PDA

View Full Version : Practicing after Ship - pros & cons


Natchez
01-17-2005, 05:29 AM
Knowing that practicing after ship is legal (Q&A #1026) and if you have some thoughts concerning the pros and cons of practicing after ship, please share them. Let's keep the format very positive by sharing your pro or con and then defending it with a paragraph.

Let's wait until all of the pros and cons are known before refuting why a pro should be a con or vice versa. A classic example of where a pro can be a con on this topic relating to grades is

PRO: The students get to spend more time at robotics
Mentors often help students with their school work thus practicing gives students more time to be tutored by their mentors resulting in higher grades.

CON: The students get to spend more time at robotics
Students time is consumed by practice thus practicing does not allow students to give the needed attention to school work resulting in lower grades.


After most of the pros & cons are on the table, I will try to guide the discussion into phase II which will be discussing individual pros & cons. Hopefully by the end of this discussion, we will all have a good understanding of both sides of practicing after ship.

Please share your thoughts,
Lucien

boy_scout72688
01-17-2005, 07:04 AM
I have a major pro for practicing after ship.
The programmer can work with the robot to prefect the program
The programmer doesn't have much time to work with the robot during build time becuase that is the main thing thats going on. BUILDING. With this extra time the drivers and learn the controls you program and you can make your program look good. :) :ahh:

Josh Fritsch
01-17-2005, 08:38 AM
Another major pro that I see as a former driver is to perfect driving strategies. I know that every year we are building up to the last minute so the drivers do not get very much practice at all. We build two robots during the season so for the time from ship until competition as well as between competitions the drivers can practice practice practice.

Kyle Love
01-17-2005, 08:41 AM
Here's what I think....

Pro's: Student drivers get more time to drive with a "back-up" robot or just drive something similar. The software people could tweak their software to "perfection" and along with that students could get help with homework. You can also review the rules of the game and go through what roles will be at regionals/championships.

Con's: Could overwhelm kids with having meetings. It could also take them away from some spring sports they could normally do but now can't.

I am for having meetings after ship. I think anytime the drive team could get practice will make them that much better.

-Kyle

Joshua May
01-17-2005, 08:47 AM
I have a major pro for practicing after ship.
The programmer can work with the robot to prefect the program
The programmer doesn't have much time to work with the robot during build time becuase that is the main thing thats going on. BUILDING. With this extra time the drivers and learn the controls you program and you can make your program look good. :) :ahh:

Sorry, but it seems that you may not program after the end of the fix-it window (5:00 PM on Thursday, February 24):

Prior to the competitions: After the close of the “FIX-IT WINDOW” and prior to the competition, the team must put down their tools, cease fabrication of robot parts, and cease all software development. Take this opportunity to rest, recover from the build season, and relax. Teams may scout other teams, gather and exchange information, develop game-playing strategies, collect raw materials, prepare tool kits, plan how to make repairs, etc. in preparation for the upcoming competitions. But no construction or fabrication is allowed.

Pros: Practice for drivers and learning weaknesses/strengths of competition robot.

Cons: My brain is so fried after the build period that I can't think up any more strategies. lol

Koko Ed
01-17-2005, 08:51 AM
The only negatives that come from practicing is the toll on schoolwork (the mentors could regulate that and make sure they keep up on their schoolwork. It's no different than applying academic standards to athletes. You want to play? You do your work or you sit. Simple as that. FIRST should never come before school and anyone who thinks otherwise is irresponsible and should not be mentoring the kids) and that practice is not a real live match with variables and barriers to challenge the driver's skill.
Other wise there really is no negative to practicing with the robot.

Al Skierkiewicz
01-17-2005, 10:28 AM
I have a major pro for practicing after ship.
The programmer can work with the robot to prefect the program
The programmer doesn't have much time to work with the robot during build time becuase that is the main thing thats going on. BUILDING. With this extra time the drivers and learn the controls you program and you can make your program look good. :) :ahh:

James,
"<R14> Prior to the competitions: After the close of the “FIX-IT WINDOW” and prior to the competition, the team must put down their tools, cease fabrication of robot parts, and cease all software development. Take this opportunity to rest, recover from the build season, and relax. Teams may scout other teams, gather and exchange information, develop game-playing strategies, collect raw materials, prepare tool kits, plan how to make repairs, etc. in preparation for the upcoming competitions. But no construction or fabrication is allowed."

This is a new rule this year.

My feelings are reflected in this old joke...
Q. How do you get to Carnegie Hall?
A. Practice, practice, practice!

Marc P.
01-17-2005, 10:30 AM
Pros- Students continue to learn about how their robot works, what it's capabilities are, what needs to be changed come competition time. Practice robots can be an invaluable source of practical experience as to how the real robot will perform, and can help greatly in training students/pit crew how to deal with any problems that may come up in the heat of competition.

Cons- Gives teams with more resources a potential advantage over other teams, which some may consider unfair. Not all teams have the funding or resources avaliable to build two robots, and because of all the pro's listed in this thread, teams with practice bots have a leg up on the competition. This isn't so much a con for the team itself, but a con for other teams who can't build one.

Jay5780
01-17-2005, 10:54 AM
Pros...

Like any other school activity (sports, band, chorus, etc...) you need to practice. Drivers, HP, Coaches, and Pit Crew should work on skills and put their practice bot (if they have one) through the rigors of a "match" to see what problems you will come across come comp time. You may relize you need to add a chain tensioner once you get to the event.

You can also use this time to do a little extra fundraising, if not needed for this year then for next.

Don't forget teams should be having meetings to discuss travel for those who will be going to competition.

There isn't a whole heck of a lot to do with the time you might have (depending on when your first comp is) If you have a lot of time to kill rest or get out there and spread the word about FIRST.

crazykid234
01-17-2005, 11:18 AM
I think practicing after ship is a huge pro.

One of the important steps of the engineering process is testing and fixing. I don't think any engineer is going to design something, build it, and then say it's done without testing it out. Sure it's possible to go to competition unpracticed and do well, but think of how many little time savers, or glitches you will find that when fixed, make you more competitive.

Gui Cavalcanti
01-17-2005, 12:00 PM
I believe that practicing after ship date is a huge con for students. My main argument is that FIRST is supposed to be a simulation of the real world of engineering; you don't wait to test and refine a product until after it has shipped! If you are designing a product, you must factor in appropriate refinement time during it's development cycle. If you want to field an advanced robot, I believe you have to accept the fact you may not have the time to test all of its systems before competition. FIRST is as much an experience in management as it is in engineering.

As an additional con, what happens to teams that do not have the funds to create a practice robot, yet participate in one of the last regionals? Some teams may have had a month or so of pure practice time with their mock-up robots.

If you are going to argue that unfairness mirrors real-world engineering, remember that deadlines and proper scheduling also reflect real-world engineering.

pakrat
01-17-2005, 12:02 PM
I have a major pro for practicing after ship.
The programmer can work with the robot to prefect the program
The programmer doesn't have much time to work with the robot during build time becuase that is the main thing thats going on. BUILDING. With this extra time the drivers and learn the controls you program and you can make your program look good. :) :ahh:


not anymore, fix it wondow is only time you can update your program.

Aignam
01-17-2005, 12:20 PM
If a team has the resources to practice, it's probably best that they utilize such resources. Practicing after ship, while definitely tolling on one's schedule, does not even begin to touch at the physical and mental strains during the 6 weeks of build season. If a student spends 6 weeks balancing their schoolwork and their robotics work, there is no reason why they cannot manage a few more weeks of practice, which is significantly less tolling on one's schedule. If a student is fails to balance their schoolwork and their robotics work in the 6 weeks of build season (after being mentored, pushed to work harder, and so-on-and-so-forth), they should not be on the robotics team for those 6 weeks, because schoolwork comes first.

Anchi
01-17-2005, 12:25 PM
last year we lowered it from 6 days a week to 2 or 3, this kept kids sane, tho i wish we met more, heh

Kris Verdeyen
01-17-2005, 12:32 PM
Con: It makes the rules inconsistent

The obvious new question brought up by the ruling is, "Can we update the software on our practice robot between the FIW and the competition?"

