FVC GDC wants your feedback

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).

Game pieces:

Even though i liked working with the softballs this year…
they tended to get stuck in odd places inside the robot because of their protruding laces. they would fit in some places but not others because the laces caused their diameter to enlarge.

For example, our robot had a channel down the middle for the softballs, most of the time they went down no problem, but if the softball went down just right, it would get stuck because of the laces.

I would recommend a uniform ball such as a raquetball. But then again the softballs might have been easier to pick up because of their laces…

From reading all of the clarifications on the FIRST forum and just reading the rules I got the distinct impression the choice of a non-uniform ball was a well thought out intended part of the challenge. I think, as you noted, that it definetly could complicate parts of robot design - but it is in my opinion a good move on FIRST’s part. The amount of complication was not severe and enough planning and testing on a team’s part can eliminate any of the potential difficulties that may arise from the laces.

I believe last year they used raquetballs…but I’m not sure, our team wasn’t around last year.

my opinions

Autonomous Mode: [review]the time period this year, i believe was perfect… but the false starts that occurred at nationals were very disappointing

Tele-Operated Mode: [suggestion]if possible, interference would be a big problem that would be great if it could be lessened [as much as possible]

Game Object(s): atlas ball was very important in this game and created multiple strategies in both autonomous and tele-operated modes and even in strategizing - i think that something to that effect should be kept next year

Goals/Scoring: the point differentials in this year’s game seemed very even

Tournament Structure: although the regional setups had a good number of matches for teams, the championship event only had 4 matches per team which i believe is not enough to fairly determine who should be the number one seeded team

Other/General Game Ideas: no comment

Note: I’m not in the FVC, but I think some of these ideas might be workable. They are ideas I’ve had for the FRC, but aren’t workable with the larger scale (durable field pieces in the FRC would weigh far too much to be added or removed each match).

Autonomous Mode:
A. Have the results of autonomous mode (even if not combined with teleoperated period) affect the field. Example: Perhaps the game field has a series of slots with lexan ‘doors’ in them. The doors might create chokepoints near a goal or simply be annoying obstacles. Accomplishing certain tasks would open or close these doors (the lexan would be removed or placed in the slot). Ahead of time, alliances could collaborate to determine which doors they are capable of opening/closing and which ones they want opened/closed that match.

Tele-Operated Mode:
A: Having a pit packed full of game pieces lower than the level of the floor so that robots have to reach below their wheels to retrieve the game pieces. If those game pieces roll easily, then it becomes more difficult as the game goes on: initially, they are packed tight and don’t move, but as they are removed, they start moving around and well-designed robots must cope with that. In combination with my doors idea above, perhaps the doors could control access to an area of the pit with an even-lower bottom so that things would flow into it.
B: Same idea as the pit above, but instead of having it below the floor, have it with a semi-rounded bottom sitting freely on the field. If robots want to retrieve balls near the endgame, they’ll have to tip it towards them to have the balls roll towards them. In order to have no team advantaged at the beginning, have a flat spot on the bottom so it is level at the beginning. In fact, it doesn’t even have to have a rounded bottom. Think of a 12"x12" cardboard square (pizza box?) with a short pillar in the centre at the bottom. It is tippable, it stays level at the beginning, and you can fill it with balls.

It also opens up some prospects for cooperation/competition: opponent out-scoring you? keep the box tipped your way so they can’t refill. Ally needs balls? help them hold it down so your opponents don’t keep it away from you.
Since I like the tipping-box idea a lot, here are some renders of how it might look:

I rendered the first one before I realized the extreme angle it’d reach with such a long pillar. Obviously the pillar length could be adjusted a bit.
Game Object(s):
Egg-shaped things would be cool, though I’m not sure where you can buy a lot of them. I think any game pieces would need to be able to roll to be really interesting.
Multiple goals with multiple point valuations makes for a more interesting game and wider design variation.
Tournament Structure:

Other/General Game Ideas:
Anything to increase the amount of autonomous choice would be fantastic. I think it would be very cool if teams had to write 5+ somewhat simple autonomous modes each (and maybe a doozie for mega-points). If I was in high school again, I’d probably be spending 100% of my time programming a FVC robot.



Autonomous Mode: very good, most of our matches were won with a successful program, keep the bonus, keep the time.

