Team JVN: Aren’s “Sweet Spot”

Often, strategy is determined based off of scoring calculations, observations based on experience, or just plain gut feel. However, sometimes they come from something a bit more inspired.

One of the defining moments of Team JVN’s weekend was a calculation done by Aren Hill that we’re affectionately calling “Aren’s sweet spot.”


From the beginning, the team assumed that doing a “layup” motion from against the wall (or ~20″ back) would be the most effective way to consistently score in the high goal. It would be repeatedly testable and possible to replicate in match conditions, two things that are crucial for a basic robot design. A former robotics driver and drive coach, Aren wanted to see if there was a way he could make it even easier on the driver. A quick 2D “Crayola CAD” easily laid out the parabolic path a ball would take upon leaving the robot, and revealed something interesting. Since the goal opening is taller than the ball by one foot, the previous mentality that you need to shoot precisely to score from the field turns out to be somewhat false. The above image shows this path – the vertical line in the middle is the field wall, with an opening for the goal. As becomes apparent, if you peak your parabola just below the top of the goal, you actually have access to a very wide starting range to score from (87 inches, or 7.25 feet, in this example). Increasing the power of your shot makes the parabola shallower, widening that “sweet spot” starting range. At this point, the prototyping kicked into overdrive. We had the opportunity to go out to Greenville High School, where the Robowranglers had been building the practice field that they will use for this season. The prototype was pulled back from the wall about 7 feet, starting angle was raised, and surgical tubing was increased. In a word… success. After seeing that, we never looked back. All future iteration served to refine that design and widen the applicable sweet spot. Tune in to the robot reveal at noon on Tuesday to see how we did!