Criteria for hosting an off-season event

I noticed that there were no off-season events in Canada and even though one like racha cha cha ruckus are not far, it would still be in convieniant for some. I wanted to get my team interested in hosting a 2015 off season event but before I do, I want to get all the details and information on what we need to do to successfully host one.what are the criteria for hosting off-season events ? Like how much money is required, what size area would we need to aquire and what not. Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Typically, off season events need room for a full field plus 30 pits (10x10). The specifics on the size of the area are obviously determined by layout… generally these events are held in high school gyms, so you can utilize bleachers for viewing the field.

Away from the space requirements, you’ll obviously need a field. Sometimes these are team-built fields, others they are official FIRST fields (for example, you can rent a field from AndyMark. Some areas, like MN, also have their own local fields available for off-season events). If you have an official field, you’ll want everything - mechanical, electronics, an FTA, and game pieces. The FTA really is key, as they know the ins and outs of setting up, tearing down, and running the field.

In addition to that, you’ll need volunteers. A lot of volunteers. Think of everything at an official event - queueing, scoring, field reset, pit admin, game announcer, MC, inspection (Yes, you should have inspectors there! At minimum a safety inspection should occur for every robot), etc. I think I heard that it typically comes out to 80 volunteers. Contact your local volunteer coordinator (whoever runs the volunteers at the regionals you go to) to get help with all of this, and do it early! I know here we start planning volunteers at off-season events 2+ months in advance.

Talk with your local regional planning committee chairman as well. They tend to know everything going on in an area, and can help out! They have contacts with all the local teams, and can get information about your event out there. They also know all about setting up and funding an event, so odds are they’ll have some good advice for you, too!

Strongly consider timing as well. When will the event be held? Too early in the fall and teams won’t started meeting for the year yet. You don’t want to have the event conflict with anything significant in the area either (for example, a lot of robots are in the MN State Fair every year, so it would be bad to try to hold an event during the fair). Consider what teams will attend - will teams need to travel to get there, or are there enough local teams? If teams need to travel, what will the hotel availability be like during that time?

As for money required… most off-season events do have a per-team fee, and provide concessions as a fundraiser. The specific amount you’ll need is obviously highly dependent on a large number of factors - space availability (do you have to rent the gym at school, or can you get it for free?), field availability, feeding volunteers (PLEASE feed the volunteers… it makes them want to come back again next year!), how much you collect from participating teams, etc.

This may help

Another pretty good paper to read on the subject is “How to IRI,” which should have some pretty good detail on what they have to do in order to pull of that event.

Can’t say I agree with that one. It would make it the perfect time to hold an off-season. :wink:

I miss the Maryland State Fair competition.

Here is an update from 2011, hosted on the FIRST website.

and on CD

[quote=Jon Stratis;1394242

Okay thanks that was very informative. The money, I understand it varies but could you give me a rough estimate that most teams would have, in my case I was think about hosting it at wonderland since my school is way too small for an off-season event, and wonderland already has food concession stands. Would it be wise to use the money from the teams attending to pay for the event to cover cost of renting space at wonderland ? My team just barely covered our expense this year, so money is sort of unstable for thing for us. Also how would I be able to get a hold of a FTA, my team is a rookie team so we dont have much connections and don’t know how to get hold of various people other than the director of FIRST canada.[/quote]

Note you are only required to have a FIRST trained FTA if you are using the FIRST owned FMS. The FMS is nice to have but with this season’s game where all scoring is manual it is less neccessary than ever. There are also alternatives to using a FIRST FMS. For example Chezy Champs is renting one of the FIRST WA owned fields but is using their own FMS.

What does FMS stand for ?

Field Management System

Field Management System

I heavily disagree. Unless you are using alternative methods for pedestal lighting, and for indicating number of assists, and for determining hot goals, and for tracking the score as seen by the multitude of referees, it’s MORE necessary!

