Knocking the ball off: A viable and important strategy lost in the whims...

So, I spent all day friday and saturday at the NJ regional watching the competition unfold. I came away with one notable observation: Knocking the ball off is 1. harder than it looks and 2. vital to the success of teams.

Teams who were able to CONSISTENTLY knock the ball off without stopping so a lot of success in NJ, and i’m sure this is true across the country. I can’t tell you how much time teams wasted at NJ just trying to get the ball down before they could even score points with it. Team 2590, the #3 seed, made a living by driving around quickly and being able to knock the ball off whenever they wanted to without even thinking about slowing down. Team 103 also did this very well.

Being able to get your game piece on the field and racking up the points as quickly as possible is just as important as any other part of the game this year. Teams that were not able to do this effectively saw half a match go by before they were ready to make their first attempt at a hurdle.

Recognizing the time in the match to knock your opponents balls down too is also very vital, and important part of the ball knockers strategy. The teams who balanced the time left in the match with the time it takes for their opponent to score propelled themselves to the top.

Teams who could, with 3 seconds left, drive under the over pass and knock their opponents balls off were absolutely important to the game as well. 12 points is a lot, and teams who were able to take away all the time spent by a team in the last 15-30 seconds putting the ball up on the overpass, saw great success.

To the ball knockers, I salute you.

I absolutely agree.


I agree.
One interesting thing I noted while watching the BAE Granite State Regional:
Several teams (134, 40, and 58 come to mind) had mechanisms that raised up high enough to knock the ball off from underneath the overpass. They could just drive underneath the ball and it would fall down. This was the fastest way to get the ball down, and usually worked great. However, such designs could not get a ball down if it was placed on the overpass between the normal trackball positions. Getting a trackball in this position is difficult, as it often falls off. I saw several times when the ball was placed in this position and many robots could not get it off. To remove this trackball required another alliance member to raise their arm or elevator and knock the trackball off from the top which was much slower.
I doubt if this will accually affect many (if any) matches, but it was interesting to see.

Our thoughts exactly. We DID THE MATH, we started with an 18fps drivetrain that could knock a trackball off in either direction. Forward is on the fly, to the reverse takes a change in direction and about two seconds. We had this done in about three weeks. We spent the next three weeks adding a few other very valuable manipulators.

EDIT: We can also remove a trackball if it is placed between the normal positions.

It will be interesting to see how our flaky ball knocker offer works in competition…we hadn’t thought too much about the ball being between spots when we were designing and testing it, but I did see that happen several times in the webcasts…I think we might be able to do it.

Absolutlely agreed. As a hurdler, our strategy revolves around getting the ball as quickly as we can, and then running around and hurdling. Our design lets us do everything other than knock off the balls quickly. Since I don’t think we’re the only hurdling team with this kind of issue, I think that there is a great room for teams to make a living by knocking the ball off at will, combined with running laps and playing some creative defense.

Doesn’t look too flakey to me. My only concern would be catching your opponents trackball if you were trying to remove a placed trackball. Being able to start teleoperated with a trackball and at least 12 points is a huge plus for you. Great job.

We can catch the ball if the robot stops after going under the overpass, but if we just keep going at a fast pace we won’t catch it.

Flaky refers to the construction method, there’s not much to it, just pool noodles stuck onto aluminum tubes…the concept is a great idea one of the students came up with playing around with the trackball and overpass at the beginning of build season.

Its seems to me that at the competitions, People are actually ADDING parts onto their robots to try and knock off their balls.
378, #1 after Friday @ FLR, Just gives the ball a “High Five” With their part and it comes flying. Such a simple and effective design, Teams are actually trying to find a way to put it on their robot.

One thing to note: if at the end of the match you are knocking of an opponent’s ball that they placed on their hurdle (it did not stay there the whole match), you are only descoring 4 points if you knock it off in the counterclockwise direction. This is because you are descoring the 12 point bonus but you are giving them an 8 point hurdle. So it is important to knock off the ball backwards. This is impossible for some teams because they have to cross the line and then come back (due to their design), giving them a 10 point penalty for clockwise motion, and not many matches are decided by 2 points. I agree that 12 points is a lot, but it is going to be harder for teams to knock off the ball backwards. This is key.

But this can be ignored if they placed the ball on your hurdle or the ball did not move from the beginning of the match, very important for the coach to watch this.

I think it’s interesting that teams are now starting to see the importance of getting the ball down off the overpass as early as possible in the match. When my team (1501) started talking about making a shooter after many long discussions of other types of game play, we realized that to maximize your scoring effort, getting the ball down was key. We tasked a group to concentrate on finding a way to get the ball down and they were successful. They found a very simple and effect device, that along with some very good autonomous programming by our students provide amazing results. I would love to be the one to reveal the design here but we have purposely choosen to keep it under wraps from all public displays. We have intensionally with held it from preship competitions and postings due to its easy replications from other teams. We are very excited about our design and will reveal it this week at the BMR Regional at which point we feel we will see many clones on other robots in the weeks to follow.

From my experiance, which only comes from practicing in a controlled environment, I completely agree. I’m not sure if it’s just lack of driver ability, or anything else, but it seems to take significantly longer to remove a ball than it takes to hurdle.

I think teams that are able to knock balls off, and maybe even acquire them, in autonomous mode, will have a great advantage.

Knocking track balls off in hybrid is very important. Which is way we are re-writing to include this. With a track knocked off and you turn the corner, then you get 16 points, one bot in 15 seconds, not bad. Especially notstopping as you remove the trackball (12 points) if you can cross the line under the track ball.

also a question, if you remove oppent’s trackballs in hybrid then do they get points.

yes they do.

One ball off = One ball over
Two lines in auto = One ball over

Ending up Two Hurdles Ahead is the most powerful advantage in a tempo game.

One thing to note: if at the end of the match you are knocking of an opponent’s ball that they placed on their hurdle (it did not stay there the whole match), you are only descoring 4 points if you knock it off in the counterclockwise direction.

We can descore an opponents trackball without giving them 8 points.
We have video (will be available for viewing Thursday the 13th) showing our autonomous mode knocking off both trackballs in less than 15 seconds.
We can knock off a trackball at any speed also.
See you at BMR.