Spartronics Build Season: Week 4

Spartronics mentor and student meet to talk about the robot

Subteam Updates:

The robot is finally starting to come together as we close out the fourth week of build season. Mechanics have started the process of mounting the scissor lift to its frame. They’re also continuing to work on the robots grabber and harvester.

The Electronics subteam have begun to figure out configurations for the robots encoders and sensors.  They’re also trying to find what length of pneumatic cylinder to use in some of the robots mechanisms.

Programming has been very productive this last week. Some of their efforts have been directed towards developing advanced pathfinding for autonomous, which should lead to better performance during this phase of the game.

For those not aware, autonomous is the 15 second period at the beginning of every FRC match where robots must complete tasks without any driver input. This means robots must follow pre-programmed commands. The extra mobility granted to the robot by advanced pathfinding should give us an edge during this part of the game.

Programming has also been working on giving the robot capability for vision. In this context, vision means that the robot should be able to recognize Power Up Cubes, one of this year’s main game elements, under certain lighting conditions. This should help the robot’s driver with picking up and manipulating cubes.

Marketing is currently involved with preparing everything for the teams Chairman’s submission. Team shirts have been ordered, plus for those who pre-paid, new sweatshirts and baseball caps. We also finalized our sponsor banner: we have over 20 Sponsors this year!

Marketing is also continuing to plan for our 5th annual all-Island Robotics Open House, due to be held on March 14th. Most interestingly, the subteam has begun coming with a list of names for this year’s robot so stay tuned!

Bainbridge Schools Foundation Logo

Sponsor Spotlight: Bainbridge Schools Foundation

The Bainbridge Schools Foundation is an organization with a highly-focused mission: support Bainbridge’s public school system. With events such as their upcoming auction, the nonprofit has raised over $6,000,000 dollars for our schools since 2006. Its innovative grants have helped students learn by giving them opportunities that wouldn’t exist without BSF’s aid.

While the whole Bainbridge Island community has reasons to thank BSF, Spartronics is especially grateful. Six years ago, under the leadership of Vicky Marsing, BSF became our first official sponsor, providing the first funding to help start Spartronics at BHS.

This generosity has continued through to the present day, currently under the leadership of BSF Executive Director Mairead Shutt. All the donations the team has ever received in the last 5 years has gone through BSF, and BSF has never charged Spartronics a fee. We have supported each other in promoting STEAM on Bainbridge, and each year we march together in the annual 4th of July parade with our robots.

We simply cannot thank the Bainbridge Schools Foundation enough, except to tell our families, friends and supporters that when you donate to Spartronics, it would be GREAT to also donate to support BSF!

You can donate to BSF and Spartronics anytime here – 24/7/365!

This is Marie’s Story:

Below is another one of the videos we’ve created this year to show how contributions from sponsors like BSF change students lives.

Spartronics Build Season: Week 3

Spartronics Students Working Hard!

Subteam Updates:

Finals are done with!

With this, the Mechanics subteam has gone back to work with gusto. While prototyping for the climber is still in progress, the design for the robot’s grabber is nearing completion and production has begun on some of its parts.

Pneumatic, pneumatics, pneumatics. That’s the word you’ll hear over and over again if you walk into our electronics subteam. After three years, we’re dusting off the cobwebs of this knowledge from GAEA (Grabber Actuated Elevator Automaton) and starting to learn again about this type of engineering.

Pneumatics is moving things using air pressure, and some of our mentors have been teaching us about this. We’ll use this in all of our systems this year, so it’s incredibly important.

In order for the robot to function, code and mechanics have to come together to form one cohesive whole. Programmings efforts this week have been directed towards making sure this happens. After communicating with the mechanics subteam, programming has been able to start making a list of what needs to be done with the robots code to make sure it functions as perfectly as possible. They’ve also continued the ongoing process of familiarizing new subteam members with programming the robot.

The marketing team has begun planning for the Open House. This event will be held at 5 PMMarch 14th at BHS. Everyone is welcome.

Work on this year’s submission for the Chairman’s Award has begun. It is FRC’s most prestigious award and is community-outreach focused. Finally, the marketing subteam is working on a secret video project to be unveiled at a later date.

Spartronics Robot
Drive Team:

The wait is over! Drive team has been selected!

The primary team consists of Coach Jon Coonan, Driver Will Hobbs, Mechanism Operator James Sovick, and Human Player Rose Bandrowski. Kenneth Wiersema is the drive team’s primary Technician. The Technician, a new role this year, functions as an on-site repairman for the robot. The backup drive team, whose members can be swapped into the primary one if it’s members are indisposed, consists of Coach Kenneth Wiersema, Drivers Lucas Nalley and Lucas Rininger, Mechanism Operators Chris Mentzer and Jack Chapman, Human Player Ronan Bennett and Technician Cruz Strom
Westside Pizza Logo
Sponsor Spotlight: Westside Pizza
Since originally opening on the island in 2001, Westside Pizza has been a pillar of the community. Since Tom and Maureen Daniels have become owners they’ve supported local organizations including Bainbridge Little League, the Bainbridge Historical Society,  BHS’s swim team, and Spartronics.

As one of our legacy sponsors, they’ve done a great deal to support the team over the years. Besides purely monetary contributions, they’ve helped feed us by providing significant discounts on their pizzas. The team, including students and mentors, have consumed some 6,000 slices of pizza since the team began! Stretched end to end that’s enough pizza to run from Safeco’s home plate to the center field wall 10 times!

