Over the past weekend, we got to compete with many other amazing teams at the North Texas Tournament of Robots, also known as NTX! There were teams from 4 states and Mexico. The event was hosted by Team 1296, The Full Metal Jackets from Rockwall, Texas. The facilities were great, and 1296 did a great job managing all the logistics!
We love off-season events because it gives us a chance to try new things without worrying about the consequences. For the main tournament on Sunday, we ran three different drive teams so that we could give our future drivers more competition practice.
The event was split into two parts. On Saturday, they had the “STEM Gals tournament,” which is designed to get more girls interested in STEM and give inexperienced students a chance to be on the field and driving the robots without the high stakes of the normal season. For this event, all members of the drive team had to be new to their positions and the main drivers had to be female.
Sunday was the main tournament with no restriction on who could play or any rules about using experienced drive teams.
We loaded into the event very early on Saturday morning and began setting up our pit. Overall, setup was very easy as we had done most of the work and completed all our robot work back at the shop.
We also took this time before the event to get everyone set up with our new scouting app. We are using this app to make recording, data entry, and data analysis much easier. It also pushes much of the scouting data to the cloud, so instead of having one master computer with all the data, any team member can quickly pull it on their phone or laptop. Having the data so readily accessible makes match strategy much faster and the alliance selection process more informed.
Our STEM Gals drive team did a fantastic job during the qualifications, ending with a record of 2-2 and being ranked 4th. Thanks to all of the data we got through our new scouting app, we were able to create a great alliance. Our first pick was 2723, Team Rocket. They did a great job scoring and were a pleasure to work with. Our Second pick was Team 5930, the Lunar Kitties. We picked them primarily for their expert defensive capabilities, but they were also good at playing cargo and would be able to pick up the slack if we or Rocket were not able to score enough.
Throughout the elimination matches, our teams worked great together! We all had fun and there were many laughs. During the first match, we had some slight match strategy problems, but once we had that worked out, matches went smoothly. We ended up winning the STEM Gals event undefeated. It wasn’t easy though, with each alliance being very strong, and it was a tough competition all the way.
The day ended with an awards ceremony after eliminations. Not only did they hand out the awards for the winning and finalist alliances, but they also gave out several other awards: Gracious Professionalism, Team Spirit, and Safety. We were honored to win the Gracious Professionalism award for helping out several teams on and off the field
We are super proud of all the girls who competed and want to give a massive thank you to our alliance partners, Team 2723 and Team 5930!
On Sunday, things really started to ramp up. We did a full check of our robot in case anything had happened the day before, and then started to work match strategy for our upcoming qualification matches.
Qualifications were rough. While we had great alliances and won all of our qualifications, due to the fact that this was the robot’s 6th event, problems started to emerge. After only our third match we discovered that one of our drive gearboxes had started to seize up. We traced the problem to a dead motor, but this prompted us to have to change the entire gearbox because there is no way to repair it on the robot. While inspecting the gearbox off the robot, we discovered we had a gear that was almost entirely worn down as well. Luckily through the generous help of 1296, we were able to repair the gearbox and get it back into working order.
Our next problem came only a few matches later when part of our cargo intake started to sheer right before back-to-back matches. Because we did not have time to fix it properly, we were forced to zip tie it into a position that worked and cross our fingers that it worked. Somehow it held and in the time during the match, we had prepared a new part and all the tools and were able to properly repair it.
Luckily, we had no other major problems and we managed to end our qualifications ranked #1 and undefeated. Being rank #1 put us in a great position for the upcoming alliance selection. Our first pick was Team 5431, Titan Robotics. Titan was one of the top scoring teams during qualifications and they were very good at playing the rocket, so we would be able to split the field and not risk getting in each other’s way.
Our second pick was 3526, Team Blue Ignition from Mexico. We picked them to play defense and hopefully slow our opponents down enough to allow us and Titan to outscore them.
We lost our first elimination match after we tipped over early in the match, which would have been okay, but our team was not able to slow the opposing alliance down enough. We managed to win the second two matches though, and moved on to the semifinals.
Again, we lost our first match, and even though we did our best to ensure our success in the next match, we could not pull it off. The second match ended in a tie, but in eliminations there are no ties, and the winner is decided by the tie breakers based on different types of points. The first tie breaker determinant is penalty points, but neither alliance had any. The second tie breaker is cargo points, of which the opposing alliance had three more, barely clinching the win.
We are sad our own alliance lost, but overall very happy with our own performance. From winning the STEM Gals event, very fast emergency fixes, and achieving rank #1, we had put on quite a show.
This was the last event for the Howdy Bots this year as from now on we need to turn our eyes to the future and prepare for next year.
We want to give a HUGE thank you to 1296 for putting on the event and 5431 for volunteering to help with many parts of the event. We also want to say thank you to all of our alliance partners who helped make this such a great event. We cannot wait to play with y’all again next year!