FVC GDC wants your feedback

Last Nov. I built a vex bot with some neighbor kids. We set up a maze and proved that a square bot and Sharp Ir sensors could navigate the maze. Had to take the kit back to the First team before the kids really got going on the navigation algorithms. How about a autonomous maze game. Timed trials through the maze with a 3 minute time max.Would need to open up the allowed sensors to do a maze.
For the human controlled portion, I’d like to See a obstacle course. Have barriers in the middle with a small opening that 1 bot could get through. Have the teams score points by going to the other side, retrieve objects and bring them back to a goal to score points. The small passage in the middle would act as a choke - block point encouraging designs that could traverse over the obstacles.
As far as the vex system, the radios and crystals are a problem. Cheap solution is to use wireless PS2 controls. I’ve used them with another robot controller on the vex hardware and they work well. Vex has some parts that need to be redesigned.

I worked as a programmer on our FVC team this year, and there are a few things I’d like to see changed in the autonomous mode:

-I didn’t much like the separation of competition types: it led to a few problems, most notably Team 2 missing an auto round because their bot was actively competing in one of the remote-controlled rounds. I like the idea a few others have favored, of integrating the two types like in the FRC. I think it would make for a much smoother event setup.

-Another problem that we faced constantly was differences in fields. When we got to Hartford we found that our program would not work at all, chiefly because of the differences between the field we built ourselves and the competition field. However, when we got to Atlanta, we found the same problem- between the official practice field and the competition one. What worked perfectly consecutively in the pit area only scored for opposing teams in competition. The differences could be reduced, I think, by integrating the two gametypes.

-Also, something using more of the sensors available would be good too. Our team used a variety of the sensors in our program (ODS, bumpers, line trackers) but we noticed that we were one of the few teams that used anything besides ODS and timers. Even if nothing is added, I would keep the idea of lines on the floor. The line-tracking program was a pain to build, but definitely worth it to see it run :smiley:

I also worked this year as a programmer on Team 160 Impulse, but as always, I happen to disagree with my fellow programmers :yikes:

Autonomous Mode:
I loved the way it worked with the remote activating the program in the microcontoller, but I liked it better when deactivating the remote would also halt or stop the program (I’m pretty sure it did that in older versions of master code) This would save a lot of accidents resulting in the code gone or made wrong, or some remote off switch would be appreciated. (Especially one time when I got my thumb drive which was hanging around my neck caught into moving robot)

Tele-Operated Mode:
No Problems here except keeping track of those crysals must of got annoying for the staff after awhile, too bad there isn’t enough frequencies to assign a team their own crystal for the tournament.

Game Object(s):
Something like this again I suppose, scoring something into a goal

I like it how the harder to reach goals are worth more points

Tournament Structure:
Keep it seperate! I loved the way the programmers got their own match so to speak, though it makes ranking a bit harder.

Other/General Game Ideas:
As for the field, easy to make was a good thing… but easy to deteroiate was a bad thing, especially for us programmers. Can’t tell you how many times we would have to change ODS “limits” in our code due to the wheels spinning differently or experienceing different ammounts of friction between fields.

Also, maybe its just the field inconsistencies but maybe more accurate sensors could also be made. The sensors get the job done but especially with the ODS, they tend to change a bit in their readings a bit, especially as battery levels go down. This is rather annoying.

Now in this next statement,I apologize if I offend anybody, but maybe have FVC a bit more spaced out from the FRC. In both Hartford and Atlanta, the FRC teams made a lot of noise, which was a lot to compete with. I understand that the FRC teams have done a lot of work and deserve a lot of regconition, but I think FVC should be seen in the same light. I don’t think its fair to have us being drowned out by FRC. We worked hard too. :confused: .

Well that about it, Hope I didnt over talk like usual… whoops.

i think footballs or cut up pool noodles would be cool

The one thing I would love to see return is the keep-the-refs-extremely-bored approach that made Half-Pipe Hustle so much fun. When the game itself is designed to play clean, it takes a lot for a team not to play clean.

With that…

Autonomous Mode: I like the concept of 1v0 here; it keeps things simple. Perhaps having a common goal for an alliance, like the traditional midfield goal in FLL. But instead of the somewhat complex ranking system they had this year, the match next year will result in a bonus in tele-operated mode. For example, suppose that the higher-scoring alliance in autonomous got a five-second head start. Not insurmountable, but undeniably an edge.

Tele-Operated Mode: Leave it be, it’s running fine.

Game Object(s): I can definitely see the issue with multicolored balls like this year, and I fear that similar-sized balls next year will result in warmed-over robots. How about something big, like Poof balls?

Goals/Scoring: Suppose that instead of a trough for scoring, you had a pretty tight target to stack the object onto. If the target is set back a little bit, the concepts should be pretty original.

Tournament Structure: Keep this as it is.

Other/General Game Ideas: Perhaps it’s the fact that I was just a witness to Mission Mayhem and Aim, well, Kinda High, but I’d love to see a king of the hill aspect to the next game.

