Wednesday, May 16, 2012

2012 Season Recap

On April 28th, the national FRC robotics season came to an end at St. Louis, Missouri. 402 robotics teams from all around the world met to compete in four divisions towards one goal: being part of the elimination rounds on the Einstein championship field. Cybersonics, having experienced a wild season filled with high points and low points, traveled with the hope of glimpsing the red carpet and esteem of the Einstein field. Everything they had worked for in the past season had come down to one final event, and it took them a good amount of topsy-turvy experience to get there.

After kickoff on January 7th, Cybersonics worked through the build season to accomplish the ultimate goal of every competition season: to build a robot that represents the prestige and accomplishments of the organization as a whole. At the conclusion of the build season, many inside the organization felt that the goal had been thoroughly achieved. Cybersonics then ventured to sunny Orlando, Florida, to participate in the Orlando regional and the team finished 4th in the qualification rankings at the event. In eliminations, the team and its alliance partners reached the semifinal rounds before being eliminated. Although the robot did not come in first, the competition was a success. The competition culminated with Cybersonics winning the Motorola Quality Award – a symbolic representation of team efforts thus far.

The 2nd event of the competition year was held at Lenape Regional High School in New Jersey. Coming off their successes at Florida, Cybersonics seemed poised to recreate their success with a victory in their first match of the competition. After that, the team steadily fell in the rankings after a reported programming malfunction and a couple of issues with their communication in their alliance. The drive team made their way back to significance from the near-bottom of the rankings by qualifier’s end, and the team was selected as the first pick for an elimination alliance. Though eliminated in the semifinals, the team still captured a prestigious award and was bestowed with the honor of the Judge’s Award for extensive communication measures and impressive global outreach.
The team had one more event to attend before nationals: The Mount Olive district event in Mount Olive, New Jersey. After making adjustments from the previous competition, Cybersonics had its best showing of the season. They were seeded within the top eight, and soon developed a powerful alliance plan that took them to the title game of the event. Ironically, they would be playing against their “sister bot”, operated with success by North Brunswick, New Jersey’s team 25. Cybersonics and their alliance fought hard in the title matches, but fell one basket short of a victory in the 2nd game, knocking them out. Team 25’s alliance was crowned the deserving champions of the district event, while Cybersonics came home as 2nd place finishers – with another award, the General Motors’ Industrial Design Award, in tow. It was easily their best showing of the season, and the stage was set for them to make a splash at the national competition.
Nationals came and Cybersonics worked efficiently the entire time, carrying some of their alliances, but scoring with accuracy. Their valiant efforts, however, did not translate into an overwhelming amount of wins. After their division’s qualification rounds, they ranked 55th out of 100 teams in their division with a record of five wins, three losses, and a solitary tie. The team was left hoping that work done by their brilliant scouting team in the pits would garner them a spot on an alliance for divisional eliminations. In a heartbreaking turn of events, despite their palpable effort, undeniable ability, and wonderfully designed machine, Cybersonics was not chosen to participate in the elimination rounds, dashing the hopes of setting foot on the Einstein field. The team’s year of competition had ended, and though a bit shocked at the outcome, 103 stayed and cheered through finals.
Despite this, the members of the team were still able to hoist the most valuable prize garnered from the season: the knowledge that their hard work had paid off through the team’s success at district events. Heading into the offseason, fundraising will now take prominence, as the team continues to work hard in preparation for the upcoming season. The team would like to thank the continued support of its sponsors, mentors, and reliable fan-base by reminding them that the success of the team would not be possible without their continued affection and dedication to the cause. The group of individuals that encompass Cybersonics are capable of doing great things, and they wholeheartedly are striving towards making the next year an example of that, just as they proved this past season. Only time will tell if that success can manifest itself in even greater ways this upcoming year.

Written by Karl D.
Distributed in the May edition of the Cybersonics Newsletter

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

FIRST World Championship in Review

On April 29th, the Cybersonics Technology Team returned from the international competition in St. Louis, FIRST World Championships, and though the team was a bit downcast, this season has certainly be one to learn from. 

