CD may not need controversial threads, but FIRST needs controversial CD threads

From a recent thread/topic:

While I totally agree that there have been a number of pointless controversial threads/topics on CD, over the years I have come to accept that while maybe CD doesn’t need controversial threads, the FIRST community does need certain controversial CD threads. While in many cases, the discussion started elsewhere (r/FRC and mentorbuilt.com come instantly to mind), a great many changes in rules, ranging from year-specific inspection and robot interaction rules up to “cheesecaking”, “the bag” and “the CAW/BOM” have apparently been effected as a result of controversial CD threads/topics.
I think that @mpirringer’s implied question of “what custom parts can we re-use” falls neatly into this locus of where Chief Delphi can make a difference; there really should be some ground between a shaft collar or a pocketed gear on the “yeah, that’s OK” side and a game-specific system on the “no, that’s not OK to reuse without modifications”. My first blush rule on this is something like: Non-COTS Parts produced prior to kickoff may not be used on the robot, unless plans for said part were published to the FRC community prior to 1 October of [the previous year]. (or pick another date no earlier than 1 June, giving teams enough time to publish previous year’s parts).

I’d also like “published to the first community” to be defined such that these publications provide sufficient information to produce the part - “interpretive dance” and such don’t count.

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Fully agree except I would prefer a later day maybe as late as kickoff to allow teams to share their off season work. It would also allow for some inter team development. I for example will start work (hopefully soon) on a new gearbox with my engineers. and we can build and bench test it. I.E. put a motor on it and put it in a vice and watch it go round and round but with our covid rules we have no way to slap 4 of them on a robot or at least 2 for tank drive and drive it around. So a team that has that ability could maybe colaborate and then we publish it and hopefully use it would be a shame if we then had to put those 2 or 4 or whatever gear boxes on the shelf and build more from scratch. (Trying to see if we can make a cycloidal one maybe 8-10: 1 that fits in the hub of a 6 in wheel - 3DP of course with different “tires” (Omni, mecanum, tank etc) Parallel plan is a planetary with the moter mounted at 90 deg or so and the first reduction a bevel gear. Now all those things take quite some time to design and test so its an off season thing and then quite some time to print and assemble so one can test it and then its just and item on the level of a toughbox mini only better, lighter, taking less room (of course if it works) and then those basically generic items are good for one season? or immediately need to be reprinted cause the season started and yeah I know this year its ok because we are in the “infinite build season”

@mpirringer, I was perfectly happy with kickoff as the share date, when it was the same as the part production date for each year’s competition. If the part production date is to be moved earlier, I feel that the “share” date should also be moved earlier as well. My proposal allows “inventing” teams some advantage, but not as much as previous years, at the cost of being able to reuse parts from the previous year. If you don’t want to publish, you just have to not use parts produced before kickoff.

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To be fair, the GDC took a step in the right direction last year with the “can it be made in less than 30 minutes with hand tools” exception. Personally I agree that the exception should probably be wider, but at some point things that are trivial and a waste of time to redo for some teams could take days of work for other teams.

I believe this issue was previously raised here: Sad day for the environment

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@AriMB, I totally concur that this is a major step in the right direction. But really, at what point is a locally generated replacement for a COTS part (e.g. a 3-D printed shaft collar) something that should be prohibited because it was produced before kickoff?
A bit further on, why shouldn’t teams be able to re=use parts if other teams have access to the plans for those parts well before kickoff?

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FRC needs to define and release its evergreen rules. They need to be rules that don’t change from year to year, that affect conduct of teams before kickoff. If a drawing or code snippet needed to be released before kickoff in order to be used after kickoff, the rule needs to exist before kickoff.

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I’m coming from this with an FTC perspective; however I think it could potentially be valuable.

When it comes to rules, they’re released in two parts; Game Manual Part 1 which contains (for the most part) “evergreen” rules releases in June, while game specific stuff releases on kickoff (Early September) in Game Manual Part 2. This helps FTC teams to plan for the season. I think a similar approach could be potentially beneficial to FRC.

When it comes to parts rules, FTC comes at this from a fundamentally different perspective; there are no rules regarding things designed and manufactured before kickoff. Now, this may seem like it will cause teams to keep stuff as secret as possible, as it could potentially be reused; however, high level FTC teams still often publish CAD after the season ends, have open code, or even just provide explanations to how their robots work.

This is likely because while there is a theoretical benefit to keeping previous designs secret, there’s not actually that much you can design (or build) before the season that is a significant advantage. The advantage is largely limited to drivetrains and hardware position tracking modules. Having a drivetrain before the season isn’t actually all that much of an advantage; on an FTC timescale, with FTC COTS parts, drivetrains are a pretty solved problem, where people could help you design it if need be. When it comes to hardware position tracking, this is more useful, as it is difficult to properly develop during the season, however realistically this only matters to the upper echelon of teams, and many already publish CAD for their designs.

Too me, it seems that in FRC you have similar things; what can you realistically design and build before the season? A drivetrain? An elevator? Some COTS parts replacements (pulleys, shaft collars, that sort of stuff)? All of these things can be bought at a high quality from vendors already; however, being able to reuse them is more economical, and better for the environment. Sure, some teams might not release their designs, but is that such a massive deal? Maybe the issue with doing this in FRC is that the limited time frame means that having premanufactured parts comes at a larger advantage?

I might be missing something more though, coming from the FTC perspective.

Frankly, I think any rule that is up to the honor of the individual team as to whether they comply with it or not is a waste of time and effort.

Some teams will follow the letter of the rule book, some will follow what they think the intent is, and others will do what ever they want.

We need clear, objective, and verifiable rules.

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Really good, quality bumpers. With pool noodles on clearance because it’s the end of summer :wink:
Which, portions of the bumper rules could definitely be part of the evergreen rules (perhaps not the bumper zone, but defining corners and numbering and materials and cross sections and plywood…)

Really good, quality bumpers.

Ah so that’s what I’m missing in my FTC experience :stuck_out_tongue:

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There are few things more hilarious than finding out HQ peeps got their feathers ruffled by a particular post or reply.

I’ll leave it at that.

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Dance can be a work instruction, if you are a honey bee, for example.

A more human standard for “publishing to the FIRST community” might be the enablement requirement and related test for that, defined by the USPTO; see 35 U.S.C. 112(a):

The information contained in the disclosure of an application must be sufficient to inform those skilled in the relevant art how to both make and use the claimed invention.

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And less of them!

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I am usually in agreement with proposed rule changes that loosen restrictions on teams. However, I am opposed to this suggestion for one major reason: It would provide very little benefit to low resource and rookie teams.

The reason I like to see restrictions loosened, is because I want to see more robots that function as intended at competition, not because I want to see the top teams build even better robots. (although that’s not bad either)

The only way I really see this helping low resource teams is by making it easier to reuse last year’s drive base. That might actually cause more problems than it solves for those teams in the long run though.

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To be fair… they can at least theoretically do so now. They do have to disassemble and reassemble it after Kickoff but that’s all they technically need to do. I can think of a couple of teams in my area that did something along those lines last year.

Now, if the KOP drivetrain happened to be added to the list of stuff that was exempt from the “built after Kickoff” rule, I don’t think anybody would shed a single tear… especially if the next season’s KOP drivetrains shipped out earlier than the rest of the KOP (game-specific adjustments held back). For that matter… ship out the non-game-specific stuff from the KOP early, all of it. Then the only KOP pickup is game-specific and late-arriving stuff.

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For low resource teams (like us) it would also encourage to design parts with reusability in mind

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Not if you designed your own low cost drive train/skateboard base.