View Full Version : Lessons learned 2005: The positive

Koko Ed
04-25-2005, 11:41 AM
So what did FIRST do well this year?

Beth Sweet
04-25-2005, 11:47 AM
I was very impressed this year at FIRST's ability to change things during the year when they discovered that there was an issue. I remember that they changed a rule when they found it to be a problem, and they also made it so that there was a shield over the drivers' heads at Championships (I was getting nervous at regionals).

FIRST also had very good communication this year, sending out all information in a timely matter. They responded well to plights voiced on these forums and at Kickoff provided everyone a place to go (here!) to share successes, frustrations, and overall FIRST gab.

I think FIRST did fantastic this year. Give yourselves a pat on the back y'all, job well done.

Koko Ed
04-25-2005, 12:01 PM
Besides giving us a spectacular exciting game I was pleased with..
- The kitbot which helped so many teams out.
- I want to give a bigtime shout out to Andymark Inc. for their great motors. They were a huge help.
-I like the new location of the pits. Much better flow for the spectators.
- The afterparty was good. It's not FIRSTs fault that the weather was cold.
- I like the intergration of the Vex and Lego league competitions with the FRC.
- The Hall of Fame was much more visable this year.

Allison K
04-25-2005, 01:57 PM
(The negative thread was getting much too long. We must overcome it)
Listed in no particular order.

- The kitbot really helped out a lot of teams, and enabled them to focus resources (time and money) on manipulation
- I liked how the battery wasn't included in the weight limit
- Both regionals I went to (Pittsburg and Detroit) I thought that the inspection process went quite well.
- The game in general.
- It seemed as if the behind the scenes stuff was more organized than last year. (Example, I didn't hear nearly as many teams this year that had missing kit parts)
- Didn't get firsthand experience with this, but it sounds as if Wednesday uncrating went well.


04-25-2005, 02:05 PM
I had a great time at Atlanta. I really enjoyed the entire venue.
I liked...
- The 2 practices fields...could we have one practice field for each division next time? Lots of teams could have used more programming/tweaking time.
- Overhead protection for our drivers (great idea!)...we almost hit our own drivers with our own out of control bot at one of the regionals :-)
- Lego. Two years in FRC and this was my first time to see Lego competitions. Enjoyed meeting teams from Norway, Germany, Alaska (is that a US state?), etc.
- VEX was really cool! Students and adults enjoyed winning T-shirts, hats, and driving those little bots. I am ready to start some robot clubs with these little guys.
- Judging...really nice people..qualified to judge and interested in robotics
- Volunteers...very gracious and kind
- 320 FRC teams...all cool and different. My wife spoke to all of the teams about their stories, teams, she related several of them to me. Keep it up.
- Team buttons...we collected nearly 140 of them...gonna create a robot wall for my family...really neat.
- It wasn't too bad walking between pits and stadium. Last year it seemed to take a lot longer to walk around...am I remembering correctly?
- Patent and Trademark Office speech...good reminder that we should protect our intellectual property rights...Google speech made us speculate on cool ideas to make us that first 'million'..
- Woody's smile. Always gracious and friendly...kids really dig him.
- The end of Dean's speech :-) He was thought provoking in stating that the next great thing in 10 years probably hasn't been thought of yet...any of us have a chance.
- Team 342. Our students worked very hard from setting up our elaborate pit, competing, talking to judges, strategyzing with other teams...made me very proud to be part of this team.
- Team 342 mentors...you guys are so cool! You know how to mentor and encourage kids to get excited about all of this...without it seeming like such a chore.
- Our sponsors for providing $$$ for us to travel to 3 competitions this year.


Kevin Sevcik
04-25-2005, 02:09 PM
I haven't come up with much that hasn't been mentioned, but:

- Fix-It-Window and the spare parts rules. Probably not perfect, but definitely a large step in the right direction towards levelling the playing field and making things make sense.

- Four CIMs and no drills. They're a little harder to use, but no more exploding Bosch trannies.

- Significantly less kit problems this year.

- Nifty IRI Breaker Panel. Definitely useful when diagnosing problems. Next year a serial interface to find out which breaker tripped and it's even better.

