Luck in First Choice affecting BOM?

Are we reading the updated manual correctly in that the luck of the draw could affect what our BOM price will be this year? If we are lucky and get several items (say motor controllers) in FIRST Choice it doesn’t go towards our total BOM limit of $5000, if we are unlucky and have to purchase said motor controllers out of pocket it goes towards our BOM.


That’s correct.

It’s a little weird, but I can see how FIRST arrived at that conclusion for it to be “intuitive” - if you didn’t pay for it outside your Registration, it shouldn’t have a BOM cost. If you did, it should.

Reminder before @marshall gets in this thread: the vast majority of teams are not at the point where $200 of motor controllers puts them over the BOM cost limit.


At least we know about it in advance!

Edited to add:

An extra $200 would have put our team over the limit last year.


When you know a thread is about to get good.


Life’s not fair and this program isn’t equitable.

I’m tired of arguing with people at HQ about the BOM and CAWst. At this point, it’s on them to fix this broken system as far as I’m concerned. They’ve left gaps in it large enough to drive a SHIELD Helicarrier through.

Everyone keeps telling me to sit down and SHUT UP* about the BOM. I’m happy to oblige.

*I was kindly asked to edit this so I did.


Even if life isn’t fair and FIRST doesn’t want to try to be equitable.

it also makes those parts at way more of a premium. Now in FIRST Choice, I want to choose motors and motor controllers that I think I want to put on the robot - even if I already have perfectly good ones in our shop already. So it goes high on my priority list, even though I don’t really have a need for it, just because I dont know what our BOM will be and how much overhead we have.

Before, I could prioritize things for a practice bot or backup (like a PDP, PCM, whatever), or tools that may be useful to have around that we may not have (multimeter, snips, etc). Pneumatic fittings now also have no real value/benefit to being in the FC either…most of them you can find for under the $5 limit (and I’d be willing to bet a lot of teams don’t do a real good job of capturing that stuff anyway).

An improvement from last year in that we know about it, but overall still something that’s easy for HQ to address


I wonder if a partial solution could be to allow teams to leave 500 (or however many you get) FIRST Choice credits worth of items off of the BOM regardless of whether you actually got them off of FIRST Choice or not.

Or they could just exempt explicitly legal* motors and controllers like IMUs will be next year since that’s kind of the main thing affected.


By “explicitly legal”, I mean ones that are specifically mentioned in the manual, so no computer fans or servos.


We are very concerned about coming close to the BOM limit. That is why we are asking. We just ran some quick numbers on our test bot with swerve modules and limelight is at $3068. This is with no manipulators of any type.

Depending on the luck of the draw it would appear a team like us, could possible be forced to forego using the swerve modules we just purchased, and come up with different solutions.


or: FIRST Choice doesn’t affect the BOM/CAW

Why complicate something that’s already impractical to enforce?


I appreciate your contribution to the BOM and CAW issue. Your comments from last year are what got us even thinking about the BOM early this year. We are concerned about hitting the upper limit for the first time, and we are being proactive in staying below the magic number.


Or a cookie.


That’s $2,000 of headroom to score points. I don’t know the BOM of our scoring mechanism last year definitively, but it was solidly in the three figures including the two SRXs/encoder/solenoid and captaining playoff alliances.

You might have to make some design choices to make it all work, but that’s part of the engineering experience.

Rolls eyes


Cost is most definitely a factor in engineering in industry. Why should it not be a factor when designing FRC robots?

The current rules at least are more internally consistent than they used to be (previous year rules like unlimited quantities of anything in the KOP were way too permissive). It’s basically whatever is in the KOP + $5K now. Yes, it favors teams who machine stuff themselves out of raw material over those who buy COTS equivalents, but I can see the argument for that.

The fact it includes just what actually goes on the robot, and not any other team costs, practice robots, etc, is that essentially matches the common industry design constraint for produced goods: it’s the material costs of the end item (deliverable) product, excluding labor.


Don’t forget that your IMU (NavX, Pigeon, etc…) is exempt this year. If you have opted out of the KOP drive base you will get a $450 AndyMark voucher. Also REV usually does a $40 voucher. Parts purchased with the vouchers should be BOM exempt.


With all due respect, the process of selecting parts that you don’t need from First Choice in order to effectively increase your maximum budget compared to other combinations of FC and non-FC parts seems a lot closer to accountants cooking the books than it does engineers sticking to a budget.

The rules are the rules and I’ll be sure to follow them, but at no point am I going to say that FC’s interaction with the robot budget rules as they currently stand aren’t silly or are the best set of rules for FRC.
Parts sourced from FC shouldn’t be treated special because they were given out under the table.


All I know is that I hope I get one of these…
Train Wheels 3’OD

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We definitely plan on utilizing all the vouchers we can. We would rather use the vouchers on things we don’t have, rather than having to re-purchase items we already have so we can stay under the BOM limit, but that is the rules we have to live under.


We definitely understand having to make design choices based on the budget. It just seems odd to me that what the actual budget each team has to deal with is based upon a random number generator. It may only be a $200 difference, but money is still money.


FRC participants understand budgeting innately, Peter. They adhere to a time limit, a size limit, a weight limit, a power limit, a motor limit, and yes, a cost limit. In fact, I believe FRC participants are largely excellent stewards of limited financial resources-- for this skill is required to make this incredibly expensive program work. What we are talking about here is whether it is right for FIRST to establish rules that encourage teams to game the FIRST Choice system to marginally increase their competitiveness-- is this the kind of prep for entry into real-world industry that we wish FIRST to provide for students?