[FRC Blog] Black Tote or...?

Posted on the FRC Blog, 9/22/2022: https://www.firstinspires.org/robotics/frc/blog/2022-black-tote-or

Black Tote or…?

2022 SEP 22 | Written by Kate Pilotte, Sr. Kit of Parts Manager

Context…

The “Kit” has evolved to include more than just what’s shipped in totes at the start of the season; it’s the Kickoff Kits (totes, Drive Base Kit/voucher), FIRST ® Choice, and the Virtual Kit. See the Kit of Parts webpage for more information.

### Something New…

This year, we’re trying something new-ish.

Veteran teams likely remember that you’re invited to opt-out of the drive base and, in exchange, you receive a $450 voucher to use at AndyMark.com. We’re expanding this concept to also apply to the Black Tote (formerly known as the “Everyone Tote”), which for Veteran teams and along with the Drive Base Kit, is most of the Kickoff Kit.

**Veteran teams are invited to opt out of the Black Tote in exchange for $250 in vouchers:**

$125 to REV Robotics and $125 to AndyMark.

We are shifting some items out of the Black Tote and into a new container called “Season Specifics.” Season Specifics ship to all teams, regardless of their drive base/Black Tote selections. This info graphic is hopefully worth more than a thousand words in describing what we mean.

Details…

So, what’s in what? Good question.

We’re still confirming some items, and even confirmed material isn’t all at the warehouse for kitting yet (my disclaimer that this is what we know as of today). Contents of the Black Tote are comparable to the 2022 “Everyone” Tote except for 2 large exceptions:

  • game specific items are in the Season Specifics container
  • Recent Kickoff Kits included 2 motor controllers in each Black Tote and 2 motor controllers in each Gray Tote. Due to supply limitations, motor controllers are only shipping in the Gray Tote (sent only to new teams) for 2023 (4 per Gray Tote).

We completely acknowledge that we’re inviting your selection based on what we expect to ship in each container; it’s just not realistic for us to commit unequivocally to contents at this time so you don’t have a complete data set with which to work. We didn’t want that to prevent us from presenting this option completely. We expect that, for some teams, this is an easy decision because of the Kickoff Kit inventory they’ve accumulated over time. Other teams may have a harder time with the decision.

We want to be clear that this decision is optional and irreversible after the deadline. If circumstances cause the Black Tote and Season Specific container contents to vary from what’s presented here, there are no takebacks.

Season Specifics

Generally, the Season Specific container is intended to contain only items relevant to that season. For this first year, some donors sent material for the Everyone Tote and reasonably expected their material to go to all teams. For donors in which the “all teams” distribution was a priority, we’re shifting those items to the Season Specific container with an expectation that they’ll shift to the Black Tote in future seasons.

The items expected to be in the Season Specific container include the following:

  • a set of game pieces,
  • pneumatic tubing kit,
  • alumni pin packet,
  • Molex cable kit,
  • shaft collar,
  • participation pins (bag of 40),
  • voucher catalog & checklist,
  • NI Kickoff Kit Packet,
  • new reflective material (3M’s 8830 used in 2022 is discontinued), and
  • all stickers/flyers/other Donor swag.

Black Tote

We expect to pack the Black Tote with the following materials (* limited quantity likely in FIRST Choice):

  • robot battery,
  • POE injector cable,
  • battery connector*,
  • Dual Lock,
  • radio power connector*,
  • Ethernet cable *,
  • main 120A breaker,
  • Snap Action circuit breaker kit*,
  • Robot Signal Light*,
  • CIM motors (2),
  • VHB tape*,
  • electrical tape (red & black)*,
  • wire (red & black in 6, 12, and 18AWG),
  • signal cable packet (2-wire cable, CAN cable, and 5 PWM cables – we are no longer sourcing Y-cables),
  • assorted terminal kit,
  • bumpons (1 sheet of SJ5009 & SJ5003 each)*,
  • grip tape,
  • Scotch splicing tape (130C, 1in x 30ft),
  • stealth wheels,
  • compliant wheels,
  • constant force spring packet,
  • rangefinding sensor
  • an igus bag, and
  • additional pending items we hope to secure in the next few weeks.

Timing…

Hopefully you’re aware that the Drive Base Option has been available in your team’s Dashboard since registration opened in May. The Black Tote Option goes live in the Dashboard on October 6, 2022 at noon Eastern time. Both options close on Thursday, October 20, 2022, at noon, Eastern time.

Additional Notes…

  • The default (i.e. if a team does nothing) is that the Black Tote ships to the team.
  • The prerequisites for a team opting out of the Drive Base Kit apply to the Black Tote too… a team must be event ready (i.e. there are 2 Youth Protection Program screened mentors and no outstanding tasks on your dashboard).
  • The option is available to lead mentors 1 and 2 of event-ready veteran teams.
  • To make the selection, select “Payment & Product” under Team Options, choose “Black Tote Opt Out” and check the box to receive vouchers instead of the Black Tote. You can change your mind and uncheck the box later until the deadline on October 20, 2022.
  • If a team is not attending a local Kickoff, they have the option to be a “MySite” team and have their Kickoff Kit shipped to an address of their choice. The shipping fee is a flat ground or air rate (depending on the team’s location on the planet) and does not change based on what Kickoff Kit pieces they’ve opted out of (i.e. a team that’s opted out of the Drive Base Kit and Black Tote pays the same MySite shipping fee as a team that’s receiving those two items).
  • The value of the vouchers is indicative of neither the fair market value of what’s in the Black Tote nor what FIRST pays for items in the Black Tote. The value is a subjective assessment of a what would be a reasonable, easy decision for some teams, a difficult decision for others, and pinch of buffer because of the value in choice that vouchers offer.
  • Vouchers go live with the pre-Kickoff release of Virtual Kit items on November 17, 2022, noon Eastern.
  • Any separate items that ship outside the tote (because of their size or delayed delivery) are effectively considered Black Tote items and will not ship to teams that opted for the vouchers instead of the Black Tote.

I leave you with a picture of a picture on the wall of my office, the first Kit of Parts Engineer/Manager distributing his kits. Thank you, Woodie. <3

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At this rate, we’ll be seeing a blog post entitled “Announcement for Minnesota and California Teams” by the end of the year!


So the main things you’re missing out on by opting out of the tote are the battery, a free tote, and maybe the main breaker if you really want a new one. Kinda feel like the amount for opting out is a low-ball, but it seems like an easy decision to make if your team has been around for a few seasons.

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If I’m reading this right, you still get the game piece(s) if you opt out of the black tote?

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Yes, I believe that this is Official Confirmation that the 2023 game will involve a “set of game pieces”.

I’m assuming it’s not the empty set, but FIRST has been tricky before…

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I really like this as an option, especially as a team that’s been around for a while. A lot of the extra items from the black tote tend to just sit around and collect dust every year.

Only thing I’ll miss with opting out is the Igus stress relief brain.

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If that blog post became real I think I would cry tears of joy…

in reality though with regionals already set and stone for MN (idk about cali) I don’t think there is any chance for this year :cry:

Can we opt out of the Black Tote but still get the foam brain in the linear track bag? Don’t think I can buy one for $250.

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GRIP TAPE? In the black tote?! They just givin everyone the secret sauce now huh

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Am I understanding correctly that all the things listed in the black tote but with a star are expected to also be included in the black tote and also available from FIRST Choice? And presumably the more teams opt-out of the black tote, the more will be available on FIRST Choice.

For a team that’s been around a number of years, we already have enough of most of the stuff in the kit that we need. But if we had to purchase a new RSL and main breaker with cash, that’s almost $200 of the $250 in vouchers right there.

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While we’re on this heavenly road of awesome new changes from HQ, maybe they would consider giving us a second legal part # for the RSL. AndyMark’s unofficial RSL would certainly be a step in the right direction at $55 each.

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Just for some added context, here are some of the items you may end up replacing with those vouchers:

Main Breaker - $47

Robot Battery - $100 ($50ea, sold in 2-pack)

Robot Signal Light - $60+ (Used on Ebay), around $170+ new

POE Injector - $11

40A Snap Action Breakers - $7ea

As you can see, if you’re aiming to replace all the vital components with new ones, you’re going to run over the two $125 vouchers rather easily (although the batteries being sold in 2-packs provides more value here). So it’s not quite as cut-and-dry of a decision as I had first thought it to be.

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Don’t worry, it’s a different 3M grip tape than the one you all used :wink:

I too am very concerned about this. That brain is the most important thing in the kit for us.

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The fact that this hasn’t happened yet has me wondering if there’s an external factor like a contract or something regarding a second legal RSL. I would hope the field electronics aren’t contingent on what company makes the flashing light on all the robots, but I’ve seen weirder deals.

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It may not be an explicit contract so much as just them trying to make sure they aren’t going to accidentally be biting the hand that feeds them.

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From what I’ve been told Allen Bradley donates/discounts a ton of equipment and parts every year which is likely why they’re being used.

Additionally, this restriction is likely a choice for consistency across all robots. Everyone knows which blinking light is the RSL because it’s the same one for every robot.

And I personally would like to see it stay that way. (Maybe with a cheaper alternative). Ultimately as long as they continue to be available through FIRST choice I don’t have a huge issue with them staying the same.

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Definitely not suggesting we make the rule “any orange blinking light” for the RSL. But adding one single additional part # for the light, and having said light be cost effective and very closely resemble the current RSL, I think would be completely practical.

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I’m not seeing the “Black Tote Opt Out” option on the Dashboard under “Payment & Product”. Maybe I’m looking in the wrong spot.

It’s not available until October 6th