2006 Season - The Negative

What could FIRST stand to improve upon this year?

I’m with a rookie team, here as a chaperone (parent of a team member), although I am also an engineer.

I know that the Event is open to the public, but is the public invited? It looks like almost everyone here is with a team, or helping to put on the show. Where are the yellow busses full of local kids I expect to see? and their parents? and other folks who might get a kick out of watching machines play ball, and might get inspired to think “hey, that looks like fun, I wonder if I could do that!”?

Is this event presented to the media as a spectator sport?

Does the faculty of EVERY school within reasonable driving distance know about this event?

The same questions apply to the regionals

Actually, at VCU they were giving tours of the pits. But, you’re right it’s not enough. How is FIRST supposed to change culture when mostly the only people who know its going on are either directly related to it or work at a nearby resteraunt. (I’m sure they notice, if you’ve ever seen the Subway across the street from VCU you’d know what I mean)

I think FIRST needs to get more active in the realm of the Mainstream Media! They need more news coverage! They need more people to tell more people. I think a lot of it is in the hands of the teams, but half of the teams and people on those teams (includeing myself) just don’t. We rely on the teams that are known for spreading FIRST rather than ourselves.

FIRST needs to increase the importance in getting the word out. They have done well this year, but they need MORE!

While the game is great this year and is fun to watch from a participant’s point of view, it is still difficult for those with little familiarity to know what’s going on. The flag on each robot was an interesting touch this year, but I don’t think it quite met the mark of clearly identifying who was on what team. The periods also made it difficult for others to keep track of the action on the field.

I didn’t have any problems with knowing what team was red or blue, nor did I have a problem with the periods. However, I was also on the field and had been completely consumed with the game for weeks on end.

I think it should also be noted that maybe it isn’t important to have these issues addressed more than they have been already. The target audience of the game is not people pulled in off of the street.

On the note of the public coming to watch, our team had a man in our pit who said he came to the competition every year to watch, since he lived in atlanta. He told us he took Thursday and Friday off and then came back on Saturday. I know this is just one man, and think how awesome it would be if more people started doing what he does every year.

This might be nit-picky, but I seemed to see a lot of folks on the floor of the Dome with team media badges…that didn’t have any photography or recording equipment with them. (One gentleman I saw was actually attempting to coach his team from a few feet off the carpet.) A little more work on access control would be useful. (At the same time, does an entire set of doors have to be exit-only, when the nearest entry doors are nearly impossible to find?)

The flag holders were alright, but they seemed to be the biggest pain in the butt to inspect. (Bear in mind, I inspected at UCF, which was before the whole offboard compressor thing hit the fan.) If FIRST were to either allow two mounting holes, all the way through, or perhaps some other more secure method (perhaps create some cheap mount the teams have to bolt onto the robot’s top that the flag latches on to?), I could stand to see them return. Honestly, though, I’d really prefer to see a light of some sort.

The IFI breaker panel is lighter/sexier/more elegant/(any good word here but cheaper). I thoroughly intend to beg for its return in 2007 at the team forum.

The ball counters were great–but they need to work properly in order to really get the full awesomeness out of them. The theory was Chuck Norris, but the execution was only Vin Diesel. (That said, I do like that they attempted to improve the readings over the weeks.)

Bumpers were nice, but somewhat annoying in their requirements. (I heard from a secondhand source that some regionals erroneously required the Cordura fabric. It should be made painfully obvious when things are not rules, but encouragements.) If they’re going to continue this required format, I’d at least like to see some flexibility in it. (A smaller bumper option, for example, and an allowance for angled cuts and what not.)

The wedge rule was good in theory, but the execution (in my experience) saw some obvious non-wedges become ruled as wedges. I’d much rather see either the no-wedge zone dropped lower, or establish some empirical requirement (create a Kitbot-On-Skyways dummy, for example, and require that robots be unable to wedge it.)

Oh, and for Pete’s sake, dump the Hatch field controllers. It seems like it’s not a regional until you have to break out the foghorn at least three times just to get one clean match. The solution is out there–the WildStangers-designed FVC field controllers were nearly flawless over the two days of the Championship. (And they’re tiny, too–one alliance station’s connection point was about the size of a deck of cards. Plug in two Cat5 cables and the eight handset cables for the radios’ tether ports, and your field is just about wired.)

The problems within the first week of getting more balls from Poof-Slinky was a little annoying, but at least it was sorted out quickly.

I can’t think of anything else–overall, the season was a pretty good one, with nothing too terrible in my experience. Some things just need some tweaking.

I couldn’t agree with this statement more. We need to get the word out about FIRST and technology more, but we need it to be done more by all teams. We know there are teams doing it, you often see them with a Chairman’s Award, Engineering Inspiration Award, X Award, etc., but we need the teams (like mine) that worry every year about whether they’ll be able to attend a regional competition, let alone win an award, to try to get the word out of FIRST. I’ll admit myself and the rest of my team have been guilty of not going to lengths many teams do to get the word out, and that needs to change. The lesser known teams that attend only 1 competition a year make up the majority of FIRST (remember, only 1/4 or less of all teams attend the Championship), and these are the teams that would have the largest voice if they could all just try to do some of the things these role model teams do.

