Robot Building Enters the Home Stretch

Robotics student workingSpartronics pouring their sweat, blood, and tears into their workProgramming students workingSean Reilly looking like a god

Our new robot is coming together as we enter Week 5 and the home stretch of our 2020 Build Season. The Mechanics are working hard to complete the robot. The mechanisms are being finalized and assembled. The goal is for the robot to be fully assembled this week. Spare parts are also being ordered.

Marketing is continuing planning for our All-Robotics Open House on March 25th, beginning at 5:00 pm in the Bainbridge High 300 building. They have also finished and submitted the essay for the Chairman’s Award essay. Next up: we are developing the Chairman’s Award presentation and video. We will present these to present to the Judges at one of our competitions. The Chairman’s Award is FIRST’s most prestigious award, honoring a team “that best represents a model for other teams to emulate and best embodies the mission of FIRST.”

Electronics is readying for the robot to be finished. They have been organizing all of the parts for the electrical systems, which will help them get the robot done faster and more efficiently once Mechanics complete their work. The electronics board is already mounted on the robot. Electronics has also run the wiring for the control panel mechanism and the intake.

Programming is finalizing the subsystem commands for testing, and they are eagerly awaiting Mechanics to give them the robot. They have been using a new simulator to test color identification, which is one of the challenges of our 2020 game, Infinite Recharge.

Design team has finished the shooter design. They are currently working on finalizing the hook, camera mounts, sensor mounts, and extendable intake. The shooter prototype just shot a mock power cell about 50 feet!

Stay tuned for our next issue of this newsletter as we will unveil our new robot — and its name!

Sponsor Spotlight: Bainbridge School’s Foundation

Bainbridge Schools foundation logo

Q. Can you give us a brief description of your company and what it does?
A. The Bainbridge Schools Foundation brings the island together to invest in exceptional learning, innovative programming and key initiatives that strengthen the educational experience of each Bainbridge Island School District student. Because state and federal funding falls short of what our students and teachers need, funding through BSF fills the gap. BSF relies on community support to make this work possible.

Photo: BSF showed their support of Spartronics at their recent annual fundraising gala

Q. Why is Bainbridge Schools Foundation sponsoring Spartronics?
A. With our ongoing focus on innovation (one of our three funding areas), BSF and Spartronics are natural partners. We’re proud to be long-time supporters of BHS Robotics and are pleased to be able to help the team.

Q. Is there a way Spartronics fans can support your company? (i.e. “Like” your Facebook page, tell others about your business, buy your product or services, etc.)
A. Yes! Spartronics fans can follow our page on Facebook (BSFoundation) or Instagram (BainbridgeSchoolsFoundation). Please visit our website ( for more information about what we fund, how you can get involved, or to make a donation in support of our public schools.

Q. Is there anything else you would like us to include in your Sponsor Spotlight newsletter feature? (i.e. someone’s contact information or link to a website or social media info, etc.)
A. BSF funds support every student, every day. Among other things, donations to BSF fund  STEM Lab classes, which help elementary school students of today develop into the Spartronics team members of the future!

Our New robot is being built!

Spartronics student working

Subteam Updates

As our 2020 build season marches on every Spartronics subteam has kept busy in spite of the unexpected snow.

Mechanics subteam is finishing building this year’s field elements out of wood. They are also making bumpers for our new robot. The shooter for the Power Cells is being prototyped to make sure that it can shoot the correct distance before being manufactured.

The Programming subteam is still training students, and have just assigned team members specific robot subsystems to people to develop. Programmers are also testing different sensors and computer vision that will track where to shoot the Power Cells. This is primarily done with Visual Simultaneous Localization and Mapping.

The Electronics subteam is working with NEO motors and researching ultrasonic proximity sensors. These sensors measure distance.

Our Marketing subteam has finalized the artwork for new sponsor banners and team shirts as well as created flyers and ads to promote our annual “All Robotics  Open House,” scheduled for March 25th.