Can't think of anything else at the moment, but I'm sure it'll come to me.

04-25-2005, 02:42 PM
Among many other things positive, I thought it was benficial that Aidan posted a "championship ref question" thread in moderated section. I think that should be done in the future as well, and hopefully more people will take advantage of it.
However, though I was told by one ref that all the fields would announce the answers to these questions, we didn't hear any rule announcements or clarifications on Newton. I'm not sure if they went over it in opening ceremonies either, or even fully answering them in the drivers meeting, but it would be helpful to let the audience know the resolutions to the controversial and highly discussed issues.

A few other things:
-The spectator walk in Atlanta was much better than last year, so hopefully the pits can remain in that building.
-The wrap-up party was good, too bad the weather wasn't great.
-Seeing Andy Baker and Paul Copioli duking it out in the jousting balloon, and Paul's feet in the air as he gets bounced out.
-Implementing the driver station barrier in Atlanta. I hope that FIRST will continue to listen to the team suggestions and concerns.
-Allowing Wed nite uncrate to help ease Thurs morning stress. If this is going to be done in future years, let teams know early in the season so they can make travel arrangements accordingly if necessary (though I'm not exactly sure when it came out this year).
-Music at competitions seemed to have more variety than previous years.

Andy Baker
04-25-2005, 02:46 PM
There are soooo many good things that happened this year. Although this list is long, there are many more.

Kit gearbox, 2 provided to each team (effort led by Paul Copioli & IFI)
Kit frame, 1 provided in each kit (effort led by JVN & IFI)
IFI Distribution panel - awesome addition
More freedom of additional materials to design robots
Defining what an approved "VENDOR" for a FIRST team was (aka the AndyMark issue)
The addition of 5 excellent new regionals, with a new favorite regional of mine being the Boilermaker Regional
The fact that FIRST Game Design Committe stuck to their guns on the penalties and made teams play more offense by limiting defensive strategies
The addition of the driver station roof at the Championship was excellent.
The fact that enough people volunteered to help run each event, for a game that demanded many volunteers (more referees needed, more field reset, etc.)
A great game that did not include balls
A vertical game that awarded teams who could design more than just a drivebase
The electrical hardware system for the field is better than ever
The robot inspection checksheet, process, and equipment are better than ever
The new sponsor banners at the Championships were very good
Lighting at the Championship event, especially for the opening ceremonies and the finals were very good, providing a much more professional appearance.
The introduction of VEX Robotics to the FIRST community was good
The pit layout in the Georgia Dome Convention Center was great, especially our pit location :)
The increased attention for the Championship Conference Sessions
The fact that 3 great teams of purely admireable people won the FRC Championships
The fact that although many of us disagree on specifics of how FIRST should conduct events, design a game, and facilitate as much fairness between teams as possible, in the end we still greatly enjoy each other's passion for FIRST and provide genuine respect for each other

There are many more... too much for just one post.

Andy B.

04-25-2005, 02:55 PM
- Much shorter walk to the pits from the stadium
- No food tickets!
- Cool FIRST store stuff
- Uncrating Wed. night
- I saw the FLL stuff this year, which is good (though I didn't get a chance to really look at it too closely - but hey thats my fault not theirs)
- Driver's Meeting Forum thing - it was a step in the right direction, I guess FIRST can't help it if people ask really specific questions that are very "what if" situations.
- Screens for each division in the pits seemed to be in better spots
- Practice fields were awesome! (Maybe we can use radios on them next year? :yikes: )

Doc Wu
04-25-2005, 02:59 PM
Let me preface this by saying this was only my second FIRST Championships, so I can't compare it to anything before Atlanta...

As always, I found the volunteers to be exceptional. They, in my experience, have always been pleasant and a pleasure to deal with. Every one seemed to be really enjoying being a part of the Championships and would help out however they could and if they couldn't, were genuinely sorry and seemed disappointed.

Some of the nicest people I've met at the competitions are the people doing the queuing for the matches. After you go through a few times they seem to be like old friends.

It was also nice to see some of the same volunteers we met a regionals again.

