Bad, bad, bad!!!

Posted by Daniel.

Coach on team BORG (Berkeley Operational Robotics Group) from Berkeley High School sponsored by (working on the sponsor, too).

Posted on 1/12/2000 12:12 AM MST

Maybe it’s just me…

I am NOT a fan of rule M20 in update #1. Here’s my reasoning:

I am a strong advocate of students doing a bulk of the work for this competition, and having engineers taking more of an advising role. This makes six weeks seem a lot shorter. Students are far less experienced, so it takes them an average of 1.5 times as long to get anything done. Doing the calculation: 6 weeks / 1.5 unproductively = 4 weeks.

Perhaps the less student oriented teams can use those extra 2 weeks to build spare parts but I know my team has NEVER had time during the actual production period to make this happen. I’d hate to see teams unable to compete because they have no replacement parts for things that have broken.

Maybe FIRST needs a tighter policy on how similar replacement parts must be, but I think this rule is far overboard.

Any other thoughts?

Posted by Daniel.

Coach on team BORG (Berkeley Operational Robotics Group) from Berkeley High School sponsored by (working on the sponsor, too).

Posted on 1/12/2000 12:15 AM MST

In Reply to: Bad, bad, bad!!! posted by Daniel on 1/12/2000 12:12 AM MST:

Whoops! This should have been in general…oh well =(

Posted by Raul.

Engineer on team #111, Wildstang, from Rolling Meadows & Wheeling HS and Motorola.

Posted on 1/12/2000 7:03 AM MST

In Reply to: Bad, bad, bad!!! posted by Daniel on 1/12/2000 12:12 AM MST:

I think that having the rule that all replacement parts have to be fabbed before shipment is tougher on the low-budget teams.

Those with bigger budgets will likely have multiples made of many things because it is cheaper to do it that way. It cost less to make 2 of something once then to make one and then have to set up again to make another one.

FIRST should allow identical replacement parts to be made anytime. They should, as the update says, allow improvements to be fabbed from the time you check in to the time you ship at the competition.

Raul

Posted by Samuel Lindhorst.

Engineer on team #240, Mach Vee, from Jefferson High School and Visteon.

Posted on 1/12/2000 9:25 AM MST

In Reply to: Re: Bad, bad, bad!!! - I agree posted by Raul on 1/12/2000 7:03 AM MST:

You Have My Vote…
I agree, although every team could benefit from this, it looks to me like it hurts the teams poorer in resources and people and the rookie teams more. Identical parts are the key, although we all change the robot during competition, you should only be able to make new type parts after competition starts. And the cheaters, well, cheat.

Samuel Lindhorst

: I think that having the rule that all replacement parts have to be fabbed before shipment is tougher on the low-budget teams.

: Those with bigger budgets will likely have multiples made of many things because it is cheaper to do it that way. It cost less to make 2 of something once then to make one and then have to set up again to make another one.

: FIRST should allow identical replacement parts to be made anytime. They should, as the update says, allow improvements to be fabbed from the time you check in to the time you ship at the competition.

: Raul

Posted by Russell Pauley.

Coach on team #344 from Phoebus High School.

Posted on 1/22/2000 5:25 PM MST

In Reply to: Re: Bad, bad, bad!!! - I agree posted by Samuel Lindhorst on 1/12/2000 9:25 AM MST:

: You Have My Vote…
: I agree, although every team could benefit from this, it looks to me like it hurts the teams poorer in resources and people and the rookie teams more. Identical parts are the key, although we all change the robot during competition, you should only be able to make new type parts after competition starts. And the cheaters, well, cheat.

: Samuel Lindhorst

: : I think that having the rule that all replacement parts have to be fabbed before shipment is tougher on the low-budget teams.

: : Those with bigger budgets will likely have multiples made of many things because it is cheaper to do it that way. It cost less to make 2 of something once then to make one and then have to set up again to make another one.

: : FIRST should allow identical replacement parts to be made anytime. They should, as the update says, allow improvements to be fabbed from the time you check in to the time you ship at the competition.

: : Raul

You have my vote to. My team has very little money since we are just joining back after a brake since 97. We have had talks about this rule and we are not sure how we are going to do it But we will somehow.

PS. If you see us in line please let us cut (j/k)

Russell

Posted by Nate Smith.

Other on team #66, GM Powertrain/Ypsilanti HS/Willow Run HS, from Eastern Michigan University and GM Powertrain.

Posted on 1/12/2000 10:16 AM MST

In Reply to: Re: Bad, bad, bad!!! - I agree posted by Raul on 1/12/2000 7:03 AM MST:

: FIRST should allow identical replacement parts to be made anytime. They should, as the update says, allow improvements to be fabbed from the time you check in to the time you ship at the competition.

Because of the two ways this rule could be interpreted(with it meaning either only new systems, or including replacement parts), I e-mailed Eric at FIRST this morninng asking for clarification…

Nate

Posted by Daniel.

Coach on team BORG (Berkeley Operational Robotics Group) from Berkeley High School sponsored by (working on the sponsor, too).

