How to get through inspection painlessly

This past weekend I had the privilege of serving as a robot inspector at Kettering district competition #1. Based on my experience, here is my advice to teams who want to get through inspection as quickly and painlessly as possible and get their robot on the field for practice.

  1. Don’t start inspection until you’re absolutely ready. If you have tweaks and changes to make to your machine, get them finished before you seek out an inspector; otherwise you’ll need to be reweighed and reinspected after you finish your changes.

  2. Not too many people in the pit. This was one of the most frustrating things as an inspector; when your pit is crowded with students and mentors, it is very difficult to get in and examine the robot. When the yellow hat arrives, send away everyone but a few students and a mentor.

  3. Give the inspector your attention. Sometimes I felt like I was asking questions about the robot to the thin air; it was like the team forgot I was there. The inspectors have to help at least 40 teams play safely and fairly. They don’t have time to stand in your pit waiting for someone to answer their questions. Have two students who are knowledgeable about the function and makeup of the robot devoted to helping the inspector. As long as he/she is inspecting your robot, these students should be focused and listening.

  4. Have your CAW ready. As soon as you unload, make sure that it is somewhere quickly accessible so your inspector doesn’t have to wait while you search for it. (It should go without saying that the CAW should be completed BEFORE you arrive at the event.)

  5. Make sure that your electronics and pneumatics are visible and accessible. The inspections that take the longest are the ones where I had to lay down and squint into your robot with a flashlight in order to see your components and wires. If something has to be fixed or adjusted, it will be a headache for you.

  6. Be prepared to remove or install bumpers. We need to see bumpers both off and on, so have whatever hardware or tools you need at the ready.

  7. Be prepared to connect and enable. Inspection includes booting up the Driver Station and connecting to the robot. If you have an on-board compressor, you will need to enable to activate it.

  8. Familiarize yourself with the robot rules. First, because you’re significantly less likely to be in violation of a rule if you know them. Second, because an inspector’s interpretation of a rule may not be correct. If you think this is the case, it’s fine to question them; in most cases it will go to the LRI for clarification. It’s a good idea to have the most up-to-date robot rules on hand for reference. (Some of the most commonly misunderstood rules last weekend were about starting configuration, frame perimeter, and maximum volume. It’s a bad day when your inspector tells you that your mechanism is illegal because it permanently extends beyond your frame perimeter.)

  9. Do a practice inspection. During unbag time before your event, run through the inspection checklist and make sure that you’re in compliance with all the rules.

If you have any questions, feel free to message me or any of the other very knowledgeable and helpful inspectors on this forum.