Field failures: unacceptable

I don’t know about other regionals, but the field at the Southern Pacific regional has been continually failing to count points from the first rotor in time for the end of auto (even when placed several seconds prior to the buzzer). This has affected multiple teams in multiple matches, and has changed the ranking point results of 2 that I know of, one of which my team was perversely affected by; when we questioned it the ref refused to alter the results, despite the problem being acknowledged.

As I am sure many people have found, this is not the first in a string of field failures this year, including many boiler failures, davits breaking, and pegs falling off. At least in most instances they have restarted, but in some the referees could not really care. This is wholly unacceptable for an event that teams pay $5000 to attend, and thousands more to build the robot itself. It is disrespectful to the students, mentors, and sponsors that pour heaps of time, effort and money into this competition. FIRST - fix it.

Have you brought this issue up with the Head Ref and FTA at your event? If they don’t know there’s a problem they can’t look into it.

Yeah, we did bring it up, and the ref acknowledged the issue but they weren’t willing to change the results, even though they said we should have got the points; those auto points would’ve flipped it to a win from a draw. They were attempting to fix it after our match, but it failed again after the next one.

The sensor for the gear takes about a second after the gear is properly seated to register it and start spinning the rotor. If you don’t give it enough time, it won’t, and shouldn’t, count. If it takes longer than that, the field is technically out of spec. In reality, there’s only so much the FTAs can do to improve the situation. I’m sure that if you brought it up with the FTAs they are doing their best to get the field as much to spec as possible.

There’s definitely some variability in performance. The red airship in South Florida was temperamental/failing constantly for a while and still remained more finicky than blue. At some points it was so bad that the center rotor would simply never start (meaning none of the other rotors ever could start either), and you got your points by miming through each set of actions, ensuring the ref sees and gives you a thumbs-up. More confusing and time-consuming, and especially detrimental when playing an alliance that doesn’t have to deal with it. That extreme behavior was fixed as quickly as possible (before playoffs), but differences between the airships persist everywhere and have decided more than a few matches.

At FLR the blue alliance hoppers on the feeder station side are off by 3 inches and the red alliance feeder station hoppers are off by 1 inch. At least this was made aware to drive teams by the field officials. This in addition to what everyone else has experienced like the springs.

Whenever I get stressed about FRC and its overzealous demands I just think about Frank trying to get the field through inspection and I just laugh and laugh and laugh. It really helps put it all back into perspective.

OP, what match are you referring to? From all the matches of Southern Cross and South Pacific I’ve seen, the time needed to count gears was in the acceptable range. There have been cases where it has taken longer, but all the cases where that has happened is because the pilot has stopped turning the geartrain and let inertia do the final turn needed to activate the rotor

We had many instances at Lake Superior in which a team would drop a gear in the slot as the buzzer sounded. Unfortunately that is too late- by the time the buzzer sounds auto is already over. It can also be very difficult to tell from a spectator perspective when the gear is properly seated in the slot compared to when auto actually ends.

That being said, the sensor may also need to be calibrated. If the teams are getting the gear in the slot long before auto ends and it isn’t counting, the team should be standing in the question box at the end of the match to discuss the situation with the field staff. Make sure the FTA knows- the refs aren’t in a good position to fix field issues.

Unfortunately there isn’t much we can do on Chief Delphi to rectify that situation.

Just for the record: is anyone reading this thread in a position to have authoritative insight into why it takes a second (is that intentional? or a limitation of the hardware or software?) and why the delay would vary intermittently?

If you feel a field fault has occurred or the field is out of spec, please bring this to the attention of the FTA as they are able to investigate these issues.

The gear detection is done using Allen Bradley RightSight optical sensors, which trigger quickly and are easy to calibrate. If there’s a required minimum trigger time (for debounce?), it’s done downstream of the sensor.

Assuming that information is accurate (I have no particular reason to doubt it), then it seems to suggest that the intermittent variations may be due to the realtime system architecture, design, or coding of FMS.

Not sure whether I agree with that. Of the qual and playoff matches I’ve watched in person, I’ve never seen an issue with gear scoring. If teams are seeing an issue with registering auto gear scoring, I think it’s more likely to be a calibration or wiring issue.

As Bryan said, the best route for teams is to bring things like this to the attention of the FTA via the question box. They are in the best position to fix the issue.

The match that I am referring to is quals 54 (, As you can see, our pilot got the gear in the airship several seconds before the buzzer, but the field didn’t register it. Our drive coach went to the question box and questioned the call. The head ref and FTA acknowledged the issue, but said that they “could not” change the score cause it was already in the system (seems unlikely given that there have been plenty of score changes in the SC/SP regionals), but that they would look into the issue.

The camera angle in the video is terrible, but from what I can see it looks like the pilot placed the gear at ~T-2s in Auto and the rotor did not start. At ~T-131 in Teleop, the pilot moves the gear slightly, and the rotor starts before T-130. To me, that says that the gear wasn’t seated properly in the slot to trigger the sensor until it was moved. I don’t want to say it’s the pilot’s fault, but I can’t conclude from that video that it’s the field’s fault either. The head ref made the right call not to change the final score without definitive proof that the field wasn’t functioning properly (even then, it should probably be a field fault and a replay instead of retroactively changing the score).

It looks like you placed it at t = 2, and then it counted at t = 131, meaning that it took six seconds to be counted. That’s insane.

So your disagreement is not with me, it’s with earlier posters who are reporting intermittent delays. Right?

If you watch the video closely, right when it cuts back to the red airship you can see the red pilot touching the gear. I think that re-seated the gear into the sensor, and then the rotor started in a timely manner after that. It didn’t actually take six seconds between when the sensor saw the gear and when the rotor started.

My favorite quote of the season so far is from George Chen, the emcee at San Diego who said:

Welcome to FIRST Steamworks where every match has a field fault!