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Unread 02-19-2014, 12:20 PM
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Re: Why do we bother bagging?

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Originally Posted by sanddrag View Post
The only real issue with not bagging is, nobody would attend the first two weeks of events if the build season extended right up to the events, and for that problem, I have no solution.
There would be a bigger difference between weeks 1-2 and weeks 6-7, but teams would still go to early events. Several reasons:

1) Teams sign up for events that have open slots and that fit their schedules and geographical reach. Space in events is scarce.

2) You can still qualify for the Championship at early events, and you can do it with a less amazing robot than you'd need at a later event. If you're a team that is capable of building a reasonably polished robot in 6 weeks, maybe you'd be able to dominate at an early event.

3) Logistically, qualifying early in the year is nicer than qualifying really late. You get more time to plan your trip. Also, if your team wants to make significant upgrades for the Championship, you get a longer time to plan that out and execute it without having to focus completely on shorter term, less ambitious goals required to qualify at the regional level.

4) Having a big gap between regional or district events is pretty nice for giving upgrade time after the first competition experience. So I'd much rather attend week 1 and 5 than weeks 5 and 6.

That doesn't mean every team would LIKE that system better, but I don't think it would be a big problem to get teams to attend early events.
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Unread 02-19-2014, 12:24 PM
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Re: Why do we bother bagging?

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Originally Posted by sanddrag View Post
The only real issue with not bagging is, nobody would attend the first two weeks of events if the build season extended right up to the events, and for that problem, I have no solution.
See I actually think the opposite for my team. We typically come up with really good strategy while not building as great of a robot and use it to our advantage. We have won two regionals 2005 and 2010 (week 1) and did not have the best robot at either event but executed a strategy well. Also, our team cannot support a longer build season as we are all exhausted. Just another take from a different team
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Unread 02-19-2014, 12:25 PM
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Re: Why do we bother bagging?

Consider the fact that this is a High School level competition and a lot of students procrastinate. Having a deadline that isn't right next to the comp's means that a lot of high school students can actually balance out the time they have. I know freshmen who have put too much into Robotics and not enough into doing things like homework and have had to get kicked off the team because of bad grades. I know from experience that this community is fun and you can get wrapped up in it. When I was a sophmoron I made the mistake of not properly balancing my academic life with my robotics life and my GPA took a solid hit. Grades went down, parents got concerned, questions were being asked like "Well are you really at robotics till 11 at night or are you off being a little hooligan?" it wasn't good.
First Robotics is a wonderful thing for highschool students to participate in but I do not imagine the founders would ever want to hear students were held back because they got too into robotics.
So yeah maybe bag and tag puts teams without the resources to make a second robot at a disadvantage, but the biggest disadvantage I could see is a team pushing too hard and tearing apart just because they didn't have a little time off.
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Unread 02-19-2014, 12:26 PM
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Re: Why do we bother bagging?

Nemo beat me to it- I echo his points with less eloquence
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Unread 02-19-2014, 12:38 PM
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Re: Why do we bother bagging?

The only issue we have with bagging our robot, this year especially, is trying to anticipate what position to leave it in OR what pieces to take off when bagging.
Our robot gets shipped to every competition, and without actually packing the rest of the stuff in our 1000 lb crate before we ship makes it tough.
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Unread 02-19-2014, 12:49 PM
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Re: Why do we bother bagging?

My team tries to push the envelope with robot design as much as we can. The team is lucky enough to have some nice resources available and a handful of extremely dedicated mentors that come back year after year. I have searched over the past few years for the answer to this question as well and have decided the rules are the rules. The only true answer I have come up with is to design a simple, effective robot using the wide variety of COTS items now available and push during the early parts of the build season to get things done. This theory leads to both the practice bot and competition bot getting done earlier in turn minimizing the stress associated with the ceremonial " bag and tag". Right now it is just a theory because my team has never executed it .
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Unread 02-19-2014, 12:50 PM
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Re: Why do we bother bagging?

An interesting aspect of the switch to the district model is that of the 'robot access' period. We're allowed a six hour window between bag day and our competition in which to unbag and work on the robot, in an effort to make up for the lack of a day in the pits a normal regional would get us. We get another access period between district events.

It's sort of strange bagging and tagging the robot knowing that we'll just be breaking the tag again in a couple days to resume the build. I understand the reasoning behind it and, frankly, it works well in our favor (six hours in our shop broken up as we see fit vs. sort of 6 hours in a pit broken up by practice matches). Still, it seems sort of silly and does make you wonder why we bother with the bag at this point in the season at all.
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Unread 02-19-2014, 01:01 PM
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Re: Why do we bother bagging?

I like the end of the build season...today I get to spend relaxing in my garage, working on my car. No robot stuff. Except working on the BOM.

Incidently, if we built the robot in my garage, it could be far more sophisticated...I do have a mill and lathe here, there are none at school. Although we still have the nagging little issue of getting students intersted in designing stuff that needs such fancy equipment to make.
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Unread 02-19-2014, 01:10 PM
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Re: Why do we bother bagging?

