Republic of Pi participated at the 2013 North Texas FIRST LEGO League (FLL) Regional Championship tournament at the Hockaday School on February 1, 2014. They won the 1st Place Champion’s Award and 1st Place in Robot Performance — the highest awards in FIRST LEGO League at the regional level.
The team now moves on to compete in the FLL World Festival in St. Louis on April 23-26. Thank you to the Perot Museum and everyone in the North Texas Region that volunteered and competed to put together a great regional contest!
In December the team would frequently play the video of Ylvis’ “The Fox” while working, and we started making up our own Nature’s Fury-related lyrics. I told the team if they qualified for the Regional Championship we’d make a video.
The organizers from the Perot Museum then let us premiere the video at the championship yesterday.
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.
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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):