The Robo Vikes compete at the Alamo Regional First Robotics Competition in San Antonio

cc 1The Robo Vikes team 4206 had a great competition. The team faced many difficulties but pushed through until the end. On Wednesday, our team 4206 went to compete at the Alamo Regional First Robotics Competition. We were so excited and honored to compete with and against teams from all over the nation. These competitions are designed to help facilitate the core values of First Robotics: gracious professionalism and coopertition.  All present teams showed these values during and after each match. 

Our team was just one out of fifty.  From the start, our simple, yet sleek design performed incomparably better than the other competing teams. Our robot started scoring gears from the start with an average of seven to eight gears a match while other teams would average three to four gears a match. Our great accomplishments and hard work carried us into the finals.

In the quarterfinals, we earned  four hundred twenty-five points to three hundred five points, one of the greatest accomplishments. Team 4206 earned additional points by securing their rotors’ spin. Sadly, our alliance was disqualified because one of the robots  did not climb, failing to push the sensored light on the flight deck. Due to the disqualification, we had to win two more matches.  We won the quarterfinals and moved to the semi finals.

In the semifinals, we lost one match and won our other two, sending us to the finals. During the matches, the robot is subject to wear and tear.  In the second match of the semifinals, the axle broke on one of the wheels We quickly fixed it and entered our final match with guns blazing and engines racing.  The Robo Vikes did very well during the final match. The teams were neck to neck. Unfortunately, we received a foul, granting the other alliance 25 points. Our alliance earned second place and we earned a wild card due to our Dallas Regional win and placement in the Finals.  The Robo Vikes selected one of our alliance teammates, 5572, to receive the bid to Worlds.  The Finals Champion also won a wildcard and gave it to our other alliance member team 5960. All of the first place and second place alliance teams will compete in Houston at Worlds.
During the award ceremony the Robo Vikes received the award for Excellence in Engineering.  Our team won this award for having an elegant and adventurous robot with bracketed motors and two gear feeders, one active and passive. We also received medals for placing second in the finals.

Our accomplishments are a blessing. FRC is truly a team sport where all members make a difference. We were honored to compete against so many intelligent and compassionate robotics teams from all over the world!

Dallas Regional Win

As we won qualifying matches at the Dallas Regional on Friday March 7th, we quickly realized that we would be a top competitor. Throughout the day, we won five of our qualifying matches and tied one. We ranked second by Saturday. By the end of Saturday,  we were ranked fourth with a record of six wins, one loss, and one tie. We then proceeded into alliance selections as the number four Alliance Captain, and scored two amazing partners for our elimination rounds. We held a short strategy meeting with our partner teams 2468 and 5417 where we were blessed with insights from Norm Morgan, a well known mentor of Team 2468. With his help, we developed a strategy which we repeated throughout all of our elimination matches to win. We fought hard through our quarterfinal rounds, enduring a tie breaker before we won. We proceeded to the semifinal matches where we had a few close calls but won both matches, placing us against the number one alliance in the finals. We won the first finals match by a close margin, narrowly beating our opponents through our alliance’s amazing speed and defense. The second match almost backfired, with us and 2468 both undergoing brutal power losses during the match, severely reducing our performance. However, we victoriously won by a single climb. With our hearts racing amidst thundering cheers, we  won the final match, making us regional winners. yay_8We had just fought a hard-earned battle. It would not have been possible without the help of every team member: past and present, sponsors, parents, and mentors, as well as our alliance members. The hard work and dedication of everyone involved lead to our success. In all, we had a fantastic time at Dallas, increased our knowledge and victoriously conquered in true Viking fashion. We now hope to make a repeat win in San Antonio in April.Image uploaded from iOS (1)Image uploaded from iOS (2)

Improvements Since Dallas

Roddy 3

Ever since our victory at the Dallas regional, the Robo Vikes have worked tirelessly to make improvements to the robot for the upcoming competition in San Antonio.  In the time between the Dallas regional and now, the team has made multiple improvements. First on the list was to fix the climber. Previously before we bagged the robot up or made final adjustments the climber on top of the robot broke, leading to late night work from students. Unfortunately, the climber failed to meet its intended purpose and suffered when being pulled up the rope.  Once back from the competition the climber was fixed and improved to prevent future malfunctions.  Item number two was to create an active feeder mechanism which would allow the robot to pick up gears off the ground and from the station to increase our gear intake Roddy 1.  The team is constantly exploring other aspects of the robot such as programming and the competitions have taught us unmeasurable skills. The RoboVikes will conquer again.

The Women and Men in Blue: Intelligence Gathering and Alliance Selection

One of the most important tasks at competition besides driving the robot is scouting – gathering information on the other teams’ capabilities. This information allows top-tier teams to decide on alliances for the playoffs, and it helps the lower tiered teams decide who is the best partner for them. We make it a priority to scout every team in every match for the most adequate decisions. We require at least 6 people per match taking notes – in reality we have more students, so people can swap out and perform the basic necessities. 

To make the process easier and more informative, we designed forms for our scouts. The forms had spaces for various quantifiable data such as number of gears delivered, whether they attempted to climb and succeeded, and the estimated amount of fuel scored, among other things. Our mentor Kevin LaPerriere created a program we could feed this information and other data to that could generate various graphs and charts. Though we were unable to fully utilize it, the scouting forms and the graphs were enormously helpful in our planning for alliance selection.

We have never been in a position to select robots for an alliance, so we excitedly gathered and strategized Friday night. We first made several lists using data from The Blue Alliance, a website that collects statistics on FRC matches. We copied down the teams by rank as well as by offensive power, and then added any noteworthy teams. This was just the start. Unfortunately, we  noticed that because no one had scored any of the bonus ranking points at this competition, the ranks were not completely reliable – a poorly-performing team could have their rank inflated by playing on alliances with far better robots. Additionally, we knew we needed to look for teams that complemented us, not just ones that did well on their own. So we then looked at our primary research to see how well the teams had actually done, and if they fulfilled our basic requirements for alliance partners. In the end we listed 16 teams and it was this scouting that allowed us to pick teams 2468 and 5417 – ranks 22 and 29, respectively – to form our winning alliance.

Upgrades to the DemoBot



Towards the start of the FRC Season, the team had to focus more on the FRC Robot and so Demobot was put on the shelf. Demobot was the first semester presentation project at the Southwest Airlines’ Halloween Party. Rather than let it collect dust, the team decided to upgrade its core elements, like the original gearboxes and electronics tray. The original gearboxes were not functioning properly due to a miscalculation in the gear setup. However, learning from our mistakes, we successfully outfitted Demobot with a new set of gearboxes that resulted in a much smoother drive. The electronics tray was also fixed and replaced with a sturdier, more level platform that holds all the electronics for Demobot. This project was the team’s first success of the 2016-2017 season because it provided everyone with a vision of the real FRC build season.

Onward to the World Championship!!!

As many people know, we (the Robo Vikes) competed in the FIRST Robotics Competition Dallas Regional in Irving. Competing against 53 other teams is not easy, and requires numerous skills and a healthy dose of luck to win…

And the Robo Vikes won with flying colors!!!

Winning Alliance Captain posing on the field-2

Now, the Robo Vikes qualify to compete at the World Championships in Houston, TX on April 19-22. The Robo Vikes will be competing against hundreds of other teams in order to win the title of champions!

But if you thought that was the end, think again! Due to many new teams joining, FIRST split the championships into 12 divisions: 6 in Houston and 6 in St. Louis. The winning FIRST Tech Challenge and FIRST Robotics Competition Alliances from both Championship events will meet in a competition titled “The FIRST Festival of Champions”. This exciting event will take place on July 29, in New Hampshire (the birthplace) to decide the true world champion.

FIRST Festival of Champions

For more information on The FIRST Festival of Champions click here.

A Note From the Doctor

yay_6We Won!

It has been an exciting few weeks!  These students we work with are amazing.  Just when I think I have seen them do their best, they accomplish even more!  I am learning NOT to underestimate them.

As I am writing this, I have just returned from a marketing meeting led by our Business Manager, Matthew Ross.  He was accompanied by Adriannna Araujo, Alejandro Araujo, Mary Peyton Brewington, Mr. Depta, Mr. Araujo, and myself.  The were able to secure a $100K investment in our team over 4 years!  Way to go!

I hope you know by now that we won the Dallas Regional and therefore quImage uploaded from iOS (1)alified for the World Championship in Houston (April 19-22.)  With approximately 600 teams competing from all over the United States and the world, it’s the biggest robotics competition anywhere!  I hope you’ll get a chance to follow us on your device.  Look for an email with links for the live feed.  You can follow our match results and rankings using an APP called “FRC Spyder,” look for Houston on Week 8, we are team 4206.

Before that, we have our sights set on competing in San Antonio at the Alamo Regional (April 6-8.)  I hope you’ll get a chance to follow us live on your device.  You can follow our match results and rankings using an APP called “FRC Spyder,” look for the Alamo Regional on Week 6, we are team 4206.

Other activities include LOTS of button making, working on an FTC demonstration robot, developing an active ground feeder for the STEAMworks gears, planning for our STEM Academy, changing out the transmission on our DemoBot, Developing a new marketing campaign centered around our win in Dallas, #DropTheHammer.yay_7

We Won!

