Almost Time for States!

While the BU Qualifier happened just a few weeks ago, the State Competition is quickly approaching. With just over a month left to go, the Battery Powered Picklejar Heads are busy preparing for the upcoming event. Are you excited for the State Competition? Comment and let us know!

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We Won The Inspire Award At BU Qualifier!

This past Sunday, our team received the Inspire Award at the Boston University High School Qualifier! The event was lots of fun, and we were very pleased with the performance of our robot. The teams who participated in the scrimmage that we co-hosted with the LHS team in December may remember that are robot was, well, less than impressive. There is a bit of a story behind that: After the scrimmage we realized just how poorly our robot performed in a real competition environment, so we decided to completely redesign our robot. The hard part about this was that we only had three weeks to do it before the BU qualifier, but we were up for the challenge. The first major change that we made was a switch from our omni-drive system (doubled up four inch omni-wheels mounted at 45˚), and switched to a parallel or “skid” drive system, which involves two big rubber wheels in the front and two pairs of doubled up four inch omni wheels in the back for turning. The omni-drive did not provide enough traction for us to get up the ramp, which is the primary factor that influenced this change. We decided to focus on the magnet balls and the bowling ball, with the ability to put balls in crates if need be. The outcome was a robot that went from a score of 0 to a high score of close to 80 points three weeks later. Besides winning the Inspire award at the BU Qualifier, we were also the runner-up in robot performance. Also, we held the high score for the competition with the R.A.B.B.I team, a score of 137 points! We had a great time and can’t wait for the MA state competition!

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Scrimmage on December 16th

On this Friday, December 16th, the Lexington High School team Two Bits and a Byte along with ourselves are hosting a scrimmage. A scrimmage is basically an event where the teams attending will do robot runs with all of the other teams many times just for fun and for practice. There will be five teams attending. This is a public event so feel free to drop by for any amount of time to see the runs and meet the teams. The event will be held at Lexington High School in Lexington, MA in Commons II. It is scheduled to run from 4 – 9pm. We will post pictures from the event on our website after the event.

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Friday: FLL Help Squad

Recently (1 week ago) we received an email from the coach of the “Giant Sticky Notes” an FLL team in Newton, MA. They were having problems with reading the colors on the mat with light sensors, despite having multiple years of FLL experience. Their NXT could only identify light sensor values in a range from 40 to 60. They thought that because we were an experienced FLL and FTC team we could help solve their sensor problems in time for the qualifier the next day. Three of us (Josh, Chris Ben O) got a ride from Josh’s dad to Newton. We tried updating the firmware, recalibrating the sensors, making our own calibration program, and none of these solved the issue. After about an hour of thinking and fiddling, we discovered that the problem was within the “view” program that comes with the NXT. We figured this out by trying our own NXT out and getting the same results. We made a program in NXT-G to display the raw sensor value along with the calibrated sensor value and both values were correct! Be warned, FLL and FTC teams: the view program (even with RobotC firmware) may not be accurate under certain lighting conditions. If your view program is displaying odd values after calibration and the brick and sensors are not the issue, try writing your own program to display the values. If your team needs help or would like some advice, contact us and we can troubleshoot together to resolve the issue.

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11/18 Update


The Pickles have started their weekend session and there is a lot of excitement in the air! We are modifying our robot and fixing/starting some programming. A couple of new things have been introduced in the past few weeks. Josh has started exploring Creo, a software that allows you to create or recreate Tetrix- based machinery from the online database of virtual
Tetrix parts. It’s super cool, fun to play with, and can be helpful in seeing what something you plan on building will look like.
Additionally, the Pickles are preparing for the scrimmage that is set to happen on December 16th at Lexington High School. We’ve contacted the state FTC folks and they have agreed to bring their field control system to this event along with their fields. Also, it is listed on the FIRST website as an official event. Everyone is excited about this opportunity to interact with other teams in our community and to test out our robot on the field for the first time! If you are a nearby team and are interested in participating, please contact the Pickles through our website or comment on this post. We will definitely try to post pictures from the scrimmage on our blog, so keep checking for more updates!
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Weekend Update- 10/22

Hey Everyone,

We’ve made a lot of great progress over the past few weeks with our robot and we’re super excited! This weekend has been a flurry of screws, nuts, washers, and samosas. We’ve just started testing some components of our design to see if they work. We’ll post some pictures soon so keep visiting the blog and tell us what you’re up to!
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So… What’s the plan?

Every since the challenged has been released, we have thought up tons of ideas about how to accomplish various tasks around the field. We have decided on the main components for our robot and have now constructed a “first draft” of the robot. We plan to continue making progress on this draft of our robot this weekend, and maybe get the electronics up and running so we can start trying it out! So far, the design consist of our omni-wheel based drive system (omni-drive), our ball pickup system, and our crate grabbing and raising system. We plan to post a photo of the robot on our website this weekend or next along with more details of our design and plan. We’ll continue to keep you informed with major updates on our design here on the blog and on our website at

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