Dilema...

Hello, my school has been given the opportunity to participate in the 2005 FIRST competitions, including funding and stuff.
Our robotics class (including me) was givin the choice between FIRST, or staying with the projects we already started (we have a few groups with a few different projects, my group for example is building an autmatic sentry).

The problem is, this would be the first time any of us would be attempting to do this (2005 is the first year that Israel is included in the FIRST program), and I’m not sure how it’ll be.

We’ll be voting soon, and I would like to get a better idea of what FIRST is really about before I vote/pursuade others to vote.
I’m worried that as a first-time team we won’t be able to overcome technical or even basic difficulties (I’ve seen some pictures of robots here, I’ve never cut aluminum in my life, let alone build a gearbox with 2 speeds and multi-motors).
On the upside, our team does know pneumatics, and electronics to a degree.

My question is what do you think our chances are of pulling it off in 6 weeks, keeping in mind that we have around 25-45 team members, half of which know pneumatics and electronics, including a handfull of programmers that know pascal (don’t laugh :frowning: ) and 1-2 that also know C (the other programmers will obviously learn C)- NO previous supplies, I know how older teams have “leftovers” from previous years.

If anyone here who’s participated in FIRST robotics wants to give their input- please do, and please be objective (I realize this is a wonderfull project, but I don’t want to get into something we can’t finish).

Thanks in advance- me, and my future team :wink:

edit:
There’s another question on the second page- thanks a lot!

All I have to say is that in Isreal it’s a clean slate. You won’t be competing against any teams with experience. Now’s the PERFECT time to join, because once it’s successful, in 5 years, your team will be the one with experience that everyone looks too!

Good luck!

WOW! WELCOME! We have been talking about the new Israel teams, and it’s great to hear from you guys! It’s amazing how the FIRST organization has grown, and you WILL love it!

As for your team, you WILL BE FINE! I’ve seen teams run and have fun with a lot less experience in robotics than you guys have! What I would do is go to the main FIRST website (usfirst.org) and go to the team resource center, then check up on the workshop information on drive systems and such. Also, if you want any help on previous year’s games and what they did, go to the FIRSTWiki, firstwiki.org.

Good luck man! Maybe we’ll see you at Championship!

Joseph
Sparky 384 Student Team Lead

To me, it sounds like you’re all set. You are already ahead of dozens of teams in the US by joining these boards and posting here. You found the right place if you need help with anything. As for the complexity of your robot, over the last couple years the Kit of Parts has really become more of a Kit than just an assortment of supplies. It comes with most everything you need to build a robot that drives. Don’t worry about things like 2 speed transmissions, just entering the competition is a huge accomplishment and making a robot that moves is an even greater accomplishment.

Don’t let the teams here be so much of an intimidation to you, but instead, an inspiration. They all had to start from the beginning, too.

Of course, everyone on these boards is going to encourage you to join FIRST, but make what you think is the right decision. If experience is all you are worried about, I would vote for you to join, have a good time, and learn what FIRST is all about. Welcome to our community! :slight_smile:

Yov,

I fully understand your thoughts, but might I suggest a different way of looking at it.

  1. First of all, all of the teams at the Israeli Regional will be rookies. So I wouldn’t worry about being able to compete with teams that you won’t see this year (unless you travel to the champioship - and if you qualify for that and can come - what an achievement regardless of how well you do!). The playing field will be even for all of Israel’s rookies in terms of being in the land of the unknown.

  2. I’ve wondered every year if my team was going to finish. Every year we finished. If you take the attitude “we will do whatever it takes to finish,” even if the robot doesn’t run the way you want it to, you will all be better for the experience.

  3. The makeup of your team is better off than many veteran FIRST teams. With that many team members who know pneumatics, electronics, and programming you are well on your way.

  4. As far as building gearboxes, you don’t have to do it. Your drivetrain and mechanisms can be as simple as you want them to be.

  5. There’s help here and throughout the FIRST community. Ask questions, find email mentors throughout FIRST. Start by contacting regional and championship Chairman’s award winners - they (and many other teams) are very accustomed to helping other teams. I’d also make some friends in Brazil and the UK if possible - they know what it’s like participating in FIRST from a foreign land.

  6. In the end, while you want to be competitive, a rookie team should have the goal of having a working machine (even if you are working on it all the time at the regional) in one regional. The lessons you will learn, the fun you will have, and the confidence that comes from doing something difficult on purpose will be well worth the struggles!!

