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Unread 02-27-2006, 04:33 PM
Karthik's Avatar Unsung FIRST Hero
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Re: pic: The 2006 NiagaraFIRST Triplets!

Quote:
Originally Posted by CatchRothy22
I guarantee that the students and kids on these teams didn't build those robots. And building is not simple assembling parts that NiagaraFIRST sent them.
Rothy, what exactly are you basing your guarantee on? Part of the design process is about making educated decisions based on unknown outcomes. What exactly is your "guarantee" based on. I spent the last 6 weeks in the shop with my students, and I can guarantee you this, this robot was built by them. Was it 100% student built? No, that's not how this team operates. We have established a happy medium of student/adult involvement.

NiagaraFIRST is not a company by any means. If it is, I'm going to be complaining, because I know I haven't gotten my pay cheque yet. Here's a description of what NiagaraFIRST is, taken from our 2006 Chairman's submission. (Thanks to Emerald and the Chairman's team for this)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Team 1114 Chairman's Submission
Team 1114 is a partnership between Governor Simcoe Secondary School, the first school in the Niagara Region to become involved with FIRST, and General Motors Powertrain St. Catharines. The two came together in the fall of 2002 to form Simbotics. The program was a huge success in its first two years, with 90% of graduating team members pursuing higher education in science and technology. Unfortunately, there were thousands of individuals in the Niagara Region who had had no exposure to FIRST and were missing out on all the wonderful benefits and opportunities that the program provides. Team 1114, seeing the potential to inspire, wanted to pass on the joys of FIRST to other Niagara area students. With limited resources, the team knew expansion would be difficult. A creative strategy was needed. From this line of thinking, NiagaraFIRST was born.



NiagaraFIRST is an organization that supports and funds all levels of FIRST teams in the Niagara Region. Founded by Team 1114 Executive Sponsor Stephen Rourke, Director of Engineering for GM St. Catharines, NiagaraFIRST uses creative and collaborative strategies to minimize development, manufacturing, and travel expenses, allowing for smaller allocation of resources to support a greater number of FIRST teams. By uniquely managing mentor support and financial resources, NiagaraFIRST is able to support multiple FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), FIRST LEGO League (FLL) and FIRST Vex Challenge (FVC) teams in the region.



Since the creation of NiagaraFIRST in the summer of 2004, the growth of FIRST in the region has been proceeding at a torrid pace. In the initial year of the organization the number of FRC teams grew from 1 to 3, with the addition of our sister teams at Westlane SS (Team 1503) and Fort Erie SS (Team 1680). At the elementary level, 2 FLL teams were created at our feeder school, Dalewood ES. With NiagaraFIRST now in its second year, we currently stand at 14 FLL teams and a newly created FLL regional in our community. The creation of NiagaraFIRST has it much easier for Team 1114 to spread the word of FIRST. This was most obvious with the vast increase of students exposed to FIRST. Opportunities to participate in the FIRST experience were made available for more than 300 Niagara area students an increase by a factor of 10 in the Niagara Region student participation in FIRST.
You see, the reason we collaborate is not to build a better robot. Trust me, we'd be better off build a single bot. The reason we collaborate, is because it's the most efficient way to get more students exposed to FIRST. We simply don't have the resources, sponsors and mentors to support 3 seperate FRC teams in our area. This is where NiagaraFIRST was born. Collaborating gave us the opportunity that bring FIRST to more students, and more communities. Since the creation of NiagaraFIRST, we've exposed our community to the values of FIRST. You may claim that what we've done is against the spirit of FIRST, but I wholeheartedly disagree. As a result of our efforts we've been able to spread the word of FIRST across the Niagara Peninsula. Elementary students across the region are flocking to our high schools, because of FIRST. These kids are the next generation of engineers. You have to remember, we're not here to build robots. We're here to inspire future science and technology heroes. If building three identical robots is the most efficient way to do this, then that's what we're going to do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CatchRothy22
What if one of these robots gets top 8, and they get to pick alliance. Odds are they're going to pick the same design'd robot if it's capiable of getting in top 8. This is just creating an unfair advantage for your design of winning.
You really need to stop making unfounded assumptions. At last year's Greater Toronto Regional, Team 1114 was the number one seed. Did we pick Team 1503 or 1680? No, we picked Team 1305. In the second round Team 1680 was still available, did we pick them? No, we picked Team 1511. Like I said earlier, if we participated as one team, and built only one robot we would be a much stronger team. By building three seperate robots, we were able to reduce the design phase, and have three times as much opportunity for students to get a hands on impact. (Oh wait, according to you our students don't build anything...)

