Saturday, March 19, 2011

A quiet week and busy weekend

A quiet week...

On the way out of town one day, I was happy to notice the steeple had been replaced on the quaint little chapel. It was ripped off by the tornado a few months back.

The winter's supply of wood is down to one neat stack.

Spring is nigh!

One last repair session Tuesday and the minibot was ready for the big weekend. However, Mike was not in the best shape with the beginnings of a sore throat.

A busy weekend...

Mike's been at Purdue since Thursday for the Boilermaker Regional FIRST Robotics competition. By the end of one day in the loud noisy pit, he was voiceless.

Most of time between matches he was in the pit area, their work cubicle, helping to keep Pivot, the robot, in working order.

1720 was a very efficient model. Almost every time it could do what it was supposed to during the initial 15" autonomous period--hold the Ubertube (yellow plastic inflated circle), extend its arm fully upward, move forward and place the game piece on the highest peg. During the two minute driver controlled period, it could move quickly, pick up and hang the other game pieces, play defense. And at the end, for high bonus points, it could deploy its minibot (small independent robot on the right) which would then climb a pole and set off a sensor light. Amazing really.

Our Baby Bot is at the top!
However, everything that could go wrong went wrong, and then some. There were matches when the arm would not extend, or the minibot would fall off, or Pivot stalled and could not move, and once for lack of a connector to the controls, it just sat through the entire match.  Add a few operator errors as well.

So, did we lose? NO, we ranked 13 out of 41. The other two teams on the differrent alliances pulled us through most of the rough times, and in the end we were picked to play in the finals!!!

Coach, drivers, human player and Pivot before final match.
 We didn't win but neither did we feel like losers.

There was a little robot that could not score at all. It had no arms and no minibot. It could only play defense. The name: NOT Your Average Rookie! We laughed at the little black box running around until we heard its story from the team sitting next to us.
That new innercity team was working to keep kids off the streets and out of gangs. Their robot hadn't come together and one of their members had been stabbed. They were about to give up but at the last minute he showed up so they came anyway without a working robot. Another team helped them put together a simple model in just one day! And they ended up on an alliance in the semifinals!

As for me, I drove to Lafayette on Friday and stayed overnight. The 70+ miles of straight road brought back memories of the ten years I commuted to Purdue, already more than ten years ago.

One of the many special moments for me was the conversation with the other Mrs. Koch (no relation). Two of their sons have been through the program and this is the last year.

Now it's good to be home again.


sara said...

that robotics is so interesting!!! Sounds like you guys did pretty good even with all the problems!!

I am sending your number with my husband. I don't know if they will know how boys are!

Lhoyt said...

All I can say is WOW! the very idea of making a robot that actually works is amazing. congratulations, Mike!
And,yes the chapel looks great with it's new spire.

RaD said...

Wow, busy week. Love the robot championship pics. That sounds like so much fun and so much work. I don't think I could have ever wrapped my brain around all that mechanical stuff though.

Cotehele said...

Beautiful (almost) spring pictures. The warm weather is such a tease. Congratulations to the 1720 team! Lots of hard work and brain-challenging fun! I love science and the NOVA robotics shows. The future of robotics in our lives is wide open with the promise of much human and environmental benefit. Isn't it amazing how a common interest such as robotics brings together people of divergent beliefs, backgrounds, education and abilities?

I may have time Tuesday afternoon to get together.
Blessings to you.

McCrakensx4 said...

My oldest boy would be so interested in the robotics comp, I am sure. he is really into building and creating things right now. Very cool and congrats on your place...not bad 13 outta 41...Great job!

Mimi said...

What a great experience for the robotics team. I love the story about the inner city kids, getting help. Events like this can bring out the best in kids.

Have a great week,

The Bug said...

I teared up reading the story of the inner city team - that was great. I hope the experience helps keep them out of trouble.

Robin @ Be Still and Know said...

Robots...way cool!

Great week!


Loved the robotics. That sounds really neat.

Angie said...

I didn't know events like this even happened. Looks like a lot of fun (& a little stress.) Thanks for walking us through it.

Elizabeth said...

Fun full week... BTW - I love the picture of you on FB not sure who posted it but I wasnt able to leave a comment on the picture so thought I would comment on here...

Oldfangled said...

Wow, have they ever made it to the finals before? Great job, Phyxt Gears!

Lori @ The Davidson Den said...

Wow. You guys have the most interesting family with all your amazing gifts and pastimes. I always love to stop by and see what you guys have been up to!! :) I've missed reading your posts.