Rebound Rumble, FIRST Robotics 2012 Game

In the FIRST Robotics competition, individual teams of kids have six weeks to assemble a robot from a collection of loose parts.

Here is our kit, just before we started inspecting the inventory.

In March, FIRST team members around the country and in other parts of the world will play a game (the exact details of which were only revealed today– “Rebound Rumble”), and score points through “coopertition.” Teams will compete in temporary alliances of three, against another alliance of three.

After the big reveal of thegame rules, rookie teams stayed for most of the day, assembling the basic robot frame and trading tips. As I understand it, none of the rookie team kits included the thumb drive that was supposed to have the disk image we are supposed to load onto the notebook computer we’re supposed to use to control the robot. One member of another team did manage to get ahold of the proper thumb drive, but his computer didn’t work. My Seton Hill colleague and fellow team mentor Anastasia Tircuit, from the computer science program, used one team’s thumb drive to help set up a different team’s computer (which was unbootable).

As we were inventorying the parts, we noticed this cardboard CD envelope, and noted with irony that the kit’s notebook computer has no optical drive. So we set the envelope aside, looking for the USB drive (a second drive, not the one we already know had the missing operating system). It turns out, this envelope actually contains the thumb drive.

Because of the missing OS thumb drives, the FIRST organizers decided to ditch the software setup. I was hoping that somebody, somewhere, must have a bag of these thumb drives, but when I asked one of the organizers he told me to fill out the standard “missing item” claim form, and we’d get sent the missing piece soon. (Anastasia and I had come with the intention of working on the computer, so we ended up having a lot of down time. Oh, well.)

I’m deliberately leaving photos of the kids out of my blog, since we are operating under the auspices of the 4H Club, and I want to respect the club’s rules about publishing pictures of its members. (I’ve volunteered to help run a blog for our team, and I’ve already been sent some photos by the 4H staff member who’s coordinating the whole thing. For today, though, I’m just focusing on the tech.)