Greyt Universal Cascade Elevator and Powercube Claw


#61

To clarify, 973 has no financial stake or involvement in these products other than the fact that I am personally involved with 973.

The team is probably going to be a bit less competitive now due to the time of sunk into these products.

We won’t be playing any 4d chess cots cheesecake metagame with them.


#62

I’m curious as to how this intake kit is the same as the kitbot release. Really, because the last FRC game that didn’t require robots being able to drive was probably before I was even born. How that is akin to a COTS kit that would’ve been useful 7 years ago and this season only? It’s disingenuous to claim that this is the same as all the other kits released in past seasons, and I’d appreciate an explanation on that thinking.

The idea that this raises the competitive floor is wildly out of touch, and the real reason why I am hesitant to embrace such a well designed thing of beauty.

No team at the bottom tier of FRC, that currently can’t score in the game, will be able to afford this kit, or even the elevator (though that’s not really the main issue - not too different from the other lift kits on the market). I say this from personal experience, because that kind of team absolutely does not have $400 to spend on a subsystem. I will go so far to say that even teams with some sort of scoring mechanisms that were built from limited available parts and resources won’t be able to afford this. These teams suffer from a lack of mentorship and a lack of money both of which are the real issues to the actual competition floor that these kind of parts fail to address.

No, the teams that would actually benefit are the mid tier teams, that have decent sized budgets, and a number of semi-experienced mentors. They will have gone through the entire strategize, prototype, design, and build process, and developed their own mechanisms using rather substantial resources. These mechanisms will work rather well, and be quite inspiring to the students that slaved away to build something that they are extremely proud of.

And then they go to competition, and play against a team who decided the time saved and the better quality of a commercial kit would be more competitive than the old process. Team A will lose against Team B, who took that time saved and put it towards drive practice and programming. Are the students of Team A still inspired? No, why should they be? They took the old fashioned way and got beat, so the students will elect to skip the whole engineering process and just buy the $@#$@#$@#$@# kit when it releases for next year’s game.

Ultimately, this is nothing like the gearboxes of past years or the kitbot or the omniwheels or any other COTS part(s) released in the past. Take a look at them and tell me how many are game specific. It can be argued that those previous parts made things previously available to select teams with manufacturing capability available to all, but that was a true leveling of the playing field - those components could be used with any game at all. Gearboxes can be used in any FRC game. The kitbot can be used in any FRC game. Can these roller intakes be used in every game? No, they were designed for cube intake and as much as they are adjustable, that is dangerously game specific part design.

A specific kit like these do not raise the competitive floor; they only serve push the mid tier teams closer to the elites while pushing the lower tier teams even further away from the rest of the pack. I firmly believe things like the Everybot or Kitbot on Steroids are the right way to fix the inherent issues holding down the competitive floor, not pay to play. Mitigate lack of mentorship and resources through the former, and we will actually see the entire field of play rise.


#63

Broken robots help us learn! Although I’ll admit that programming and the addition of sensors can be given greater attention with these kits.


#64

Is there video of both of these systems running at the speed they are designed for? I would love to get an idea what these are capable of so I can be sure my teams design can beat it. If our current design isn’t more capable than this then it means we just have to work harder.


#65

Umm, isn’t that basically what happened in 2014 with Cheesy Vision?


#66

We have also spent design time on very similar mechanisms, but I look at this design release as a way to compare the design decisions we made to alternatives. When you spend so many hours coming up with a solution to a problem, you tend to end up going down a specific path. Seeing someone else’s solution to the same problem can help you optimize certain parts or implement ideas you didn’t think of.

Some pondering thoughts:

  • If you were planning to build a similar mechanism, are you going to scrap it and buy this elevator/intake now that it’s available?
  • If you were planning to build an entirely different mechanism, are you going to scrap it and buy this elevator/intake now that it’s available?
  • How many robots on winning alliances will have this exact elevator or intake, bought as is? (I want to revisit this one after regionals are over)
  • How many teams will see this design and improve on their current version to increase their competitiveness?
  • If this was released as just a CAD model at the end of week 2, would that be better or worse than making parts available for purchase?

