2018 Kickoff at MSU

Local FIRST robotics teams got to work this past weekend preparing for this years six week build process with the release of this year’s game “Power Up” on Saturday.

The Jonesville Cobrots was one of 31 regional qualifying teams to travel to Michigan State University to listen to the world wide release of the game. The Hillsdale High School team traveled to the University of Michigan who also hosted a release event.

Other local teams gathered together to watch the YouTube video, which was released on Saturday before gathering together on Sunday to begin brainstorming.

This year’s game will require teams to design and build robots that can efficiently move milk crate sized cubes around a game field. The cubes are to be placed on a giant scale, which is four to six feet off the ground. Cubes can also be placed on giant switches on each end of the playing field.

This year’s game field is as wide as a tennis court and two thirds as long.

This year’s end game challenge has robots clinging to each other as they attempt to climb to a bar seven foot above the floor.

To prepare for this year’s season the Cobrots have competed in a couple of competition this fall with last year’s robot.IMG_20180106_101412087

WMRI Overview

Over the weekend the Jonesville High School Robotics Team traveled to West Zeeland High School to compete in the International field of the West Michigan Robot Invitational (WMRI). There were no less than 10 teams present that had made it to the world finals last year.

That said, last year the teams all had seniors that have since graduated and have been replaced with freshmen. The robots were the same but the teams members were not and at the Kettering event last month the Jonesville Team rotated drivers throughout the matches to decide who might drive best in the future. Based on that for WMRI the driver was Steven Koppel. Georgia McDowell was pilot, Bryce Baldwin was human player, and Ethan Wisely was the Co Driver.

The team was able to deliver 2 – 4 gears each match and scored climbing points every time. The team was ranked as high as 5th but poor alliance support dropped them down by the end of qualifying. At the end of the event the team was ranked 20th but with an impressive score OPR (Offensive Power Rating) of 5th rank got them picked early in the first round of alliance selection picking.

Their alliance with 5980 (East Grand Rapids) and 3875 (East Kentwood) was strong but was eliminated in the first round of playoffs.

The kids would not be enjoying these life teaching experiences if it were not for the generous support from Martinrea LLC, Cobra Moto, Mr Rooter, Orbitform, Jonesville Tool & Machine, Ross Engineering & Design, The Rotary, Walmart, Stockhouse Printing, Jonesville Lumber, G & G Glass, and NEFCO.

Pictured below are from L to R, Georgia McDowell, Egan Stemen, Bryce Baldwin, Steven Koppel, Ethan Wiseley, and Cameron Longman.1

2017 Hillsdale County Fair

Jonesville Robotics again has a booth at the Hillsdale County Fair (the Most Popular Fair on Earth). The kids are interacting with hundreds of people in the matter of a couple hours. Already after day one, we have a potential new sponsor, a potential electrical engineer mentor, and one more team member signed up. With the number of kids and their knowledge that graduated last  year, we’re looking for a few good people.

Our presence in the parade may have appeared a bit minimalistic this year. 1/3 of our current team is in the band. We thought the parade started an hour later than it actually did. We had to drive from Cobra to the fairgrounds at 10:00 (actual parade start time) to get the drive controller from the team booth, hustle back to Cobra and finish packing with one team member. Arrived in parade que as the tail end was moving only to learn that we didn’t have the proper laptop to drive the robot! LOL Luckily a couple kids showed up with candy donated by Sand Lake Party Store and they tossed candy. Next year!

No other Hillsdale County teams made it to the demo at the Horseshoe pavilion but that allowed the Jonesville team to more closely interact with the crowd. After some early technical glitches (did I mention that we are mostly a new team), the kids demonstrated what they could do and then started letting onlooking kids drive while their parents asked questions. Parents and kids were equally impressed. “Wish they’d have had that when I was a kid” was overheard more than once. In the end the kids and coach competed against each other in a timed skills test (Steven Koppel our normal driver) was the winner by a large margin.

Thanks again for what you do and please stop in the New Merchant building and have the team produce a button with your company’s logo.IMG_20170925_103438387 IMG_20170925_155943281 steady crowd IMG_20170925_160430671

Summary of 2017 Kettering Kickoff, Off-Season Competition

Last weekend five of our 6 team members were able to make the overnight trip to Kettering University and compete with 43 other Michigan teams. Michigan has the highest density of schools with robot teams and South Eastern Michigan is the heart of it.

