2019-2020 VEX Robotics Competition - Tower Takeover

In the VEX Robotics Competition, presented by the Robotics Education & Competition Foundation, teams of students are tasked with designing and building a robot to play against other teams in a game-based engineering challenge. Classroom STEM concepts are put to the test as students learn lifelong skills in teamworkleadershipcommunications, and more. Tournaments are held year-round at the regional, state, and national levels and culminate at the VEX Robotics World Championship each April!
We here at Holland Robotics compete against middle school and occasionally verse high school teams in Southern California region. As the game changes each year we too will be ready for the next challenge!
2019-2020 VEX Game - Turning Point
Big Shout out to this Years Sponsors! We could not have gone anywhere without your support.
Ms. Quan, Walmart, 
Bigger Shout Out to Jerry D. Holland Middle School school and staff, Principal James M. Rust, and of course our school coaches Mr. Johnson and Mr. Lau. We could not be here without all your support and dedication. 
08/02/2019 Team 68689 - Holland Middle School - "Summer Takeover"
A two weeks before school starts the gathering of robot nerds begin. As a new game means new mechansims to figure out. The tough part is 99% of middle team from last year has transitioned to the high school and I'm left training a new batch of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. We spent a week researching and building several prototypes. At the end of the week we built a chassis that can go up the goals and intakes for the cubes.  I wish we could have more hours to finish up but there will never be enough time.
9/19/2019 Team 68689A - Holland Middle School 
Team 68689A our all girls team. As a rookie team, this is all new to them and represents BPUSD all girl team for both Middle and High School. Everybody on the team has some type of PLTW course work as prior skills before coming on board.
9/19/2019 Team 68689X - Holland Middle School 
Team 68689X our upper classmen boys team. They are composed of 2 veteran members from last years 68689X squad and two additional 8th grade members that have some PLTW experience but no VEX competition experience at all. It will be interesting to see if these boys will bring back last years experiences to help them be more successful this season. 
9/19/2019 Team 68689D - Holland Middle School 
Team 68689D is our special team of brand new 6th graders. This team is our rookie team of the season as they are all 6th graders with no PLTW exposure and no prior VEX experience. Building and programming will be a huge hurdle for these kids as there is so much to learn in such a small period of time before and in between tournaments. Lets see how these kids will fair when the season truly is on!
10/20/2019 Team 68689A, Team 68689X - La Verne - Damian Middle School Tournament
Team 68689A - Brand new team of all rookie females. All these girls have never seen or been part of any type of VEX competition before. They composed of three 8th grade girls and one 7th grade girl. As their first official competition they were thrown in the fire. Being such an early competition this team did not get a chance to practice fully driving with their robot until the hours before the competition. As a new team they struggled with building and programming within tight timeline as we are participating as a Public Middle School. But learning to work as a team, drive, communicate, go through the interview process, skills, alliance selection and elimination rounds only was a huge accomplishments! The A Team ended the day rank #18 out of 32 teams with a record of 4-4-0 and a Skills ranking of #18 with  total score of 2 points. Given that this team has never competed and understand how a tournament is ran they did pretty well. They did not survive out of the round of 16 but that's all gravy so far.
Team 68689X - Is another mix mash of team members. They are composed of four 8th grade boys with half of the team as veteran players and the other half also being rookies. Team X has a bit more pride on their shoulder as they have some history and knowledge on how they survive. Just like the girls' team, team x did not have much practice time as building and programming the robot took more time that planned as this tournament was so early in the season. The goal of team X was to place within the top 10 and make it into the quarterfinals. The X Team ended the day rank #11 with a record of 5-3-0 and a Skills ranking of #10 with a total score of 7. They ended the day in the quarterfinal match, and had a malfunction of their intakes which quickly ended their day. Again, not bad for a team with half rookies. Both going back to the drawing board on their robot design.
10/26/2019 Team 68689D - Pico Rivera - Rio Hondo Middle School League #1 
68689D is a new team made up of (7) 6th grade students. All these students have no experience in building, programming, or team dynamics of VEX EDR Competition. Team D built a simple bot that was inspired by watching youtube. The team came in 3-2-0 for the day. Not bad for a league match where most teams are learning as they go. We had a simple issue that was not foreseen before. The tray would get stuck on the intakes during the deploy stage. Which means the robot would not be able to intake more than one cube at a time. I believe we could do build a better bot and correct the tray before the next competition. We also had a lot of build quality issues. 
