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  #31   Spotlight this post!  
Unread 10-19-2005, 12:50 PM
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Re: If you could change one rule

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisH
On the other hand I don't feel like the inspectors should have to memorize multiple pages of the catalog to be able to tell whether or not a cylinder has been modified. Modification of any actuator increases the risk of failure. Failure can have dramatic consequenses and lead to injury or death. There was at least one case I know of where a team modified a clinder in a way that was potentially hazardous. It made it through two inspections before being caught precisely because the next inspector down the line was intimately familiar with the cylinders and what they should look like. The modification was done so well that it looke like the cylinder belonged that way.

BTW I do think the rule about having to use the FIRST pnuematic tubing is a little rediculous. I'd say any tube or fitting with the required pressure rating should be OK. One team managed to make their own coiled tube by heating the kit tube. You think that didn't void the rating? but it was technically legal even though it would have been better for them to use a tube that was made that way and wasn't.
(Fair warning: I'm not a pneumatics expert by any stretch. Take with a mineload of salt.)

Just as a thought to the former sentence--suppose FIRST loosened the cylinder requirements to a reasonable chunk of the Bimba catalog. Then the burden would be placed on teams to prove to inspectors that the cylinder had not been modified from its COTS condition. This could come in the form of FIRST posting a PDF (or series of PDFs) with pictures and other identifying techniques to show what the stock, unmodified cylinder is supposed to look like. Teams would then bring the applicable sections from this PDF along with them to the inspection table, just like their cost accounting form. If the cylinder on the robot doesn't clearly match the cylinder in the FIRST Book Of Cylinders, then the robot fails inspection.

As for tubing, it did seem a little bit silly from my view in the corner. If my understanding is right, (properly-rated) tubing is (properly-rated) tubing.
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Unread 10-19-2005, 01:33 PM
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Re: If you could change one rule

The reason behind the tubing is probably due to the fact that SMC was the supplier as Bimba and Parker were for cylinders. 2 years ago we in Canada were able to use SMC cylinders as they were an official sponsor in Canada. That provided a lot of issues when we went to the US to compete. Don't forget that FIRST is international and all that is good for US teams is not always good for the rest.
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Unread 10-19-2005, 02:49 PM
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Re: whoa baby

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Patton
I have to disagree. The type of creativity that gets applied when a team is coming up with a new use for some existing piece of hardware or software is different than the creativity required to successfully implement some new design concept. At the risk of being a bit flippant, I would call it "junkyard engineering" versus "real design."

Not that JE is unimportant. We all do it! Its fun, cheap, and fast.

As someone already mentioned, the unrestrictive type of rules would not prevent teams from taking off-the-shelf items and creatively using them.

But... the restrictive type of rules would prevent teams from implementing great NEW ideas, because presumably there would be material or content limitations.

Take for example, the omni wheel. Some might think that AndyMark pioneered its use in FIRST because they are the ones who make it easily available to us all. But before AndyMark, there were teams that concepted and designed their own. I would suggest that Team 67's use of their own omniwheel design in 1998 was due to the relatively unrestricted nature of the rules back then (ignoring the fact that even then the rules were relatively restricted compared to today). If teams were given a choice of only using wheels from a certain source or kit, would any of us have the chance to learn to deal with scrub by designing something new?

The above might be too restrictive of an example, but hopefully it gets the point across.

What was more creative: Beatty's use of a bucket from page xyz of the SPI catalog for the base of their detacheable skewer in 1997, or the concept of a detacheable skewer?

My vote is for allowing teams to create something from nothing. I occasionally tell people that the magic part of engineering is the ability to make something from nothing. Making something from something-else is not as impressive in my opinion. It is not as inspirational. And (again my opinion) its all about the big I.

Ken
I think that either direction can increase creativity. If you have less restrictive rules, you can be more creative with your overall design. However, given that there are a limited number of off-the-shelf components available for use, most teams will stick to those and end up with a less creative robot. If you're daring, you'll design something more creative because it will give you an edge in competition (if it works).

Now, if you restrict the rules, it means that each subcomponent will end up being more creative. Why is this? Because you can't just buy one off-the-shelf. If AndyMark is selling a shifter, I'd be much less likely to design my own when I could just buy one from them. Is it the best shifter possible? Probably not (no offense to either Andy or Mark intended here, very few things are the best possible). Now if I'm not allowed to buy one, I may spend my time designing one and I may make one better; in all likelyhood, at least, it will be different and I will have applied creativity to it.

I end up believing that the restricted rules make it more creative as I think most teams end up using off-the-shelf parts whenever possible. The less off-the-shelf parts you have, the more creative you have to be in designing what you'd like to do.

Honestly, I think the key is not to so much restrict which parts are used but the total cost allowed for purchasing things to go on the robot. This requires great creative in deciding how to build things at the lowest cost and what you really need to include.

Matt
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Unread 10-19-2005, 03:11 PM
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Re: If you could change one rule

Quote:
Originally Posted by Manoel
Dave,

I have mixed feelings about this issue. Even though it was fun to be restricted to 20' of timing belt and spending countless hours coming up with ingenious mechanisms actuated only by latex tubing (a lot of them!) and those nice springs FIRST used to supply, I consider that the overall level of competition has been significantly raised since FIRST relaxed the rules concerning materials and parts usage.

One could also argue that this occurred concomitantly with FIRST's efforts to provide teams reliable, quality, out of the box solutions - chassis and drive trains, basically.
Many threads have debated the Inspiration issued associated with those ready solutions, but I will not go deep into that.

I have a feeling (emphasis on feeling - absolutely no "scientific" evidence) that students are more inspired by an amazing robot that is well designed and built (thanks to those "permissive" rules) than by a specific jaw-dropping mechanism devised in a glimpse of geniality.

Of course, that's a moot point when you come to Beatty, because they're (very!) consistent in presenting us with a robot that is all of that.
Then again, I can be very wrong, and maybe that's an issue to be discussed in another thread.

[CONTINUES...]
One of the best posts I've ever seen on CD. I agree completly; I'll also add to this -- creating even more restrictions will force more strategies/ideas to be thought up by adults.
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Unread 10-19-2005, 03:26 PM
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Re: If you could change one rule

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tristan Lall
Two clarifications here:
  • It's the power ("wattage"), not the electric potential difference ("voltage") that is of concern when dealing with a transmitter (though powerful transmitters often have high-voltage components).
  • On-board cameras which transmit independently of the radio modems (using frequency bands other than 900 MHz) are allowed, provided that approval is granted by a FIRST Engineering representative.
Actually your right but your hard pressed since wattage its hardly listed on most comunication RF devices and that wasn't what I was referring to. I believe its super high voltage that allows electricity to jump through air (I was referring to the spark generator thing). At least as far as I understand...

Frankly I would like to see a longer autonomous mode. This kind of plays on what Mr. Lavery was saying about adding difficulty and strictness of rules. Lets say that 1/4 of the time was spent in autonomous. Yes i know that its hard for teams to make autonomous modes that work well especially for new teams but I think it would be interesting to see how teams adapt. I guess what has held this back is that some teams with access to programmers would have huge advantage. Oh well, always trade offs.
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Unread 10-19-2005, 03:27 PM
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Re: If you could change one rule

Quote:
Originally Posted by Collmandoman
...I'll also add to this -- creating even more restrictions will force more strategies/ideas to be thought up by adults.
This doesn't necessarily follow. However, it does seem to imply that either you donít have much faith in the ability of your fellow students (high school and college) on teams in this program or you believe that all teamsí actions are already dictated by adults and that thereís no such thing as a student run team. I believe that no matter what the rules are regarding parts of robots will say that the vast majority of teams will have the majority of their robot designed and built by students. This isnít to say that I abhor professional input, design, or manufacturing. I actually love and am very thankful for what all these amazing engineering role models put into this program year in and year out.

