Go to Post Ha, our 2009 robot's nickname was Sparky, for the same reason...we now have EXTRA fire extinguishers because of it ;P - Karibou [more]
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Unread 05-16-2009, 01:54 PM
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Re: Did Lunacy really level the playing field?

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Originally Posted by Cory View Post
We spent very little time redesigning our drivetrain
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Originally Posted by waialua359 View Post
I just want to add for '09, that drivetrains didnt make the difference, but man, the orientation sure did.
These two statements, in the same thread, made me chuckle.

Anyways, as in past years, teams who figure out how to play the game effective, and build a robot that can do it, and learn to use that robot well, will end up doing very well. The game challenge changes each year, but there will always be teams that do better than others. It's not a problem.
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Unread 05-16-2009, 02:45 PM
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Re: Did Lunacy really level the playing field?

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Originally Posted by squirrel View Post
These two statements, in the same thread, made me chuckle.

Anyways, as in past years, teams who figure out how to play the game effective, and build a robot that can do it, and learn to use that robot well, will end up doing very well. The game challenge changes each year, but there will always be teams that do better than others. It's not a problem.
Now that Glenn brought that up, it reminds me that I forgot to mention this.

This was the one drivetrain related decision that did take a long time. We spent the entire first week debating long or wide. Ultimately we went with long because it made designing our ball handling system easier.
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Unread 05-16-2009, 02:47 PM
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Re: Did Lunacy really level the playing field?

A semi-related tangent based on some of the discussion on the last page about dumpers vs. shooters.

I was talking to some other mentors before Einstein started, and the general attitude among the group was "I wish I built a turreted shooter instead of a dumper." Granted, these were teams who were very capable of building shooters with high rates of fire (one of these teams did just that in 2006). But given the style of play, particularly in Atlanta, the ability to aim without repositioning your robot was very valuable. The amount of time it took orienting and lining up with some of the dumpers was a definite disadvantage, even if they had a slightly higher firing rate than the shooters.
After all, in many ways it's cycle time that matters, not just firing rate.
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Unread 05-16-2009, 03:18 PM
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Re: Did Lunacy really level the playing field?

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Originally Posted by Lil' Lavery View Post
A semi-related tangent based on some of the discussion on the last page about dumpers vs. shooters.

I was talking to some other mentors before Einstein started, and the general attitude among the group was "I wish I built a turreted shooter instead of a dumper." Granted, these were teams who were very capable of building shooters with high rates of fire (one of these teams did just that in 2006). But given the style of play, particularly in Atlanta, the ability to aim without repositioning your robot was very valuable. The amount of time it took orienting and lining up with some of the dumpers was a definite disadvantage, even if they had a slightly higher firing rate than the shooters.
After all, in many ways it's cycle time that matters, not just firing rate.
This was especially true for alliances that employed strategies based on field starvation - such as 217, 68, 247.

The goal was to maximize your own alloted 60 moonrocks, while giving as few away as possible to your opponents to score. Net scoring principles applied this year to full effect - a moonrock missed by your human player, dropped by your robot, then scooped by and converted by your opponent was a double whammy.

What to do? Human load moonrocks into reliable volume scorers, never let those moonrocks hit the ground, and have no more than one robot rely on scooping off the ground the entire match, make sure your HPs take only the highest % shots. Make sure that ground loader robot is fast, and can convert shots quickly, as if there are only 4-5 balls in the area, it can scoop them up and score them lightning fast. The hope is, there are few, if any moonrocks on the field, and you've starved your opponents of ammunition, while you in turn have converted their misses.

Not a complicated strategy, but wholly effective when executed right.

Two top loaded volume power dumpers, and a quick-cycle turreted shooter would've been the right mix to execute this gameplan - and those of us on Curie saw plenty of it.
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Unread 05-16-2009, 05:12 PM
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Re: Did Lunacy really level the playing field?

I also have to say that we spend a lot of time debating wide or long. We had several pages of notes on the pros and cons of both orientations, but in the end we decided that long was better for two reasons... 1) Made ball manipulation easier 2) It allowed us to squeeze through tight gaps to get to our target.

If we had to make the decision again, I'm not sure that we would have changed our orientation.

Overall Lunacy did not level the playing field...

I think in terms of designing this game made it easier on veteran teams. As Cory stated in his first post, there wasn't nearly as much time put into the drivetrain design as there were in previous years. All we did was redesign Tough Boxes to fit with our 'West Coast Drive'. Really by mid week 2 our drivetrain out of the design phase and into the fabrication phase. This left us with a lot of time to work out the finer details of our ball manipulation systems. By the end of week 4 we already had both superstructures welded (and one Powder Coated) and had started running balls through them. The first few iterations were NOT pretty and far from where they are now. However, having all of week 5 and most of week 6 to refine the superstructures was a big part of why we had the success we did.

Having a second robot to practice with was HUGE. I cannot stress this enough. Going into our first competition with ~40 hours of practice time in was huge. Not only did our driver already know how to drive on the FRP, but our driver and operator had already been working on how to stalk and attack trailers. Our operator knew when it was okay to let loose on a trailer and when not to.