11/02/2019 Team 68689 - Baldwin Park - Baldwin Park City Parade
On November 02, 2019, The City of Baldwin Park celebrated Jerry D. Holland's Middle School success in the 2019 "Turning Point" Season by honoring us at the local city parade. It was a bit of a celebrate on the part of Holland as we did not just include the current members of each team but include any members from previous seasons as they laid the foundation of our success that we currently reaping. Team 68689A from "In the Zone" was present as they were the first year we had ever competed and ended runner up at the California State Championships in 2018 and the first year we (Holland MS) had ever been the VEX World Championships in 2018 bringing home the "Teamwork Award". We had one member from Team 68689B from "Turning Point" as they were one of the California State Championship Tournment winner and also went to VEX World Championships and ranked #23 in the World for Skills in Middle School. Finally, the current teams were represented in the parade: Team A "all girls team", Team X "all boys team", and Team D "6th grade rookie team". It was the first time we ever been in a parade so we under prepared for the day but we did have fun and enjoyed seeing follow community members cheering us on the route. We hope to be able to continue this tradition next year by continue having successes in our public school VEX teams.
11/09/2019 Team 68689A, Team 68689X - Torrance - El Camino College Middle School Tournament
Team 68689A - Girls are hungrier than ever. With the limited time before competitions the lady team had barely enough time to build their heavy redesign. In this design like the boys had a stiff intake, compound gear arms, and a direct drive chassis all this within a tiny frame. Still with little drive time the ranking showed they did not practice and still a lot of refinement to figure out. The girls ended the day rank #23 out of 36 teams with a record of 2-4-0 and a Skills ranking of #22 with a total score of 3. The main concern is we still have not managed to figure an easy way to remove the intake cubes from the tray. The girls ended the day in round of 16 with the same issue of cubes not easy being removed once intake. 
Team 68689X - Just like the girls team, the x team had barely enough time to finish building their heavily redesigned robot. Similar massive changes to the intake, arms, and direct drive chassis all design process was developed based on the feedback from their first tournament 3 weeks ago. Just like A team the lack of drive time and still unable to solve the unloading of the cubes from the tray caused more headache than having the old robot back. The boys ended the day ranked #20 out of 36 teams with a record 3-3-0 and a Skills ranking of #6 with a total points of 24! Boys really turned it around during the skills run as things started to fall into place. Boys finished round of 16 with a broken left motor which could not be changed in the limited time between elimination round.
11/23/2019 Team 68689D - Pico Rivera - Rio Hondo Middle School League #2
Round #2 for 68689D, they did not have much time to do some heavy modification as being thrown together with no or very little prior knowledge or skills in VEX EDR. Everything is new to everybody so it takes 10x more time to complete a simple task which would have taken a skilled team only minutes. With that in mind, the team did not replace their robot with a design they wanted but slow using the design process modifying key functions of their robot; especially the intakes and the tray. We found out with A, D and X team the swing intake arms does not give enough compression to intake more than 5 cubes with ease. But, with the lack of skill we did not want to change this function at the current time. We did change the arm mechanism to have a better lift capacity then before and a better tray mechanism. But, with little practice and a whole lot of downtime were not able to determine the drive team as of yet. During the tournment team D ended the day 2-3-0 as we went against more skilled teams in the rotations. Hopefully, this team can make some large leaps before the next scrimmage.
11/26/2019 Team 68689 - Holland Middle - "Thanksgiving Break"
All 3 teams came in once during the week long vacation during "Thanksgiving". Team A and X was on an aggressive rebuild process. Switching to a stiff intake and arm setup verse the swiveling intakes. In this build the stiff intakes gave more compression and therefore be able to intake about 5-6 cubes with ease. The issue now is that with the higher compression on the intakes we could not release the cubes from the rack. We will have to research some ideas to "release" the cubes when the tray is deployed. D team took their time refining the same robot. This time they were learning on how to program a complex autonomous program. By the end of the day 6 hours later, they had completed a 4-5 cube autonomous program for the red unprotected goal. Not bad for a bunch of 6th graders not knowing what they are doing. 
12/03/2019 Team 68689 - Holland Middle School - "The Break between Holidays"
All 3 teams have completed their builds. Team A and X as now intake 7-8 cubes easily into either goal line. For the longest time we had issues dropping the second stack of cubes in the larger goal line. After about 2 weeks of driving we finally figured out how to drop the 1st stack without knocking down on the way out. Both upper class-men teams are now working on tower macros and a 5 point autonomous program. 
12/14/2019 Team 68689D - Pico Rivera - Rio Hondo Middle School League #3
Saturday before Winter Break and kids are all reved up and ready to win some matches today. During the last scrimmage the D team has make sure the tray deploys before the intake swivel around 75% of the time and the tray now easy removes the cubes from the tray when moved forward. But, the team neglected to practice their autonomous program and lost 4 out of 5 autonomous part of each match. With such a large team it was difficult to have anybody on the drive team. So we developed a matrix so everybody would have a role on the drive team. But, again the tray not deploying and being out driven by other teams were our make issues we need to solve before the league finals which are coming up on 1/25/2020. Maybe the D team will have some fire and make out like bandits at the next tournament. D team ended the day 1-4-0 mostly by losing to their 1point autonomous program that had a bad starting placement. 
