On an early January morning at Stony Brook University, FIRST, the organization behind the nationwide high school robotics craze, broadcast it’s new funky game to the world.This year, the game involves a heap of Frisbees and a challenge not yet attempted by any previous year: Lift the 120 pound robot you just spent 6 weeks building over 5 feet in the air on a funky pyramid. Since the unveiling, the team has spent their days prototyping for their next bot, coming up with some very creative solutions to this year’s challenge and then, together, meshing their ideas to form this year’s robot. Of the prototypes, a tape measure design which would lift the robot using a simple household tape measure and a powerful motor to create a freakish creation. Though the idea was eventually brought down, the concept worked, lifting most of the required weight.

The final product had no tape measures, but the insanity did not stop at tape measures, as the robot ended up having over 10 feet’s worth of threaded rods (sort of like a long screw that’s powered by a motor) spread about the robot. Why the rods? To power the bot up the tower with ease by attaching hooks to the rods. The only downfall? It is near impossible to bring down without the robot powered. The team made a consensus that getting the robot down the pyramid once it’s up is the officials problem. Their rule.

You can keep track of all the team’s progress by liking their Facebook page by searching Sachem Robotics. To get a taste of what the team is like, visit their site, first263.org and click on gallery.

After 4 years of being on the team, I can assure you that it’s an experience that I’ll never forget. It’s a lot of work, but the team literally becomes your second family. And no. You don’t need to know anything about robotics to join. I’ll have you know, I didn’t get the “Magic Smoke” award for nothing. 

Above, Robotics Nationals in St. Louis, Missouri in 2012. Team 263 was one of the lucky teams to be chosen to go last year, and if the team can unite like it did last year, they’re headed for nationals once more. The FRC Nationals involves an entire arena full of the nation’s best and the brightest, as well as some of the world’s brightest, with teams spanning the entire globe.

Written by James Brako-McComb

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