If you could change one rule

If you could change one FIRST rule what would it be and why?

I know i would eleminate the “custom cylinder order form”. I feel that it is overly restrictive and hampers the developement of some really cool mechanisms. It prohibits all sorts of parts that pose no safety hazard, are available to all teams, and would allow for a great deal of novel mechanisms. I believe the intent was either to restrict teams to Bimba or to limit the bore and therefore force of actuators. If they want to make sure teams buy Bimba products, they should simply have a rule such as

“Any off the shelf actuator made by Bimba is legal so long as it does not violate any other rules”

If they want to make sure we don’t use something capable of outputting excessive force then they should make a rule such as:

“any off the shelf actuator is legal so long as it does not have an effective piston surface exceeding XXX and does not violate any other rules”

Here’s one I’ve pondered since mid-build our rookie year–why keep teams from using the packaging of the kit? Back in 2004 when we had the four LED lights, I made a holder out of some small box in the kit that would’ve held up fine (especially given the amount of protection it would be surrounded by), yet it would’ve been illegal.

I’ll go back and look at the game rules and such, to determine my final answer.

But in the meantime, my interim answer would be to eliminate those darn SLU lugs and let teams use the old connectors.

I think you should be allowed to control your robot with whatever you want. Get rid of the rules that prohibit external power and added logic. What saftey/fair-competition/fun-competition purpose do these rules serve?

I’ve heard many great ideas on these forums for control mechanisms, the majority of which are illegal due to these rules.

You know you want to see the muscle tension actuated robots next year :smiley:

yeah that single rule brought us from 8th place to 30 something.
I want the transmissions of radio signals from custom circuits to become legal. I really wan’t to put a camera on our robot and be able to pick it up at the player station.

I see how some would like the whole don’t crush your opponent ranking point score algorithm, but I believe it’s not indicative of how the real world is. I believe ranking points should instead by the point differential instead of the losers score.
This would create more offensive scoring robots, and sort of break down the push/shove robots from outerspace.

So far, everyone is takling their personal pet peeve and trying to find a way to make the rule associated with a certain topic/application/mechanism less restrictive. That is fine, and everyone is certainly entitled to riding their own hobby horse. So I will hop on mine. I think that folks are headed in the wrong direction. I think that we should look for potential rules that can be made MORE restrictive, and scale back the “almost anything goes” philosophy that has become associated with the robot construction rules over the past several years. I believe that this philosophy has lead to a lot less true creativity and innovation in the robots, as teams have just gone out and bought solutions to design problems rather than creating solutions from a kit part that was never intended to do the job for which it would now be used. I would be all in favor of adding more restrictions back in to the robot construction rules to bring back some of the real creativity that every team displayed during the early years of FIRST.

For example, what about a rule that says “no threaded fasteners of any type are permitted on the robot.”* If it were up to me, I would add a rule like that. Oh, wait, it is… :smiley:


  • you think I am joking, don’t you? hehhehheh

I am absolutely in favor of more creativity in the competition. It’s too easy to buy your way past creative hurdles, so in that sense many rules could be made more strict to force us to come up with creative solutions. That said, the same objective could be reached by loosening some of the restrictions, like my aforemention controls rule/“hobby horse”. :wink:

No threaded fastners would be very interesting indeed…

Okay, that is a terrible idea for reasons that should be obvious if you have the technical expertise to realistically try such a thing. Imagine the sheer chaos that would develop if you were allowed to transmit all willy-nilly. Never mind the FCC, I’m sure you would find reason enough to regret this rule change when your robot became unresponsive due to my “creative” spark-gap generator.

well then… I would get rid of the fixit window between regionals, and in turn allow more lbs of spare parts to be brought with teams. These teams know what they have to do, and part of the challenge can be preparing a set of routines to replace and fix parts once the next regional comes around. I would leave a fixit window for the champ though.

Not at all. An amazing amount can be done with welding, brazing, housed joints, polymer-based adhesives, rivets, spring clips, e-rings, Dutchman pins, proper interference fits, pocket hole joinery, soldering, collaring, swaging, pinned tenon joints, etc. etc. etc. There are LOTS of ways to connect one item to another without using the bolt/washer/nut answer that almost everyone defaults to - and without resorting to cheap-looking tape. :slight_smile:

I really like the idea of a rule that will really push teams about of their “comfort zone” and into an area where they have to think about ways to solve problems by other than the obvious solution.


[/me gets off hobby horse]

OK, let me explain myself on that one. Like obviously it would have to be on an unlicensed frequency (and some regulations as to the voltage of the transmission) that does not touch the 900 MHz that the robot runs on I’m thinking 2.4 gigahertz (which in fact is most common for camera transmissions). In fact the rules do allow for cameras and even for those cameras to transmit, its just that if you transmit to the control station the camera is no longer a non functional decoration and illegal.

I’ll go with Lavery’s wish to restrict the materials and methods. Give the students a box of raw materials that includes all permited parts. This will stress thier brains instead of the teams pocket book.


I have mixed feelings about this issue. Even though it was fun to be restricted to 20’ of timing belt and spending countless hours coming up with ingenious mechanisms actuated only by latex tubing (a lot of them!) and those nice springs FIRST used to supply, I consider that the overall level of competition has been significantly raised since FIRST relaxed the rules concerning materials and parts usage.

