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On the Trailer Situation

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I had planned to sleep in Sunday morning. It was not a pleasant surprise when my mother, usually not one to disturb her slumbering kids, rushed up to my room at 8 AM and shook me until I stirred. It was an even less pleasant surprise when I learned why I was being awoken so early. Team 2823’s trailer had been stolen.

For those not in the know, the trailer is a fixture of any robotics team. It is a universal symbol of FRC; go to any robotics competition and you’ll see a line of trailers, with varying levels of fanciness and customization, in the parking lot. When I see that line of trailers, I know I’m among kindred spirits. We have all built robots that are too large to store in someone’s trunk, and we all have toolboxes and batteries and joysticks with which to operate that robot, and we all need a large, convenient space to store that stuff in. Most importantly, we all keep a lot of that stuff in the trailer even when we’re not at a competition.

We were lucky that our robot, which we’ve been toiling over for six weeks, wasn’t in the trailer that night. It had been taken into our head coach’s house because of a loose screw. The trailer remained parked outside of his house, where it is usually found, until around 5 AM. When word got out, in a panic, we scrambled to find the vehicle registration, file a police report, and spread the word through every channel we could. I created a GiveMN page (which is still up, btw) that spread at an unexpectedly fast rate through the tubes and accumulated a donation total in the quadruple digits. Perhaps the most remarkable thing: our main builders and drive team managed to squeeze the robot into our head coach’s car and we drove to the practice competition we had scheduled for the day as though nothing had happened. Goes to show nothing can set a couple of dedicated teenagers back.

At some point, the local media got word that the trailer had been stolen. It started with a call from the Pioneer Press, and before long, local TV stations began to take interest in us. Suddenly, our missing trailer was a capital-S Story, and it seemed like everyone in the Metro area knew about our trailer. We had newscasters following us around at this practice competition, interviewing students and mentors, while fellow teams offered us spare parts and batteries and friends donated money while promising to look for our trailer. It was scary, at first, to lose something so important to us (and to any robotics team), but the outpouring of support and the importance with which our situation was being treated eased our worries.

We received word that a trailer that resembled ours had been spotted on a rapid response vehicle around noon. Around that time, the team was breaking for lunch, having a markedly successful day with our robot whose framework is partially made out of a box of Cheetos. Afterwards, we fielded interviews and responded to press inquiries, feeling like reality stars as we enjoyed our lunch of Culver’s. We’d never been approached by news outlets in such great volumes, nor had we ever seen such an influx of donations. It was amazing to watch it all unfold.

When my mom and I finally made it to the impound lot, where we believed our trailer to be, a news van pulled in beside us. A very kind guy from KSTP trailed us as we made our way to the administrative office with a big bag of forms. The lady at the desk was a bit exasperated by our questions about the trailer – apparently, a news team had shown up earlier and furtively tried to get photos of the trailer through the window of the office, which is apparently frowned upon in the impound lot industry. We showed her our forms and proof of ownership and her tone softened. We were shown out a door that said “Do Not Enter”, and we penguin-stepped our way across the ice-slick lot to the trailer on the other side, which, sure enough, had the tell-tale HP sticker.

The trailer didn’t look to have taken much damage when we first opened it up. Was it messy? Sure, but it didn’t look like much was gone. After all, that shelf that we stock full of supplies was still there. We then poked around a bit and realized that the shelf was not, in fact, full of supplies, and about all we had was the bare shelf, some power cells, and a good amount of nails and screws. Most of our VEX products (and anything that could be sold for scrap) were gone. We were shocked at first, but as engineers, we can’t dwell on problems; all we can do is solve them. We brought back the trailer, hiked up our fundraising goal and moved on. Today, the trailer, though missing some batteries, electronics, and machinery, is parked in front of the school. Our fellow teams (as well as some of our sponsors) have offered to provide us with some of the resources we’ve lost, and as of writing, our fundraiser has exceeded its second goal by several hundreds. We couldn’t be more grateful that we have the money and support necessary to rebuild after experiencing such an abrupt and unexpected loss.