Luck was not on 103’s side at competition; Cybersonics did not make the top eight for alliance selections in Galileo, nor was the Hall of Fame team chosen as an alliance partner. Sitting out elimination rounds was humbling, and even moreso, the fact that 103 did not win any awards at World Championships. It was much unlike performance at the regional events, wherein Cybersonics did make eliminations and did win one or more awards at each event. The team competed against 99 other teams within their division, Galileo, and over 400 total FRC teams from around the globe. Despite the regionals being such a tremendous preparatory force, fierce competition provided obstacles that 103 could not quite overcome, but allowed goals to be set for next year.

Regardless, the team could be pleased by the recognition given by the judges, as many came up to the booth and paid special attention to team spokeswoman, Rachel. It was consoling as well that 103 ranked approximately 6th for teleoperated period score.

A notable featureof the World Championships is that FIRST Tech Challenge teams compete alongside FIRST Lego League and Junior FIRST Lego League teams from around the world, with teams that came from as far as Japan. Team 103 would like to offer enormous congratulations to FRC teams 180, 25 and 16 for their amazing performances on Einstein and on their earning of the title of World Champions for this season. Along with all the other teams who won their respective divisions and moved on to compete on Einstein, they all made 103 proud to participate in FIRST with such admirable displays of passion, dedication, fervor and gracious professionalism.

Because Cybersonics was not as successful as expected or desired, this season will be taken as a call for improvement so that 103 can return to the field more fiery and passionate than ever. Though the team will be losing a core group of valuable seniors at the end of this year, 103 will renew itself with new leadership and polish itself to brighter hues for next year’s competition.

Follow us on Twitter: @cybersonics
Like us on Facebook: /CybersonicsTechnologyTeam103

Written by Luke C.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Regional Competitions Reviewed

Through the month of March, the Cybersonics Technology Team competed in several regional competitions; the Orlando, Lenape and Mt. Olive regionals.

After some time in Disney, the team traveled to the University of Central Florida for the Orlando Regional. The competition spanned from the 8th to the 10th of March and the first day was spent in the stands while the pit and the field were set up; the second day was when the action started. 103 did well through the matches and was seeded quite highly. In the elimination matches, Cybersonics was selected by team 1065, and we invited team 4091 to be our third alliance member, a rookie team from the Dominican Republic. They were both incredibly gracious and skilled, especially 4091 for their first year, and the team commends 1065 and 4091 for their dedication and enthusiasm. Cybersonics made it into the semifinals and won the Motorola Quality Award. Additionally, the team won the Pit Safety Award while at UCF.

At the Lenape regional, which was on the 24th and 25th of March, Cybersonics met challenges far more difficult than those in Florida. At several matches, the team was ranked near last in the seeding and it was a truly humbling experience for the team. Nonetheless, 103 kept up hope and managed to rise in the ranking in the later Qualification matches. Despite the previous losses, the team was picked by the second seeded team, 2180 for the Elimination rounds. We teamed up with 3974 as well. Again, the team made it to the semifinal rounds, and won, at this event, the Judges' Award based upon the effective communicative measures and global outreach methods the team employs.

The Mt. Olive regional was more exciting yet than the Lenape event, as there was strong competition. However, with fairer alliances and a smaller dose of misfortune, the team was competitive enough to match it. 103 made it to the final round and so received medals for being regional finalists. Likewise, the team won the General Motors Industrial Design Award, a first for 103, due to the robust and clean design of our 2012 robot, Echo Charlie.

Cybersonics is far from finished with our last competition with the St. Louis Nationals coming up quickly. The team is certainly grateful for our success at the regionals and has learned a few lessons that will hopefully refine 103’s performance in St. Louis. The team hopes our winning trend continues into St. Louis! Be on the look out for updates from our twitter. 

Follow us on Twitter: @cybersonics
Like us on Facebook: /CybersonicsTechnologyTeam103

Written by Luke C.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

"Name Our Robot" Comes to an End

Bidding on the Cybersonics Technology Team’s “Name Our Robot” eBay fundraiser ended on February 11th, with a final bid of $127.50. The winner was Kyle J. of FIRST team 1610; he decided on the name Echo Charlie for 103’s 2012 Rebound Rumble Robot.

The name carries quite an interesting story with it, going all the way back to 2004 - the year Kyle joined his high school team, 616, which founded team 1610 in a neighboring high school soon after. The teams remained friendly and worked collaboratively through the 2005 season. The following year, however, the school board backing 616 withdrew their support, causing the team to collapse. Kyle then joined 1610 as a mentor to continue pursuing the passions he discovered with 616. 

Kyle began volunteering at a regional competition and met another volunteer; Cynthia. The two built a strong relationship during their multiple seasons together as they worked in tandem on field construction , reset, repair, and other tasks.  Years later, Cynthia led a class at a Vex robotics camp, in which her students began to call her ‘C’, for her name. They soon connected the name to the programming language they were learning, Easy C, and altered the nickname to EC. Soon after, it morphed into Echo Charlie, hence the name of the robot.

This friend is particularly important to Kyle; he wanted to honor her with this tribute. 103 mentors and students really connected with his story and agreed wholeheartedly to use the name. Many students on the team form bonds like the one between Kyle and Cynthia. They are friendships that no one forgets, even many years after the time they spend on FIRST teams. Mentors of Cybersonics often refer to the team as a “big family” and it is the absolute truth. Students on the team work with each other for a tremendous portion of the day, and it is commonplace for the students and mentors of FIRST teams to befriend each other in ways very deep and indelible.

Written by Luke C.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Cybersonics Uses eBay in an Innovative Way

The Cybersonics Technology Team 103, out of Kintnersville, PA, is utilizing eBay, the most popular buying and selling website in the world, as a sort of fundraiser for the team. Cybersonics, a Hall of Fame team within the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) program created by Inventor Dean Kamen, is selling the rights to name their 2012 robot. The 2012 FIRST Robotics game is “Rebound Rumble,” and revolves around basketball. On alliances of three vs. three, high school students from around the world will compete with their robots, beginning in March. Due to tough economic times, Cybersonics has found themselves a little short on funding this year and is turning to new, unique and innovative forms on fundraising. The team plans on selling the rights to name the robot they will use in competitions across the nation to the highest bidder on eBay. Pioneering this territory, Cybersonics is hoping to generate enough money to carry them through the remainder of the season.  For more information, visit the team website ( where a link will take you to eBay where you can place your bid and visit FIRST’s website for more information about the program (

Place your bid with this link!

Written by Rachel S.

Light Bulb Fundraising

“When we started FIRST Green initiatives for our robotics teams in 2010, we knew we were onto something: a 21st century fundraising technique that not only helped teams become self-sustaining in the short term; but which also helped them in the long term create a better environment which they will inherit someday,” stated Dean Kamen, founder of FIRST, as he addressed teams about the FIRST Green e-watt saver. It is the newest fundraiser that FIRST has created so that teams can make the necessary funds for each year.

The FIRST Green e-watt saver is different from other light bulbs, making it quite a unique item. The bulbs are made with LEDs, which makes them a great deal more efficient than incandescent or fluorescent lights. They use far less energy than traditional bulbs, which was one of the key reasons FIRST created the bulbs; to be environmentally friendly. The bulbs easily reach this goal, generating 450 lumens from only seven watts of power; 88% less power compared to incandescent bulbs. Furthermore, they last over nine years when used about three hours daily, compared to an incandescent which lasts only three to four months at this rate. Based on 11 cents per KwH, this bulb would also cost only 84 cents per year to power, incandescent bulbs costing seven dollars per year. The bulbs are also entirely eco-friendly due to the fact that they contain no harmful chemicals, unlike their fluorescent counterparts. This leaves no traces of mercury or lead and there is no special disposal required. As added benefits, the bulbs exhibit little temperature fluctuation and are far more durable than conventional bulbs.

After receiving a sponsorship from Google, FIRST was able to manufacture the bulbs through TESS (Trademark Electronic Search System), a leading provider of LED lamps, rather inexpensively. Each bulb costs $20, but 75% of the proceeds will go towards the team’s funds. Similar bulbs sold at appliance stores cost $35 each, far more than the price Cybersonics offers.

Constantly striving to have the most cutting-edge technology, FIRST has released the second generation FIRST Green e-watt saver LED light bulb which will be dimmable to five percent light output, the standard among dimmers. It was designed and tested by the Lighting Science Group in Florida and has also been approved by the FCC. Most bulbs only emit light in one direction, but the second generation bulb will have omni-directional light. Their life span is about 25,000 hours which is equivalent to 22.8 years, far outliving the original bulb. The bulbs cost slightly more to run at $1.02 per year for a 450 lumen bulb, and $1.63 per year for the 800 lumen bulb. The second generation bulb initially is a bit more expensive as well, costing $27 per bulb, however the energy savings adds up over their lengthier lifespan. Similar to the original, these bulbs contain no mercury or lead, and require no special disposal.

“The ability to sell LED bulbs and perform energy audits gives the teams a chance to learn not only about viable ‘green’ technology and energy savings; but also strengthens their sales, marketing and leadership skills for whatever career paths they take,” stated Dean Kamen in regards to the lightbulb fundraising. Cybersonics hopes to gain these things from the fundraiser, as well as vital funding for the team to perform this year. With such goals in mind, the team has been and will continue to sell the FIRST e-watt saver throughout the year.
The FIRST Green E-Watt Saver

Written by Joanna D.
Distributed in the January edition of the Cybersonics Newsletter

2012 Kickoff

The FIRST robotics season began this year with a great, familiar feeling of overwhelming work hours, thrill, and the internal countdown until the trips to Disney and St. Louis, Missouri. Not only did Cybersonics get the directions for this year’s game, but the team also found out about great financial assistance toward travel for winning the Engineering Inspiration Award at a regional event. The 2012 game was introduced on January 7th, 2012 via a televised broadcast. During the broadcast, Dean Kamen, and Woodie Flowers amongst special guests Bill Clinton, George Bush, and Will.I.Am, joined members from the Game Design Committee in explaining aspects of the game, signaling to past year’s playing balls and inner tubes throughout. Seconds before the game was announced, hints were made about “fouls” and “making the baskets”. When it came time to announce the 2012 game, 103 was completely sure that it was going to be a basketball-style game.

The 2012 “Rebound Rumble” robotics game is played between two alliances of three teams each on a 27 by 54 ft arena (Fig. 1). Each Alliance competes by trying to score as many of the foam basketballs in the hoops (Fig. 2) as possible during the two-minute and fifteen-second match. This year’s game includes an autonomous mode, wherein the robot must utilize pre-programmed instructions to collect and shoot the basketballs (Fig. 3). During the autonomous mode, only one team on each alliance is allowed to use the Microsoft Kinect to guide their robot to shoot (Fig. 4). The array of four baskets is located adjacent to either teams control station. Balls scored in the top row earn three points, in the middle row two points, and in the bottom row one point. Once in the basket, the ball drops behind the playing field and into the corral where the human player passes the ball back to their team via their inbound station (Fig. 5). At the end of the match, team alliances are awarded bonus points if they are balanced on bridges, located in the center of the field. One robot balancing is a bonus of 10 points, two robots balancing together is a bonus of 20 points, and three robots balancing together is worth 20 points during the qualification matches and 40 points during the elimination matches.

Rebound Rumble is a game of strategy, teamwork, and accuracy, on which Cybersonics spent a great deal of time brainstorming as well as physically playing basketball to get a feel for the game. 103 is looking forward to seeing all of the different robots designed to compete in this complex game.

Written by Kelly S.
Distributed in the January edition of the Cybersonics Newsletter