How will no-bag affect day 1 of regionals?

In recent years, day one of most regional teams’ first events has been allocated more towards installing the withholding allowance and getting inspected than it has been to practice matches. At Rock City this year (week 2 event), I don’t recall any inspection in the first hour of the pits being open apart from bag issues, and only a handful of teams had been inspected before lunch. At least two teams were not inspected when the pits closed Thursday. At Bayou (week 4), at least one team was not through inspection in time for their first qualifier.

How do you expect this to change for 2020? My assumptions for the bag rules are that there will be no time limits on robot construction between kickoff and your first event (or at least 24 hours before the beginning of your first event). If your assumptions are different, please so state. I am certainly interested in input from district players where the “day 1” has been replaced with “open bag” time, producing a similar (though certainly different) workflow.

My answer: I expect half (or slightly more) of teams at their first event to show up “ready” for inspection, meaning that they call for initial inspection in the first two hours after the pits open, and that at least half of regional teams will be through initial inspection by lunchtime on day one of their first event. The first half of practice matches will have as many or more teams who were scheduled to be there as teams who came out of the filler line. There will continue to be the occasional teams who are not inspected by the end of day one, but fewer than half as many.

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I think this is bold, at least for 2020.

I think we will see an uptick of teams who are not ready for inspection next year, at least at early events. I think most teams are not ready for the bag removal, and i expect it to bite teams hard for not preparing themselves sooner for this change.

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Bold prediction: Very little will be different. Teams on the upper half of the skill curve will do a little bit less reassembly of mechanisms, and will generally be ready for inspection a little bit sooner. But otherwise, much the same. Someone who isn’t an FRC insider could walk around the pits and not know that anything is different.

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I think this is closer to reality, but I also don’t know if the cutline is “upper half”. The question is how many teams use their newly-gained time for shakedown and verification, and those teams will be the ones that reap the benefits. Depending on the local support infrastructure, that could be half, or that could be all but a couple.

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I’ve been telling every team I talk to that they should treat this year just like there were a bag in place. Get their robot as close to done as possible for week 0 and treat the time between when bag would normally be and their 1st event as “extra time”. I think the teams that do this will be ready for practice matches prior to lunch at their first event. I’d like to think that a lot of teams will fall into this category if for no other reason than habits are hard to break, and we’ve had the bag for a long time.

There I’ll certainly be teams that (foolishly) move their deadline back to their first event and those teams will probably be worse off than they would’ve been with the bag. I think there will be less of these teams than most people think.

The goal for 4607 is to show up to our first event and be first in line for inspection, and first in line for the real field. I’m expecting that the week before the event we’ll be playing with our competition robot in a practice facility getting the kinks worked out.

I REALLY hope Regionals are allowed to flex their schedules around to start the practice matches early. Even better would be for actual competition matches to begin in the evening on Thursday… although I suspect that we won’t see anything like that until the second year without the bag.

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HAH! D’you remember the griping from when practice matches were morning and afternoon, and the morning matches often ran empty-field because teams weren’t ready? The PM-only practice is because of that.

Now, given a couple years of adjustment, it’s probably worth revisiting that. But not right away. Gotta figure out if the change makes things better or worse first.

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Is there any good reason why Regionals should continue to run as three-day events?

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@Michael_Corsetto

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I know some people dislike the $/match sort of analysis that usually gets thrown around about regional events, but I think it is valid here. Many teams attend only 1 regional. Taking away some or most of the traditional “Thursday” would diminish their ability to get help from other teams, work with inspectors, get practice matches in, and generally experience the event.

My prediction (hope) is that fewer teams attending week 1 events will be dead on arrival like we saw this year. And I would REALLY hope that teams attending week 4-6 events as their first event are ready to go by noon.

I can’t wait to be able to make major mid season iterations and attend multiple practice matches at the same event

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For the first season, I would say that knocking out most of practice day would be too big of a change too fast, and we’d lose a LOT of teams because of that. Bear in mind that many teams don’t have anything close to a full field or the space to put one, practice day is literally the ONLY time they have to properly tune. Of course for the teams that have access to a full field, half field, or similar, that won’t make a difference, if their robot is working fine.

Again, AFTER a season or two, then that’s a worthwhile discussion to have. But we’ve got to see how bad the attrition is as a result of the initial change first.

I agree with @SenorZ: For this season at least I would hope that there are far fewer teams showing up to their first (or only) event with major work to do. I think that’s a “reasonable expectation” for now, and we’ll see how that goes before we start talking about losing most of a day. My vacation time would like to lose that day, or part of it, but I’d be cautious about going that route right away.

I think if what you said is true - the upper teams will be better and ready sooner, perhaps we’ll see them helping/working with the teams who struggle more sooner in the day, and everyone will be ready sooner then. That would be really cool actually :slight_smile:

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I’m assuming (and perhaps with unfounded optimism) that it will look similar to the beginnings of many district events. District teams have long had the “unbag periods” to replace the time lost from not having a full practice day, and most attempt to install withholding allowance work and upgrades during that time rather than at the event. The result is more teams showing up ready to inspect (or close to ready to inspect). The counterpoint to this is that district teams know they have a condensed inspection window, and any significant modifications at the event will push them up against the possibility of missing qualification matches.

