Luck is a Thing.

First of all, congrats to Roebling Champs: 973, 1011, 2928, & 5499. You won Worlds. You were a really great alliance that earned your way to Einstein and the Einstein Finals and then you won it all. Nicely done.

Second of all, my heart goes out to the Newton Champs: 118, 1678, 4188, & 5892. Bad breaks abound. You came so close. But for (fill in one of 10 possible things that went wrong here) you’d be World Champs.

Third of all, FIRST really should find radios that (A) are more tolerant of impacts* and (B) don’t take a third of the match to reboot/reconnect.

But let’s be clear. Luck is a huge part of the FIRST Robotics game. It plays a role in who becomes World Champions year after year.

Some examples:
1998 - My Team at the time, Chief Delphi, won all three regionals that year. They lost at the Nationals (as they were called then) due to opponent collusion that ended FIRST’s (1 vs. 1 vs 1) game format and pushed Dean & Co. to come up with Alliances and the Draft (you’re welcome).

**2000 **- Chief Delphi wins 2 of 3 regionals that year and is considered by many to be a strong contender to win it all. AND… in the first match of the Playoffs, their robot literally breaks in half due to a flaw that was easily addressed but went undiscovered until that moment.

**2002 **- Team Hammond (71) has the Beatty Beast, an amazing robot that grabs 3 goals and takes the whole match to crawl to a win. BUT… 469 is faster. If 469 plays them, Beatty will almost certainly lose. But 469 exits the tourney early because their partner dies just outside their home zone. Later, in the finals, the Beatty Beast drive system breaks (curse you Fisher Price transmissions!) but Lady Luck continues to shine on Team 71 as Rage Robotics (173) saves the Beatty Bacon.

**2010 **- 469 has broken the game (see what I did there :wink: Once they get a cycle going they are essentially unbeatable. Not only that but they are partnered with 1114 that year. It was a forgone conclusion that Las Guerillas would be World Champions… …until they switch fields to Einstein. Teams were not given time to tune their robots to the particulars of Einstein. 469’s cycling machine runs into problems. They averaged almost 20 points on Newton and only averaged 16 points on Einstein. No World Championship for 1114, 469 and 2041 that year.

**2015 **- Cheesy Poofs were amazing (as usual). Many thought they were going to coast to Einstein. Fate had another plan as an accident toppled most of their towers in a quarterfinal match, ending their chances of advancing to the semis. The World Champions that year, the Robonauts, were also amazing (also as usual) but they too needed luck to get there. They spent a whole semifinal match with a can precariously hanging from their Can Burglar. 118 ALMOST knocked down several stacks during that match. Any one of those stacks falling would have prevented them from making it to the Finals and we’d have a different championship alliance.

And the list goes on.

So… yeah. 118 and company got some bad breaks in Houston. I feel for them. And this is nothing new.


Same as it ever was…

Get of my lawn!

Dr. Joe J.

*Let me stop you before you start down the path of saying that FIRST Teams are to blame when their robots go down due to impact. If only teams did X, Y, and Z they would be just fine. STOP BLAMING TEAMS. FIRST is giving teams a crappy radio experience. Period. Full stop. With literally millions spent by FRC teams every year, FIRST owes it to teams to give them a robust radio solution. This is true even if the dead robot in the last match of Houston had nothing to do with the radio.

Or teams could take a note from combat robotics and shock-mount their radios :wink:

I put to you the proposition that the existing radios can, with quite easy and simple precautions, be made to be unaffected by some severe (>30G) impacts.

I mean, if one can drop an egg from 30 feet and not have it break…

You’re gonna have to chase me off your lawn now :stuck_out_tongue:

Definitely will be looking into this. Thought of something like this when watching the finals.

have any examples? Id look it up myself but the plane Wi-Fi has enough trouble for me to use CD

Agreed, it does play a role. Though, one cannot just hope for it.

Luck is when preparation meets opportunity… :wink:

This about sums up how we got our first event win. The rest of them sum up how we never won an event before this year, even with very reasonably-competitive robots.

I know that 195 always shock mounts their radio every year now after unfortunate incidents in 2014. Sure, it probably would help if every team shock-mounted their radios… but I find it interesting that even on Einstein Field, the cream of the crop of competition, teams continue to have issues. We need a solution that isn’t “teams should be doing this, or that.”

I agree with Dr. Joe that FIRST needs to stop giving teams such a crappy radio experience.

We need to change the currently existing system that isn’t so liable to issues every match, delaying competitions, and vulnerable to Wi-Fi interference. I’m sure everyone wants to have the field of play as level as possible for a fair competition. There is nothing that is more gut wrenching in FIRST than to see a robot stop moving in a match and the subsequent despair on the faces of its drivers. This is not inspiring at all.

I probably shouldn’t have highjacked my own thread by twisting the radio knife in FIRST’s back.

That said, even if shock-mounting is the answer, I blame FIRST for requiring 3000+ teams to have to discover this answer themselves rather than putting an appropriate shock mount in the KOP and requiring teams to use it.

This radio thing has been brewing for years and I am just tired of folks blaming the customer over and over. A LOT of teams that are really trying hard to avoid radio problems none the less end up with radio problems.

It shouldn’t fall on teams to have to fix this. This is a systemic problem that I think FIRST needs to put some money and people behind. Make it stop. Please.

Dr. Joe J.

Joe stop blaming FIRST for any possible thing that goes wrong during a match/season. Unless you are going to offer a solution you are only adding to the noise.

