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Unread 04-09-2002, 11:30 PM
PDonovan PDonovan is offline
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Question Illegal material

At a recent regional, my students noticed a robot using a material that we had wanted to use but could not find a "legal" way of using it. The material was not available at SPI and was neither in the kit nor on the AHL. The robot was able to use this material quite well and my students wanted to know why we don't do the same thing. My problem is what to do/ tell them? We will not use illegal parts even if we can "get away with it" but what about the team that is using it? What about the inspectors who missed this part at two seperate regionals even though it is a very obvious part? Any advice would be appreciated.
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Unread 04-10-2002, 12:09 AM
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There are several possibilities:

- Complain at the Judge Panel (not very Gracious Professionalism)
- Talk to the team about it - maybe there is a completely reasonable explanation for it or an exception that you haven't seen
- Ask FIRST directly
a) without mentioning the other team
b) mentioning the other tem without specifics (i.e. facts that would identify that team)
c) mentioning the other team with specifics (again, not really gracious professionalism)

And many others. In the end, you will probably have to decide yourself what to do, use common sense and your basic ethic principles (you seem to have them ;-)

Good luck with your problem and at the Nationals (nonsequitur),

Jan
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Unread 04-11-2002, 03:22 AM
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Smile

In 2001, in VCU, a guy told me he had used velcro in his wheels to solve the steering problem.
There was a rule in the manual saying that you COULD NOT USE VELCRO ON THE WHEELS.
What I did was to tell him: "Hey, I think velcro on the wheels is illegal cause it damages the carpet".
He told me he asked the judges and they said it was OK.

Sometimes they modify the rules a bit. I can think of possible reasons for that changing:

Maybe:

1) their robot was very light and so there would be no problem.

2) they were using a kind of velcro different of the one the judges took to write that rule.

3) the judges realized velcro doesn't damage the carpet.


If I were you I would ask that team how they managed to use the material. You don't need to acuse, just ask.


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Unread 04-11-2002, 11:07 AM
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If there are materials on my bot that you think might be illegal, ask, because if they are, then we don't realize it, or it is in fact legal. A simple question prolly is the best course of action.
If it is in fact illegal, we get just a bit more time to replace it.
If it is in fact legal, then one less thing for overworked judges to deal with.
Bonus: You get a better understanding of the other teams design.
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Unread 04-11-2002, 03:16 PM
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Yeah, I'm sure that most teams that have illegal materials on their robot never intended to. They probably just made a simple mistake. Asking them about it in a nice way probably isn't a bad idea, as it's probably in the team's best interests to find out before the judges
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Unread 04-12-2002, 12:28 AM
PDonovan PDonovan is offline
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Thanks for replies

Thanks for your replies, we did ask the team about the material. We explained that we had wanted to use the same thing but couldn't find a legal way to do it. We really wanted to know if they found it somewhere in Small Parts so that we could use it too. Their response was more evasive than helpful. I think they were aware that it was questionable.
It's really too bad because many of my students now think that a lot of teams "break the rules" because it's too hard to get caught. They think I'm naive for insisting on deadlines for creating new parts and following all the rules etc. "There's no way anyone would know. I bet none of the other teams pay attention to those rules." It's just difficult to make them believe that we're not the only team who takes these things seriously when they see awards given to teams who may have taken a short cut or two.
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Unread 04-12-2002, 12:57 AM
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I used to be of the same opinion, 'No one will know', but Dave brought me around.
Thanks Dave! I can't leave out the rest of the elder folk, thanks too!


Wetzel

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Last edited by Wetzel : 04-12-2002 at 01:04 AM.
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Unread 04-12-2002, 09:19 AM
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if good teams cheated...

Right now, the teams with illegal materials tend to be the weaker teams, those that are not real strong robot builders anyway or teams that could have made the same mechanism with legal kit materials with time and knowledge.

This is my nightmare scenario: Teams that could really take advantage of not following the rules do so to gain the winning edge they need.

Seriously, if the rules are not enforced for the weaker teams, can I blame a team that just needs this or that illegal part to make their robot THE KILLER ROBOT?

I know a lot of veteran team leaders that are worried about that very thing.

Let's remember this point for the team forums FIRST holds this summer.