As for how the details of how this collaboration proceeded. The day after kickoff, a joint brainstorming session was held between all three teams. 75 students got together and hashed out many designs. The mentors then evaluated them for engineering soundness, and together a consensus was achieved. From here, our mentors firmed up the design using their years of engineering experience. Students watched and learned during this process. Once the drawings were complete, each school was assigned various manufacturing tasks. If tasks were beyond our capabilities, local machining sponsors picked up the slack. Once all parts were built, the teams came together in 1114's shop, and the robots were assembled. The entire process illustrated our team's greatest strength, partnership.

I'd like to thank all of the people here who kept calm heads and didn't rush to make assumptions. It happens every year when people publicly make claims that they can't back up. We need to stop letting this happen. No one knows what goes on in someone elses shop. You can make unfounded guesses, but chances are you'll come off looking like a moron. Let's try and avoid that

If anyone as any more questions, feel free to ask.

P.S.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Sturrock
We are all sponsored by GM, and we all share engineers, but we also have our own sponsors as well.
Actually, only 1114 and 1503 are sponsored by GM. 1680 is sponsored by EDS Canada.
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Unread 02-27-2006, 04:33 PM
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Re: pic: The 2006 NiagaraFIRST Triplets!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Amanda Morrison
That's great for Team 11, but this thread isn't about you. I'd venture to say that (GASP!) every FIRST team is run differently.

Furthermore, I was actually impressed this year with the amount of GP on these boards, the encouragement given to designs and teams, and the questions some of the students are asking about other bots to learn more about them... until I read this thread. Is this really an argument worth getting worked up? Don't you think the kids on these teams would be hurt by you making assumptions about their sponsors, mentors, and the students themselves?

Are we really that close-minded that we have to insult other teams that deviate from what we percieve to be right? Giving an opinion and insulting someone are far from each other. Graciousness isn't just sharing your crayons in kindergarten. It's also about encouragement and growth, especially in this program.

A little note for everyone: If you want to rant collaboration, mentor involvement, or any other topic on here, don't disgrace one team by attempting to call them out. There's a handful of collaboration (or mentor involvement, or whatever) threads that serve the same purpose. If you aren't familiar with the ChiefDelphi boards, I'm sure a moderator would be happy to show you around.
i do not want to start an argument, and I'm approaching this with no bias toward any team. I would like to reiterate that i realize the hard work these student put into the robot. If you read my entire post, through the excessive rambling that occurred, you will, in fact, notice that i had quite a few positive views on this whole situation. I am not taking sides, and I believe (yes, I, as in my personal opinion, not necessarily correct) that these STUDENTS (yes, these are student built robots) did an amazing job this year, but the three way Co-op COULD"VE been settled with one large team. Notice, the could've, not should've. if i said should've, I'm sorry, i can be pretty stupid sometimes. If anything, i was trying to provide a slightly more relaxed view on this, and the point of stating how our team operates was merely an attempt at showing that there is no right or wrong way. the only wrong way is sponsor designed, which is not what these robots are, so i think there is nothing to say about this. I was never trying to make this about us, by the way, but that is not the point. I am agreeing with what Ms. Morrison said, every team is run differently. We should let these teams be, we've all stated our opinions, and we should not start personal vendettas. This should be a friendly environment. We all learned something this year, and it doesn't really matter what everyone else learned, considering we all pretty much learned the same concepts. And I'm sure that we will all gain some sort of technical knowledge when we look at either one of these robots. thats the reason we're here.
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Unread 02-27-2006, 05:33 PM
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Re: [moderated] pic: The 2006 NiagaraFIRST Triplets!

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Unread 02-27-2006, 05:50 PM
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Re: [moderated] pic: The 2006 NiagaraFIRST Triplets!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brandon Martus
This thread is now open, but moderated.

For those of you who are not familiar with our moderated forums: all replies by non-moderators must be approved by a moderator, and could take up to 24 hours to appear. Please make sure your reply makes a positive contribution to the thread, so that your time and our moderators time is not wasted.

Thank you.
Thanks Brandon, there are some great robots here and now we can get our questions answered.

