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No Change Rule Yields More Openness

Posted by Bill Beatty at 02/23/2001 11:32 PM EST


Other on team #71, Team Hammond, from Team Hammond.



Now that FIRST has made it clear that after shipping the first time, the robots cannot be redesigned or changed in function, I believe this has resulted in more openness of the machines than ever before. To be sure, the alliance factor is there, but we are still competing against all the other teams except the three we are with at the time.

Just an observation.

Mr Bill


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Re: No Change Rule Yields More Openness

Posted by Patrick Dingle at 02/24/2001 1:54 AM EST


Coach on team #639, Red B^2, from Ithaca High School and Cornell University.


In Reply to: No Change Rule Yields More Openness
Posted by Bill Beatty on 02/23/2001 11:32 PM EST:



Where did you read that? Does this mean that if a robot is not functional when it is shipped, it cannot be changed in function, therefore it can not be fixed?

Patrick

: Now that FIRST has made it clear that after shipping the first time, the robots cannot be redesigned or changed in function, I believe this has resulted in more openness of the machines than ever before. To be sure, the alliance factor is there, but we are still competing against all the other teams except the three we are with at the time.

: Just an observation.

: Mr Bill


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Re: No Change Rule Yields More Openness

Posted by Jake at 02/24/2001 11:47 PM EST


Student on team #365, Miracle Workerz, from Avon Grove High School and DuPont Engineering.


In Reply to: Re: No Change Rule Yields More Openness
Posted by Patrick Dingle on 02/24/2001 1:54 AM EST:



The rules say that no robot parts my be machined after March 20th. That is to say that you can't build a part for the robot until the first day of your reagional. After the first reagional, you have another 3 days to machine parts. It is basically the honor system. Whatever you make does not have to be in the crate with the robot, but whatever you put on the robot has to be compleated the day you ship the robot.

Another useful bit of information from the vast knowledge banks of~
~ Captain Jake


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What do you mean by "No Changes in function"?

Posted by Raul at 02/25/2001 2:43 AM EST


Engineer on team #111, Wildstang, from Rolling Meadows & Wheeling HS and Motorola.


In Reply to: No Change Rule Yields More Openness
Posted by Bill Beatty on 02/23/2001 11:32 PM EST:



Hey Bill,

Can you tell us where you read, heard or got that rule interpretation? As far as I could tell, you can do anything you want to add functionality with materials from the kit, Small Parts or Add'l HW list as long as you do your fabrication during the competition and up to Tuesday after each regional.

For example, during the practice day, I thought you could take some angle aluminum and make a simple arm that you did not have at the time of shipping to lower the bridge. As long as none of the components were pre-fabricated after your ship date, then you could just make the arm components and assemble them on site.

And what if you just shipped a running base with no arm on it but shipped a bunch of fabricated arm parts. You should certainly be allowed to assemble them at the competition.

Or what if you add traction to your wheels with some fasteners or something? Would not that be defined as changing functionality?

You see, it is very difficult to draw the line on where you limit changes to a robot.

The only clear cut answer I have heard from FIRST is that you simply cannot fabricate any parts to be used on the robot between the time you ship on Tuesday and when you get to your next competition. You cannot even make spare parts with the SAME functionality between shipping and the next competition.

Anyway that is the way I interpret it. Someone please refer me to the proper written rules if you know better.

Raul

: Now that FIRST has made it clear that after shipping the first time, the robots cannot be redesigned or changed in function, I believe this has resulted in more openness of the machines than ever before. To be sure, the alliance factor is there, but we are still competing against all the other teams except the three we are with at the time.

: Just an observation.

: Mr Bill


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Changes

Posted by Bill Beatty at 02/25/2001 12:57 PM EST


Other on team #71, Team Hammond, from Team Hammond.


In Reply to: What do you mean by "No Changes in function"?
Posted by Raul on 02/25/2001 2:43 AM EST:



Raul

Yes, I believe that this year it would clearly be a violation of the rules to add an arm that was not on the original robot after the end of the six week period. I didn't state my posting very well, so I will try again.

FIRST this year has made it very clear that you cannot add or significantly modify devices to a robot. They overkilled it with the original rules and softened their position with M19 in update #3. M19 allows making replacement parts and altering parts, not adding whole new systems that did not exist before. The last paragraph pretty much says it all. If your original arm did not work, you can modify it/strengthen it so it will function as intended, but there is no way it could be interrupted that you can add a whole new arm when there was not originally an arm.

BTW, I asked about engineering and detailing. It is my understanding that all work must stop, even engineering, detailing, and sketching.

Maybe I am missing something here, but I don't think so. Comments anyone?

Regards

Mr. Bill



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Re: Changes

Posted by P.J. Baker at 02/25/2001 2:24 PM EST


Engineer on team #177, Bobcat Robotics, from South Windsor High School and International Fuel Cells.


