Preparation: Timing of the Matches
Matches are just two and a half minutes in length. This is only enough time to run three or four programs. Preparations for the tournament should include practice runs using a stopwatch to keep track of the time.
Preparation: Touch Penalties
Team members should avoid manipulating the mission models that are outside of base while the practice run is taking place. Team members should understand that once the match has started, they are not permitted to touch mission models that are not in base and are penalized for touching the robot when it is not in base.
Because tournaments are held in locations different from practices, it may be useful to build certain functions into the software that may prove useful for consistent operation of the robot during the tournament. If you are using light sensors (either shielded or unshielded) it may be useful to build a calibration function into the beginning of the program so that the robot will always go into the calibration function at the start of the main (or first) program. While it certainly is possible to have the calibration done by a separate program, it may be better for the robot automatically execute this function. It is just one less thing that the team member has to worry about at the match.
There is one major drawback to having the robot go into a calibration function at the start of the program. If the robot gets hung up during the match and has to be re-started, it will re-start with the calibration program requiring the robot to be moved outside of base to be calibrated (probably incurring a touch penalty in the process).
One helpful programming technique would be to incorporate an “If then” at the beginning of the program that will ask if the robot needs to be calibrated. When the program starts, the program will ask the user: “Calibrate the Light Sensor now? (Yes/No)” You could have the default as “No” for practice mode and then change it to “Yes” for tournament mode. The user would always have the option to switch to Yes or No as desired. Changing the default for the tournament mode would encourage team members to perform the calibration more often.
Tires and tank treads will accumulate dust and debris during normal operation. This material picked up by the tires and treads will cause the tires and treads to have less friction with the surface of the mat. This may increase the chance for slippage (loss of friction).
To get the tires and treads working at optimal performance, clean them regularly to remove the accumulated debris. Use a damp cloth or paper towel to remove the debris. Be careful not to get the other components wet.
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