1/19/2020 Team 68689A and Team 68689X - Chino - Bulldog Bucket Bowl Tournament
Team 68689A - Girls had a rough time at Ayala High School. So many things did not run their way on Sunday. First, they had issues with sizing their bot up in the morning. They know how to go through inspection but, when their bot did not fit into parameters they stood there and took it laying down. It took about 45 minutes for the girls to finally gather up enough courage to go through inspects and argue their point and finally pass inspection. The day did not go any smoother, team A lost some simple matches based on the fact they have not competed in like 2 months. The lack of competition throughout the mid season has made Team A a bit soft on the battlefield. Another thing we recognized is the fact the driver only practiced on the red side. After several matches on the blue side the drive team noticed they lacked the experience to drive well on the blue side something that the girls expect to fix when they get back to the practice field. The day was not kind to the girls today ended the day ranked #25 out of 32 teams 2-4-1. They did go into the round of 16 and losing on that round to not being able to drop a stack of 7 cubes. The girls noticed that the tray had issues all day and found out it was a loose tray motor causing the tray not stack properly. There were so many lesson learned this day and we hope to learned from this day forward. 
Team 68689X- We thought the girls had a rough day. The boys had an even rougher day. Inspection was not the issue. Not having uploaded their competition codes the night before was the major sticking point of the day. Team 68689X programmer totally forgot to convert his codes from test mode onto the competition template during the week. To make matters even worse at the competition location he forgot to pack the flash drive which is his physical backup for his codes back in the classroom. So during the first 2 hours of the competition team's 68689X programmer was trying to load a basic drive code and a basic one point autonomous to the robot. After all that we thought the worst has past but it got even worse. A by product of not having the be planned autonomous code and using the last minutes one point autonomous we did not anticipate the robot flipping over during the deployment of extended tray. We lost several matches trying to figure out the best method to deploy the tray while not using our preplanned maneuvers. We thought that was it for the day but it gets even better. There was a miscommunication with 68689A, about who will be packing their batteries for the tournament and team 68689X did not pack any batteries for the tournament and was forced to share batteries with their sister team. Which costed 68689A one match and skills challenge as the batteries were never fully charged. With all these setback and some major bad luck we ended the day ranked #31 out of 32 teams. They did go into the round of 16 but lost sololy to bad driving and decision making on the field. We chalked today's lose and will live another day.
1/25/2020 Team 68689D - Pico Rivera - Rio Hondo Middle School League #4 Finals
Boy has team 68689D come a long away since their first scrimmage in late fall. During the last month since their last scrimmage. We have noticed their bot was not optimized to be the best, but with their limited skill set and background knowledge they understood it was a competition to just survive and beat as many evenly build teams as possible. We have finally setup our drive team and it was difficult as a rookie team all members wanted to be part of the drive team. To be fair to everybody on the team, we setup tryouts for each position on the drive team and selected the best for each position. At the finals those decision paid off. The team drove 100x better than in the past. Even when things did not fall in our direction, intakes getting stuck in the closed position, the drive team was able to think on their feet and drive to their best abilities at the time and even winning some impossible matches. They even scored 3rd in the Skills Challenge with a final score of 27 points a huge accomplishment for this rookie team that did not understand the rules of skills. They ended the league with a rank #13 out of 34 teams. The fun part was they were alliance captains for the first time and had to choose a partner which was totally foreign to them. In the round of 16, they lost in the first match sololy not to bad driving but a superior autonomous the opponents had performed or the match would have needed up tie. As the end of the tournament came several team members left home the coach and just couple members stayed behind to pick up their engineering notebook from the judges. While, waiting the most unexpected honored was rained upon team 68689D. They had won the hearts of the judges at the tournament by winning the "Energy Award." It is awarded to the team that showed the most enthusiasm on and off the field apparently 68689D oozed it today. Pretty special to be recognized like this by a rookie team. Now they can not wait for the next tournament in Chula Vista in two weeks.