Wow, collaborative design really pays off, hopefully it'll motivate some people around here to attempt it. I really love the idea, 3 teams are better than one (thats why we have alliances)
  • Look at the PVC on the hoppers! Thats pretty cool I like how you guys can both pick balls up off the ground and throw them in. But could you enlighten us how the balls get from inside the robot up into the shooter?
  • Are those FP's in dewalt's on the shooters?
  • Are specs on the drive train available? By the look of it treads are used on all of them, but I'd like to know the speeds and gearbox specs you used.
  • Anyone besides 1680 using the camera?
  • When did you take this picture, and how long was it until you had your first robot built and working?
  • Does collaborative build take longer than a single team's build?

Last edited by Conor Ryan : 02-27-2006 at 06:07 PM.
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Unread 02-27-2006, 06:02 PM
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Re: [moderated] pic: The 2006 NiagaraFIRST Triplets!

When this discussion came up last year, I wrote this thread. I hoped that people would read it and take it to heart. Apparently I was sadly mistaken. Karthik, those robots are gorgeous, your kids should be exceedingly proud of the fantastic job that they did this year.
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Unread 02-27-2006, 06:25 PM
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Re: [moderated] pic: The 2006 NiagaraFIRST Triplets!

Regardless of what you people think there still very good looking robots. Nice job to Niagara FIRST keeping things simple and elegant with the design. I really them. Love the application of the DeWalt transmissions looks great keep up the good work you three teams. Good luck to each one of the teams. :roll eyes:

- Drew
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Unread 02-27-2006, 06:30 PM
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Re: [moderated] pic: The 2006 NiagaraFIRST Triplets!

I agree with the two MORT team members in saying that to an outsider the first impression will usually be that how these 3 teams operate can seem unfair. Even though Niagara FIRST builds great robots my personal first impressions was this. Many people I know have had this same impression when first seeing these 3 same robots last year, even my father had the same impression when he learned about these robots. However, throughout this past year I have warmed up to these 3 teams, and have come to admire many aspects about them. They have been able to do to Canada FIRST what none of the larger older Canadian FIRST teams have done. They are able to build robots of the highest quality in the FIRST competition, these three robots I saw at the Greater Toronto Regional last year were by far the best built Canadian robots in that competition, and look to have great robots again. Even though their collaboration will always bring skeptics, it will fuel the rest of the Canadian teams to work harder to build much better robots to truly compete with these three. They have raised the bar for robotics in Canada, and us at 610 have built our strongest robot to date and strive to compete at the same level and defeat these three strong teams. Just as many American teams always strive to beat the great teams such as HOT or Wildstang.

Their accomplishments do a lot for building FIRST, especially in Canada, however the thought of building 3 of the same robots can be seen as hindering creativity and originality in robot design. If these three teams can build 3 great robots with the same original design, I would love to see what 3 original designs they can come up with for three different robots while working together. Am I implying that the 3 teams should not share GM Engineers or share resources to build 3 great robots, in no way. However, I do believe that building 3 exactly the same robots for the same competition, who usually all compete in the same regionals, can be unfair to the rest of the teams in the competition. Because of the robots impeccable quality, competing in a regional with these teams can feel like facing 3 HOT or Wildstang teams, which is a challenge on to itself. I am not trying to say that these three teams should not work together, which should be applauded, but I would wish to see 3 individual robots of the same great quality but each with unique original designs. With the resources to build these 3 same robots, I do not see why they cannot build 3 unique individual robots, while continuing to work together and share resources. Us here at 610 have been sharing our resources for a while, in a much different manner. We have 'sponsored' a team in the past, St. Clemens School, when they worked in the same shop as us for the whole build season, we shared much knowledge and resources. But ended up building very different robots, of different capability due to different levels of experience. I am not trying to imply that our method is better in any way, we did not produce robots of the same quality, but I believe, as do others, that this method of joint work is closer to the method FIRST wished us to follow.

Anyway sorry for ranting, for a while, try not to read into my words too much as they are just a single persons opinion.
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Unread 02-27-2006, 06:30 PM
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Re: [moderated] pic: The 2006 NiagaraFIRST Triplets!

If you can pull off the challenge of coordinating a collaboration (especially a three-way collaboration), I don't care whether your teams wind up in the bottom three spots of the rankings--you've pulled off a task that 99% of teams can't or won't be able to do.

I don't think, however, that you'll have to worry about being at the bottom of the rankings. I see three competing robots, so...

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Unread 02-27-2006, 06:35 PM
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Re: [moderated] pic: The 2006 NiagaraFIRST Triplets!

Wow. I had not heard of collaboration before, and now seeing the concept, I am thouroughly impressed. This is not another Canadian scam to monopolize America ( ), but really an amazing idea. I would love, and also hate working with another team, but I'm very happy that it's worked out for NiagraFIRST. Those are really some awesome machines.

I'm impressed mostly because collaboration is the real world. Recently, during Engineer's Week, we were given the opportunity to tour the GE locomotive plant in nearby Erie. What impressed me most was the setup of the building we were in. All virtual conference rooms. Like 6 of them. It's truly amazing to see engineering teams from all over collaborate to create far better projects. And what is FIRST supposed to be but a bunch of engineering teams?

Maybe I'm cocky, but I am not too afraid to build a machine, given time, to compete with three other teams collaborating. Building a winning robot in FIRST is as much luck as knowhow.

I'm just interested to see the showdown between drive teams, programmers, and pit crews... Good luck this year!
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Unread 02-27-2006, 06:52 PM
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Re: pic: The 2006 NiagaraFIRST Triplets!

Karthik:

I know that we haven't talked much on these forums, and I'm not nearly as regular of a poster as I once was, so to be clear the "tone" of the post that follows, it's meant to moderately inquisitive, challenging, but first and foremost respectful. I think I sit with a small(er) but sizeable group of people that see the picture of 3 identical robots and it sort of makes them squirm in their chair for reasons the can't define. Many don't see this as 'good' or 'bad' but just different, and they're still trying to make out their thoughts. Anyway, here are some questions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Karthik
Trust me, we'd be better off build a single bot.
I think it's that sentance that has me confused and what prompted me to post. Why would you be better off? What are some of the drawbacks you had to weigh when deciding to build 3 of the same robot?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Karthik
We simply don't have the resources, sponsors and mentors to support 3 seperate FRC teams in our area.
I think that this, if I may speak for others, is where a lot aforementioned squirming comes from. Anyone who goes to a FRC regional has seen the full spectrum of teams working with a wide variety of machining capabilities, mentor assistance and funding. The 3 NiagaraFIRST machines are obviously beautiful - they appear well designed and manufactured. I think that some believe these three teams, with a third of the resources, could create a less beautiful, albeit functioning, robot. I don't know enough about your teams to make a guess, but since some teams function without engineering help and hardly any machining capabilities, I'm sure these three teams could get SOMETHING moving around... but see my next thoughts below.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Karthik
You see, the reason we collaborate is not to build a better robot.
I don't think this is true, but at the same time, I don't think you're trying to be deceptive - it's likely a miscommunication. If I can take an educated guess about part the motivation to collaborate, it's because the leaders of these organizations probably had a discussion and realized that if these three teams were functioning independently, they would admittedly have robots, but to put it nicely, very sickly looking, bare bones robots. I think that 'better' in the way you spoke before and having 'resources, sponsors and mentors' are very much related. You collaborated to have better robots - but not to create an all dominating force with an unfair advantage. Am I wrong?

My personal opinion is under-mentored teams that build poor-performing, unreliable robots are, generally (exceptions exist), not particularly inspiring. I think there are many who understand this point (but may not agree it).

And of course, I think we can all acknowledge that under-inspired teams are fundamentally something we want to improve!

I would like to hear more of NiagaraFIRST's thoughts on these sort of topics, if you'd be willing, to maybe further help the FIRST community understand a bit more about the process your teams had to go through when thinking about collaborating for another year.

Thanks, and good luck this year!

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Unread 02-27-2006, 07:01 PM
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Re: [moderated] pic: The 2006 NiagaraFIRST Triplets!

In regards to the technical questions about the robots, here are the details....

4 Small Cim drive with a pair of AndyMark Shifters gives us 4.6ftps and 11.8 ftps in low and high gear respectively.
Treads from Brecoflex keep us planted firmly on the carpet.
2 FP's into Dewalts, direct drive to 8 inch Skyways for the launcher.
2 Globes(with 1 stage removed) run the ball lift from the hopper to the basket.
2 window's handles the intake.
And 1 van door runs our highly advanced and secret anti ball jam device.

In regards to Conor's specific questions...
Quote:
Look at the PVC on the hoppers! Thats pretty cool I like how you guys can both pick balls up off the ground and throw them in. But could you enlighten us how the balls get from inside the robot up into the shooter?
Balls simply roll down the ramp in our hopper into the feed for the lift. Our anti jam device stops jams in the bottle neck to the lift.

