[EWCP] Presents Basic Bot Design

We decided to take some time this year to put together a document analyzing the game from the perspective of what a low resource team could do to be competitive. Basically, it’s what we wish most Ri3D teams did instead of slap LED lights and hundreds of dollars of COTS actuators on their bot. [1]

So we set ourselves a basic challenge, Kitbot drivetrain and $500 total spend (total, so no FIRST Choice or voucher shenanigans) and we wanted to build a strategy that could contribute points to any elimination alliance at any regional or district event on the planet while also being easy to achieve. Then we took it further, we put together a set of rules for how to play the strategy together based on what partners you had in any given match and when to most effectively use power ups.

To top it all off we put together some Skill Tree’s with suggested improvements to Level Up the bot. These include what it lets you do, what the requirements are, Skill Checks for testing the viability of your implementation, some suggested resources, and suggested resources to help guide you.

In short, this is designed for teams that are reaching this point in the season and are still struggling with "what should we do.

This document was the work of a grouping of people including (in no order)
Brian Smist (6870)
Kyle Johnson (1610)
Marshall Massengill (900)
Michael Van Glahn (179)
Wil Payne (422)
Alec Mataloni (111)
Allen Gregory (3847)
Bailey Kahl (125)
Brian Maher (2791)
Chris Picone (3929)
Jeremy Germita (5012)
Josh Fox
Justin Foss (558)
Kellen Hill (1746)
Michael Schreiber (67)
Scott Meredith (5895)
Ty Tremblay (319)

We delayed releasing this document until today to allow teams to develop strategies on their own rather than cribbing what was out there. But if you’re stuck, here is a resource for you. As our own understanding of the game evolves some of the How to Play sections as well as the Skill Tree sections may change.

Let us know if you like the format/approach - we couldn’t “do” an Ri3D build due to the simple fact that we’re spread across most of the East and Central US, so we did the next best thing.

[1] Credit where credit is due - they’ve been FAR better this year about publishing useful information instead of just cleverly edited footage. Kudos all, but we committed to doing this and most of it was done well before any of the Ri3D stuff started coming out…

No students or robots were harmed in the making of this document.

Seems like a list of folks that…know de wae.

I found it interesting the skills checks that were listed. Some included larger spans of time than I would have thought.

But the opposing alliance’s switch was made to feel pretty left out.

Basic competency. To be GREAT you need to be significantly faster but for teams that this doc is targeting we felt that was a decent max time for those things to demonstrate you CAN do them.

Really great document! Good work for everyone involved. Hopefully this gets into the hands of the teams that need it most.

Thank you all for creating and sharing this. It seems like a great resource to help struggling teams figure out how they can best contribute to their alliances.

Really cool to see Ri3D alternatives popping up to provide teams with even more valuable Information!

This is how we raise the floor of FRC.

I mean, if you can do your own Switch, it wouldn’t be that much of a pivot to tackle the opponent’s Switch too.

Not gonna lie, the Greenhorn bot made me question for a minute if we’d aimed too low with this.

Some folks may have noticed I added a few links to Ri3D build docs where applicable. The intent of this (and why it was published as google doc instead of a PDF) was to be a semi living document.

I also replaced a link to old CTRE documentation with their new stuff (thanks for the catch bdaroz) If there’s any resources folks find that are pertinent let me know and I’ll get them added in.

This would be a good skill tree to add. The viewpoint to the opponent’s switch makes it difficult to play effective counter-switch scoring there with the basic bot, but adding a USB camera and having drive team practice to acquire and score game pieces by camera only (as well as avoid a taped area on the ground to represent the Power Cube zone) would be a good skill development for a team to improve their capabilities.

I really like this document. This is what all MCCs should be; doing 1 game task well with a basic kit drivetrain (“minimum” teams don’t have time/money/tools for 6 CIM gearboxes and traction wheels), the mobility autonomous bonus, and a stretch goal of 1 more difficult scoring objective (autonomous switch score/opposing switch/scale/climb). Something that a team of underclassmen with a new non-technical teacher and no mentors can strive for. Well done.

I don’t think you aimed too low at all. Given your parameters, I think that’s exactly what a team should build. Our bot is not necessarily entry level in all aspects.

In terms of maching it’s pretty simple. Basically nothing custom that couldn’t be replaced with a COTS solution. That was essential for our us because 2/3 of the team were not mechanically inclined (dang Electrical Engineers).

I think the biggest barrier to entry for our robot would be cost. The elevator kits are decently expensive (you definitely get what you pay for), and we have some other expensive components that I wouldn’t expect a rookie/low resource team to be able to afford.

Now that our bot is out there, I expect a lot of people to copy it (and hopefully take it to the next level). I’m actually sure of this because I’ve answered roughly 200 questions in person, online, over text etc. in the past 3 days. With that said, I would absolutely not recommend our design to any team that fits your parameters. It’s just too cost prohibitive. If money isn’t as much of a concern but tools/experience are… I think teams could be successful by learning from our design.

The more resources we can throw at teams, the better. Especially with 500 or so rookie teams this year. A document like this is yuge.

This is a great post. I hope you guys do this every year.

I agree with your game analysis, however I would up the cost from $500 to $1,000 to more accurately reflect the initial cost rookie team would incur from having to buy a bunch of COTS gearboxes, motors, etc. After rookie year being able to reuse your gearboxes the cost to build a robot can decrease significantly.

There was definitely a large gap on the budget talk in our discussion. I started the bidding at $500 and a couple others said we should have it set at $1000. It’s highly game dependent. A true BBD this year can be very simple, even moreso than last year. The rookie KOP, some plywood on top to form a ramp (get the orange peel HDPE stapled on top if you want to get fancy), and some kind of actuation to secure the game piece in transit. If you want to go up the “skill tree” as it were, each option would add an additional $100 minimum to get them functional. A recommendation that can manifest itself in the document would be to acquire through FIRST Choice a couple of the pneumatic actuators to build a fence for the cube in the ramp, or the RedLine and planetary in the kit this year can be used to actuate a fence on the ramp.

The idea of the BBD is to work in two directions: if we (the “royal” we, being FIRST leadership from the top down) want to start teams by marketing the idea you can start one for $6000 and build a robot in 6 weeks, $500 may almost be too much to ask for on top of buying new tools and paying for travel. The materials and tools required for the BBD can be acquired in common aisles at a home improvement store. Hopefully we can keep the kind of team that needs to build this robot inspired and functional through their early seasons while they try to find their place in FRC.

The other direction serves as a reality check to veteran teams. Can your robot do “THIS”? Can you properly elevate yourself along the skill tree? At what point can you overreach and end up doing LESS than the BBD?