After we got the trailer back and did a couple of TV interviews for good measure, the story got picked up by the AP, and started showing up in an implausible number of non-Minnesotan publications. We had talked with Yoji Shimizu, a local legend in the Minnesotan robotics community, earlier that day, and he told us that plenty of teams have had trailers stolen before. Perhaps that explains why so many teams rushed to support us in our time of need, but it also begs the question of why people care about our story so much. Some answers that have been proposed: ours is a story with a pretty clear protagonist and antagonist, and the protagonist requires monetary support that people are willing to give; people hate to see kids have opportunities taken from them and love to see happy endings; stolen goods rarely make their way back and people often don’t have the means to rebuild what they’ve lost. That last one holds some weight – we were told, when we were hurriedly filing a police report at the crack of dawn, that lost trailers are rarely ever recovered. Well, ours is an unbelievable success story – not only was the robot kept safe, not only were we able to go to our practice competition, and not only did we actually get the trailer back, but we’ve received such a great volume of support that we probably would have been fine if none of those were true.

Thank you to everyone who donated to our fundraiser, to all the teams that reached out to us and offered their help, and to the news outlets that helped our story get unexpectedly huge. We’re so grateful that, even in such devastating situations, we can depend on the kindness and Gracious Professionalism of the FIRST Robotics Competition community.

Minne Mini and Much More!

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Hello again, everyone! We’ve had a very eventful pre-season, with a healthy mix of new adventures and tried-and-true traditions. It’s been hard work, but we’ve been having plenty of fun along the way!

First, we held our annual car wash in the HPSH parking lot. This was a great success – we made over $400 from your donations alone, so thank you! We also made a couple cents – shout-out to the alumna who donated exactly $28.23 :).

We also participated in an entirely new (well, to us) outreach event. Every year, the Mall of America holds a “trick-or-treating” shindig where kids can come to the mall in costume and “trick-or-treat” at the various stores and restaurants within the mall. Problem is, kids with severe allergies can’t be sure that the treats they receive are hypoallergenic, so the Anaphylaxis and Food Allergy Association of Minnesota creates an “allergy-free zone” where these kids can spend halloween driving robots – like the ones made by yours truly! Along with the Central Minutebots and Great River/Avalon NoMythic, we taught some pretty cool characters how to drive Atlas. Sure, our drive team is great, but have you seen a fairy princess or a dinosaur drive a robot?

Just this past weekend, we attended the Minne Mini regional, hosted by Prior Lake’s King TeC. Our regular drive team was either out of town or, well, graduated from the team, so we were working with an entirely new drive team that included 3 rookie members. Wouldn’t you know it – they did amazing! Not only were we able to drive well and work well with other teams, but we “sent it” (vaulted the robot onto a 6-inch platform) THREE TIMES! We closed out the qualification rounds ranked 14th, but ultimately did not get picked. Oh well, there’s always the regular-sized regionals!

We’ve also been working on two major fundraisers. One of these was our second annual Give to the MAX day giveaway, where we offered bumper stickers, winter hats, and mini-scotbots. There’s a bit of a delay on the winter hats, so gifts may not come out for a week or two, but rest assured that they will come!

We’re also currently holding our Winter Gear Sale! This time around, we’re offering classics such as the black sweatshirt, grey sweatpants, and “10 Years of Innovation” shirt, along with a brand-new 10-year anniversary sweatshirt and an HP Robotics scarf. All of these products are a great way to protect against the cold, though I’m sorry to say that they won’t be here in time for the snowstorm tomorrow. Order here until December 5th to show your support for the team!

We’re also very excited to announce that the Midway Men’s Club is now a sponsor of ours! It’s a terrific organization that rents a stand at the State Fair every year and uses the proceeds to provide funding for youth activities (including a handful of other robotics teams) and we are very grateful for their generosity. Check them out the next time the Fair comes around – we hear they’ve got some good burgers!

That’s all for now! Stay tuned for more updates and make sure to follow our twitter account @hprobotics!

Back from Summer!

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Hello again from Team 2823! It’s been a fun few months of relaxing (and a couple less fun weeks of school) since our last update, but, rest assured, we’ve kept ourselves plenty busy!

Over the summer, we did a number of outreach events, including demos at the Minnesota State Fair, 3M’s Robots Invade the Plaza event and HighlandFest. During these events, we educated people about the FIRST program, explained how our ‘bot works, distributed plenty of buttons, and even gave youngsters the opportunity to drive the robot! HighlandFest was a particularly special event for us this year because we were not only doing all of those things, but we were doing them on Fox 9 News. Cool, right? We definitely thought so.

