Help Team Roboctopi get started

Hello, we’re Team Roboctopi, a small independent (not affiliated with any school or organization) robotics team in Southern California competing in the 2018-2019 First Tech Challenge(FTC): Rover Ruckus . We’ve spent the last 2 years building our skills by participating in First Lego League(FLL)  robotics competition and now, we’re ready to move up to the next level. But, we need your help.

Our Passion

We love to learn, innovate and build robots, and we’re willing to work hard to meet any challenge thrown at us. We’ve been working hard for the past 2 years participating in First Lego League and encouraging and mentoring others. During that time, we’ve had our fair share of frustration and failure, and we’ve picked ourselves up and learned from our failures to become a better team. We like to think of failure as accelerated learning.

Along the way we’ve also had a bit of success. During our 2016 rookie season we begged, borrowed and shared to come up with a meager collection of materials to build and program our first robot. Despite the challenges, lack of knowledge and scarce resources we managed advance to the Southern California Regional Championships and win several awards including:

1st Place Robot Design: Southern California qualifying tournament.

2nd Place Robot Design, Strategy and Innovation: Southern California Regional Championships

The most important lesson we learned is that it’s OK to fail if we learn from our mistakes and work hard to correct and improve. Sometimes that means fixing a problem and, sometimes that means starting over.

We started our second year of robotics with a basic set of resources and knowledge to build upon. We were able to recruit several new team members and purchase additional materials that allowed us to take our robot to the next level. We also spent a lot of time improving areas that we did not do well in during our first season. One of the core areas teams are judged on are community outreach and science projects. FLL tries to promote well rounded individuals. During our second year we designed, fabricated and built a Smart Planter that harvests water from the atmosphere to water plants, and provides data to a smart phone app. Combined with our robot design skills we had another great year resulting in additional awards

1st Place Robot performance: Southern California qualifying tournament.

Tournament Champion: Southern California qualifying tournament.

1st Place Science Presentation: Southern California Regional Championships

We’re confident we would have had a fantastic 3rd year in First Lego League (FLL) but, after working hard for 2 years and learning as much as we could from FLL, we decided it was time to move up to the next level. After all, we think we’ll learn faster by tackling new challenges and potentially failing, than by repeating the things we’ve already done. That’s why we’re asking for your help…

Our Expenses

Building advanced robots is expensive. Here at Team Roboctopi Headquarters we have a saying, “We’re here to chew bubblegum and build robots, and we can’t afford bubblegum.” We need money for the following

Team Registration: There are more than 100,000 unpaid volunteers and mentors that work hard to make First Robotics function. Despite this, the costs and challenges of organizing events around the world are numerous. Southern California registration fees for our region this year are $275.

Tournament Fees: All teams are required to attend 3 regional competitions to be eligible to qualify for regional championships and potentially, qualify for the World championship. We don’t expect to make it to the World championship our Rookie year but, we’re hopeful and confident we’ll get there someday if we work hard. Southern California tournament fees for our region this year are $250.

Structural components: We’ve already purchased a basic set of aluminum structural parts to begin building our robot. In order to meet the challenges of this year’s competition we’re sure we’re going to need additional parts. Whenever possible we plan on fabricating things out of low cost materials such as wood or plastic to reduce cost. We’ve already spent $529 on structural pieces and still need to purchase materials to make additional pieces. We estimate we’ll need a budget of $250 for additional parts and materials.

Electronics and sensors: To complete the autonomous portion of the competition we are going to need access to electronics and sensors to drive the robot. Our current robot is limited in both form and function by the electronics we have. Right now, we have the capacity to drive 4 motors, 6 servos and 12 sensors. To be able to go after every goal on the play field we feel that we will need to double that capacity to 8 motors, 12 servos and 24 sensors but that’s expensive. This is a goal we’d love to achieve our first year, but we also understand it’s not required to show up and learn what we need to learn. Cost estimates to achieve this goal are $483
Motors and Servos: One of our favorite internet quotes is “Things at rest tend to stay at rest unless acted upon by motors and servos” --Sir Isaack Newton (well, maybe don’t believe everything you read on the internet) We have already purchased 4 dc motors and 4 servos. This should be enough to tackle some of the easier challenges on the play field this year but, experience has taught us that at least one of our motors and/or servos is going to fail during the season (and it will probably be 10 minutes before a competition). We currently have no backup plan if one of our motors or servos fail. We’d like to have at least 2 backup motors and servos for repairs as needed. 2 additional motors and servos will cost $117

Batteries: Every team is required to use one of 2 legal batteries for competition. This is to ensure a level playing field for every team and for safety as batteries can be volatile. Unfortunately, batteries have a limited number of charge cycles, require a long time to fully recharge and are very expensive. We currently have only one battery which limits how much we can test and practice and is not adequate for a competition. We have determined we will need a minimum of 4 batteries to complete a competition. 3 new additional batteries will cost $150

Phones: Our robot is controlled by Motorola Android phones. Every robot requires 2 of these phones and there are currently only a handful of models that are legal for competition. We would gladly recycle any and all old phones if we could, but they have to be competition legal. One of our biggest challenges is the ability to have more than one person working on code or testing with only one set of phones. We also have no backup plan if one of our phones decides to give up during a competition. As this is our first year participating at this level, we don’t know how likely this is to occur but, we have a fair amount of practice dealing with the law that says, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”. We’ve gotten very good at fixing things on the fly during the heat of competition but that only works if you have the parts you need to fix something. We’ve determined that while a second set of phones is not required, having a backup plan is always good. One set of competition phones is $200

Tools: We plan on borrowing many of the tools we’ll need to build and fabricate our robot. That said there are a few very specific tools we need for day to day assembly/disassembly of structures and electronics. We’ve already purchased a basic set of tools for this purpose at a cost of $116

Practice play field: To save money we built our own play field out of PVC and hardboard rather than purchasing an official play field. Despite this, it was a fairly large expense. In addition to this, competition requires that we purchase a set of play field elements (the game elements). This expense has already been paid for at a cost of $693

Computers: Our current development hardware is a 5 year old laptop and a hacked Chromebox that runs Linux. We also have access to a few desktop computers but, we need some portable computers for competitions. Hopefully our current laptop has enough life left in it to get us through the season. We are hoping to find, and happy to recycle/reuse a portable laptop or two as a backup plan in case our current laptop fails.

