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A Successful Start to the Competition Season!

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Our beloved robot, “Snuffy” took a good swing at our annual Duluth competition this year! Qualification matches started a little rough on Friday morning, with a new species of code issue and some encoder problems. After trying to implement some of our “magic” shooting position code into our autonomous routines, we encountered a bug that caused our code to crash. Normally, you would be able to reboot this code, and the robot would just be out for a portion of the match. However, in our case, we also encountered a bug on the system side of things- a bug that didn’t allow our code to reboot. This meant that we went “rock mode”, and essentially played the role of a fancy statue for the remaining of our matches after a crash. We had another issue with encoders (sensors that tell us where our robot’s wheels are in relation to the field), causing it to be immensely difficult for our drivers to control the direction of the robot, but regardless we still cycled nicely. Despite these difficulties in our first few matches, we were coupled with some amazing partners and remained undefeated. 

After a few code and encoder fixes- we were ready to roll, flying through our qualification matches. On our 9th and final qualification match, we were faced with a powerful alliance, we knew it would be tough. In autonomous, our alliance had shot into the speaker, but the scoring mechanism had been jammed. This meant that even though we had made the shots during the allotted time frame, they had been scored as if they had happened after the time. When the match concluded, our alliance had been scored as 10 points behind our opponents. We quickly sent members of our alliance up to the question box, to ask judges to review the match and ensure that our points were scored correctly. The judges were able to see the jamming of the speaker scoring mechanism and adjusted our points accordingly. We were still defeated, but only by one point! Here we finished our qualification matches 8-1, ranking number 6 out of 55 teams. 

Then came the fun part- eliminations. After picking, we stood as the captain of Alliance 4, alongside our partners Team 5690 SubZero, and Team 2861 Infinity’s End. We did well in our first match against Alliance 5, but were stifled by defense in our second match against Alliance 1. Due to the nature of double elimination- Snuffy was still going. We did well in our 3rd match, defeating Alliance 6, and put on a beautiful winning show against Alliance 8. Our drivers worked hard to catch up, and overcame the talents of Alliance 8, by 1 point!! We owe this to Ari for his last-second park, bringing us to our final match of the competition. In this we faced Alliance 7, and ultimately succumbed to them, finishing this competition in a well-earned 3rd place overall. 

Even then- we were still not done. As we were leaving the field from our losing match, heads hung high, a voice from our alliance partner rang out,“Guys! Come back, you won an award!”. Sure enough, we did. Team 2823 was honored with the award for autonomous, wowing the judges with our code. To this, we owe the programming team who has worked tirelessly to help get our robot moving- all by itself, and to every other person who has contributed to our amazing team, and our amazing robot!

Well, we’ve partied hard but there is much work to be done- catch us at the Minnesota 10,000 Lakes regional in a couple short weeks, or at the Minnesota State Competition in early May!

We’re Back!

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It’s been an exciting start to the year with lots of new recruits. We are so excited to give them a taste of what competition with our robot Chomp is like at the MRI on Saturday at Roseville High School! A huge thank you to the FireBears for putting it on! 

Another awesome season has wrapped up!

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We participated in the Lake Superior and 10,000 Lakes Regionals, and made it to semifinals in both! At Lake Superior, we had a few problems but learned a lot. We were alliance captains at 10,000 Lakes and worked with teams 3630 and 2450. Double elimination brackets were a new experience for us, but the strategy team was up for the challenge. Unfortunately, we lost in match 12 but ranked 4th!

We also won the Creativity Award, sponsored by Rockwell Automation, thanks to our washing machine, which allows our robot, Chomp, to rotate cones from any orientation so we can place them on the field. Credit goes to Bailey Beedle, the mastermind behind the mechanism, and Julian Burns who helped out every step of the way. Bailey is pictured to the right helping out as another team fixes their intake.

We took some time off but then came together to celebrate with an end-of-year picnic to reflect on our season, give out awards, and honor everyone that lettered in robotics this season. Lots of food and fun!

