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majorFIRSTnerd
01-19-2004, 12:17 PM
I have always admired FIRST and innovationFIRST but this year I have been greatly disappointed with what they have supplied this year. For the following reasons (mostly electronics)…

1) Why do they have female-female tether cables?! This only results in the clutter of cables while testing the robot.

2) Why have to tether in order to assign team numbers!?

3a) Why did they not have IR beacons and receivers pre-built?! I can see why they did it but they should have also shipped a built one.

3b) If you are going to give instructions on how to build circuits to hundreds of teams, MAKE sure they are right.

4) Why did they make all RC inputs PWM style and not supply us with spare cables for wiring the sensors...

5) FIRST.org has severely dropped in quality... just look at the Q&A section. And what happened to the Forum?

6) The final point is not aimed at FIRST but rather at ChiefDelphi users. People have been so caught up with their reputations and the idea that people should search before posting that this site has gone from a convenient place to ask question with the assurance that no one will curse at you for repeating a thread that had been posted in 2000 to a place where I rather avoid asking questions.

NOTE: This post is not meant to offend people or degrade FIRST’s outstanding reputation but rather to address the changes that I have seen through the past 4 years which I have been involved in this great competition.

Brandon Martus
01-19-2004, 12:28 PM
duplicate accounts are against the rules.

141.150.xxx.xxx - - [19/Jan/2004:12:35:12 -0500] "GET /forums/login.php?do=logout
141.150.xxx.xxx - - [19/Jan/2004:17:35:17 +0000] "GET /forums/index.php?
141.150.xxx.xxx - - [19/Jan/2004:12:35:21 -0500] "GET /forums/register.php?

Brandon Martus
01-19-2004, 12:33 PM
6) The final point is not aimed at FIRST but rather at ChiefDelphi users. People have been so caught up with their reputations and the idea that people should search before posting that this site has gone from a convenient place to ask question with the assurance that no one will curse at you for repeating a thread that had been posted in 2000 to a place where I rather avoid asking questions. Would you rather have 3000 threads asking the same question? I can't keep up with all the threads as it is now, I'd hate to see what would happen if people didn't search before they posted.

Gabriel
01-19-2004, 12:42 PM
Sometime around the end of last year I got very frustrated with the way FIRST does business. FIRST's inconsistencies and occasional incompetence had become a running joke among a few mentors. One mentor I know was almost ready to say "Screw it, lets do BattleBots" Fortunately I got a chance to speak to Dean Kamen briefly about this. He pointed out that FIRST has been growing tremendously over the past few years. Their staff is dedicated and talented, but very small. FIRST also relies on other people's generosity, and while their connections are extraordinary, they still face the same challenges as every other non-profit. Basically, as the number of teams grows by leaps and bounds FIRST has had some serious growing pains. Organizing the competition has become a tremendously complicated task and sometimes mistakes are made. Sometimes things have to be done cheap in order to get them done at all. If you're really frustrated with FIRST, talk to them. They do actually believe in what they say they believe in and they are doing tremendous work. Unfortunately, its an increasingly tough job and although they try very hard they aren't perfect. I know that sometimes its frustrating, but there's a reason we do FIRST - we believe deeply in the value of what they are trying to accomplish. FIRST is gradually changing the culture of the United States and they've brought us along for the ride. We just have to put up with a few screw-ups in order to get there.

KenWittlief
01-19-2004, 02:18 PM
searching the threads for the answer you are looking for is better for YOU:

A. if the answer is already there, you get it instantly, you dont have to wait for someone to read your thread, look up info...

B. if the question has been discussed in detail it has probabally been answered correctly, you dont always get the right answer in the first response to a new thread

C. the threads from last years have been closed - if you search for an answer, you should be able to tell quickly if the threads the search engine supplys are from this year, or previous years.

D. its LESS WORK for you to type in one or two keywords and see what the search engine comes up with, than it is for you to type out your WHOLE question

people chant "SEARCH SEARCH SEARCH" because its better for you

its better for us

its better for the environment :c)

IMDWalrus
01-19-2004, 02:56 PM
duplicate accounts are against the rules.