In other news, we had our first meeting of the year last Thursday. We served pizza, and then, in a surprising turn of events, had team veterans and new recruits alike collaborate to build a tower out of the empty pizza boxes! Of course, we never said that the tower had to be touching the ground, so people figured out pretty quickly that they could maximize height by simply taping the top of their tower to the ceiling. That’s the kind of innovation that we admire but find slightly annoying – i.e., just what our team needs.

As for upcoming events, we’re currently gearing up for our annual Car Wash in the HP Parking lot! This one will be on Saturday, the 28th, from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Come and get your car washed for the meager price of $5.00 (although if you do want to pay more we wouldn’t mind) by robotics students, and proceeds will go towards next year’s robot! You can also share the graphic below with your friends, family, and followers!

That’s all for now! Be sure to follow us on twitter @hprobotics for more updates.

…And we’re back!

By FRC 2019, Uncategorized No Comments

Hello, everyone! Thanks for your continued support, because build season is finally here!

Last Saturday was Kickoff – for those not in the know, Kickoff is the day that we FIRST Robotics teams get our yearly challenge. It’s a pretty big event in the FIRST community, since it gives way to build season, which is six weeks of labor-intensive planning, building, and testing!

This year’s challenge is called Destination: Deep Space, sponsored by the Boeing company. The game animation, which details how gameplay works, is as follows:

Basically, robots must be capable of carrying at least one of two objects, the “hatch panel” (donut-shaped object with velcro) and the “cargo” (kickball), and placing them in succession onto those rocket-shaped structures to ensure that cargo is securely “stored” on these ships. This year’s game also presents a new challenge; instead of Autonomous mode, where robots must run on preemptively programmed code, Deep Space has Sandstorm mode, where robots can be driven as usual but the drivers’ vision of the field is obscured. Robots also must find a way to climb onto elevated platforms at the end of the match without the help of any velcro or support bars. After Kickoff, we had a very productive strategy session, and we’ve already started on building the robot. We can’t wait to show it to you!

In the meantime, be sure to check our Twitter for updates (and memes).

– Scotbot

Post-Medtronic Regional and End of Season

By FRC 2018, Uncategorized No Comments

Hey all! We here at HPSH Robotics are happy to announce how well we were able to perform at our latest regional, the Medtronic Foundation Regional. We placed 5th overall and went to quarterfinals with our alliance partners, the Governors and Blaze Robotics. We’re also ecstatic to mention that our lead programmer, Alexis Lipstein, was one of the finalists for the Dean’s List Award. Unfortunately, we were unable to achieve our goal of winning a blue banner, and therefore this means the end of the season for us. We’d like to thank all the people who worked hard on our team in build, programming, strategy, business. We’d also like to thank our alliance partners team 3745 ,the Governors, and team 3184, Blaze Robotics.

Here’s how we did in all our matches:

Team 3184, Blaze Robotics: https://blazerobotics.org/

Dean’s List Award Clip:

Video of Our Matches:

Website: http://www.hprobotics.org/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/HPRobotics
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HPRobotics/

If you have any questions feel free to contact us.

If you would like to contribute to the team, please use this link to contribute through GiveMN. Thank you!

Preparing for the Minne Mini Regional!

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We’re back and ready to compete! The Automatons (#2823) are preparing for the ‘Minne Mini Regional’ at Prior Lake High School this Saturday, November 18th. After participating in our first offseason regional at Roseville High, our new members got to experience the different aspects of competition like Scouting, Pit scouting, Pit crew, drive team, media, and even human player! It was a good day all around, and now we’re getting ready for the next one.

Many students are working hard and diligently in the various sections of our team. Build team has students learning all about what it takes to plan, design, structure, and create a robot for competition. Programming is doing their full check up on ‘Omnibus’ to make sure it’s fully functioning in time for competition. CAD is designing ways to refine our workshop and utilize more space for better organization

Business team is searching for possible sponsorship this season as well as connecting with our current sponsors, informing them about our new season as well. We also have a few students working on creating a new ScotBot mascot for the upcoming season. Finally strategy team has Zach teaching new students how important it is, during competition or build season, to evaluate and strategize how our team plans to take action amongst other robotics teams.

That’s all for now but if you want to learn more about our team or follow our progress check out all of our official channels below.


