Monday, December 15, 2014

Post VEX and Preseason

The VEX competition, considering its enormous size of 60 teams, turned out to be pretty good. 3 Vanden teams and a Golden West Middle School team moved on to eliminations, and the Vanden-Golden alliance moved on to semifinals, where they lost to the future champion #1 alliance. After the competition, there were scratches on the gym floor left after teams moved out of the gym. Thankfully, we were able to cover much of it up with some chemicals. We did the same for residue that was left from packaging tape that was used to tape carpet to the floor. It took three hours, but by 9:30pm we finished.
This week is a pretty busy week regarding preseason. Though we are still awaiting the RoboRio, we have plenty to do instead of sitting down playing cards and simply waiting. We are designing robots in our groups for the mock Green Game, Noodle Frenzy. We present them on the day of our robotics final, December 17th. This Friday, after the 6th period final, we are all going to 7th period immediately after to celebrate as Devin Sigley is leaving the following day to Youngstown, Ohio and the FRC team 3193, the Falco Tech. Right after, we are cleaning up the whole shop: the electrical room, the mechanical room, and the CNC/welding area. Build season is less than 3 weeks away, so it's crunch time now. We still have 3 more dates for selling raffle tickets for the Microsoft Surface Pro 3. All of the dates are accessible on our website. Next week, during Christmas break, we are planning out the video outline of our Chairman's presentation. Also, the Friday before kickoff, we are cleaning up more and preparing the H3 room for kickoff. It will be full, so we will be ready.

2014 Vanden VEX Competition Photo Album

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Anticipation...and More Anticipation

24 days til Kickoff. We know. It's coming.

One of our own, Devin Sigley, is moving back to Ohio on December 21st. We're all going to miss him. He will be joining the Falco Tech, Team 3193, in Austintown, Ohio, when he is there.

2 big topics have come up this month, right before build season. One of them is competitions. We have registerd for the Sacramento (UC-Davis) and Madera (Central Valley) regionals, weeks 1 and 3, respectively. However, we want to register for a third regional. There are no week 6 regionals left open in California, but there are some out of state: Chicago, Houston, Minneapolis, and Queen City (Cincinnati). Everyone in 701 (parents, students, mentors) are filling out a survey to see which one we are going to go to.
We have been working with the Robo Knights, FRC team 5496 from Buckingham Charter Magnet High School since October. We've now been thinking if we should work with them during build season, considering that they are a rookie team. Something like what the Cheesy Poofs, team 254, did with the Space Cookies when they first started out.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Back to School!

The China trip was great. The part of our team that journeyed to Shanghai returned full of jetlag but breathless. Many of the RoboVikes want to go back. While there,we taught many Chinese students about VEX robotics. We also played some soccer with the 9-11 year old girls. Along with that, we got to know some of them, as well as sightseeing the Forbidden City, the Great Wall of China, the Tiananmen Square, and much more. Some of us are tired of Chinese food, and others...well, they're still alive.
Thanksgiving break has come and gone, and now all of us are back to work on the battery cart, the Chairbot, and the Chairman's essay and video outline. Mr. Green has given us his "Green Game" final, a mock FRC challenge that he makes every year for the 1st semester final. He puts all of us in groups of five to design or make a visual of a robot that can complete the tasks of that game. This year, the game is called Noodle Frenzy. The object of the game is to score big pool noodles into horizontal and vertical troughs. Our "presentation" of our robot is due December 17th, and we were introduced to the game today and put in groups. We have 2 solid weeks to draw this out and possibly design this on Autodesk Inventor.
We still await the RoboRio, so that we can do some testing with it before build season.