141.150.xxx.xxx - - [19/Jan/2004:12:35:12 -0500] "GET /forums/login.php?do=logout
141.150.xxx.xxx - - [19/Jan/2004:17:35:17 +0000] "GET /forums/index.php?
141.150.xxx.xxx - - [19/Jan/2004:12:35:21 -0500] "GET /forums/register.php?
Are you getting soft, Brandon? When this has happened before, you'd refer to the person with their other user name (example: "...are against the rules, IMDWalrus"). :)

As far as the original post goes, I'll just respond to these two points:

3a) Why did they not have IR beacons and receivers pre-built?! I can see why they did it but they should have also shipped a built one.

3b) If you are going to give instructions on how to build circuits to hundreds of teams, MAKE sure they are right.

3a) As has already been said, FIRST is growing rapidly. They most likely didn't have the time or manpower to assemble the hundreds of IR beacons and receivers in time for shipping the kits. Besides...it shouldn't be too difficult for your team to put together. You are building a robot, right?

3b) Mistakes happen. Everyone screws up; you can't really hold this one against FIRST. I can't recall if they've corrected this one yet, but they will (hopefully) do it soon if they haven't.

Jay Lundy
01-19-2004, 07:25 PM
I have always admired FIRST and innovationFIRST but this year I have been greatly disappointed with what they have supplied this year. For the following reasons (mostly electronics) Of all the things to be disappointed about, I would think electronics would be at the bottom of the list. The new controller is a HUGE leap forward!!

1) Why do they have female-female tether cables?! This only results in the clutter of cables while testing the robot. Since you are so averse to searching I will provide you a direct link to the thread discussing this. http://www.chiefdelphi.com/forums/showthread.php?t=24003

2) Why have to tether in order to assign team numbers!? To save space on the RC.

4) Why did they make all RC inputs PWM style and not supply us with spare cables for wiring the sensors... Personally I find the new pin headers much more convienient. You can order more cable from IFI, or build your own using parts from this (http://www.chiefdelphi.com/forums/showthread.php?t=24080) thread.

6) The final point is not aimed at FIRST but rather at ChiefDelphi users. People have been so caught up with their reputations and the idea that people should search before posting that this site has gone from a convenient place to ask question with the assurance that no one will curse at you for repeating a thread that had been posted in 2000 to a place where I rather avoid asking questions. It would have been faster to search than to post.

Chris Fultz
01-19-2004, 07:42 PM
FIRST is so much more than building a robot, and I think small errors and problems do more to prepare you for the 'real world' than handing you a perfect kit of parts with all of the drawings complete and every possible question answered.

If you enter almost any field of engineering, you will quickly find that you will not get a complete set of requirements from your customer the first time around (if ever). You will not get all of the answers you want. You will make some assumptions and then later find out you were wrong. You will have to work to rules and restrictions that you do not understand or agree with. You will have rules that require you to interpret and make the right decision for you or your company.

To me, all of these "problems" add to the value of FIRST. They make it real - because the real world of engineering is far from perfect.

The only thing that FIRST could do to make this program even more realistic is to introduce a totally new restriction or rule change about week four - sort of like a new law or regulatory mandate that suddenly changes the way business has to operate because often these changes happen just that fast.

IMDWalrus
01-19-2004, 07:48 PM
The only thing that FIRST could do to make this program even more realistic is to introduce a totally new restriction or rule change about week four - sort of like a new law or regulatory mandate that suddenly changes the way business has to operate because often these changes happen just that fast.
Let's just hope they don't get any ideas from this... :)

dez250
01-19-2004, 07:52 PM
.....
1) Why do they have female-female tether cables?! This only results in the clutter of cables while testing the robot.

2) Why have to tether in order to assign team numbers!?

3a) Why did they not have IR beacons and receivers pre-built?! I can see why they did it but they should have also shipped a built one.

3b) If you are going to give instructions on how to build circuits to hundreds of teams, MAKE sure they are right.
........

Please do not make a fake account to post this thread, CD Mods know who you are at all times while on the site.

1) This is so people dont mess up and fry their oi/rc by connecting the wrong ports together, thus they made 2 ports need db9 female connectors.

2) SO around 1000 teams do not accidentally incorrectly input their team nuimbers on their bot and another team controlling it while at a comp, and so it cant acidentally be changed on te field.

3a)there are around 1000 teams, not all are going to use the IR Sensors so why should they have to build it if we wont use it. This item is like the current sensor and has to be done by hand to cut costs.

3b) FIRST is made up of under 100 people at FIRST Place, and depends heavily on volunteers (like many people here), and we are human. Everyone makes mistakes. Just like you made a mistake of using a false user name.

Crop-Circles
01-19-2004, 08:11 PM
FIRST can be as cheap as they want, for all I care. I don't think it's that big of a deal if FIRST makes a few mistakes or cuts back every now and then. Personally, I'm just glad I have the opportunity to be in this program. If FIRST slips up, who are we to complain? We're only here because they dedicate their time and money to us.

miketwalker
01-19-2004, 08:14 PM
All of your questions have been answered by others, but I have to chime in and also say that FIRST is run by very few people. Those few people put so much work into preparing all of the items. I think for FIRST Lego League, the trophies are hand-built... with so many competitions I think they have a few people who do that as a job and assemble them (this is what I heard, I do not know if it's true), but even if it's not true... could you imagine the man-hours it would take to assemble that sensor and reciever?

One thing I would like to mention, if you feel FIRST is lacking in an area, offer to help out. I know Dez has done that and now works with scorekeeping, I helped write one of the autonomous manuals that will be up soon because last year many teams had problems and little documentation to back it up, and I mean... there is a VERY long list of people on this ChiefDelphi community who have thought to themselves "Wow, FIRST really didn't do a good job with such and such" but, instead of just complaining... they've jumped up and said "I can try to help a little bit, how can I help?" If you want to see a change in anything... don't expect others to do that, there's not enough workers at FIRST to do it all, you need to stand up and call them and say "What can I do?" That's the only way the program can improve, especially with the rapid growth of the program.

Adam Krajewski
01-19-2004, 10:38 PM
This year's electronics is the last thing I would be complaining about.

The inclusion of electrical connectors is a very pleasant return from the past, especially for rookie teams and other teams without vast resources.

Hinkel Y.
01-20-2004, 12:05 AM
I doubt we should actually be calling FIRST "Cheap"... As you know, FIRST has grown a lot over the last few years... From below 1000 to 1400 (?) So you must understand they must rush to get everything setup everything. Building the IR Beacons can allow students, who are not taking tech courses or courses that do not involve making a circuit board to make one... I know I've learned something in the last few days and learned how to make an IR beacon at least, it's a great opportunity to learn. So quit complaining that FIRST is cheap, cuz you all know that they are overstressed with paperwork and other stuff to pick out the tiny flaws that anyone could have overlooked.

KenWittlief
01-20-2004, 07:34 AM
we need to understand the difference between 'cheap' and 'profit'.

FIRST is a non-profit organization. That means they are not making ANY money off this program - there are not a bunch of FIRST stockholders somewhere screaming about profits and stock prices.

FIRST has done an incredible job of keeping the registration prices down - you pay $5000 for your first regional and $4000 for each additional regional you attend, and the championship is only $4000.

Since you only get one kit of parts, clearly it costs about $4000 per team to host a event, and the kit is being sold to you for approximately $1000.

so do you want FIRST to go nuts and put all kinds of expensive stuff in the kit - even if your team is not going to use some of it - because the only way FIRST could do that would be to raise the price of the first regional fee - would you rather pay $6000 or $10,000 for your first regional, so you can have a box full of really expensive stuff?

Gabriel
01-20-2004, 08:53 AM
I gotta tell you, if a mistake in the drawings of the IR Beacon and tether cables being only female to female are the biggest problems you run into over the next five weeks I envy you. Either figure out how to fix the problem or move on, their are MUCH bigger things to worry about.

Tom Schindler
01-20-2004, 09:32 AM
I agree with Ken...

I'm still attempting to figure out how FIRST does all they do for us with only a $5k registration fee per team...

think about the components you get, the motors, the pneumatic components, the controller.... think about how much these would cost if you purchased them all separately, i'd say we're getting a deal...

FIRST isn't making money... I'd rather see FIRST keep with the components they have, and not raise any of their registration fees... i'm happy with the components... who cares if oyu have to assemble your own IR beacon, bite the bullet and do it.