On the note of this year’s game, the 2 main things I disliked were the bicycle flag team indicators and the automatic DQ of an entire alliance for entering the corner goal during eliminations. For some reason I like big annoying flashy lights on the robot, not little flags or strips of color. As for the DQ, I would have preferred they just DQ that robot rather than the whole alliance, or to give them some large penalty (30 points), but at least give the team a chance to still win.

That is just part of the game. Last year, the Tetra-loading zone “touch a robot” penalty was hated and feared by all teams, and it was just a part of the game as anything else.

The idea was you had to invent a robot system that would push the balls in without going over a certain point. The reason is that the robot is going into the area where the Human player can reach, and they are always going to make strict pentalties when it comes to possible Human player to robot contact.

First things first, FIRST needs to pick a new venue that doesn’t have any fountains.

Honestly, the only thing that bugged me personally, was a lack of consistency between the practice field and the real field, as in things that worked on the practice field did not work on the real field. This was mostly due to, according to what I’ve heard, the balls becoming softer and easier to compress after constant abuse on the real fields. Did anyone else have this problem or was this just us?

Otherwise it was a great event, and when I’m not entirely too tired, I’m posting in the postive thread with a list why.

I agree with the rule, I just wish they had kept the same penalty from qualifiers (DQ the offending robot) for the elimination rounds, rather than killing the whole alliance. I didn’t see it happen at our competition at all, but I know it happened at least once.

DQing the offending robot in an elimination match would have no effect, because the game result (i.e. win/loss/tie) would still affect the entire alliance. Maybe you’re conflating the DQ (determined after the fact by the head referee) with disabling the robot (several ways to do this, during the match)?

Although I want to make it clear that, in my opinion, this was one of the best years ever for FIRST, I found the rule for the single point goal penetration to be poorly thought out with regard to its consequences. I understand the need to protect the accuracy of the scoring, but this portion of the field could have been designed with more margin, avoiding accidental DQs, as well as making it harder for a team to generate a DQ by crashing your robot while it was scoring single point balls. The rule could have been written to discourage crashing a robot in attempt to cause a DQ. The rather frequent crash attempts I witnessed were totally against the ideals of FIRST as I understand them and should not have been encouraged by the rules.

Eugene

The two main beefs I had this year at nationals were that some teams didn’t make their numbers very visible on their robot (very hard for scouters) and the competition feeling impersonal. The second one wasn’t really anybody’s fault, but the whole competition seemed so much more impersonal compared to last time I was at nationals (2004). I can remember in 2004 having various team visit us in the stands and teams handing out their own awards. I didn’t see any of that this year. Everybody just seemed so reserved this year.

Yeah, I completely agree with that. If I remember correctly it was in the FRC manual that your team number had to be clearly visible from all four sides. And while they may have been clearly visible to people near them, for a lot of teams they weren’t visible at all from the stands.
Some one else mentioned something earlier about alliances not being clearly marked. I think that’s also an issue for not just outside spectators, but people like parents who come to watch their kids’ robots, but don’t really know robot numbers of other teams making it more difficult to understand the alliances.

We all used our going to other team energy at the Regionals.

Seconded. Having seen what I’ve seen, a good set of team numbers (IMHO) is:

-4" tall, 3/4" stroke, blah blah blah
-All in one line, horizontally or vertically
-In one color or pattern set against a different, non-transparent color.

A decent example is that of 968. Compare their robot with 254’s in this picture. While the Poofs’ numbers were legal and fine, that red border to RAWC’s numbers really did a lot of good to help make them stand out against the clear hopper. Same thing goes for 348’s robot.

It’s not a big change, but it would be a welcome one.

Where on the robot would also be a good specification for team numbers. As a scout I know that even if it is easy to see a robot’s numbers in the pits or when close to it, with the wall and people in front of you, it is nearly impossible to tell who’s who on the red alliance (process of elimination was what we ended up using most).

Also, it was very difficult and almost impossible to scout when teams stood up to cheer for an entire match. i can understand when a team is announced, but during the match could teams please sit down?

What was particularly annoying was teams who wrote their team numbers on their bumpers and nowhere else. Also, I saw a lot of teams have large numbers and everything, but the colors were so close to the color of the background that you could not read it.

It’s pretty bad when one has to borrow his or her teacher’s binoculars match after match.

I know FIRST likes being at the cutting edge of technology and all but it’s really starting to interrupt the flow of the events when it breaks down. Sometimes you can be too cute and now they want to try this complicated light stunt. I have a bad feeling about this…

I also have to say I was genuinely disappointed in the Woodie Flowers display in the Hall of Fame. I was hoping for more than that and truly hope more will be done with it next year.

And I know FIRST can’t really do anything about it but the week 2 regional pileup hurt alot of regionals and something has to be done to keep them from being drained.

Also for those of you who keep misidentifying our lead mentor Ron as me a big slap on the hand!
This is Ron
http://i50.photobucket.com/albums/f327/X-Cats/2006%20Season/FLR/Day%20Two/DSC04093.jpg

This is me
http://i50.photobucket.com/albums/f327/X-Cats/2006%20Season/FLR/Day%20Three/100_0243.jpg

Big difference!
I’m like ten years younger and far more handsome!
GET IT RIGHT ALREADY! :stuck_out_tongue: