[BB]: FIRST Choice


Get AM products on a first-come, first-serve basis for just the shipping cost? Sounds too good to be true, but it looks like it is true. The only question is, which items will be available? We’ll find out… I’m hoping that extra CIMs will be in that bunch.

I’m hoping AndyMark becomes an IFI distributor so I can get free Victors. Being a post-IFI team we only have 6, which is always just short of enough.

We’ve exclusively used AM gearboxes and products on the robot, and seeing as the KoP has not once included roughtop wheels we’ll probably be in need of those too.

It’ll be interesting to learn if teams are allowed to request a fixed number of items, regardless of their cost, or if we’re provided with a budget and can request any number of parts that fall within it.

The “first-come, first-serve” nature strongly implies to me that FIRST Choice is not for typical off-the-shelf components. It seems likely that this is how FIRST has decided to handle donations of items that aren’t of sufficient quantity to put one in every kit.

My guess is a limited fixed number of items. Probably more fair that way.

Nuff said.

But at the same time, there’s a big difference between getting a $30 plaction wheel versus a $350 shifting transmission. Having a fixed dollar amount you could get would allow teams to get what they really need, instead of the really expensive items that they’ll “probably use this season, so we should get it now cause it’s expensive”. If you have a fixed item amount, I can almost guarantee that demand will increase proportionally to item cost… cheap items will have very low demand, expensive ones very high (and thus shortages so not everyone can get what they want). With a fixed dollar amount, the demand would even out a bit more… although you’d probably still see more expensive items with higher demand, due to the psychology of “free money”.

The challenge would come in with setting the dollar limit to a reasonable amount. Hypothetically, as a team, if we could get two shifting transmissions, that would be awesome. But if the dollar limit is less than that, we would be stuck getting one for free and buying one later. Of course, that’s just the best example I could come up with… who knows what will actually be available, or what the actual price of items would be if they weren’t free.


In all seriousness though, this is going to be a huge help for a lot of teams. Personally, I’m hoping for more shiny plaction wheels and maybe a couple more shiny Gen. 2 Super Shifters, or maybe a couple of shiny 12V, 18 Amp-hour batteries, or maybe even a handful of shiny stop buttons (we broke three, and I’m also assuming that we’ll still need them).

Point is, there is stuff that will be used during the build and competitions.

Also, if you haven’t noticed, I have OLS (OH! LOOK! SHINY!)

You do know that you never needed the Stop button?

The way I read it there will be a separate section of the site for typical KOP items, Not AM items for free.

While yes andymark does provide many KOP items, I highly doubt they’ll let much past the standard kitframe, wheels, and toughboxes go free.

AM does sell CIMs. I’d hope that at least those are included.

Of course, it’ll all be clear later this year/early next year.

I also hope that some lower-cost items are limited to “X per customer”. This would keep the temptation from anyone finding a great item and buying a large quantity.

For example: “OOOH, Plaction Wheels! We’ll take 20!” (Not to say that they will be on the list–just an example)

What’s FIRST Choice?
FIRST Choice is an online extension of the traditional KoP where teams can pick and choose the items they would like to add to their kits. The items are free, but teams incur the cost of shipping the items to them. You’ll notice that there aren’t enough pieces for everyone to have one of everything—so think of it more as a menu. Items will be assigned to teams on a first come-first serve basis.

The text from the post suggests to me that FIRST Choice applies to KOP items only.

This is a good point, our team hasn’t run with the Stop button since it broke about half way through build season. At that point, we didn’t have time for the part to arrive and get through customs before build season was over. The space bar does the same job as the Stop button and doesn’t require extra shipping!

I love the concept, I have a bad feeling that the teams that need this most will end up not knowing it exists or not doing it though.

Oh well, the world is run by those who show up.

Very interesting development, and depending on the details this could be really beneficial to teams and the program.