Last year was an “unnecessary” year for FMS at offseasons–just dump out the goals, count the discs, check the robots’ height off the floor; enable and disable manually. In 2012, you could get away with manual scorers at each station; 2011 could see the scores other than minibot counted at the end of the match (and possibly even minibot…), you get the picture.

But for a game where every ball going into the goal could be worth anywhere from one to 40 points, with two other 10-point bonuses in there, you really need something to track in real time, and do the figuring for you.

Here is what the FMS does: It controls what state the robots are in, and handles communication from each robot to its driver station. Logs are kept of the comm status, for later troubleshooting. A separate section takes care of any scoring/fouls input. And there’s also the timing/field action section that turns goals hot, lights assist lights, all the “cool” stuff. (I’m not sure if those are actually sectioned off from each other, but it’s a good way to break down the functions.) The scorekeeper has a 5-button box and a computer to make adjustments if needed. Do you need the FMS? No. But getting decent scores and robot state control without it is going to be tough.

Personally, I’d go with the FMS Lite. It’ll give robot state control and timing, but not necessarily scoring.

As for getting ahold of an FTA, I’d suggest talking to the director of FIRST Canada to see who the nearest FTA to you is. FTAs are good at more than just managing the FMS–they lead field setup and teardown, troubleshoot field issues, and otherwise make sure the field side of the event (and any and all FIRST-provided equipment) runs smoothly and leaves in good condition (whenever possible).

Oh okay sweet, thanks! By the looks of it, I think it’s best for me to stick with the FMS. I don’t think I’ll be able to get a good off season running this year, so I am planning for a 2015 off season. So now I have more than enough time to plan costs, getting a hold of an FTA. Thanks guys !

I should have said a FIRST FMS since it is more than just the computer it is all the electronics, sensors ect. Having a FIRST FMS means that you have to have insurance to cover it from the time it leaves FIRST/AM control.

While the FTA is technically oversees the field set up, in many cases the person that really does that is the field manager. The FTA’s main responsibility is overseeing the electronics portion of the field and troubleshooting that and connection to the field. Chezy FMS or FMS lite will get the job done and lower the cost of putting on an event.

one of the points made in the document we made is to determine early on if you are doing this as a service to other teams, to break even, or to be a fundraiser. Then build a budget that supports that approach.

The document has a checklist of potential costs for you to consider. Most hosting teams need to at least break even on an event, so be sure the registration fees cover the costs of having the event.

Do get in touch with FIRST Robotics Canada, who organized previous competitions at Canada’s Wonderlan in 2004 and 2005. Find out from them the costs of renting the venue and why the competition stopped after 2006.

Also note that there was another thread on off-seasons in Canada a couple months ago:

That I’d agree on. For a single event, it’s quite possible to put together a system “on the cheap” for scoring, another for field part control (hot goals, etc), and utilize some form of other FMS for getting everybody enabled in the right mode at the right time. Back in the IFI system days, that could be 6 volunteers parked on the dongles… not as easy now, of course!

This is exactly what we did in Australia for our off-season, the Duel Down Under.

Our system comprised of four parts.

  • FMS Software. In our case we had an FTA who brought a copy of the full FMS minus all the PLC (scoring and lights). This also allowed us to handle all the match scheduling easily. In the past we have use the FMS light software without any major problems.
  • Catcher Code. This was a simple program that handled all the interfacing with the FMS. It would catch messages about field state (match time, all clear status, etc) and trigger the other components.
  • Hot goal system. A script written in Python that when it received a message from the catcher run the hot goal lights based around cheap and easily available DMX controlled LED bars.
  • Scoring/display system. This was a web-server that served pages to score-keepers with tablets. It would receive a start-of-match message from the FMS and then scorekeepers would enter in goals, assists, trusses etc as they happened.
    The only cost associated with this was the LED lights, we bought these but they can be hired for next to nothing. But we were still able to have a mostly complete system.

The other thing to consider is the physical field. In for DDU we’ve been using the wooden field for the past three years quite successfully, and also building the equivalent game elements out of wood. This was mostly to keep costs down (shipping the field here would be expensive) but we’ve managed to hold a top quality event regardless.