Posted on 1/14/2000 1:32 PM MST

In Reply to: Bad, bad, bad!!! posted by Daniel on 1/12/2000 12:12 AM MST:

Q&A w/Eric:

=====
Question:

Rule M20 in update #1

I am a strong advocate of students doing a bulk of the work for this competition, and having engineers taking more of an advising role. This makes six weeks seem a lot shorter. Students are far less experienced, so it takes them an average of 1.5 times as long to get anything done. Doing the calculation: 6 weeks / 1.5 unproductively = 4 weeks.

Perhaps the less student oriented teams can use those extra 2 weeks to build spare parts but I know my team has NEVER had time during the actual production period to make this happen. I’d hate to see teams unable to compete because they have no replacement parts for things that have broken.

Maybe FIRST needs a tighter policy on how similar replacement parts must be, but I think this rule is excessively overprotective. What do you think?

=====
Answer:

FIRST does not advocate one way or the other who should build the robots. This is an area where everyone has a different idea and we leave it up to each team to decide for themselves who does what. What we care about is that the students come away from the project with a sense that science and technology are exciting and that engineering is a viable and rewarding profession that they may wish to explore. If you choose to have the students do most of the robot building, that is ok, but keep in mind that everyone has the same amount of time.

Regarding the building of spare parts, we have for the last few years stated that teams were allowed to build spare parts after the robot shipped in order to make sure that they could repair the robot if it broke down during competition. At the same time, the rules prevented further engineering changes to the robot once it started competing at an event. We have now reversed both of these policies in order to close loopholes, more accurately reflect what really happens at events, and get to the core intent behind the rules.

The philosophy behind rule M20 is as follows: Once your robot has shipped, all work on it should cease. The reason there is a ship date that is the same for all teams is to insure that, no matter which event you attend, everyone has the same amount of time to work on their robot. Opening the door to making spare parts after the robot was shipped was a mistake because there were too many problems associated with trying to define what constitutes an “identical” spare part. It also deviated from our philosophy about the importance of the shipping date and that part of the challenge for the teams is the 6 week deadline.

At the same time, we have now given teams much greater freedom to correct design flaws when they are in the middle of competition. Previously, this was officially disallowed, but many teams did it anyway. We have now sanctioned that behavior because it helps teams get their robots up and running at an event, which is what really matters. Forcing you to keep replacing a part with a design flaw with another one of the same design only to watch it break again really isn’t in anyone’s best interest.

-Eric

Posted by Joe Johnson.   [PICTURE: SAME | NEW | HELP]

Engineer on team #47, Chief Delphi, from Pontiac Central High School and Delphi Automotive Systems.

Posted on 1/14/2000 6:34 PM MST

In Reply to: Eric’s Answer posted by Daniel on 1/14/2000 1:32 PM MST:

I have to admit that I was very impressed with Eric’s answer.

He makes a very strong case.

I believe that we can live the new rules.

One think I can say is that teams had better plan on REALLY having their machines done at the ship date less one week or else you will be VERY disappointed.

Good luck to us all.

Joe J.

P.S. By the way, just to show that this game has a lot of rules that even so called veterans are not fully aware of, I did not fully appreciate the level of ‘FREEZE’ that was expected at the competition.

I suppose that my opinion on the matter was born of observation rather than a strict reading of the rules. Based on first hand knowledge of what goes on in the pits, I must have thought to myself, 'that rule can’t be intended to mean that or else the entire New England Regional would have consisted of 2 or three robots. So, it must mean that no major machine changes are allowed OR that you must be inspected before any major machine changes OR that just because you have gone through inspection it does not allow you to change your machine in any way you wish OR that…

Having read Eric’s reply, I found myself going back over our past machines & reviewing our pit activities, wondering what we did or didn’t do to live by or violate this rule. I also wonder we were alone in our misunderstanding of the rules in years past and whether or not we were looked on as bold faced cheaters by our pit neighbors. Based on Eric’s comments & my observations, I suppose I had a lot of company.

Ah well, the past is past. The rules are clear now. It will not be easy but as I say, I think we can live with them.

Now… Can anyone help us find a portable lathe & CNC mill for our pit area so that we can manufacture parts at the Regionals? :wink:

Posted by Raul.

Engineer on team #111, Wildstang, from Rolling Meadows & Wheeling HS and Motorola.

Posted on 1/14/2000 10:16 PM MST

In Reply to: Confessions of FIRST veteran… posted by Joe Johnson on 1/14/2000 6:34 PM MST:

: Now… Can anyone help us find a portable lathe & CNC mill for our pit area so that we can manufacture parts at the Regionals? :wink:

The HOT team and the TechnoKats bring a trailer full of machine tools with them to the regionals. In light of the new rule, this will be a big advantage. It will be important to be their friends.

Hey Andy Baker, can I be your best friend again?

On a more serious note: We have no choice but to live by the rules and I will make sure we have plenty of raw materials to work with at the competition. However, how much can you really do if you find out that you made a serious mistake in your design? One cannot realistically make serious design changes under those conditions.

