Solano Stroll 2018


This Sunday, September 9th, Team 5499 will attend the Solano Stroll in Berkeley. This event is a great opportunity to interact with the team and learn more about what we do. We will be demoing our 2018 robot, Silverback, and holding a raffle to raise funds for the 2019 season.  We have been a part of this event for the last three years and really enjoy showing off our robots. The Solano Stroll will also feature booths from local shops and restaurants. Come visit our booth by Mechanics Bank on Solano Avenue this Sunday to meet the team, take a closer look at our robot, and get a chance to win a raffle prize!

Posted by Katherine Tomashevsky

Silicon Valley Regional 2018

This past weekend, Team 5499 competed at the Silicon Valley Regional in San Jose. We proudly competed against 59 other teams from Australia, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, China, Turkey, and the U.S. The FIRST Robotics Competition has brought our team closer to so many all from across the globe. Thanks to our pit crew, Silverback worked seamlessly and tirelessly through all of our qualification matches. When the time came for alliance selection, Team 5499 ranked 5th and became the captain of the 5th seeded playoff alliance. Our scouting division took diligent notes, and along with our strategists analyzed each and every team to properly weigh our pick list. After being declined twice, we picked Team 604 Quixilver and Team 1868 Space Cookies—and performed exceedingly well. We beat the 4th seeded alliance in quarterfinals and powered through two more hard-fought matches before becoming semifinalists. We would like to give our highest congratulations to teams 254, 973, and 2367 on becoming 2018’s Silicon Valley Regional winners. We would also like to give a huge thanks to Team 841 and to Team 6814 for assisting us with scouting during the event. We can’t wait to see you all at FIRST Championship Houston!



Posted by Ely Feldsher

San Francisco Regional 2018

Last week Team 5499 attended the San Francisco Regional competing alongside 40 of California’s most outstanding teams. Throughout the three day event our team worked together outstandingly in the pits, and on the field. Our ready-for-action robot, Silverback, along with our dedicated drive team carried us up the rankings to 5th by the end of qualification matches. We became alliance captains of the 4th seeded playoff alliance at the event. Thanks to our devoted scouting division, we chose Team 119 Deep Blue and Team 6036 Peninsula Robotics to compete alongside us. Our alliance advanced through four incredible quarterfinal and semifinal matches before being eliminated by the 1st seeded alliance. Despite our loss, Team 5499 received the Industrial Design Award, given for “form and function in an efficiently designed machine that effectively addresses the game challenge.” This event, graciously put on by team 5924, has once again inspired us to be the engineers, critical thinkers, and team players of tomorrow. Congratulations to the San Francisco Regional winners, Teams 973, 971, and 972 and thank you to our wonderful alliance partners for all their support.

This coming week we will be competing Silicon Valley Regional with over 60 other FIRST teams. As always this event will be open to the public so we invite you to come down from March 28th through the 31st. More event details here at cafirst, and to watch Team 5499 live visit our twitch page. See you all there! 


Posted by Ely Feldsher

Bag and Tag Day 2018

This past month we marked the last day of the 2018 Build Season, otherwise known as Bag and Tag day. Bag and Tag is when teams have to bag up their robot for storage and safe keeping, and to make sure further modifications aren’t made until competition.

Cushioned in colorful Pool Noodles and duct tape, we bagged Silverback, our robot at exactly 8:53 pm on February 20th, and will release it into the world at the San Francisco Regional on March 15th. The journey that led up to this day was not so simple. We had many setbacks and new challenges to overcome over our six weeks. We all learned something new in every meeting, from mechanical to electrical, all of which inspired us and fueled our want to keep working.

We would like to give a huge thank you to Team 254 for letting us use their field at Bellarmine College Preparatory where we spent countless hours on driver practice and testing our robot. Without it our autonomous modes couldn’t have been ready for our upcoming regional.  

Team 5499 would like to congratulate all of the teams who got through this build season, and we would like to wish you all the best of luck!

Posted by Cecilia Estrada

2018 Kickoff!


On January 6, the FIRST 2018 Power Up game was released. Over the next six weeks, teams have to build a fully functional robot that is able to complete the tasks and compete against others. The objective of the game is to stack cubes on tilting platforms in order to gain ownership which counts for points over time. Throughout the match, teams can deposit power cubes into the Vault to gain Power Ups which will affect how the match is played. The Power Ups allow alliances to claim ownership of one or more platforms and double your score for a set amount of time. In the last portion of the match, teams have to latch onto a narrow bar and climb off the floor. However, due to the limited space available on the bar, teams are encouraged to climb on each other to gain additional points.

For many teams, kickoff can be a daunting and confusing experience that gives way to a stressful build season. Teams 5499 and 841 hosted a joint kickoff at SunPower offices so more experienced teams could help rookies understand the rules, design, and game strategy. Members of teams were put into groups with a wide array of skills and backgrounds to discuss strategies and potential design. Groups were mixed with the emphasis of pairing more knowledgeable students and newcomers to FIRST, with the goal of helping rookie members.

One week into build season, Team 5499 has been busy prototyping and devising game strategy. We will be competing at the San Francisco Regional at Saint Ignatius High School from March 16-18. As well as the Silicon Valley Regional at San Jose State from March 29-31. Additionally, we will be attending the World Championship in Houston from April 19-21.