  • Problem: Some teams use 25-pitch roller chain almost exclusively, and never really use the 35-pitch parts from the KoP. Solution: Given FIRST Choice, teams can select which type they actually need.
  • Problem: The color of pneumatic tubing in the KoP every year always makes a small fraction of teams happy, but annoys the others. Solution: Given several different colors in FIRST Choice, teams can pick the color that best matches their team colors.
  • Problem: Some teams always use some X parts from the KoP but never use Y parts. Solution: Given less parts in KoP and FIRST Choice, teams can select which parts they actually need.
  • Problem: As FRC grows, finding companies to donate a part to every team is getting harder and harder. Solution: Given FIRST Choice, a company can donate several hundred widgets to the teams that really want/need such a part.
  • Donating a specific tool to every team can be a waste, as some teams might already have that tool. Solution: Given FIRST Choice, a company can donate a bunch of tools (such as hand tools, power tools, etc) and teams that really need said part can choose it.

Here’s how I’m hoping it works:

Each team gets $X amount of money in donated FIRST Choice goods per round. First round opens up after kickoff, lasts a week. Second round opens up after that, lasts another week. Then the third round opens up with all limits removed. Limits on the first two rounds give all teams an equal chance, and elimination of caps on third round will ensure that any remaining FIRST Choice goods get claimed by teams who really want/need it.

Cue a Steve Jobs’ “One More Thing” Keynote slide
[spoiler]Bag of Crap. Make it happen.[/spoiler]

There was a forum at Championships where they discussed the KoP in detail, and this was one of the possible ideas they discussed. This is NOT “Free AndyMark Stuff”, it is free KoP stuff, and the logistics of fulfillment are being managed by AndyMark. So get those dreams of free supershifters out of your head.:stuck_out_tongue:

The following is educated and informed speculation:

The driving force was the question “What should FIRST do when they get a donation of 500 of something?” The can’t put one in every KoP, they don’t want to turn away the donation… so the FIRST Choice system described was born. At the CMP forum, FIRST’s main concern was how to fulfill orders, and I see that (once again!) AndyMark has stepped up to the plate.

To get an idea of what kinds of stuff will be offered, think Brass Bag, Igus, Festo, AM Kitbot Frame, Circuit Breakers, Limit Switches, Terminals, Terminal Blocks, FASTON connectors, wire, and so on.

Expect that the KoP will contain the main items (motors, batteries, power panel, etc.) as before, but the stuff that only a percentage of the teams use might not.

So this begs the question: What’s actually left that NEEDS to be shipped to veteran teams in the KoP tub(s)?

Start with last years KoP list. Subtract the stuff that has already been releasedthat will only be in the rookie kit. Then subtract all the stuff from the KoP that wasn’t used by the vast majority of teams (lots of the pneumatic components, Igus stuff, lead screw & nut, fans, latex tubing, etc.) or that most verteran teams have plenty of (circuit breakers, pneumatic tubing, wire terminals, wire, Spikes, zip-ties, etc). Now subtract the AM kit chassis, ToughBoxes, wheels, etc. that aren’t used by a significant number of the veteran teams who build their own custom chassis, gearboxes, and/or wheels.

What’s actually left that needs to be distributed to veteran teams at kickoff in the traditional plastic tubs? A battery, the 120A main breaker, a couple of jags, the CIM motors, maybe some of the other motors but even many of those aren’t used by the majority of teams. Is there anything that REALLY needs to be shipped to veteran teams that couldn’t be “purchased” from the “AM FIRST Choice Store” using some sort of a-la-cart FIRST cash voucher system? How much of the stuff in the plastic tubs do the majority of veteran teams actually NEED that is MANDATORY on the robot and that they don’t probably already have in their shop?

It seems to me that there has always been a lot of stuff given to FIRST teams that has gone to waste. This seems like a good start at reducing some of that waste if it is implemented correctly. There are a lot of veteran teams with huge stockpiles of stuff leftover from previous years that is still the same as the stuff we get in the KoP every year. I’m pretty sure we have about 100 brand new 30A circuit breakers and 35 brand new Spikes in one of the parts drawers in the shop. I would love it if we don’t get those in our KoP this year but could snag something we need and don’t have from the FIRST Choice store instead. Even better would be if we find there is nothing in the FIRST Choice store that we need and then we could apply our “store credit” towards our registration fee.

Even with the option to choose the “Second half” of your kit; stripping down the kit to that level would be a horrible choice.

My team certainly doesn’t have that amount of spare parts.

Agreed. We also give a lot of the stuff we don’t use away to other teams who actually can use it.

I would be very upset if we did not get the kitbot, among other things. We may never use a toughbox on our robot, but all the gears and bearings get used.