Day Two: Resume from after Lunch
When I got back to the homeroom, I hooked up on Michael where we spent some time doing last minute practice trials with the Robot, whom he had named Hans. Last year it was named Armstrong. Seems like we have some pretty good comedians on the team, eh? A parent/coach built some goal boxes out of cardboard boxes that matched the dimensions of the goal boxes we would see in competition. He even made a bonus box, a tall goal with a narrow opening, where, if you drop something in, that is a bonus of 10 points, for a maximum of 30. We managed to get most of the PVC pieces into the boxes, got a nail into the goal box, and two pencils. Nails are a little slippery, on account of the smooth texture of a nail and that iron/steel is quite the challenge to grip for a robot.
Elizabeth took time off from studying for her exam by practicing on her flute. She said she had tryouts for a scholarship to Blair's School of Music in Nashville, TN. The only downside to her practicing is that she plays really well and thus created a distraction for everyone else. Hopefully, she got that scholarship.
Earlier, Alex and Aaron had come back from Maglev with good news! Two magnets fell off and the car did better than in the test trials! We all had a good laugh at that.
Finally, time came around (some pretty boring time passed) to do Robot Arm with Michael. Mom drove us over there, I didn't want to walk to University Center carrying super heavy bot and counterweight. Walked in there, set down our robot, and then found a friend of Micheal's and he began to tell us about some other teams that he has watched (the event lasted 3 hours, testing took a while). When we got there, there were two guys operating a wireless robot. There were actually two arms, when one arm moved, the other reacted. One operated the secondary arm, the other kid operated a control box that opened/closed the gripper hand. Pretty clever, but really jerky.
Looked like people learned from their mistakes last year. Last year, people just went and bought robots, which turned out to be too small for the competition. But, I have Micheal, who is one of the best with this kind of techie stuff. Last year, we placed 5th, and did better than state champs MBA. This year people built their own bots, mainly out of VEX, although you could still see the unfamiliarity that comes with being a non-engineering student, designs were wobbly and unstable, and like I said above, the robot movements were jerky and sudden. But this is a learning event, and we could see our competitors getting better at the event compared to last year.
Anyways, Micheal's friend showed us his robot. It was pretty cool, since the thing was made out of Kinects pieces, and he used a counterweight like us to balance the weight of the arm with the weight of the base so that the contraption doesn't tip over and suffer a major fail. His partner took the spare time to take a nap on the floor. We went to look at a sheet that told us who was in which order of doing the actual test, and we found out we were second to last. Ugh, that meant a lot of waiting. It took about 10 minutes for each team to do the test set out in front of them, even though you only get 3 minutes of actual time. Other minutes are devoted to prep and practice.
We didn't get to do our test until 15 minutes after the "official" end of the even, the tests took longer than UTK realized. At that point, a huge crowd was gathering-the university was going to do refreshments as soon as we were done. The test proctor made an announcement to the people that this was a testing environment and he would much appreciate it if he could be able to talk to the participants. So, he asked everyone to use whisper voices in the hall. The noise level did go down, but just enough to allow us to hear ourselves think.
Finally, it was our time. As the second to last group, we had suffered an exorbitant amount of time standing around and watching the other groups go, trying to relieve ourselves of the anxiety that was setting in. We had our three minutes of practice, everything seemed to work well. And then we began the actual test. My job was to keep Michael on pace and make sure that when Michael was ready to drop an object into a goal box, the arm's gripper was positioned perfectly to make the drop. That included not hitting any of the goal boxes as he was moving the arm around. We got all 5 PVC pipes into the goal boxes (including one bonus, along with one nail and one pencil) and got two more nail and two pencils into goal boxes. We then raised our arm with ping-pong ball in hand up to its tallest reach-89cms. We calculated afterwards that we earned 40 of the 93 points, twice as good as last year (which we placed 5th).
Micheal and I then proceeded to walk out of the building where we could separate ourselves from the hustle and bustle of the crowds waiting to stampede into the refreshments. Micheal called my mother, who instructed us to go to the parking lot where we could put our stuff in her car. We did, completed the 5 minute walk over there and then waited 15 minutes for her to be able to get over there. Mom had to back the car up, because other people weren't very good at parking and we couldn't open up the passenger side doors.
After that we went and joined the rest of our team in the refreshment hall, got some snacks, then found a room where we could play card games by ourselves. Melissa and Elizabeth won the only game we managed to play, somehow only me and Melissa noticed when Elizabeth freaked out (she can't do a poker face) when Melissa grabbed the card that Elizabeth needed to win. I have no idea how everyone else missed that.
End of Part Two Day Two: Awards