#67

I’d say it has with Limelight and the Talon SRX to an extent, although those both need a significant price drop (and for the libraries to not change entirely every 5 minutes for one of them) to become more accessible.


#68

Wow, great posts from Chris, Kevin, and Karthik. I definitely strongly identified with both of the first two of those posts. But I think Karthik makes a good point. When COTS shifting gearboxes came out, that didn’t stop teams from making their own. It set an example, and a benchmark. There’s still room to grow, and I know that because people still post gearbox CAD (good and bad) on CD dozens of times a year.

With any new COTS product, we have to ask ourselves, is there room to grow? With the kitbot, there obviously was and obviously there still is. I don’t know much about elevators, but I think there’s a lot of room to grow above this intake. It looks fantastic for prototyping (looks really close to a highly configurable prototype we built, actually), but depending on what team I’m on and what configuration we liked, it’s probably not going on the comp robot. Is it rigid enough, or mount how we’d like it to, or have unneeded material, or do we want to drive individual wheels separately, or with belts instead of chain, or any of another billion possible adjustments. Really, because it’s so adjustable, it doesn’t even answer the question of how to intake a cube. It’s a tool that helps teams answer that question effectively. So I’m OK with it (much more OK with it than when I first saw it).


#69

Awesome products! They make me feel like my Ri3D team made some decent design decisions. I’m interested to see how many teams end up using these products… certainly integrating them into designs at the end of week 2 of the build season will be a challenge for teams.

Edit: I see both sides of the argument for the COTS solutions to specific FRC game applications. I like design diversity and I believe there is value in FRC teams coming up with something from scratch - even at the expense of effectiveness. There is a real feeling of accomplishment for students when they can say “I built that” and they have a special kind of ownership over a design.

With that said, the most inspiration that I’ve ever derived from FRC has come from success. Success not necessarily meaning winning a regional… just building and competing with something that does what it’s supposed to is a success for many teams. I’m working with/mentoring 20+ teams this year in some form or another. These teams are from across the competitive spectrum and I will say that having these products (or any COTS solution to a challenge) makes it so much easier for me to help these teams achieve their version of success.

Thank you to 973 for sacrificing your time and effort to help raise the floor of FRC. The competition this year will be as competitive as it ever has been thanks to your (and many other groups’) efforts!


#70

I agree with a lot of the points in your post, but disagree on this one. Over the years I have seen MANY high budget teams ($50k+ in sponsorship or schools with tuition fees over $20k) that have not been able score any points or complete any game objectives, despite spending heavily on their robots. Now, I honestly don’t think these kits will help these teams (their issues are more systemic than anything), however they definitely exist.


#71

Our intake might be as good as the one WCP is offering, but we spent a lot of time on that. Same goes for our elevator. These products are penalizing teams that want to learn how to develop designs like these for themselves, as very few teams will end up with mechanisms better than what WCP is offering out of the box.
It’s a lot easier to beat the KOP chassis for a number of reasons, especially if you want more convenient mounting or a slimmer profile like you find in a WCD. But beating this elevator and roller kit will be close to impossible for many teams.

EDIT: +1 to Karthik’s post above. Many teams have amazing physical resources but the knowledge isn’t there. For those teams I doubt that this kit will be much help (usually because of the same systemic issues) but they’re certainly not about to make something significantly better.


#72

Releasing purchaseable game solutions like this is a step too far. The mcc is awesome in my opinion, but this just doesn’t step across the line. It jumps past it then does an nfl.victory dance.

What is next? Purchaseable robot programs that will handle motion in auto without any programming? Nope. This is going the wrong way.


#73

Like Kevin, I see massive similarities between the design my team came up with and that of the new Greyt elevator. We also have a substantially similar roller claw. I’ll point out that for me, it feels GREAT to know that so many good teams are focusing on a particular design path, and that my team is in the mix there somewhere. I happen to believe that the reason why so many successful robots in, say, 2015 ended up with similar designs was that the design worked, and teams independently came to similar conclusions. I suspect that some elite teams will still outfox my team in terms of design, implementation, speed of assembly, and drive practice. Then again, maybe not; maybe we finally figured out an efficient solution for part of the game.