Hey all of you CD vets (Mr. Bill, Dr. Joe, Andy, Raul, Wayne, Chris, etc, etc), wanna weigh in on this one?

Go for it!!

FIRST is an excellent experience. With the amount of students and knowledge base you mentioned, FIRST will be a perfect place to develop your skills. The kit you will receive will have everything you need to make a basic robot. The default code for the controller is provided by FIRST and is fully functional as provided. FIRST does this to make it easy for rookie teams to get involved. However, with the background knowledge you already have on your teams you will be able to do so much more. If you want to try two speed transmissions, check out the white papers on this site and designs are provided for you. Or if you don’t have access to the machines needed to make these components, order a gearbox from AndyMark, they will give you all the torque and speed you need.

All you need to start a FIRST team is money, 1 adult, some interested students, and the will to learn. It sounds like you have everything you need already.

It’s an amazing experience. If you have the opportunity, I would not pass it up. If you need any help, just ask. This site is an excellent place to start.

If you have any specific questions, or would like to see some video footage of last years competitions. PM me and I can show you where to find this.

Good luck!!

Last year was our first year and we had no experience except for one coach. We used the kit of parts and had some aluminum donated to us. We built a competitive robot and had a lot of fun along the way. You do not have to build a transmission your first year, many teams are very competitive using the transmission built into the drill motors only. Do not let the technology talked about in this forum scare you off, many of these people are veterans of many years and with teams that have worked on designs over those years. There was a Discovery channel show on FIRST and last year one of the rookie teams lost there robot in shipping and went ahead and built a simple robot in one day that was very competitive. This competition is more than just winning, it is about the journey. There are teams that are very well funded, there are teams that students design and build everything without technical expert help, there are teams that watch their robot get built by professionals, but this has not been the deciding factor in who wins. The professional built machines do not dominate this competition and that is good. Start with something simple and build up the team to add more sophistication as you go. The strategy for winning is not always to dominate the field, the winning alliance is made up of one team that dominated the floor and usually two other teams that are selected by the dominating team.

Good luck and hope you join FIRST,

Dave Kolberg

Welcome to FIRST.

I, personally, am very excited to see FIRST expanding into Israel.

With regards to your concerns, not to worry. You and your classmates seem to have a good starting foundation. The chassis work (cutting aluminum) is not that hard. Maybe just go with some welded square tubing or some extruded aluminum for your structures. Keep it simple, but don’t be afraid to push the envelope a little. After all, you can’t learn something new if you don’t try new things.
Most of the background information you might need about motors, building techniques, and non-technical issues can be found either at the FIRST website or here on Chief Delphi. Don’t be afraid to ask, we are all here because we want to help others benefit from our experiences.
Good luck.

Yov,

Welcome to the FIRST community. First of all, you taking the initiative to join ChiefDelphi and post bodes well for your team’s success. FIRST is a challenging program by design, however at the same time the game each year is designed in such a way that rookie teams can compete. Every team is unique in what resources they have at their disposal (machine capabilities, engineering mentorship, funding, student experience). Do you need a 2 speed multiple motor gearbox to be success in FIRST? No. As a rookie team you may not have the expertise or knowledge to design some of the components that are posted all over the forums (or you might), however keep in mind that many of these teams have been working at it for years and have learned from their mistakes. The great thing about the FIRST community is that you don’t just have to learn from your mistakes, but you get the opportunity to learn from the mistakes and success of other teams. Start looking at other robot designs and if you have the resources do a bit of design and prototyping before January. We do not know what the competition is yet but building even a small robot out of the Robovation kit/Lego Mindstorms etc. can help prepare you and boost your confidence level.

If you have not done so already take a look in the white papers section of the forum and you will find a great deal of information and tips useful for both rookie and veteran teams. If there is something that you are unsure of then post away and more likely than not someone will be able to provide you with some helpful information.

You can do it. Good luck this year!!

Hey there! I know a few of the bases have been covered, but I figured I’d go through and answer any of the ones I know. (By the way, my team, 1293, was a rookie team last year. We started from scratch as well.)

First, don’t lose sleep over materials. Teams have made their robots out of everything from aluminum to plywood, all with high degrees of success. The two-speed transmissions and all are nice to have, but are by no means required to be competitive.

