRST®, and proud that they recognized our dedication to persevering in the face of failure.

We’re disappointed that we didn’t qualify for the MAR Championships in Lehigh, but it has still been an incredible, exciting season! We are thrilled to have been able to take part in some unforgettable moments, matches, and late-night builds.

Thanks to everyone who has supported Team 3637 throughout our adventures, especially our mentors, advisors, and sponsors!

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TCNJ Competition 3-15-13 to 3-16-13

When we arrived at TCNJ on Thursday night to set up the pit, we still had not yet tested our climber with the rest of the robot. We knew we were going to face a big challenge the next morning, but we were determined to face it with strength and resolve.

On Friday, as soon as the pits opened, we went to work attaching it. We knew we had to be fast, since there was a lot to do in the short time before our first match. We didn’t even put our dumper on the robot in an attempt to make it easier to reach the climber. Despite our efforts to work quickly, some code refusing to deploy still forced us to miss our first two matches (one of which our alliance partners were able to win without us).

Even once we got on the field, we were still plagued with breakdowns, mechanical failures, and whatever other issues the robot gods decided to throw at us. In one of our matches, we were able to get off the ground and score 10 points for our alliance, pushing us to a 102-100 victory. However, the next match in which we tried to use the climber, one of the stationary hooks that holds our robot on the pyramid broke. So when we turned off the power to our robot, it slid back down. Toward the end of Friday, one of the pulleys in our drive train somehow got bent. Whenever we tried to move, it made the horrible noise of belts skipping, as well as not being able to make a right turn. Finally, on Saturday, when we tried to use the climber again, it couldn’t pull the robot up the pyramid because it was drawing too much power–entire batteries discharged in just minutes. Sitting in 28th place out of 37 teams, we were not tapped for an alliance by any of the top 8 teams.

While the competition was a little disappointing, there were some good things that came out of it. First, we did some scouting, and we were able to get a good sense of other teams’ strengths and weaknesses. In addition, the competition gave us something very valuable–practice. We had not tested our robot before, and we got an opportunity to do exactly that. And it also let us continue to work on our robot and improve it, so we still made a lot of progress even if we didn’t make it to the elimination matches.

With this experience under our belts, Team 3637 will be getting ready for our next competition in a few weeks. By then, we will be a formidable force and a valuable alliance partner.

Go Daleks!

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Countdown to the Competition

Although the 6 weeks of the build season have ended, the Daleks continue to work on our robot. We have taken full advantage of the rule allowing us to keep 30 pounds of the robot out of the bag so we can modify it. Thanks to some recent donations by our supporters, we have ordered some new parts to get the climber climbing, so we are still making progress despite the challenging end to the build season.

In addition to the climber, we have also been working on things like materials for setting up our pit, buttons, t-shirts, banners, and improving our bumper design. By the time our first competition comes around, Team 3637 will be ready to play!

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(Like Rita Fang’s amazing button art? We sure do! The images have been posted on our Facebook page!)

Week 3 of Ultimate Ascent

We did a lot of work this past week, and it’s really paying off.

Some of it was non-technical, like designing a newsletter for our sponsors, ordering parts, touching up artwork, and organizing our finances. Some of it was technical as well. Our accomplishments include finalizing bumper designs, prototyping, working in CAD, teaching useful skills to our newer members, and getting the computers to talk to the cRIO and spin the motors. (Previously, we had been having issues making the motors move, and we weren’t sure why. But upon discovering that one of the modules of the cRIO was bad, our coders were relieved that it wasn’t something they had done!)

Anyway, Week 3 of build was very productive for us. However, we’re still very aware that time is always of the essence, so we will continue to work hard during the next weeks to finish the robot. Keep up the good work, Daleks!

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Kickoff and Beyond 2013

All of us were excited for January 5th, when we would learn what the new game would be. After a fun and informative day of workshops, socializing, and speculating, the moment we were all waiting for arrived, and the 2013 build season officially began! After the kickoff, we all went home to read the manual and think of ideas. The next day, we would go to a brainstorming session with our friends on Team 869, Power Cord. After considering a wide variety of ideas, strategies, and designs, we eventually decided to build a robot that would focus on climbing the pyramid more than shooting the discs.

(Discs? What am I talking about?)

The next few weeks were all about making that idea into reality. We knew we had to climb the pyramid; the next step was figuring out how. As time went on, we spent our build sessions thinking, prototyping, and measuring. We decided that we would climb up the edge (rather than the face) of the pyramid, and we designed a system of hooks and other mechanisms that will allow us to do just that.

