2018: Off-Season Summary

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From May through December we kept up the momentum through training meetings, robot demonstrations, mentorship of younger students, and off-season competitions. Throughout the off-season, students and mentors have held team training meetings for software, CAD, and shop tools/machines.

Rock’n Ribfest Demo on Stage

In June, we enjoyed showing off our robot to people of all ages at the Rock’n Ribfest in Merrimack, and we also cleared tables in the food tents.

Rockwell Automation’s Engineering Day

Robot demonstrations for our sponsors included Rockwell Automation’s Engineering Day and Cirtronics’ Mfg Day.

Cirtronics’ Manufacturing Day
Governor’s Cup Winners with 319 & 1247

This past fall, we mentored younger FIRST teams (FLL Jr., FLL, and FTC), and we beta tested the 2019 control system for FIRST. In September, we assisted with the FTC Kickoff at FIRST Place in Manchester, and we demonstrated our robot in collaboration with other FIRST teams at the RoboExpo in the Pheasant Lane Mall.

In October, several students had the opportunity to share their passion for STEM at the NH Joint Engineering Society Annual Conference in Concord. The team attended four off-season competitions including the inaugural Governor’s Cup. Because we were part of the winning alliance, we received scholarships for one semester for all team seniors to a NH state college or university!

2018: World Championship

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Some of the Many Robot Pits at the 2018 Detroit World Championship

For the FIRST Robotics Championship in Detroit on April 25-28, Mechanical Mayhem was assigned to the Darwin Division with 66 other teams from the U.S., Canada, Poland, and Taiwan. Meanwhile, more FRC teams competed in five other divisions. With 2018 being the first year the Championship event was held in Detroit, we looked forward to new fun adventures! Many of the team toured the Ford factory on our day of arrival with Team 4905 who shared our coach bus. Highlights of the FIRST Championship included meeting people from around the world, interacting with other world-class teams, attending conference talks, and testing all that our team has learned throughout the season. We ranked 18 of 67 teams in our division with a record of 7-5-0, and we were chosen for the playoff rounds by the 7th ranked alliance captain 234 Cyber Blue from Indianapolis, IN, with 3130 The ERRORs from Woodbury, MN, and 5234 MarauderBots from Elsie, MI, rounding out our alliance. We were knocked out in two quarterfinal matches by the 2nd ranked alliance. At the World Championship, the team enjoyed working hard under pressure, learning from our mistakes, and having fun!

We will miss our two seniors, Cas and Quinn, but we wish them well as they study STEM majors at college in the fall!


2018: New England District Championship Event

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Mechanical Mayhem is ranked 10th of 209 teams in New England this year, and this is the tenth consecutive year that the team has qualified for World Championship!

On April 11-14 at Boston University’s Agganis Arena, 64 of New England’s top FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) teams gathered for the New England District Championship. Even before the competition, we realized the competitiveness of this event would top any other event this year! New England has many astounding FRC teams!

Climbing Hook Work

Due to various factors like some mistakes on our part, a challenging match schedule, and the caliber of the teams, we lost quite a few matches, some very close ones. However, we kept persevering and even completed the addition of a climber to our robot to use in the last 30 seconds of the match. The students had worked hard designing this climber and were thrilled to see it work successfully on Friday afternoon for our last three matches of the day! We gradually raised our ranking through these three consecutive wins on Friday and two more on Saturday morning. Our win-loss-tie record was 7-7-0, and we ranked 31 of 64 teams. However, during alliance selection mid-day on Saturday, we were chosen by the 6th ranked captain 3236 Triforce from Franklin, MA, who later chose 558 Elm City Robo Squad from New Haven, CT, to round out our alliance. Sadly, our playoff rounds were limited, since we lost in two quarterfinal matches. We congratulate 195 CyberKnights, 319 Big Bad Bob, and 5846 Southcoast Corsairs on winning the New England District Championship!

Cas Maintaining Robot

With 64 teams competing at the New England District Championship, we were fortunate to win one of the awards! The team earned the Creativity Award which is a robot award our team has never received before now! In fact, there are five different robot awards (Excellence in Engineering, Innovation in Control, Creativity, Quality, and Industrial Design), and our team has won a robot award now for the tenth time, but all previous awards were in the first two categories (six Excellence in Engineering Awards and three Innovation in Control). It is wonderful to add a new category of robot award to our trophy case!

Team Receiving the Creativity Award

The Creativity Award sponsored by Xerox celebrates creativity in design, use of components, or unique strategy of play. Here is what the judges said about Mechanical Mayhem: “This team identified a driving limitation and aimed for a creative solution. In the Mayhem of the Mechanical design, they spun up a cube manipulator like no other, with a turret shooting in any direction.”

2018: University of New Hampshire NE District Event

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On March 29‐31 at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, NH, Mechanical Mayhem enthusiastically competed in the UNH District Event with our robot, Anonymous Grandparent.

Pit Crew and Drive Team

Although the first day had a rough beginning with two losses in our first five matches, Mechanical Mayhem did not get discouraged and kept persevering with our well‐designed and carefully built robot which shone through as one of the best at the competition. In fact, we did not lose another match throughout the rest of the tournament! At the end of the qualification matches, Mayhem ranked fourth out of all 42 teams.