Team members Steven Koppel, Cameron Goebel, Georgia McDowell, Ethan Wiseley, and Bryce Baldwin made the trip.

Kettering had more entries than previous years so the number of matches had to be reduced to keep to a single (long) day schedule. With only five matches, the team chose to use a different driver for each match. This decision did not make for the best chance for scoring well but it did allow team members the opportunity to experience the intensity of driving in competition as well as ‘pay back’ some of the kids that had put in work, and wanted to drive in matches, but had not been able to so.

The rookies and experienced drivers all were able to produce 2-3 gear transfers and successful climbs. The team also did a great job of trouble shooting some technical issues in the heat of the moment. Moments like this is where the real ‘teaching’ of this program comes through as the kids try to troubleshoot a malfunctioning robot, under a time constraint, knowing that you will let other teams down if it is not fixed. Issues included; troubleshooting and replacing a non-functioning climb motor, changing bumper color with tape (the team forgot our red bumpers), remounting a loose router and some solenoids.

Although due to poor team paring, and our decision to change drivers each match, we did not score well overall, but we are considering the event an overwhelming success in that each of the kids had the opportunity to drive and operate any position on the field.

For me, the coach, I actually advanced to the semi-finals in the mentor matches on Friday night without ever have driven the robot previously. I even climbed twice!

make shift bumpersproblem solving team strategizing

State Championship Supporters!

Jonesville Robotics team, “The Cobrots”, would like to thank the following people for making our trip to the State Championship possible:

  • Ross Engineering Design

  • Jonesville Tool and Machine

  • Dave Montgomery

  • Errol and Ann Montgomery

  • Camron Lewis 

  • Jonesville Area Business Administration

  • W.W. Adams

  • S.L. DOW

  • Sarah and David Pope

  • Margaret McDowell

  • Troy Bildner

  • Schafers Drywall

  • Deborah Macdonald

  • Jenifer Spaulding

  • Danielle Gutierrez

  • Benjamin Flint

  • Kathy Diener

  • Charlotte Steer

Summary of Lansing FRC Regional 2016, March 24, 25, 26

This past weekend the Jonesville HS robotic team (#5502, The Cobrots) teamed up with the Comets from Grand Rapids, and the Robotarians from Coloma to win the prestigious Lansing FRC Regional held at Mason high school in front of a capacity crowd.

The Cobrots had to overcome many technical difficulties in the course of the two days of competition. Initially they had to overcome some software programming bugs that kept them from getting any practice time prior to the first match and then had to rebuild and combine gear-motors several times over the course of the matches as the impact was damaging the gear teeth on one mechanism. Other mechanisms that were added in the ‘unbag’ time since the last event had to be cut off and reassembled three times before a functional and reliable location could be found that would hold up to the brutal course.

The drive team (Randal McDowell, Gleb Goryunov, Steven Koppel, and Brody Longman) who just a couple weeks ago helped set the high score at the Kettering University Regional had their resolve tested over the two days as they scored poorly and they struggled to execute many tasks, specifically the castle climb, which the team became known for. But over time, as they solved their technical problems, their scoring consistency returned and they again became recognized as the team having not only the coolest shirts (designed by teammate Alivia Rebeck), but also having a robot that can consistently execute the exciting castle climb in the last 20 seconds of play. With only two team members available for talent scouting, Michael Pope, Alivia Rebeck had their hands full evaluating and ranking the other robots. Luckily we were recruited by the alliance of the Comets and Robotarians and so they did not have to make the difficult decision of who to partner with.

In the first round of playoff competition, the team’s role as defender subjected their robot to extraordinary abuse as it repeatedly was pummeled by an aggressive robot of the other alliance as the Cobrot fought to protect our alliances goal scorer from the abuse. The Cobrot held strong and the opponent was eventually disabled by the referee for excessive contact penalty points. Again, to the delight of the crowd, the Cobrot climbed the castle at the end of the match. One time with less than a second to spare.

In the semifinals the Cobrots role was to traverse challenging obstacles as it delivered scoring balls to the goal shooter. They were so effective at this that for the second regional in a row the team was involved with setting the event’s highest score. An amazing 177 points, eclipsing the 160 they achieved at Kettering.

