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Unread 05-02-2012, 12:04 PM
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Re: 2012 Lessons Learned:The Negative

One of my negitives is the FIRST Q and A system. It's horrible. Teams should not EVER have to wait until their first competiton to find out that their robot is illegal if they have tried to clarify it in the Q and A. Furthermore, teams should have a guarentee that their question will be answered. The Q and A's purpose is to help teams design robots within the rules, if team's are not getting helpful answers after waiting who knows how long, that is not acceptable and the Q and A is not doing it's job. When I compair the FIRST Q and A to the VEX Q and A, I am embarassed for FIRST.

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Unread 05-02-2012, 12:07 PM
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Re: 2012 Lessons Learned:The Negative

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Originally Posted by BJC View Post
One of my negitives is the FIRST Q and A system. It's horrible. Teams should not EVER have to wait until their first competiton to find out that their robot is illegal if they have tried to clarify it in the Q and A. Furthermore, teams should have a guarentee that their question will be answered. The Q and A's purpose is to help teams design robots within the rules, if team's are not getting helpful answers after waiting who knows how long, that is not acceptable and the Q and A is not doing it's job. When I compair the FIRST Q and A to the VEX Q and A, I am embarassed for FIRST.

Regards, Bryan
I second that as well. I have stated in these forums my own concerns about the fact that Team 11 asked a question that impacted all teams in the entire competition. The answer wasn't posted until it was nearly impossible for it to even have been of value.
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Unread 05-02-2012, 12:13 PM
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Re: 2012 Lessons Learned:The Negative

Game piece Consistency was a huge issue this year. Wear and tear were somewhat predictable by the time later regionals came around, but balls from different batches were not. From my experience, there were at least 3 or 4 different types of balls, those bought direct from the manufacturer, those bought from AM, those given in the KOP and those used at the Championship.
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Unread 05-02-2012, 12:16 PM
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Re: 2012 Lessons Learned:The Negative

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Originally Posted by Sunshine View Post
That's better than having the team who says they will balance with you and they never show up. How unGP is that?

I understand the intent but IMHO the reality is that cooperation points are not working and hurt the game. Those same people you are competing against can prevent you from a good ranking. Unfortunately there are a few who believe this is a legit strategy of the game. As a result, the intent of COOP points is doing the exact opposite of the great intentions from FIRST.
I totally disagree. The number of times alliances cooperated with each other is way higher than the number of times multiple teams conspired to hose a good team. Fact: this year, lots and lots of teams cooperated with each other to gain a mutual benefit. At least in the case of our team, that resulted in many positive interactions with teams that we otherwise wouldn't have had a chance to work together with. I'd guess that the GDC's "great intentions" ran at least partly along these lines.

Also, look at all of the teams that won #1 seeds this year. They are consistently really good teams who deserved to be there, and the number of exceptions doesn't seem much different to me than it has been in past years. This indicates to me that it was either not that common or not that easy for teams to collude and hurt the best teams' rankings.
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Unread 05-02-2012, 12:20 PM
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Re: 2012 Lessons Learned:The Negative

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Originally Posted by thefro526 View Post
Game piece Consistency was a huge issue this year. Wear and tear were somewhat predictable by the time later regionals came around, but balls from different batches were not. From my experience, there were at least 3 or 4 different types of balls, those bought direct from the manufacturer, those bought from AM, those given in the KOP and those used at the Championship.
This was something that really hurt us in St. Louis. The balls at the FLR and Buckeye regionals were pretty much identical to what we received in the KOP. We rarely ran into issues (only once or twice in total) with the balls getting stuck but the ones that did were usually the newer ones. Nothing you can do about that.

The ones at St. Louis though had to be completely different. We got so many of those stuck in our loader mechanism it bordered on the ridiculous. It definitely wasn't just the fact they were newer balls. As you said, they were definitely a different batch.
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Unread 05-02-2012, 12:24 PM
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Re: 2012 Lessons Learned:The Negative

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Originally Posted by thefro526 View Post
Game piece Consistency was a huge issue this year. Wear and tear were somewhat predictable by the time later regionals came around, but balls from different batches were not. From my experience, there were at least 3 or 4 different types of balls, those bought direct from the manufacturer, those bought from AM, those given in the KOP and those used at the Championship.
I second this. Also, a clarification of when different balls would be used. Our team (and I know of others) had their shooters calibrated for new or used balls. New balls being used at CT elim matches gave us no chance to change our shooter speed or position. Whereas GUS was having trouble with the used balls in quals. I would have like a clarification in an update for some sort of game piece schedule, IE a line stating new balls would be used in elims.
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Unread 05-02-2012, 12:24 PM
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Re: 2012 Lessons Learned:The Negative

1. Practice field at CMP. Almost all teams who use the practice field are looking to test specific things, in this game they are:
-Running their autonomous programs - This requires a basket and key, and possibly a bridge, all at the correct distances
-Shooting balls - This requires a basket and marked key distance
-Driving and shooting - This requires more open space than above, but the general key and basket area is usually sufficient to simulate a driver lining up
-Triple balance before elims
None of these require a field border or radios - A 50' tether is sufficient.

