F4 - CADathon 2016

Hello everyone,

I am pleased to announce F4 will be hosting a CADathon from July 29th 12pm EST - July 31st 7pm EST.

First we should explain what a CADathon is. Essentially, a CADathon is like a hackathon but with CAD. People/teams are given a short period of time to CAD a specific thing (in this case a robot) ending with a panel of judges selecting a winner.

As for what will go on in ours:
Participants will be split into teams of 2. Teams can be premade with people who know each other or participants can enter by themselves and be assigned a random partner. Partners will be assigned by skill level along with the prerequisite of sharing a common CAD suite. We will try to make sure partners are in the same time zone but that will be more difficult. From there, teams will be put in individual google hangouts groups where they can discuss and collaborate. The teams have 55 hours to CAD a robot from the game reveal. The game reveal will include a CAD model of the field, a short video explaining the game, and a game manual. When they are done, teams must create a high quality render of their robot and send the F4 crew their .STEP file. If teams do not submit both a render and .STEP file by the end time, they will be disqualified. Once done, the files will be inspected to make sure they adhere to the game rules. At 8pm EST on July 31st, a special F4 CADathon show will go live. First, each team will come on and explain their robots to the audience. Then, a panel of 3 special guest judges will judge each robot on 4 categories. Strategic design, model detail, buildability, and looks. The judges will then roughly figure out how many points the robot can potentially score. The winner will then be determined based on all of those factors. Each member of the winning team will receive a real prize which will be shipped to them and be themed based on the game.

The only prerequisite to join is that you are willing to spend time doing it. You also need to at least have access to some CAD software. You can be any age (This is not limited to students) and we encourage everyone from newbies to the most advanced CADers to put their skills to the test. If you are interested please sign up here.


We will be releasing a game hint this Sunday which should confuse most of you and maybe clue one of you guys in. We hope to see everyone there as it looks like its going to be a lot of fun.

Good Luck!

  • Sam

We are not affiliated with KohKohPuffs CADathon from last year. However, we have permission from him and he plans on participating.

If I wasn’t on the GDC I’d absolutely love to participate! I encourage all of you to take this oppertunity as I have only recently gotten into CAD and am pretty novice, but I think this game and working with others will really help hone your skills regardless of experiency level! Excited to see what comes of this!

I just signed up, but I really don’t know how available I’ll be that weekend. I’ll do everything I can, but I won’t be able to dedicate the whole weekend to it. If there are others who are just looking at this as a learning experience, and aren’t as worried about winning, I don’t mind being placed with them.

Also, are there any requirements on using files that have already been made/designed/downloaded?

Thanks so much for making this! It seems really exciting, and I can’t wait to compete.

We will make sure to get you with a compatible partner.

We are still writing the manual so this is not final. But currently we are allowing all CAD files to be used as long as they are publicly available.

Although I wont be able to participate this year due to starting my new job, I hope that this is successful enough to run again next year so I can compete then. I’ll be sure to follow as much of this as I can next weekend. This sounds like a lot of fun.

Update 1:

Thanks everyone so far for the support. We already have a few teams signed up and are looking forward to see more.

To start a few clarifications.

  1. Only a single member of each team will be presenting your design on the show. Please decide this beforehand if you are a pre made team and early on if you are on a randomly assigned team. This member will be added to our teamspeak server.

  2. If both members of a team have issues rendering due to PC issues I will help. However all needed files will need to be sent to me at 6pm. So, you will be losing an hour. I will help with renders in Solidworks and Inventor. Sorry no Creo support.

  3. We would like to clarify. This is not only for students although F4 is a student run organization this event will not be limited to students. Anyone from the age of 0-116 is allowed to participate.

We are also excited to announce 2/3 of the judges. The first Judge is Andy Baker (Woodie Flowers award winner, lead mentor of team 3940 Cybertooth and president and owner of Andymark). The second judge is Adam Heard (Lead mentor of team 973 The Greybots, Woodie Flowers Finalist award winner and creator of the RAMP series of FRC based CAD tutorials).

Thanks everyone! We are working hard to make sure this is a great event.

Agreed. I’d love to participate but I’m currently on vacation :frowning:

Before I launch a team to help train some of my newer students I have a few questions on details.

Is there a deadline to register?

Is there a cap on members of a team? I have 3 FRC teams in our facility but no idea what the interest level will be during the summer months.

What mode of communication will be required for the team to communicate through? Will you open the CAD model on the screen and have that one member speak about it via teamspeak?

Lastly, will everything game related be posted here or sent via email?

The deadline to register is going to be 7/28 (the day before the event)

There is a 2 person cap on the teams. However you can make as many teams as you would like. If you are using this for training purposes a good idea may be to launch a few teams of newer members and help all of them out but not formally be a member of any of them.

All participants of the CADathon will be added to our slack chat as guests. We have not yet set the channel up but will be doing so very shortly. Once thats done the majority of communication will be done there with only major updates being put here.

Lastly I am not too sure if I will be showing the render/s on the stream or the CAD file. It really depends on whether I get my ram back. (Currently I am running only 8gbs instead of 32gbs).

Thanks for your interest.

I’d love to involve my team in this. It would be great practice for the 2017 FRC season. However, most of our members dont know how to CAD at all, but I would like to involve them in the design process for practice purposes. A lot know sketch up but I’m not sure if that program would be permissible for the competition given issues with .STEP conversion.

Is there penalties for communication of ideas between people that are participating and not participating? Or would it be best to divide the team up and throw them into competition and see how they fare

Well, due to constraints I am going to say no to using Sketchup. Its a different beast then using something something like Solidworks, PTC Creo, or Inventor. If you are any members of your team want to learn Solidworks there are resources available. I usually tell people to first watch the 1114 Solidworks series and then move on to 973 RAMP. If anyone is having trouble I am sure someone from F4 or myself would be happy to assist. I or someone else from F4 can even video chat you and your team and teach the basics if you would like. Ill also be around during the CADathon and will be happy to answer questions related to using Solidoworks. If your team does not have licenses for Solidworks the students can still get Inventor but, I can not assist. We have members that use Inventor but there are less of them and all of them are either participating in the event or will be busy.

As for penalties we are discussing this internally. We think we are going to disallow it under the honor system that teams do not communicate ideas. Teaching from a non team member is one thing but competitors should be separated as to keep the playing field somewhat level.

Hope this helps. If you have any questions feel free to ask.

Hey sorry for the delay but here is the game hint.


If you figured out the game in anyway keep it to yourself for now. But, congrats.

See everyone later this week for the full unveiling.

I’d like to participate, but I’m not sure I’ll have access to the only computer of mine that can do CAD. Also, I’m not currently a member of an FRC team, and I noticed that the sign up asks for a team number. Could I just put in “00000”(no team)? Or do I need to be on a team?

0000 would work. Also, please don’t sign up until you know whether you will have access atleast for a quater the time. A dropout will cause issues. Applications will close the day before the event so you have until then.

How does separating the teams level the playing field?

In my experience collaboration makes everybody involved better which is the great thing about all the Ri3D-esque groups. If the goal of F4 is to connect people, and your CADithon’s goal is to help people become better at CAD it seems counter to both of these goals to restrict collaboration.

To add on, the best engineers and teams “borrow from the best and invent the rest” Collaboration is the KEY to innovation.

I do see your point. However, this is a competition. If everyone was to collaborate a lot of the robots would start to look the same and in my opinion less would be learned. By separating people in small groups and restricting collaboration it will create a bunch of different robot designs and strategies which will be fun to reflect on at the end of the event.

Collaboration would also be unfair if not all teams collaborated. All in all I think its just better to keep everyone separate.

However, there are teams of 2 people each. I am sure there will be plenty of collaboration between the 2 designers which is especially cool for the teams who do not already know each other.

Keeping groups separate does level the playing field IMO. If everybody collaborated and one group in a team of 30 found a loophole in the rules, then it could end up that five or six teams all use the same robot.
F4 is hosting a competition here, there has to be separated teams. If the only goal was learning, then they would host a webinar or somesuch. honestly that’s not a bad idea for the future: a collaborative robot for a made up game.
I don’t recall Ri3D collaborating too much. Besides, the goal of Ri3D is to help people learn, so making the same robot would be pointless.

EDIT: On the topic of fairness, if 6 teams collaborate on strategy and design, they will probably have a better shot than a single team working alone.

FIRST is hosting a competition here, there has to be separated teams.

God forbid there be collaboration. We may see twins, triplets, or HUNDREDS of the same robots.

This is a 3 day creativity event. Its not a 6+ week FRC season. The point is not for a team to have the best robot but is for teams to try out stuff they have never done, learn how to CAD better, and have fun.

Asids idea of a single collaborative robot with a ton of people for a game like ours would be cool and we will explore the possibility for a different event.

Thanks for all your feedback.

Lastly I do not know about you but I am not the biggest fan of duplicate robots. And… if FIRST became more like VEX where a lot of people copied designs I would probably leave the program.