Do LRIs wield too much absolute authority?

Wow, what a big difference from the sheet that was handed out by GuamFIRST inspectors! Hopefully FIRST will try to make these documents consistent in the future.

GuamFIRST_working_winning_alliance_rev1.pdf (191 KB)

GuamFIRST_working_winning_alliance_rev1.pdf (191 KB)

I love GuamFIRST. They have the best volunteers and events.

C04 only requires that you enter only one robot into the competition, and the blue box clarifies that it means bringing it to the event to aid your team. If a team is able to physically build a second robot entirely out of COTS parts and their withholding allowance then more power to them. They still won’t be able to bring that robot to another event.

I think the problem with this is that… The LRI is given absolute authority for a reason. Someone has to have absolute authority to make decisions at an event or nothing would ever get done.

I believe that the LRIs mentioned in this thread are the minority, because I have had great experiences with volunteers.

When we were at Perry this weekend in Indy, the LRI was very helpful and always quick to ensure we passed re-inspection when we had to get reweighed.

All this being said - volunteers are doing their absolute best to ensure fair game play. Volunteers are giving us hours, upon hours of their time to make sure our students get to play Steamworks.

Sometimes these key volunteers have to make hard decisions. FTAs, LRIs, and refs have the hardest decisions to make. Their decisions can directly affect a team. I have never met one of these people who is anything but sincere. Have I ever been upset with a call made by a ref or frustrated with inspection? Sure, but this isn’t the fault of these volunteers. They are doing their best to interpret the rules.

I am very lucky, because I rarely run into a key volunteer in Indiana that hasn’t been in my shoes before. Most LRIs, FTAs, and refs are either FIRST alumni, current mentors, or former mentors.

So you enter one robot. Build a second a second robot. The rule says enter one robot, not one robot at a time. How do you justify entering the second robot? Claim the first robot really wasn’t a robot? I am not expressing my opinion or making a judgment. I am just pointing out that it is debatable. Marshall seems to like these debates. :]

Hey, they wrote the rules, not me. I just have a dedicated staff of students and mentors who enjoys reading them. If it were up to me, I would have removed bags a long time ago and told teams they are only allowed to enter one control system (regardless of what it is attached to or what it looks like to a reasonably astute or otherwise observer ) with the sole exception of replacement control system components. I prefer the more open model if you can’t tell.

Marshall first. As I understand your theoretical proposal, you bring in COTS parts (an Andy Mark Kit) and a bagged robot. You then assemble the COTS parts into a robot base and move robot parts from your bagged robot to your new base and call it a robot. If that is your question then no rules were violated. COTS parts in their original state can be brought in and do not count for withholding. This is all provided that no other rules are violated and the CAW you display at inspection/re-inspection reflects the new cost.
If your were to partially assemble the base or make cuts to fit the sizing requirements, then you may only bring the modified parts in under your withholding allowance and then only when you load in. Any parts you have not modified prior to the event are still COTS.

As to removing inspection stickers, please see Jon Stratis’ post above. It is a way for the queuers to recognize they suddenly have a robot that is not ready for competition. As I said, it rarely happens, once for me in several hundred events and thousands of teams.

As to the “large 35volt capacitor”, how big was this device? Was it part of a COTS power supply or did you add it to the wiring? While capacitors are not specifically illegal, their use on FRC robots may still come under other robot rules in particular, R07. Large electrical storage devices can produce hazardous conditions for participants and other robots. There are specific methods that I would expect a team to employ to prevent any damage under R07. I would also suspect that the reason you are using that device actually covers up another electrical problem on your robot that needs to be checked. Again a robot inspector is a good person to turn to for help in that situation.

As to the cheesecaking, it was apparent that many teams wanted to add parts to other robots. Whether all or none that indicated actually made modifications I do not have a final report. Please see my other posts on this subject, there are many. I want teams to help other teams be successful. I want to see teams win. I do not want teams to feel bullied into making changes. Some of them may not be fully aware that they can refuse. I have had many teams tell me they refused but it was a team decision that they all believed in. I supported them too.

Andrew, you know how I feel about Guam except on April 1.

I can speak to the capacitor as that was my team. Physically the capacitor was not excessively large. Perhaps 1" long by 5/8" diameter. Granted this is on the larger side of what capacitors usually look like. We added it based on the recommendation of the manufacturer of the strip lights:

Note that these seem to be the same light strips sold at AndyMark (am-2916).