Access to the field (and/or practice fields). Even with no bag, I still expect this to be the first real testing many of the these robots go through, particularly on full sized fields with real game elements.

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I expect the opposite. Team that have to take a week 1/2 due to travel will be the same but teams that opt into a week 1/2 are more likely to be prepared for it. Where as teams opting in to starting their season later week 3+ will overstretch themselves or procrastinate, so won’t have a robot ready by practice day. Additionally I could see teams tearing down their robots, between regionals and not getting them finished until practice day deadline actually hits. As such I expect later events to have an uptick in non working robots on day 1.

That said teams that are currently good will have to do less their pit and have more time for practice matches, as good teams are good at project/time management.

It would be really great if we could get twelve qualifying matches per event like districts!

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Speaking for regionals… Your typical Thursday inspection schedule, in my experience, is something like this:

  • First hour - A few teams, but not many
  • By the start of lunch - 1/3 of teams completed, an additional 1/6 started (total of 1/2 of teams seen by an inspector)
  • Over lunch, while all the inspectors are eating - 1/4 of teams queue for inspection
  • By 3/4PM - You’ve finally worked the queue down to 0. 1/6 haven’t started inspection yet
  • pits close - 1/20 of teams haven’t completed inspection yet. Time for the LRI to come up with a plan to get those teams finished before their first match…

With the removal of the bag, I expect some things will shift, but the most important parts of it won’t. We’ll see more teams ready in that first hour, but those are the teams that would be through inspection (maybe not passed, but at least well on their way) in the morning anyways. We’ll likely get the teams that typically queue over lunch to go through inspection in the morning. But that 1/6 of teams that always put off inspection until the end of the day are still going to do so. That 1/20 of teams that struggle to get to a point where they can be inspected by the end of the day are still going to struggle.

In short, I expect this will even out the pace of inspection a bit, adding work to the slow mornings and removing the backlog that happens in the early afternoon. But it won’t change the parts of inspection that the LRI’s and experienced inspectors worry about at the event.

And while that’s my expectation, my concern is that i’m wrong. I’m worried that teams will misjudge the time they have available, and the number of teams we have to handle at the end of the day will increase and spill over even more into Friday morning. I expect to have a better feel for that after week-0 - we have a lot of week-0 events in MN, and we get LRI’s out to as many of them as we can so we can get a feel for how the events will go - hopefully we’ll be able to get a good feel for how prepared teams will be that weekend!

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I tend to be more optimistic about these groups of teams. I have it on good authority from @EricLeifermann that 2826 (usually one of those 1/6 of teams that puts off inspection) will be the first in line for inspection at their first event. I think there are a lot of middle to upper tier teams in that “1/6 group” that only put off inspection for so long to overhaul their robots with improvements/design changes. Presumably all those teams from that group will walk into the event with those changes complete and will get inspected in the morning. I’m not sure what percent of that 1/6 group fits the 2826 mold, but I bet it’s a noticeable amount.

There are certainly teams that have historically struggled, and will continue to struggle to get through inspection. I actually think that number will come down significantly in MN as a result of a community push for local practice facilities. Getting these teams to a shared practice facility will help to get more eyes on their robot prior to their first event which will hopefully remove a lot of the inspection roadblocks that these teams would otherwise run into at their first event. Of course the teams that have the most issues are the teams that are least likely to attend a practice facility session… but with good marketing and improved access I think things will get better.

Another reason I suspect things will improve is the increased amount of robot access time between Week 0 and a team’s first event. It used to be that if a team found a major inspection issue at Week 0 that they would need to drop everything and commit their next few days to getting within spec… often running out of time to make all the changes, and being forced to make a plan for Thursday at their event. With more time to get their robot within the rules I think we’ll see less teams struggling to get through inspection at the end of the day on Thursday.

Of course this can all go awry if teams overestimate their available time due to this change and bite off more than they care chew… with the right advice prior to the season I think most teams can avoid that trap. Like I said… I’m optimistic.

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This year it won’t have a noticeable impact.

The teams who got inspected early will continue to.

Half of the teams who got inspected as soon as what ever change they needed to make was done will move into the early inspection group, the other half will stay in the just before or after lunch group.

The teams who are overweight will continue to have this issue, and a few more will be added to the group because the teams who previously created something to add to the robot but once they saw their weight beforehand realized they couldn’t will already have said thing on the robot

And teams who are bad at electrical, don’t understand bumper rules, or think you build the whole robot at the event will all continue to have these issues so they will all be inspected late Thursday/early Friday.

Now in the future I hope we can move qualification matches to Thursday. Starting at 2/3 we can run 1 to 2 matches per team letting us get up to 10-12 matches for regional teams at those 60+ team events. At smaller events you can cap it at 12 matches thus allowing for longer cycle times or a break before alliance selections. Basically in my ideal world we would have 30 minutes between the last quals match and alliance selection, run the alliance selection, break for lunch, run elims.

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If you assume the Thursday schedule doesn’t change - my guess is a lot of teams will want to use Thursday as a travel day. If you are ready to be inspected when you arrive, showing up at 10/11 in the morning would be reasonable. Since it saves a night in the hotel it’s not a small cost savings.

At the very least, have the official field open for general practice on Thursday morning in addition to sensor calibration.