A disturbing trend?

Two years ago, at the SoCal regional, virtually all of the robots completed inspection on Thursday. Last year, there were half a dozen teams that didn’t pass inspection until Friday morning. This year at the LA Regional, only about half of the teams had completed their robot inspections by time the pits closed on Thursday night! The robot inspectors scrambled early Friday to get the robots for the first three qualifying matches inspected before the opening ceremonies. Inspections were on-going throughout most of Friday and one team didn’t get onto the field until Saturday morning.

Size and weight issues, improper wiring (i.e. missing distribution blocks, incorrect wire guages), missing or non-compliant bicycle flag holders, and sharp edges were the most frequent reasons for teams failing inspection. We also saw teams with missing pneumatic components, illegal motors, and even last year’s transmission.

Is this unique to the LA Regional or have so many teams had inspection problems in the other early regionals?

Arizona was the same…but I think it was more because most teams did not have a working robot in their crate, there was a LOT of robot building going on Thursday, and a fair amount Friday. Team 60 (of the winning alliance) started with a bare frame Thursday morning!

Incidently, I really didn’t notice any impact from Update 16 (no lathes/drill presses/band saws in the pits), I stopped by the machine shop around 2 pm Thursday and the people working there were all just sitting around…nothing to do…

Yes, indeed, there were a lot of teams in LA that spent much of Thursday completing their robot. When they thought they were “done” and ready for inspection, the size/weight issues and other non-compliances would turn up.

I would recommend that teams get their robots onto the scale and into the sizing box as early as possible on Thursday morning. Better to catch an oversized frame when you’ve got some time to fix it, than to discover that problem a half-hour before the pits are closing…

I cant remember if all the robots were inspected on Thursday last year at the Florida Regional, though I know that many more were than this year. When as they were kicking us out of the pits on Thursday I looked at the board were they had the teams that were inspected, only 45% had passed and five more undergoing inspection.

At Pittsburgh there were only two teams not inspected Thursday. We (1014) were one (because we spent all day Thursday figuring out a pneumatic system problem that kept us from completing inspection) and Delphi ELITE (48) was the other. We were partially inspected on Thursday, I don’t know about 48. The inspectors were good about having teams at least get weighed and checked in the box in the morning even if they were not ready for a complete inspection. There were some rookie teams that weren’t aware of all the rules and came in with illegal bots, but the veteran teams (kudos to 1038 by the way) helped them out to pass inspection.

I do believe that most of the robots at the Pittsburgh regional “passed” inspection on Thursday and competed successfully on Friday. First match of the day… “You shouldn’t have passed inspection, because your flag is mounted too low.” Yea… 4 robots out of the 6 in the FIRST MATCH should not have passed inspection.

Last year, it was sort of rough at UCF–about a dozen or so teams hadn’t passed by pit closing. This year, the figure was about double–I wound up getting half-drafted as an inspector to help get through the crush.

Why is this the case? I’ve got some theories.

1) Possible misconceptions about inspection. Most of us know you can get a partial inspection, but there may be some folks who think inspection is an all-or-nothing situation–or worse, that failing inspection once means they don’t take the field on Friday. It’s an odd thing to think about, but you know how some folks can get the rules twisted around in their heads.
2) Lousy time management. Enough said.
3) Update #16. I spent this past weekend with 1902, who helped get 1062 running on Thursday. The vibe generally was that Update #16, with its ban on drill presses and bandsaws, slowed down the process. 1062, as I recall, was passed by the time I got to the regional on Friday morning–but eliminating the tools that help speed the process does not help the situation.

I agree with Dave Brinza here. I had absolutely no intentions being an inspector friday morning, but I got dragged into it anyway because HALF the teams had not passed. I don’t mean to be harsh here, I was pulled away from my own team, of which I am a key member, to help teams who appear to have little knowledge of even some of the most basic rules.

Inspecting with Dave was great, but the situation in the pits was horrible. Since when is it acceptable to ship a crate full of parts, none of which resembe a finished robot? FIRST needs to do something to really amphasize the need to get inspected sooner rather than later. We know all the teams paid a lot of money to be here, and we don’t want them to miss matches. But we aren’t going to let you play, if you have not passed inspection, IN FULL. Why do so many teams not understand this? Why are so many teams so cal about missign matches? You could argue missing a match is like throwing away a couple hundred dollars! They spend 6 weeks and all this money building their robots, and put themselves in jeopardy of not being able to use it at all. Also, this puts the inspectors in a bad position because we want you to play, we really do, but when you show up at the event with stuiff that is so easily recognizable and spelled out in the rules as illegal, and you are missing the stuff that is required to be legal, what are we supposed to do?

