Turn of Events

Our thanks to the FRC team “Coconuts” and the Northern Arizona University (NAU) for hosting and organizing the event over the last years.

We are leaving the warm Valley of the Sun to travel to the freezing and snowy Flagstaff in Arizona. In general, this is a 2 1/2 hour trip only this time the forecast promise heavy snowfall. On the halfway point, we hear on the radio that the I-17 to Flagstaff is closed due to an accident. We are taking a quick break, grab some food and read that the road is open again. We are continuing towards Flagstaff and see spectacular cloud formations. While approaching Flagstaff, the road conditions are getting worse, and the massive snowfall is slowing down traffic to a crawling 25 mph (better late than never). The visibility is less than 300 feet. The original plan was – like last year – to arrive before 5 pm; we reach our final destination at 7 pm. Several of our friends are already there and set up camp. The team is setting up the pit in no time, and with the additional lighting, the travel path for the team members comes to life.  

The pits are closing at 8:30 with lots of teams still stuck in traffic dues to an additional road closure – poor folks. Next morning, most teams arrived and had their robot inspected. 42 teams in 2 divisions, competing for the top qualification spots. Our first game has a bad start, we select the incorrect autonomous (85 points not done) and we are not awarded the 20 points on the balance board. The team ranking is based on Qualification points (QP) which is 2 for winning, 1 for tie, and and 0 for loosing. All four teams are awarded also ranking points which are based on the points collected by the loosing alliance. Additional ranking points are essential for team rankings. The team captain asked for clarification about our score which is revised from 44 to 64 – not a good start when our robot alone should contribute between 130 and 150 points for the alliance. I talked with other coaches about the situation and on suggestion is to have each team sign the scoring sheet at the end of each game as it is done in other competitions including FTC. I suggested this change in the games to the FTC partner to avid questions after the results are posted. The 3rd game is against Rise of Hephaestus (#4216) which has the best robot at this competition. After our 6 qualification matches, we rank number 5 – not bad considering the failure in the 1st game. Team Viper (#11980) invites us to their alliance after Valley-X (#2844) declines the invitation. This is a long overdue rematch of two neighboring robotics teams. Team Viper and we are winning the semi-finals – no questions asked. As expected, we are loosing against Rise in the division finals. And without a special award, this marks the end of our otherwise successful journey this year.

Over the last years, the number of FIRST FTC robotics teams grew in Arizona and we can send now six teams to the Western Championship Tournament in Spokane, WA.
Rise of Hephaestus already qualifies last weekend and therefore in addition to the three inspire and winning championship alliance teams additional teams fill the six spots.

  • FIRST Inspire Award Winner (Odyssey Automatons (#6174))
  • Winning Alliance Captain (Rise of Hephaestus (#4216))
  • FIRST Inspire Award second place (Rise of Hephaestus (#4216))
  • Winning Alliance first pick (The Dragons (#10523))
  • FIRST Inspire Award third place (Jaegers (#8995))
  • Winning Alliance second pick (Juggerbots (#12892))
  • Think Award Winner (Rise of Hephaestus (#4216))
  • Finalist Alliance Captain (Knights of the Lab Table (#8081))
  • Connect Award Winner (Paragon Panthers (#12241))

This is the second time we qualify for the Western Championship Tournament

Goodyear Tournament

Our warm congratulations to all the teams that have attended and participated in the Goodyear tournament of the FIRST Tech Challenge Regional and extend our gratitude to the Wolves for a splendid competition.

The pictures above represent our old set up on the left and our new and improved set up on the right. On February 10th, 5:30 AM our team 12241 met up at our school and packed all our necessities such as the robot, spare pieces, the board, our pins, wristbands, and all the other important objects into a car and set sail to Goodyear at 6 AM. Our school is located in Chandler which is very far from Goodyear, it was a substantial drive which was almost one hour. When we arrived to Goodyear we were welcomed with a military robot which was created using thousands of dollars and could film using a camera using an arm that extended taller than a person. We dropped everything down and set up and we noticed we have significantly improved with our set-up.  We also put out our wristbands and pins so other teams could take them. Our two drivers, Erfan and Cameron, and driver coach, Collin, went to the driver meetings and test drove the robot. As a thank you for letting them borrow our extra expansion hub, the team Knights of the Lab Table brought a generous amount of food as a gift. We decided to share this with the other teams and thanked them very much. After this, we went to judging and it went well. As the qualifiers went on, we ended up getting 3 wins and 2 losses, ending in 8th place. For an alliance, we were chosen by team #12568, Vibrant Robotics, and won both of the semifinal matches. In the final match, we lost to the Jaegers alliance. We left the competition with a 2nd place alliance first choice award.