Sponsor Spotlight: Cavu Networks

Cavu networks logo

Cavu Networks was founded in 2004 and has been providing its technical expertise to the Seattle area ever since. As they’re also a valuable sponsor to Spartronics, we decided to ask founder John Brennan a few questions about the company.

Spartronics: Can you give us a brief description of Cavu networks and what it does?

John: Cavu Networks provides I.T. management and consulting services for small businesses. We help our customers by providing clear, actionable and valuable services as their the trusted partner for all things I.T.

Spartronics: Why is Cavu Networks sponsoring Spartronics?

John: We love to tinker with technology at Cavu so it is inspiring to see the students learn through hands-on experiences building their science, engineering and technology skills. The dedication to hard-work of the students and mentors is easy to see. And, they have fun!

Spartronics: Is there a way Spartronics fans can support your company?

John: If your business has questions about technology planning, security and compliance, or in need of some I.T. assistance, please get in touch with John Benjamin. Drop-by our offices at Coppertop anytime, sign-up for our newsletter on our website, and like our Facebook page. There is almost always an office dog such as Lucie to greet you.

Spartronics: Is there anything else you would like us to include in your Sponsor Spotlight newsletter feature?


John Benjamin – 206-866-5340



Kickoff 2020: New Game Announced!

Kickoff 2020: New Build Season Begins

Kickoff is starting with an intergalactic bang. Kickoff is the start of build season where all 4,000 FIRST Robotics Competition teams in 35 countries worldwide learn about the new game and game elements. This year’s game sponsor is Star Wars “Force for Change.”

During the live video Kickoff broadcast early Saturday morning on January 4, there was a surprise appearance by R2D2 during the revealing of the game and its elements. The game is called INFINITE RECHARGE with two Alliances (3 robots per Alliance) working to power their Shield Generator for maximum protection of FIRST City against incoming asteroid shower coming from a distant space skirmish.

The initial 15 seconds is an Autonomous period when the droids (the robots) launch Power Cells into the Power Port to gain points. Droids moving from the Initiation Line also gives points to each Alliance.

In the remaining 2 minutes and 15 seconds of the game, called Teleop or Teleoperated Period that is controlled by the Drive Team, Alliances must interact with other parts of the game. Shooting or placing Power Cells into Power Ports, an Alliance must score 29 total points to activate sections of their Shield Generator. This includes interacting with a color wheel that spins. A droid gain points by completing at least three and no more than five rotations of the color wheel, or by stopping the wheel on a specific color.

The EndGame, or final 30 seconds of the match, droids will race to their Rendezvous Point, which is where the Generator Switch is, and attempt to energize the Shield Generator. The Alliances must get their droids to hang from the Generator Switch, and try to make the giant Switch level with the ground. The Switch is 5’3″ off the ground, and the more droids (up to 3 robots) an Alliance can hang from the Switch, the more points that will be awarded.

Watch the new Game Video here.

2020 FIRST robotics game: Infinite Recharge logo

4915 Alumni Update: Where Are They Now?

At kickoff, Spartronics Alumni showed up in full force. Among them was Rose Bandrowski. She is a sophomore at the University of Arizona (Tucson). Initially, her major was undecided, but BHS Robotics sparked a fascination for STEM that drove her to study Systems Engineering.

Rose says she learned many valuable life skills from Spartronics, such as effective communication, machine shop, time management, and public speaking. She joined the team as a lead artist for the Marketing Subteam, became a team spokesperson, joined the Mechanics Subteam, and became a Team Captain!

Rose said that “there is nothing like [Robotics]. It’s a very unique experience. Take advantage of it while you’re here.” She also describes coming back to visit 4915 “is like visiting family.” Rose notes we all have a common interest and knowledge, and how Robotics creates strong bonds. She explains there is an immediate connection with people around the nation who are in, or were in, the FIRST community.

