Funniest Rookie Mistake

What is the funniest rookie mistake that you’ve witnessed? It could come from a rookie team, student, mentor, volunteer, etc. A couple years ago at the the South Florida Regional, I met a rookie team that was struggling. For example, they arrived at the competition with only one set of bumpers. When I asked them why they only made blue bumpers, one of the team members said, “We looked on the blue alliance website and saw our team on there.” :rofl: It was the most innocent and funniest rookie mistake that I have ever witnessed. I can totally see from their perspective that if you’re listed on the blue alliance, why would you need red bumpers? Should they have read the rule book more closely, yes, but having been a rookie mentor on a rookie team, I can also understand how getting their robot working was probably a higher priority than understanding the bumper rules. The story has a happy ending in that my former team and a few others were able to pool resources together to get them a red pair of bumpers by qualifications. Who else has a funny story?


One of the many rookie teams last year had their unopened KoP (except presumably to pull a bag and tag) bagged and tagged.

3946’s rookie year mistakes included just not thinking about , much less caculating, loads required. They had a 2 inch pneumatic cylinder lifting an 11 ounce ball, and a window motor trying to push down a bridge at the end of a 2 foot moment arm. IIRC, it took about 12-15 lb of force to push the bridge down.


Along those lines, I do not know about funny, but we did that with our lift mechanism our first year. The lead screw speed combined with the stretch in the rope left us no possible way to climb in time. We came close a few times, and once hit the mark just after time. It is kind of funny now, but was infuriating at the time.

Not a rokie year, but rookie mist ake we have made not once, but twice involved running Neos without the encoder plugged in. The first tine was last year when they first came out. We spent a week trying to figure out while it would not work. This was worse this year with the neo 550. With no encoder cable, it pulls maximum load. It started smoking in a second. We all should have, neigh, do know better. But…

Okay, that one is pretty funny now that I think aboutit.

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During 4607’s rookie season I was a Junior in high school and had no idea what I was doing. We had a lead screw mechanism for a climber (that was doomed to fail) that I really wanted to see move… it was probably around week 4 of the build season and I had never seen the mechanism work, and everything was finally in place for it to mechanically work.

So I grabbed some wire and a battery and asked another team member to help me by hot wiring the motor on our lead screw mechanism so we could see it move.

Well it turns out there was a ton of friction on our lead screw mechanism and our cim motor wasn’t geared properly. The 22 gauge wire that I grabbed that me and my friend were holding to the battery, quickly heated up, began smoking, and melted the insulation.

The motor was starting to move and that’s all I was focused on so I didn’t notice that my hand was smoking… my friend screamed in pain and threw the wires in my direction, landing on an exposed pool noodle that was intended to be our bumpers. Well the wire melted right through the pool noodle and my friend and I ran to a sink to run our fingers under cold water.

Lesson: hot wiring a cim motor with 22 gauge wire is a dumb idea, don’t do it.


Window. Motor. Drive.


This is the only right way to make a drivetrain.


Well, thinking that the robot really needed to be robust - this was before Bumpers - the team decided to make an outer frame from 3/16" aluminum plate. Being rookies and all, this meant not weighing the robot until it was almost complete, maybe a whole week before crate day.

186 pounds. Yikes!

Ultimately, the frame was re-made with 0.1" aluminum with very generous holes, lots of other things were simply removed, and it made weight.

The original frame? It became the basis for the robot cart, which was used for nearly 10 years, and still survives as the spare cart (more than 15 years later), mostly because it just won’t fall apart on its own.


Not mine, but enjoy The Team That Ran out of Code (source):

Has anyone heard of the team that ran out of code? (This is a real story)
SO had a rookie team while I was FTAAing who would come out to the field, run til about 15 seconds to the end of the match, then have their robot stop. They stepped back calmly from their controllers and just wait out the end of the game
I was confused, thought maybe they were done with what they were doing in the match, and shrugged
they did it 3 more times before I was like “Ok somethings weird” because they finally didnt look like they had hit end game like they wanted but the bot wasnt moving
I wnet over and was like what
“We ran out of code”
“Oh we just ran out of code. it happens.”
Let me see your code
I go in and its like 15 lines of code
copied and pasted as many times as they could fit on the rio
“Have you heard of this magical thing called a loop?”
“A loop? Whats that?”
I was in TEARS. I thought they were joking
but the code literally “looped” til it ran out of iterations and stopped


A freshman asked in our official team WhatsApp group if anyone knows where is the “electricity powder” at (a made up invention we send every freshman to fetch😂)
Kinda cruel but that’s the circle of life


This reminds me of a similar story I saw as a CSA a few years ago (not a rookie team but whatever).

One LabVIEW team was having a problem getting code to load on their roboRIO. They would get COMMs just fine, but CODE would stay red. Tried redeploying: nothing. Tried running in debug mode: nothing. Took a look at their code and everything looked fine on first glance. Tried running in debug mode again and it still didn’t work, but I noticed that it deployed unusually fast (2 seconds instead of the normal minute or more). Went back to look at the code and noticed something strange: when you tried to move one VI the entire code would move instead.

Turns out they managed to delete all of the code that comes with the default project and replace it with a picture of that exact code that they copied from a website. Their project wasn’t deploying because there literally was no code in it, just a picture. I managed to keep it together while I was with the team but as soon as I left I started crying laughing. Still my best “what’s the worst you’ve seen” story as a CSA.


Also window motor drive, window motor torso articulation, window motor arms articulation


We would always ask rookies to bring us the lathe, sack of electrons, or the powder grease


Haha nice!
My favorite is “brushes for brushless motor” never gets old


The story goes 4513 didnt have access to the metal shop their rookie year due to some red tape (someone got injured years ago and it was closed down? not sure on the truth on it) so their rookie bot was 100% wood.

These wooden gears were tested practice day, and did not last a single climb before exploding, or so im told. Match vid just has the team as a chassis for the first 3-5 matches before adding something to climb on the low bar. Still got highest rookie seed though, which is pretty nice.


Rookie FTC Team with a Rookie inspector. 10133, Machines of Mayhem, was a rising FTC team with a strong mentor core. There first year, they decided to build a simple robot to push blocks and climb the mountain for First Res-Q. Being a push bot, it was decide to stick to what was known and use 4 inch wheels with wedgetop with exposed front tires.
The new inspect looks at them. looks at the inspection sheets, and says, “Wellllll, they aren’t illegal, but I want to check them on the foam tiles to make sure they don’t cause damage. Run your robot up against the wall for 10 seconds straight.”
We do as told, push the joystick forwards…and the robot scales the side of the arena wall! The inspector runs and grabs the lead, check with him we are free to continue. It was one of my favorite moments.


during 6656’s Rookie year we team thought itd look cool af to have an LED underglow by making our base clear… BUT instead of asking around what teams used we went with straight plexi-glass from home depot…

needless to say we only got so far before that shattered (not hard to do since the entire robot was mounted to the base and not the frame :no_mouth:… SO we went with Poly-carb post competition and it worked 1000% better


We do not have that much wood, but our robot is primarily made out of wood, but we painted it so people would think it is made out of metal. I also am from a rookie team.


I can empathize with the slow climber. Our second year (2013) we designed our climber around a giant lead screw. While it worked, it was painfully slow and took us nearly the entire match to climb to the second level. It’s funny, in our match videos you can see the other robots/frisbees zipping and flying across the screen, and there in the center is our robot which is moving so slow you could be forgiven if you didn’t think it was moving at all :laughing:


Thanks. That makes me feel better. Like with all these, I thought we were the only ones who would ever do that. That is an ingeneous climber design you all had though. Darn lead screws. Ours was powered by a window motor which made it even slower.


1723 did about the same thing that year as well. #leadscrewclimbergang

In hindsight we almost did that in 2018 as well. We even pulled off the old climber arms from the 2013 robot and started prototyping with them. Thankfully we realized there were other ways to climb much faster and it helped us win our first Regional since 2015.

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