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Unread 02-22-2017, 03:01 PM
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Control Systems Helpers: 1257's Newest Endeavor

Over the course of the 2016 season, I went around the pits at competition helping other teams with their control systems issues. Both when they asked for the help and when I saw that they needed it (i.e. seeing things go wrong on the field). The big issues of the year were connection, roboRIO shutdowns, and sliding off the batter. I trained the people on my sub-team to know how and be willing to do the same.

If you text @cshelpers to 810-10 (Yes, it's a remind101 thing) and then send your team number and a brief description of the problem, someone will be sent to your pit to assist you. They know all they need to help and will not do anything without the permission of your team. Even if you just want another set of eyes to look at a problem just send us a text and we will do whatever we can to help you out.

If you will be at Hatboro-Horsham District Event or Bridgewater-Raritan District Event (Hopefully MAR District Championship and The FIRST Championship, but obviously no guarantee) you can take full advantage of this! But even if not, please contact us anyway! Someone from CSHelpers will do their best to help you where ever you are. That service will be available from now until the end of the competition season.

Finally, all of us on CSHelpers want to thank Harbor Freight Tools for sponsoring, in part, the sets of tools that each person will have on them for assisting other teams.

If you have any questions please ask!
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Unread 02-22-2017, 03:06 PM
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Re: Control Systems Helpers: 1257's Newest Endeavor

How is this better/different then seeking help from the official CSAs at an event, who almost certainly have more training, experience, and have been vetted by FIRST?
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Unread 02-22-2017, 03:09 PM
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Re: Control Systems Helpers: 1257's Newest Endeavor

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Originally Posted by frcguy View Post
How is this better/different then seeking help from the official CSAs at an event, who almost certainly have more training, experience, and have been vetted by FIRST?
Often times there can be a queue for the CSA's, and issues/questions go unanswered for a while.

Even if the helper program "only" asks the right questions to frame the problem appropriately, it is a huge benefit.
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Unread 02-22-2017, 03:18 PM
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Re: Control Systems Helpers: 1257's Newest Endeavor

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Originally Posted by JesseK View Post
Often times there can be a queue for the CSA's, and issues/questions go unanswered for a while.

Even if the helper program "only" asks the right questions to frame the problem appropriately, it is a huge benefit.
That's exactly correct! CSAs are busy people and there are not very many of them per event. If you need help at a given instant we aim to be available in that instant. Also, we will come to you if we see problem from the stands/sidelines.
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Unread 02-22-2017, 03:27 PM
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Re: Control Systems Helpers: 1257's Newest Endeavor

You probably thought of this already, but I'll say it anyway in case it didn't occur to you.

If the main advantage of a CS Helper is that they can help without having to wait for a CSA, I would make sure that you only offer to help if there is a wait for a CSA. If there is no wait, it is better that the team be helped by an official CSA with real training and a chain of command that goes all the way up to FIRST HQ. If there is a wait for a CSA, you should make sure the team being helped is also in line waiting for a CSA to open up. I don't mean to be rude, and I'm sure you know a lot about the control system, but IMO it's always better to be helped by an official CSA than another team with experience with the CS.

Also if you haven't done this already, you should make sure the CSAs at your events know that you're doing this. They are probably happy for you to help them out, but there's a chance that they will want to take care of problems themselves to make sure teams are receiving the correct information. On the other hand, if they see a team has a very basic problem and they have teams waiting they may ask you to help instead so they can move on to another team with a more complicated problem.

Thank you for providing this service.


EDIT: Also, I would be careful about approaching teams who look like they needed help based on their performance on the field. The SOP for teams having trouble on the field is that the team approaches the FTA (or vice versa) and the FTA refers them to a CSA, FTAA, or RI depending on their problem. I would at least make sure that they were referred to the CSA before approaching them (another reason why it's important to establish a relationship with the CSAs).
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Last edited by AriMB : 02-22-2017 at 03:35 PM.
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Unread 02-22-2017, 03:55 PM
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Re: Control Systems Helpers: 1257's Newest Endeavor

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ari423 View Post
You probably thought of this already, but I'll say it anyway in case it didn't occur to you.

If the main advantage of a CS Helper is that they can help without having to wait for a CSA, I would make sure that you only offer to help if there is a wait for a CSA. If there is no wait, it is better that the team be helped by an official CSA with real training and a chain of command that goes all the way up to FIRST HQ. If there is a wait for a CSA, you should make sure the team being helped is also in line waiting for a CSA to open up. I don't mean to be rude, and I'm sure you know a lot about the control system, but IMO it's always better to be helped by an official CSA than another team with experience with the CS.

Also if you haven't done this already, you should make sure the CSAs at your events know that you're doing this. They are probably happy for you to help them out, but there's a chance that they will want to take care of problems themselves to make sure teams are receiving the correct information. On the other hand, if they see a team has a very basic problem and they have teams waiting they may ask you to help instead so they can move on to another team with a more complicated problem.

Thank you for providing this service.


EDIT: Also, I would be careful about approaching teams who look like they needed help based on their performance on the field. The SOP for teams having trouble on the field is that the team approaches the FTA (or vice versa) and the FTA refers them to a CSA, FTAA, or RI depending on their problem. I would at least make sure that they were referred to the CSA before approaching them (another reason why it's important to establish a relationship with the CSAs).
All very good advice, thanks! And the only things that we approach for are things that we know are CS issues. For example, if we see a robot that is disabled and we can't find another reason for it (e.g. bumper issues, posing a danger, etc.) and we suspect that it is a connection issue or if we see a robot browning out then we will offer our assistance.
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1257: Parallel Universe
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Mentor (2017-??)


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