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Unread 05-04-2012, 03:17 PM
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Re: 2012 Lessons Learned:The Negative

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Originally Posted by techhelpbb View Post
This is logical. However, logically they should have checked and mixed the batches so that one doesn't eventually find that almost all the balls on the final playing matches are unusual from the original standards.

This would also have given people a little warning of what was coming.
Even if they didn't do that (which they should have, if this was the problem), just saying "we'll be introducing new balls in eliminations" and (if true) "these are from another manufacturer's batch and may behave differently" when they were asked. Transparency does wonders! Providing the opportunity to "check-out" a few balls from pit admit beforehand to test with would also have done wonders.
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Unread 05-04-2012, 03:24 PM
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Re: 2012 Lessons Learned:The Negative

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Originally Posted by Siri View Post
Even if they didn't do that (which they should have, if this was the problem), just saying "we'll be introducing new balls in eliminations" and (if true) "these are from another manufacturer's batch and may behave differently" when they were asked. Transparency does wonders! Providing the opportunity to "check-out" a few balls from pit admit beforehand to test with would also have done wonders.
I agree about the transparency, but the issue then becomes what you can do about it. In some cases some designs are totally without issue (catapults) but others to increasing extents might not be all that compatible and now you have to race to compensate.

Still they could have announced it long before the competition itself and then the playing field is level.
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Unread 05-04-2012, 03:53 PM
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Re: 2012 Lessons Learned:The Negative

The lesson learned here is not so much for FIRST, but for the teams...build with game piece variability in mind. It seems our team did not do so well this season; we did a pretty good job accounting for differences for most of the season, but the new balls for elims in St. Louis showed that we didn't do enough. We've got some ideas to try to improve for the offseason...keeping fingers crossed.
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Unread 05-04-2012, 05:08 PM
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Re: 2012 Lessons Learned:The Negative

Every single one of these complaints was overshadowed by us having a great time at the event. My experience was FAR more positive than negative. Let's just keep improving it.

1. The district trophies were embarassing.

2. This year, the primary Championship Handout did not have the MARS or MSC teams listed in them at Championship unless they had pre-registered. I can only assume this is because the events were so late that they couldn't get the documents printed.

3. Light the targets! In too many situtaions we have rear or front projected screens in direct view of the targets from all angles. Those screens - especially in the case of the Troy District in Michigan, we almost the same saturation and luminescant values as a lit vision target. There was almost no way to filter the darn things as they cycled through dozens of sponsor logos and colors.

4. There needs to be substantially more time between the division fields end of qualification and start of elimination. Many teams couldn't even each lunch, much less get their triple balance in. Our triple balance practice time was AFTER our first match had been played.

5. The Q&A stunk. I'll be blunt - the Q&A folks need to be given the authorization to tell people things are legal or illegal. Period. Even if it's not answer the GDC might have wanted, put it out there so people can design their bridge hanger etc without guesswork. Wading through the Q&A also stunk unless you wanted to read it cover to cover.

6. It's time to include actual GP in the GP award. Rather than just giving it to the team that had the money to bring a full machine shop, let's have GP judges looking for things like obnoxious noise, not saving seats, NOT yelling robot, and let's get that stuff in the rules. FIRST - yelling robot IS NOT A GOOD THING. Stop encouraging it!

7. The referees, and specifically the head referees need to start listening to the teams. Blowing off multiple teams when we have Q&A's up on our smart phones that answer the question at hand SPECIFICALLY is ridiculous. I'm speaking of the issues seen on Galileo, with ball placement. What happened there was a travesty. For a head ref to make a change to how balls have been placed all year at the champs is crazy. For that same ref to ignore multiple teams complaints and proof that it's wrong is worse. Then, to create a new rule on the fly - that teams have to be off the field before the balls were placed on the bridges..... If it seems I'm bitter, I am. We missed seeding first by one qual point, and we lost a match by 1 point where the volunteer specifically moved the balls after we set up our robot so we could not pick them up in hybrid by placing them to the extreme outer portions of the bridge. They later did the same thing to 33, and several other teams with hybrids that went after the balls on the bridge. I'm over it now.... but the head refs need to be more responsive to the students and more active in going up the ladder to resolve problems.

8. Swerve drive and judges. FIRST, can you please start teaching your judges about swerve drive? Every year, at nearly every event I've been to someone wins an award for swerve drive. I suppose it's overwhelmingly neat for people who haven't seen it before, but it's not new, it's rarely novel, and it's time for the judges to start looking at unique solutions to the game problem rather than a drive train that's been done a thousand times.

