Change up – Build Robots and Compete

The best part of competition robotics is competing! We’ve had a tough time with this, our last few events from last season got canceled, and early events for this season didn’t happen. Lots of teams have been shut down for long periods of time, or just working at home with a friend. So it’s taken a long time to get robots that work. In the last few weeks robots have started to move and score, so we are ready to have events.

Events have now broken down into a few different types
1) Local Skills only — show up, get access to a field for 30 mins and do your 6 skill runs
2) Remote Skills only — meet in a virtual meeting space (Zoom, teams, etc.) the Referee runs the match (3-2-1 go) and the remote team does their run. Scores are calculated and tallied. The advent of phones with decent cameras makes this easier, one can follow the robot, one can give a wide view of the field. Then the camera can go from tower to tower to verify the placement.
3) Remote Head to Head — Teams play on their local field but are in the same meeting as another team to work together.

We are going to try to do some Skills events first (Remote skills on January 30,2021) to see how thing will work out. With a little luck we’ll get three of them in (January, February, March) for this season.

FIRST Tech Challenge in Delaware

While we mostly post about VEX VRC (metal) and VEXIQ (plastic) robots here, I went to the FIRST Tech Challenge scrimmage at Padua School in Wilmington. (History buffs will know that VEX was the first “table top” robotics with FIRST, and in 2008 there was a direction change, FIRST went one direction, VEX and the RECF started their own thing).

FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) is table top robots, like VEX that play a co-operation game. This years game has them taking “stones” (that look a lot like Lego bricks) and moving them across the field to stack them as high as they can. An you are thinking “easy peasy” but they need to sneak pass the Galactic Empire under 14″ gates to move and place their building materials. Tall towers win, but it’s hard at one block at a time. I thought this was an easy games, let the Rebels grab and shoot blocks across the void, but it turns out that the Empire as sensors to detect that.

FTC has a different part set with a wide variety of motors and sensors. The metal parts are from one company, but the interesting part to me (as software guy) is their “brain” is a smart phone. So you have Java on the phone, and a pretty decent camera for vision. So robots are able to focus in on the stones to move them.

I also like the game, there is 30 seconds of autonomous, lots longer to show off robot talent. The bolder\boulder builds allow for serious construction. A cool twist is that each team can 3D print their own capstone, and place it on there tallest stack for bonus points. It’s a complicated game, with lots of ways to score. Check them out at their next event, the Delaware State Championship on March 14 at Central Middle School in Dover.

Hagley STEMtastic “Squared Away” results

15 VEXIQ teams decended down to the banks of the Brandywine to the Hagley Museum on a frozen Delaware morning to play Squared Away. The event was part of Hagley’s STEMtastic weekends, an annual event (started as the Invention Convention) showcasing STEM activities.

Teams played on the third floor of this 1800’s historic building. They also got a chance to do the activities on the second floor. Roboters got a chance to disassemble computers, printers, even a 70’s AM/FM radio similar to what was in my college dorm room. There was also a chance to create a new invention and have a patent “granted”. Rohan, one of the Brandywine Hundred student volunteers, manned the STEM Robotics build table that let future roboteers build their own robots using VEXIQ parts.

Pizza was served thanks to Hagley, STEM Robotics and most importantly Joan B who picked up and delivered 38 pizzas and water for everybody. (Joan and her son are key members of Mt Pleasant High School robotics program.

This is the first event that we are seeing a movement away from the beginning “Clutch” robot. Today’s robots featured
* Mini claws to grab just an edge of a cube
* Front hooks that can lift cubes to the upper platforms
* Wide guides to allow cubes to be herded to the corners

Also there is more cross team strategy happening to create flows on a pretty full game board.


Tournament Winners:
Claymont Boeing
Claymont Google

Tournament Finalists:
Brandywine Hundred Library FLEXIQ
Harlan Raven

Team Orion for their flip lift arm that could grab cubes from either side of the robot
Brandywine Hundred Library BESJAY for their double threat ball and cube robot

(Thanks to our hosts at Hagley, with special thanks to Leigh Ann Scholtz for all her help coordinating our activities)

Today 15 robots attending this event:

Brandywine Hundred Library BESJAY
Brandywine Hundred Library FLEXIQ
Brandywine Hundred Library LIV
Brandywine Hundred Library Strawberry Pink Horse
Claymont Boeing
Claymont Google
Claymont Lenovo
Hanby Beetles
Hanby Hornet
Harlan Condor
Harlan Falcon
Harlan Phoenix
Harlan Raven
Lombardy Snow Tigers
Team Orion

Maple Lane “Squared Away” results

This seasons inaugural event for Squared Away was held at Maple Lane Elementary School.

Roboteers played 60 qualification matches and moved into the finals round.

Winners were
Team Maple Lane Gears and
Team Claymont Boeing with 37 points in the final match
Team Claymont IDEO
Team Claymont Lenovo with 22 points

IDEO had the high average for the event at 14 points.

Awards went to
Maple Lane Orange Grapes – Amaze Award for their teamwork and sportsmanship at the event.
Claymont Boeing – Build Award for their robot that could scoop up balls and also score the green cubes on the raised platform.

