On the North Texas FLL coaches’ mailing list there’s been a lot of discussion and confusion regarding the height of the border walls on the tables used by the Perot Museum in the region’s contests. Yesterday and today our team attended the Coppell HS FLL scrimmage, which once again was a great success. Since the tables used at the scrimmage were reportedly from the Perot Museum (can anyone confirm this for us?), I was finally able to take some definitive measurements.
The tops of the border walls appear to be between 3″ and 3 1/8″ above the mat surface. See the photo below. If you’re wondering how it’s possible for the walls to have this height, it appears to me that the walls were created from 2×4 studs that have been jointed and planed on the bottom to produce a perfectly square fit with the table surface. Thus the sides are somewhat less than the 3.5″ one would expect with unfinished 2×4 studs.
While at the table I also took measurements of the height of the cargo plane lever; it appears to vary between 4 5/8″ and 4 7/8″ above the mat surface. Because the walls are actually slightly taller than 3″, I expect the cargo plane models to be exactly as in the model build instructions, with none of the modifications for “short border walls” described in the challenge document. The angle of the red lever depends a little bit on the way the plane is loaded and the tension of the string.
I hope this helps resolve questions and helps teams prepare for the qualifier tournaments. However, don’t absolutely count on these heights — some Perot tables could be different from others, and “things happen” such that a qualifier might end up using tables from another source. As mentioned in the challenge documents, teams are expected to design for border walls ranging anywhere from 2.5″ to 3.5″ in height.
We create and maintain this page for our own benefit — to make it easy to have announcements and files all in one place. But we also know it can be useful for others, and we like to share it freely. If you can think of anything else that would be helpful to have available on the page, please let us know!
At last year’s North Texas regional qualifier tournament, the team’s robot did not perform as well as expected. After reviewing the robot’s performance, we decided that the practice table we had been using was partially to blame. So it was time to build a new one.
The video below shows the table we came up with. One important feature of the table is that it disassembles into pieces small enough to fit into our van, so we can take our FLL equipment to other schools and organizations for demonstrations. Indeed, this was the table we used for our Discovery Days exhibit at the Perot Museum earlier this year.
We’ve posted some videos with the team’s top-scoring practice runs on YouTube. For a wide variety of reasons the robot never achieved 580 in the Robot Game competition… its best competition score was 530. However, it regularly achieved 580 in the Robot Design judging rounds.
For the North American Championship the robot was upgraded to be able to score 590 and to be able to activate the ball game from the center platform just as time expires. Hopefully we’ll get a video of that soon.
There are two other practice videos available (these are also 580 point runs):
Today was the first UTD Coaches Clinic’ for 2012, hosted by Dr. Kenneth Berry. We made a lot of new contacts at the clinic and were able to hear advice and ideas from many other North Texas area FLL coaches.
We’ve created this page primarily for our own benefit — to make it easy to find and refer to announcements and files sent by the various contest organizers, especially when we’re away from our desktops. We figure others might find it useful as well.
Terrific news! Coppell Robotics will again be hosting a scrimmage for FLL teams on November 4th. They hosted a scrimmage last year, and as a (then) rookie FLL team we found it to be incredibly helpful in our preparations for the regional qualifiers.
Also, like last year, the scrimmage will be held in conjunction with the school’s 5th Annual Engineering Expo, which means that FLL team members can explore schools and projects related to engineering, as well as see some of the entries for high school level competitions. Last year our team really enjoyed touring the many exhibits.
So, if you’re a FLL 2012 team in the North Texas area, I highly recommend having your team participate in the scrimmage. Don’t worry if your robot doesn’t perform well — the important thing is to get some experience with a contest-like environment and to see how other teams are approaching the challenges. (For example, the “fish sweeper” we used in last year’s robot game came directly from watching another team’s robot at the scrimmage do a similar thing.)
Space is limited, though, only about 15-25 teams will be able to participate, first-come first-served. To register or get more details, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Even if you don’t have a robot ready for the scrimmage, make plans to attend the scrimmage and Expo. Just having an opportunity for your team to meet other teams and share ideas will be worth it.