China Trip Album

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Despite the fact that students at Vanden High School are on break, many of the RoboVikes are still on active duty!!! Not really, but we are doing work throughout the break. The part of our team that went to China to mentor VEX robotics team arrived early this morning, and today we are selling raffle tickets for a Microsoft Surface 3 fundraiser today at Lucky's in Vacaville from 12-4pm. The winner will be announced on the FRC kickoff day, January 3rd, 2015. We will be selling at more locations throughout December as well. Just check our website to view the calendar at the bottom of the home page to view upcoming events for our team. Or you can directly view our calendar at

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


The FLL dual competitions that we helped host with FRC Team 2085, the Robodogs, this past Sunday was a blast. We received thank-you emails from many teams dropping off positive comments about how well we hosted the tournament. We've been working on competencies for the baseline knowledge that everyone on the team has to know before kickoff and build season. Part of our team is leaving this Friday for Shanghai, where they will be mentoring VEX robotics teams. They will come back next weekend. Hopefully around that time or a little later, we can receive the RoboRio, the electrical board for this upcoming season, and test with it a little bit.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Octoberfest and Novemberbest

October was quiet but fun. We launched pumpkins with our newly-built Trebuchet, in a competition against the Robodogs, team 2085, on Travis Air Force Base for Halloween. It was pretty fun; we were able to launch pumpkins as far as around 130 feet. We've been preparing still for the Vaca High FLL dual competitions. It's going to be a big event, but it will be doable. Today, we are helping the new Buckingham Charter High School robotics team with making a basic robot. This Saturday, we are having a workday. We are doing a chairman's meeting as well as making field mission kits for the dual competitions on November 16th. Our China trip is two weeks away. Some of us will be going to China to present to and mentor VEX teams, which will be fun.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Competencies and FLL

Right now, we are preparing for helping host the Vacaville High School dual FLL competitions on November 16th from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Everyone on the team is learning a little bit from each committee (electrical, design, programming, mechanical) and is getting their required tasks for that committee checked off by Mr. Green or any team expert in that committee field. We are also preparing for hosting the Vanden VEX competition on December 13th from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Everyone on the team, especially the rookies, are getting settled in on the team.

Monday, October 06, 2014


CalGames, at least our results, was similar to that of Capitol City Classic. During the competition, our sidecar burned out. We missed two matches. Despite these setbacks, we ended as the #7 seed. We were picked by the #4 seeded WildHats, Team 100. They were a great alliance partner. We won the first one but lost the second. After the second one, the WildHats' robot's main breaker broke, and a substitute robot was put in. We lost the third match, and in turn did not make it to semifinals. We still had a great time. We fixed our autonomous period, so our robot didn't smash into the low goal when scoring a ball into it and didn't have the CIM motors reset.
Now we have offseason projects to complete. We are considering making a Trebuchet for the Travis Air Force Base Halloween party. We are also making a battery cart, which is our #1 priority. Also on our to-do list is to remake Cannonbot and Chairbot.

Go RoboVikes.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Returning from CCC

Capitol City Classic was great. We were 5th overall, 5-4 in qualifications, at the very end, despite resetting CIM motors, not working catapult, and a messed-up intake at one point. For the first time in RoboVikes' history, we respectfully declined an invitation to be on a team's alliance. Since we were in the top 6, we could still pick teams, even though we were not allowed to be picked since we declined an invitation. We won the first match in quarterfinals easily. However, in the second and third matches, Fergie and the robot of 212, another team on our alliance, both stopped working right after autonomous. In both matches, we lost, and didn't advance to the semifinals in the end. We still had great team spirit, and the rookies on our team that attended and worked hard at the competition performed exceptionally well. We had problems with programmming, especially with the autonomous period when the CIM motors resetted when Fergie hit the low goal hard, but we still worked our way up to 5th.
After returning from CCC today at school, we did a reflection on the competition and our next priorities Our next goals are to 1) fix Fergie, especially programming, for CalGames and, 2) work on our entrepreneurship award submission for CalGames.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Prepare for Cap City!!

Our website is now updated with member profiles of 32 of the 35 RoboVikes. We've been hastily working on Freyja 2.0, which is now officially "Fergie," for quite some time, and it is beginning to turn out pretty well. We added what we call "huggers:" two arcs that keep the exercise ball in the catapult while the robot is running around. For this upcoming offseason competition, we have some rookies on Drive Team B. Below is a picture of Fergie.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Capital City Collaboration...and Housekeeping

School has started and we have many rookies. They came in at the right time to work because the Capitol City Classic offseason competition in Sacramento is in about 2 weeks and Freyja 2 is not finished. We plan to transfer the intake from the old "Freyja" to Freyja 2 by TOMORROW. We thought of creating an entirely new intake on Freyja, but considering the fact that school just started, homework is all over the place, and there are many housekeeping tasks that need to be done, it may not happen, so we aren't taking the risk. We already have a selected drive team for this offseason competition.Also, some of the rookies went through what I call Mechanical 101: putting together a combination of 4 old, bent-up shelves (picture bottom left). It was much easier said than done.

We are hosting a fundraiser at Round Table Pizza on 3045 Alamo Drive in Vacaville next Tuesday night from 5:30-8pm. We will be selling baked goods and will have one of our robots on display. Please come and support us!!

The video below is the egg drop that the rookies and veterans collaborated on to do.
Freyja 2.0, with Intake

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

New Catapult Test...and Rookies!!

School started last Wednesday. If I am not mistaken, we have 16 ROOKIES!!!!!!! That's nearly half of our team for the 2015 season. And 8 of those rookies are in the sophomore class. Now we have 11 sophomores and 13 seniors, with 7 juniors and 5 freshman. Total: 36 RoboVikes.

We have two offseason competitions coming up, both within September and the beginning of October. The nearest one is less than three weeks away. Earlier this summer we decided to make a new Freyja with a catapult instead of a ballistae launcher. That is still in progress, but yesterday we were able to test it out outside our workshop. Catapult test is on the left, catapult prototype on the right (click photo to enlarge).

Saturday, August 09, 2014

End of summer, beginning of school...

Sorry about the late post. It's summer. ANYWAY, since school has ended and the summer has started, we've been doing many outreach events, including the car wash, rookie camp, the UC Davis presentation/demonstration, and more. We've had two RPM meetings over the summer so far. We've had a leadership meeting for the student leadership. We've also been doing Chairman's meetings: slowly crafting our essay and presentation piece by piece. Currently, we've been working on parts of last year's essay that we can modify, improve, and update. We have many events this month, mainly after school starts: the end-of-summer car wash, the mentor workshop, the student leadership conference, more Chairman's meetings, and RPM meetings. So yeah...that's about it. Ta ta for now!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Let the Heat Begin!!

Our end-of-year robotics party was great. Thankfully, many from the graduating class will remain on the team as mentors. We started our mechanical and design camp today. Rookies chose the committee they were interested in joining. Armando gave them a full run-though of the shop and the mechanical tools there. We are preparing for the car wash on June 29th.
Goodbye Seniors :(
Learning Programming

Monday, May 12, 2014

We are going to be PACKED for Summer...

The Dixon Mayfair was great. For the most part, we stayed on schedule. We also met John Garamendi, Congressman for Fairfield. We are looking into if he can come over and see our robots. In class today and in the RPM meeting, we discussed our summer. We are going to have 7 outreach events this summer: 2 summer camps, Relay for Life fundraiser, 2 car wash fundraisers, a student leadership conference, and a mentor workshop. Along with that comes 3 offseason competitions. We are striving to be a championship team this upcoming season.

ALSO!! 2015 RPM Executing Board:
President: Mark Crusoe
Vice President: Ruby Mora
Secretary: Melanie Green
Treasurer: Duane Murphy

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

What a Great Fair...

We had a great time at the Solano Community College fair. Freyja worked for about half the time until a Jaguar died. It was still able to move around at its usual high speed for the first couple hours of the day. Beowulf worked for two seconds and then stopped. At least it had its moment. We were featured in the Daily Republic. Preparation for the Dixon Mayfair is going far. 13 VEX teams are expected to come, so it shouldn't be too hectic. Almost all of the jobs slots are filled, and we are looking forward to a great fair.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Working, Working...and More Working.

We are doing many tasks simultaneously. A couple of the tasks are housekeeping: organizing the shed, organizing the shelves, etc. We are also doing tasks that will benefit us in the next season: making a new battery cart, making a new cannon bot, etc. We're preparing for the Solano Community College Fair this Saturday, where we will have a booth and give demonstrations of our robot. We are also preparing for the Dixon Mayfair on May 10, where we will be hosting a mini VEX robotics competition.

