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  #16   Spotlight this post!  
Unread 09-13-2017, 01:52 PM
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Re: FRC Outside of FRC

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Originally Posted by Cothron Theiss View Post
I think this is really more of a symptom of students leaving FRC without learning how to find a solution that best meets the constraints. The proliferation of COTS parts for FRC isn't the underlying an issue; an ignorance of how to select the right tool is. When all you've got is a hammer, every problem tends to look like a nail.
I agree. Its even more difficult when your dealing with trying to raise funds, have enough mentorship/expertise support, and deal with school bureaucracies. Might as well turn this into a business class also.
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Unread 09-13-2017, 05:04 PM
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Re: FRC Outside of FRC

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Originally Posted by mrnoble View Post
We are currently designing our off-season robot, which will be a football throwing bot that does multiple 50-yard passes (or whatever distance below that) from midfield for the Denver Broncos. It requires a lot of non-FRC parts, so far including the control system, the shooter wheels, the batteries, and perhaps the motors. Our constraints are different, so we are working to find out what we need and either procure it or build it ourselves. I'd say that off-season is the time to familiarize oneself with non-FRC stuff.
I can't wait to see this.
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Unread 09-13-2017, 05:10 PM
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Re: FRC Outside of FRC

Outside of very high-end R&D gigs, what engineering jobs don't use lots of COTS components?
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Unread 09-13-2017, 08:08 PM
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Re: FRC Outside of FRC

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Originally Posted by Lil' Lavery View Post
Outside of very high-end R&D gigs, what engineering jobs don't use lots of COTS components?
While I don't fully agree with OP, this is missing the point. If you aren't using lots of COTS, you're doing R&D pretty much by definition. The issue is in limiting one's COTS choices exclusively to those used in FIRST, even when the project is neither explicitly nor implicitly* subject to FIRST rules.

I think 3946 is pretty good about this. Once we figure out what we need for a non-competition function, we first check this against FRC devices, because
  • we might have it in stock
  • we might be able to use the parts for competition later
However, once we determine that our requirements really fall outside of the FRC allowable devices, we do a broader search. Our air cannon uses an AM Nanotube chassis because it is, after all, about the same size and weight as a 2012 FRC robot, but the pneumatics feature some scuba equipment, galvanized pipe, a cast iron tank, 3/4" brass solenoid valves, and utterly non-FRC standard 12V relay modules. More years than not, we've had an arduino-based control system.

A number of our proof-of-concept-not-intended-for-immediate-competition prototypes have used non-FRC motors and wheels and gearboxes, most commonly at a smaller scale for proof of concept.

A great number of our sensors through the years have come from outside of the regular FRC channels. This year we used three of these programmed in parallel (OR logic) to detect a gear in the holder, and four of these wired in parallel to detect when we were pushing against the touchpad, and a completely generic limit switch to tell us when our climbing winch was not securely stowed.

* An example of an implicit case would be when you're doing a mock game, and using the controls rules from the previous year.
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Last edited by GeeTwo : 09-13-2017 at 08:15 PM.
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Unread 09-14-2017, 02:40 AM
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Re: FRC Outside of FRC

I try not to limit myself to FRC components, but honestly, every time I need to do something on a budget (which is all the time) I always rely on two sources: The RC hobby market and FRC. Some things like sensors are easier to source from places like Ebay or Aliexpress, but if you're looking for something that's more robust than that FRC is extremely affordable. Industrial-level sensors, gearboxes, and motors are all extremely pricey and well beyond what I would consider spending for regular college-level projects. Most of the time, I'm limited to FRC COTS components as a matter of necessity.
Once I get into the "real world" I expect to need to look at those industrial level components, but as it stands I'm quite confident in being able to select the right tool for the job. Even using just regular FRC components has taught me how to do that much.
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Unread 09-15-2017, 08:19 AM
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Re: FRC Outside of FRC

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Originally Posted by Monochron View Post
Have you asked to be involved in the engineering decisions? I don't know your team, but typically people are welcoming if you come to the table with initiative. If you can't seem to insert yourself in these discussions, do some calculations on your own and present those people with a solution that is complete as you can make it. Hopefully, if you can prove that you have the initiative, you will be accepted in.
I did try that and it did not go well because they did not like my ideas solely because it came from me. Ironically all of my ideas except one we have used eventually when someone else "came up" with it. Anyway they have all graduated and now for build its just me and my brother but since we are seniors we are going to try to have other people build and come up with ideas instead of us assuming we can get people to do that
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