One person above suggested putting a choke point on a part of the field all contestants share - Good idea, but it should probably be a one-way path (mandate a different path return path) with a gate system or some other implicit mechanism that queues up the bots without having them collide with one another. Vex bots aren’t very sturdy.

If all teams can bring two robots or if you can figure out a way to have equal numbers of team produce each of two types of robot; I would love to see a game that is played by alliances of two bots, and that demands two distinctly different types of behavior from those bots.

Perhaps one behavior would be pushing big objects out of the way and gathering objects that were hidden behind the big ones. The other behavior could be accepting the gathered objects and racing through obstacles to deposit them in a goal high off the floor.

The rules would be designed to make it very, very hard to build one bot to do all these things (much less do them well) and stay within other game constraints like size and weight. The importance of teamwork and strategic thinking would rise.


How about allowing detachable auxiliary robots?

A large robot would be allowed to carry another robot that could be launched and (must be?) retrieved.

Each of the two humans on a team would control the one of the robots (either the Carrier or the one it deploys). This would be one option for doing things like pressing two push-buttons at the same time, or for gathering balls (by having the deployed bot herd them into the Carrier), or for holding one object in place while another is stacked/attached on/to it, or for whatever…

Maybe loosen weight, size, sensor, etc. restrictions a bit for a two-bot team; but keep the restrictions tight enough to force a division of capabilities between the two bots. Also keep the one-bot restrictions loose enough to make it possible to be successful using a single bot.


If the competition is still split into separate autonomous and operator controlled matches, modify the ranking system just a bit. The separate ranking of teams, then averaging of the rankings was a little tough to follow and in some cases I think it was unfair.

If a bunch of teams are tied in autonomous points (very possible since many teams scored low this year), the tiebreaker should not drop down to the random ‘coin flip.’ In some cases this can cause the ‘wrong’ team to be ranked higher. The random flip should only be used if the overall averaged rankings are tied.

For example… Teams A, B, C are all tied with 0 points in autonomous and are ranked 1, 2, 3 in operator controlled, respectively. It would make sense for the overall rankings to match the OC rankings, but it’s not necessarily the case in the current system. If the random Auto rankings go B, C, A, for 1, 2, 3, the overall rankings will be B (1.5 avg), A (2 avg), C (2.5 avg).

It’s a small change, but I think it’s needed.

Just as a thought to the comment about foam tiles being somewhat expensive, what about a painted piece of plywood for the floor? Surely the Vex wheels can work with that stuff, and the price is right.

Going to the footballs idea, what about those hard plastic ones that folks throw into the stands as promos at football games? Cheap, durable, able to be decorated if FIRST wants to splurge, and they’ll make all of the folks who have been clamoring for footballs in FRC happy. :wink:

Also, this should probably go without saying, but stick with the WildStang-designed field controllers. The system was functional, beautiful on the field (who wants a big beige crate at midfield with all that lexan around?), and displayed all the information we’ve wanted to know.

Soft tiles are a little pricey, but judging by the wear and tear this season, they should last for several seasons and will only require spot replacement of worn tiles. The only thing I’d change, is to NOT punch holes (for the floor starting balls) like this year, then the tiles would be reusable. The small drywall screw holes didn’t seem to leave big holes so they shouldn’t be a problem in future years. While the tiles are pricey, have you priced good plywood lately? Then there is a problem with mating adjacent panels and warped plywood. The lack of friction would be an issue if anyone wanted to use tank treads for a drive train, and it’s still a lot easier, not to mention lighter, to store a box of tiles than plywood or carpeting.

** Other/General Game Ideas:** I just thought of one. Can Dave or someone on the Vex GDC come up with our own Game Clue please. Always like a good puzzle! :smiley:

Amanda should get the honor of writing the official FVC Game Clue.

Autonomous Mode: Have several levels of challenge, where more of the sensors could be used.

Tele-Operated Mode: Fine.

Game Object(s): Easy to purchase. Consistent in manufacture. Different sized objects. A game component that rewards precision, for example placing an object in an area with small tolerances.

Goals/Scoring: Multiple methods of scoring is great.

Tournament Structure: I like keeping the autonomous separate from Human Control. I liked the fact that other robots could not interfere with our routine.

Other/General Game Ideas: The foam pads are a nice surface. However they did create a lot of static electricity. I would also like to see teams allowed to use some kind of material for protection, other than VEX metal. For example a thin plastic material used to protect the RC and cables from other robots. A better method to identify team alliance color, maybe the flags like FRC.

I stewed on this idea for a bit, and I think it might work for something like FVC.

Imagine a big bin full of the game object du jour on each side of the field. (I’ll assume ping-pong balls.) On all four corners of the field are tubes for robots to receve these balls, and a Vex bumper switch to cause balls to roll into the tubes.

Here’s the rub, though–once in the tubes, the balls can either roll into the tube where your robot is, or another tube that empties out at the other end of the field. With good coordination and the right alliance partner, this is a non-issue–but if you’re either unlucky or don’t plan right, you’re opening the barn door for the other alliance to steal some of those balls.

Autonomous Mode:
Don’t have different rules for this game (but keeping it seperate is fine). It would have been amazing to see ALLIANCES trying to decide which goals to attempt to gain control of, if they want to play defense, etc etc etc. The strategies would have been amazing.

Tele-Operated Mode:
I’m a fan of real-time scoring, but creating an accurate scoring system can be difficult (as proven by FRC 2006).

Game Object(s):
I liked the raquet balls, as a vast majority of teams were able to find a way to gain at least minimal control of them

The highest scoring option (the 10 point center goal) was open, and hard to defend (as the opponent could approach from any side), making it critical to play high volume offense in order to secure it (which I liked), but it could be easily overcome by the corner goals (which were much easier to defend and take quickly). I think the highest rewarding secondary scoring method (ownership in 2006) should be higher to ensure more action in regards to that scoring method. I also like how the primary scoring method (balls placed in goals) led to the secondary (ownership of goals).

Tournament Structure:
I think autonomous should have some impact upon the elimination structure (say, match #3 is autonomous if it gets that far).

Other/General Game Ideas:
Either make the field smaller or add another robot to each alliance. The “action” was a bit sparse this year, at least compared to the FRC game.

To greatly reward cooperation between/among alliance members, how about devising a section of the field that can only be reached if two bots cooperate?

An example would be one drives up a ramp and reaches a “canyon” between the top of the ramp and the other side of the canyon. The cooperating bot drives into the canyon so that the top of that bot forms a bridge across the canyon. The bot at the top of the ramp drives across the bridge and scores some points.

Another example would to have one bot get into an elevator and have the cooperating bot be the motor (that bot has a “power-take-off = PTO” that makes the elevator operate and lift the first bot up to (or down to) a scoring opportunity.

Another example is requiring both/all bots on an alliance to press buttons (or do something a little more complicated), simultaneously, in order to open up scoring opportunities for one/all of them.


Autonomous Mode:
Autonomous should be combined with the normal modes to be more like FRC.
20+ seconds would be nice

Tele-Operated Mode:
Worked fine in my opinion, 2 minute matches asre nice

Game Object(s):
maybe a new object, but Balls have always been easiest imo

Maybe a time released device (2004), that could be set off early through completing a task

require balls to be shot?

some zort of zone system (similar to stack attack), where you recieved points for balls that were in your zone.

Some sort of multiplier/bonus in scoring. Like tripple play, or the double point ball from 04 (first frenzy?)

Tournament Structure:
Keep it like FRC

Other/General Game Ideas:
Something similar to stack attack would be easy, and exciting.

Flat field. The slant didn’t seem to have a purpose. Ramps are fine, but not when they are half the field and aren’t a goal in themselves (like stack attack)

What a fantastic game!!!
The only problem for me is my extreme extreme disappointment that we cannot fabricate parts for our robots. Official vex parts only makes no sense to me. My machine shop students now will not get to practise thier skills. :confused:

It’s great to see your enthusiasm for the game. I understand the disappointment, but remember FVC’s main mission. From http://www.usfirst.org/vex:

“The FIRST Vex™ Challenge (FVC) is a mid-level robotics competition targeted toward high-school aged students. It offers the traditional challenge of a FIRST competition but with a more accessible and affordable robotics kit. The ultimate goal of FVC is to reach more young people with a lower-cost, more accessible opportunity to discover the excitement and rewards of science, technology, and engineering.”

-Custom fabrication would really put a hurting on teams without access…

…and the rules do not preclude your students from custom fabricating parts for a Vex robot. You just can’t put them on the competition robot.

For example, I have a student on our school team who used our CADD software and 3D printer to manufacture a “vex traction wheel”. I told him in the beginning that the wheel couldn’t be used in the Engineering class game or in FVC. However, I wanted him to complete the project because it pushes him and maximizes the use of our lab. It’s a great learning experience.

I’m sure a creative leader like yourself can find a way to do both things, motivate the students, and still stay within the rules for FVC competition.

Have fun and good luck.

The new game ROOLZ!!3!

I haven’t finished reading the field description, but I’m wondering – does that rotating center platform rotate electrically, or is it just pivoted in the center? I guess I need to RTM.

Nice work.

(A full-sized softball? Are you deranged? :slight_smile: )

Well, if you want to split hairs, you -can- custom fabricate parts, so long as they meet the requirements of <R5> and <R9>. Of course, if the inspector can’t tell whether it’s a Vex product, you’ll have to prove it through documentation as <R7> lays out. The key is to have it come from Vex components (and, to make your inspector happy, remain recognizable as such).

Look in CD-Media at some of last year’s robots; I was a particular fan of South Carolina teams 4 (now 507, I believe) and 171 (now 1539):

(Those URLs may change with the renumbering, but just change the numbers in the links to the new numbers, and life will be good.)

They were two-thirds of the winning alliance at the Orangeburg pilot tournament, and 4 won the Create Award, which is the forerunner of this year’s Inspire award. I’d call them two of the best robots in the state, and prime examples of what you can do with the Vex system (read: just about anything you can do with sheetmetal).