Good Luck

Tom Schindler

Phish32786
01-20-2004, 10:10 AM
Same here (Agreeing with Ken) If you had all the parts given to you put together then it wouldn't be as much work/fun as it is now.
Michael Calkins
Team 1188
Network/Systems Administrator

indieFan
01-20-2004, 11:56 AM
5) FIRST.org has severely dropped in quality... just look at the Q&A section. And what happened to the Forum?


This is the one thing that I have not seen addressed by anyone else yet, so I thought I would answer it. At the Team Forums over last spring, one of the issues that came up was how inconsistent the rules had been over the previous two years. Issues such as what constituted a valid extender were hot on the list. One person at FIRST would answer a question one way, and another person would contradict that answer in their response to a similar question.

My understanding (albeit a vague one based on a very small amount of information) is that FIRST heard us loud and clear. To attempt to alleviate the inconsistencies in the rules, they created the Q&A page that only a few people would actually respond to. By limiting the number of people that would respond, it is reasonable to think that communication of how a rule was interpreted would remain fairly consistent, both internally at FIRST and among the Q&A page.

While the current Q&A page has its faults, such as not being listed in the order asked, it is a far better solution than the forums, imo. I personally like that I can now quickly reference what section the rule is referring to. I also like that everyone can quickly see what other questions have been asked that are related to the section. It has *severely* limited the number of questions that are asked repeatedly.

Finally, please remember that since this is the first year of the Q&A, there will be kinks to work out of the system, just as there are in any software system. If you have specific issues with how the Q&A is run and can offer FIRST constructive criticism about it, then I suggest that you write them down so you can either 1) inform FIRST at the Team Forums in late spring or 2) have your coach inform FIRST at the Team Forums.

indieFan

Beth Sweet
01-20-2004, 02:23 PM
Well, here's my two cents.

How can you call an organization that is in existence for the sole purpose of your assistence, cheap? They have no requirement to do this, they are not being forced into it. These are good people, trying to help out some kids who these people think have a chance to help human kind, even if it's past when these people will even benefit from it.

This is solely my opinion, and not representative of my team, but I feel that anyone insulting what FIRST is doing for us needs a serious reality check. To me, this sounds like a spoiled child whining because they got the incredible present instead of the spectacular one.

dlavery
01-20-2004, 03:56 PM
It has been said before, but given the initiation of this thread it is worth repeating:

Each of us has a finite amount of available energy. It is up to us to decide how it will be expended. You can expend significant energy whining and complaining about what is wrong with FIRST, life, the universe, and everything. Or you can re-direct that energy into finding a way to improve the situation and making something positive out of the whole experience. So, where do you want to direct your energy?

FIRST is not perfect. It is put together by a staff of human beings, who are just as under-staffed, over-stressed, under-paid, over-worked, under-appreciated, and over-committed as any robot-building team (any probably more than many). Things slip through the cracks. New technologies are in the kit of parts that are outside their areas of expertise. Demands for team support are overwhelming. Stuff is not going to happen perfectly.

Our job is to understand that, and deal with it. Don't like how the cables are set up? You can either whine about it, or you can come up with an alternative method that can be done for the same (or less) expense, test it to validate that it will work for 1000+ teams, document the full process, send it to FIRST, and then volunteer to help pack the kits next year while you oversee the implementation of the solution.

Don't like the idea of building the IR circuits yourself? You can either whine about it, or organize your entire team into an IR-circuit-assembly-line and volunteer to construct the circuit for any team that sends you the parts. You provide a service to any teams that feel overwhelmed by the task, and you can get great brownie points for service to the FIRST community!

Don't like that the RC inputs are all PWM style? You can either whine about it, or spend some time designing alternate cabling methods, document it, and publish it to all the teams as an alternative. Provide an additional service to the community of FIRST teams and locate and identify all the available cable sources across the country that can supply materials (or even finished products) for your solution, and tell all the other teams about them.

You can either suck up a lot of oxygen, or you can contribute to our communal knowledge. The choice is yours.

-dave

JVN
01-20-2004, 05:42 PM
You can either suck up a lot of oxygen, or you can contribute to our communal knowledge. The choice is yours.

-dave

To Whom It May Concern:

I believe the phrase is:
"Step up, or SHUT UP!"

:)

John

SL8
03-13-2008, 09:45 PM
Just happened to be reading this thread and thinking" more people should read these post", considering many who are complaining about various aspects ie. the IR board etc..