Quote:
Anyone besides 1680 using the camera?
All the robots will eventually get them on. They just didn't get them on in time for the picture.

Quote:
When did you take this picture, and how long was it until you had your first robot built and working?
Picture was taken the day before ship at our practice facility. We had the practice robot functional in week 3, but several revisions were made to the final competition robots.

Quote:
Does collaborative build take longer than a single team's build?
The actual build does take longer, but you save time in fabrication.

That being said, could 1114 build a better robot without the collaboration? Yes, but at this time, neither 1503 nor 1680 has the design or the programming resources to design and program their own competitive robots. It is for this reason that they are still a part of the collaboration. Perhaps in the future, when they have established more of their own resources, they will be able to venture off on their own.
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Unread 02-27-2006, 07:18 PM
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Re: pic: The 2006 NiagaraFIRST Triplets!

Hey Matt,

Thanks for logical questions. I'll be happy to try and address them for you.

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Originally Posted by Matt Adams
I think it's that sentance that has me confused and what prompted me to post. Why would you be better off? What are some of the drawbacks you had to weigh when deciding to build 3 of the same robot?
Without going into all the inner workings and politics of our Teams, let me best try and explain this. If we were to pool our best engineers and students onto one team, and have them design and build one robot, we could probably build a more competitive robot. Many times functionality is sacrificed, because it would take too long to implement the change on all three robots. Also, our manufacturing time is greatly increased.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Adams
You collaborated to have better robots - but not to create an all dominating force with an unfair advantage. Am I wrong?
No, you've sort of got it right. If we had one team, we would have a robot that was better than these three. But, if we existed as three separate teams, chance are our triplets would be better than the non-collaborated robots.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Adams
My personal opinion is under-mentored teams that build poor-performing, unreliable robots are, generally (exceptions exist), not particularly inspiring. I think there are many who understand this point (but may not agree it).
Exactly. This is one of the main reasons for the collaboration. We too feel that a high functioning robot is more inspiring than a poor-performing one. This collaboration was initially designed to setup teams with limited resources for more success. While the collaboration occurs, the newer teams are given valuable time to align themselves with more resources, to allow for a transition into Independence. This collaboration is not a permanent solution, merely a model to lead new teams toward sustainable success.

It's it my firm belief that not only does FIRST need to grow to accomplish it's mission of a culture change, but it needs to establish strong sustainable growth. This is the driving motivation behind the collaboration.
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Last edited by Karthik : 02-27-2006 at 07:25 PM.
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Unread 02-27-2006, 07:31 PM
Jonathan Norris Jonathan Norris is offline
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Re: pic: The 2006 NiagaraFIRST Triplets!

I am interested in knowing how fast your ball lift mechanism is into the shooter. You said that you took 1 stage out of the globe's gearbox, how much faster does that make it?
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Unread 02-27-2006, 07:52 PM
Zoheb N Zoheb N is offline
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Re: [moderated] pic: The 2006 NiagaraFIRST Triplets!

those are some fantastic bots... i wonder which one would win against each other
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Unread 02-27-2006, 07:54 PM
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Re: [moderated] pic: The 2006 NiagaraFIRST Triplets!

I agree...these are three very excelent robots, beautifually engineered and constructed, and for that, the Niagra FIRST teams should be proud.

I also go back to my point, I don't care if students, engineers, my aging grandmother, or a pack of monkeys builds the robot...as long as at least one student walks away inspired then the goal of FIRST has been reached.

With that said...I pose this question...

At what point does collaboration get out of control?

From a viewers standpoint, as a fan of the game, seeing three of the same robot can be quite boring. Match after match I can find it easy to become overly saturated with the clones. One thing over the years I have grown to love, is seeing how teams small and large handle the problems differently. Whether you have lots or little money, more or less engineers, mentor or student built...that uniqueness is something that has been special. I do not deny that making triplet bots has its own unique facet...but as a fan of the game, I'd just rather not see it.

Strategically, its has not been proven that colaboration actually helps teams succeed. Lets face it...the teams that have collaborated up to this point are proven teams...even if they were building on their own, they would probably do just as well. Also from a strategic standpoint...if you build three of the same robot, thats 2 less robots I have to scout for.

There are alot of arguements for or against collaboration...fact of the matter is, it is here to stay (at least for the time being), so as long as its legal, and NiagraFIRST feels that it is beneficial to the kids involved...more power to ya and good luck at the competition.

-Andy Grady
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