On top of this after San Diego we went back and refined our strategies and design. We put our drive team through the ringer, putting them in pinning situations and then forcing them to have to work throughit and get out of it. While they were practicing trying to score in trailers, we'd have another robot coming up and pushing them out of the way.

We did the same thing after Las Vegas. We would refine the design, play matches, create and play through scenarios.

Lunacy did have glaring flaws though that gave it the perception that it was 'leveling the playing field'
1) Too much reliance on alliance partners
2) Too much freedom for human players
3) Lack of pinning rule or vehicle for pinned robots to get out of a pin

I don't think these game features were put in to intentionally 'level the playing field' but instead these were overlooked by the GDC and once announced at kick-off they would have been too drastic of changes to implement in an update or Q&A.
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Unread 05-17-2009, 02:33 PM
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Re: Did Lunacy really level the playing field?

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Originally Posted by Jon Jack View Post
3) Lack of pinning rule or vehicle for pinned robots to get out of a pin
I don't know how it worked for robots like your narrow body, but with a wide body you can get out. It might take more time than you have to be stuck in one spot, but you can eventually spin out using the carpet on the edge. And if you had crab, you really were not pinnable as you could always just drive away using the carpet. (Of course, this all assumes one robot is trying to pin you. If it's a two on one, game over.)
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Unread 05-17-2009, 03:23 PM
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Re: Did Lunacy really level the playing field?

The reason that there was a rim of carpet around the field was to get out of pins. Robots could be designed to get out of pins (stuff like swerve and a generally powerful drivetrain helps, which indeed did benefit the veterans who had them, but even that wasn't necessary and some veterans dropped swerve this year). Pinning was an issue that the GDC couldn't make more obvious was going to be a big part of the game, and teams that designed robots and strategies to get around rudimentary defense would win, big.

I don't see how relying on your alliance partners is a flaw for this competition at all. It's a team event intentionally; picking your team correctly is the difference between being a winning team and having a quality alliance upset in Round 1.
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Unread 05-17-2009, 05:47 PM
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Re: Did Lunacy really level the playing field?

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Originally Posted by Chris is me View Post
The reason that there was a rim of carpet around the field was to get out of pins. Robots could be designed to get out of pins (stuff like swerve and a generally powerful drivetrain helps, which indeed did benefit the veterans who had them, but even that wasn't necessary and some veterans dropped swerve this year). Pinning was an issue that the GDC couldn't make more obvious was going to be a big part of the game, and teams that designed robots and strategies to get around rudimentary defense would win, big.

I don't see how relying on your alliance partners is a flaw for this competition at all. It's a team event intentionally; picking your team correctly is the difference between being a winning team and having a quality alliance upset in Round 1.
18" of carpet is not enough carpet to give a pinned team any kind of traction advantage. Look at how many 'shut down' pins there were this year. It's not like the drivers just simply let go of the controls and said 'oh well, we're done'.

Really, there was only so much torque you could put into these wheels before you slipped (Here is a simple lesson on why). So I don't know how much having a 'powerful drivetrain' helped. Having a swerve didn't help that much with pinning either. I've seen several swerve drives get shoved in a corner and shut down. The one thing a swerve did help with was strafing left and right to follow a goal or break from a potential pin before the pin occurs (exampe, 111, 1717).

When it comes to relying on alliance partners, I was referring to qualification matches (the elims are a different situation). This is a team sport, alliances need to work together. However having a partner no-show or die in the middle of the match should never seal a victory for the other alliance. I've lost track of how many matches I've watched with no-show/dead robots this year. Out of those matches I saw two, maybe three matches all year where the under-manned alliance pulled off a victory.
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Unread 05-17-2009, 05:51 PM
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Re: Did Lunacy really level the playing field?

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Originally Posted by Jon Jack View Post
18" of carpet is not enough carpet to give a pinned team any kind of traction advantage. Look at how many 'shut down' pins there were this year. It's not like the drivers just simply let go of the controls and said 'oh well, we're done'.

Really, there was only so much torque you could put into these wheels before you slipped (Here is a simple lesson on why). So I don't know how much having a 'powerful drivetrain' helped. Having a swerve didn't help that much with pinning either. I've seen several swerve drives get shoved in a corner and shut down. The one thing a swerve did help with was strafing left and right to follow a goal or break from a potential pin before the pin occurs (exampe, 111, 1717).

When it comes to relying on alliance partners, I was referring to qualification matches (the elims are a different situation). This is a team sport, alliances need to work together. However having a partner no-show or die in the middle of the match should never seal a victory for the other alliance. I've lost track of how many matches I've watched with no-show/dead robots this year. Out of those matches I saw two, maybe three matches all year where the under-manned alliance pulled off a victory.
I believe Jon hit the nail on the head with this. Even Beatty and WildStang had some trouble maneuvering around GOOD opponents.
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Unread 05-17-2009, 06:48 PM
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Re: Did Lunacy really level the playing field?

