Bionic Brouhaha II: The Second One

2014-2015 FTC Season Game: Cascade Effect

We’ll be hosting the 2014-2015 Empire NY FTC Mid-Hudson Qualifying Tournament on Saturday, January 10 at Kennedy Catholic High School in Somers, NY. The Bionic Brouhaha is the third of five qualifying tournaments for the Empire NY FTC Region (formerly known as the Hudson Valley Region). This is our second year hosting, and we’re looking forward to another fun tournament.

Please drop by to check out the competition!

Stay tuned for more information and schedule details.

UPDATE 1: We started a separate information page for the tournament.

UPDATE 2: Articles about the tournament in the Somers Daily Voice and on the Kennedy Catholic website.

Posted in Events

Sharkflake Qualifier

Yesterday, December 20th, five of us went down to John Dewey High School to compete in a qualifier for the NYC/LI Region.

The day was rather hectic as it got off to a late start and some teams didn’t come, but overall, it turned out to be a great day. The delay even corrected itself, and we were able to go home on time!

In competition, we won two matches and lost three. The ones we lost were either because we lost control during game play (which we learned was due to servo programming, not to electrical problems, if you caught our tweets) or our partner was nonoperational. In the matches we did win, we worked well with our partners. In our first match, our partner even scored in the center goal (which was something we hadn’t seen much of at the Robo-CATastrope IV)!

At the end of the day, we ranked 13th, coincidentally the same spot we ranked at in NJ. We were a finalist for the Rockwell Collins Innovate Award for the first time ever; we believe this was connected to our linear ball bearing lift design, although it could have been other parts of the robot. And, for the first time ever, we WON the Inspire Award! Other teams had told us throughout the day that they thought we might win, but we weren’t as confident. It was quite the honor, and we hope to keep up the hard work.


Huzzah! NYC championship here we come!

Posted in Events

Festival of Trees Day 2

Today concluded our two day demo at the Ann’s Place Festival of Trees. We had a great day, and we were named an Honorable Mention in the robotics competition, with a total of 192 votes.

We were better prepared for the knock down the kickstand challenge, with plastic tubs to sit under the center goal. Therefore, we could have a lot more kids (and adults, too!) come and try the activity. It worked well–something to definitely save for later Cascade Effect! demos. Besides the challenge, we were also able to explain to more interested people how our robot works and the real-world purpose of mecanum wheels. During the day, we even met Kennedy Catholic alumni, what a small world.

All in all, this was a wonderful outreach event for a wonderful organization. We are so lucky to have been contacted to do this, hopefully we can come back for more!

Posted in Community, Events

Festival of Trees Day 1

Today we demoed at the Ann’s Place Festival of Trees (Christmas trees, and not deciduous trees, which took me several months to figure out), a wonderful fundraising event for the organization. Ann’s Place offers support to cancer survivors and their families, something we’re very proud to get behind!

For today and tomorrow, we will be showing off our robot, PT-109 and the Cascade Effect! game. We also have Ranger built so that the youngins’ can drive a robot too. Although if you saw our tweets, you’d know the day quickly (and humorously) deteriorated into “Hey kid, try and knock down the kickstand!” as we ran around collecting wiffle balls.

So far we’ve had a lot of fun, taken advantage of the time to program our ‘bot, and met six other local robotics groups. We’re so thankful to be a part of this great event!

Check back tomorrow for photos and videos of the robot row. And if you’re in the area, come on out and see for real! (And perhaps drop your robot voting ticket at our station? *wonk wonk* 😉 )

Posted in Community

Robo-CATastrophe IV

This past week we prepared INTENSELY for the Robo-CATastrophe Qualifier in NJ. We essentially took our robot from not moving to competition ready in a matter of a few days. So before we get into today’s event, let’s meet our robot, PT-109!