All things considered, the time since kickoff was very busy, but very productive. Team 3637 looks forward to competing, and all of its members are determined to make the best robot we can!

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Brunswick Eruption 11

The new school year brought some new changes for our team, including an offseason event: the 11th Brunswick Eruption, hosted by Raider Robotix on November 17.  After so long without using the robot, we thought it would be fun to take it for a spin one more time.

We arrived with our robot at the competition at 7:00 in the morning. We quickly set up our pit and signed up for a practice match to warm up. After the opening ceremonies, the competition got started. However, the qualification matches did not start off well. Plagued by communication errors, our robot could barely move, and we lost our first three matches. However, after taking a match off to work on the problem without being distracted by having to change bumpers, we started to turn our day around. The remaining two teams on our alliance won without us, we fixed the communication problem, and we won the next match as well.

But after losing our final match and breaking a chain in the process, we found ourselves at the bottom of the standings, in a 7-way tie for 23rd out of 29 teams. As the top eight teams began to make their picks for the alliances of the elimination matches, we were worried that our day would be over right then. As each team was picked and 3637 wasn’t called, we became more and more convinced we were done. But then, to our delight, we were picked on the very last selection, joining Miss Daisy (Team 341) and Raider Robotix (Team 25) in the playoffs!

From that point on, things started going very well for us. We had a great time working with our two allies, and we tried to do our part by doing what we do best:  playing defense and preventing the other alliance from scoring, and balancing on the bridge. During one of our quarterfinal matches, we achieved a triple balance on our bridge, earning 40 points!  We ended up winning all of our elimination matches, sweeping the quarterfinals, semifinals, and then the finals in two games each. What started off as a frustrating disaster plagued by communication issues ended with a victory celebration.

Congratulations to all our fellow Daleks, and many thanks to our two allies, Teams 341 and 25! Let’s carry this momentum into next season!

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New Season Underway!

The new school year has brought some exciting times for Team 3637!  We have new mentors, new members, new ideas, and a new partner: this year, we look forward to working with our sister team, Power Cord (Team 869)!  We will be working together during the build season, sharing parts, designs, and code to efficiently make our robots as effective as possible.

This Saturday, we are also looking forward to attending an off-season event, the 11th annual Brunswick Eruption, hosted by our friend Team 25, Raider Robotix!  Brunswick Eruption will be a fun way for us to get back in the competitive mood and give our new members the experience of what a competition is like.

Team 3637 is back and better than ever.

MAR Championship 4-12-12 to 4-14-12

After three days of competition, the MAR Championship (held at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia) is over! For us, this also means the end of the season, but I know all of us are very proud of our achievements.

Thursday the 12th was the first day of competition (a few of us went and dropped off the robot at our pit the day before). The event started in the afternoon, and we only had one match.

Friday the 13th was when most of the action happened. We started off slow, losing our first three matches, but then we heated up, winning matches and scoring from Coopertition. By the afternoon, we had recovered from our poor start, usually staying around 15th or so in the standings.

Today was the last day of the event, and we had three matches. We won the first two, but we lost the last one, and failed to earn any Coopertition bonus as well. This hurt our position in the standings significantly. After all the qualification matches were over, the top eight teams took turns picking other teams for their alliances. Being in 32nd place, we were obviously not one of the eight alliance captains, and disappointingly, we were not picked by any of the alliances, ending our season.

Even though we didn’t advance, everybody did a great job today! We did very well this season, advancing to the regional championship in only our second year as a team!

Below are pictures from the second two days of the event.
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Mount Olive Competition (3-31-12 and 4-1-12)

Another competition is over, and it was a great one!

The first day (not counting Friday, when we dropped off our robot) was a fun one. We started off a little slow, but eventually heated up, at one point winning three of our matches in a row. Unlike at the Rutgers competition, there were no mechanical failures this time, due to careful adjustments we had made this past week to prevent them. We ended the day high on the leaderboard.

On Sunday, the second day, we also did very well. Ending up in 6th place overall, we were one of the top eight teams, which meant that we could pick our alliance members. These alliances would stay with each other for the rest of the elimination matches, which were in a best-of-three single elimination format. We chose Team 75, the RoboRaiders, as well as Team 555, Montclair Robotics.

Unfortunately, we were once again eliminated in the first round, but our excellent qualifying position meant that we have qualified for the Mid-Atlantic Robotics Regional Championship, which will be held from April 12-14 in Philadelphia. Great work, Daleks!

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