1/25/2020 Team 68689A and Team 68689X - Northridge - CSUN Middle School Tournament
Team 68689A - Following last weekends learning experience. Team 68689A came to CSUN with a different lens a more focused len. As this tournament the girls finished ranked 19th out of 32 teams with a record of 4-4-0. They went through inspection with flying colors, when into the first set of matches with a winning attitude and it showed today. The loses start coming in as their autonomous program did not make a single point in all their matches. They did change some motors out to torque motors but that should have made that much of an impact on their basic programming. It did not help during this tournament their programmer was out for the Lunar New Years and was not present to hotfix any issues they had on the field. I believe if she was their they would had concluded at a better position. They did finally completed their first skill run and ranked #5 with a total score of 10. We know they could have done better and will force on Skills on their last tournament next weekend. Just like 68689D the girl team won the hearts of the judges. They won the "Judges Award" at the tournament a much needed confidence boost for this all girl team. With this "win" they have enough confidence to hit their last tournament win a bang!
Team 68689X - With a disappointing result from last weekends tournament this team also had something to prove. This time all programs were preloaded before hand. All items were packed with someone double checking. But, in one area they did not check was the gear box were the tray was using. Apparently, stacking 9+ cubes on the tray cause some teeth on the gear to strip and slip as the tray moved forward. During the competition we did not have a spare 84 tooth gear and had to rotate and reset after every 3 to 4 matches to keep the gear from chipping or slipping. The team did well and was able to drop stacks of 8 cubes easily and was able to win a 1 vs 2 as their alliance at one match was a no show by dropping two stacks of 8 cubes and playing defense verse 2 robots. Autonomous scoring still did not work so its something we have to look at in the upcoming week. By the end of the day we placed #12 out of 32 with a 4-3-1 record ranked #12 for skills score of 5. But, alliance ranked 4 recognized we could power our way through and issue early with our tray picked us for alliance team. Went into round of 16 with a win 10 to 8 an ugly win but all bots had issues with autonomous and score as defense was heavily played. In Quarterfinals beat out two 3064 teams 23 to 16. But lost in semifinals to ranked #1. Overall, a promising turn of events for this team this year. A major victory just to get that far into elimination rounds. Lets see what next weekend brings.
1/31/2020 Team 68689 - Holland Middle School - Honor Roll Rally "Lets Build!"
As the tradition our school celebrates our achievements by having an end of semester Honor Roll Rally for students that did particularly well. We were chosen to represent our teams to do a small demonstration in front of our fellow peers during the assembly. It was unique because we drove it without our field and was outdoor. Happy to note that about 80% of all teams received at least some sort of a reorganization or award that day. 
2/01/2020 Team 68689A and Team 68689X - Rancho Paleos Verde - Tower Takeover at Miraleste
Team 68689A - This was A teams last official tournament of the year. They had some issues to work out but all in all did finish well enough to make it into the elimination rounds. The girls had problem with the cubes not intaking well, issues stands out to be the flaps not gripping on the cubes. So during the competition our autonomous program only worked 40% of the time. We looked for advice from other teams as our head coach was not present at the tournament. Some teams suggested to clean the flaps to see if that would make it stick better to the cubes. It turns out that cured 50% of the intaking issues. Dirty cubes! We ranked 24th out of 34 teams with a record of 3-4 and a skill score of 21. We ran out of time to que for the program skills so we could not increased it by an additional 4-5 points. We were eliminated unfortunately by our sister team X during the quarterfinals. At this point in time we will have to see if our skill score is high enough to qualify for the California State Championships in March.
Team 68689X -  What a day! Our bot had so many issues at the beginning of the day based on our tray mechanism having so much issue moving our high compression intakes that it sheared off 3-4 teeth on the tray mech. We had to rotate the only gear we had as the teeth chipped during matches. But, we got into a way to turn it several degrees efficiently between matches. Our matches unlike the girls were horrible. Many of our matches were 1 vs 2 and for some reason our bot with issues out performed the other teams. We ranked 9th out of 34 with a skill score of 33 points. We were hot enough that day with a low ranking to be picked by the 2nd alliance captain. We beat round of 16 with a score of 29 to 12, we also won quarterfinal with a score of 42 to 13, we also won semifinals with a score of 22 to 0. Then everything fell apart, everything was going our way up until the finals. We won autonomous and only thing we need to do to win now is to keep even with the opposing alliances. Then all hell broke down. Within seconds of the driving period our tray does not open up and stays in the closed position and its laid over that we could not flip the tray up. With over 90 seconds of use trying to get the tray up. We finally do. With the remaining seconds we managed to score several points but it was not enough to win this day. We had such a grand day up to this point. We hoped to win. Now we prepare again for next weekends tournament of the season. 
2/08/2020 Team 68689D and Team 68689X - Chula Vista - Rancho Del Rey Middle School Tournament
Team 68689D - 
Team 68689X - 
3/14/2020 - Team 68689 - Baldwin Park - Baldwin Park USD School Showcase
5/16/2020 - Team 68689 - Duarte California - City of Hope "Robotics Outreach"