Image uploaded from iOS (1)This past weekend we (the Robo Vikes) competed at the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) Dallas Regional in Irving. 54 teams from three countries (USA, Chile, and Brazil) and two states (Texas and Oklahoma) were there to play this year’s FIRST Robotics Competition game, FIRST STEAMworks. (Ha ha!)
We won!
Combining the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology. We call FIRST Robotics Competition the ultimate Sport for the Mind. High-school student participants call it “the hardest fun you’ll ever have.” Under strict rules, limited resources, and an intense six-week time limit, teams of students are challenged to raise funds, design a team “brand”, hone teamwork skills, and build and program industrial-size robots to play a difficult field game against like-minded competitors. It’s the closest real-world engineering a student can experience in high school. Volunteer professional mentors lend their time and talents to guide each team.
It’s about completing a very challenging project with limits on your budget and a firm deadline. It’s about working on teams, help from caring and knowledgeable Mentors and peers, Gracious Professionalism, helping an opponent.
For a day and a half, our drive team of Alejandro Araujo, David Yokell, Alec Austin, and Jack DeRuntz captained by mentor Kevin LaPerriere, competed alongside two randomly selected Alliance Partners during eight matches of Qualifying.  For each match we were positioned against another alliance of three robots. For this portion of the competition we earned a record of 6-1-1 and ended with a rank of 4/54.  Once the Qualifying matches ended, it was time for the Elimination Rounds.  Eight alliances of three robot teams would compete in a tournament style play of double elimination matches.
After an exciting round of alliance selection, headed by our lead scout, Adrianna Araujo (class of 2020), we were allied with two FRC teams: team 2468  (Team Appreciate out of Westlake High School in Austin, TX,) and team 5417 (Eagle Robotics out of Allen High School in Allen, TX).
During the quarterfinals, as the fourth seed, we began our competition against the fifth seeded alliance.  We won the first two matches by the score of 235-215 and 305-220.  On to the Semifinals!
Now we took on the first seed alliance anchored by powerhouse FRC team 2848, the All Sparks, of Jesuit High School in Dallas, former World Champions!  We won the first match 330-306, narrowly escaping defeat by forcing a penalty.  The second match was lost 255-267, again, due to a penalty, this time ours.  We won the third and deciding match 255-240.  Now it was onto the finals.  Here we were pitted against the second seeded alliance dominated by founding FRC team 148 from Greenville High School in Greenville, TX, the RoboWranglers.  We won our first match 305 to 255 and, after a lengthy timeout, won our second match 240-165.
We won!
With that win, the Robo Vikes have qualified to compete at the World Championships in Houston, TX on April 19-22.  Nearly 1200 FRC teams will compete in 12 divisions to claim glory as the World Champion!

We have no shortage of ideas or talent here at Nolan.  However, being a young team, we are at a disadvantage in terms of equipment and resources compared with those world-class teams.  In order to set the team up for success both now and in the future we are announcing the #DropTheHammer campaign.  When you follow the Investors link you can leave us information so that we can contact you to discuss our needs.  

Thank you in advance for your support of our team and we look forward to challenging both ourselves and the world.

I am so proud of our team’s success.  It is owed to the hard work of all our team members (those that were able to attend, and those not able) , all of our former members, our mentors, our coaches, and our sponsors.  Thank you!Image uploaded from iOS (2)

Presentation Robot


Joey Bickett, Brennan Chan, and I have been working on the presentation robot for Team 4206. The goals of this robot’s construction are to show our accomplishments as a team and give us an air of professionalism. The purpose is to encourage grade schools to join the team and to persuade companies to donate to our cause. Along with parts from the old First Tech Challenge (FTC) robot, the new design uses four omni wheels to make up an omnidirectional drivetrain which implements front to back movement and left to right strafing. It has a small cube-like shape, roughly 17 by 17 inches, and is made of aluminum, Lexan plastic. The first layer is made of Lexan and contains all the wires and modules that control the motors. The top (second layer), made of aluminum supported by small metal rods, will contain either a launcher or a sign that moves vertically. We are currently improving the safety of the motor. Our design is seen above and below.




A Note from the Doctor


It is competition time! Build season is now over and the heads of our scouting team, Julia Murray and Chandler Williamson, are preparing early: They are pre-scouting  the teams in Dallas Regional, making folders, and creating match scouting forms.

Our awards manager, Gabriela Castillo, is putting the finishing touches on our Chairman’s presentation and Victoria Benkowski is finalizing the Chairman’s Video.  We are excited to see the results of all their hard work!copy-of-dsc_0367

We attended Pre-bag practice day at Jesuit High School in Dallas.  A big thank  you to the All Sparks.  While there, we met with many of our friends including the Warriors from South Grand Prairie High School, team 704.



We celebrated Engineers Week at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and Industry in our yearly tradition. For four years in a row, the museum has invited us back to exhibit our team and work with hundreds of school children to promote understanding of and excitement about technology. img_1410






We are making plans to once again host our Junior High Summer Robotics Camps, June 5-9.  Registration should be available soon through Nolan’s website.

Our first FIRST Regional competition is at the Irving Convention Center on March 9-11.  The big day will be Saturday, March 11 from 9-4 during which we will be competing alongside over 50 other teams from all over the world.  It is free and we hope to see you there!