Notable events in the team’s history

  • 2002 – Team 967 was started after a few Rockwell Collins employees traveled to Iowa City to see 167’s robot.
  • 2004 – First regional win and blue banner
  • 2009 – Dan Niemitalo becomes the new robotics coach
  • 2010 – Team 4324 Super Ninjas and team 4150 The Outrageous Finger Socks are formed
  • 2011 – Second regional win at 10,000 lakes in Minneapolis for 967
  • 2012 – Team 4150 changes name from The Outrageous Finger Socks to Dark Matter
  • 2013 – Third regional win at North Star in Minneapolis for 967
  • 2014
    • Team 967 goes undefeated #1 team in qualifications at North Star in Minneapolis
    • Team 4324 changes name from Super Ninjas to Lost In Time
  • 2015
    • Both FTC teams advance to North Super Regional and Dark Matter advances to World Championship
    • 2nd place alliance at the North Star Regional, Semi-Finalists in Galileo Division at Worlds
    • Both FTC teams advance to North Super Regional again, and Dark Matter advances to World Championship
    • FTC Team 10107, A League of Their Own, forms.

Robots through the years


FRC Game – Recycle Rush


Recycle Rush is a game that involved making stacks of totes, with additional points available for capping stacks with recycling containers and throwing pool noodles (litter).

We competed in a scrimmage in Cedar Falls, thanks to the organizational efforts of FTC Team 525, the Swart Dogs. There we learned that significant changes to our robot were necessary, so we began some radical changes. Reluctantly, we bagged an unfinished robot on “Bag and Tag Day” and continued working furiously on our practice robot leading up to the first competition in Wisconsin. After experiencing some expected growing pains and making steady improvements in qualification rounds, we got to work with teams 2883 and 4655 in elimination rounds, finishing as quarter finalists.

Robot improvements continued heading into the Minnesota Northstar Regional. We seeded 4th and had the wonderful opportunity to be selected by team 5576 from Spirit Lake, IA, which was started by a former student and mentor of our own team. We were defeated by the alliance of 2826 and 3130 in the finals, but since they had already won a Championship invitation, we advanced to the World Championship as a wildcard. We also earned the Motorola Quality award for the design of our robot. Robot improvement continued, along with improvements to our scouting processes. At the World Championship, we were picked 2nd on the 4th place alliance of 3618, 1619, and 3026. Our alliance advanced to the semifinals, capping off a great competition season. After the uncertainty of an unfinished robot on Bag Day, we were very proud to end so well.

FTC Game – Cascade Effect (4324/4150)

LostInTime Robot   DarkMatter

The 2015 FTC Game was entitled Cascade Effect because the main objective of the game was collecting whiffle balls of varying sizes, which dropped from the middle of the 12’x12′ FTC field. Points were awarded by the amount of balls dropped in plastic cylinders of varying heights. The heights consisted of 30 cm, 60 cm, 90 cm, 120 cm. The higher the goal, the more points each ball was worth, this led to both teams developing material (hardware/software) to reach the highest goal. Both teams made it to the Super-Regional competition held in Des Moines, and team 4150, Dark Matter advanced to the World scale competition held in St. Louis, Missouri.


FRC Game – Aerial Assist

967 2014 robot picture (Runneals Photography)

Aerial Assist debuted in early January 2014. The game piece is a 2-foot diameter ball that can be scored into one of two goals. A large truss is also featured in the middle of the playing field. Teamwork is essential in this years game, as bonus points can be awarded by having multiple robots involved in getting the ball to the goal. The team went to both Central Illinois and North Star Regionals. We made it to the semifinals in Central Illinois getting beat out by the unstoppable alliance of 1986 and 525 who went on to win the regional. In North Star the team went undefeated in qualification rounds and was the #1 ranked team heading into alliance selections. Surprisingly, we duplicated our 2014 alliance with 2175 and 4607 and advanced to the semifinals after facing formidable opponents in the quarters. Our alliance caught some tough breaks in the semifinals, and we fell only one match victory short of claiming an invitation to the World Championship. It was certainly a tough loss! Our team was proud to take home our first ever Engineering Excellence award for our robot design.

The team continued to work through the summer to go to not one but two off-season competitions. The first was the Rock River Off-season Competition. This was a great event, but we did experience some mechanical failures. One of our drive gearboxes failed during our second match and continued to fail throughout the day. We eventually fixed the problem and got picked and played the quarterfinals to get beat out. That was a good learning experience for our new drive team and allowed us to be better for the Cowtown throwdown, our next off-season event. We prepared by replacing the shifting components in each of our drive gearboxes as well as replacing the high speed first stage gears. We had practiced driving for the month leading up to the event as well as several demonstrations. The competition went much smoother as we only lost one qualifier because an alliance partner lost power. We ranked third and picked the alliance 1985, 1939, and 1825. The quarterfinals played through in 3 beating out 1806, a perennially competitive team. We next had to face the alliance captained by 1986 and 525 once again. This time we were much more experienced and had a much improved robot. We got beat in the first match but went back to play a second match. We won the second match marking the first time in our team’s history we won a match versus FRC Team 1986, “Titanium,” who are an exceptionally successful team. The third match went well until the end where Titanium was able to make a beautiful last second 40 point shot off to beat the buzzer and advance on their way to winning the event.