9. Steele Meetings may need to be reconsidered. In some cases rooms were marked up 50-100%. If you called the hotel directly and booked for a large number of people, you could get a 20-30% discount beyond the normal price. I know we certainly won't be using them with that type of price markup.
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Unread 05-04-2012, 05:27 PM
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Re: 2012 Lessons Learned:The Negative

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Originally Posted by Tom Line View Post
7. The referees, and specifically the head referees need to start listening to the teams. Blowing off multiple teams when we have Q&A's up on our smart phones that answer the question at hand SPECIFICALLY is ridiculous. I'm speaking of the issues seen on Galileo, with ball placement. What happened there was a travesty. For a head ref to make a change to how balls have been placed all year at the champs is crazy. For that same ref to ignore multiple teams complaints and proof that it's wrong is worse. Then, to create a new rule on the fly - that teams have to be off the field before the balls were placed on the bridges..... If it seems I'm bitter, I am. We missed seeding first by one qual point, and we lost a match by 1 point where the volunteer specifically moved the balls after we set up our robot so we could not pick them up in hybrid by placing them to the extreme outer portions of the bridge. They later did the same thing to 33, and several other teams with hybrids that went after the balls on the bridge. I'm over it now.... but the head refs need to be more responsive to the students and more active in going up the ladder to resolve problems.
I agree with everything you said; however, what rule is there regarding ball placement? All I could find was [G05]
Each Bridge will be preset with two Basketballs. Basketballs allotted to Robots that are not used, will be preset on the Coopertition Bridge.


FIRST really dropped the ball this year with communicating updates to head ref at events with regard to what to follow based on Q&A findings. Volunteers don't have the time to read through all of the Q&A but FIRST should either add to the weekly update recent answers from the Q&A that are important or establish that any answer to the Q&A stands as an official rule. Very frustrating to see but I'd stand behind the head refs decision (currently) because to my knowledge they have been told to follow the game manual not the Q&A.

@Craig Roys

Great point! People need to stop complaining about the variability in a foam basketball. These are a child's toy, not a NBA basketball required to have the same properties. Several teams caught on to how the balls acted and moved to catapults others like our team analyzed the problem and how to work around it. Granted our shooter isn't 100% accurate but it is pretty darn close between a new and used ball. Unless you feel like paying more for FIRST to physically check each and every game piece to make sure they all have the same physical properties, just move along.
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Unread 05-04-2012, 05:31 PM
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Re: 2012 Lessons Learned:The Negative

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Originally Posted by BrendanB View Post
I agree with everything you said; however, what rule is there regarding ball placement? All I could find was [G05]
Each Bridge will be preset with two Basketballs. Basketballs allotted to Robots that are not used, will be preset on the Coopertition Bridge.

The Q&A specified that the 2(+) balls will be centered both lengthwise and widthwise on the bridges.

Specifically

Quote:
Game - The Game » Pre-Match » G05
Q. In a prior Q&A response, you said that prior to the beginning of the match, "The placement [of balls on the bridges] will generally be as close to the center of the Bridge as possible." Is this the center lengthwise, widthwise, or both? FRC0341 2012-01-31
A. Both
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Unread 05-04-2012, 05:54 PM
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Re: 2012 Lessons Learned:The Negative

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Originally Posted by BrendanB View Post
Great point! People need to stop complaining about the variability in a foam basketball. These are a child's toy, not a NBA basketball required to have the same properties. Several teams caught on to how the balls acted and moved to catapults others like our team analyzed the problem and how to work around it. Granted our shooter isn't 100% accurate but it is pretty darn close between a new and used ball. Unless you feel like paying more for FIRST to physically check each and every game piece to make sure they all have the same physical properties, just move along.
A lot of teams adjusted for having to deal with whether the ball was new or whether it was used and worn down.

What was impossible to predict (unless you're Car-Nack) was that FIRST would use physically different balls from a different manufacturer/batch and that even worse we wouldn't have even been told. All over these forums you can see how the new ones they used in St. Louis had entirely different compression, texture, etc. This wasn't just a worn state vs. a new state. This was Ball A vs. Ball B where Ball B was either from a different manufacturer (not what from what I've seen) or an entirely different batch with a different...everything.

Catapaults were totally unaffected as far as not being jammed, but even if your shooter was fine, the new balls reacted totally differently to bouncing off of the backboard as well. Transparency at the MINIMUM from FIRST would have been appreciated if they were unable to secure enough balls from the initial batch to last the entire season. At least many of us teams would have had a fighting chance for adjusting our loaders for an entirely different ball.