The simple answer, suggested by the (flawed) ruling issued by the FIRST Q/A team, is, "Yes, Of course! It's a practice robot, change all the code you want!"

But, as we all know, to every complicated problem is a simple answer... that's wrong.

Let's start with two assumptions:
1)If you change the software on your practice robot, muddle around with variables and subroutines and whatnot, you're doing software development.
2)If you have two identical platforms, and you're developing software for one, you're developing software for the other.

Here's where it gets tricky. If my driver is practicing, he's evaluating the robot the whole time. He'll say to my software guys, "you know, the gain on this arm motion is a little too high, let's see if we can fix it." The software guys, being the rule-following good FIRST citizens that they are, will tell the driver that they are not allowed to make changes, even to the practice robot code, but they'll note his request, and change it at the competition.

My contention is that there is not a whit of difference between noting that a change like that has to be made, and making the change. Software development is not just coding, and it's as much finding out what doesn't work as it is finding out what does. This ruling completely ignores that fact.

If you practice after the FIW, and the driver so much as opens his mouth to complain about how the robot handles, he's doing software development.

Al Skierkiewicz
01-17-2005, 02:03 PM
Con: It makes the rules inconsistent

The obvious new question brought up by the ruling is, "Can we update the software on our practice robot between the FIW and the competition?"

The simple answer, suggested by the (flawed) ruling issued by the FIRST Q/A team, is, "Yes, Of course! It's a practice robot, change all the code you want!"



Kris,
I searched the Q&A and did not find the quote above. Can you elaborate?

Kris Verdeyen
01-17-2005, 03:24 PM
Kris,
I searched the Q&A and did not find the quote above. Can you elaborate?

I wasn't quoting the Q/A - I was extending their ruling to its conclusion, which I belive is not consistent with other rules. The quote is here:

Q: Does <R14>, particularly "the team must put down their tools", preclude teams from using their tools to build, repair, and/or modify a practice robot between the Fix-it Window and competition? Simply, can teams "practice" after the FIW?

A: Teams can practice after the Fix-It window but anything you work on cannot be brought to the competition if it violates any rules.

My point is that the ruling on Q/A 1026 is inconsistent with the "no software development" rule, because practicing is the same thing as software development.

preussrobotics
01-17-2005, 03:34 PM
After taking a complete week off from anything related to robotics, we spend our post ship time practicing other aspects of the competition. Mainly public speaking, PR materials, Chairman's Award presentation, etc. are worked on.

Matt
01-17-2005, 06:15 PM
I was a driver last year and it was great having a practice robot. I would not have been able to drive it if I did not have this time. Most of the drivers on the teams are seniors. This is their last semester so school is pretty much over. It is not taxing on a schedule at all.

kevinw
01-17-2005, 06:33 PM
If you practice after the FIW, and the driver so much as opens his mouth to complain about how the robot handles, he's doing software development.

I see a difference here.

If you practice after the FIW, and a wheel falls off, you would put it back on and continue practicing. If it falls off again, you may make a mental note that when you get to the competition, you should look into making the wheel more robust. You can not make modifications and bring them. You can not develop design modifications. All you may do is put the wheel back on and continue practicing.

If the driver complains about how the robot handles, you can make a mental note that when you get to the competition, you should look into improving the handling. You can not spend the necessary time to tweak the gains, etc. after the FIW. All you may do is make a mental note and continue practicing.

This seems consistent to me.

Kims Robot
01-17-2005, 06:44 PM
I believe that practicing after ship date is a huge con for students. My main argument is that FIRST is supposed to be a simulation of the real world of engineering; you don't wait to test and refine a product until after it has shipped! If you are designing a product, you must factor in appropriate refinement time during it's development cycle. If you want to field an advanced robot, I believe you have to accept the fact you may not have the time to test all of its systems before competition. FIRST is as much an experience in management as it is in engineering.

As an additional con, what happens to teams that do not have the funds to create a practice robot, yet participate in one of the last regionals? Some teams may have had a month or so of pure practice time with their mock-up robots.

If you are going to argue that unfairness mirrors real-world engineering, remember that deadlines and proper scheduling also reflect real-world engineering.

