I just returned from the Michigan State championship, and here are my thoughts on the minibot. First the good:
- This is the best endgame in the nine years I've been involved with FIRST (In my opinion.)
- It was a very difficult "challenge" that many teams succeeded in meeting.
...and now the bad:
Keep in mind that in many cases the outcome of a match was based on the minibot.
- Assuming that the switches at the top of the pole were flawless in every match ever played, there was a clearer problem. when did the minibot deploy? Did they go early? did they cross the plane? I know that there was a referee at each pole trying to keep a close eye on this; however, this is flawed when your talking tenths and hundredths of seconds (which we are.)
- My team spent over $1,500 on parts for the minibot.
After a mentor asked Direct drive minibot output diameter, JVN writes,
"Obviously after the first 2 weeks of competition the secrets are all out.
If you're going to use a design that is "heavily inspired" from one you saw on the field, at least take the time to iterate the design and figure out the details yourself.
You can make this into a positive design experience for your team with some methodical experimentation..."
He's right! but short sighted, considering not every team can trash $30 motors chasing the right shaft size.
Even though minibots themselves are cheap enough ($200 or so). developing a competitive minibot takes money. I feel to really compete in the minibot race you had to pay another fee to the LEGO corporation. My team gladly paid and used "methodical experimentation" to developed a 1.4 second minibot.
- The race was the problem! Most every team in FIRST could have successfully developed a simple "slow" minibot with accurate deployment. I feel many teams have become discouraged and ran out of resources competing in the minibot arms race. If teams were allowed to focus on consistency instead of speed, I would have expected see beautiful latching mechanisms and really explored the limits of the Tetrix systems. What the race gave us, was stripped down motors with batteries and magnets attached to them, all in spite of the tetrix's capabilities. Innovation was was focused on how to misuse the tetrix system, not using it for what it was designed to do. (I hope the FTC teams that lent out their kits, hadn't expected much back)
I like the days that if you could get on a ramp or climb a pole you received the points. the minibot race could have been a flat rate challenge. you make it to the top, you receive the points.