Team uniforms: Nothing fancy but it would be great if we could show up to competition all wearing the same color t-shirt. If we raise enough money maybe a simple team logo on the shirt as well. Although this isn’t required we think it demonstrates a certain level of professionalism and fosters team spirit and pride. We are also open to advertising for any business owners that are willing to provide sponsorship for our team. We estimate a basic set of t-shirts will cost $100

Our Risks

The biggest risk we face this year is we have no failure, and everything turns out to be way easier than we expect. We’re hoping that’s not the case and we have to work to earn every point we put on the board.  We think we can mitigate these risks by taking on the challenge of moving up the next level (FTC) and expect that many of our ideas won’t work as implemented and sometimes, we’ll have to start over. We’re also pretty sure that we’ll have to do a lot of real research and put in some long nights and weekends to get everything done. And lastly, we’ll probably have to solve a lot of problems on the fly with the stress and time constraints of a competition. Please bear in mind that it’s possible we’ll have a terrible season where everything goes perfectly the first time we try it, and we manage to learn almost nothing new but, we think the likelihood of these risks are low. Your help will give us the opportunity to complete a challenging season.


Meet The Team

Alex - I am Alex and I am thrilled to be part of Roboctopi this season. I have just started High School and robotics is one of my many interests along with fencing, solving rubik’s cube, juggling, and reading.

Cannon - I am a Junior at Valley Center High School. My favorite subjects are science and math. I like working with my hands whether it be building things or working on cars.

Logan - My name is Logan. I just started junior high school. I love cats, programming and playing piano. My other interests are Physics, Encryption and AI neural nets. I also like to play Kerbal Space Program.

Nico - I am a level 7 competitive gymnast, and work out 15 hours a week. I love music and play the piano. In my spare time, i like to read mystery books (my favorite series is Harry Potter). I love science and am excited for this season of robotics.
Seth - My name is Seth. I am an 11-year-old who loves to code. I also like fixing devices and playing on my Nintendo Switch. I know 7 computer languages. I just joined the team this year and I'm excited to start.

What you’ll receive

We plan on updating this page monthly to let you know what we’re up to and how we’ve used your generous donations. In addition to this if we meet or exceed our goal we’ll provide a special gift for everyone who donates $100 or more to show you how much we appreciate your help. Thank you for your time and please share our page on social media even if you are unable to help monetarily. Every bit of exposure helps us to meet our goal.

What We Need

Our current team budget is $2000, of that we have already spent most of our funds on the following

$275.00       Team Registration
$529.00       Tetrix Structural Parts set (parts to build with)
$149.95       Rev Robotics hub expansion kit (drives the motors and sensors)
$219.95       Motorola phone set (Android studio java development)
$243.23       Play field materials (We built it ourselves to save money)
$450.00       Official play field elements set
$115.71       Tools for assembly/disassembly

$1982.84 Total

We need to raise $1000 to have a successful season and pay for the following

$250.00       Competition fees
$150.00       3 spare batteries
$199.95       1 Additional set of Phones
$064.00        2 spare DC motors
$053.00        2 spare Servo motors
$100.00        Official team uniforms (4 t-shirts with team logo)
$250.00        Structural Materials

$1066.95  total

Any additional funds will be used to pay for the following items in priority order

$  ???                Cover any remaining competition fees
$050.00       2 Official team uniforms for our coaches and mentors (They work hard too)
$100.00        Fasteners, bolts and incidental hardware/electronics
$275.00       1 Rev robotics expansion hub
$155.00        DC motor 4 pack
$053.00        2 Servo motors
$200.00        Food and Snacks for team practice
$005.00        Bubblegum

Once all team goals are met we will be setting up a fund for next year (we'd like to continue doing this for many more years) and, finding ways to encourage, sponsor, and mentor new  FTC and FLL teams in our area.  We think it's essential to give a hand up to other teams through mentor-ship and sponsorship, just as you've given us a hand up with your generous donations and support.

Other ways you can help:

Do you own a small business, multi-billion-dollar corporation, or small business that you’re growing into a multi-billion-dollar corporation in the North County/San Diego region of Southern California? If so we’d love to place your business logo on our robot and/or t-shirt to promote you (for a small fee)! Please contact us.

Are you a maker, crafter or support a robotics team of your own? If so, let us make you aware of Glowforge . Their desktop laser cutter is incredibly well designed and built. We would know because we fabricated our award winning Smart Planter with a Glowforge  last year. Take a look, we think you’ll like what you see. If you decide to purchase a Glowforge , please use affiliate link below. By doing so you’ll receive a discount and we’ll receive money to build robots. 

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  • Jason Reeder 
    • $20 
    • 5 mos
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    • 5 mos
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Michael Brown 
San Marcos, CA
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