Oh yeah!... can't forget this. We picked our student leadership for the 2014-2015 school year.
So, for next year...

President: Leah Green (senior, electrical)
Vice President: Omena Mushale (junior, electrical)
Engineering Director: Armando Mora (senior, mechanical)
Business Director: Patricia Mendoza (senior, electrical head)
Outreach Director: Edesiri Mushale (sophomore, mechanical)
Secretary: Mackensie Murphy (junior, design head)

New Committee Heads:
Design: Will Asper/Mackensie Murphy (co-heads)
Electrical: Patricia Mendoza
Mechanical: Nick Fisher
Programming: Aaron Singh

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Chuggin' Along

Now, since we finished our SWOT analysis (see older post), we as a team created an action plan: tasks that are to be done for the summer and what to improve on in the upcoming school year. We discussed over priorities for some time. One big matter was the creation of an Outreach committee and a Media committee. We started filling out applications for a new leadership. We decided to make the secretary/treasurer position the secretary position, no treasurer.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Offseason: Moving Forward

Now, since we finished the competition season (at least for us), we began reflecting on this season. We (the whole team, including parents and mentors) filled out a season reflective essay. Then, during the next week after Davis, we focused on each part of the team and made SWOT sheets about them. SWOT is Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. We had group discussions about the parts of the season (robot, leadership, outreach, etc.) and came together as a class to discuss altogether.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Battle of Davis

Davis was not our best competition. Robot-wise, Inland Empire was better. We ran into problems early. One of our Jaguars went down, so we had to disconnect on of our CIMs on the other side to compensate. From that point on, we were on 2 CIMs. At the end of Friday, we were 3-5. The next day, Saturday, on one of the matches Freyja was hit so hard that the weld on the right side of the intake broke. We got through that and ended 5-7 in qualifications, ranked 32nd out of 54. We were picked by the #6 alliance, the Raging C-Biscuits. Somehow, we went right through quarterfinals and made it to semifinals, where we lost to the Robodogs. In Match 2 of the semifinals two of the robots on our alliance, including our robot, were disabled. They ended up being the wild card to go to the World Championships. Leah was a FIRST Dean's List finalist and is on her way to the World Championships. We won no team awards, the first regional without one in a long time. Still, we worked through our robot problems and made it to semifinals!
After competition.
Working on Freyja.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Davis Preparations

Before Davis we have decided that we need to make new bumpers (non-reversible) for functionality as well as aesthetics.  We also have decided to switch our drive system to chain. Besides that we have also been working on trying to get a two ball autonomous period.
Still to Wednesday, our bumpers are not finished. We decided that they would stay behind since people may still be painting them while some of us go up to Davis to drop off the robot.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

The Aftermath of the Empire

The Inland Empire regional was very rewarding to the team because we learned what problems the robot had early on and learned how to prevent them from happening.  At the end of Friday we had found all of the problems regarding the shooter and intake and found solutions to said problems.  Early on on Saturday the drive team had some good matches giving them more experience and their first real look at driving this game.  At the end of the day we won the Entrepreneurship award and were seeded 9th. On Saturday we continued to play excellently and ended up finishing 5th seed (one of the highest ever for our team at its first regional competition) in qualifications.  We ended up getting into the semifinals before losing to the #2 alliance in Match 3, 123-108. However Quarters Match 1 and Match 2 were very good for us. This competition really helped the scoutmaster understand what arts of our scouting system need to be updated and gave the drive team more confidence in their skills.
After competition.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Inland Empire Preparations

This week, we made hasty preparations for the upcoming Inland Empire competition this Saturday. We worked on our bumpers, painted them with our team number, 701. We also worked on the four trophies we are going to pass out at competition. Frank finished the Build Season Video.We also finished the Chairman's video. Both videos are on our website. We received a ton of rain this week. The rain flooded our shop that has the CNC, to the sides of the gutter that takes the CNC cooling liquid. This incident cut out a job for the people on the team that are not going to Inland Empire. We had to clean out the cabinets underneath the table by the CNC and drain out all the water. We ended up leaving a couple of materials, such as our flag behind at the shop. Since Frank was still there, he brought the materials down to us.
Working on Freyja.
Drive practice.