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The gap is not all that big in the first place. Since 2005 and the advent of the then IFI kitbot (Now AndyMark), the gap was narrowed dramatically. For those who were not around prior to 2005, the kitbot was a complete joke. It was nearly useless. This meant teams all but had to make a custom base/drive train. Many teams failed. I'd estimate that perhaps 20% or more of the teams could not drive reliably. Post 2005, everyone can have a reliable, robust base driving in under a week (and normally 2-3 days). Immobile robots are far less common now.

The introduction of AndyMark products in 2005 narrowed the gap even more. You wanted a shifting transmission prior to 2005? Well you had two options. Option one-use the drill motor transmissions that came in the kit and shift them with a servo. These were not shift on the fly. Option two-design, build, and test your own custom shifting transmission. Both of these options were labor intensive and were not trivial. Many teams who tried option number one couldn't do it reliably. Option number two was a LOT of work.

Along comes AndyMark in 2005. Suddenly anyone with $700 to spend can buy reliable two speed shift on the fly gearboxes for their robot. Now two speed robots are the norm, not the exception. Teams who normally made custom shifting transmissions can now use some COTS components to lessen the labor involved, or purchase the entire assembly to focus on other components of the robot.
I wasn't going to comment on this before, but why not.

973 wasn't a "have" team at the end of last season, and we decided we weren't happy about that.

Did we sit around keeping everything the same, the only action we take being complaining about large corporate teams and waiting for a sponsor to fall on us? No, we hit the pavement hard, in all aspects. We raised more money this season than any other, and with the exception of a NASA grant, actually LOST many of our main large sponsors (Big thanks to Laron for sticking around). We threw all conventional wisdom on the team out the window, and replaced with hard work and a focus on continuous improvement.

Our shop is one of the smallest (and leakiest) I have ever seen teams work in, our machine tools are extremely temperamental (and I think we actually lost more time with their temperamentalness than any progress we made with them), our neighborhood is poor and agricultural, our team is small, etc...

We used a lot of the money we raised to buy nicer tools and equipment (not machine tools, that's later on the list), and plan on continuing this process. We have some of the nice things the "haves" have, but our goal is to eventually have all of it.

We also started stressing that you have to do all the little jobs right for the big picture to add up, and the quote in Akash's sig from Paul Copioli sums that up great;

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So, if you feel your team is at a disadvantage, or the playing field isn't level.... Do something about it.
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Unread 05-17-2009, 06:49 PM
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Re: Did Lunacy really level the playing field?

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Originally Posted by Jon Jack View Post
18" of carpet is not enough carpet to give a pinned team any kind of traction advantage. Look at how many 'shut down' pins there were this year. It's not like the drivers just simply let go of the controls and said 'oh well, we're done'.
That depends on how you get pinned. If you get pinned into one of the alliance station foam pads, you are stuck there until an alliance partner peels off the pinner. However, in the middle along the sides 18" is plenty of carpet to keep from being pinned. If you are sitting at one of the ends of the field you are just asking for trouble.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Akash Rastogi
Even Beatty and WildStang had some trouble maneuvering around GOOD opponents.
Maneuvering in the open field and maneuvering out of pins are two completely different situations.
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Unread 05-17-2009, 06:50 PM
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Re: Did Lunacy really level the playing field?

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That depends on how you get pinned. If you get pinned into one of the alliance station foam pads, you are stuck there until an alliance partner peels off the pinner. However, in the middle along the sides 18" is plenty of carpet to keep from being pinned. If you are sitting at one of the ends of the field you are just asking for trouble.



Maneuvering in the open field and maneuvering out of pins are two completely different situations.
eh, when you talk about two robots pinning one, they can do it anywhere they feel like it; carpet doesn't help a bit.
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Unread 05-17-2009, 07:00 PM
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Re: Did Lunacy really level the playing field?

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eh, when you talk about two robots pinning one, they can do it anywhere they feel like it; carpet doesn't help a bit.
In no situation was I referring to a two on one. You are correct, if they play it right two robots will be able to pin another robot for a whole match. However, now it's their third robot against your two alliance partners. It will not usually be a winning strategy to double pin any robot, unless it is a qualifying match where there is clearly only one scoring robot on a particular alliance.
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Unread 05-17-2009, 07:01 PM
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Re: Did Lunacy really level the playing field?

But if you have two robots on one, then you have two robots able to score versus one scorer, with two completely free targets to get hit by HPs and robots, there's a bit of risk and reward to that strategy. 2 on 1 pins were rarely beneficial for an alliance, unless each alliance basically only had one good scorer.

Shaun beat me to it.
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Unread 05-17-2009, 07:03 PM
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Re: Did Lunacy really level the playing field?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris is me View Post
But if you have two robots on one, then you have two robots able to score versus one scorer, with two completely free targets to get hit by HPs and robots, there's a bit of risk and reward to that strategy. 2 on 1 pins were rarely beneficial for an alliance, unless each alliance basically only had one good scorer.

Shaun beat me to it.
1717 used it very effectively against us in the galileo semis. They would pin and score, and 2775 would finish off the pin. game over for us.
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