2003 – The Beginning….
It was in a small auto shop located in Whitby, Ontario, Canada, that auto teacher David Smith made the decision to join the FIRST Robotics competition. Surrounded by a small group of keen students, it would mark the beginning of a long history of robotics at the school. The game was called “Stack Attack” and, for their first attempt the team was wildly successful. Their strength lay in their drive-system, and a flawless autonomous. One stripped bolt kept them from being Canadian Regional Champions, allied with team 188 and 306. However, they were awarded the DELPHI E.L.I.T.E. Unique Drivetrain that year and the group was hooked.
2004 – Raising the Bar
After learning so much in their first year, the team tackled the challenging “FIRST FRENZY: Raising the Bar” game with great focus. They found themselves semi-finalists in the Canadian Regionals, but it was the off-season that would be the icing on the cake. Invited to the Canada’s Wonderland Invitational, the Sprockets allied with team 1114 and 1241 to win the whole competition!
2006 – Aim High
After a season off to recharge the batteries, the Sprockets were eager to attempt “AIM HIGH”. The team went with a very complicated, but unique drive-system called a crab/swerve, feeling that this would give them a competitive edge. While many lessons were learned that would serve to help in the future, the Sprockets ended their run in the Quarter Finals of the Greater Toronto Regionals.
2007 – Rack and Roll
A new year brought a new team philosophy. Tired of training senior students to lose them within a year or two, the mentors decided they would start recruiting to the younger grades in hope that they could build a larger, more well-rounded team. It worked! Doubling their team size and appealing to younger students gave the Sprockets a new flavour and spirit which they brought to the game “RACK AND ROLL”. Again, attempting a new drive-system based on belts, the team were a powerhouse on the field. However, the judges’ attention was drawn to our arm that used a unique pneumatic technique to hold itself in place. For that system they were awarded the Rockwell Automation – Innovation in Control Award at the Greater Toronto Regional. With their new team, the students were eager to try more competitions, and so the decision was made to travel to some off-season competitions in the United States. After some debriefing from the GTR, the team decided a new strategy was needed. Their belt driven drive-system gave their machine remarkable strength, so a defensive stance was the new goal. It worked very well for the team as they placed in the semi-finals at the Kettering Kickoff, in Flint, MI and placed in the quarter-finals at the Brunswick Eruption in North Brunswick.
2008 – Overdrive
The team continued to grow from season to season and 2008 saw the Sprockets with their biggest team yet; over 25 students came out to learn robotics! The game was called “OVERDRIVE” and the task was to drive fast and throw large balls over a bar. Having attempted four different drive systems in their short existence, the Sprockets decided to keep their current system, which would prove to be their downfall. While great for defence, the belt system was too slow for the fast-paced game of Overdrive and Sinclair failed to reach the finals at the GTR. However, it was decided, after the regular season concluded, that Sinclair would make a serious push to win their off-season competitions. Knowing it meant a 100% redesign, the students and mentors decided to pay homage to, and learn from, the World Champion winning design of team 1114. With some Sprocket tweaks, the resemblance was pretty clear, but not identical. Kettering and North Brunswick didn’t know what hit them. The Sprockets moved with speed and cunning and won both competitions that year!
2009 – Lunacy
Riding high from their big wins, and gaining lots of local media attention, the Sprockets were keen to take on a new challenge. The game was titled “LUNACY” and that is what it was! Sinclair decided quickly to learn from their previous year’s experience and combine systems that they had used or seen in other games of the past. The drive system would be a modified form of their Crab/Swerve they built in 2006, but improved from what they had learned that year. The ball collecting/firing mechanism would be based on other teams’ award winning designs from 2006 as well. Sinclair “slipped” into the quarter finals in their first appearance at the Waterloo Regional. Coming away empty handed, but feeling good about their new bright orange team shirts and keen spirit, the decision was made to attempt a team-spirit award at the GTR. Never had the mentors seen such focus and drive from their students. Banners were made, whistles were bought, and cheers were practiced: the GTR was not ready for the Sprockets! From constant dancing to loud cheers for each field member, the Sprockets brought a thundering sound to the stands. The TV crews and judges noticed them and Sinclair was awarded the Chrysler Team Spirit Award. Unknown to the group in the stands, the modified and highly effective drive-system had also caught the eye of the judges. This led to the team’s second Rockwell Automation – Innovation in Control award! It was an exciting time to be a Sprocket!
2010 – Breakaway
Building from all the momentum the team had in 2009, 2010 was a big year for the team. The soccer-based game “BREAKAWAY” was another chance for the team to tweak and perfect their crab/swerve drive. During the design sessions it was decided we would attempt something no other team had ever done… a DUAL SWERVE DRIVE, or what affectionately became known as the DS Swerve. The biggest challenge lay in maintaining our weight restrictions, and unfortunately, the DS swerve never came in to action. The Waterloo Regional found the team as 6th alliance captain, and winners of the Imagery Award, thanks to the bright shirts and consistent team branding. Thanks to many wonderful sponsors, the team decided to do something it had never done. All the students that had been recruited in 2006, due to our change in philosophy, were now in grade 12. As a final thank-you and one last blast, the team elected to participate in the 2010 World Championships in Atlanta, GA. The experience was one of a lifetime and many memories were made, and many lessons learned that would take us into the next season.
2011 – Logomotion
2011 found us building a machine to play Logomotion. Similar to the 2007 game, inner tubes in the shapes of the FIRST logo needed to be picked up and hung on pegs. The big difference is the creation of the minibot; a fully autonomous robot that climbs a 10 foot tower to win a race for BIG points.