But the year’s not over yet, and robotics goes year-round. Just last week some of the team volunteered at Allianz Field to raise money for next season, and soon another group will go. Later this summer we have some fun outreach events planned, including a spot at the State Fair! More info to come on social media, so don’t forget to follow us @hprobotics2823 on Instagram! 

Preseason Robotics

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This year has started out strong for Team 2823! We competed at Prior Lake’s Minne Mini, a regional competition to show our newbies the ropes, and what a real FIRST event looks like. It was our introduction to double-elimination matches, and we had a blast. Although we didn’t win, it was still an awesome experience and a day full of fun! 

Our team volunteered at Chocoholic Frolic, a race with a 10k, 5k, and a KidsK. We helped set up, sign the runners in and give them their numbers, passed out water and medals, handed out snacks, cleaned up, and got some cool t-shirts too. The day was filled with lots and lots of chocolate, and we made some money to support the team!

CADurday (CAD day on Saturdays) aka the best day of the week, where we learn how to use CAD software. We always have donuts to keep the spirits high (plus get people lured in), and there is lots of frustration fun and learning too! If you don’t know, CAD stands for computer-aided design, and it can be used to create 2-dimensional sketches or 3-dimensional models. So of course, in order to have the awesome benefits of having models to demonstrate and improve our work, we need to learn how the heck to use the software, and it has a pretty big learning curve. Thanks to our amazing mentors it is very fun, and the learning makes it all worth it. 

And finally, huge thanks to everyone that donated on Give to the Max day! Your donations go straight to the team and help keep the Automatons running. They get us the parts, snacks, and pay the fees we need to compete. Your support is truly appreciated. Thank you!

New School Year Robotics

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Team 2823 HP Robotics returns with the new school year! We had a great season last year (3rd at state), and we are looking forward to an even better one this year. We have many new students joining us and our team is looking stronger than ever. We are so excited for another year of innovating with First robotics, we look forward to working together with other teams!

Today is Give to The Max

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Give to the Max day is on November 18th–which is today! You may already know this if you have been receiving a bunch of similar emails from other organizations. But how many of those organizations can say they have built a beautiful, capable robot that can launch balls in all directions and hang from various heights? Also, one of the strongest principles our team upholds is that STEM education and opportunities should be universally accessible, regardless of economic class, gender, race, or location. Because of this, we do not charge activity or membership fees to our students so that there is no monetary barrier to joining our team. This requires us to work hard every year on fundraising. Please consider donating to HP Robotics Parent Org, a non-profit 501c3 solely focused on supporting robotics at Highland Park. Your tax deductible donations can be submitted either directly to the team by check or online with GiveMN.  Share this link with family and friends: https://www.givemn.org/story/I0ba6f Or mail to:
HP Robotics Parent Org
PO Box 16414
St. Paul, MN 55116 And don’t forget to check with your employer for company match opportunities! Thank you for your generosity,
HP Robotics Parent Organization Inc
Tax id:  81-4584912

Give to the Max Day is Soon!

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Give to the Max day is on November 18th–about a week away! You may already know this if you have been receiving a bunch of similar emails from other organizations. But how many of those organizations can say they have built a beautiful, capable robot that can launch balls in all directions and hang from various heights? Also, one of the strongest principles our team upholds is that STEM education and opportunities should be universally accessible, regardless of economic class, gender, race, or location. Because of this, we do not charge activity or membership fees to our students so that there is no monetary barrier to joining our team. This requires us to work hard every year on fundraising. Please consider donating to HP Robotics Parent Org, a non-profit 501c3 solely focused on supporting robotics at Highland Park. Your tax deductible donations can be submitted either directly to the team by check or online with GiveMN.  Share this link with family and friends: https://www.givemn.org/story/I0ba6f Or mail to:
HP Robotics Parent Org
PO Box 16414
St. Paul, MN 55116And don’t forget to check with your employer for company match opportunities! Thank you for your generosity,
HP Robotics Parent Organization Inc
Tax id:  81-4584912

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!