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159 Alpine Robotics at Denver

This article will cover the events of the Denver Robotics competitions from the perspective of team 159 Alpine Robotics. If you wish to learn more about the actual building of the robot or the Utah competition you can read about that in the articles at the provided links. After getting back late from the Utah competition alpine only had about 2 and a half weeks to prepare for the Denver competition and one of those weeks was spring break when the school would be closed so no progress would be made. Going to the Utah competition gave a lot of insight into problems that could have come out at Denver. One of the first problems to be fixed was the bending of the arm. We already had a temporary fix but that wasn't going to cut it. New braces were designed from each side of the arm to help distribute the load of the shooter. Alpine was also able to finish building the climber that was started before the Utah competition. Many other small fixes and tweaks were also made. The first day of the competition is just practice matches allowing you to test the robot before scoring. Before being able to play on the practice field, the robot must be inspected to ensure that it doesn't break any rules. During this inspection, it was revealed that the robot needed another VRM running into the radio. A VRM or Voltage regulator module is

used to ensure the correct voltage amount is being set to components. Some how the people who inspected the robot at the Utah competition had missed this so we were unaware that a VRM was needed until just before a practice match. Luckily Alpine had a spare one and was able to quickly add it before the practice. The rest of the practice matches went well aside from a few small problems that were quickly fixed. The second day of the competition is allocated for Qualification matches where the team will be scored and ranked. The third and final day is for the final Qualification matches, the playoff matches where the top teams compete, and the finish award ceremony. During one of the Qualification matches, as the robot was being driven to the other side of the field a robot from the other team slammed directly into it. An audible smack could be heard but both robots kept driving. As the match continued it was noticed by the team members on the sidelines that something was off, the board on the top of the shooter where the robot had been hit was broken. After the match was over a quick glance at the board confirmed that the board had indeed broken. Luckily, the team had prepared for this situation and another board made out of plastic had already been machined before leaving for the competition.

After the match was over, the board was quickly replaced, and, luckily, no more harm came to that board. During the time between matches, the team would often go to the practice fields when nothing needed to be fixed. During one of these practices, an attempt was made to climb. One of the challenges this year was to climb onto a single chain suspended between two polls hanging over two feet from the ground. Each side had a stage with three of these chains to climb onto. To successfully “climb” the robot must be fully supported by the chain with nothing touching the ground or another robot that is touching the ground. The design that Alpine used to climb was a hook attached to a cart that would slide up and down on a track mounted to the arm. We had only finished the climber the week before the competition so not much testing had been done. During the test climb a snap was heard, and the robot was immediately shut down. Upon further inspection, it was revealed that a bolt holding the track to the

arm sheared. Because this bolt had sheared the track was further away from the arm allowing the cart to fully go around the limiting switch which should have stopped the climber. We had to quickly replace the sheared bolt. That wasn't the only problem with the climber though, because our climber was so short Alpine had to be very precise when attempting to hook on the chain, any small inconsistency in the height of the chain was noticeable.  During one of the matches Alpine went to climb onto one of the

chains but found that that side was extremely difficult to hook, leading them to believe that that side was higher than the rest. After a discussion with the officials, they inspected it and said nothing was wrong and that one of the other teams at the competition had even checked it that morning and confirmed that it was at the right height. The team still believed that the chain was too high but there was nothing else they could do so they just made sure to avoid that particular chain for the rest of the competition. One of the other major malfunctions that happened during the competition was the ring getting caught. Somehow when Alpine went to take a shot at the speaker, the ring went against the rotation of the flywheel and lodged itself between the polycarbonate plate on the top of the shooter and the flywheel. The flywheel is spun up really fast and the ring is pushed into it to get it to launch but with the ring lodged between it and the polycarbonate, it was unable to spin fast enough. Not only that the rules state that you are only allowed to control one ring at a time. Alpine panicked and tried to remove the ring as fast as possible because with the ring stuck Alpine was unable to score points. Sadly the ring was unable to be removed and Alpine had to play defense for the rest of the match. The alpine was stumped, the way that the flywheels were spinning would have made it extremely difficult for the ring to go above it. Alpine had to quickly come up with a solution just in case it were to happen again, and the easiest thing to do was take off the polycarbonate. The polycarbonate was not super important it was mainly there just for the look. Luckily the ring never went above the flywheel again and Apline is still unsure why it did that to this day. Sadly even after all of the problems that had been overcome, Alpine finished the competition in 42nd place. Even though Alpine didn’t place that well everyone on the team agreed that they had constructed a really good robot and that they did the best they could. One of the biggest complaints by the team wasn’t even about the robot though, everyone unanimously disliked the way First Scores team. Currently, all teams on an alliance are scored together, this is good if want to rank teams solely on how well they work in teams but if a good team continuously gets placed with bad teams then they will not score well. Alpine believed they had built a really good robot most of the seniors on the team even said that it was the best one that was built in years but at the competition, alpine just got extremely unlucky getting paired with bad teams and unlucky complecations. Austin EIde the shop team lead had this to say about the season.  “I thought we did pretty good, I wish the robot would have ranked better at Denver and Utah but I'm still proud of how well the robot did.” Even though the robot did not perform as well as Alpine hope they are excited and waiting for the next season to start. To see a full list of Aplines competition matches and updates when the 2025 season starts check out The Blue Alliance.


Owen Dustin is a sophomore at Poudre High School. This is his first year writing for the Poudre Press. At school, he is on the Alpine Robotics team and the unified flag football team. Outside of school he likes to mountain bike, play video games, and hang out with friends.


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