My team wants to buy an AM14U4 with the HD Pneumatic wheels upgrade kit and just assemble it with basic functions as a side project for our newbies. We won’t use it any of the competitions this year so can we use this robot next season? I know there’s rules surrounding reusing or pre assembling parts of a robot but I’m not very fluent in them.
Historically, you’d likely be able to use many of the individual parts but not the entire assembly as a unit. Probably most of them. I can’t find a copy of the 2020 manual right now for the precise language, but if you were careful about how wild your modifications got then it might even be all of them.
I’m going to second @Billfred points. I also couldn’t find a 2020 manual on the FIRST website to check that version of R15 (and it was removed for 2021). I have a copy somewhere, but /shrug
Keep in mind that IF we get back to normalcy by next season, hopefully the KOP drivetrain (which is either that model or a similar one) can return. That’s the one you can get instead of a $450 voucher to Andymark, if I recall correctly. Hard to say what the case will be for a 2022 season regardless of whether things are manageable again, so…take that as you will.
One hopes that FIRST HQ will recognize the challenges of teams coming back from a difficult 2020…some not playing for a year or two, many having their sponsorship dollars being tight…and not make gigantic changes. We are considering getting another RoboRio for reasons similar to the original post.
I’d hope that the 2022 game - and where’s the Speculation Thread??? - will also be something that is straightforward. Perhaps with a simpler field set up - so FIRST and teams can save a bit on construction - and no quantum leaps in the tech needed to reasonably play it.
Typically if it’s COTS you should be able to use it from year to year if it’s unmodified, any manipulators you made now and think would be useful in the 2022 game would need to be remade if you wanted to use them in 2022.
Under the rules as they’ve been in years past, you’d at least have to take it apart and put it back together again. Where you’d run afoul is having cut the chassis bars to a more competition-friendly size–this would be a modification that would render the part illegal (assuming, again, rules similar to what we’ve had in the beforetimes).
So if you’re just doing it as a rookie project, do it without worry and don’t cut those bars, then take it apart before the beginning of build season.
From the 2020 Game and Season Manual. Obviously the 2021 rules are very different, and we have yet to see how this will apply in future years.
R14. FABRICATED ITEMS created before Kickoff are not permitted. Exceptions are:
E. COTS items with any of the following modifications:
i. Non-functional decoration or labeling
ii. Assembly of COTS items per manufacturer specs, unless the result constitutes a MAJOR MECHANISM as defined in I1
iii. Work that could be reasonably accomplished in fewer than 30 minutes with the use of handheld tools (e.g. drilling a small number of holes in a COTS part)
A heavily modified AM14U chassis (one that is not exempt under E. iii. above) would violate R14. For a minimally modified or unmodified COTS chassis, assembled “per manufacturer specs,” I1 becomes the sticky part. MAJOR MECHANISMS are a big gray area. As I read it, though, unless your chassis has everything it needs to drive on its own, it is not a MAJOR MECHISM.
I1. It’s your team’s ROBOT. The ROBOT and its MAJOR MECHANISMS must be built by the FIRST Robotics Competition team.
A MAJOR MECHANISM is a group of COMPONENTS and/or MECHANISMS assembled together to address at least one (1) game challenge: robot movement, game piece control, field element manipulation, or performance of a scorable task without the assistance of another ROBOT.
Something I just thought of, that maybe an RI can jump in on: Would work done in accordance with R14 E. iii. (e.g. shortening frame members) nullify the COTS status and likewise a potential exemption under E. ii.?
We have more recently moved away from kit chassis (WCD or Swerve now), but in years past we have gotten the AM voucher instead of drive chassis, and used the voucher to buy only a rails kit – as we were planning to use different gearboxes anyway (Vex 3 CIM Ball Shifters mostly), and we had huge stock of unmodified AM COTS wheels, pulleys, belts, etc… already on hand. This gave us a much better deal than getting an all new chassis, but without any “gray areas” on COTS rules.
My team was very exited about swerve this year, and we decided that we wanted to use it on our drive train for a variety of reasons. Myself and some other team members really wanted to design and fabricate our own swerve modules, but due to time and tool access we were not able to. This forced us to buy them. We did a lot of research, and between reading the rules and contacting our local Senior Mentor we found that if the product you purchase is below $500 and you do not make any modifications to that product then you should be fine. in section 9.4 R12 and R14 address this, but I might be wrong. However, the AMU14U4 with pneumatic wheels cost more than $500. You will be able to get away with it this year, but for future years it would be up in the air. A work around would be to buy each part separately, and that way no individual component is more than $500. <-- Not sure if that would work, or even if the AMU14U4 is already considered separate parts.
The $500 limit per individual part is still a rule (R12) for 2021 and the blue box below it clarifies these scenarios (particularly Example 3). The long and short of it is, since you can buy and use the stuff in the AM14U4 upgrade kits separately, you can consider them separate parts against the $500 limit, even though you bought them as a bundle.
The base AM14U4 itself is a little special because it’s a COTS item but it’s also included in the KOP, which means it’s exempt from R12 regardless. However, it would also be legal on pure cost basis, since you can purchase the frame by itself for $200, and the rest of the wheels, belts, gearboxes etc have many interchangeable options. So even if you purchase the full kit at $690, the fact that you could have purchased the items separately for under $500 each is what makes them legal.
The bundles from AM are the cheapest way to get them, in terms of actual money spent.
Edit: If you know you’re only using the pneumatic wheels this year, it may be cheaper to buy this version - AM14U4 8 in. Pneumatic wheel Toughbox Mini Bundle - AndyMark Inc. You would need to get motors separately still, and if you wanted a different wheel configuration in the future you would need to buy that wheel upgrade kit.
The question as far as R12 legality, is just to check that the components of the bundle are able to be purchased separately, each for less than $500. Actually buying them separately usually costs more than the bundle. Most of the time you don’t have to actually check though, since vendors like AndyMark, Vex, Rev, WCP, SDS, etc are very good about making sure that you can’t accidentally buy parts that aren’t competition legal due to cost.