At MSC, there was a large carpet area with 2 baskets, 3 bridges, and two movable bumps. Teams would tell the practice field queue what they needed to test and what their setup requirements were, and he would organize where each team could be. There were no practice field radios, all teams ran on tethers. Immediately after alliance selections, the three bridges were reserved for each alliance in the order they had to play (e.g. QF1 teams gets to practice before QF4 teams), allowing each alliance to practice their triple balance. The practice field seemed adequate for the volume of teams - a 64 team event with 2 baskets and 3 bridges, allowing multiple teams to use a set of baskets at the same time

At CMP, there were two full practice fields which required several hours of advanced notice to sign up for an use. The radios also caused mass confusion due to the mis-coloring of the red and blue radios (at least on the Galileo practice field). They had a single set of baskets behind the practice field, and two more in the annex on the way to the dome. For an event of this size, there should have been at least 3 bridges and 4 baskets per division (total of 12 bridges and 16 baskets required, there were only 6 bridges and 7 baskets at the whole event this year)


2. I have to say it, the quality of teams at CMP this year was disappointing. The league is too large to hope to allow each team to go to CMP every few years, so even trying seems pointless.

3. The vision system this year was fairly good, but a different geometric shape should be chosen (how about a circle?) - There are too many bright rectangular objects but relatively few bright circular objects. I know our vision system was often confused by large white display screens directly behind fields.

4. I've already talked to a few NI people about this, but (at least in LabVIEW) most of the CPU load on the processor is overhead from LabVIEW and library inefficiency, not actual team code.

5. On a related note, the fact that teams are able to hit 90% CPU utilization without running vision on the robot amazes me. The processor is definitely powerful enough (the old IFI PIC and Vex Cortex systems run much smaller processors, and almost everything being done now could be done then), but the inefficiency is SO HUGE

6. Ball consistency on bridges. At all previous events, the field reset people were placing the balls on two holes in the center of the bridge. At CMP (Galileo division), we found that they were consistently placing them on the outside holes, or in various other symmetric but not centered positions, during our matches, but only on the center bridge. Our scouting team investigated the issue, and the balls were only being placed off-center during only our matches and in matches where teams were attempting bridge autonomous modes. When we asked the field reset and head ref on our field, they claimed that the balls had to be symmetric, nothing else, and started placing the balls on the alliance bridges differently as well. We brought a Q&A question which stated that the balls would be centered on the bridge, and they ignored it. We talked to Aiden Brown on the issue, and the ball placement stopped immediately after.
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Unread 05-02-2012, 12:51 PM
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Re: 2012 Lessons Learned:The Negative

The practice field situation at the championships was pitiful. 400 teams, 2 full, and 3 wooden fields? Come on. It would be nice if they left an area for teams to set up their own goals.
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Unread 05-02-2012, 12:51 PM
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Re: 2012 Lessons Learned:The Negative

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Originally Posted by Solidstate89 View Post
Except refusing to balance with us did not help this team in the rankings at all. They were in bottom 50. It would have made no difference to their team's individual ranking.
Having already explained this in emails to your team, I'm surprised it is brought up yet again in a thread.

The highlighted part is where you yourself can see why our alliance did not co-op balance. The co-op bridge is for mutual benefit. Our alliance, as stated by yourself, had no potential benefit from doing so. We all had 1 or 2 matches each left in qualifications, and we knew our standings would not improve. The co-op bridge goal is to mutually boost rankings. Since we did not have a legitimate chance at the top 8 seeds, we chose not to co-op and instead we chose to display the strong suits of each of our robots.

We were not being ungracious or unprofessional about the situation. We were playing our game as we saw fit. We, in your best interest, had let you know of the strategy beforehand so that there would be no surprise. Also, none of the teams involved were pressured into agreeing on the strategy. 254, 415, and 3929 were pretty unanimous about it.

PM me if you would like to continue the discussion further.
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Unread 05-02-2012, 01:00 PM
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Re: 2012 Lessons Learned:The Negative

The coopertition award, yes the coopertition bridge was successful in mixing up the rankings but it made the award based way too much on luck. Last years coopertition award system was the best ever. To win it you had to: A make a minibot that was one that other teams wanted to use because it was a good performer, B approach and "sell" other teams on why they should use your minibot, C sometimes assist that team in either adapting their deployment system to accept your minibot or building or help them build a system to deploy it. For us it created some strong bonds between those teams to which we loaned minibots that continues, as well as being used by other teams to promote their teams and expand their programs since in many cases we sent them home with the teams after the season was over.

Kinnect, it essentially made the GDC look as if they were for sale. On a related note the Innovation in control award which at least at the events I attended was based on being the only team using the Kinnect.

The Q&A system which was even harder to navigate and find what you were looking for than before. Never mind the "no comment" answers as in previous years.
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Unread 05-02-2012, 01:08 PM
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Re: 2012 Lessons Learned:The Negative

1) Follow and enforce the rules that are in place. If teams are expected to follow the rules, as should field personnel, inspectors, and volunteers.

2) Don't ignore the students.

