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Unread 01-10-2008, 02:01 PM
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Any teams build two robots to practice with after build season. (6 weeks)

The title asks the question. But I know of some teams that have two robots which allows the drivers to keep practicing after the 6 week build period. Are any teams doing that this year?
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Unread 01-10-2008, 02:02 PM
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Re: Any teams build two robots to practice with after build season. (6 weeks)

We might. But it's not decided on quite yet -- We're worrying about the competition 'bot first.
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Unread 01-10-2008, 02:15 PM
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Re: Any teams build two robots to practice with after build season. (6 weeks)

based on the number of bearing blocks in their pic I suspect that 254 and 968 are this year just like last year.

I know that our team is planning on building two different drive train designs so that we can both decided which is best and so that we have another bot to practice against before ship.
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Unread 01-10-2008, 03:00 PM
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Re: Any teams build two robots to practice with after build season. (6 weeks)

I've been on three different teams - 201, 830, and now 121. Two of them (201 and 121) never have/had a second robot. One of them (830) built a second robot every single year.

The two biggest issues are cost of materials, and additional fabrication time. First, you have to buy every single part in duplicate, which can add up, even if you use (like we did) relatively inexpensive parts. If you have a decent budget, or work really hard to raise the money, it can be done, though.

The far bigger concern, though, is the amount of time and effort that it takes to build everything twice. You do get some efficiency and savings from doing the same thing twice, but it still takes about 75-80% of the man-hours to build the second 'bot. There are also a lot of repetitive tasks (16 pillow blocks for drive shafts!) that can be frustrating. Finally, the hardest thing ever is motivating your team to finish both robots by ship day. Two of the three years that I did it, the practice robot didn't get fully finished until after ship day. We just didn't have time to finish both in time to ship one, and once ship day was over, nobody wanted to put in time to finish the second!

This also has the insidious effect of making people think "hey, we don't need to finish the robot until right before ship - we have a practice 'bot to do driver practice". Needing that last few days or week to practice gives a great motivation to finish early. Plus, your programmers will thank you for that time

All this being said, it's been a lifesaver at times, and a handy thing to have at others. You get a chance to practice how to make all your parts before they go on the real thing, drivers who never got to drive their machine before ship day can get much-needed practice, and when something breaks at the end of your first regional, you have a copy back home to look at and get ideas for how to fix it (or test out parts you make in the Fix-it Window!)

So, my conclusion - there are some really good reasons for and against building a practice robot. If you've got lots of time, money, and manpower, you can really get some benefit from it. Otherwise, it can become a drain on all three. I may miss the benefits this year, but I think I'm glad I don't have to deal with the downsides, either.
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Unread 01-10-2008, 03:13 PM
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Re: Any teams build two robots to practice with after build season. (6 weeks)

Last year the TechnoKats finally carried through on the perpetual promise to build a duplicate practice robot. We've typically tried to build every major assembly in triplicate, making one for each 'bot plus a spare. 2007 was the first year we managed to put absolutely all of the pieces together for two substantially identical robots.

I hope the team decides to do it again this year. As the lead programming mentor, I was very happy to have a system to use for developing and testing software during the fix-it windows.
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Unread 01-10-2008, 04:02 PM
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Re: Any teams build two robots to practice with after build season. (6 weeks)

Team 228 is planning on building twin robots this year.
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Unread 01-10-2008, 04:14 PM
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Re: Any teams build two robots to practice with after build season. (6 weeks)

114 will be fixing the missing link in our chain, and that's driving. We're making two full robots. With the team we have lined up, expect to see something frightening from 114 out on the field, driven by folks who know their stuff.

The main reason we're making two this season is due to new man power, so we actually have enough people to make two. We've had the money for years, but never the manpower.
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Unread 01-10-2008, 05:45 PM
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Re: Any teams build two robots to practice with after build season. (6 weeks)

Our team is going to try to build two robots, we will see how it goes.

This is my first year involved in FRC as an adult adviser so I'm learning everything as I go. However, what I have been told is that, in the past, a few key senior guys tend to do most of the work and there are a whole bunch of other students kind of standing around.

If you build two robots at once, it seems to me, that you can institute a mentoring system so that a junior student is always mirroring what the senior student is building.

Of course this might make things take a bit longer but, then again, those seniors will all be gone next year and this kind of hands-on mentoring is absolutely required to leave the team in good shape for the next season.

Well, that was my thinking at least. We will see how it turns out.

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Unread 01-10-2008, 06:03 PM
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Re: Any teams build two robots to practice with after build season. (6 weeks)

We don't quite have the supplies for two bots. However, we're using a previous bot so our drivers can at least practice driving. This won't exactly help with maneuvering whatever arm we decide to use, but at least they'll have some familiarity with driving this year's robot.
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Unread 01-10-2008, 06:11 PM
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Re: Any teams build two robots to practice with after build season. (6 weeks)

1529 plans to make two 'bots in parallel - one for competition and one for prototyping and practicing. We've finally got the resources to do so. Hopefully it will pay off well in competition.
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Unread 01-10-2008, 07:46 PM
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Re: Any teams build two robots to practice with after build season. (6 weeks)

Team 195 started to build two robots last year for a couple of reasons

1. It allows our drivers to have much more time to practice and get more aquanted with the robot.

2. It allows us to teach the younger students how to machine products and it gets them much more involved in the program.

3. Having a second robot is just really cool.

This year we are definitley planning on building a second robot to help practice with this highly dirver centered game.
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Unread 01-10-2008, 08:58 PM
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Re: Any teams build two robots to practice with after build season. (6 weeks)

Yeah, the ÜberBots are planning to do that this year. We've done that for several years now, and it helps with figuring out if anything needs to be changed on the bot when you get to the regional, as well as driver skill from practicing- this is part of what helped us to win our regional last year.
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Unread 01-10-2008, 09:08 PM
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Question Re: Any teams build two robots to practice with after build season. (6 weeks)

It sounds like to me we need to have seperate regionals for teams that build two robots and teams that build 1 robot. I am curious if all of these teams building two robots actually have the students doing 80% or more of the work.
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Unread 01-10-2008, 09:31 PM
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Re: Any teams build two robots to practice with after build season. (6 weeks)

We will try again to build 2. We've done that now for about the last 5 years and it really helps the drivers practice and learn what the robot can do and what it can't do.
The main thing is to plan it out so you only set up the machines once when you cut, drill, or machine. While making both sets of parts we also make spares at the same time - same thought process - set up once, so your parts are more likely to be true duplicates.
And the students do 80% or more of the work, because we have so many parts to make - someone has to do the cutting, drilling, and machining so it might as well be them.
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Unread 01-10-2008, 10:00 PM
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Re: Any teams build two robots to practice with after build season. (6 weeks)

Our Team hasnt officially decided to build two of the same robots but we took a quickie vote and it was an overwhelming vote for building the 2nd.

We would stagger it so that our first Robot that actually gets shipped is still the highest quality possible but the extra practice will be valuable not to mention having a spare part for pretty much everything!
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