Shock mounting electronics in combat robots usually consists of covering the batteries and electronics in EPO foam. This probably wouldn’t suit an FRC robot as combat robots tend to be low profiel and compartmentalized with dead space in the middle unlike a FRC robot. This video is a good example

A few other lucky things I remember about the 2015 Einstein run:

  • 118 lost comms a few times over the whole experience
  • 2826 missed their autonomous 3 out of the 4 times we played them IIRC
  • We advanced to Einstein finals over 1114’s alliance by 4 or 5 points across all 3 semifinal matches, two more totes or a noodle would’ve won it for them. 1114 dropped a stack of totes at one point in the last semis match, which made the difference
  • We had dropped a few stacks throughout Newton (including one in our match with 118) due to issues with our tote stopper, but our jury-rigged fix held long enough to see us through Einstein.
  • We never had to see THE HARPOONS
  • 1678’s cangrabbers never missed (although they almost never missed to begin with) meaning we never went into a match without a can deficiency

I will be honest. You post takes a lot away from the teams that worked incredibly hard and became champions. Being down in the trenches when we won in 2010, I can confidently say that our victory was not just because of bad luck on 469,1114 and 2041. Sure they could have been better dialed in, but so could a lot of the other alliances, ours included. Sure 2041 fell into the goal… But we saw the strategic and advantage and shoved them in further before they could get out… Sure there is a component of luck, and I will say we have been lucky in the past and not so lucky as well. Just like any sport, FRC has a huge portion of luck. But to say that another alliance won just because of luck detracts from the incredible amount of effort the the winners went through.

Sent from my XT1254 using Tapatalk

One would hope that if enough noise is made - someone, somewhere, will be forced to listen.

Some of the instances in the Original Post are truly Luck - there is no way around that. No matter what could have been done, there was is no way these instances out. Sure, a different decision, a bit more time, a hair further or closer to the left, and outcomes may have changed.

With that being said - untimely fouls, especially those being called against (or in favor of) a team that cannot do anything to prevent them, and/or did nothing (consciously) to cause them is not bad luck - that’s a flaw in the game. This could be fixed - assuming someone were able to identify the flaw, some party somewhere accepts that the flaw is truly a flaw, then acts on this information to correct it. As History tells us, there does not seem to be a concerted effort to rule out these cases until they cause enough of a problem to require that they be addressed.

Regarding the Radio Issues - this is inexcusable. FIRST, at it’s core is about inspiration. There is nothing inspiring about watching a machine suddenly stop moving and remain motionless for a match due to a hit. Better yet, what about all of the teams who have had their spirits crushed due to a lost connection with the field, a radio reboot, or a connector suddenly coming unplugged?

Sure, some of this may fall within a team’s responsibility - yes it is good practice to shock isolate components, especially control system parts - but why leave this up to teams? Those who know will be proactive in preventing these issues from coming up, but what about those who don’t know?

I guess what I’m getting at here, is that there should be some degree of accountability placed on FIRST for the components they provide to teams and/or mandate that teams use. How often have we changed radios since 2009? How often has the “new” radio been promised to fix all of the issues of the old one?

As far as proposing a solution here, and not just adding to the noise - it seems fairly straightforward (at least on paper) - Partner with an Industry Expert who has experience in making ruggedized Wireless Controls and work towards making a radio with as few failure points as are reasonably possible.** A perfect example of a relatively simple change that have noticeable benefits with regard to on field reliability is to change out the Power Connector from a Barrel Type Connector to something with some provision to ensure mechanical retention. It still blows my mind that this hasn’t happened already, year in and year out, we all hear stories of teams who lost matches (events) because their radio became unplugged, which sort of brings up the question of why even provide a radio with a connection that could be unplugged inadvertently…

Alluding to industrial Controls Equipment and things of that nature, most of what I have worked with is extremely resilient considering the environmental conditions, and essentially foolproof when implemented correctly. If an Industrial / Commercial Off-Highway piece of equipment can run using the same control system for years with daily use and not have issues, I don’t understand how FRC robots can be so unreliable. Yes, there would be some cost associated with this - however, considering that FRC robots would not need equipment rated to the same Environmental Conditions (Unless we’re submerging robots - no, no Water Game) I would imagine that the units may not cost all that much relative to the performance gains.*

***Depending on the event, and a team’s specifics, a (Qualification) Match costs $200 - $600 - based on Entry Fee alone. Add in the costs associated with Traveling, Building the Robot, Attending the Event, Etc - and suddenly, you realize that a Single Match is worth A LOT of Money - relative to the cost of a “Better” radio. I would wager that a significant portion of teams would not paying 5 Times the Cost for a Radio that is essentially Guaranteed to “Just Work”.

I don’t think it takes anything away from anyone. Every alliance requires some amount of luck (or at a minimum lack of bad luck) to win at Championships. There’s only so much you can control your own destiny. Could you have won without that specific bit of luck? Sure. Would it have been much harder if 469 had been dialed in for the new field and 2041 didn’t get stuck in the goal? Absolutely. Did you have good luck at some other point prior to that which made it a little bit easier to get closer to winning the whole thing? Almost certainly.

I agree. FIRST saw there were problems with the cRIO, so they worked with a sponsor to design a custom processor for the robot (i.e. the roboRIO). I don’t see why they can’t do something similar with the radios.

I agree the Radios suck

How would EPO foam not help an FRC robot? If it can prevent shock loads of >5000N from shutting down a combat robot than surely to goodness it can help an FRC robot.

That would be cool but you need a name first. Ex The Connector, RoboRadio, FMS Connector

From what I’ve gathered, it doesn’t appear to be custom for FRC. It’s just a newer product from one of FIRST’s major suppliers.

The OpenMesh radios have been awful, but it’s likely that FIRST is in a contract with them, so we’ll be stuck with them until 2021 (if the contract is for 5 years like the one for the cRIO).