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Key Design Features:
  • Chain-driven mecanum wheels
    • Allows for 360° chassis rotation
  • Linear bearing lift
    • Lighter than linear slides
    • Chain is stronger than string
  • Independent electronics bay
    • Easily removable for maintenance
  • Elongated scoop with spinner
    • Can pick up both wiffle ball sizes
    • Light plastic construction
  • Rolling goal guider
    • Allows robot to both push and pull rolling goals

Onto the tournament!

Today we learned a lot about Cascade Effect! strategy and design progress of fellow teams. We were stunned that we were able to win three of our five matches without scoring a single ball! Just by rolling off the ramp in autonomous and pushing rolling goals back up the ramp, we were able to score high points. Although this was obviously not our intent, we found lowering our scoop on a chain-driven servo had some issues, and we could not collect balls in this tournament.

Overall, we had an AMAZING day. We came in 13th, with a robot that hadn’t moved 18 hours before the tournament, were a finalist for the Control Award, won the Think Award, and placed third for the Inspire Award. We can’t wait to go to the New Jersey State Championship; this was the first time we have advanced!


Here’s to a great day!

Posted in Events

FIRST WIST Reflection

Today, one Bionic Gael (conveniently the social media leader) went to the FIRST Women in Science & Technology Forum at FIRST Place.

I had an amazing time; in front of me were all of these women who had either made a dent in the STEM fields, or were going to in the near future. I attended a College Student Panel, and the Computer Science and Engineering sessions. It was quite interesting to see all the different ways people took the same basic skills and applied them in so many different fields. I think the Keynote Address resonated with me the greatest for two reasons. First, I liked the idea of playful learning. For all of high school, I have missed the projects of grammar school that made school fun. And second, I loved hearing about engineering combined with nontraditional fields. As I, a senior, am looking towards my future, I was glad to hear that I can take engineering out of the lab and into fun real-world situations.

I thank everyone who organized and presented at this event. I had a wonderful day, and have taken away much as I prepare for the road ahead. Hopefully positive encouragement for young women in the STEM fields can one day show that this isn’t necessarily a man’s world. 😀

More information on the Blogger: Hi! I’m Laurèl, the Founder/Captain/CAD-er/Chassis Person/Social Media Nut of 5602 Bionic Gaels. I have participated in FIRST for all four of my high school years, and now I think/hope/secretly know I am ready to pursue robotics in medical or educational/toy fields. (I also like using slashes a lot.)

Posted in Community, Events

Aptar Congers Visit

Back on Friday, October 31st, we (along with our new sister team 9541) visited the Aptar Congers site. At this plant, pharmaceutical devices, such as pumps, are manufactured.

This was a very interesting tour for us because we not only got to see how things are made through the injection molding process, but what they are made with. We were able to learn about the robotics employed in transferring and sorting products.

We all enjoyed the trip and are very glad to have gotten to see a real-world application of robotics. Also, it was pretty neat to be able to visit the only Aptar Pharma site in America, and have it be only a short ride away!

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Posted in Community

Operation Doughnation

We have another fun fundraising opportunity coming up. On Thursday (October 23rd), we will be hosting a dining night at Panera Bread in Bedford Hills, NY.

When this Panera Bread PDF Flyer is printed and presented at the register, we will receive a portion of the purchase. So come on out and have a meal!

panera shot

Posted in Uncategorized

Five Below Fundraiser

Today kicks off our Five Below 5 Day Fun Fundraiser! From now through Monday, Oct. 13th, if this flyer is presented at the Danbury, CT, Five Below location, we will receive a portion of your purchase. We’d really appreciate your contribution to our fundraising goal!


Bionic Gaels Five Below Flyer Printable PDF

Posted in Uncategorized

Quilt Basket Sponsorship


We would like to welcome back The Quilt Basket as a returning sponsor for our 2014-2015 Season. Their very generous $500 donation will greatly help our efforts this year, and we look forward to displaying their name on our shirts and on our robot.

Posted in Sponsors