Year in Review...2019

As far as rookie years are concerned, it couldn’t have gone much better for Sleuth Robotics, team 7663. Our season started off a bit slow as we worked to confirm our school coach/mentor and build space. Fortunately Mrs. Savage-Piasecki a second year ceramics teacher stepped up to lead our team. We were also able to use her large classroom along with some of the Ag mechanics classroom space. At the start of the year we recruited around 12 members from West campus to join us on this adventure into the unknown.

Every rookie team is encouraged to find a more experienced mentor team that can help them learn the ropes of participating in FRC. We considered all of the teams in the valley, but in the end we asked team 1323 MadTown Robotics if they would help mentor us this season. They welcomed us with open arms and we couldn’t have competed without their help.


In November, 1323 invited us to compete in their MadTown Throwdown event, a post season event for California FRC teams. They allowed us to use their off-season Junior/Senior robot to compete with. This was a fun event as it exposed us to what an FRC event looked like, without the pressure of competing in a real event. Our team was ranked 31st out of 40, but we were fortunate that the top ranked alliance of MadTown 1323 and the Cheesy Poofs 254 selected us to be their 4th alliance partner. We were expecting to sit on the sidelines, but 254 & 1323 swapped us in as their third partner every other match. In the end our alliance won the tournament and we won our first trophy!

The build season started off in early January and we joined MadTown at their shop for the launch and initial planning. From there we started designing our robot. Since we were without a machine shop, MadTown and ADCO Manufacturing agreed to fabricate our parts for us. Additionally MadTown was very helpful in opening up their shop space to us as we assembled our robot, offering us guidance as we fumbled along. On February 19, we put our mostly completed robot in its bag where it would have to stay until our first event. Unfortunately we never had a chance to power up our robot!

Our first event was the Central Valley Regional on March 6-9 here in Fresno. With our robot being non-operational, we weren’t hoping for much…just that our robot would get better every match. The first day of the event is reserved for getting your robot ready, inspected, and tested. Unfortunately we spent the bulk of the day finishing up our robot so it could be inspected, which we were finally able to do at 7:30pm (they kick everyone out at 8:00pm!). Upon leaving, we learned that our robot would be competing in the first match of the day with everyone watching, keep in mind our robot had never actually ran. Our alliance won the match despite the fact that our robot did nothing other than roll around the field so we could verify its functionality. Fortunately we were pitted next to MadTown and they helped us gradually increase the functionality of the robot. By the end of day two our robot was successfully scoring cargo (hatches) and playing good defense. Our team started off so poorly that we did not attract the attention of other teams scouting for a 3rd alliance partner. Fortunately MadTown and team 1678 the Citrus Circuits (1 & 2 seeds) knew that we played good defense, scored reliably, and most importantly could drive onto the Citrus ramp. During alliance selections, MadTown and Citrus Circuits selected us to be their 3rd alliance partner! Immediately after selections we went to the practice field where we practice driving onto Citrus’s dual ramp with MadTown. In the bracket tournament, our alliance won every match and for a few weeks four of our matches were on the top ten ranking overall in the world for high score. The coolest part of being with Citrus and MadTown was that we got to be a part of their three team buddy lift where all three robots climbed to level three of the HAB. In the end, we finished off in great shape, winning the tournament as a member of the top alliance and we also won the Rookie Inspiration award. Most importantly we have received an invitation to compete at the Championships in Houston…all in all it was a great first event!

Our second event was the Sacramento regional on March 21-23 in Davis. Our goals for this event were to win the highest rookie seed award and to be an alliance captain. These goals were pretty optimistic, but we had already qualified for Champs. Inspection went much better the first day and we were able to get a few practice matches in where we worked out some bugs. Adding to the pressure, MadTown told us that we were on our own for the event…whatever happened, we needed to own it. Overall the qualification matches went very well, our robot was reliable and our team did whatever was asked of us. By the end of qualifications, our team was ranked 5th overall making us alliance captains and the highest ranked rookies…mission accomplished! In the bracket tournament, we lost in the first round but we weren’t disappointed as we had done what we wanted to do. During the closing ceremonies were surprised to learn that we had won the Rookie All Star award, which is the highest honor a rookie team can earn and it also includes an invitation to Houston.

Getting to the Championships in Houston was a challenge as we had no funding nor done any preparation. Fortunately ADCO Manufacturing and the Sergey Brin Family Foundation stepped in to assist financially and the Central Unified School District cut some red tape for us that enabled us to buy our tickets and make reservations on short notice. We also have to thank team 1671, the Buchanan Bird Brains for taking our tools, battery, and cart to Houston for us.

The Championships in Houston was an amazing experience for our rookie team. There we were, four students and two mentors, competing against teams with $100,000+ budgets and 100+ was amazing. Long story short, the competition in Houston was tough and we didn’t do as well as we hoped to. However we learned so much and just the experience of competing at that level has inspired us to work harder so we can go back next year.

2019 Awards:

  • Winning Alliance, Central Valley Regional with 1323 & 1678

  • Rookie Inspiration Award, Central Valley Regional

  • Rookie All Star Award, Sacramento Regional

  • Highest Rookie Seed, Sacramento Regional

  • 5th Seed Alliance Captain


We are looking forward to growing in 2020!

The Central Valley Regional

Our team had a busy few days recently at the Central Valley Regional for FIRST Robotics on March 6-9. From passing inspection at 7:30pm Thursday night (missing practice completely), to somehow winning our first match (THE first match...with everyone watching...which was also our first time the robot EVER ran), to scoring our first ball in our last match getting selected to join the top seeded alliance of 1323 & 1678 on Saturday...and then being a part of the highest scoring match in the world of the season for a few weeks)...and then winning our first tournament with our alliance. It was a crazy few days...but we am super proud of the team and our amazing robot...not bad for a bunch of rookies!