FTC Game – Block Party (4324/4150)

12658402935_096eff0acc_o                  DarkMatter2014


FRC Game – Ultimate Ascent

967 2013 robot picture

Ultimate Ascent is a game centered around scoring Frisbees into goals at various heights, and also features pyramid climbing. Our robot featured a curved shooter, with an impressive feeding mechanism that made our robot one of the fastest to make a full scoring run(4 3-Point goals and reloading 4 Frisbees). We also included a simple pyramid climber to net 10 points in the end game.

During our first competition in Kansas City, we came out as quarter-finalists with a lot of ideas to improve our robot for the next competition, including our impressive feeder and pyramid climber. During our second Regional Competition at Minnesota, our new and improved robot had an impressive undefeated start through the qualifying matches, and won a hard-fought best of three to take first place in the Regional, thereby qualifying our team for the World Championships. At the World Championships in Saint Louis, our team was placed in the on. After some tough qualifying matches, our team was picked by the 4th ranked team, 2056, for the elimination rounds. Our alliance came out victorious in the quarterfinals, but ultimately lost 1-2 in the semifinals. Our finish as semifinalists marks the farthest the Iron Lions have ever advanced in the World Championships, and ended a terrific season for Linn-Mar Robotics.


FRC Game – Rebound Rumble!

Rebound Rumble! is a basketball themed FRC game that also features bridge balancing in the end game. We fielded a competitive robot in 2012 that was capable of playing all aspects of the game. For the first time, we designed most of our robot in Inventor (CAD) before building any of it. Our robot featured custom two speed transmissions, another first for our team.

We attended the Kansas City regional competition and seeded 12th, ending up as the first pick of the #6 alliance and finishing as quarter-finalists. Between competitions, we designed a few key upgrades to the robot, including a new bridge manipulator and a more accurate basketball shooter. Next we traveled to the Wisconsin regional and seeded #3 overall, once again finishing as quarter-finalists. We were very impressed with the high level of competition at both of the regionals we attended.


FRC Game – Logo Motion

In Logo Motion, robots hang tubes on a scoring rack in the shape of a FIRST Logo, and they deploy minibots that race up a pole in the end game. We reached new competitive heights in 2011! In our first competition in Kansas City, we established our robot and drivers as strong tube hangers. We seeded #3 and finished as semifinalists after some dramatic elimination matches. After the competition, we completely redesigned our minibot and minibot deployment system in preparation for the Minnesota 10000 Lakes regional. This would be our first time attending a second regional competition instead of going to the Championship. Our changes were very successful; after going undefeated in qualification rounds, we were selected by our friends on Team 525 to be members of the #1 alliance. Our alliance won the tournament, and our minibot system netted us a General Motors Industrial Design Award.

Winning the Minnesota 10000 Lakes regional qualified us for the FIRST Championship in St. Louis, so we attended three competitions for the first time ever. We raised some funds and attended, and we made our best showing ever at a Championship. We went 8-2 in qualifiers, and then we were selected by the #7 alliance captains (Team 2137). We competed against Teams 254 / 111 / 973 in the quarterfinals and were defeated. We didn’t feel bad about that, because we fully expected that super alliance to win it all (they did!). Our experiences at the Championship included playing with and against many previous world champions, being undefeated and in 1st place after the first two days, and generally having a great time as one of the higher scoring teams in a tough division.


FRC Game – Breakaway

Breakaway is a soccer themed game that also features robots hanging for bonus points during the end game. We built our first ever mecanum drive in 2010, and it was a blast to drive. We also worked with FIRST headquarters to develop a plan that allowed one of our students to drive in spite of a physical disability. Interestingly, some new accommodations appeared in the game manual the following year that appear to be related to the arrangements we setup for Kyle.

In the 2010 build season, we had our fastest start ever out of the gate; by week 2 we had a driving robot, and by week 4 we had what appeared to be a very effective kicker working on the robot. We attended the Kansas City regional competition and the Championship in Atlanta. We endured a number of reliability issues that limited our performance, but those experiences made us smarter for future games! Our team made some important strides in 2010 that set the stage for some rewarding future successes.


FRC Game – Lunacy

Lunacy is played on a slick surface, with slick wheels, which simulates a low gravity, low friction environment. Robots chase opponents and attempt to score “orbit balls” into the goals, which the opponents pull behind their robots. Our 2009 robot was a simple but solid design that could reliably pick up balls and drop them into the goals. We competed first in the St. Louis regional competition, where we performed respectably and were selected to play in elimination rounds. Next we competed in the Championship in Atlanta, where we were honored to play with many of the best teams in the world. 2009 was our first year without our founding mentor, Ken Lough, who retired. Dan Niemitalo took over as coach and spent much of the year learning the ropes from Mr. Lough.


FRC Game – Overdrive


FRC Game – Rack N Roll


FRC Game – Aim High


FRC Game – Triple Play


FRC Game – First Frenzy


FRC Game – Stack Attack


FRC Game – Zone Zeal