04-25-2005, 03:29 PM
There were lots of positive things
-Each division had a screen to watch matches, I loved it since I had to stay in the pits
-The pits were ginormus
-Every thing was so easy to find
-Food was much easier to get this year
- VEX and FLL were amazing
-The volunteers were awesome once again
I cant think of all the great things right now, but I struggle to think of many bad things.

Emily Pease
04-25-2005, 03:46 PM
The negatives thread is getting pretty lengthy! Here are some positives to try to even it out a little:

- I was SO excited to see Larry Page! I am in love with all things Google and check the Google Labs website at least a few times a week.

- Dean Kamen had an interesting speech. My boyfriend is an International Studies major and after Mr. Kamen's speech, we had a great discussion about outsourcing and how, after time, it actually could make the world a better place. Very interesting.

- The afterparty was really fun, and I liked the food! Too bad the weather didn't cooperate!

- The volunteers were so helpful and friendly!

- I loved the Lego League kids, and I was so encouraged by the huge range of nations represented! I especially loved the outfits of the Japan team and the S. Korean team!

- The Vex setup was great, and I thought the miniature version of last year's game was way too cute for words. Is that weird?

- I was relieved to notice that there were relatively few noisemakers. At the Manchester regional, I was mostly headache-ridden due to the drums and horns and other loud noisemakers.

- There are plenty more good things from this event, but I can't think of them all!

04-25-2005, 06:27 PM
I loved how FIRST reacted this year to folks, especially when they had well-thought issues. Like the loading zones for human players--folks were having real issues doing the job safely, so FIRST decided not to be a slave to style and made that 36" triangle a 48" box. And we had far fewer penalties for it.

After the first week of regionals, IIRC, the refs were saying that trying to remember non-counting tetras (because of loading zones) was a pain in the butt. So that part was deleted, and the game didn't fly to pieces.

Then there was the rash of capping incidents--drivers, not goals. Refs sorted it out at the regionals, FIRST handled it for the Championship with those oh-so-fine guards. (Although I guess the bars themselves should've been secured a bit better--there was that one match on Curie where the bars came crashing down.)

Finally, that last group of team updates, where FIRST explained the rationale behind each revision. To whoever writes the team updates, THANK YOU!

And I, too, loved the new robot stuff. The kit gearboxes saved the world from another window motor drivetrain, the IFI breaker panel was nice and easy to mount (anyone else note that it had the same hole pattern as the RC?), and the four CIM motors is heavenly--and hopefully enough to inspire teams to take the plunge and try an omni or swerve setup.

04-25-2005, 06:27 PM
I do have to say there were some good things.
-Getting my FIRST segway ride...it was awesome.
-The Omni Hotel was pretty nice...I liked having a massive food court near by and being so close to the GWCC and Dome.
-The pits themselved were also layed out nicely...good amountwalking room and such.
-Having a practice field, but I didn't like not bieng able to use a radio...my team didn't have a really long tether so we were limited on what we could try to work out on the PF.

04-25-2005, 06:54 PM
I've been inspiered to try to get a FLL of Jr.FLL started in Enfield, we used to have a FLL team at the middle school, but it got dropped. After seeing the FLL competition, it made me want to get involved. So I'm hoping things will go through and work.

Ryan Dognaux
04-25-2005, 11:22 PM
- The walk for students between the pits and the fields were shorter this year. Only one set of escalators, much better than last year's set up!
- The VEX set up was really cool. If I had the spare cash, I'd go out and buy one.
- Pits were nice and organized, and just seemed more open this year for some reason.
- The Georgia Dome staff enjoyed the Scott Ritchie head :]

Chris Fultz
04-25-2005, 11:28 PM
(Although I guess the bars themselves should've been secured a bit better--there was that one match on Curie where the bars came crashing down.)

I learned that "Big Mike" won't ever let you forget some things.....

04-26-2005, 12:04 AM
(Although I guess the bars themselves should've been secured a bit better--there was that one match on Curie where the bars came crashing down.)

As a side note, they actually seemed fairly well secured to me. The bars appeared to be welded to the framework which was then ziptied to the structural pieces extending outward from the player station.

I expected the zip tied part to fail, but the welded rods actually were ripped off.

talk about freak accidents... the drivers would have been more safe had the bars not been there at all.

04-26-2005, 12:15 AM
First off, I'd just like to say that the whole "Triple Play" game was phenomenal. There were so many things about the game that made it so intense watching. The Pit Area was awesome, and the proximity of the pit to the dome was very convienient. The whole Atlanta area was very convienient, with hotels walking-distance from the dome, the CNN center right across the street, closed roads, everything. It was a very good location. And well, the people were awesome, and it was just so fun, thats just about all I could think off the top of my head.

Joe Ross
04-26-2005, 03:59 AM
4 identical motors completely opened up the drivetrain possiblities.
The gear tooth sensors were cheap and reliable and a great addition to the kit.
The announcer (at least on Newton) telling teams the battery was low or robot turned off, etc was embarassing, but very helpful for debugging.
The banked radios were great.
All members of the alliances in the eliminations were equal, you never had 1 team that would have to sit out and feel like a lesser member.
Simple is better, ie KISS.

BTW, if you want a long tether, cheap, e-mail sanddrag (see his signature). We have 2.

04-26-2005, 07:12 AM
I agree with many who have posted before me.
The kit bot really gave every team a chance to be competitive.
The 3 Vs 3, in the beginning when the game came out I thought that would be a nightmare, with overcrowding in the loading area and too many robots on one field but FIRST pulled it off with hardly any problems.

Greg Young
04-26-2005, 12:17 PM
These things have all been said before, but I'll say them again for emphasis.

The kit, especially the kit transmission and kit frame. We used them, we liked them, and they stood up to the test. The designers for both did an awesome job.

The pits at Championships were very good.

The walk from the pits to the field for spectators at Championships was much better. The multiple escalators were choke points last year. The walk from the pits to Starbucks was too long, but I can live with that.

Two practice fields in the pits was great.

FLL pits next to the FRC pits. I managed to see some of the FLL pits and practice fields this year.

The roof over the driver stations was a badly needed addition.

The "why are we making this change" section that showed up in the later team updates. This was a great addition to the updates and should be continued.

04-26-2005, 05:50 PM
The food court next to the pits was great in terms of selection and had reasonable prices and distance. You didn't have to go all the way to the Dome.

Having the competition near a MARTA station is convenient, though they should have opened Gate D. 330 took the hotel shuttle to the airport, then rode MARTA to the Dome station and headed up. Lots of fun.

04-26-2005, 05:59 PM
As our team videographer I was overjoyed when our team leader gave me a Media Pass to allow me access to the floor. I was able to get close to the action while hopefully staying out of everybody's way. Just about everybody that had the pass got closer to the field when their team was out there to get some great shots. They then respected other teams as I did, and moved all the way back to the base of the stands when their team was not competing. It did get a little crowded during the QF & SF but that is expected.

Some people used tripods even when they moved up close but I felt that it was not safe to have one so near the field just so I could get a steady shot. Perhaps a referee, official First camera person or another media person might trip over it. I think the volunteer officials did a great job allowing us to get close enough but not too close as to inhibit their movements.

banztito said
First off, I'd just like to say that the whole "Triple Play" game was phenomenal. There were so many things about the game that made it so intense watching. The Pit Area was awesome, and the proximity of the pit to the dome was very convienient. The whole Atlanta area was very convienient, with hotels walking-distance from the dome, the CNN center right across the street, closed roads, everything. It was a very good location. And well, the people were awesome, and it was just so fun.
Thanks for your comments. Obviously I am happy to have the Championship's close to my home! I think that most will agree that there were improvements made this year and hopefully will continue being made next year.


04-27-2005, 12:18 PM
bringing Larry Page and other great ppl to the championshp event to give speaches.. . for me, seeing larry page was quite an inspiration!

also the wrap up party was AWSOME.. but .. bad weather (as someone stated). it was really fun..

04-27-2005, 12:49 PM
-The kit was great this year
+ Two Gearboxes (Thanks Paul)
+A Good Frame
+4 CIM Motors
+The Camera (even though not all teams got it to work it was still a good addition, and should be included in the future)

-The Head Ref at NAT'S did a great job of telling everybody in the drivers meeting what he expected of all competitors and from all of the Field Refs and crew, There should be a Q/A Forum at all of the regionals this will clear up a lot of confusion.

-The drivers station over head protection (despite the fact that it broke on Curie during one of our matches) was a great idea and should have been there from the start.

-Great game overall, that allowed bots of all different types to be competitive.

-the walk from the pits was a lot better this year

-the Hall of Fame Looked great

-the social would have been better if not for the weather (don't get me wrong it was still a blast)

-Having the Antenna stationary instead of attached to the OI is great!!!

-no battery in the weight limit.

-Addressing Flop Down Robots in an update

-Dean's Speech Made me want to go invent something

-Seeing Dave Lavery drive by me at 8:00 in the morning driving a Segway with one hand, holding 2 boxes of krispy Kremes in the other. :yikes:

-The Finger Lakes Regional

Mark Pierce
04-28-2005, 01:20 PM
As promised when I wrote in that other thread (which is way too long) here are some additions and reiterations of the great improvements and successes this year.

I should start by saying I agree with almost everything said so far. Andy's list is a great, concise list of my top items I started with when thinking about what to say here.

I liked:

--- the game structures and pieces. Easy for teams to make and easy to move, store and use.
--- The kit of parts: transmission, frame, electronics, other goodies best ever!
--- the emphasis on offense, what defense that was played did not destroy our robot as in previous years.
--- Improved communication, especially in the regular, scheduled updates and the e-mail blasts, and the animation and kickoff video being available almost immediately. Still room for improvement, but a big leap forward this year.
--- New robot rules, especially electronics and vendors. Common sense guidelines help a lot...
--- More autonomous action with the help of some good code samples. Better than previous years..
--- Three versus Three. It provided our scouting team a chance to really show their worth. Watching robots became much more important than watching match results.
--- Both Great Lakes and West Michigan regionals seemed better, mainly in lots of subtle ways that are hard to specify.. I'm glad the Boilermaker regional was a success, but we missed you guys. Save room for us next year please!
--- Atlanta. We missed going last year, but had a great time this year. Overall experience was outstanding, I personally would say better than my last year in Florida (2000) or Houston.
--- Awards in the opening ceremony and mixed in with the finals at the Championship. I remember the long ceremonies of the past. However, please let us know what to expect. We were surprised to see the awards given out Friday morning.
--- Amazing teams on the field and off. Even older teams seem better than ever.
--- Amazing rookies. They came up with competitive robots and whose off field activities challenge some of us veterans to do better.
--- Team 141 moving the Lego League competition they sponsor to our location and asking us to help. It was an awesome experience.
--- Our seniors, some of whom started with the team with me as freshmen, who made this year such a success. We are losing 50% of our students! Fear not, we've got great underclassman and recruiting is going great.
--- The volunteers and sponsors who make all of this possible. I can't begin to thank them enough, but I did see lots of improvements in volunteers knowing their tasks and being helpful at several events. I also see a wider base of support at our regionals.

Is there room for improvement? Of course! "Continuous Improvement" is not a buzz phrase invented by corporate cheerleaders, it's a way of life for technical people. So keep the criticism constructive, praise the things that get better, and figure out how to do as much as we can to help all of us improve! The FIRST organization and volunteers have certainly shown us how to do that this year.

04-28-2005, 09:27 PM
since i could not decide whether to put this is the + or - thread i decided to put it in this one since it was shorter. It is not a positive as much as it is a possible improvement.

The Programs- The booklets FIRST hands out all the regionals and championships could use some improvement. I like the layout and the comments from sponsoring corportations but the amound avalible is scarse. I know that it costs a lot to produce them and takes time to produce but for teams such a mine (a very late addition to teams attendign due to a regional win) beign left out of the program is a small dissapointment.