Website: http://www.hprobotics.org/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/HPRobotics
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HPRobotics/

If you have any questions feel free to contact us.

If you would like to contribute to the team, please use this link to contribute through GiveMN. Thank you!

2018 Preseason

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Hello again!

It’s been a while since our last update, but don’t worry, we’ve been working as hard as ever. Over the summer, we focused on volunteering and outreach. Some members of our team volunteered at Thomson Reuters’ Girls in Tech program, teaching middle-school aged girls how to use Scratch and think like programmers. We also attended Thomson Reuters’ Unconference, a technology fair where we demonstrated our robot Omnibus’ abilities and learned about new advances in technology, and won a First (ha) prize ribbon for our robot in the education building of the State Fair.

  

We’ve also been working on fundraising for the upcoming season. Team members and mentors alike have been regularly volunteering at the U.S. bank stadium and Team Ortho races to help raise money for the team.

This season, we’ve welcomed an influx of freshman members, which puts us at over 40 student members. Since the beginning of the school year, we’ve been working hard to teach freshmen and new members about our team, be they members of the Business team, the Build team, the Programming team, or our new Strategy team. We don’t yet know what our challenge is, so Build, Programming, and Strategy have been focused on fixing up our robots from last year and preparing themselves for this year, while Business has been focusing on securing sponsorships for the coming year. Although we haven’t gotten any game information, FIRST has released a teaser trailer for this year’s game, which is called FIRST Power Up and has an 8-bit theme.

This weekend, we’ll be competing with Omnibus at the Minnesota Regional Invitational, an offseason regional competition at Roseville High School. We’ll also be at the Minne Mini on November 17th, and we’ll be volunteering at the Monster Dash on October 28th. As per usual, we’ll be having regular meetings on Thursdays at 2p.m. in Highland Park’s woodshop.

That’s all for now! Thanks for keeping up with us!

Follow HP Robotics on all of the official channels and share with your friends!

Website: http://www.hprobotics.org/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/HPRobotics
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HPRobotics/

If you have any questions feel free to contact us.

If you would like to contribute to the team, please use this link to contribute through GiveMN. Thank you!

Prepping for Kickoff!

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Team 2823 is preparing for the kickoff of FIRST Steamworks!

With the support of our lovely mentors, we have been working diligently to teach all of our new members the skills necessary to be successful while at a robotics competition.

The build team has been working diligently on a drivable chassis along with lessons regarding electrical engineering, welding, and the basics of how to use the many tools within our shop.

The programming team has been working on programming the drivable chassis along with improving the vision processing code from last year.

CAD has been working with their mentor on a “top-secret project”, while simultaneously working on becoming CAD masters.

The business team has been working on securing grants, managing our social media accounts, figuring out our financial needs, and, as of late, fleshing out a logo for this year.

We look forward to the start of the 2017 season!

Follow HP Robotics on all of the official channels and share with your friends!

Website: http://www.hprobotics.org/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/HPRobotics
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HPRobotics/

If you have any questions feel free to contact us.

If you would like to contribute to the team, please use this link to contribute through GoFundMe. Thank you!

Preseason

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Hey, everyone!

Our preseason is off to an electric start. We have held multiple regular meetings so far and have recruited many new members. The goal of our preseason is to build the skills that team members would need during the regular season. We do that in a variety of ways.

The build team is building the necessary skills by having new team members work with returning members to build what we call a “shadow bot.” The shadow bot is usually different every year and is primarily used for demonstration. This year it will be quite exciting and more info on that will be coming soon along with a robot reveal.

The business team is off to a great start. We are starting the year off strong with lots of fundraising and many projects that would make our team more efficient and more enriching for all of our team members. Expect a lot more from us soon.

The programming team has been using last years robot to teach new members the pillars of Java. Expect a cool demonstration from them soon. Right along with them has been the CAD team. They have been working diligently to get the shadow bot’s concept within a detailed 3D model. When that is thoroughly completed we will be releasing that.

That is all for now. Expect updates from us at least once a week from now on.

Follow HP Robotics on all of the official channels and share with your friends!

Website: http://www.hprobotics.org/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/HPRobotics
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HPRobotics/

If you have any questions feel free to contact us.

If you would like to contribute to the team, please use this link to contribute through GoFundMe. Thank you!