A Caution: Non-Flat Field

Something that caught my eye and has me badly worried:

There is one (1) SCALE centered in the field, and oriented so that the SCALE arm is parallel to the ALLIANCE WALL. The SCALE features an arm, RUNGS, PLATES, OUTRIGGERS, PLATFORMS, and TOWER. All frame surfaces are covered in polycarbonate panels. A cable protector extends from the center of each side of the PLATFORM and is 2 ½ in. (~6 cm) wide and ¾ in. (~2 cm) high (Electriduct, Inc. CSX-3, black). These cable protectors extend to the GUARDRAILS and the SWITCHES.

Now, if you watch the Scale field tour video, they also call these out. Turns out that these cable protectors run cable to the Scale.

And all the scoring for the Scale and the Switches is automatic.

What’s got me worried? Well… I predict a non-zero number of field faults when some robot manages to pick up this cable protector and run away with it, and any cables (like power and data) that are inside. The main field power/data artery has had issues in the past when someone took a robot cart over it (despite being in a heavier cable protector).

Folks, please please please please, design your robots to not damage/pick up/destroy these cable protectors. And if you don’t, may the curses of a thousand angry field crews land upon your entire team’s heads like a falling tower of Totes from The Game That Shall Not Be Named. The last thing you want to be remembered for is knocking out scoring ability… while trying to score.

I suspect that if you design to be able to go up the Platform you’ll be able to go over the cable protectors just fine, but sometimes small bumps get missed when you aim for the big bumps…

The wire covering they are using looks pretty heavy-duty. It’s all PVC. I don’t think there will be a problem of it being carried away seeing how it is one solid piece.

that’s a substantial bump on the field…

Good enough reason to keep your bumpers ~1 inch min. from the floor.

Also it looks pretty easy for the field crew to gaff tape the edges so driving over it will not be difficult, unless you are pushing a spatula.:ahh:


I wager one corn dog at Houston CMP that at least one team (most likely 900) will have a spatula. I hope I lose.

Edit: After posting this, I went back to our slack. I got a PM from a student that effectively suggested that we use a spatula to pick up power cubes.

Part of the reason I’m worried is Practice Day, Inland Empire 2014. There was a team there that every time they were out there, the zone lines disappeared. They had very low ground clearance, and it took them several attempts to get everything that was snagging the tape into a non-snagging condition.

If people think the field is flat…

I will admit to using this thread mainly to get attention to the fact that there are these non-flat areas, and that teams should be cognizant of where they are. There might be a couple of reasons besides the risk of taking down the scoring system…

I’m wondering why they need the cable protectors extending to both sides of the field. Just for symmetry, so it doesn’t matter which end of the SCALE is Red or Blue?

And I’ll bet those things have extreme amounts of Velcro holding them down. Not that the Velcro will totally prevent movement. But no one wants to see cables ripped apart.

See the violation section of G19. I’ll bet the sanctions get escalated rapidly.

I was told at Kickoff that the extra one is just to keep it fair and “even” on both sides of the field-same obstacles.

Velcro and about a 6" wide strip of gaffers tape holds them down.
The field side cable protectors are also held down on one end by the tower outriggers.
The protectors running from the central scale out to the low scales are captured at each end by the metal frames.

I figured as much. If there was only one, there’s an uneven field and you don’t know which way it’ll be uneven… (I can see a robot getting a surprise little tippy from being on those while placing cubes on the scale. Not pretty.)

I was also wondering why they couldn’t air-drop a line to the center of the Scale (and/or Switches) like in '07, but then I realized that with the number of events in high school venues these days, droppable points are going to be tougher to find and use even with just a light power/data cable pairing, plus the internal routing, and protecting from reaching hooks.

I still think it’s a recipe for a field fault at some poor event, but it sounds like they’ve taken serious measures to prevent it. I hope I’m wrong about there being at least one field fault caused by one of these getting torn loose, I really do.

Not just field fault, but potentially long delay if the cables get nicked/cut/torn/yanked and FTAs have to run a new set out to the scale.

Obligatory reference to a spatula source.

Note that TU#1 raised the height–due to the Velcro, 7/8" instead of 7/10".