My $0.02 after not having posted anything significant in months.
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Unread 10-19-2005, 03:50 PM
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Re: If you could change one rule

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Gold
This doesn't necessarily follow. However, it does seem to imply that either you donít have much faith in the ability of your fellow students (high school and college) on teams in this program or you believe that all teamsí actions are already dictated by adults and that thereís no such thing as a student run team. I believe that no matter what the rules are regarding parts of robots will say that the vast majority of teams will have the majority of their robot designed and built by students. This isnít to say that I abhor professional input, design, or manufacturing. I actually love and am very thankful for what all these amazing engineering role models put into this program year in and year out.

My $0.02 after not having posted anything significant in months.
Yeah, I didn't explain that too well. I have tons of faith in our students. With that said, every years challenge is not a piece of cake. The existing restrictions make it difficult enough to create a functional robot in 6 weeks. When you add more and more restrictions, the ideas generated by the students one by one become unusable one by one for the team. Mentors/Adults then have to step in and lend more advice(sometimes advice can be the same as building a robot for a student). Our team tries to use the mentors/adults/engineers as last resort materials, because when we suggest ideas it becomes less and less theirs.(Please try to take that to what I mean, and don't argue that lending advice is what we should be doing -- you know what I mean)
Anyway, cause and effect, more restrictions -- keeping the 6 week build period constant - will lead to more adult created concepts.
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Unread 10-19-2005, 08:16 PM
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Re: If you could change one rule

If we had a one year build period i might be able to see some logic in the restrictive school of thought. I think that by forcing teams to reinvent the wheel , rather than buying one off the shelf, you cause them to waste time on unimportant and mundane details. Rather than engineering a cool new carriage as a whole they are faced with figuring out how they are going to make wheel spokes. A greater repertoire of available parts lends itself to an exponentially greater wealth of new ideas by allowing teams to focus on what is really important.
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Unread 10-19-2005, 11:13 PM
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If you could change one rule - eliminate ship requirement discussion

Quote:
Originally Posted by mechanicalbrain
...wattage its hardly listed on most comunication RF devices... I believe its super high voltage that allows electricity to jump through air (I was referring to the spark generator thing). At least as far as I understand...
If I understand what you're saying, you don't understand very far.

First, power is listed in the specifications of practically every RF transmitting communication device in existence -- often in milliwatts, and sometimes up to kilowatts and higher. Second, it's not electricity which travels from transmitter to receiver, it's electromagnetic radiation. You don't need particularly high voltage to generate radio waves.
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Unread 10-20-2005, 05:16 PM
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Re: If you could change one rule

(I split off the discussion about eliminating the ship date - however, I mistakingly took Alan Anderson's post with this split-off thread... sorry, Alan. Some other mod may need to fix this split and put Alan's post back into this thread, as I could not determine how to do that.)

Here is the eliminate ship date discussion

carry on.

[fixed the merge, Thanks Andy.]

Last edited by dez250 : 10-20-2005 at 05:45 PM. Reason: Remerged Al's post
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Unread 10-20-2005, 07:00 PM
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Re: If you could change one rule

The rule I would change... well, it's not a rule. But every year I think it would be fun to have ONE totally off the wall requirement or restriction - one that is different every year.

Change the box size
No more than 3 wheel on the ground
Robot gets extra points if it can shut it's self off at the end of the match

Whatever...
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Unread 10-20-2005, 07:22 PM
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Re: If you could change one rule

This reminds me of past discussions about the Battlebots tech regs on their forum. The rule book had grown to a rather ridiculous length that was very specific about what could or could not be done(up to and including a revision at one point that specificied red colored power lights, IIRC).

For me, the less restriction on the design and build process the better. I might even go as far as to say reduce the amount of kit parts so teams will -have- to find options.
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Unread 10-20-2005, 08:27 PM
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Re: If you could change one rule

Quote:
Originally Posted by dlavery
For example, what about a rule that says "no threaded fasteners of any type are permitted on the robot."* If it were up to me, I would add a rule like that. Oh, wait, it is...

