Advice for Rookies at their first regional?

This topic is mainly considering PR, just a few things our team was wondering out.

  1. What do pit decorations or designs generally look like? Are there a limit to people in them?
  2. I am assuming that almost everyteam gives out buttons or trades them for fun, do we hand them to judges as well?
  3. We were thinking of creating small gifts to give to the other rookie teams for encouragement-any suggestions?

And just general advice is welcomed as well =] I can say that our team is very excited about attending San Diego but also quite nervous too. Thank you all for your help =]

There are no real rules to PR at the regional. In fact I would encourage you to do something unique that will make you stand out (so long as it’s in good taste).

  1. Pits are as diverse as the robots and people that inhabit them. My advice is make your pit a functional work space first, then build from there. Make a few posters celebrating what you’ve accomplished, how you did Dean’s HW, etc. The pit should have no more than 6 people in it at a given time and the safety judges will remind you often if your pit looks crowded.

  2. Of course you give them to judges! Judges, refs, volunteers, fans…they all appreciate buttons. Make sure your buttons are easy to access when it’s time to hand them out (aka all the time).

  3. Really? That’s awesome! Depends on your budget really…maybe a shirt that has all the team numbers of the rookies at your competition and says San Diego FRC Teams Est. 2008 on it.

Good luck!

I’m sure everyone will chime in with answers to all of your questions.

My response is regarding the whole team.
Talk with your lead mentor regarding having team meetings every night.
They can be very brief but they line out the schedule and which sub-team is where and what the expectations are. If you would like an idea of how we run ours, pm me.

Example: the team ‘separates’ at the venue with the drive team/pit crew headed one direction and the spirit/pr group headed another. That can mix a bit and not all teams run the same but be prepared for separation physically. This means the sub-team leads have to know where to go and what to do and the mentors/adults to work with/report to. The more organized the team, the better.
Have meeting times scheduled and worked out.
Lunch, where to meet.
How are you going to feed your pit crew and driver team and when?
Where are you are going to regroup after the day in order to get back together?

Having these plans lined out during the team meetings the night before helps, taking it one day at a time.

This has nothing to do with your questions but the better organized the sub-teams and the schedule, the more success you will have in completing your other tasks, such as distributing buttons.

Enjoy your rookie competition season. All the best!

I’m sure everyone will chime in with answers to all of your questions.

Right you are!

Well I will chime in and share my experience from last year winning of the Rookie All Star.

First of all, prepare something to leave the judges with. A scrapbook, for instance, might be a great idea.

Second, prepare something unique and surprising like the team I’m mentoring is going to do. (It will be kept secret until the Tel Aviv regional :slight_smile: )

Buttons and stickers, are great, but always ask yourself, is there anything bigger?

Believe me, the answer is yes!

  1. Some pits are just a table and piles of boxes and crates, and others are elaborate workspaces. Some teams leave their pits a mess, and others keep them clean and super-well organized. Some teams allow anyone to hang out, other teams strictly limit the pits to those that are really essential. Some teams regularly exceed the 10’ x 10’ boundaries, and others do not.

Guess which teams are winning in competiton? generally the latter.

  1. Judges love buttons and other give-aways. NO FOOD OR CANDY!

  2. That would be both gracious and, assuming it’s not in poor taste, professional. All the rookies are competing for Rookie All-Star, but that’s no reason not to become good friends with them, since they’re in the same boat.

Don’t forget - when you are at the comp, be helpful, share whatever you can with everyone (keep track of tools with a pad & pen, who took what, coross out when it returns), bring all your extras to give away to someone who needs, etc. Go and look at the other robots, get ideas, ask questions, get help, give help… all that.

Oh, and for all the kids who are not essential but want to be in the pits? Get them to help someone else (there will be several teams who need it), after all, they like working on robots right? Does it matter whose robot it is??


About the pit question, here’s our rookie pit from last year…

I’d recommend that one would make it with enough storage area for supplies/tools. Have enough space around your robot so one may work on it without a huge “crowd” on one side of it. Make it safe and presentable inorder to earn bonus points for the safety (Clean Pit)/ and image award.

For your pit, have something long you can put around the edges that will give it some bounds. Whether these are toolboxes, tables, or just outright fencing, it will aid against intentional or unintentional expansion from your neighbours.

Probably too late for shirt advice, but if you’re attending a big regional (50+ teams), make sure your shirts are uniquely colored. In 2006, my team at GTR had flat black shirts with text, and it made it VERY difficult to find each other in the stands because many other teams also had dark shirts and the stands aren’t usually lit well. We got new red ones for Atlanta and it worked nicely at keeping us together.

Bring lots and lots of buttons or other clip-on stuff. It is the currency of the pits and stands.

This was my team’s biggest change with the biggest payoff in the 2006 season:
Make a checklist of pre-match things to do, with specific people assigned to make sure they get done. Before each match, have the team leader specifically ask each person if they finished their task (even if he thinks that it has already been done). Here’s an example:
] - Mechanical Mike changed the battery
] - Programmer Pete ensured the correct version of the code is installed
] - Electrical Erica made sure all the wires were tightly plugged in.
] - Driver Dan put the robot through its paces

  • ] - Motors work in the correct directions for all orientations of the drive stick
  • ] - Arm operates through all its possible orientations
  • ] - Pneumatics open and close as expected and with the expected pressure
  • ] - IR Board is responsive

We implemented this because we had one regional where we had 3-4 matches with catastrophic but avoidable failures: unplugged batteries, uncharged batteries, test versions of the code that made the robot undriveable, unfilled air tanks, unplugged PWM cables. All small things that, if unchecked, end a match for a team. Assigning people to each task is important because it makes people accountable. The person named for each task is more likely to ensure it gets done if their name is written down and the team knows exactly who is to blame if their task goes undone. I know that I (as programmer that year) made very sure that the correct version of the code was loaded, even if it meant redundantly re-downloading the correct code to the robot.
has suggestions, like
“18 Tips for in the Pits”
“101 Things I Wish I’d Known Before My First FIRST Competition”

  1. What do pit decorations or designs generally look like? There is everything, from a toolbox sitting on a table, to huge elaborate workspaces and decorations.

Are there a limit to people in them? I’m not sure if there’s an official limit, but it really depends on your layout, and how you guys work. If you have room to work without bumping into each other continually, I don’t think anyone will have a problem. Try to avoid having people out in the aisle, as it makes it hard for people, and robots to navigate.

  1. I am assuming that almost everyteam gives out buttons or trades them for fun, do we hand them to judges as well? That’s pretty much up to you, but I’d say you definitely should…anything to make you stand out more (in a good way), can’t hurt your chances of winning an award. We give out inflatable axe’s/tomahawk’s.

  2. We were thinking of creating small gifts to give to the other rookie teams for encouragement-any suggestions? As others have said, no food, other than that…try to avoid anything that will cause problems (Such as laser pointers).

Other advice:

Checklists of what to do before/after every match, and such are great ideas, as you will forget important things otherwise.

Make sure that you don’t intrude into other teams space, or the aisle. It really causes problems for everyone. However, if there is extra space available thanks to pure luck, I’d say use it.

This classic thread will reveal all: