Winning Moments at Regionals

Batteries not Included with Not the Droids You are Looking For


I suppose the thing you expect me to say about Regionals yesterday is that we are very proud to have won the first place champions trophy.  But if FLL has taught me one thing only, it is that the experience is not about the winning.  We had so much more fun on competition day this year, and I think it was because we reached and connected to a few other teams. Cheering them on and watching them do well, and having them there to cheer for us (or cheer us up when our robot went astray) made all the difference in the world. It made winning less relevant.

Here were some different WINNING moments BNI experienced:

The feeling when a very young (and very short) rookie team “Not The Droids You Were Looking For” approached us, thanked us for the Blog, and said that they considered us their mentors!  We felt amazed and honored, not only that our Blog worked, but that they were actually looking up to us! BNI became their “fan club” and cheered the loudest when they went on to dominate the table with high scores in the 240s.

Watching the table match against the ‘Yo Bots, when right out of the gate, they went for our rat.  Strategically, we also went for their rat at the same time. We got each others!  All the judges cheered and everyone laughed!  I know we didn’t get that extra 15 points, but it was SO WORTH IT.

Connecting with another team, the Robo Eagles.  We met last week for a practice match, and checked out each other’s robots.  They showed us their very cool hardware to do both the thermometer and the timer mission combined, and we were floored by its complexity. We made an alignment suggestion that they incorporated, and we got to cheer them on while they competed and watch it in action!  They were also there with hugs and understanding when our first robot run did not go as planned. One girl said, “It has happened to me. I know just how you feel.”

By the luck of the draw, we were at a table next to a coach whose day job involved extensive use of social media and QR codes. He really “got” our project, and was tweeting about us, and the event all day. At one point, someone saw a tweet about us IN SPANISH.  Wow. We generated some real attention! Plus they were also huge Monty Python fans, so we had a great discussion about the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow, African AND European.  We had a great exchange about ideas on how to carry our project further.


So thanks everyone at the Pittsburgh Regionals!  We hope to see you all next year!  Go FLL!


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Posted by on December 7, 2011 in Competition Day


Good Luck to everyone at regionals…… Have fun!

Batteries Not Included 2011

We are having a great day at Regionals!  If you are competing in Pittsburgh, come find our booth. We are Team #6451.We’d love to meet you and see your robot. If you mention you saw our blog, we’ll try to find an extra QR Code Temporary Tattoo to share with you!

Good luck one and all!  Go FLL!


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Posted by on December 3, 2011 in Competition Day


Attention Boxheads: Check your batteries!

Conlon, well, I don't know what to say here.

Just a friendly reminder to check your batteries!  After A LOT of iterative testing, we find missions start to slowly fail. Then we smack ourselves on the collective forehead and say “LOW BATTERY!” and all is well again.

Here is what our well dressed team will be wearing to compete: BOXES on STRING.  They make a fashion statement, and are useful to hold attachments. We are thinking of selling these next year as a fundraiser, ha ha ha.

Have fun tomorrow in your competition, everyone!

Megan is thinking about adorning hers with a floral print, and selling cheap knockoffs on eBay

Nate has the "basic black" model

Ashley has a sturdy dual string model

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Posted by on December 2, 2011 in Uncategorized


Software Documentation

Have you thought about documenting your software? Are you even doing it?!? You use the  NXT comments capability, which looks like a little thought bubble.  Write yourself notes to remind yourself what your code does, which way is forward (up or down), and helps you to make changes later. Also, it helps the judges read your code.

Well, here are some of our “Documentation Standards” that we use for EVERY piece of software we use.

Here are the things we think are important to note: Run number, Filename, Myblocks used, Robot Start Position, Assumptions, Sensor requirements, robot end position, and attachments needed. Below is an example:

  • Filename:  “2 Corn”
  • Run: 2
  • Mission: Corn harvestor,  yellow ball,  pink bacteria, yellow truck
  • Start Position:Base. Facing east. Aligned in corner near bacteria
  • Assumptions: Raise and unlock bar attached to B motor
  • Uses Myblocks:  “CMtoDEG” for converting centimeter distances into rotational degrees
  • Sensor requirements: Touch, light
  • End Position: Base
  • Attachments needed: Folding truck pusher, corn catching tray, bacteria dropping arm

If you follow all these documentation tips, you will be sure to succeed in the software department.

Happy Documenting!


Kevin F.

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Posted by on December 1, 2011 in Software


What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

What Industry Experts are saying about the Omni Label…..

These are real quotes from real industry experts that we have collected!



I am very genuine in suggesting the team explore the potential of a patent.”   


There could be tremendous applicability in connection with the current push to provide customers with quick access to key nutritional information.”


The depth of [the team’s] research was truly on par with what I expect from college students we hire as interns.”

Senior Director of Environmental, Safety, and Food Safety
Big Grocery Store



I like how the label changes dynamically, as information is added to the database.”

Manager, Emerging Technology Center, Big Grocery Store




We all were struck especially by the intelligence, maturity, and poise of [the team].”

Vice President of Risk Management,

Big Grocery Store




It would be a great idea to have a scanner in every aisle, and at the check-out.”

Patricia I.

Manager, Big Grocery Store

Having this functionality on a cell phone would be a huge leap in technology in this industry.”

Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Atlanta, Georgia

What could possibly go wrong?”

Batteries Not Included!

Hopeful FLL Team, Murrysville Pennsylvania

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Posted by on December 1, 2011 in Project


Drop-on, Drop-off Attachments

It is really important to be have really modular attachments, and to be able to change them very fast on competition day. To help with the problem of slow transitions between different runs, we have created
what we call “drop-on attachments”. They are simply attachments that hook on to the bottom of the
robot. When the robot moves forward, it either pushes or pulls the attachment in that direction.
This way, all we have to do to change the attachments between runs is to lift the entire robot
up, sweep the old attachments out of the way, and set the robot back on the new attachments.
Since there is very little attaching to do during the transitions, it gives us more time to go around
the board and complete missions, earning us more points!

You can see this in action at our Facebook page, where we have a few videos of the reliably working robot runs.

Thanks to Julia for drawing this picture for our "inconspicuous green binder"!

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Posted by on November 30, 2011 in Hardware design


Our T Shirts Arrived

Our T-shirts arrived today.  Look at how cool they are!  the QR code on the front actually scans!   It also has our favorite quote on the back, “What could possibly go wrong?”   It took hours to get the whole design decided on, and it was definitely an exercise in teamwork!

-Julia N.

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Posted by on November 30, 2011 in Core values

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