With 25-45 team members, you’ll be fine. 1293 was about that size last year, and we had a pretty good rookie season. Programming in C isn’t too terrible (shoot, I got the robot moving once). As for previous supplies, don’t sweat it–it might help in building faster, but they’ve got the same limits as you (usually the kit plus $3000 in extra stuff, but that’s subject to change).

While the 2004 game won’t be what we see next year, I’d highly recommend checking out www.soap108.com for some videos of matches. It should give you a good idea of the size, complexity, and variety of the robots.

And while I may be biased, I’ll say this–you won’t regret joining FIRST.

Hello and Welcome to FIRST (hopefully).

All 1500 or so teams in FIRST were rookies at one point or another. That should give you some comfort. :slight_smile:
As many have mentioned before, ChiefDelphi.com is a great resource for all your questions during the intense six weeks of building, and throughout the year.
Since you have knowledge of pneumatics and programming, you are halfway there.
The other half (robot construction) can be kept as simple as you want, or you can come up with some one of a kind devices for your robot. For the true rookie experience, it may be best to start with the premade chassis that FIRST introduced to the kit of parts last year.
Many teams have used this, and have done very well with it.
Sometimes it’s not what fancy bells and whistles you can include on your robot, but how you use what you have.

As for what you can expect for the actual kickoff event, and also to have a glimpse into that premade chassis I was talking about earlier, you can check out the archived webcast of the 2003 kickoff here:
http://robotics.nasa.gov/events/webcasts/kickoff.htm

As for the previous supplies, no team is allowed to re-use old parts. The only thing we can do is make new parts based on the old ideas, and potentially improve them.

The only thing I see as all the Israeli teams being at a disadvantage to the rest of the rookies, is the fact that no one has done this type of thing in Israel, and thus no one can (physically) come to your aid if you happen to get in a pinch (unless some nicely funded teams from the US, UK, or Brazil want to use some frequent flyer miles and fly you out a mentor from an existing team).

BUT, as also stated before, your team is already at an advantage from the rest of the Israeli teams, in that you have signed up and are communicating with the rest of the FIRST community by posting here. :slight_smile:

With that said; I hope you decide to join FIRST, wish you good luck, and offer the help from myself, and all the rest of the ~5,000 active members on this forum.

The way I see it, you already have an advantage over a lot of FIRST teams (old and new). You don’t have to worry about funding and half of your team already has some experience with pneumatics, and electronics. That is where my team is right now and we’re a veteran team.

What do you consider “finished”? If you consider it having a working robot crated up at the end of the build season, that’s not too hard, especially if you keep it simple. Of course, two years ago, my team had to ship their robot unfinished because they ran out of time, however they worked on it during their first Regional and eventually did get it running. Do you consider finished as having a robot that works flawlessly throughout the whole competition? There may be some teams that can build a robot that does that, but you will see most teams working on their robots in-between matches, some more frantically than others. Or do you equate finished with winning? Last year, my team made it into the semi-finals at the VCU Regional. It was very exciting, almost overwhelming in it’s intensity, however, winning would not have made me more proud of them than I already was.

The 6-week build season is hectic and often frustrating, but it’s amazing to watch the students work to overcome the challenges and come together as a team. I don’t know how good your other projects are, but I do know that FIRST is absolutely amazing. And I think if you give it a chance, you won’t regret it, even if it doesn’t go the way you imagine it should.

Heidi

Yov,

Welcome to FIRST!

As you can see, since you have over 10 replies to this thread within 1 hour, people are eager and willing to help. This site (and others) is a tool for all kinds of assistance. Ask and you shall receive.

Andy Baker

wow
I am truly amazed at the number of people so eager to help, and I think it’s safe to say you convinced me :wink:
Now all that’s left is to convince the rest of the class heh…

This project sounds phenominal, I can’t wait to start (if we do chose to start it).

Thank you all so much for your help, and I hope to see you all here in the future :slight_smile:

Yov,

FIRST is a learning community. Look around in the threads and you will see all sorts of people asking different questions. The newer folks are asking simpler questions while the more advanced folks are asking more technical questions. (Generally)

There is already about 110 other rookie teams this year, so you won’t be alone, except for that whole across the pond thing, but the English teams have that too.

