Can we Suggest Rule Changes for Next Season?

Is there a way to suggest proposed changes to the base rules for next year? There are probably some changes out there that would be clear improvements.

For example, there is a different version of the main breaker that uses yellow instead of red (but is otherwise identical). That’s current banned (because the rules specify the specific part number of the red version.)

Also, every year, teams have trouble figuring out how to mount their bumpers. It’s actually tricker than you’d think to mount one flat vertical surface to another flat vertical surface. The most obvious solution (using a screw through both surfaces with a nut on the other side) is a bit difficult because of the rule that the bumper fabric has to completely cover the bumper – there’s no way to hold that end of the screw/nut combination in place. A rule change to allow an access port through the fabric would make that solution possible.

Any others?

For the bumpers… there are multiple other solutions available that are perfectly reasonable. If you want to go with the type of solution you outlined, try putting some Tee nuts in the wood. You drill a hole sized for the nut, then hammer it in. They have prongs on them that grip the wood, meaning you don’t need to get a wrench on them when you tighten the bolt from the other side. Very easy to use, and they let you take the bumper on and off, although over tightening can reduce the lifespan and eventually pull them through the board, and putting the bolt in too aggressively prior to tightening can push them out.

Putting holes in the fabric leads to many other issues. For example:

  • How big can the hole be?
  • What do you do if you drop a bolt or a nut inside the bumper while trying to get it lined up?
  • How do you ensure the holes are properly formed and reinforced to prevent tearing?
  • How do you ensure other another robots protrusions don’t end up catching on the hole?

There are really two paths to getting rules changed. During the season, ask the question on the Q&A. Something like “would main breaker <brand and part number> be legal, as the only difference to the KoP one is color?” The answer would either be no, or a rule change mid-season. Even a no, though, would at least get the part number on their radar. Outside of the season, talk with your RD and Senior Mentor about your thoughts. They have conferences every summer, and have the opportunity to bring up these sorts of ideas there. Your local LRI has the opportunity to lobby for such rule changes as well, either during LRI training in January or through the LRI forums.

Good examples Jon. My improvement suggestion would be list those in the game manual! Along with including some instructional videos on building bumpers linked in the game manual!

As my local internet LRI, I’d like to lobby you for making this much-needed improvement to the bumper rules :slight_smile:


Email FirstFRCsupport . They will forward your thoughts to the appropriate place. They are generally pretty responsive. They will acknowledge your email, but obviously will not tell you that they will incorporate the changes prior to kick off.

The game manual is season specific and doesn’t concern itself with the off-season, unfortunately. The Q&A portion, however, is clearly detailed in section 1.8:

Questions about any 2018 Game and Season Manual content and FIRST® Robotics Competition Event Experience web page content may be asked to FIRST using the official Question and Answer System (i.e. “the Q&A”), which opens on January 10, 2018, noon Eastern. Details on the Q&A can be found on the FIRST® POWER UPSM Game and Season Materials website. The Q&A is intended to help clarify rules, and sometimes the responses result in revisions to the text in the official document (which is communicated using Team Updates).

The Q&A is not a resource for
• rulings on hypothetical strategies or vague situations,
• challenging decisions made at past events, or
• design reviews of a ROBOT system for legality.

The responses in the Q&A do not supersede the text in the manual, although every effort will be made to eliminate inconsistencies between the two. While responses provided in the Q&A may be used to aid discussion at each event, per Section 10.6 REFEREE Interaction and Section 9 Inspection & Eligibility Rules, REFEREES and Inspectors are the ultimate authority on rules. If you have concerns about enforcement trends by volunteer authorities, please notify FIRST at

Weak questions are overly broad, vague, and/or include no rule references. Some examples of questions that will not be answered in the Q&A are:
• Is this part/design legal?
• How should the REFEREE have ruled when this specific game play happened?

Good questions ask generically about features of parts or designs, gameplay scenarios, or rules, and often reference one or more relevant rules within the question. Some examples of questions that will likely be answered in the Q&A are:
• A device we are considering using on the robot comes with purple AWG 40 wire, does this comply with R?? and R??
• We’re not sure how to interpret how Rule G?? applies if Blue Robot A does X and Red Robot B does Y, can you please clarify?

As for instructional videos… there are videos already out there. We have equally strict rules around robot size, yet we don’t link out to instructional videos on cutting the KoP frame to a legal size and then assembling it. I’m not sure the game manual is the correct place to link that sort of stuff (team e-mail blasts, FRC Blog, and social media might work better, as the timing can be better controlled), but I can bring your suggestion up when I have a chance.

Thanks for bringing the suggestion up if you can!

Currently, the only bumpers rookie teams see examples of in the game manual are MS paint diagrams from ~2007 :eek: As a RI that sees many new and veteran teams struggle with bumpers, I’m not ruling out the Game Manual as an effective place to improve the situation we have every year with bumpers, and videos from the game manual could go a long way.


Why would the game manual not be the best place for some instructional videos to ensure teams are legal BEFORE they arrive at events? The game manual is likely the place the most people on a team will actually see, as most members of a team will not be receiving the email blasts, etc. Sure the coaches do, but when you want to get important information in front of teams, it is definitely a numbers game. More eyes on it = higher likelihood that the team overall will end up consuming the information.

At the very least, why not have links etc. in all of the above? I don’t really see what the downside is to adding some hyperlinks within the manual. Sure it will make the manual slightly longer, but we’re talking a few extra lines to a document that’s already a novel as it is.

I think you’re over-estimating the number of people that actually read the rules through completely. Actually, as an LRI I can guarantee you’re over-estimating. You wouldn’t believe the number of times something has been clearly illegal and the team argues for it until I show them the actual rule.

So that means it’s not worth including the resource entirely?

But the more places we put/link/etc. something, the more likely it is to be seen by more people on any given team right?

Again, what is the downside to doing what Corsetto proposed?

my opinion on whether or not it’s included in the rules really doesn’t matter… I simply feel that there are better, more appropriate ways to get it out to teams when it matter most to them. I never said it would be bad to have it in there, just that it may not be the best place to get the message across.

Yeah. Have tried T nuts. They are a royal pain in the butt. You push your screw into the other side and, instead of fitting nicely into the hole in the middle of the T nut, it actually pushes against the nut itself and pops it out of the wood. Or, somebody has drilled multiple holes in the wood and you have to fiddle with it until you find the one that actually has the T nut in it.

I recognize that there are solutions. But, the core idea of bumpers is that they should be dirt simple so that even the most novice team with a half-dozen freshman mentored by the local librarian can still do bumpers.

Actually prototyped rare earth magnets once. They did an amazing job of holding the bumpers on. Taking them off, though, was another matter.


I agree with the hatred of T-nuts, they are imo not intended for something that will have the bolts removed and inserted frequently. Have had them pop out trying to swap bumpers on quick match turnaround and just had to wedge the bolt in and pray the bumper didn’t fall off that corner.

If the frame was bigger you could potentially allow the bumper backing to be larger than the fabric and noodle, and just bolt through at the top or bottom. But the bumper is usually taller than the frame rails.

Piling on here, for exactly that reason. OBTW, we had a similar issue with using rivnuts in the chassis to secure bumpers. As with everything else, they work just fine through practice, then fail when you have a short gap between matches.

Back to OP, It seems that there are at least as many “evergreen” rules changes as a result of the Q&A (whether during the current season or before the next) as evergreen changes between seasons that were not prompted by a Q&A or a new piece of equipment being available/made legal.


It’s not that they DON’T see it, though that certainly could be the case. It’s that they don’t WANT to see it, or ignore it. I had a team to inspect that couldn’t bring their claw inside their frame perimeter, even though their robot would fit in the size box. I explained the rule, and they still said that their reading was correct but they’d fix it because they wanted to compete (and that a lawyer could poke holes in the logic/rules chain). I had the LRI talk to them, same result.

Selective reading is the bane of my existence as an inspector.

Our team had a hard time with bumpers for our first few years. We did the fairly standard t-nut solution and it was always a pain in the wazoo. It was either not very secure or it was hard to get to the bolt holes through the frame or both. We finally hit on a solution two years ago that has been ruled legal and gets us the desired result (easy installation and a secure fit.) Basically, we always use two-part bumpers that have brackets (made from large angle irons) that are screwed to the back of the bumpers and slide into HDPE sockets bolted to the top of the base frame. They’re secured in place with hitch pins. It’s really fast to take them on and off, but they stay in place once installed. Here are pics of them on our Steamworks bot:

I would suggest if you are going to have protected zones (Null Zone 2018, Platform zone endgame 2018, Loading Zone 2017, Secret Passage 2016, Outerworks 2016, etc) - come up with one criteria as to when the penalty is and be consistent within a game and year to year. Those 5 zones I listed had 4 different definitions for when a robot couldn’t be touched. I would also suggest that the criteria be something that is easily determined by looking at the point of contact. In my opinion that would make games easier to watch and make the referee’s job easier.

Edit - upon review, all 5 had different definitions.

Is there any other functional or cost difference between the parts (I know there is another one with the red button that mounts differently)? If the difference is ONLY the color of the button, why not continue to use the red one specified in the manual? I know when I’m looking for the breaker on a bot, either pre-match so that I prepare myself for knowing where it is, or when needing to actually hit the thing, I like to know that it is the same item no matter what bot it is on.

If you want to install the bumpers using something similar to the T-nut, there are a large number of threaded inserrts and aluminum rivet nuts that will work well. The rivet nuts require a tool to compress, but the threaded inserts can be installed with a simple hex wrench.

I dislike threaded bumper attachments though. They strip, they crossthread, they take too long… we aim for a pin or latch system every year, depending on what works the best. We did use thumb nuts this year. Those weren’t too bad, but I still like pins better. They take less clearance for fingers to install and are quicker.

Would it make the ref’s job easier? Probably.
Would it cause something ELSE to be worse? Almost certainly. For example, let’s assume that the Null Zone and Platform Zone have identical requirements. There are two possible routes we can go: PZ has NZ’s contact rules, and NZ has PZ’s contact rules.

PZ has NZ’s contact rules: This allows teams to try an “accidental” blockade of opposing teams trying to get back, by sticking a bumper into the PZ and waiting for contact. Three free climbs per match, per alliance, if teams aren’t thinking (or are thinking…)

NZ has PZ’s contact rules: A lot of teams would be tucked at the end of the scale trying to score, burning time and energy getting there, under defense until they made it all the way in and were protected. The few who try to go from the side are at risk of being hit–and more to the point, of being hit with their lifts high, causing a tip-over. And just in case you’re wondering, the Head Ref is right there and would probably take the hit if the robot went out of the field. (It’s almost happened even without that contact, how much more likely would it be with contact?)

I think what you’re looking for is actually like the Key from 2017 and the Exchange Zone from 2018: 5 seconds in your opponents’ side, then get out or get penalized, for both.