This tradition of helping sate students appetites goes back to our very first Kickoff event where they graciously donated pizzas for our first dinner. Westside has also aided our past fundraising efforts by allowing us to stage a takeover of their restaurant last year.

Westside’s owners, Tom and Maureen, are huge Spartronics sponsors and we greatly appreciate them taking the time to attend our Open Houses and encouraging our students.

Thank You Westside Pizza!

This is Chris’s Story:
Below is one of the videos we’ve created this year to show how the donations from sponsors like Westside Pizza enrich student’s lives.

Spartronics Build Season: Week 2

Programming Team Working Hard

Subteam Updates:

Mechanics have started their build season off with a bang! In the short time available to them they’ve already managed to build and wire two test chassis for use by electronics and programming. Construction has begun on a scissor lift and mechanisms for cube manipulation are in the process of being prototyped.

Electronics have used the test chassis they got from mechanics to great effect. The electronics are completed for both chassis and pneumatics for one. Putting these components on the chassis has provided a great opportunity for the new members of the subteam to get some hands-on experience.

At this early juncture in the build season, programming has been primarily focusing on teaching new members of the team the code used to program the robot. This will allow the subteam to work more efficiently as the build season progresses.

While the mechanics, electrical and programming subteams are laboring over the robot marketing has been busy trying to improve the website. They’ve also been working on Spartronics 2018 attempt at winning the Chairmans award. Chairmans is given to teams who best embody the goals and purpose of FIRST and is the most prestigious award they offer.

The Spartronics app. Rest In Peace.

End of the Spartronics App:

Sadly, the marketing team has made the decision to end development of the Spartronics app and pull it from the app store. The decision was made so the team can focus further development efforts on the website. We’re confident this will lead to a better website than that of years past.

Robotics Captain Kenneth

Spartronics Dean’s List Nominee:

Kenneth Wiersema, one of Spartonics four captains, is the team’s nominee for the 2018 Dean’s List Award. The award, sponsored by the Kamen family, aims to recognize students who best represent the values of FIRST. Finalists will be chosen at the regional or state level and winners are selected at the World Championship. Kenneth, a junior, said he’s “surprised and honored” to be nominated for Dean’s List. We all wish him the best of luck!

Sears and Associates Logo

Sponsor Spotlight: Sears & Associates

Sears & Associates has been a sponsor of Spartronics from the very beginning. Their continual support, especially that of Reene and Larry Sears, have been invaluable to the team. Our team’s success wouldn’t be possible without our sponsors.

Thank You Sears & Associates!

This is Will’s Story
Down below is a video created this year to share with our top sponsors, like Sears & Associates. It shows exactly where the dollars sponsors donate go and the effect they have on students on the team. Everyone involved in Spartronics has a story similar to Will’s, stories that our sponsors have helped create.

Pre-Kickoff and Kickoff

Spartronics students and mentors meet for pre-kickoff


Pre-Kickoff? What’s that?

In order to gear up for Kick off, when this year’s new game was released, we staged an event called “Pre-Kickoff” on the 3rd and 4th of January. This entailed, for those who aren’t familiar, exactly what it sounds like. We prepared our team for what Kickoff would look like, and gave them a chance to start learning how to formulate a strategy for a game. It also gave new students the opportunity to think about what it takes to build a good robot, and how that will impact our performance with other teams.

The Captains chose a game from a previous year, and we divided into strategy groups after watching the game launch video, which explained the rules of the game. In these groups, our team came up with four separate strategies after delving into the details. On the wholethe event did a great job preparing the team for this year’s actual Kickoff event.

Students test strategies for the new game


Kickoff began at 6:50 am, January 6th. A collection of bleary-eyed students, mentors and family managed to file into the BHS auditorium just in time to see the FIRST Robotics live stream of the details of this years game, POWER UP. The game mostly consists of picking up cubes, while working with two other teams and competing against 3 other teams to place the most cubes on various game field elements in order to capture them and accrue points. After a flurry of planning and brainstorming, the team was able to come up with a strategy that we believe will take us far in this year’s season. With the help of our wonderful mentors, the mechanics, electrical and programming subteams have begun prototyping a robot to execute on this strategy. This marks the transition into our six week build season.

The Ace Hardware Logo and banner

For 27 years, ACE HARDWARE of Bainbridge Island owners Steve and Becky Mikami have kept Island homes happy. They’ve supplied all the things to keep a household running, from plumbing fixtures to power tools, holiday decorations, to small appliances.

Since Spartronics was born, ACE HARDWARE has been one of our biggest local supporters. Steve and Becky have visited us at our Open Houses and during build season, encouraging our students. As a Legacy Gold Sponsor, ACE HARDWARE also is a place where Spartronics buys a lot of our replacement tools and supplies during build season.

But perhaps the best thing about our Island’s ACE HARDWARE owner is they not only are big supporters of Robotics and the Bainbridge Schools Foundation, they are big Bainbridge Island Community supporters and have been honored by many organizations for their good deeds. Read this great story from our media sponsor, the Bainbridge Review, here.

We know Steve and Becky don’t like being in the limelight – but they deserve our thanks and praise, because without their continued support we would not have enjoyed the success we have as a team.

The owners of Ace Hardware pose in their store

Courtesy of Bainbridge Review

This is Rose’s Story

Below is a new video we created this year to share with our top Sponsors, like ACE HARDWARE, to explain what happens with the dollars our Sponsors donate. Please watch this video to get an idea of how important our Sponsors are and why their dollars do so much for every student. Because every Spartronics student has their own story.

Here is Rose’s story on YouTube at