In the past our team also added a few tweaks to our design. Last year it was a new hook design; it was design ahead of the ship date but not assembled in time to be tested. Two years ago, we added a simple way to knock balls off the rails.

However, in those two years we did not change a single thing before going to Rumble at the Rock even though there was no rule against it. That is because our design was tweaked by the the time we competed at the Great Lakes regional and need no further changes. All we needed was to tweak our strategy and get our drivers more practice.

I wondered off on a tangent. The point I’m trying to make is that it will be really sad for teams that realize they have a faulty design that could easily be fixed a home in a couple of full days. But with the new rules they will just have to go to the next competition knowing that they have less of a chance of winning because of an obvious flaw.

Good luck to all teams and I hope you do not miss a not so obvious requirement that you will not be able to fix later.

Raul

Posted by Eric Rasmussen.

Engineer from FIRST.

Posted on 1/15/2000 12:03 PM MST

In Reply to: One portable machine shop to go please! posted by Raul on 1/14/2000 10:16 PM MST:

:
: : Now… Can anyone help us find a portable lathe & CNC mill for our pit area so that we can manufacture parts at the Regionals? :wink:

Don’t forget that each event site will have a machine shop accessible to teams to help fabricate parts. Also, we have for the last couple of years tried to make sure that there are directions to local hardware stores available at the registration desk.

Having never used the machine shops or directions, I don’t really know how well this works out in reality. Does this work well for teams or is it wholly insufficient?

-Eric

Posted by Michael Martus.   [PICTURE: SAME | NEW | HELP]

Coach on team #47, Chief Delphi, from Pontiac Central H.S. and Delphi Automotives Systems.

Posted on 1/15/2000 3:03 PM MST

In Reply to: Don’t forget on-site resources posted by Eric Rasmussen on 1/15/2000 12:03 PM MST:

Eric,

The rule regarding 'FABRICATING ’ parts only at the event will result in teams bringing full sets of plans and ‘Fabricating massive amounts of parts just in case’ or minor changes they had no time to complete. Yes this will happen, and at Who’s expense…this saves money for many teams. Any time you can get others to do your work it is great. When else will they be able to fabricate and be ‘Legal’?

I predict that if the rule stands regarding the fabricating of parts only at the event that the shop will be overwhelmed, and not be able to keep up with demand.

The line will be long, very long.

This means small repairs will NOT get done. There may be a lot of robots waiting for repairs and will not run in matches.

On Site resources cannot handle this event.

Posted by Ed Sparks.

Coach on team #34, Bob Jones High School / DaimlerChrysler, from Bob Jones High School.

Posted on 1/15/2000 9:04 PM MST

In Reply to: Re: Don’t forget on-site resources posted by Michael Martus on 1/15/2000 3:03 PM MST:

I agree …

I can see it now … 200+ teams at Orlando making a bee line to the on-site shop to get those ‘just in case’ parts in the queue, standing in the hot sun.
I can’t wait. ={

Ed Team34

Posted by Andy Baker.

Engineer on team #45, TechnoKats, from Kokomo High School and Delphi Automotive Systems.

Posted on 1/18/2000 9:33 PM MST

In Reply to: One portable machine shop to go please! posted by Raul on 1/14/2000 10:16 PM MST:

: The HOT team and the TechnoKats bring a trailer full of machine tools with them to the regionals. In light of the new rule, this will be a big advantage. It will be important to be their friends.

: Hey Andy Baker, can I be your best friend again?

: Raul

Oh, Raul, stop! You’re making me blush! You say that to all of the guys (with trailers).

We plan on bringing our trailer to both Yipsi and Evanston (possibly even Orlando). But, be warned… this is the same get-up that broke down on our way to Yipsi last year!

The trailer will have these table-top items:
…band saw
…drill press
…belt sander

Also, we’ll try to bring a welder.

So far, no lathes or mills… so the long line won’t be moving too slow.

As far as the line goes, these people get to jump to the front:
…TechnoKat team members
…any team promising to ‘pick’ the TechnoKats as an alliance partner…HA!.. just kidding!

Seriously, we will offer our equipment to whoever needs it, but we reserve the right to ‘cut’ in line if we must.

Anyway, we’ll have it there, but don’t expect any precision machining abilities.

Everyone’s buddy,
Andy Baker

Posted by Eric Rasmussen.

Engineer from FIRST.

Posted on 1/15/2000 11:54 AM MST

In Reply to: Confessions of FIRST veteran… posted by Joe Johnson on 1/14/2000 6:34 PM MST:

: Having read Eric’s reply, I found myself going back over our past machines & reviewing our pit activities, wondering what we did or didn’t do to live by or violate this rule. I also wonder we were alone in our misunderstanding of the rules in years past and whether or not we were looked on as bold faced cheaters by our pit neighbors. Based on Eric’s comments & my observations, I suppose I had a lot of company.

I didn’t have anyone in particular in mind with my comments. It was one of those things that we knew lots of teams were doing and we decided to turn a blind eye to most cases in order to allow the teams to compete. We are trying to make sure that our new rules are more reasonable and enforcable, so that it will be easier to get compliance on rules that really matter.

-Eric