In Reply to: Changes
Posted by Bill Beatty on 02/25/2001 12:57 PM EST:



Bill & Raul,

Prior to rereading Update #3, I was with Raul and thought that you could make whatever you wanted at an event or until 5 p.m. on the Tuesday after. Now I'm not sure. The last paragraph of M19 reads:

"This rule is intended to allow teams to fabricate replacements for parts damaged or otherwise not functioning properly at an event. It is our hope that this will allow all teams to keep their robots functioning through a series of events. We will rely upon your gracious professionalism to not continue fabrication of new parts past the shipping deadlines."

It would seem that FIRST's intent is allow you to modify existing systems on your machine, but not to add new ones. So, adding and arm that was never there would be precluded. However, the phrase "not functioning properly" is open to interpretation. I would take it to mean that any system that was actually in the crate with you're machine last Tuesday at 5 could be COMPLETELY redesigned until 5 p.m. on the Tuesday after the event.

Any other thoughts on this rule?

P.J.
Team # 177


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I read it that changes are OK

Posted by Gary Bonner at 02/25/2001 8:56 PM EST


Other on team #433, Firebirds, from Mount Saint Joseph Academy and SCT Corp., FMC Corp..


In Reply to: Re: Changes
Posted by P.J. Baker on 02/25/2001 2:24 PM EST:



Has anyone queried FIRST on this? After re-reading Update 3, I still feel that Raul's interpretation is correct. The first paragraph of M19 states "...Teams wishing to fabricate additional parts may purchase off-the-shelf materials and bring them to the event site. Fabrication may resume after the team has checked-in at an event site on Thursday...." I think the last paragraph is referring to fabricating parts somewhere other than at a competition site.


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My heart is with Raul, but Bill's case is strong

Posted by Joe Johnson at 02/25/2001 9:46 PM EST


Engineer on team #47, Chief Delphi, from Pontiac Central High School and Delphi Automotive Systems.


In Reply to: I read it that changes are OK
Posted by Gary Bonner on 02/25/2001 8:56 PM EST:



Since I was planning on having about 2 weeks of drive
time for our robot, I didn't plan to need to add
anything to the robot this year, so I was not paying
particularly close attention.

But, as things have turned out, we had almost no
practice time, so this rule has become much more
interesting.

My original reading of the rules had me solidly in
Raul's camp, but Bill has made a very strong case that
I was wrong.

I don't know how this is going to work in principle but
it seems on its face that what you shipped is what you
play with. Only improvements and repairs, no wholesale
additions.

While on some level I can get behind this rule, on
another it seems that it could be very hard on some
teams.

In addition to Raul's cases, there are a lot more.

If engineering is to cease (as Bill argues), what about
programming? Can new program features be added?
Strict judges may say no.

Even changes that seem on their face to be improvements
can add functionality that was lacking before. For
example, a robot arm may not be intended to reset the
bridge, but with a different ratio, may do it just
fine. Would the ratio change be allowed if the purpose
was to perform a new task? Again, a strict judge may
say no.

I know that Bill and Brian Beatty have long been
advocates of the no-changes rule. I am on the fence.
While my team has made changes in the past (when they
were clearly allowed), on balance, my team is helped by
a no change rule (though perhaps not this year... time
will tell). But, I think that this rule could also
lock a lot of teams into a design that may make the
entire FIRST experience a miserable one.

I suppose I should end with a call for someone to get a
clear ruling from FIRST on this one.

Any takers?

Joe J.

P.S. I am taking a well deserved vacation day with my
family on Monday, or I would call myself.



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I intend to call FIRST

Posted by Raul at 02/25/2001 10:26 PM EST


Engineer on team #111, Wildstang, from Rolling Meadows & Wheeling HS and Motorola.


In Reply to: My heart is with Raul, but Bill's case is strong
Posted by Joe Johnson on 02/25/2001 9:46 PM EST:



Joe,

I was writing my other reply just as you were. So I did not see yours in time, but I already said I would call to clear this up.

And BTW, my interpretation really does not benefit our team since we have a unique design that I would prefer other teams not copy at this point. But I did have a big ball grabber accessory design that we did not finish fabricating in time and decided to finish it after the first regional. The purpose was in case there were many other rampbots or balancer that were clearly better than us. But, if Eric says I cannot do it, then we will simply be a rampbot or pull goals around - no big deal or loss. Yet if I would have made the same interpretation as Bill, I would have thrown in what we did have completed along with some non-functioning parts with the intention of making it work at the competition or before the next ship date.

I also agree with you that it will hurt some other teams, specially the rookies, quite a bit.

Raul


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More Clarification Needed

Posted by Bill Beatty at 02/26/2001 12:20 AM EST


Other on team #71, Team Hammond, from Team Hammond.


In Reply to: I intend to call FIRST
Posted by Raul on 02/25/2001 10:26 PM EST:



My opinion is also based on the original rules which did not allow any changes whatsoever. Sometime in the past, Dr. Joe raised the hypothetical question about a robot that was breaking parts and would not be able to correct the problem. It was this situation, I believe, that FIRST addressed with M19. Raul, hopefully Eric will post further clarification on this. My last Email question to him in this area just resulted in a referral to M19.

BTW, Joe I think you have to stop any work on your software until you are at your first regional. Certainly you cannot write anything down, and probably you shouldn't think about it either, but then again, you are going on vacation anyway.

Whatever the outcome, software or no, arm or no, I predict that both CD6 and Wildbridge will be running after lunch on Saturday.

Mr. Bill


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Re: More Clarification Needed

Posted by Raul at 02/26/2001 9:03 AM EST


Engineer on team #111, Wildstang, from Rolling Meadows & Wheeling HS and Motorola.


In Reply to: More Clarification Needed
Posted by Bill Beatty on 02/26/2001 12:20 AM EST:



Bill,

You make me laugh. Do you really expect Joe to stop thinking about software? You may as well ask him to stop breathing. Or ask him to stop saying ooga-ooga :-).

Raul

: BTW, Joe I think you have to stop any work on your software until you are at your first regional. Certainly you cannot write anything down, and probably you shouldn't think about it either, but then again, you are going on vacation anyway.



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My unofficial TEAM UPDATE from FIRST

Posted by Raul at 02/26/2001 1:19 PM EST


Engineer on team #111, Wildstang, from Rolling Meadows & Wheeling HS and Motorola.


In Reply to: More Clarification Needed
Posted by Bill Beatty on 02/26/2001 12:20 AM EST:



I spoke to Eric at FIRST a little while ago. I explained to him that we had a debate going on the CD website regarding M19. I asked him very specific questions to make sure there was no room for ambiguity (I took notes, but these are not exact quotes) :

Q: Are we allowed to manufacture any new devices during the competition as long as it is done on site with legal parts?
A: Yes, you can make any changes to your robot at anytime during the competition as long as it is on site and not at your hotel room or some other place like that.

Q: How about if it is a completely new function that you did not have before?
A: That is OK as long as you get it inspected after you add the new function. Small changes are OK without re-inspection – use your (GP) judgement to decide.

Q: Does that include making changes up to when you ship on Tuesday after your competition?
A: Yes, this is different from last year.

At this point, I explained to him that last year the rule allowed us the same but only during the competition. I explained that we brought parts with us to the MW regional and added a "wheelie bar" to our robot using aluminum extrusions and some delrin. He said yeah, that was OK.

Q: Are we allowed to continue to conceptualize, design, etc. between events so we can quickly make the changes when we get there.
A: Yes, the emphasis is on not fabricating parts; "we cannot turn peoples minds off" … "people cannot help to think about this even in their sleep". You can even create prototypes. We are aware that teams make a second robot to practice with and design improvements in the process. You are just not allowed to use any of the parts made between shipment and the competition on your competition robot.

Q: So are you allowed to practice making the changes ahead of time and then do the same procedure on site at the competition for a new function?
A: Yes, as long as you start with off the shelf materials.

Q: How about changing SW before we get to the competitions?
A: We cannot expect to regulate that, so we do not try. Again, the emphasis is on not fabricating parts.

Q: Will you be posting another team update to clarify this.
A: No, I am to busy getting the ready for the competitions at this point and although I see where M19 can be ambiguous, it is intended to only limit fabrication of parts after shipment.

So, that is what he said in effect. If you do not believe me (shame on you) then call him yourself. Don’t expect to get a reply via email – he is very busy it took me several tries to get a hold of him via phone. I think the only reason M19 is ambiguous is because it does not come right out and say that you can fabricate ANYTHING after the competition starts. And I don’t think there has ever been a rule to limit you from continuing to change your SW.

Raul



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Thanks Raul! (EOM)

Posted by P.J. Baker at 02/26/2001 1:27 PM EST


Engineer on team #177, Bobcat Robotics, from South Windsor High School and International Fuel Cells.


In Reply to: My unofficial TEAM UPDATE from FIRST
Posted by Raul on 02/26/2001 1:19 PM EST:



EOM=End of Message


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That settles it then...

Posted by Joe Johnson at 02/26/2001 4:51 PM EST


Engineer on team #47, Chief Delphi, from Pontiac Central High School and Delphi Automotive Systems.


In Reply to: My unofficial TEAM UPDATE from FIRST
Posted by Raul on 02/26/2001 1:19 PM EST:



I was just about to have a part of my brain removed and
put in a lock box when I read Raul's posting. The
surgeon was going to charge me overtime rates too,
realizing what a bind FIRST had put me in!

Ah well, his loss ;-)

Seriously though, I am very glad that FIRST has given a
clear anwser at the very least. Like it or not, at
least it is extremely clear.

Back to coding for me...

Joe J.



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Hooray.

Posted by Bill Beatty at 02/26/2001 9:57 PM EST


Other on team #71, Team Hammond, from Team Hammond.


In Reply to: My unofficial TEAM UPDATE from FIRST
Posted by Raul on 02/26/2001 1:19 PM EST:



I am surprised at the ruling, but really relieved that it has been cleared up. My last Email to Eric asked about continuing engineering and layouts after shipping and his reply was "See M19 in update #3". I am sure from his perspective, it was perfectly clear.

I know all of you are frustrated as I am when the rules are not clear. I have the utmost faith in the professional integrity of the vast majority of the folks I have met over the years of this competition. Good job Raul. I guess you just have to know how to ask the right questions.

Regards

Mr. Bill



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