Hypothetical - One Regional or Two?

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

0 voters

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?

Honestly… I think this is your best option. Actually… your second-best option.

First: I suspect that it’ll likely be comparable pricewise with shipping a crate.
Second: You get more time with the robot, and you’ll be able to assemble it before the event.

But I don’t think doing it in a hotel room would be the best option. Why not see if a local team has space for you to put the robot together? Obviously working around school hours could be an issue there, but you never know what you might find by asking.

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Yes, we could probably find a shop. We typically get free check bags, and only pay the extra for oversize/overweight for one or two boxes. We do get to bring a lot fewer tools, parts, and supplies, but it’s doable (we’re not the only team that does this; 3880 has done it successfully several times, even leaving their robot on the mainland in between regionals, with a helpful local team).

Personally, I was leaning toward having the extra weeks to work at home, and just going to the week 4 regional, but other mentors on our team feel otherwise. Ultimately, it will come down to (a) what the students prefer, and (b) whether we can afford the travel (we have grant applications pending, but it’s a huge stretch for us financially when we do it).

If you are a mid-level team, you will not (should not) be “trying to do everything” so it should be possible for you to build a lighter, more compact robot. 7498 went to two regionals and Houston Champs, all with international travel. @jpk might be able to provide some design tips.

If you choose two regionals that you go to every year, you can ask local teams to stockpile batteries and a cart for you.

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Do y’all know what 359 does? I’m not familiar with Hawaii’s setup but they are a very successful team and may have more insight into the environment of robot transportation.

What they do is have ludicrous plaid amounts of money :stuck_out_tongue:

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I know that other teams use a luggage style carrying system, but I also know from my team’s lack of it that it’s crucial to be able to transport tools, which is much easier with a crate.

Is this a thing? I’m old.

Spaceballs came out in 1987, you’re gonna need a new excuse Richard :stuck_out_tongue:

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Didn’t expect recycling of my generation’s jargon. :confounded:

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359 is located on the same island as the Hawaii regional. 2465 does not have that luxury. 359 does crate and ship their robot to their travel events .

Here’s 359’s plan this year

Ok yeah that might be too helpful then…

Hey, it’s Dennis from the Lunas 3882, we always seem to pit next to each other in Hawaii. We have the same situation as you regarding shipping. We are planning to go to 2 regionals, hopefully week 2 and 4, but the lottery gods will determine this.
We always use a shipping crate, the reasons are, we have a small travel team(9-11) so bringing our personal luggage, plus tools, spare parts etc. is already challenging for space in the rental vans, and people power to transport it. If we brought our robot in our luggage too, oh boy.
The second. and little more important reason is we can keep most, if not all our robot intact allowing for quicker inspection and practice. Less stress on day one. Our travel budget always includes crate shipping, it is worth the cost in my opinion.
I would recommend 2 events if you can. We are a mid level team too, but are trying to up our game, so the actual real game experience is so valuable to us. Not just driving on a real field, but scouting, pit organization and work flow, presenting to judges, queuing, strategy, robot inspection, etc.

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I’m going to need ludicrous amount of money to just get our new STEM Center designed.
Our State already told us for what I want, its going to cost upwards of about $2 million just to design it. We are trying to have it all designed and planned out by 2021. Still need to secure additional funds for the design.
Its doesnt help that people like Adam H. shows me this.


This would be the first piece of equipment I would try to get once/if we finally get the building.

If your budget is going to be ludicrous, maybe you should get an airstrip and one or two planes, to fly Hawaiian teams to the Center on O’ahu and then home again. Let’s make them hybrid electric planes.

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My first thought while reading this was to assemble your robot in the hotel a day early. Then I finished reading and saw that on your list. That would definitely be my first choice.

If possible, you can mitigate some of the travel cost by only sending a small team of people on that earlier date and then sending the rest of the team 1 or 2 days later (not sure how big your team is).

This would make the most sense. When we did Canadian Rockies and Canadian Pacific this past season, we did this to also have students miss the least amount of school days as possible.
Only problem with Canadian Rockies is our robot came more than 2 days late!!

The “some assembly required” part of a modular luggage robot isn’t that hard to achieve even for a small team like ours. A little careful forethought and disconnect points in the electrics can significantly reduce reassembly time. Probably the largest hurdle is constraining modular bits within 32kg max permissible weight for checked baggage (that’s a hard limit for international flights).

At our first event in BC last season 4 students put it back together on the morning of day 1, passed inspection and were ready for practice matches. I think we actually put in more practice matches than anyone else so it was no disadvantage (in week 2 anyhow). Not sure how we’ll adapt for 2020, maybe find somewhere local to the event for reassembly prior but not a hotel room. Either way it’s not a big disadvantage.

Build 1 robot, don’t stress out, go places, meet people and have fun.

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