Chandler Qualifying Tournament

Our thanks to the Valley X Robotics Teams #2844 and #12841 for hosting a successful qualifier tournament and to all the other robotics teams for participating. With 24 teams, it was a bit more crowded than the nice and cozy White Mountain Qualifying Tournament up north in Heber.  Most teams were returning teams, but we were happy to welcome a new team to our competition:  Team #4216 Rise of Hephaestus from San Diego, CA.

White Mountain Qualifying Tournament

Our thanks to the Jaegers Robotics #8995 for hosting a successful qualifier tournament and to all the other robotics teams for participating. With 12 teams, it was nice and cozy even though, the temperature outside was below freezing. During the winter break, we rebuilt the arm and part of the drive train. This is the first time that we tested the new features under competition conditions. List of all participating teams:

  • #5661:  Wolves Robotics (2011)
  • #8081: Knights of the Lab Table (2013)
  • #9761: The PrestidigiTaters (2015, Utah)
  • #10246: Midnight Cicadas (2015)
  • #11365: Ticket to Paradise (2016)
  • #11598: SFdA Saints (2016)
  • #11701: Elksplosion (2016)
  • #12241: Paragon Panthers (was team # 6471: 2012)
  • #12892: Juggerbots (2017)
  • #13099: San Carlos BRAVES (2017)
  • #13309: ITSA botCatz (2017)
  • #13517: CPR (2017)

While I recognized some of the teams like the Wolves, the Knights of the Lab Table, the Juggerbots, the Midnight Cicadas from previous events another team The PrestidigiTaters I have not seen before. They drove from Utah to participate in this qualifier.
We arrived on Friday to set up the team pit, check the robot and fine-tune autonomous mode. For that evening, the Jaegers also planned a social night with pizza, games, and dancing.

We – the Paragon Panthers team – understand how hard it is to go to a tournament with a partially working robot and a slim chance of winning. We experienced this in previous years and probably will again. I strongly encourage teams to participate so that they learn, improve, get help, and leave the tournament with an improved robot. Kudos to the team who showed up with a non-working robot and with help from the Jeagers got it working and competed in the tournament – an infinite improvement.

The next morning the competition opened at 8 am. The remaining three teams arrived, robots got inspected, and the judging session started. Due to the changes in our robot, my expectations were not too high. Each team played five qualification games with randomly selected alliance partners.

For the first game, our alliance partner was still working on their robot and missed the game entirely. At the end of the game, there are 20 points for being on the balance board. No robot – no 20 points – bummer. To my surprise, we won the first game 121:88 points – saved by autonomous with 85 points. The Knights of the Lab Table broke their robotics controller at the beginning of the tournament. Luckily for them, we have a spare which we lent them for the tournament and for the next week – they were so happy. After all 15 qualification games were played, we were – once again, and undoubtedly with some luck – the only undefeated team in the tournament. In the alliance selection, we partnered with the PrestidigiTaters (#2 in the qualification games) due to supplementary features. Both semifinals games were a save win with 170+  to ~90 points. The other semifinal games ended 200+ and I was expecting being defeated in the finals again as it happens so often in previous events.

In the finales, we faced off against the Knights of the Lab Table – with our controller – and the Midnight Cicadas. To my great surprise, we win the 1st final game with a close 169 : 146 (excluding penalties). Whoa, we had a chance.

We were only one win away from winning this competition – so close.

With the help of our alliance partner we went to win both final games 179:146 and 213:180 and went home with the Winning Alliance Captain trophy.