A way to rememdy this is a make an online version avalible, not only will all the latest additions be included but FIRST does not need to worry about if they printed enough. And always a plus is more people will see the sponsor advertisements

04-28-2005, 09:41 PM
Must. Beat. Dead. Horse...

But it's worth adding because these were GREAT things...

- kit frame
- kit transmission
- unique sensors
- great GREAT game
- changing the bot size was cool
- FIRST really seemed to listen to people this year
- Everything seemed to go very smooth
- FIRST didn't back down on rules (cough-2002 teathers-cough)
- And so many other things... best year in my 4 years.

And, the coolest thing this year...

The VEX rollout, in my opinion, is going VERY well. Finally I can believe that robotics could make it to every high school in the viewing area.

04-28-2005, 09:56 PM
The announcer (at least on Newton) telling teams the battery was low or robot turned off, etc was embarassing, but very helpful for debugging.

That was Corey Chitwood from IFI. He helped us with camera and RC problems during build season.

-This was our first championship competition but it was great. The screens with the live matches and live standings were great (and we could see them from our pit).
-The practice fields were great for teams that were having mechanical or programming problems, but they would be better if we could use the radios? I think this year they were a safe distance from the dome and the real games.
-The media pass and passes for extra members during eliminations were great!

04-30-2005, 03:25 AM
One lesson learned is that you don't have to win your division or finals to have a great time! Our robot was well built and a lot of fun to watch. It just did not perform as well in some matches as others. I feel we still succeeded in the competition as we can sure answer YES to all 3 of the questions below. :)

One of our team mentors, Jeremy Roberts, CD forum member and the chair of the Peachtree Regional planning committee, asked 3 questions of everyone at the end of The Peachtree Regional. He said if you can answer YES to any of these questions you have succeeded here today!
Did you fix something that broke on your robot?
Did you make a mistake and learn from it?
Did you build a robot that you are proud of?

The parents and instructors of team #1002 are proud of our team and their accomplishments!


04-30-2005, 01:56 PM
I enjoyed having 6 robots on the field. It was so exciting to see all 6 robots just capping away.

05-02-2005, 11:57 AM
VEX! . . . iwould have to say doing that really helped, cuz i know they promised EDU bot challenges at regionals,, but that was very shim shod.. the regionals i went to didn;t have it .. etc.. and some ppl were let down.. but by having a REAL comp for edu bots.. tahts awsome :D

Doc Wu
05-09-2005, 08:53 PM
bringing Larry Page and other great ppl to the championshp event to give speaches.. . for me, seeing larry page was quite an inspiration!

Seeing Steve Wozniak as one of the judges was pretty cool too...

Liz C
05-09-2005, 09:55 PM
Basically, I just liked the game: It was innovatively challenging, which created an adrenaline boost before each and every match, even when we were just watching. Each detail to the game presented an intricate, yet obviously feasible task. Whether we liked it or not, we were forced to think on our feet like never before, which seemed to be the intention of FIRST. So kudos to them!

Alex Burman
05-09-2005, 10:14 PM
I got a new perception as to how fast first was in all its glory

how wonderful all the teams are (especial 365 and 433 :) )

what it takes to run with the big boys

the need of people roaming the pits (thats where i came in)

Shu Song
05-09-2005, 11:18 PM
Basically, I just liked the game: It was innovatively challenging, which created an adrenaline boost before each and every match, even when we were just watching. Each detail to the game presented an intricate, yet obviously feasible task. Whether we liked it or not, we were forced to think on our feet like never before, which seemed to be the intention of FIRST. So kudos to them!

This year's gamewas really the first that involved a lot of strategy. Since there was basically only one way to score, every robot was a capper. Naturally, the only way to gain an upper hand is to have a strategy that is better than the opponents. As a coach, this finally gave me something to do. It's not ok, just heard some balls and at 30 secs left go hang, I had to direct the drive team its next goal to cap, and capping the wrong one could result in the losing the match. I really liked how first brought real strategy into the game this year.

05-12-2005, 11:57 AM

tetras and 3 robots on each aliance was awsome.. and it was a challenging game for rookies and veterans.. and it really spiced things up!..

i have to tahnk Dean and woodie for their excellent choice !