You may see all the white pages here and go, we can’t build any of that! How can we be competitive? I’ll tell you a little secret - most teams don’t build anything nearly as complex as 33s 4 speed automatic gearbox, they just drool over it. Then they get crafty and implement a part of it somewhere on their robot. Little by little, the bar goes up. This makes it look much harder for someone who is new, but remember, there are always people out here willing to help in anyway possible and don’t forget the 100+ other rookies.

Good luck.

Wetzel

Yov;

Welcome! Jump into FIRST with both feet! We are starting our 8th season and we are seldom sure what part of our robot will do what it is suppose to do until the day before shipping.

You posted on CD. That gives you the biggest support group in the world.

Good luck and please let Team 64 know if there is anything we can do to help.

Ken

Yov,

Don’t fret about the Pascal/C stuff… I’m an old Pascal programmer myself and the two languages have quite a few similarities. As an example, replace all your BEGIN statements with { and all of your END statements with } and you are 60% there…

Read through http://www.lysator.liu.se/c/bwk-tutor.html and you will be fine.

Continue posting your questions here. I’m sure you will get a lot of help.

Mike

Yov,
Welcome to the FIRST family. This is a truly unique competition unlike any you’ve probably ever participated here. FIRST is a place where the teams help each other to grow into what we have become today. In FIRST we cherish an idea called Gracious Professionalism. It means so many things but the basic principal is that you always act as if your Grandmother was watching over you shoulder. You won’t find teams giving you bad advice to increase their own chances of winning. While at competition teams help other teams to improve their robot. Some rookie teams have come to a regional or nationals without a working robot and with the help of other veteran teams have created a competitive robot in less than a day (this is of course not recommended, but just a last resort).

You shouldn’t be concerned about technical complexity. In January you will receive a kit of parts. This kit has been designed to provide most of the parts you’ll need to create a basic robot. In fact, for the last several years FIRST has held a mini competition on kick-off day with FIRST staff creating robots from only the kit of parts.

What you are seeing on ChiefDelphi.com is the technical elite of FIRST coming together and sharing ideas. Most teams do not build multi-motor shifting transmission. In fact, I would sincerely not recommend you create a very complicated robot your rookie year.

Many times you will hear robots that have designed with the KISS philosophy; it’s an acronym that stands for Keep It Simple Stupid. Basically, the best ideas are usually the one’s that are very simple. For instance, a four wheeled robot that has two casters in the back and two powered wheels in the front.

Twenty-five to forty-five people is more than enough for a FIRST robotics team. It sounds like many of them have very good technical backgrounds. A good candidate for a team member is someone with a good head on their shoulders and a willingness to learn. It sounds like you have very many people like that. Another important thing to remember is that the FIRST family is always willing to help on ChiefDelphi.com. If you have a specific question about something very complicated, there’s probably a seasoned expert in the field who is willing to answer your question here on the forum.

As a 6 year FIRST veteran myself- 3 years as being a student in high school and 3 years of being a college mentor; I enthusiastically encourage you to participate in the program. Good luck with influencing your classmates to participate in FIRST. I hope to see you at Nationals, or should I say Worlds next year :wink:

Yov,

You will find that around here people are actually looking for ways to help. This is an attitude that you will need to foster among the teams there in Israel. Here it has developed over a period of years to the point where for most of us it is a struggle NOT to help. But it has been a deliberate effort to get to this point. You have the advantage of being able to say “but that’s how they do it over there!”. I can’t think of the number of times I’ve seen people crowded around a robot with one or two guys in a different team’s uniforms poking around inside and saying “oh here’s the problem!”.

I have heard that NASA is trying to pair engineers who are active on teams here with Israeli teams. So chances are you will have somebody to ask specific questions. I know our team has volunteered for this.

One suggestion and you might want to pass it on to other teams over there: Set up some system for sending pictures and even movies over the net. Speaking as a mentor of other teams, sometimes it is very easy to see things that are hard to explain. Last year I went to one team’s shop because they had asked for help. In about 3 minutes I solved a problem they had been struggling with for days. Once I was able to SEE the problem, I was able to tell them how to use a piece of equipment I didn’t know they had until I walked in, to solve it. I hung around a little longer after that, but I had made an hour drive each way for 3 minutes worth of work, so I wanted to make the drive time pay off a little more. Since the trip to visit you guys is just a little longer :wink: doing a little homework now could save you a lot of time later.

ChrisH