Please read the explanation below before voting. What should we do?
- Two Regionals (Weeks 2/4) with crated robot
- Two Regionals (Weeks 2/4) with modular luggage robot
- One Regional (Week 4 only) with crated robot
Just wondering what other folks would do in this situation. We are a mid-level team that had a terrible year last year for reasons that won’t repeat, and we have a solid team of experienced students ready to up their game this year. We are not in a district.
We must fly to our competitions. We can either crate and ship our robot, or take it apart into at least two parts and transport it in checked baggage with us, and then re-assemble it at each competition. This typically takes most of the first day, but the two times we’ve done it, we’ve been inspected and made it to a practice match or two. We do NOT have a full (or even half) practice field, but we do have a practice space and usually decent mockups of the field elements. In the past, we have built a practice bot, but getting it done and getting enough debug/test/drive practice is a stretch (we do it, but we STRESS OUT and never do it as well as we’d like). In past years, our home regional was week 5, and we have sometimes traveled to another one in week 2. The extra ‘shake down’ time and driving on the real field, competing in actual matches, etc. has helped us to do better at our home regional. OTOH, two years ago we did just the home regional, and did very well. (Last year was an anomaly, as I’ve mentioned.)
Our home Regional is Week 4 this year. We will attend. We must fly there and either crate-ship or luggage-ship our robot. Our dilemma is this: do we attend a second (actually first) regional in Week 1 or Week 2, or not? And if so, do we crate the robot (in which case it would be shipped from the first regional directly to the second, at a large $$ cost), or disassemble/reassemble it (which would allow us to bring it home in between the competitions, and costs less)?
- If we do just one regional. we can use the extra build/test/drive time at home to refine, test and drive the robot until we ship it in week 3; we don’t have to build a practice bot, saving money, time and stress; and we can crate our robot up and ship it intact, thus getting much more practice time on Thursday because we don’t have to reassemble it
- If we do two competitions, we get a lot more actual competition time to compete, and to get our drivers familiar with the actual field; we’ll also get to see other robots and how the game is played before our home regional (this has, in the past, been of great benefit)
- If we use luggage transport for the two regionals, we have to reassemble our robot at each competition (and at home, in between), but we get to work on it in between (if only for a week or so)
- If we use crate transport, we have essentially replicated the ‘bag day’ scenario, and may not be as competitive at our second (home) regional, against teams that had 10 weeks to build/test/drive (and we may need/want to build a practice bot)
- We could fly out a day early to each regional, and put the bot together in the hotel room on Wednesday before load-in time starts; that costs more but gets us ‘good to go’ to inspection on Thursday morning
So, if you were us, what would you do?