Quote:
"...[W]hy build one when you can have two at twice the price?"
Ahh- but this is not the case! If you do your design work properly and make drawings of major components etc. it doesn't matter if you are working on a $100000 waterjet or a table saw. Setup time is typically more than half the battle. If you have the material in the machine and the machine is set up to run it usually doesn't cost much more to make two of a part rather than only one. This is especially true with CNC equipment so the cost of building a second robot is typically just a little longer run time on your machines and a bunch of old components stolen from last year's robot.

Last week I had made this "meme" for my team's facebook page inspired by some funny photos. Having a practice robot means that the long hours and restless nights don't end till your last competition. It doesn't make these things any easier, it actually equates to much more work.

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Unread 02-19-2014, 01:17 PM
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Re: Why do we bother bagging?

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Originally Posted by Michael Hill View Post
Of course I don't expect everyone to build out of a garage. I'm saying teams waste thousands of dollars every year to build a second robot that doesn't need to be built. I'm sure there are some rookie teams like the ones you mention, but the reality is that those teams are very few and far between.
^This

This year, one of our sponsors was awesome enough to (laser?) cut and bend our sheet metal chassis (we simply supplied the materials) within a few days of our design being completed. We've had various other sponsors help us here in the past, but typically not completely free, and not on such a quick time table.

Is it right for us to ask them to build another frame for a practice bot?
Sure, some sponsors are happy to do this, but to me it seems inconsiderate to waste their time on a copy of the entire frame.

Expanding on that, is it right to use your sponsors donations to build something that is only necessary because of archaic rules?
Sure, many are willingly giving the money, but couldn't that money be put to better use elsewhere in the community (FIRST or otherwise), rather than being spent on a bunch of materials, electronics, etc.

Waste is waste, and practice bots are largely that. I understand that teams work hard to raise the funds, and put in the effort to build a practice bot to make themselves more competitive; but that is a lot of good-will you are receiving, and it just seems wrong to accept it for the sole purpose of exercising a commonly used loophole in an archaic rule.
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Unread 02-19-2014, 01:50 PM
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Re: Why do we bother bagging?

As someone who works in the manufacturing industry; how much sheet is in your chassis? a 4x8 sheet? So for say an extra $150 in material you could have had a second chassis. I am sure your sponsor would not have minded at all had you asked them to run two of each part. They had the machine time scheduled, the material mounted and running- for them to have made two more of each part likely would have only cost them less than an hour or so of run time. Instead though, if you were to ask them now they would have to schedule the production time, tool the machine to accept your material, install the material and then run the parts. The setup on something like this is often just as costly or even more so than the actual cutting of the parts which is why many companies have a "minimum setup charge". This is why it is far cheaper per unit to make 100 of something instead of 1. When I run production at work we always make more than we need so that we can keep the extras in stock. Down the road if we need extra parts, we have them on the shelf. This results in massive cost and time savings since we don't have to set up a machine to run one or two components. Something to keep in mind for next year. I am sure your sponsor would oblige.
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Unread 02-19-2014, 02:15 PM
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Re: Why do we bother bagging?

OK, repeat after me "FIRST is not about the robot".

They are trying to give the experience that most engineers and technology people face on a regular basis. "Design it, build it, ship it, compete in the marketplace with it". People do not pay for products that they can't get (spare me the pre-order games, iThings, etc. nonsense) and walk away with.

Ship product. I do it. GM does it. We all do it. You do it too. All said and done it goes out the door, warts and "well we could have" and "well just 10 more days it will do ..."

And "pfft" to the entire "we are new, we are poor, we want pity". Look to all the rookie all stars. There are teams with three digit team numbers that would be happy to have rookie all star years.

You are getting an amazing life lesson in 17 weeks. 6 weeks to design and ship a product to the marketplace. 11 weeks of the marketplace responding to your ideas and you get chances to tweek. PROFIT!

I'm glossing over the "well we only compete in one week, etc." Sorry. Your life lesson this year is shorter, next year it will be longer.

Repeat after me "FIRST is not about the robot". It's never been about the robot.

(Oh and this: "What I took away was, Jim Zondag is very smart, listen to him." +1, Jim is a very smart guy, you should be happy he's doing this" )

(Oh and JForbes writes "I like the end of the build season...today I get to spend relaxing in my garage, working on my car. No robot stuff. " +314156!)
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Unread 02-19-2014, 02:46 PM
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Re: Why do we bother bagging?

Hot topic for sure, every year. IMO:

1) For the most part life is fair.
2) Hard work doesn't have to be punishing to be rewarding
3) You shouldn't abandon your family for anything
4) We are building robots that shoot balls
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Unread 02-19-2014, 03:09 PM
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Re: Why do we bother bagging?

I don't have a strong opinion about the bag, but I Need as stop build day. Us college mentors have homework to do (and sleep, and the FAFSA, and life in general). I'm glad it's "over".
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Unread 02-19-2014, 04:02 PM
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Re: Why do we bother bagging?

Well, even with the robot "bagged" one still has to work on the program. In fact, My team just got a Kinect for our driver station.


Something that I don't like about bagging is that I can't work on my robot anymore.
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