Moving on to the double elimination final, the team narrowly won the first match but then a scoring issue resulted in a stressful delay to determine the outcome. In a bit of a ‘Steve Karvey’ moment the officials declared the Jonesville alliance the winner and then after 10 seconds declared that to be incorrect and that indeed the other alliance had won taking it down to a winner take all last match.

After all that drama, the final was a bit less eventful as the Jonesville alliance scored more effectively and the Cobrot sealed the deal with another exciting castle climb. Although stressfully, this time it took three heart stopping attempts before the latch held. They were now champions!

The Jonesville robot team could not work with this cool technology and gain the valuable lessons and skills without the help of Martinrea, Cobra Moto, Mr Rooter, Ross Engineering and Design, Orbitform, Stockhouse Printing, Vertex Pistons, Jonesville Tool, The Rotary, The Kiwanis, Nefco, Jonesville Lumber.

You can follow the team as they advance on to the State Championship in Grand Rapids April 14-16 at #JonesvilleRobotics and www.JonesvilleRobotics.com.


Team picture from Left to Right.  Gleb Goryunov, Brody Longman, Steve Koppel, Randal McDowell, Michael Pope, Georgia McDowell, Coach Phil McDowell, and Mentor Jared Page.




Summary of Kettering Regional 2016, March 3, 4, & 5

Prior to arriving at Kettering Thursday evening for the five hour open work/practice time, you may recall that the team had realized that their robot was “out of spec” after work completion date (“bag day”) and had used their only available six hours of ‘unbag’ time to cut apart the robot and rebuild it to legal specifications. When it had went into the bag and the end of the six hour unbag day the robot was together but not working.


Arriving at Kettering University we had five hours Thursday evening to finish building the robot, get it working, and pass official inspection. With any time left over we could practice.


With a half hour left to go Thursday evening, the stressed out team members finally passed inspection!


The Friday morning practice session was used to sort out the teams “autonomous” portion of the software. This is the 15 second period of each match where the students’ java programming skills make the robot work without driver interaction.


There was no time for driver operated practice so tensions were high as the students prepared for their first match. On the field in front of the capacity Kettering crowd, their robot crossed their first untested challenge (officially called a “defense”) and then promptly lost their battery.


From that low point, the team rebounded to become only the second team at the event to successfully scale the castle wall, and the soon became the first repeat climber. In fact the team became known as “the climbers” as the machine did is quite reliably.

At the end of two days of qualification matches, the Jonesville 5502 Cobrots were in 17th position in the standings of 40 teams. The team was proud.


They were even prouder when they were selected early in the second round of championship team selection. This allowed them to compete through quarterfinals and semifinals competitions in hope of reaching the finals.


Going into the quarterfinals as the 7th seed of 8 teams they were certainly an underdog. They surprised the capacity crowd by beating the 2nd seed team in best of three matches while achieving the weekends high score of 160 (55 of which were scored by the 5502 Jonesville Cobrot, which single handedly cleared 3 defenses and then scaled the tower).


The success story ends here though as the team got bumped from the semi-finals. Their high score of 160 stood throughout the weekend and the team that beat them eventually won the championship.


The Martinrea, Cobra Moto, Ross Engineering, Mr Rooter, Orbitform, Vertex Piston, Stockhouse, Jonesville Tool, Jonesville Lumber, NEFCO, Rotary and Kiwanis backed team will only have limited time to improve their robot before their next competition at Mason HS March 25 & 26.


Steven Koppel, Gleb Goryunov, Randal McDowell getting ready to drive in a match.
The Jonesville Cobra #5502 after another successful climb.
The Jonesville Cobra #5502 after another successful climb.
Randal McDowell, Alivia Rebeck, Phil McDowell, Steven Koppel, Gleb Goryunov, Jared Page.
Randal McDowell, Alivia Rebeck, Phil McDowell, Steven Koppel, Gleb Goryunov, Jared Page.
Michael Pope, Phil McDowell, Steve Koppel, Nick Roden, Gleb Goryunov, Randal McDowell.
Michael Pope, Phil McDowell, Steve Koppel, Nick Roden, Gleb Goryunov, Randal McDowell.