Since participating in OKBEST, Team Phoenix has concentrated on learning more about the LEGO Mindstorms NXT robotics kit.  The Mindstorms kit is truly remarkable, and a wonderful piece of equipment on which to learn.  It's simple enough that kids in the 8-10 year old range can learn to build robots, and sophisticated enough to provide challenges for high school teams.  (In fact, the NXT and the earlier LEGO RCX robotics kits are a basic component of the BOTBALL and FIRST LEGO League competitions.)

The team has build many different projects, ranging from the plans that are included with the Mindstorms kit, to more advanced line follower robots, and some just for fun, like a trebuchet and a 'machine gun' that fires some of the small beam LEGO pieces.

However, the team is preparing to compete in the 2011 APEC Conference's MicroMouse competition, on March 7th, in Ft. Worth, TX.  The team still doesn't have any funding, and no sponsors, so we're still limited to finding low- or no-cost means of competing. 

The MicroMouse competition is generally comprised of college-level teams and individuals, and professional engineers--so it's at a level considerably higher than what the team would normally be competing in.  Most MicroMouse robots are custom-built (though there are kits), and in order to be competitive, a robot must be able to very rapidly navigate through a maze to the center.  Some MicroMouse robots can reach speeds of over 20 ft/sec., and our NXT-based robot simply is not capable of those kinds of speeds (even with the geartrains possible with all the LEGO pieces available).  Still, when we're talking about high-school freshmen competing against graduate-level engineering students from around the world, as well as designs from professional engineer/hobbyists, even being able to successfully navigate the maze at all is going to be a wonderful achievement--one that we hope will garner Team Phoenix some of the attention it deserves.