Musings from a FIRST Inspector

Now that we are almost done with the bulild season I would like to put forth some information about when you get to your regional(s) and need your robot inspected.

  1. Have your BOM (Bill of Material) ready in a hard copy format. There is no guarantee that someone will be able to print one for you from your jump drive.

  2. Leave the bumpers off when you get your robot sized. It’s a real mess when you have a team removing their bumpers, in the inspection area, and other teams are trying to get their robot inspected. Some regionals don’t have allot of room for this (ie BMR)

  3. Please have only two students interact with the inspectors. It’s alright if the team wants to watch, but please do it from a short distance away. It’s hard for an inspector to ask questions, about the robot, and four people answer.

  4. Make sure there are NO sharp corners, protruding screws etc on your robot. I don’t like to see blood, especially my own :ahh: :smiley:

  5. Don’t wait until the last minute to get your robot inspected.

The inspectors are here to help you enjoy your FIRST experience and we are not out to pick on you.

If any other inspectors would like to add to this list. Feel free to comment.


Your BMR Inspector

ps I can’t be bought, but I can be rented :smiley:

From a 6th year veteran, I would like to second this good advice.

We will be pushing you to get inspected way before that! And please, make sure you have all that you need to have on the robot for inspection! i.e. Legal Flagholder w/ PWM, