CCA’s robotics Team 3128 Aluminum Narwhals wins honors at pre-season competitions

The Aluminum Narwhals competing at the Beach Blitz competition.
The Aluminum Narwhals competing at the Beach Blitz competition.
(Fred Chen)

Kicking off pre-season, Canyon Crest Academy’s well-loved robotics team, Team 3128 Aluminum Narwhals, started preparations for a new year, working on welcoming and integrating their new members into the curriculum. Once they were well-equipped with the adequate skills and knowledge required for their respective departments, they, along with more experienced members, participated in two off-season competitions: Battle at the Border (BatB) and Beach Blitz.

On Oct. 15, 2022, the Narwhals woke up with high spirits in preparation for yet another competition—for some, it was their very first. They traveled to Cathedral Catholic High School, the 2022 host of BatB, with high hopes for their team. They began setting up in the pit, however, an issue presented itself soon after. Because the competition was set to commence shortly after school began for the team, they didn’t have much time to resolve all the issues with last year’s robot, Garrison. During eliminations, the robot had some trouble with the autodrive — it would drive the opposite way after shooting.

Despite facing a multitude of difficulties and performing several on-site fixes, the Narwhals persevered and won the “Gracious Professionalism” award in recognition of their Aluminum Assistance, which was a unique schedule they had devised that ensured at least one member would remain available at all times to aid competing teams. This award recognized the team for their exceptional efforts during BatB in assisting other teams when complications arose.

The Narwhals' Controls Department winning the Programming Award at Beach Blitz.
The Narwhals’ Controls Department winning the Programming Award at Beach Blitz.
(Sylvia Chan)

Eighteen days later, the Narwhals embarked on their second off-season competition of the year. Their destination was Capistrano Valley High School (an hour and a half drive), and to ensure that they got there early enough, they departed amidst a gloomy sky and chilly weather. They seamlessly went through the same procedure as they did at BatB: place their pit in their designated area, have members in the pit at all times, after each match make sure the robot is still functional, and make split-second decisions. That is not to say that they did not encounter any difficulties. The hopper — the machine that links the intake to the shooter — had a belt conveyor that kept slipping off, effectively jamming the hopper. However, the team exhibited remarkable resilience, with the Mechanical and Controls departments working in an inspiring joint-effort to resolve the issue by pulling down the motor, thereby preventing the pulley from falling off.

Overall, their Beach Blitz performance was a significant improvement compared to that of BatB’s. There were no wiring or communication issues, and the drivetrain implementation improved as well. Strategy department’s head, Aidan Riva, went as far as to say that his department performed better than they have at any pre-season competition ever. The Narwhals also continued to display camaraderie towards other teams, sweeping in with Aluminum Assistance and helping out with broken drivetrains and damaged intakes. As the 7th Alliance Captain, they ranked 10th among some extremely difficult competition. The Controls department secured the Programming Award, which commended them for their modularized command-based system consisting of the intake, shooter, hopper, and dashboard.

Reflecting on their performance and communication at Beach Blitz, all the department heads convened and reached the decision to create a new leadership role: the Technical Project Manager. This new role would alleviate some of the burden that the department heads carried and oversee the planning of major department-integrated projects in preparation for build season.

Without a doubt, the Narwhals all gained valuable experience from these competitions, which will serve them well when they compete in the San Diego Regionals this year. Regarding future competitions, the Narwhals will be sure to unleash the full potential of their Narpower! —Report by Michelle Yuan and Sophiann Wu, Team 3128 Aluminum Narwhals