The annual BunnyBots competition is one of the highlights of the FRC off-season for teams in the Portland area. It expands the boundaries of the 6-week build season to make FIRST last all year. Last year, 24 robots entered and hundreds of spectators showed up, a huge increase from its 3-robot start in 2008. Each year, Flaming Chicken alumni and mentors design the rules and provide the primary volunteer force to run the event. BunnyBots provides a way for new teams and new members to gain vital skills before FRC build season. For many students, this is their first experience making an FRC-quality robot. We hope this experience and the excitement of BunnyBots competition day stays with them forever.
Team 1540 uses BunnyBots as the driving goal for the fall season; any prospective members must help with the event in order to join the team. It serves the team by allowing new members to gain experience doing various tasks on the team. Hosting an off-season competition also enables new members from other teams to do the same: the FIRST community is also served. BunnyBots gets every FRC team in the mood for build season. Team 1540 parents have always been supportive of BunnyBots, and many attend the competition to show support for the team. It allows parents a chance to know what their children have been doing in robotics. The fourth market that BunnyBots allows us to serve is the Catlin community. BunnyBots, as an event on the Catlin campus, garners a mass of support from the students and faculty.
Since its inception in 2008, BunnyBots has been hosted in the Catlin indoor tennis courts. However, 2012 was the the first year in which Team 1540 secured the Catlin gym for BunnyBots. The growth that the event sustained convinced the Catlin athletics department to allow us gym access, which increased the event’s popularity and attendance potential. Two BunnyBots events are in the works for the fall of 2013 in Washington and Denver.
The setup process begins after the game season each year. Team 1540 seniors and mentors brainstorm game ideas, and make the rules. The game is released in early September, and teams sign up on their own schedule.
Volunteer positions for BunnyBots are primarily filled by Team 1540 members, alumni, and parents. We design the rules for the competition, build the field, organize teams, and host the event. Setup is done the previous night. It takes 3 hours on average, and involves moving equipment, building the field, and troubleshooting the scoring system. Sound, queuing, and judging is done by the alumni. Score managing and emceeing is run by current members. Field reset is led by a team member, who is helped by volunteers from other teams.
The first BunnyBots in 2008 hosted 3 robots. The 2012 event featured 24 different Oregon and SW Washington teams, and we predict more growth in the coming years as teams flock to find ways to teach rookie members. BunnyBots costs $75 - $100 per robot to attend.
Hosting BunnyBots has been one of the biggest positive influences on the Flaming Chickens brand. The fact that Team 1540 is a well known team in the Portland area is due in no small part to BunnyBots. One fantastic example of this is that at one competition that we attended, a team that had attended BunnyBots chose us for their alliance because they knew who we were. Hosting BunnyBots is a great way to get our brand out, and an even better way to get to know other teams from the area and have some friendly competitive fun!