We were prepared for new vs. used. We were not prepared for an entirely new batch, and I don't think that's too much to ask for. Especially if they would have provided an announcement telling us as much.
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Unread 05-04-2012, 06:14 PM
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Re: 2012 Lessons Learned:The Negative

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Originally Posted by Gregor01 View Post
The Q&A specified that the 2(+) balls will be centered both lengthwise and widthwise on the bridges.

Specifically
The Q&A did but the game manual did not. As of right now (as far as I know) head refs follow the Game Manual NOT the Q&A. I'm saying that FIRST needs to establish that the Q&A should be followed as rules.

We both agree here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Solidstate89 View Post
A lot of teams adjusted for having to deal with whether the ball was new or whether it was used and worn down.

What was impossible to predict (unless you're Car-Nack) was that FIRST would use physically different balls from a different manufacturer/batch and that even worse we wouldn't have even been told. All over these forums you can see how the new ones they used in St. Louis had entirely different compression, texture, etc. This wasn't just a worn state vs. a new state. This was Ball A vs. Ball B where Ball B was either from a different manufacturer (not what from what I've seen) or an entirely different batch with a different...everything.

Catapaults were totally unaffected as far as not being jammed, but even if your shooter was fine, the new balls reacted totally differently to bouncing off of the backboard as well. Transparency at the MINIMUM from FIRST would have been appreciated if they were unable to secure enough balls from the initial batch to last the entire season. At least many of us teams would have had a fighting chance for adjusting our loaders for an entirely different ball.

We were prepared for new vs. used. We were not prepared for an entirely new batch, and I don't think that's too much to ask for. Especially if they would have provided an announcement telling us as much.
FIRST probably doesn't know that these balls are different and they don't have to make ensure every ball in every case they receive are identical. Yes these balls behaved differently but I point the finger (and even that is too harsh because we are a customer) to the manufacturer.

FIRST mentioned several times that there would be new balls for elims. We asked around at our regional (CT) if new balls would be introduced and they were. Ask and you shall receive. FIRST HQ doesn't directly control the field reset crew and the introduction of new balls. It is your responsibility to know your field at competition. Once those fields leave Manchester they are in the hands of the event.

Yes this was a frustration to teams but we can't complain to HQ saying they need to provide a more consistent game piece next season when all they did was order new balls for the championship elimination and that is what they received.

They probably don't know these balls were different!
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Unread 05-04-2012, 07:06 PM
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Re: 2012 Lessons Learned:The Negative

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Originally Posted by BrendanB View Post
FIRST mentioned several times that there would be new balls for elims. We asked around at our regional (CT) if new balls would be introduced and they were. Ask and you shall receive. FIRST HQ doesn't directly control the field reset crew and the introduction of new balls. It is your responsibility to know your field at competition. Once those fields leave Manchester they are in the hands of the event.
I hope that I am misremembering, but when the question was as at Champs concerning on what schedule the balls would be replaced, we were told that it would be 'like the regionals' (implying all the regionals were the same), 'there is no set schedule'.

I know they definitely did not overturn the Q&A that reads:
Q: Our team has discovered variances in ball diameter and compressibility. The balls in the KOP can be compressed approx. ˝” more than the balls we got from AndyMark. We wish to know if the balls at competitions will be like the KOP balls, similar to the ones received from AM, or a mixture of both?
A: All Balls with the FIRST/Foot Locker Foundation logos are all from the same batch - so, a mixture of both.


I think we can all be fairly confident that the elim balls were not a "mixture of both" the AndyMark and KOP balls. I understand the Q&A is not heralded as "official" enough (I file this under negative lessons every year...) in all circumstances.
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Unread 05-04-2012, 07:09 PM
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Re: 2012 Lessons Learned:The Negative

My main contention is still the lack of transparency. And unless we all went with a catapult design, it still would have been impossible to properly compensate because the balls we were provided in the KOP as well as the balls we could purchase were completely different than what they provided in the Elims.

If FIRST couldn't guarantee complete consistency (which for a toy part, I don't expect them to) we should have been told from the beginning that they would have had different batches. Saying they would have "new balls" doesn't mean much without context. We had "new" and used balls at the Regionals we attended as well but they were of the same batch provided in the KOP as well as what we could purchase.