Multiple times our students questioned a situation that did not agree with rules and procedures published, and were either ridiculed or ignored.
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Unread 05-02-2012, 01:14 PM
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Re: 2012 Lessons Learned:The Negative

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Originally Posted by Debbie View Post
Definitely get rid of the Field Management problems. We lost our first elimination match by only 2 points but had one dead robot. The next alliance had a dead robot (1717) in the exact same location in the following match.

Also, eliminate anything that allows one team to easily manipulate the ranking of another team. Though to some degree you can always do this, this year it was too easy to keep a team down in ranking by refusing to co-op with them. Though we would think Gracious Professionalism would prohibit this from happening, it did.

District trophies were just sad. I understand making them smaller than regional, but the selected trophies were not a good choice.

MSC and MAR teams qualify in week 7 for worlds, not leaving them many choices with STEELE Meetings and freezing them out of events like the ball game and Finale. Something needs to be done to ensure these teams have equal chances to participate in all championship activities.

100 teams is TOO many in a division. You never get to know the teams in your division. Break it down into more divisions of smaller numbers. Allow us more matches to allow for better ranking chances.

Give division trophies as well as Championship trophies. Those getting the championship one could be eliminated from receiving division ones so that more than 10 or so teams out of 400 get recognized at the world level. It would recognize the top 5 teams at worlds (4 division winners, 1 championship winner).

Just a few thoughts.
I agree with Debbies assessment and have a few other suggestions.

1. The fields were too close to the spectator seating. You could not see the closest alliance bridge well from most of the seats. Moving them away 20-40 feet would help a lot.

2. I would like to see a move to more competition based entrance into the championship. I have no problem rookie all stars and HOF teams being there but it when there are 50% or more teams in all the divisions that have very limited robots and teams lack experience with the game it makes seeding matches a very "Luck of the draw" thing. Although there are many more very good teams in a championship division than a district or regional event the less experienced teams brought the seeding matches down to district event type play in my opinion. It didn't look like a championship to me until after alliance selection.

3. There should be a team entrance on the side of the dome where the trailers and parking was. I am not sure about others but our team likes to tailgate at these events and it is a pain to walk all around the dome to get back in.


Just some of my opinions.
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Unread 05-02-2012, 01:32 PM
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Re: 2012 Lessons Learned:The Negative

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Originally Posted by Mr V View Post
Kinnect, it essentially made the GDC look as if they were for sale. On a related note the Innovation in control award which at least at the events I attended was based on being the only team using the Kinnect.
At VCU the Innovaction in Control award went to the only team to get Vision Tracking working due to the magnificently bright advertisements on the arena's walls. How did they do it? They went to the fender and made some lights blink based upon Vision Tracking status. It wasn't automated aiming at all :/ I only know because I asked them how they were able to get vision tracking working with the lights behind the field.

That brings up something that's kind of irked me for a couple of years.

Judges could CARE LESS if the programmers on a team built a custom display app out of Java or C++ that displays data to the drivers. They either dismiss is as "oh, anyone can build a web page" or "the driver's display means your stuff isn't automated". What a load of crap.

Building a Java app with a custom layout tailored for the drivers is the closest thing a team will get to a full software development cycle in FRC (including Systems Engineering, Coding, I&T phases). It also requires some technical prowess to debug things in order to ensure the system runs smoothly while on the field. It's also more realistic since there isn't a single automated dynamic interactive system in the world that doesn't have some sort of human-in-the-loop control. Eventually our second driver will move solely to the app on a touchscreen panel when open-architecture tablets become reasonably priced. Maybe then the judges will think something of it
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Unread 05-02-2012, 01:33 PM
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Re: 2012 Lessons Learned:The Negative

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Originally Posted by Debbie View Post
100 teams is TOO many in a division. You never get to know the teams in your division. Break it down into more divisions of smaller numbers. Allow us more matches to allow for better ranking chances.
Either do this or get rid of signup for championship and make it pure qualification to decrease the number of teams in each division if FIRST doesn't have the space or people for more fields. I personally think that the ability for any team to signup for championship and not earn their way in takes away from the quality of play at championship.

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I would have liked to have seen a separate practice bridge in the pits. With as much as the triple balance was worth and how specifically the combinations of robots had to fit together, it was very unfortunate that it was so complicated to get combinations of robots together to try it. Seems like they could have replaced the extra hoop off to the side with a bridge practice area (like so many regionals, including ours in Vegas, had) and let more teams onto the main field for hoop practice.
This was ridiculous. For a team like ours who was long and had a stinger, we knew we could triple with another long robot, but no team would spend their practice spot to learn if we were a viable 2nd round pick because it made more sense for them to learn if they could triple with one of the elite long robots. I don't blame the teams for this at all because I would do the same exact thing, you only have so many slots and to spend it on us isn't worth it.
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Unread 05-02-2012, 02:50 PM
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Wink Re: 2012 Lessons Learned:The Negative

The Seating for Einstein was indeed frustrating i think it would be waaay better if the Awards and the Einstein field were positioned in the widest side od the Dome (were Newton and Archimides were set up this year) that way more people would get a chance to have a better view of the game.
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