#74

TBH we’ll just be having this conversation again when what you are describing becomes a reality in a few years.

I’m not against these products, but I do think it is a little overkill though.


#75

Have you seen the robot rebuilds 973 has done at events?! They don’t need to put all this work to making COTS parts to effectively cheesecake. 973 has fit nearly complete robot rebuilds in their withholding allowance. Beyond that, it really seems like this is a collaboration between Adam and WCP, not 973 and WCP.

I definitely see the issue that a lot of teams/people have with this (well summed up with the posts before mine), but I’d also bet that these mechanisms on a C shape KOP chassis would out-preform >40% of teams that attempt the scale in my region. I really appreciate all of Adam and WCP’s hard work to put out these awesome products and strongly urge teams to combine these products with other COTS options to improve their performance and reliability on the field.


#76

Sorry I keep posting, I have more to say.

When my team started in 2004, we built a robot out of the steel frame of a discarded dog house and some bmx bike wheels. It drove forward once, reversed direction, fell on it’s face, and broke, which ended our competition. This past December, I watched my team compete in grainy videos of the 2011 Colorado regional semifinals, when the best robots that day spun in circles and stood still for half the match. I am not in the least nostalgic for days of yore when teams had to find “inspiration” in the fact that there wasn’t any help to be had, so what more could anyone expect than robots that never moved or did anything? Those days sucked for 95/100 teams. We learned things and made the best of it, but it wasn’t good.


#77

This is exactly why many of us have a problem with it. I’m too tired to post a lengthy rant about this tonight, but will do so tomorrow. Suffice to say, I am not pleased. If this had been a “thing” when I first started doing FRC, I may well have not stuck around.


#78

I’m not sure why so many people are upset.

Are you upset because all of a sudden some teams who you used to beat easily might be slightly more competitive?

Obviously don’t purchase this if you don’t want it. It’s available, what’s the big deal? Those who want it and think they can benefit from it will buy it.

Just because something is available for a team to use doesn’t mean that team will instantly become a better team.


#79

No, I actually can’t say that I have, though the unilaterally positive experiences I’ve had with Adam and 973 have left me with tremendous respect. Back in 2013, 20 was able to play with 973 in divisional eliminations. Adam also took the time to come to a team meeting that following offseason, if memory serves. I’ve also personally benefitted from Adam’s excellent RAMP videos.

They don’t need to put all this work to making COTS parts to effectively cheesecake. 973 has fit nearly complete robot rebuilds in their withholding allowance. Beyond that, it really seems like this is a collaboration between Adam and WCP, not 973 and WCP.

My point was not that Adam and 973* are not able to do complete robot rebuilds under the current rules. My point was far more generalized and was trying to analyze the results of COTS solutions for a specific FRC game**, specifically those engineered by teams, and that implies that it would be easier for 973 to rebuild or to cheesecake. If you take any other team with worthwhile designs that others would pay for, there’s similar things that arise (for example, see 987 with Limelight). I’m interested in what that observation implies for other world-class teams and more established FRC enterprises like VEXPro and AndyMark.

I’d also like to reiterate my overall response: I’m really, really excited to see these in the wild. Who knows? Maybe 6844 will be an early adopter.

  • While there isn’t a direct relationship here, Adam does lead 973 and the products are marketed as being “Greyt.” There’s definitely a relationship. To think otherwise would be illogical, IMO.
    ** I know Adam said that the claw was general enough to be used in 2011. That being said, this isn’t how this is being marketed.

#80

That’s not the issue that people have with it, don’t reduce their arguments to something they never claimed to be the reason. The issue they have with it is what incentives does a mid tier team have to go through the engineering process for their mechanisms when they can buy this - and get more practice time, more programming time, and 110% of their previous build quality? I don’t want to rehash my entire argument again, as my previous post lays this out.

I’m still of the opinion these kits are too expensive to raise the competitive floor and will only be a boon for teams in that sweet spot in the middle, with some resources and knowledge base to play the game and scoring opportunities, but not enough to hit the top tier. It will fail to help the teams with a lack of mentorship, institutional knowledge, and/or financial resources.