Link to 2018 Power Up game animation

Posted by Gina Banfield

Team 5499 at the FIRST Festival of Champions

Last week Team 5499 and Tsumugi travelled all the way from Berkeley, California to attend the FIRST Festival of Champions in Manchester, New Hampshire, a Super Bowl-esque event in which the champion alliances from the East (St. Louis) and the West (Houston) battled for glory. Team 5499, along with the other teams of the Red Alliance including Team 973, Team 1011, and Team 4188 kicked it off with a two-win lead over the Blue Alliance in the best-of-five competition. Tsumugi did an excellent job at collecting gears for its team mates by accumulating an astonishing average of five gears per match, not to mention the autonomous mode that perfectly scored a gear every match. Tsumugi proved to be a real ape by effortlessly climbing the rope at the end of four matches.  The Team proved it had earned its place in the 2017 Class of Champions with five matches in a row free of errors.

Unfortunately, the Blue alliance snatched the win from the Red Alliance’s clutches with a sudden three-win streak. Congratulations to Team 254, Team 2767, Team 1676, and Team 862 of the Blue Alliance for winning the FIRST Festival of Champions. Team 5499 thanks you all for playing a great game and providing an entertaining experience.

Speaking of entertaining experiences, Team 5499 was graciously invited to attend a tour of DEKA. On the tour, DEKA uncovered some of the many technologies they are currently working on, including prosthetic arms for wounded veterans and stair climbing wheelchairs for disabled people.

The wheelchairs would’ve definitely come in handy when climbing the giant stairs of Dean Kamen’s house where all the teams were invited to eat dinner and hang out. The place was so big and full of art that it felt more like a museum than a home. It even came with its own basketball/tennis court and baseball field. Many teams found joy in rolling down the hills sideways, playing kickball, and Ultimate Frisbee. I even got to talk with Dean himself. Needless to say, it was worth the 30 minute shuttle wait times.

Posted by Team 5499

Team 5499 Cleans Up the Bay

Rising junior Ely Feldsher collects trash at the Berkeley Marina. Photo credit: Katherine Tomashevsky

On Saturday the Team attended the Berkeley Shoreline Beach Cleanup, hosted by the Shorebird Park Nature Center. Every time it rains, creeks and storm drains carry trash into the ocean. It then washes up on the shoreline, littering our beaches and damaging the surrounding habitats. As local, environmentally conscious teenagers, the students on Team 5499 decided to take action to preserve the California coast.

After arriving at the nature center, we learned about the impact of plastic and other pollution on the environment. Trash collects in a patch of the Pacific Ocean called the North Pacific Central Gyre, and from there it is deposited on our shores and in the stomachs of marine animals. We then set out to the marina, where we walked along the shoreline picking up trash and recording data on what we found. As a team, we collected approximately 30 gallons of harmful debris, and we left the waterfront looking pristine.

The students on team 5499 remain committed to preserving our planet, and we know that we must do our part to make a difference. We hope to continue this tradition in the future.

Posted by Zoe McDonald

Tsumugi Visits the San Mateo County Fair

Senior Elias Weber shows a guest driver his objective while Sophomore Max Willig manages the drive station computer and oversees a visiting co-driver while a third young fair goer observes it all. Photo credit: Andy Cate

Over the past week, the San Mateo County Fair had daily three hour “robot demos” in the technology section of the exposition hall where local FRC and FTC teams were able to talk with students and parents alike about their robots and the opportunities that FIRST had to offer. The Bay Orangutans are grateful to FRC Team 5026, the Iron Panthers, for facilitating a wonderful outreach opportunity for numerous bay area FRC and FTC teams.

Many teams also allowed young fair goers to drive their robots. Team 5499 certainly did! Visitors were thrilled to drive Tsumugi, and a chance at driving our robot proved to be a great way to spark interest in FIRST, robotics, and STEM in general.

Our spiel was unique due to our team’s status as a community team. We welcomed students, no matter where they hailed from, to join the team. Our inability to take in younger students shed light on the need for community FLL and    FLL Jr. teams in the area, and The Bay Orangutans have made this their next goal in fulfilling their mission to provide all students in their community with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience and knowledge in STEM, leadership, and finance through training for and participation in competitions. Becoming a community team broke barriers between the team and students from schools other than Berkeley High School, and community FLL and FLL Jr. teams should help the team extend its reach beyond just high school students.

The fair ran from June 10th to June 18th and though many were busy studying for finals, the team was able to come by on the 10th, and, after finals finished, again on the 17th and 18th. Since our regular drive team was unavailable, other team members filled in for them, often making the interim drive coaches about as experienced as the guest drivers. Team members who were able to attend the event agree that they had as much fun as the kids they were entertaining.

Posted by Team 5499

Reaching out to the Berkeley High School Community


Sophomore Hanna Miller (left) and Junior Zoe McDonald (right) tell Berkeley High School students how they can get involved with The Bay Orangutans.

Last week, Team 5499 attended the Berkeley High School Activism Fair organized by school leadership. The Team made it loud. The Bay Orangutans showed how much good could be done for the world through FRC, FIRST, and STEM in general. This was a great opportunity for the Team because, as a community team, it was not allowed access to the school’s club fairs. This event, however, welcomed any off-campus groups which were in any way about doing good in the world. Students did a great job of connecting work they had done to elements of activism. The Team talked a lot about its non-STEM related service to the community as well as the value of the opportunities it brings to students, and its past outreach efforts to make these opportunities more accessible to underserved students. The Bay Orangutans also spoke of their plans to get involved with STEM-related endeavors at local elementary and middles schools in order to get students on track for fulfilling careers in STEM before they are pushed away from STEM via socioeconomic or cultural barriers. The Team was able to connect with dozens of prospective students as well as other service-based organizations such as the Elders’ Guild. Last Wednesday at Berkeley High School, technology really did bring people together.


Posted by Team 5499