During alliance selection for the playoff matches on Saturday, the top ranked team 319 Big Bad Bob invited Mechanical Mayhem to join their alliance, and we were thrilled when team 4555 Sprocketology was still available later in alliance selection to be chosen as the third robot on our alliance.

The 319‐1519‐4555 alliance worked well together, with 319 and 1519 dominating the Scale in the center of the field and maintaining ownership throughout the match. Meanwhile 4555 did well feeding Power Cubes through the Exchange to gain the alliance various Power Up advantages, often getting 9 cubes in the Vault to fully activate all the Power Ups. This strong alliance stormed through the playoff matches without a loss, handily winning the UNH District Event.

Working on Elevator

During the Awards Ceremony, Mechanical Mayhem was ecstatic to also receive the Excellence in Engineering Award sponsored by Delphi. The announcer read out the judges’ comments: “This robot truly exemplified excellence in engineering. Their robot included automated manipulation of cubes even in autonomous mode. There was a minimum amount of movement required to place cubes, and multiple tasks could be performed at the same time. This assured that their robot and team were competitive on the field and across the board.”

Hardworking Scouts

Other highlights of the event included Mayhem student Carson singing the National Anthem for Opening Ceremonies on Saturday morning, and Mayhem student Gabriel explaining his vision to Dean Kamen for making artificial intelligence available to all teams, so they can train the robot to automatically detect and acquire game pieces, like our team did this year. Our Dean’s List nominees, Gabriel and Faith, were recognized at opening ceremonies along with the nominees from other participating teams. We are cheering on our coach and founding mentor Bill Gray as he is considered for the Woodie Flowers Award at the New England District Championship!

Thank you to all our sponsors for enabling us to compete in FIRST! We hope to represent you well at the New England District Championship at Boston University on April 11‐14!

UNH District Winning Alliance

2018: Worcester Polytechnic Institute NE District Event

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What a difference a week and a half makes! At the unofficial Week Zero Scrimmage on February 17, our robot picked up and scored cubes on the Switch, but could not score on the high Scale since it lacked an elevator. Unfortunately, we seeded second from last! However, just a week and a half later at the WPI District Event, we competed with a complete robot including the elevator and seeded first!

During alliance selection at the WPI District, our team chose 78 Air Strike and 3466 Vikings Robotics as our partners for the elimination matches. We played well together and progressed through the quarter-finals and semi-finals. In the first round of the finals, we had a bizarre occurrence of getting the robot’s elevator belts stuck in the Lexan wall of the Scale near the beginning of the match. As a result we started collecting penalty points by the second. If not for those penalty points, our alliance would have won that match despite our robot being disabled! In the second finals match, our operator control laptop froze up, preventing the drivers from controlling our robot and causing us to lose the match by just a few points. Despite these disappointments, we congratulate the third-seeded alliance of 88 TJ2, 4564 Orange Chaos, and 3623 Terror Bots on being district event winners!

During the Awards Ceremony, MAYHEM was honored to receive the Innovation in Control Award sponsored by Rockwell Automation! The judges said this about our team, “Some kids teach their dogs to do new tricks, but others dream of machines learning. Through innovative use of artificial intelligence, this team is teaching their robot to play the game by itself. You only look once at this team and you know they’ve intelligently controlled their mayhem!”

Although we did not win the Chairman’s Award at this event, our Chairman’s team worked hard even before the 2018 Kickoff to update our award submission, and they made a great push after Stop Build Day to prepare the presentation to give to judges and the required Chairman’s Award video. Take a couple minutes to view our Chairman’s Award video titled “A Conversation with Students”:

2018: Week Zero Scrimmage

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At the unofficial Week Zero Scrimmage on February 17 at Bedford High School, we were thankful to have an opportunity to run our robot on a real field and see all the interesting designs that area teams have developed. Since various challenges during the build season have delayed our robot assembly, our robot capability at Week Zero was lower than what we had envisioned.

However, our robot was able to pick up and score cubes on the Switch. Our elevator mechanism had been designed and CAD’d but was not fully manufactured, assembled, programmed, and tested, so we could not score on the high Scale. Even though we seeded second from last, we had a great learning experience and look forward to the official competition season coming up soon!

A sponsor of our team, Altium, contracted a video of our season. Here is a 1.5-minute preview of the video which covers the end of the build season and the Week Zero Scrimmage:


2018: FRC Game Announcement

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On January 6, 2018, the new FRC game was announced, beginning the intense six-week build season. As FIRST explains in their game manual, in FIRST Power Up, teams are trapped in an 8bit video game! Each three-team alliance prepares to defeat the boss in three ways:

  1. Control the Switches and the Scale. Robots collect yellow Power Cubes and place them on Plates to control Switches or the Scale. When the Scale or their Switch is tipped in their favor, it is considered owned by that Alliance. Alliances work to have Ownership for as much time as possible.
  2. Earn Power Ups. Robots deliver Power Cubes to their humans who then place them into the Vault earning the Alliance Power Ups. Alliances use Power Ups to gain a temporary advantage during the Match. There are three Power Ups available to teams: Force, Boost, and Levitate.
    • Force gives the alliance ownership of the Switch, Scale, or both for a limited period of time
    • Boost doubles the rate points are earned for a limited period of time
    • Levitate gives a robot a free climb
  1. Climb the Scale. Robots Climb the Scale in order to be ready to Face The Boss.

To learn more, check out the FRC 2018 Game webpage and watch the FIRST Power Up game animation: