Botball

Overview

Botball is a highly technical robotics competition between teams composed of mostly high schoolers and some middle schoolers. I started doing Botball in 6th grade and my experience from FLL helped a lot. The Los Altos Community Botball (LACT) teams are composed of students ranging from 6th through 12th grade. Each team has a couple of senior members who are captain of the team, and then a mix of rookies and slightly more experienced people. The captains lead the team and the meetings while also teaching the less experienced as well so when the rookies are seniors, they can pass on their knowledge to the next generation of rookies. This cycle is a key reason for the LACT Botball teams being around for more than a decade.

Robot Game

Each year, the robot game is released around February. The robots compete on an 8' by 8' table. The maximum size of the robots is 12" by 12" by 12", which is typically a squeeze. The table usually has two sides down the middle with PVC pipe. In the middle, there is sometimes a gap where robots can drive through to the other side. There are two parts to the competition: Seeding and Double Elimination (Possibly a third being added). Each round is 2 minutes long. In seeding, your robot(s) try to score as many points as possible in the given time. There is no opponent and you can use the scoring objects on both sides of the table to score. In Double Elimination, two teams are pitted against each other on the table. They try to score as many points as possible on their side, while possibly disrupting the other team's robot. Double elimination is usually the most exciting part of the competition.

Documentation

At various checkpoints throughout the season, teams are required to submit documentation about different topics. Period 1 documentation usually is a team plan and outlines the goals/tasks that need to be accomplished for a successful season. Period 2 documentation is usually a hardware and software review. Teams typically submit images of a robot along with technical documentation, and a portion code with flow charts and comments. Period 3 documentation is submitted right before the competition and is a recap and reflection of the entire season. Finally, an "on-site" presentation is given by 2 team members at the actual competition which has an in-depth rubric outlining all the necessary items to be covered. This portion of the competition makes up 1/3 of a team's entire raw score.

Team Website: www.lactbotball.com

Competition

There are two competitions per season. In April, there is a regional competition between a bunch of other teams in the nearby area. Every team advances to the championship competition is called GCER, Global Conference on Educational Robotics. There are teams from all over the world at this competition. This competition has a lot more teams than the regional competition. Each year, the location of this competition changes. It has been in Hawaii, Indian Wells, Oklahoma, and Florida over the past couple years.

Yearly Breakdown

I was the captain alongside Andy. We swept the Northern California Regional Tournament and became the International Champions at GCER! Our team had 17 members, so for regionals, we split in 2, so that more members could have experience building and running robots at the game table. Team 0399, which Andy and I were on, won 1st overall, and Team 0742, which many Gunn HS members were on, won 2nd overall.

See all our runs at GCER here: Youtube Video

Results
  • GCER 2019 - World Champions
  • GCER 2019 - 1st Double Seeding
  • GCER 2019 - 1st Double Elimination
  • GCER 2019 - 2nd Seeding
  • GCER 2019 - Overall Judges Choice
  • GCER 2019 - Spirit of Botball
  • Norcal Regional 2019 - 1st Overall
  • Norcal Regional 2019 - 1st Seeding
  • Norcal Regional 2019 - 1st Double Elmination

I was the captain alongside Andy. We swept the Northern California Regional Tournament and had one of our best results ever at GCER. For the first time, we purchased additional robot microcontrollers so that almost every team member could be working on a task, and this allowed for very rapid prototyping to score on all the elements of the game table.

Results
  • GCER 2018 - 3rd Overall
  • GCER 2018 - 3rd Seeding
  • GCER 2018 - 2nd Double Seeding
  • GCER 2018 - 5th Double Elimination
  • GCER 2018 - Spirit of Botball
  • GCER 2018 - Outstanding Robot Collaboration and Synchronization
  • Norcal Regional 2018 - 1st overall
  • Norcal Regional 2018 - 1st seeding
  • Norcal Regional 2018 - 1st double elmination
  • Norcal Regional 2018 - Outstanding Documentation

I was the captain primarily focused on the hardware aspect and Andy was the other captain focusing on software. We won the Northern California Regional and placed very highly at GCER. Between the regionals and GCER the team rebuilt several robots after some strategy changing rule changes were made.

Results
  • GCER 2017 - 3rd Overall
  • GCER 2017 - 1st Seeding
  • Norcal Regional 2017 - 1st Overall
  • Norcal Regional 2017 - 1st Double Elmination
  • Norcal Regional 2017 - 2nd Seeding

I was the captain for both the regional portion and our sub-team for GCER. We collaborated with another LACT team so that we had enough people going to the conference. The robot our team primarily built for double elimination was used in seeding as well because of its effective scoring ability. The best robot subsystem award was given for a rubber band powered car that one of our robots deployed to score a bunch of points.

Results
  • GCER 2016 - 7th Overall
  • GCER 2016 - 4th Seeding
  • GCER 2016 - Top 16 Double Elimination
  • GCER 2016 - Best Robot Subsystem
  • Norcal Regional 2016 - 3rd Overall
  • Norcal Regional 2016 - 4th Seeding
  • Norcal Regional 2016 - Keep It Simple Students Award

I joined team 399 and became captain with Andy after the original team I was on dissolved and split onto other teams as it was too small to go to GCER alone. This season was the breaking point for LACT 399 becoming an international powerhouse!

For the Norcal Regional, I was on team 0083, and we swept the tournament.

Results
  • GCER 2015 - 14th Seeding
  • Norcal Regional 2015 - 1st Overall
  • Norcal Regional 2015 - 1st Seeding
  • Norcal Regional 2015 - 1st Double Elimination

This was my second year doing Botball and I was on team 0083. We had a very talented programmer who made 2 player Tron on one of our microcontrollers. I worked on the hardware for the Create robot and it successfully scored hangers onto the highest scoring rack. In addition, it could deploy an IGUS chain in double elimination rounds to disrupt the opponent.

Results
  • GCER 2014 - Unknown
  • Norcal Regional 2014 - 1st Overall
  • Norcal Regional 2014 - 1st Double Elimination
  • Norcal Regional 2014 - 2nd Seeding
  • Norcal Regional 2014 - Judges Choice

I joined Botball team 0083 in the Los Altos Community in 6th grade. I was admitted at such a young age due to my prior success in FLL and could quickly get up to speed with the Botball hardware and software. We worked out of one of my friend's garages around 2 nights per week.

Results
  • GCER 2013 - Unknown
  • Norcal Regional 2013 - Judges Choice