The capacitor terminals were soldered to very short pigtail leads that were installed across the screw terminals of a 5V, 10A-rated power supply (which the RI had no problem with), and all exposed leads were insulated. There seemed to be no issue with the reason for having the capacitor, or the way in which it was wired - the conversation kept revolving around the “rated for 35V”. The inspector in question did not seem to understand or accept that a component’s rated voltage is not the same as the actual voltage it will be seeing in a specific application.

I mean…it’s a decoupling capacitor. How is it even questionable to allow it? I mean…the higher voltage rating doesn’t really have any bearing on the capacitance. It probably just looks large because it’s likely an electrolytic. Sure, it’s overrated for a 5V line, but that shouldn’t matter. In fact, I would be more concerned if it was less than a 10V rating on a 5V line.

Mighty oaks grow from from tiny acorns. I once was a mentor for the only FRC team in St. Louis, the same year that St. Louis FIRST was formed. Fifteen years later, the Championship was held there.

Two rookie teams from Guam will compete April 1 (really!) at the Hawaii Regional. Expect mighty oaks, in due course.

Hey Al - are you indicating on a global level it was apparent many teams wanted to add parts to other robots? Or specifically at this event. If its the latter, I’d like to understand how we knew it was going to be such a problem that this event ended up creating supplemental forms to help the process, before anyone arrived. Particularly with the outcome being no teams actually cheesecaked at the event.

I completely agree with the rest of your statement.


Hey now, how’d I get involved in Guam FIRST?

As long as whatever you do on April 1 is in better taste than the joke Team Update at MSC in 2010… By which I mean, I’d fully support if there was an item added to the inspection process that required all Matt Lythgoes be removed from the venue.

I’m sure it’s been done earlier, but the first instance I saw was in the 2012 “Rebound Rumble” game at one of the Pacific Northwest regionals. A rookie team had a robot that consisted of nothing but a drive base. One of the top teams outfitted them with a little sheet metal ball-holder that that, when bumped, would allow the balls to roll out and into the other team’s ball pickup, allowing that team to score an extra shot or two.

It can be seen working just after autonomous in QF1:
and working in autonomous in the next match:

Please keep in mind that inspectors come from many different backgrounds with different bases of knowledge. You might get an inspector that’s an electrical engineer and can tell you exactly how that works. Or you might get one that’s a mechanical engineer and understands everything that went into the custom gearbox you built. Or you might get one that’s a software engineer, or civil, or industrial, or… You get the point. Most likely the inspector you got wasn’t an electrical engineer. He saw an electrical part that said 35V on it, and thought of the rule limiting voltage. And that’s fine. That’s what the LRI is for.

Personally I have plenty of experience working with mechanical systems, but I still consider electronics to be these weird plastic boxes that emit smoke when you hit them hard enough. I actively enjoy having teams show me how things are supposed to work, especially when they have a motivation to show they’re compliant with the rules.


  • Ability to follow and enforce electrical wiring diagrams

Do you feel like you meet the Experience and Skills Needed section?

So, first let me reiterate what bjtheone said which was that, while our experience getting this capacitor inspected was a little annoying, ultimately we believe the RI followed the correct process and we’re OK with that. The experience was generally positive and I hope the RI went away having learned something new.

I recognize not everyone has expertise in everything. I’m well versed in electronics but less so in mechanical things. I readily admit I don’t know everything. But sometimes it seems hard for people to admit that about themselves.

We mentioned this story in the context of a thread in which teams occasionally face similar experiences that are not as positive as ours was. If I were an inspector I would absolutely be open about learning new things from team mentors. If I had any doubts about the legality of a device – and/or the justification I’m being given by the team – I would want to check with an LRI or at the very least pull up Google and see what I can learn real quick. The one thing I would not do is stomp my foot down and make some kind of absolute call just to assert that I must always be right.

That was Tators first effort at cheesecaking an alliance member. F1
and F2 both saw our alliance score six balls in the high goal…

[Sarcasm mode]Original issue was about a capacitor not a wiring diagram. Keeping in mind that this a volunteer position and you trying to inspect 30-60 robots in 4-6 hours, sometimes you accept people having less than multiple degrees and years of field experince inspecting FRC robots.[/sarcasm]
Please take this in the tongue in cheek mode it is intended. :]

There’s a large difference between following the basic robot electrical diagram and understanding a team’s custom circuit :slight_smile: I can easily do the former, but ask me to design some of the custom circuits I’ve seen team’s create and I’ll probably end up hurting someone (likely myself!).