Robotics places second in Beach Blitz


Photo courtesy of Calvin Ung

Juniors Presley Moon, left, and Sean Peng, senior Calvin Ung, junior Trevor Hwee and senior Jessica Yen snap a picture after the Beach Blitz event was over.

Although Diamond Bar High School’s Team Sprocket experienced a robotic breakdown at the Beach Blitz FIRST Robotics Competition, the team secured second place in the Oct. 12 match after facing 35 opposing teams.

Senior co-captain Calvin Ung, who is in charge of driving the robot, controlled the drive base, or the X and Y movements of the robot. Ung said the team prepared for the event by fixing their hatch and climbing mechanisms, which were key factors in their victory. The hatch mechanism ensured that the robot could grip onto objects effectively, and the climbing mechanism allowed the team to maneuver their robots onto the different steps.

“During the competition, we did really well at shooting cargo, which is basically jelly balls, into a giant cargo ship. It had six holes on each side,” Ung said via Messenger. “In the center, there’s just this giant mass of metal which has holes in it for shooting cargo. On top of that, we also placed hatches, which were polycarbonate discs, which you put into these large holes to secure the cargo. Those are usually placed onto a rocket ship.”

Ung considers experience as the main reason why the team performed well during the competition. He and co-driver junior Trevor Hwee have spent approximately hundreds of hours driving the robot.

“Being a four-year member has given me so much knowledge regarding how to interact with other teams and how strategies should look like,” Ung said. “Our drive coach [Jessica Yen] has also had years of experience with strategy and being a drive coach, which is the most significant role on drive team, in my opinion, and her level of analysis and complexity of thinking was invaluable to our success.”

During the competition, Team 3473 faced several obstacles, including the breakdown of its custom mechanism–placed inside the polycarbonate disc’s hole in order to keep the hatch secure–and climbing mechanisms and batteries running low. While the team was able to resolve these issues, one malfunction could not be fixed. 

“There were just some huge robotic issues, like our alliance captain’s robot actually broke down near the end of one of the matches,” Ung said. “I’m not blaming them, stuff like that happens all the time in FRC.”

One memorable moment that stood out to Ung during the competition was the event’s DJ playing “Macarena” by Los Del Rio during a time-out the teams took to attend to their robots.

“Despite me stressing out over getting our robot powered on, it was nice to see everyone at the event enjoying themselves during such an intense time,” he said.

Additionally, RoboSports Network, which includes commentators who review matches, spoke about the DBHS team more as the competition progressed.

“We started to hear some great praises like ‘Team 3473 is putting cargo and hatches left and right,’” Ung said.

To better prepare themselves for future events, he said he feels that practicing more often with the robot is one way to ensure the team performs to the best of its ability. Nevertheless, he is happy with the team’s placement and aims to qualify for the World Champions in the future.

“Unfortunately, last year we were not able to qualify, but that’s just made us even more hungry for a [win],” Ung said.

For the remainder of the first semester, the team does not have other competitions to attend. However, in the second semester, the team will be going to both the  Ventura Regional and Orange County Regional.