(Mini Robotics) was sitting in 11th place. It was now time
to choose alliances for the elimination rounds.
Now, as the team captain standing beside the stage
with 49 other captains — everyone was in high school
while I was in 8th grade — I had a strong chance of
getting onto an alliance. Well, I was thinking I would be
picked by another alliance captain — but it got better.
They called all seven alliance captain teams and then they
called me up to the stage as the eighth alliance captain.
Again, just an 8th grader, team captain, in front of an
eager audience with all the other alliance captains. I
picked teams 104 and 106 to be my partners.
Now in the finals, the eighth alliance plays against the
first alliance, seventh against second, etc. So, I was up
against Simbotics again and their alliance. Unfortunately, I
didn’t stand a chance against their amazing robot. That is
the one problem with something like this. They have a
team from a school, they have tons of Vex parts, and also
years of experience. Put this team against a one-man, low
amount of parts team and you get destruction. They won
both their matches against my alliance. All of our robots
were great ... their’s were just better.
Oh well, we had a great time anyway! I learned so
much from the build season, and the competition was
awesome! At the end, there was the awards ceremony.
Everyone from every team crowds into the auditorium to
await the announcement of the winners for the Inspire
award, the Innovate award, the Amaze award, and the
tons of awards FIRST gives out to not just the top
ranked teams, but to the little teams; the rookie teams,
even teams who got last place.
I won the Amaze Award — just my brother, my dad,
and I on one team where my brother drove. As the
name states, the Amaze award is given to a team who
does something amazing. Not just a great robot, but
something outstanding that not just every team can do.
For our team, it was the fact that we did build an
amazing robot with limited parts. It was also that I
was the youngest at that tournament — that even an
8th grader can start a team and show FIRST spirit, and
also me writing that technical manual on the BasicX
microcontroller may have helped.
So, was this worth it? I spent hours on the forums,
absorbing and researching information, tinkering with
robots at my desk until 2 AM; got back, neck, and wrist
pain repairing and building the robot, and most crucial,
the time spent organizing all of this. Yes, this was
worth it! Put a kid on a FIRST team and they will
develop and learn creativity, leadership, engineering,
technology, web development, CAD, and all sorts of
stuff about robotics. Just ask anybody on the Chief
Delphi forum. Possibly even more important, I had a
huge amount of fun and it was definitely the best
experience of my life.
For pictures of the Ontario Tournament at Woburn
C.I. in Toronto, visit http://theroboticsuniverse.com
which is also my website, so if you want to know more
about me and my projects, go there. I also encourage
you to check out my sponsor — NetMedia ( www.net
If you want to learn more about FIRST or better yet,
become a team member, mentor, coach, volunteer, or
even sponsor, check out the links below. There are also
links to forums and Vex stuff. Thanks for reading!
FIRST — www.usfirst.org
Vex — www.vexlabs.com
Chief Delphi — www.chiefdelphi.com
Vex Forum — www.vexforum.com
FIRST Canada — www.firstroboticscanada.org
My Website — www.theroboticsuniverse.com
FIRST Objective — www.firstobjective.org
media.com) — as they make microcontrollers, cameras,
and web servers (perfect for robot hobbyists!). They were
an excellent and caring sponsor and I thank them so
much! I’m now moving on to writing a book on Mini
Robotics and am making more robots with Vex and just
whatever I can get my hands on, so check my website
frequently for updates. SV
Andrew Horsman is a 13-year-old student in 8th grade attending Brant
Hills Public School. He has a FIRST Tech Challenge team named Mini
Robotics and has been a robot hobbyist for years. He is currently writing a
book on Mini Robotics with the BasicX microcontroller and hopes to be
finished and published by the end of 2008. Watch for upcoming articles
in SERVO on his Mini Robotics.
STEER WINNING ROBOTS
Perform proportional speed, direction, and steering with
only two Radio/Control channels for vehicles using two
separate brush-type electric motors mounted right and left
with our mixing RDFR dual speed control. Used in many
successful competitive robots. Single joystick operation: up
goes straight ahead, down is reverse. Pure right or left twirls
vehicle as motors turn opposite directions. In between stick
positions completely proportional. Plugs in like a servo to
your Futaba, JR, Hitec, or similar radio. Compatible with gyro
steering stabilization. Various volt and amp sizes available.
The RDFR47E 55V 75A per motor unit pictured above.
SERVO 06.2008 75