Tele-Operated Mode: no comment

Game Object(s): like the softballs, alot of different designs but i think we need to move from balls. i was thinking those red dixie cups.

Goals/Scoring: differential was good, triangle prevented huge dumps. maybe there should have been 2 low goals and one tall goal to make high scoring harder.

Tournament Structure: more matches!!! if nationals wants to keep it as one division and 100 teams then we need to go to alliances of 3, that would allow for 6 matches instead of 4

Other/General Game Ideas: surprise us next year, stray away from the “put balls into goals” game.

My biggest compliant about the game is the scoring. The score of the winning alliance should not be determined by the score of the loosing alliance. THe score you earn should be the score you get. Our team would have done so much better is this had been in place.

Also at the world championships all foreign teams should have at least one person on the team who speaks English or have a translator.

thes were my two biggest complaints.


To increase the weight placed on programming the robots, I suggest a set of valuable autonomous compulsory exercises (related to each season’s game) be devised each season and then carried out separately by each robot before the qualification/elimination matches occur (or not carried out as the case may be). These would resemble the compulsories figure skaters must perform.

The non-trivial score each robot achieves (attempts to achieve) by executing these compulsories would be carried into each qualifying or elimination match/alliance by the robot/team and would be added to the alliance score achieved during each match.

I do think that alliance vs alliance qual matches should continue to have a brief autonomous period at their start (or perhaps at the end to make this type of autonomous operation more challenging).


  • I definitely think that the programming part of FVC (and to a large extent this year’s FRC) gets short shrift in current competitions.

  • When I think of inspiring a student to pursue a career in robotics, I think of industrial and commercial robots that perform autonomously.

  • When I think of teleoperation I think of large machines like ships and earthmovers, small machines that are usd in surgical procedures, and fly-by-wire planes or ROVs; but I don’t think of “robots”.

  • The scheme above, assuming the points to be earned in the autonomous compulsories are big enough to really get folks’ attention, would seriously light a fire under teams that do little with software now, would inspaire teams that want to emphasize developing software skills, and would foster stronger collaboration between all teams’ programmers and mechanical designers.

  • Because of the points they would bring to each qual or elimination match a well programmed autonomous robot/team would become a desireable alliance mate, even if their teleoperated performance is average or weak. This would put software finesse and cleverness on a more equal footing with driver skill and mechanical design (or mechanical brute force in some instances).

  • Simply raising the value of the current style of autonomous operation would over-emphasize the robots’ ability to mimic one brief set of the exact same maneuvers used in the teleoperated period.

  • This would force more tough compromises in the robots’ designs and would probably give rise to a more diverse set of robot designs each season.

  • A hoped for side effect of this would be that teams would use more software macros to carry out parts of the teleoperated matches such as placing objectss into a goal once the robot is brought near the goal.

PS: Do many FVC teams have trouble with getting their software ready for competitions today? Yes. Should we make the software part of the competition less valuable as a consequence? No; we should make it more valuable in order to make it worth their while to invest more time into learning the software side of robotics; we should do a better job of teaching these skills; and we should continue improving the documentation and ease-of-use of the tools they are required to use.
PPS: No - In case you are wondering, I’m not a computer scientist/engineer or a professional software developer.

To make the challenge harder, they could put a weight limit on the bot. This would have killed us this year. I think if we were a little bit heavier, our bot would have sunk into the foam mat :slight_smile:

The non-trivial score each robot achieves (attempts to achieve) by executing these compulsories would be carried into each qualifying or elimination match/alliance by the robot/team and would be added to the alliance score achieved during each match.

I like this idea: It allows for some pretty complex and varied autonomous modes without extending the length of the individual autonomous matches. You could have a 2-minute long autonomous qualifying period once in a competition, and all the qualifying matches would remain the same length.

As an extension to your idea, I propose that teams could have a small number of retries throughout the competition, with their highest score so far achieved (not the average) being the value that is carried into the match. They still get an advantage if they come into the competition with a ready-done autonomous mode, but if they fail initially due to equipment failure or unforeseen bugs, they can try again with the penalty of playing some qualification matches without the advantage.

In a one-day competition, teams could try once before qualifying, once at a mid-competition break, and once just before eliminations. Since drivers do not have to actually actively do this, the trials could be done by a volunteer on a seperate field whenever the team is ready.