-dave

* you think I am joking, don't you? hehhehheh
Ha, being a mechanical guy who adores set screws, my heart actually skipped a beat when I read this post Dave. No more microwave porkrinds......
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Unread 10-20-2005, 08:57 PM
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Re: If you could change one rule

I must agree with Dave. Teams seem to go out and buy the hardware they need to solve a problem ready made, instead of building a solution themselves.

The problem is, relaxing the presure of overcoming obsticles in the competition would undermind the whole idea of FIRST. The idea is to give students chalanging problems with no clear and obvous solutions. This promises that no two teams will have the same idea to solving the same problem, get every student thinking, and it gets the brainwaves flowing around the room. If FIRST gave the students all the answers upfront, the challange would be gone, and the inspiration part of FIRST would vanish; replaced with an apathy for "building the same old robot." With each passing year, I look forward to hearing what limits FIRST places on the students, and I enjoy watching the minds of the students churn as they sit around talking about how they could overcome; creating solutions.

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If I can tell any old joe that knows nothing about the competition about the game that needs to be played, and he understands it the first time I tell him, then it's failing in it's mission.

Don't think of FIRST's limits as stupid anoyances, think of them as challanges that you must overcome, together as a team. We are drawing the line in the sand... don't whine about it, step up the the challange.
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Unread 10-20-2005, 09:17 PM
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Re: If you could change one rule

First let me address some comments from other posts I've seen here that imply that more restrictions in materials will mean less creative robots:

FIRST has been peeling away restrictions (rather than adding) for years. In 1995, you were given a KOP, a list of certain materials and quantities that you could use (i.e. 1 4'X8' sheet of 1/2" plywood, 3 8' 3/4" dia pieces of electrical conduit, etc), and a very small ($250?) budget that could be spent on additional parts from the Spare Parts Inc. catalog. I think you may have been able to use as many fasteners as you want and other really small things like that but I think nearly everything else was regulated. As far as I could tell the robots back then were just as creative as they are today. Sure, some of the designs today are fancier, but there was plenty of clever engineering being done back then with limited supplies.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Collmandoman
When you add more and more restrictions, the ideas generated by the students one by one become unusable one by one for the team. Mentors/Adults then have to step in and lend more advice(sometimes advice can be the same as building a robot for a student).
It may have been just my team, but back when the above restrictions were in effect, we had many occasions where students would be the ones coming up with creative solutions. It seemed like some of the kids were better at being creative with what they had where the adults were more used to having freedom to use whatever materials and parts they thought necessary in their design. I remember a bunch of times where there would be a problem that needed to be solved on our robot and the adults would just dump out what was left of our KOP and other leftovers from Small Parts and say "we need to find a way to make this piece here work and all we have to use is this pile of stuff."

I may be drifting a bit too far off-topic here, but..
One of my favorite experiences in FIRST was when our team attended the very first Chief Delphi Invite in 1997. Back then it was a one-day event. We showed up at 8am, each team was given a kit of parts and told that inspections were at noon and the competition began at 1 (or something like that). The KOP was pretty basic: I remember a sheet of Styrofoam, some duct tape, maybe some coat hangers and other "household" items, and a pair of drive bases from some children's RC toys (think of the bases of plastic Tonka trucks with a wired remote control), one tank style and one standard 4 wheel with steering. We were supposed to basically pick up Frisbees off the ground and place them on a shelf.

The creativity shown with such a limited set of materials was amazing. We found also that the limited time and materials also really leveled the field between the kids and adults. Working with that stuff was so different than what our engineers were used to at work that I don't think they were really any better off than us. It was so much fun having to think really fast and not having much time to plan - I keep thinking that we need to recreate that event with our own team as a fall activity. It's amazing how much you can learn about teamwork and problem solving in just 4-5 hours!
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