This is my best approximation of a typical timeline of a fight day during fight nights. Let’s assume we're fighting in the middle of the first session.
0520 Wake up, snooze alarm. It's too early. I’m tired and sore.
0530 Wake up 2.0, shower
0545 Brush my teeth, style my mohawk (so much hairspray), get dressed in shorts and a shirt that may or may not be clean
0615 Pack backpack with pants, clean shirt, reflective umbrella (vegas gets hot early)
0630 Arrive at the venue, check-in with covid table
0635 Talk to Whyachi Jake. He’s the one person that’s consistently there that early. He might be sleeping in the pits for all I know.
0645 Get to pit. drop backpack on the clothes rack, start organizing and cleaning the pit.
- We keep a couple of bins around for wayward tools and hardware. Rather than hoping everyone puts everything back every time, I’d rather have them put stuff in a specific place rather than some wrong place.
0730 Start setting up some tasks, like replacing the weapon motor encoder supports (printed, cracking). Mostly clearing workspaces, laying out tools and hardware.
0800 Check catering for breakfast
0810 Check catering for breakfast
0820 Finally get breakfast. I need breakfast, can’t function without it.
0825 Eat breakfast and talk to Peter, the Bot Whisperer, about concerns, strategy, and readiness for our fight.
0835 Send Will a rough transcript of my conversation with Peter.
0840 Start on a prepped task
0900 Most of the team has arrived. Dispense tasks as discussed the previous evening. Get people set up with tools, parts, and hardware. I might go charge batteries.
1000 Our assigned production assistant (PA) has introduced themselves and checked in on our status.
- Gary or I have the responsibility to gauge the PA’s technical comfort level. We need to determine if they're proactive or reactive. I prefer to stay ahead of their requests for updates to minimize the distraction and problems of them asking random team members about our status every half hour. We like to give them a couple of clues to look for, like if they see the modules in the robot it means we’re probably heading to the battery tent in an hour. If the weapon is in, it’s more like 20 minutes.
- Ask the PA for their schedule. Figure out if they have us slotted early or late in the session. Beyond about halfway, we just assume we need to be ready by halfway. Earlier than that we have to start checking out the status of every fight before our scheduled fight time in case we get bumped up.
- Someone is sent to scout out our opponent's status. The goals are to figure out if we need to help them or if they’re suddenly running some funny config we weren’t expecting. We absolutely refuse to engage in config shenanigans. We’ll just roll both a fork and wedge robot to the arena if it becomes a problem.
1150 Prep the "go bag":
- Everything we need to put the batteries in, tape and such to insulate connectors, zip ties to tie down some of the last wires. We bring an assortment of tools to remove armor after the fight. We can't assume all the bolts are still going to work, so we bring large pliers and impact drivers. We’ve found a very large flathead screwdriver and a deadblow to be critical tools in getting armor unstuck. It has happened a few times where a screw or rivnut becomes stripped and we have to rip the top plate off. We get as many screws out as possible then grab the top armor as a lever to bust the last stuck screw off.
1200 We bring the robot to the battery tent, last-minute adjustments are done.
- The battery box is dropped in, weapon ESC tray is installed and power connections are taped over.
- We send someone to scout out our opponent’s status again. That team member is going to follow them through the weigh-in and twitch test. They keep us in the loop about any issues they’re having. The nature of scouting heavily changes based on our relationship with our opponent.
- Team members are sent to grab lunch in small groups, and spare lunch boxes for the rest of the team if needed due to time constraints. If the time crunch is really bad or the schedule is in too much flux, the PAs will sometimes secure lunch for us.
- Most of the team goes back to the pit to get ready with jackets and hair. I change into pants from my shorts, change my black sneakers out for yellow converse, put on a clean shirt, and apply more hairspray.
1220 Weigh in with PA and technical/safety representative as we’re ready and they’re available.
1230 Test box for twitch test. Have to wait for the safety representative to confirm there’s a free test box.
1235 Return to the battery tent waiting area.
- All but two team members are sent to our pit to "suit up" (hair, change clothes, shoes, grab jackets) if we haven’t done all that already.
- There’s a TV in the battery tent waiting area so we can watch fights.
1330 PA sends us and our opponent to the arena waiting area (technically the green room, except it's neither a room nor is it green).
- The green room ranges from a very chill space to a very strained space, depends who else is there and how things are going for them. We start planning whatever shenanigans we'll do in the tunnel and taking pictures of our robot next to our opponent if they’re ok with that.
- This is usually Will and I since we have transmitters. From this point forward we're being recorded and we don't know who can access our audio feeds. There’s some amount of self-censoring required.
- We rehearse whatever tunnel shenanigans we’ve decided on.
- Will uses the botphone to talk to the bot whisperer about strategy or whatever else.
- Sometimes Chris and Kenny are back there, sometimes Faruq comes by. They’re all super friendly, but also on an even tighter schedule than we are.
- There are TVs next to the ramps so we can watch fights.
1415 Stage manager reminds us to tuck in our ID badges, explains the hand signals, and sometimes gives us feedback on tunnel shenanigans.
1417 Red square is announced, they walk through the tunnel, maybe do a skit.
1420 Blue square is announced, we walk through, do whatever skit.
1421 Load the robot into the arena, turn it on when Trey gives the OK.
1423 Button pushes
1426 Celebrate, try to not accidentally bump a transmitter
1427 Turn off the robot, help or guide the crewbots through picking it up and carting it out. Quietly leave the box and return to the team during the interview.
1430 Leave the driver's stage, don't fall off the edge of the driver's stage (black stage is raised about a foot above black carpet. The edge is nearly invisible.) Teams head to the cooldown tent outside the arena building.
1431 Return mics to sound team on our way out.
1433 Open the robot, remove the batteries, safety team checks the temperature. Check out damage to us, to our opponent, take pictures.
1450 Teams take the robots back to the pit, one team member drops the batteries off at our battery tent table. We wait at least an hour before charging them back up just to be extra gentle.
1455 Return to the pit, someone unpacks the "go bag".
- Photograph all the damage in detail. Write up fight notes to be consolidated later.
- Check-in on results of a fight we probably missed from the cooldown tent.
- Eat lunch if we haven't eaten.
1530 Remove damaged armor and wheels. Mark ruined parts for eBay and put them in the back of the crate. Remove the forks, weapon, modules.
1600 The robot is mostly disassembled. Some team members have standard tasks after each fight.
- If the weapon is still in good shape, the teeth are resharpened. Otherwise, they’re banished to the crate.
- Two people are replacing tires and checking axles and shafts.
- At least one is going over the wires and motors.
- Someone is checking the chains for bent or stuck links.
- Broken parts are set aside or banished based on whether they can be fixed.
- If we’re giving a damaged part to our opponent we’ll do that about now.
1800 Dinner, everyone is busy with tasks or planning repairs. We're replacing vinyl, touching up paint, replacing ruined hardware. We can watch fights while we work since there are TVs between every other pit.
2200 Return to the hotel after fights are over, could be as late as 11 pm. Shower, clean clothes, maybe go to the bar or get a snack. Definitely not going to bed like a responsible person.