If FIRST is listening, there needs to be some rule making it the team’s resonsibility to get their robot inspected. Not the inspectors’. I would go to teams every 15 minutes, to see if there was anything I could check off, and they had so many people around the robot that I couldn’t even see a sharp edge if there was one.

Back in 2002, teams actually shipped finished robots. Beleive me teams, on ship date, if your robot doesn’t work, that is okay. But PLEASE make sure it is complete, and legal. Pass inspection on what you’ve got, then fix it, then get reinspected if you made a major change.

at vcu, only half the teams had passed inspection by 4:30 when most of our team left. but none of the robots missed matches because of inspection. but the reason for the delay wasn’t the inspectors fault, it was the teams not ever getting to the inspection table.

Sounds like the GLR Regional. I was an inspector there among a very veteran crew led by Dan K, lead inspector. We made every effort at inspecting from opening moment of Thursday, doing partials if possible. By the close of Thursday 1/3 ( about 20) of the teams had not completed a full inspection. This seems more than last year.

I observed many robots that were like ststed in earlier posts, not asembled with many hours of work to be done.

What hurts is that in the rush on Friday morning I feel the inspection is not of the same quality, everything is hurry up get it done. Safety is number 1 and cannot be rushed. All robots should follow the rules and conform to the specifications however we disagree with them. They are the rules we must ALL follow.

It is very stressful to get a robot designed and built within 6 weeks, we all understand that. Teams need to look at their resources and build within their constraints of time and $$$$$.

Hey teams… writing the BOM on scrap paper from your head is not cool.

At GSR a lot of teams were done by thursday night but there were a lot of teams that still had to pass the saftey portion of inspection friday morning and a few teams that had not even started inspection before friday

At the Pacific Northwest Regional, I didn’t hear much about inspection problems. The only inspection problem our robot had was that it was a little overweight. So we drilled holes in some of the panels and came up 119.7 lbs.

For the most part, everyone was inspected-atleast partially- by Friday morning in WI. This happened only because we were getting extra inspectors and because we kept going up to teams and inspecting what little they had. But when I was inspecting I noticed a TON electrical mistakes like wrong wire gauges, missing parts and teams with weight issues.

This year, robots have two different tasks that require two unrelated to be incorporated into the overall design. Perhaps the trend has some relation to the increased complexity of the robots this year over the past couple years?

For some not-so-odd reason I forsee this happening at lot at MWR. There’s a significant number of rookie teams. Some of which are bound to follow the trend mentioned here in this thread. Others will know their stuff, especially those mentored. I wonder how many teams will be building on Thursday.

For the veteran teams, I would agree with your assessment. The BeachBots - a very effective scoring robot with ramps found themselves a fraction of a pound overweight. Their short-term solution was to remove one of their ramps. I believe they ultimately removed a redundant motor in their arm in order to allow both ramps to be installed on the robot. Their final weight was 120.0 lb.

Rookie and 2nd/3rd year teams had non-compliance issues - not using correct wire guages, missing distribution blocks, pneumatic components, etc. I think part of the issue is the number of rules that the teams need to wade through (there are 116 rules in Section 8 - Robot of the Game Manual) to build a robot.

that is probably a significant part of it! Keeping track of what’s happening here on CD is a great way to catch the typical problems ahead of time, though…people discuss the new or confusing or gotcha rules, which helps newer teams become aware of them.

Actually, 638 did miss a couple matches, and 122 had to run to the field to make their first (Match 1) match.

I can’t say I saw this at the NJ regional - we were pre-inspected for weight & size around 11 am Thursday, then called for a full inspection mid-afternoon. I did not notice a crush Friday morning.

Maybe we’re too flip in stating “it’s not about the robot” ?? I mean, it really isn’t, but maybe some teams are OK with the building experience and don’t really care if they compete? I cannot imagine it myself, but who knows how some people think.

I agree with sanddrags’s closing paragraph. Mentors and Coaches may need t step in with one or two weeks left, and take matters into their own hands if necessary*, to ensure that the team does not fail, and ships a robot that has a good shot at passing inspection. Mentors & Coaches also need to emphasize and hold the kids acocuntable for the rules - wrong gauge wire (for example) is simply inexcusable, for both the kids and the adults.

On 1676, we adults tru to stay out of it as much as possible, but we do check the work and insert wry comments at apropos moments (like “umm, is 24 gauge big enough for that spike? What do the rules say?”)


*That’s the fun part, but we must try to resist the temptation.

My oldest son, Matt, was a member of Team 16 (Bomb Squad). His role on the team was “compliance officer” and, basically, he verified the robot complied with the rules. I think this is a really good idea - the student can be the point-of-contact during inspections. A mentor can play the role of inspector while the student addresses the items. In this way the students and mentors being accountable to FIRST.