One could also argue that this occurred concomitantly with FIRST’s efforts to provide teams reliable, quality, out of the box solutions - chassis and drive trains, basically.
Many threads have debated the Inspiration issued associated with those ready solutions, but I will not go deep into that.

I have a feeling (emphasis on feeling - absolutely no “scientific” evidence) that students are more inspired by an amazing robot that is well designed and built (thanks to those “permissive” rules) than by a specific jaw-dropping mechanism devised in a glimpse of geniality.

Of course, that’s a moot point when you come to Beatty, because they’re (very!) consistent in presenting us with a robot that is all of that. :slight_smile:
Then again, I can be very wrong, and maybe that’s an issue to be discussed in another thread.


Philosophical issues aside…

Regarding restrictive rules, they really force teams to be more creative, but back in the days it was very bad for international teams. The “Small Parts” rules were a nightmare to us. I do believe that, if such rules were considered again, special attention should be taken.
Having to use an 8 pound sprocket shipped from 6000 miles away is insane, and the costs associated with that rule - shipping (and FAST, build season is almost over!), customs (87.2% of the total value!) - could very well mean one less student is able to make it into the USA. :eek:

As for creativity and, in your words, “creating solutions from a kit part that was never intended to do the job for which it would now be used”, it can also be accomplished without said rules. This year our team used a car jack to tilt our 4m long arm. You can’t say that this isn’t creativity at its best (and no, it wasn’t my idea :p), and the jack sure was never intended for that use.

My ideas might be a bit confuse, but there’s some food for thought.

PS1 - There are other ways to force teams to be creative. For instance, when your 1/4" tubing bag has a big 20 feet written on it, and you do your figures and… NO WAY we can cover the entire robot with that length. So you proceed to install a solenoid valve on the very tip of you 4m arm, only to wire everything up and find out that the bag was really wrong, and you actually had 20 METERS of tubing to work with. Just leave the manual full of those small typos and teams will be creative, I assure you. :stuck_out_tongue:

PS2 - Can we have pop rivets as unrestricted on the Addition Hardware List? :ahh:

this thread is getting off topic

I’ve split the thread. For discussion of Sanddrag’s idea that teams should strive for higher levels of quality, please see the following thread.


I disagree… I don’t want to see cookie cutter bots. Although, the financial advantage for a "kit bot, and that’s what it would be… a kit bot, would be a good thing.

But still… I don’t like the idea of a “kit bot”.

Take this year for example, I was glad that FIRST offered the kit chassis for teams to use but I would HATE to see the mandatory implementation of that chassis alone for every team. I personally hated working with the kit chassis for the simple reason of loose nuts and screws and washers to affix things together with. When crunch time comes in the pits, a neat robot (custom machined by your team) helps you and loose hardware that is hard to work with hinders you.

While something may be said about keeping the rules fair and making robots uniform for fair play, I think that weight, and size restrictions make that possible.

As for rule changes. I agree with Billfred… I want to see what teams want to do with the shipping containers and other “currently non kit” things that our parts come in.

I mean c’mon… we let that tape measure rule slide in 2002 for the reason of “we wanted to see what the teams would do with them.” ie: explore creativity.

Why not do the same and make up for that horrible idea for legality of tethers announced so late in build way back then by letting the same apply for the packing materials. But this time let it be known the rules of that on day one of build.

As an extension to my earlier post, i would like to give a few examples to highlight the absurdity of the pneumatic actuator rules. Last year, we had two 1 1/16" bore cylinders on our robot. When we went up for inspection, we were rejected, because the custom cylinder order form allows only for 3/4", 1 1/2" or 2" bore cylinders. I welcome any attempt to explain the rationale for such a thing. 1 1/16" is between 3/4" and 1 1/2". Does that particular size pose a safety hazard? That must be it.

How about this. For the 3/4" and 1 1/2" cylinders we are required to order them with DP mounting (1/4" pin in the back). If we want to, we are allowed to press the pin out leaving a 1/4" hole, but we are not allowed to order the cylinders with DXP mounting (no pin. just a 1/4" hole). Pressing the pin out and ordering a cylinder with DXP mounting leave you with the EXACT same result, but one is illegal.

There are other useful mounting styles that are prohibited as well such as the D mounting style which allows a cylinder to be mounted by two screws inserted near the front, perpendicular to the cylinder as a whole.

What about rod-less cylinders (picture a pneumatically powered linear slide) prohibited?

How about locking cylinders. These would be a heaven for multi-positioning. Seems like these would lead themselves to innovation to me.

How about multi-position cylinders. I can imagine all sorts of neat mechanisms with these. Again, great potential for all sorts of innovative mechanisms could be made with these.

How about double ended cylinders (a normal cylinder but with another rod sticking out the opposite end)

These are only a small sampling of the prohibited pneumatics actuators available that i think would be of great benefit. I could see logic in restricting parts such as off the shelf pneumatic grippers, but the parts i mentioned above a far from pre-built solutions. They are all very fundamental components.

My guess is that it’s because it’s part of “leveling the playing field” Bimba offers us a limited number of select bore and stroke cylinders for free. I imagine the reason we’re only free to purchase those specific cylinders above and beyond that quantity is so that the team that only is able to get the free ones, and not buy more has the same cylinders as the teams that could buy anything in Bimba’s catalog.

If that makes any sense.