Some would (and I believe it's the position you're taking) argue that having to deal with inconsistent game pieces is part of the game. And I would agree...up to a reasonable point. What happened in St. Louis I believe goes beyond that reasonable point.
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Unread 05-04-2012, 07:22 PM
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Re: 2012 Lessons Learned:The Negative

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Originally Posted by BrendanB View Post
The Q&A did but the game manual did not. As of right now (as far as I know) head refs follow the Game Manual NOT the Q&A. I'm saying that FIRST needs to establish that the Q&A should be followed as rules.
There was a slightly larger problem, and I believe it originated from the head field reset person (not sure what the official name is) and backed up by the head ref. After playing 3 matches on Thursday and 1 Friday morning with the balls being placed on the coop bridge where we expected (the same place they where they were being placed for the other 3 fields and the same place they were for all of the 3 other competitions we attended plus the couple competitions I went to to watch), the field reset crew and head ref decided they needed to switch it up. We have a hybrid mode that goes to the bridge to grab one of the 2 balls, then go back to the key to shoot 3 balls at the basket. After we set up, the balls were moved on the coop bridge to make it near impossible for us to get one of them; when we tried to realign our robot we were told we couldn't and that the balls were supposed to be "randomly" placed after the robots were set up. Nowhere in the rules does it state this. I also did not believe that they were randomly placed - it appeared they were purposely placed where we would not be able to get one. After the match we found the q&a questions and responses to show to the head ref - he refused to acknowledge them choosing to keep his interpretation. I continued to watch set up of the field for other matches. If no robot on the field had an obvious hybrid mode that went to the bridge first, the balls were placed in the same two center spots we became accustomed to. Whenever a team with a bridge autonomous such as ourselves or a couple of other teams were on the field, the balls were purposely (not randomly) placed in locations where the robot would not be able to get one of them. It was as if we were being punished for working hard to develop an auton that goes to the bridge to get a ball. We played 3 matches like this before the head ref was told from above that he needs to have the balls placed on the coop bridge the same as the other 3 fields. This is unfortunate considering we missed 2nd seed by 1 QP - granted, other teams were affected by it as well so it's hard to say if anything would be different. I find it appalling that this could happen at the FIRST Championship - there was, for whatever reason, a bias against teams with a bridge hybrid mode.

Okay, done ranting now...we had a great time at the competition, that part of it was just a bit frustrating.
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Unread 05-04-2012, 07:25 PM
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Re: 2012 Lessons Learned:The Negative

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The side of very single box of balls I ever looked at bore the label "box n of 1,111". It's possible that they were from separate production runs, but they were obviously all shipped at the same time.
To everyone who is still complaining about discussing the difference in balls, I can vouch for Alan's post. While the balls may not have been from the same production lot, they all came from the same shipment of 1,111 cases (6 balls/case). I doubt FIRST could have known about the differences in balls ahead of time without opening a ton of the cases.

The balls used at regionals were from the same shipment as the balls used at Championship (both qualification and elimination matches). I can't speak for the balls that AndyMark sold, but I'm fairly certain they came from the same shipment as well.

Yes, balls were replaced before elimination matches with brand new balls. This should have been no surprise since it was supposed to happen at ever regional event. Yes, there was sometimes quite a difference between ball foam "density." Sometimes there were even noticeable differences between balls that came from the same case.

Are we forgetting that FRC is an engineering challenge?

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Unread 05-04-2012, 07:31 PM
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Re: 2012 Lessons Learned:The Negative

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Originally Posted by Craig Roys View Post
If no robot on the field had an obvious hybrid mode that went to the bridge first, the balls were placed in the same two center spots we became accustomed to. Whenever a team with a bridge autonomous such as ourselves or a couple of other teams were on the field, the balls were purposely (not randomly) placed in locations where the robot would not be able to get one of them. It was as if we were being punished for working hard to develop an auton that goes to the bridge to get a ball. I find it appalling that this could happen at the FIRST Championship - there was, for whatever reason, a bias against teams with a bridge hybrid mode.
I can absolutely guarantee you that this was not the case. If it appeared it was it was truly just a random thing. I am basically appalled that you would believe that the head ref or reset people would conspire against you.
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Unread 05-04-2012, 07:39 PM
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Re: 2012 Lessons Learned:The Negative

I've always thought that:

Q&A>Team Updates>Manual>Chief Delphi

Next year, there should be a clause in the manual on kickoff that codifies this.
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Unread 05-04-2012, 07:42 PM
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Re: 2012 Lessons Learned:The Negative

Our team has never used Steele Meetings.
Its not rocket science to understand that its a ripoff and you can get better deals just by shopping around or booking yourself.
Its a deal when compared to "regular" hotel room rates, but as a person who has coordinated and booked all of our team travels since 2003, there are always much better options if you do some research on your own.
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