FRC Team 766 is a high school robotics team based at Menlo-Atherton High School in Atherton, California, a small town located next to Menlo Park in the San Francisco Bay Area. We compete in the FIRST Robotics Competition, a competition for high schoolers worldwide. Every year, we get 6 weeks to build a 120-pound robot that is designed to fit a certain challenge. Many of these challenges are based on certain games, like soccer, basketball, or ultimate Frisbee. After our 6 week build season, we compete at various regional events in the area for a chance to go to the national championships. Generally, we go to the Sacramento Regional in Davis, California, and the Silicon Valley Regional in San Jose. We also attended the brand-new San Francisco Regional in 2017.
Team 766 was originally started by FRC Team 192, the Gunn Robotics Team, in fall of 2001. Before the creation of our team, there was only one robotics team in the district, Team 100. The Wildhats are located at Woodside High School, more than 5 miles away, which made joining the team difficult for M-A students. Initially, Team 766 took over the old metal shop, which was being shut down as M-A shifted its focus towards computers and the arts. Everything that the school didn’t sell or throw away we took.
The 2002 challenge was the first season of FRC that we participated in. We didn’t do remarkably well or particularly poorly at the Silicon Valley Regional, the only one we went to. During the off-season, we did win the Rookie Award and Spirit Award at the Western Region Robotics Forum’s California Robot Games, which has since been renamed CalGames.
In 2003 and 2004, our team didn’t do much better during the competition. We continued to go solely to the Silicon Valley Regional, but didn’t make it into eliminations either year.
By 2005, the students who started the team in 2002 had become experienced seniors, and had learned many valuable lessons during the previous 3 seasons. Instead of only going to just one regional, SVR, we also went to the Sacramento Regional in Davis, CA. Their previous robots were basically boxes made of aluminum pieces attached together with various manipulators mounted on it. These robots worked, they just didn’t perform that well.
The team went with a slightly different approach in 2005. They adopted a welded aluminum box tubing frame, and a 6 wheel drop center drive train. The manipulator was incredibly simple, just a long arm with a hook, powered by a very geared down CIM motor, designed to do one thing: lift and move giant tetrahedrons.
At the Sacramento Regional, we did incredibly well, placing high in the ranks for the first time in our team’s existence. We advanced to the eliminations thanks to Team 245, who placed first and picked us as their first pick. Thanks to our amazing alliance partners, Teams 245 and 1072, we won the Sacramento Regional, our first win in the First Robotics Competition. At nationals, our team seeded highly again, and Team 245 picked us as their second pick. With Teams 245 and 217, we won the Archimedes Division, and advanced to Einstein Division. On Einstein field we won one match, and narrowly lost our second two matches to the alliance that went on to win the world championships.
In 2006, many of the founding seniors had left, leaving a few experienced team members but mainly a large crop of inexperienced freshmen. At first, the team went for a design that attempted to accomplish all of the aspects of that year’s game, which involved picking up and shooting seven-inch-diameter foam basketballs. The design ended up with some last-minute fixes to attempt to make it to work, such as a rotating ‘agitator’ in the middle of the hopper to try to fix some of the problems created by the design.
The first regional the team went to in 2006 was SVR. Overall, the only part of the design that really worked effectively was its drivetrain, which was basically a copy from the previous year’s drivetrain in itself. However, the drivetrain (and defensive skills of the driver) was sufficient to be the last pick at the regional, being picked by 254 and 581. The alliance went on to win SVR.
For the Sacramento Regional, the team decided to take a completely different approach. They stripped off the ineffective shooter and clogging hopper, and replaced the weak belts with a single belt driven by one of the leftover shooter motors, and adding a more functional hopper. These changes were done on the Thursday before competition and took until Friday morning to finish, causing the team to miss its first official match. This match was lost. However, the team went on to win all of the other qualification matches it was in at the regional to earn a rank of 2. The team was knocked out in the first round of finals matches, however. The design carried over to Championships.
The team did yet another reconstruction of the robot over the summer. The large group of now-incoming sophomores largely led the project to rebuild most of the robot over the summer, incorporating a hopper that worked with both a shooter and intake from both throwing the balls in and picking them up from the ground. The design worked well, but in elimination rounds at CalGames, the robot suffered a catastrophic failure to the drivetrain, knocking the team out of competition.
In 2007 the team continued many of the positive things from the previous season. The drivetrain was largely kept, with the addition of a two-speed gearbox. The team went with a simple arm design for lifting the pool tube game pieces. The season wasn’t hugely eventful, but the team did make it to the finals at SVR, edging out the team who had previously always won the regional and losing to a team which would go on to win the whole year’s competition at Championships.
In 2008, the team went with a relatively complicated elevator design to lift the large inflatable ball game pieces. The elevator itself was well-made and consistent, most likely partially because it was professionally welded. The design performed decently, seeding 7th at the Sacramento Regional, but nothing out of the ordinary happened, except for winning the Judge’s Award.
In 2009, the crop of freshmen from 2006 was graduating, and there was a whole new generation arriving, but this time in the form of 8th graders (and one 7th grader). The team decided to pre-register for Championships. The design was simple, and performed decently well, enough to place in the mid-range at Championships.
In 2010, the previous experienced generation was lost, and a few other experienced members of the team were left with the one year of experience of the new generation. The team went with a small and relatively simple robot which performed decently once they ironed out a serious bug with the USB hub at the first regional.
In 2011, the team had one of its more successful years in recent past, building a robot with an elevator that worked to lift the tubes to the proper height for use in competition. A minibot, an aspect of competition that year, was not fully fitted to the robot until Championships, which the team made it to from the Sacramento Regional on an alliance with 1678 and 1868.
2012 was a unique year for the team, taking a shape similar to that of 2006. On the initial robot design, nothing really worked. The robot could only effectively drive in straight lines and balance on the bridges at the center of the fields. Somehow, this was enough to take us to Championships on an alliance at SVR with 254 and 971.
Over the summer, the team decided to completely rebuilt the robot, complete with a brand new drivetrain for the team. The robot performed surprisingly well for barely being finished the night before CalGames, but we won the competition. We were picked by 254 and 971, just as we had been at SVR.
The 2014 season was another huge year. The challenge for the year was an odd one; the robots were required to be able to shoot a 24-inch-diameter inflatable ball, and it was challenging to design a robot that could operate under the size constraints. After winning the Sacramento Regional, we advanced to Championships, where we unfortunately lost. However, this year was the first in which we allowed a few very interested sixth graders to join the team, one of which is still with us: Sage Ugras.
In 2016, the team went through a rough patch because it was composed of a large percentage of new members who didn't have experience. We spent a lot of the season protoyping, and rushed to complete the robot in time for bag day. It was not operational in time, and we spent most of the Sacramento Regional bringing our robot to working order and missed most of our matches. However, in the Silicon Valley Regional, we were able to compete fairly well and placed in the mid-range of the rankings.
By the 2017 season, all the rookies from 2016 had learned a lot about robotics and the robot-building process and were ready to pour everything into the new season. We also had many experienced members who were ready to do well. We built our robot in a timely manner, having it ready by bag day. We spent part of the San Francsico Regional putting finishing touches on the robot without missing any matches, but we placed on the lower end of the rankings due to unlucky alliances in the qualification matches. However, after learning from our experiences at the Sand Francsico event, we performed very well at the Silicon Valley Regional, placing in the twenties in the rankings. We were chosen by the second alliance in the eliminations by Team 971 and Team 5924. Sadly, we lost in the quarterfinals, but we were all very proud due to the improvements we had made since 2016.