GO Panthers #12241


Queen Creek Tournament

We want to congratulate all participants to the FIRST Tech Challenge Regional and extend our gratitude to the game host and the smooth games.

Nov 18th, we experienced many FIRSTs at the FIRST Tech Challenge. Just a word of caution, it is always easy to brag if you are successful.
We met early in the morning around 6 a.m. to pack everything and leave for the FIRST Arizona/New Mexico Regional Qualifier. It is the first time we are at the first regional (our 1st 1st). I know that ValleyX (World Champions of 2015) are not at this competition; however, the Jaegers who advanced to the World Division Finals in 2016 and the Wolves are here. After some electrical hick-ups, the pit was set-up in no time. The games started on time (another FIRST… kind of), we received our game schedule, and except for the last game where we play against the Jaegers, the opponents seem reasonable. We play six games with only five counting towards the qualifier points. Our FIRST game started with a funny problem, we elected the blue instead of the red autonomous, ended up entirely wrong, and did not score points – this is not a first. However luckily for us, our partner and we pulled it off, and we barely win which is good in FIRST Competition Qualifiers. One win, three more potential wins (playing against Jaegers is a calculated lost. The second game is a LOST? According to the judges, we lost 38 to 42 points. However, both of our alliance robots ended in the save zone after autonomous (10 points each), and we stopped on the balance board at the end of the game, so we should have a minimum of 40 points. I asked the team captain to request a clarification of the score. The Judges missed 10 points, and we ended up winning. Another FIRST at FIRST: the games advance smoothly, and the lunch break starts 30 minutes early. All other games went smoothly. The fourth qualifier game is with the Jaegers; we had hit the high score with 181 (another FIRST with scoring that high in the first regional). In the last game where we are facing off against the Jaegers. Up to now, we were always among the top four teams, which is a nice experience for a change. After a nail-biting competition against the Jaegers, we await the scoring. We gave them a run for their money, and we should not lose too badly. After painful minutes, the score came in with 111:102 for The Paragon Panthers. We won against the Jaegers (another FIRST) and ended up as NUMBER ONE after the qualifiers and the only team that won all of their games today – thank you Jaegers. After all of this excitement, the alliance selection had surprises, our preferred partner Jaegers will choose their mentored junior team and are not available for an alliance, while we know this, out of courtesy, we asked them, and then we choose the Wolves as our alliance partner. The Jaegers are choosing their mentored team as a partner, which took their captain by surprise. After some convincing from the audience, they finally agreed. Most likely, we will face the Jaegers in the finals. The semifinals games were easy, and we reached the finals facing off against the Jaegers. We went to the “slaughterhouse”, the Jaegers released all of their furies on us and obliterated us 228:88 and another 200+:~100 score. There is no shame losing against the Jaegers. During the award ceremonies, we recevied the PTC Design Award, the 3rd place in Think Award and the finalist alliance captain award (another FIRST for us so early in the games). We ranked number seven on the advancement order list, with only three advances for this competition, which means, the probability of advancing is ZERO – so I thought. I am in for a huge surprise:

  • Thank you Queen Creek for hosting!

  1. 1st Inspire Award: Jaegers (pre-qualified)
  2. Winning Alliance Captain: Jaegers (pre-qualified)
  3. 2nd Inspire Award: Wolves (pre-qualified)
  4. Winning Alliance 1st pick: 1st team to advance
  5. 3rd Inspire Award: Beep Patrol (I believe), 2nd team to advance
  6. Think Award Winner: don’t remember but already advanced or pre-qualified
  7. Finalist Alliance Captain: #12241 Paragon Panthers

Another FIRST: we qualify for state at the first competition.

  • Participating at the 1st regional
  • Games started on time
  • Games run so smoothly; the lunch break starts 30 minutes early
  • multiple 150+ points games at the 1st competition (in general they range in the 40s – 60s)
  • Winning against the Jaegers – we were so lucky
  • Ranking #1 after all qualification games
  • Qualifying to State competition at the 1st competition

The finalist Alliance: alliance captain Panther Robotics #12241 and their partner The Wolves #5661