There were 15 teams at the Maple Lane event

Carrcroft Tiny Turtles
Carrcroft Komodo Dragons
Carrcroft Dominating Lizards
Carrcroft Slithering Snakes
Carrcroft Bearded Dragons
Claymont Boeing
Claymont Pixar
Claymont Tesla
Claymont Kaloke
Claymont Lenovo
Claymont Samsung
Claymont IDEO
Maple Lane Gears
Maple Lane Orange Grapes
Maple Lane Roboteers

West Nottingham Rams “Tower Takeover” results

West Nottingham Rams held their first VEX Robotics Competition at West Nottingham Academy on December 14th.

15 teams from all over Delmarva came from as far away as Salisbury MD to run in an early season event.

Qualification Rankings

397963TJC Patriots730144596
58903AMPHS A730142484
77135DLoyola Robotics5411130105
828724RWNA Azimuth5501015100
97135GLoyola Robotics45193386
1097963BJC Patriots45193092
137135ELoyola Robotics37061860
1428724AWNA PowerPuff19022154
1528724XWNA International Labor19021253

Excellence Award 3389E Tec-Tigers Wicomico County Robotics Club
Tournament Champions 3389D TEC-Tigers Wicomico County Robotics Club
Tournament Champions 3389F Tec-Tigers Wicomico County Robotics Club
Design Award 3389F Tec-Tigers Wicomico County Robotics Club
Judges Award 7135D Loyola Robotics Loyola Blakefield
Robot Skills Champion 8903A MPHS A Mount Pleasant High School

Mt Pleasant “Tower Takeover” results

Mount Pleasant High School held the first Delmarva “Tower Takeover” event.

Thank you to all of the teams that participated. We’d like to take a moment to thank all of the volunteers that helped to make this tournament a success. Thank you to JROTC for supplying 10 cadets to help things run smoothly. They are always ready to help and very organized. Thank you to Springer Middle School for providing volunteers. Thank you to Joan and Jay Cotton. They helped to coordinate the whole tournament with concessions. Thank you to Jason Heller and John Cain for being refs. MPHS couldn’t have done this without all of the help that we received.

Qualification Results

11274BIgneous Robotics710142438
26967AAluminum Allies710141854
490967DSpringer D620122154
590967CSpringer C521112151
68903AMPHS A530103633
790967BSpringer B530102741
965101ASanford School44082148
1190967ASpringer A34171847
168903CMPHS C16132129
178903DMPHS D17021220


Excellence Award: 3389C TEC-Tigers Wicomico County Robotics Club
Design Award: 3389F Tec-Tigers Wicomico County Robotics Club
Tournament Champions: 1274B Igneous Robotics Igneous Robotics
Tournament Champions: 6967A WatchMojo Caesar Rodney High School
Tournament Finalists: 90967D The Vultures Springer Middle School
Tournament Finalists: 3389C TEC-Tigers Wicomico County Robotics Club

Delmarva Student and Mentor Workshop Oct 2019

There is a workshop scheduled for 26 of October for all Mentors and Roboteers. This is a chance to get caught up on the latest for the 2019-20 season and meet other teams from Delmarva.

Parkside High School – 1015 Beaglin Park Dr., Salisbury, MD 21804 from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m

9:00 a.m. – Doors open/Check-in
9:15 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. – Introduction
9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. – Content specific instruction
11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – Lunch
12:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. – Robot building troubleshooting/challenge
3:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. – Certificates/Closing remarks

There is a guest speaker planned from NASA.

For more info see the robot events invitation or contact Jenny Miles at

Ideas for Squared Away

Schools are about to start and across Delmarva, that means that the rest of the robot teams are starting to spin up. A number of groups have met across the summer and there have been some summer camps.

This really good article about Squared Away covers some strategy details that will give some roboteers a running start on the season.

Every year, for every competition game, VEX designs a “Hero-bot”, a design that can play the basic game. The robot for Squared Away – Clutch looks the same as past years robots. A two motor, 4 wheel drive base, backbone, 4 bar linkage arm and a claw. This year the claw faces down to make it easy to manage the cubes. This year there is a height restriction on the robots, Clutch is able to stay under the line by the use of some pegs to keep the arm from moving too high.

Both the insights from Summer Camp and Clutch should give teams a running start for the 2019-2020 season.

Qualifying Criteria 2019

The 2019-2020 season qualifying criteria is available!

VRC Qualifying Criteria 2019-2020 can be downloaded. There are some important changes. Key this year has to do with the addition of new divisions. This means that Delmarva can send 3 teams from High School (same as last year) but now can send 3 teams from Middle School. This means for both groups the Excellence Award and Tournament Winners are eligible to go to Worlds!

The VEXIQ Qualifying Criteria 2019 shows the changes from last year. There is no change in the number of slots from 3 at the Elementary School level (Excellence and Tournament Winners) and the Middle School single Excellence Award winner.

If you are part of a VEX University team this years VEX U Qualifying Criteria is a must read. Changes to parts and what you can print this year are very important.

There are other things to be aware of, so take a quick read of the documents.