At IRI, we had a full-scale practice field made from standard cuts of wood (2x4’s, plywood, etc.). This design was made by Mark Koors, and is easy to assemble and disassemble. It goes together with no tools, once all of the component assemblies are fabricated. Also, all of the pieces for this field can be transported in a 16’ trailer (maybe even a 12’… not sure).
To create the border for this field, it costs about $1,000 in lumber and fasteners. (overpass hardware and electronics not included) Here is a link to a pdf, showing how to make this wooden field border.
For people who want to host a demo or off-season event, this may be a good alternative to the high price of shipping an actual FIRST field to their location. This thing does take a while to build, but it may be worth it.
Once everything is fabricated and fastened together for the first time, the field takes about 1 hour to assemble, and then 1 hour to disassemble. You would need a crew of about 6-8 people to do this assembly/disassembly.
I meant that I thought it could be completely built in two days, starting from the raw lumber. As Andy said, it only takes an hour or so to set it up or take it apart once all the components are built.
So I just received the plans for the construction of this field yesterday. As opposed to shipping a loaner field for $5,000 the $1,000 for ownership sounds like a no-brainer. There is the fun of storing the field when not in use but that is another story.
How does this rectangular field play with over-drive and balls in the corners? I’ve got the lane divider and over-passes from the local kick-off which is the black-pipe covered in PVC.
Any thoughts on how to keep the trackballs in play along the sides especially with catapult robots tossing them around.
I ask because I am putting together a demonstration scrimmage for mid-October here in San Antonio on the floor of the AT&T center. It is a three hour education rally with an astronaut and the usual local pop culture celebs. I want to get high tech students creating some of the excitement with robots. We’ll probably only get 20 - 30 minutes on the schedule.
SCRRF used this design for the field for our Pre-Ship Scrimmage. (Hosted by the BeachBots) Since it was set up in their facility, the BeachBots continued to use it for practice throughout the season. In general, it held up really well and we are very happy with it.
There are four minor changes I would make to the plans, based on our experience:
The spacers that set the width of the blocks that hold the field sides together are given an exact dimension. The problem is the width of 2x4s varies somewhat. Ours came out a little short because our lumber was a little wide. So just set that dimension to exactly twice the width of your 2x4s.
Our field electronics people requested that we add holes to the blocks so they could run wires through. We will be adding these in a few weeks.
The screws used to hold the blocks together weren’t quite enough, especially on the blocks at the playerstations. The screws tend to pull out after a while. We are planning to replace them with nuts, washers and threaded rod.
We used different hinges on the entrance and exit ramps. The one suggested looked too flimsy in our opinion. Or more properly the screws to hold it in looked wimpy. So we used 3" door hinges instead. The suggested hinges would probably have worked for limited use, but we were building for the future.
Item 1 was apparent as soon as we tried to put the field together. Item 2 is a convienience thing and depending on the details of the new control system, it might be moot after this year’s round of off-seasons. Item 3 took a while to show up. You would probably get through a one day event Ok as things are.
We also had trouble getting the velcro to stick to the bottom of the field pieces, but our wet, lowest bidder, lumber probably played a role there.
One thing we did that helped a lot on the side rails was building an assembly fixture. It took an extra hour or so, but it made the assembly of the side rails quite easy and ensured that the rails were lined up with each other. Once we had the wood cut (which was done using a chopsaw and a stop block for consistent lengths) we could assemble one in fifteen minutes or less.
In our case it took three engineers, two of whom have major home remodels under their belts, a week of evenings to assemble the first time. Now with 6 or 8 people and a couple of furniture dollys we can have it up in 30 minutes or less, assuming the carpet is down.
If this field design encourages more FIRST teams to start holding their own off-seasons, it could be more revolutionary than AndyMark’s Super Shifters or Rumble at the Rock.
Getting Velcro to stick to unfinished wood is a challenge even with kiln-dried lumber. When we built the field, we didn’t have much time (last week of build season!). But if we had more time (and dry lumber), it would have been nice to seal the wood, at least on the surfaces needing Velcro, and in the player stations.
Finishing the wood has at least two advantages for this application:
Increase the likelihood of the Velcro adhering
Reduce splinters and similar hazards in the player stations (I don’t know of anyone who actually experienced problems along this line)
Attention to the type of adhesive and how it’s applied would also help. Of course, this would require a little time and effort (and probably a bit of increase in the cost) to research and obtain the optimum type of Velcro and adhesive. I found this chart which explains the ins and outs of Velcro adhesives. Presumably this company is able to supply everything listed in the chart as well. (Note: I’m not recommending this or any other supplier, merely offering the information as an example.)
Or just skip the Velcro and use a large rubber mallet for whacking the field borders back in place after the rowdier matches.