Below is a video of our 5th quarterfinal match at the Central Valley Regional. Our Alliance scored 107 points which was the highest point total in FRC for two weeks. At the end of the match you’ll see us be a part of the first triple climb in the 2019 FRC season. It was an honor for us to be a part of alliance!

Quarterfinal 5 - 2019 Central Valley Regional Red (Teams 1678, 1323, 7663) - 107 Blue (Teams 2489, 1967, 701) - 31 Uploaded by MatchLIVE from JK Productions (c) 2019 FIRST Robotics Competition

Mad Town Throw Down 2018

What a weekend! This past weekend, Team 7663, Sleuth Robotics participated at the Mad Town Throw Down held at Madera High. The event which was hosted by our mentor team, 1323 Mad Town Robotics attracted 40+ robots from all over California, including the 2018 World Champs team 254 The Cheesy Poofs. Madera graciously allowed our team to use a robot that their Juniors and Seniors designed and built for the event.

Our team had never driven an FRC robot so we were a little nervous. Jacob Warnes and his dad Coach Warnes were able to spend a few hours Friday night in Mad Town’s practice room learning how to drive the robot around their practice field and how to load the yellow cubes into the switch (low teeter totter), scales (tall teeter totter) and vault. It was a challenge but at the end of the evening Mad Town was pleased with Jacob’s ability to drive the robot.

Saturday morning was dedicated to practice matches where we were able to compete with and against other robots. It was decided that Jacob would drive the robot during the matches and we’d switch co-drivers for each match based on who was interested. The co-drivers were responsible for running the controls to pick up & shoot the game cubes as well as controlling the elevator to get cubes into the switch, scale, and vault.

Other team members learned how to scout the competition…how to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses so we could better compete. Others learned how to prep the robot in between matches. In a way this part of the event was a challenge because we weren’t using a robot that we had built, nor did we have our own pit box since we were using Madera’s pit (the pits are similar to what you would find at a NASCAR race).

Saturday afternoon kicked off the first of 65 qualifying matches, where teams were randomly assigned into alliances of three robots, and matches would involve two alliances competing against each other in a two-and-a-half-minute long match. The first fifteen seconds of a match is run in autonomous mode where teams program their robot to automatically place cubes in either the switch or vault (some teams can automatically place up to four cubes in 15 seconds!). I won’t go into the particulars about how matches are scored - let’s just say it’s complicated.

Our team used number 9323 since we were registered with 1323 Mad Town (our actual team number is 7663) …this caused a lot of confusion until we explained that we were rookies with no robot and that Madera was letting us use one of theirs.

In the qualification rounds, we did pretty good for a ream that had never driven a robot before Friday night. We finished with a record of four wins and five losses, ranked 30th out of 43 teams. We experienced a variety of highs & lows in the qualifiers. Our team was able to place blocks on the high scale, low switch, in the vault, and play defense. For our first two Sunday matches we battled a problem with our pneumatics that limited us to playing defense because we couldn’t pick up cubes. Unfortunately, we lost those matches, but we learned how to push through adversity and didn’t let it get in our way. Fortunately we were able to fix the problem and move on.

Once qualifying was over, they had Alliance Selections. In simple terms, the top eight teams get to pick three alliance partners (four teams per alliance). The first three teams typically form the main competitive alliance, with the fourth team acting as an alternate in case one of the other teams breaks. The alliances then compete in a bracket style competition, with alliances needing to win two of three matches before moving on.

Ranked 30th, we weren’t very optimistic of getting selected, but we were shocked to be selected as the fourth member of the top ranked alliance consisting of the Cheesy Poofs and Mad Town. We were expecting to sit on the sidelines cheering on our alliance partners, but Mad Town and the Poofs surprised us when they said that we’d get to compete in the second match and potentially other matches if we did well. After a lot of alliance strategizing, our team, Sleuth Robotics was confident that we weren’t going to let our alliance partners down. Our mission was to play defense, which basically involved blocking the competition and keeping them from getting cubes or getting cubes to the switch or scale.

In short, our drive team of Jacob Warnes and Adam Saldivar killed it. They played great defense and kept one of the three competing robots effectively out of the match while Mad Town and the Poofs scored at will. We got to play in the quarters, semis, and finals…our alliance won each round by winning the first two matches. We were champions!


We are grateful to Mad Town Robotics for giving us the opportunity to compete at this off-season event. We learned so much and are confident that this experience will make us a better team when we compete in our first season, which kicks off this January.

PS: We need your help! Competing in FRC is expensive and we need your financial support. If you are interested in supporting our team, please email Coach Savage and Coach Warnes at, all donations are tax deductible. You can also support us by giving your time… our kids need to learn technical skills like fabricating, assembling, wiring, and programming robots along with business skills like marketing, communication, and finances. Even if you don’t think you’re an expert, we need your support during build season. Oh, and we also need food. During build season we’ll be working some late nights and we need some healthy food to keep our students going. Please help!


Welcome to Sleuth Robotics


Welcome to Sleuth Robotics! We are a rookie FIRST Robotics Championship team from Central High School in Fresno, CA.

What is FIRST? FIRST stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology” and was founded in 1989 by Dean Kamen (inventor of the Segway). The 501(c)(3) not-for-profit public charity designs accessible, innovative programs that motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math, while building self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills.

Our students will design, fabricate, and program a robot that will compete against 40+ schools at two regional qualifying events (Fresno and Sacramento). Success at the qualifying events would allow our team to compete at the FIRST Championships in Houston, TX against 400+ schools from around the world. This program will give our students real world, hands-on project based experience that will help give them a leg up on college admissions, scholarships, and their future career.

Watch the video below to learn more about FRC…

We hope you join us for this exciting adventure!