TNT hosts Northern Minnesota FRC Week Zero

Robots raced around the field scoring fuel and hanging gears at Saturday’s Northern MN Week Zero

The Northern MN Week Zero, a cooperative effort by the Northern Minnesota FRC Alliance to provide a practical, engaging experience for testing robots and encourage team cooperation and communication at the regional level. Week Zero events are held worldwide during the week before Stop Build Day and are designed to simulate actual regionals, with practice matches, full size pits, safety inspections, and break-out sessions. The Northern MN Week Zero, hosted by TNT on Saturday, February 18th at Nevis High School, had 26 teams in attendance. Over 600 people from the community and other teams filled Tiger Arena for the event.

Over 600 people filled Tiger Arena for the event

TNT would like to give a special thanks to FRC Team 4539 (KAOTIC Robotics, Frazee) for providing field elements, FRC Team 5929 (The Jolly Robots, Lake Park-Audubon) for configuring the Field Management System (FMS), and NDSU Bison Robotics for providing referees, MCs, and robot inspectors. Finally, TNT would also like to recognize the numerous community volunteers that manned the field reset crew, robot queueing, and pit admin.

Members of Team 3102 set up for the Week Zero from 8:00 PM to 2:00 AM the night before, due to the gyms being occupied for basketball games prior. TNT’s full FRC arena was retrieved from storage and moved into the Tiger Arena, tarps were laid out and marked in the small gym, and electronics and field elements were set up in preparation for the event.

Members of TNT, KAOTIC, the Jolly Robots, and NDSU Bison Robots set up for Week Zero

Teams began arriving at 7:30 AM to load in their pit equipment, and the Nevis FCCLA team arrived to run the concession stand. The field opened for practice rounds at 8:00 AM along with an opening meeting for team drivers. Each team had an unlimited number of practice rounds before and after the event, as well as six scheduled mock competition rounds during the event. Robots and drive teams practiced scoring gears and shooting fuel, and many teams successfully climbed the ropes during the practice rounds. The Week Zero is also a great opportunity to test and perfect robot autonomous programs, when robots move using preprogrammed instructions.

TNT hangs a gear on the peg to start the first rotor

Breakout sessions for FIRST Ladies and for FIRST Mentors happened during practice rounds. The FIRST Ladies Tea Time, a traditional event at all regionals, was organized for TNT by member Shannon McGrath. The girls discussed the gender bias towards men in STEM careers, and how all girls can become more involved in such areas. During the mentor meeting, TNT and KATOIC mentors discussed strategies for team management going forward into the regional and matters concerning the Northern Minnesota FRC Alliance.

The mentors’ meeting (left) and FIRST Ladies’ Tea Time (right).

After lunch, scheduled competition rounds began. As no official score was kept, there were no elimination rounds or champions of the Week Zero event. However, every minute of practice counts when attending a regional where the stakes are high and where teams are pressured to do well in the competition and when competing for awards. TNT’s new drive team, consisting of five members, gained hours of practice and several interesting insights concerning how the 2017 robot operated. The team experimented with the difference between two- and four-motor drive, and made many adjustments to the climber after the bumpers were attached.

The red alliance hangs a gear and scores fuel in the high-efficiency boiler.

TNT hopes that the Northern MN Week Zero was an excellent learning opportunity for all attending teams, and would once again to like to thank all the teams and volunteers that contributed to the event and helped make it happen. TNT will host the Northern MN Week Zero next year as well, and hopes to once again break the attendance record and offer a complete regional feel, as well as offer more breakout sessions.

The pits were busy throughout the day.

To view pictures of the event, visit TNT’s photo album. In addition, the complete live stream of the event and a video recap are available on TNT’s YouTube channel.

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