Spartronics Alumni and a former Team Captain Rose Brandrowski reunites with Violet Advani, current team captain, during the 2020 team photoshoot
Spartronics Alumni and a former Team Captain Rose Brandrowski reunites with Violet Advani, current team captain, during the 2020 team photoshoot

Subteam Updates: 2020 Game Planning Underway

In marketing, Team Shirt and Sponsor Banner designs are being updated and plans for the Open House are being made (save the date: March 25, 2020). Marketing team members are beginning to write and prepare the Chairman’s Essay for the Chairman’s Award. The Chairman’s Award is the most prestigious award at FIRST, and it honors teams that are the best representation of a model for other teams to emulate as well as the best embodiment of the FIRST mission.

Mechanics subteam is working on inventory, buying materials for building game elements, will be building the game elements and a new driver’s station.

Electronics subteam has built a test bench with new, brushless pneumotors. Students are assembling items that came in the Kit of Parts from FIRST. They are also preparing to receive the design from Design Team. They are even developing “bling” for our new robot.

Programming subteam is continuing training. Students are learning source control, as well as writing and controlling robot subsystems and read censors.

The Strategy subteam developed two different strategies for the new game. The entire team helps decide which of the two strategies to choose and then the robot building process begins.

The Design subteam is creating the design of the robot based on the final game strategy the team adopts.

This year’s team picture:

Spartronics annual team photo

Team Update + Sponsor Spotlight

Spartronics students working together on a computer Spartronics student working on a machine

Spartronics students working on computers Spartronics student working on electronics

Subteam Updates:

In Mechanics, student skill sets are being finalized as well as student certifications and safety training for the machinery. Robot inventory is being updated to make certain the team has enough materials for build season. In Design, they are finishing up classes so they can build this year’s robot. Team Co-Captain Cruz Strom is always looking forward to build season and says he us confident everyone will do a good job. Leadership team member Darwin Clark adds, “No, he’s not. He’s ready to move to Antarctica.”

Programming is working on a variety of things. Their crew is using BlingJava and Vision LIDAR. They are learning new Robot codebases, working on data analysis and testing cameras. Leadership team member Justice James is looking forward to build season, as well as the official release of the newest codebase. He also is excited about the 2020 kickoff.

Currently, the students are building a full system for practice in Electronics. Specifically, Leadership team member Kate Treviño-Yoson is working on a button board, which is used bor customized controls. This will be helpful during build season and will speed the process up. Harper Nalley, Jacob Miles, and Dashiell Neff are working with LED lights for blinging the robot up. Peter Hall is looking forward to build season and thinks everyone will have a lot of “phun.”

Marketing is working to honor Woodie Flower in our attire: both our new Team Shirt and name badges. They are preparing for build season by finalizing sponsorships and finishing up training for new members.

Professional options logo

Sponsor Spotlight: Professional Options

Doña Keating is President and CEO. Professional Options LLC, a Spartronics sponsor for two years, now. Doña is also a professional Mentor of our team and our Community Ambassador. She believes strongly in the power of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and its ability to impact the future.

Dona KeatingProfessional Options is a consulting firm for leadership and management. They advise NGOs (non-governmental agencies), Fortune 100, governments, and non-profits on best practices. They do this so these organization’s leaders can improve their strategies, teams, and missions. Professional Options also provides facilitation of executive board Dona Keating treats and meetings, as well as public advocacy of digital privacy, telecommunicators, education, technology innovation, economic development, and entrepreneurship.

Professional Options is sponsoring Spartronics because Doña is a large supporter of STEM initiatives, and she feels that computer programming is a necessary life component in this day and age.

“Spartronics does a fantastic job of educating people about this second language as well as it’s implementation through robotics,” she says. “It also helps build communication skills, promotes collaborative teamwork and critical thinking. Spartronics helps prepare the students for the real world. The intelligence, emotional and mental, of the team, coach, mentors and students alike, is electrifying and inspirational.” Doña “can’t imagine living or working on Bainbridge Island and not supporting Spartronics.”

The best way to show our appreciation and support for Professional options is to check out their Facebook page. Doña would prefer, however, that the members focus on the team, support and engage in Spartronics. Follow them on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Professional Option’s URL is 

Thank you Professional Options and Doña Keating for all of your support!