Joe J.
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Unread 04-15-2002, 12:27 PM
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Al Skierkiewicz Al Skierkiewicz is offline
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I can only answer this one way...
We (adult mentors) spend a great deal of time making sure that all is legal, weight, electrical and matierial. We point this out to each other and to students whenever the question arises. It is a hard choice but one that needs to be made. The goal is not to win but to teach. The rules are part of the teaching process.
Good Luck All
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Unread 04-15-2002, 01:26 PM
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Exclamation Some folks don't pay attention ...

I believe that most of the problems related to questionable materials evolve from three things:

1. Many folks are not paying close attention to the rules. Even on a veteran team, it can be difficult keeping everybody on the same page when it comes to materials. Too often, I have to look someone on my team in the eye who has spent many hours developing something and say "Sorry, can't do that, it's not legal". Folks just don't like to read and pay attention to the rules. Many veterans try to apply rules from prior years to the current year. If there isn't someone on the team dedicated to keeping everything on the up and up, then it's easy to go to the show with something questionable because most don’t know the difference.

2. Interpretation of the materials list and rules also leads to confusion among other teams. You and I may read something in the materials list and interpret it in two different ways (last years “timing" belt rule comes to mind). To me, a timing belt is a cogged belt that maintains a constant relationship between the two pulleys it’s connecting (no slip). To others, it could be a v-belt that has relief cuts in it for flexibility reasons.

3. Communications between FIRST and the teams clouds the “what’s legal” issues. No need to explain this one. I think we all have beaten this horse …..

It all boils down to that “Gracious Professionalism” thing and your conscious. If your team isn’t paying attention to the rules and you can live with that, then you don’t get it. If you are playing to the best of your ability and are satisfied that you have made every effort to play fair, even if a few others disagree with your interpretation, then your A1 in my book. I never have taken another team to the mat at a competition. I explain it to our students as a difference in interpretation when I can. I wait for the FIRST feedback session to lobby for more concise rules and/or changes. I urge you to participate in this feedback.
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Last edited by Ed Sparks : 04-15-2002 at 06:14 PM.
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Unread 04-17-2002, 06:36 PM
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Warren Boudreau Warren Boudreau is offline
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What you have discovered is the battle between ethics, particularly those who don't exhibit it, and "Gracious Professionalism".

I know this answer is going to stink, because I don't care for it myself, but all you can do is point out to your students that what the other team did was unethical in that it was a knowing violation of the rules.

It's a tough trade-off between winning at all costs and instilling an ethical mindset in the students.

Hopefully, this helps. At least you can realize that you are not alone.
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Unread 05-14-2002, 05:32 PM
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not just material

We haven't struggled with other teams using illegal material as much as we have struggled with other teams using parts or components (entire arms or lifts) from the previous year's competition. We were finally competitive this year because we had a machine shop owner join the team and additionally got our own machine shop up and running, so we could actually build parts and have an operational robot prior to shipping. Even at that we barely made it. This is the 4th generation of our drive train and chassis arrangement, and it truly hurts to field a less than adequate robot as we have the last 2 years because we refused to make parts prior to kickoff and we ran out of manufacturing time while some pretty well established teams show up with hardware that still has the dents from the previous year.
I'm proud of what we've done every year - gracious professionalism comes before anything else that we teach the kids. And if your team happens to come in last with a robot that was built by the book, you should feel just as proud. That code of honor means more to me than the medals from this year.
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Unread 05-15-2002, 06:09 PM
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I agree with you about parts that were built before kickoff. I think that anything built before Kickoff should not be allowed, including anything from previous years. I think teams should be allowed to design and prototype, but any actual fabrication for final systems should be done in the six weeks only. It's unreasonable to completely disallow any work on next year's robot ahead of time, but in my mind, if it was built before kickoff, it doesn't belong on the 'bot.
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Unread 05-16-2002, 03:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jeff Waegelin
It's unreasonable to completely disallow any work on next year's robot ahead of time, but in my mind, if it was built before kickoff, it doesn't belong on the 'bot.
Not just in your mind - in the rulebook. It is against the rules to build before kickoff, or to use altered parts from a previous competition. If, on the other hand, you had a box of drill motors laying around, it's ok to substitute an old one for the one you just spilled your Mountain Dew on, but only because it was a kit part, and not modified before the build season.
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