I definitely agree with the funding con, it does take extra cash to build a second bot, and quite a bit at that. We have been helping a few rookie teams who I know won't have the extra money to do that.

On the flip side, while you say this mirrors real world engineering, I would say only to an extent. While deadlines are real, the timeframe FIRST gives us is rather unrealistic. Doable? Barely. Probably good for our sanity? Definitely. Realistic? Not really.

A huge portion of my time as a systems engineer is spent quoting how much time and money a project will take. I estimate how much real world time an engineer would have to spend to do the job, that creates a labor cost, we add it to the material cost, mark it up, and send it off to the customer. Often the customer will try and shorten the period for the job, but we have the opportunity to quote it first. However, we also build in time for the "unknowns" and pad even that so that we have enough time to make our deadlines. FIRST doesnt give us the opportunity to quote how much time we want.

Additionally, in the real world, you can often be a day or two late. A company has to weight the penalties against the benefits (ie are we going to ship a fully tested product and take a $1000 delivery penalty, or are we going to ship an untested product and cross our fingers?). FIRST has no option.

And 99% of companies DO test their product after they ship... how else would microsoft send out service packs? Why do companies do recalls? Just because it is out the door, does not mean the company is not still trying to improve it.

While I totally agree with FIRST's method of doing things (the 6 week limit and the drop dead date), because otherwise we would all go insane or become fried, I dont know that I can totally agree with FIRST completely mirroring real world engineering.

Sorry, I digressed a bit...

I think everyone has mentioned the pros/cons that I can think of (and more). As a team leader, I think if we can afford to build a practice drivetrain we will, but we will meet at MOST 1 night per week between competitions. Likely I would also invite local less-resourced teams in the area to practice on our bot. While it is not their own drivetrain, at least it can give them a feel for the size of the competition and strategy if they need it.

Kris Verdeyen
01-17-2005, 09:26 PM
I see a difference here.

If you practice after the FIW, and a wheel falls off, you would put it back on and continue practicing. If it falls off again, you may make a mental note that when you get to the competition, you should look into making the wheel more robust. You can not make modifications and bring them. You can not develop design modifications. All you may do is put the wheel back on and continue practicing.

If the driver complains about how the robot handles, you can make a mental note that when you get to the competition, you should look into improving the handling. You can not spend the necessary time to tweak the gains, etc. after the FIW. All you may do is make a mental note and continue practicing.

This seems consistent to me.

Software development, like I said before, is as much knowing what doesn't work as it is what does. It is more than coding!

If you walk into the competition with the mental note, it is more than you would have had if you hadn't practiced. You are further down the software development path than you were at the end of the FIW; therefore you have done software development, and broken the rule.

BRAVESaj25bd8
01-17-2005, 11:49 PM
Practice makes perfect. The only thing practice can do is make you better. The only thing is, if you do practice, try not to talk strategy. Everyone is so tired from all of the regular season. Practice should just be a time to get familiar with the type of drive and possibly the manipulator devices. Also, I saw in another thread that people want to practically torture their HP's. I'd say just do a shuttle run and make them stand still for 5 seconds. Then repeat. In practice do not try to analyze the game, just become familiar with it.

fabbuki
01-18-2005, 11:01 PM
With this 2-day fix-it window, practice is nearly useless now. To build a second robot and test it out would have been an awesome thing to do last year, since I don't think there was a fix-it window. Now, if you make a second robot and practice with it to perfect programming and whatnot, you only have two days. After two days, your practice is OVER. Everyone must drop their tools and cease working on software and programming. Those are the rules.

Or maybe I'm wrong?

Two days is still better than nothing. Of course my team will work on perfecting the programming code after ship date, but that might be a bit difficult considering that our first bot is gone and, if we build a second bot, we'll only have two days to test and fix.

-fabbuki

fabbuki
01-18-2005, 11:06 PM
I was browsing some rules and forum posts... Yes! Building a second bot and practicing with it is USEFULL. Apparently, FIRST only meant you had to put down your tools and stop working on the robot you're going to be competiting with. I think you can practice, find out some autonomous doesn't work, for instance, and remember what part of the code is screwed up so you can fix it at the competition. If this is the case, then "practice makes perfect" is truer than ever.

-fabbuki