The morning of the 17 July was filled with all our teams making last-minute fixes and testing out their robots on the obstacle course as the final competition approached. This particular Saturday marked the end of this year’s robotics – the culmination of the efforts the lower sixth had put into competing against each other throughout the year. The upper sixth had convened in one of the labs in order to deliberate, and went to great lengths to ensure that no prying Y12s would enter. 

Each team got three chances to run the obstacle course, and were judged and scored based on how far they managed to get and what obstacles they successfully tackled. No robot managed to make it through the whole course, unfortunately, but with the exceptions of the Dysons (whose robot broke) and Breadboard and Butter (who are widely accepted to have ceased to exist), all of them made it to the final and gave it a shot. Out of all of the teams who did manage to make three runs of the course, the Union of Poggige won. 

After the competition had been wrapped up, everyone made their way outside for a barbecue, as well as a chance to catch up with the alumni who had turned up, presumably for the free food. All of the robots were displayed for people to admire, along with a variety of badges and stickers created by the upper sixth.  

After everyone had eaten, and Aly remembered that it was actually necessary to announce the results at some point, everyone convened in the marquee to find out how they had done. The scores were based not only on the teams’ performance on the obstacle course, but categories that they had been scored on over the year, like PCB design, team theme and confectionery (that was definitely provided without any expectation of addition points). 

The final rankings were: 

Each award had badges to accompany them, along with sweets that were provided as prizes (although, in the hot weather, the chocolate was rather molten by the time it came to awards presentation).  

After the awards came the gifts that had been bought for Will and Mr Massey as thanks for their support. This year was Mr Massey’s last before retiring, after running robotics for about twenty years. Aly had collated words of thanks and quotes from current and past students to put together on a decorative PCB to present to him. For Will, the upper sixth had created a T-shirt, which was given to him after Mr Massey received his printed circuit board.  

That sums up everything we’ve done this year for robotics at Hills. We’ll be back at it again next year though, with a new teacher to take responsibility for our chaos and hopefully, we’ll be running RoboCon 2022 and competing in Student Robotics again. 

We’ve had a busy Easter holidays! For three days, lower sixth teams began to build their robots in college for our internal competition. The varied designs of the different robots began to be realised as components were soldered, wood was sawed, and parts were 3D-printed. It was also when Will introduced the obstacle course, which has now been fully built and brought into college. It includes the Wheel of Misfortune and the Rainbow Road (a.k.a. Bifrost). 

Since Easter, we’ve also had a chance to properly meet on Wednesdays and a Saturday, as government regulations now allow for clubs to be held in-person and both the upper and lower sixth have returned to college full-time. This was used mainly to continue developing the robots, some of which can now move – albeit mostly in circles. 

The printed circuit boards (PCBs) shown in our last blog post were ordered by Will soon after and arrived in time for him to bring them in for the teams over Easter. It was from these that the robots began to take shape - including the Dysons’, whose impressive 3D print that can be seen below was inspired by a vacuum cleaner. 

Union of Poggige’s unique porridge-shaped PCB has been installed on a tank chassis, unlike the other teams, who have opted to keep the wheels provided in their original kit. Still, by and large the teams have been given only one rule – that they must use the power source provided to them by the college, leaving them free to use their imaginations for the rest. 

Masters of Chaos spent most of their first day (and some of their second) during Easter honing their loudspeaker circuit, much to everyone’s delight. They are now pleased to declare that they have successfully made their robot sound like a reversing lorry. Since then, they’ve also managed to get it to drive in a straight line, play AC/DC and have built a frame. They are now testing out their various sensors. 

Mediocre at Best have chosen to use a wooden shell for their robot, along with 3D-printed motor mounts. After two iterations of their frame and deciding on the positions of their sensors, the team’s focus has shifted to software as they prepare to try out their robot on the obstacle course.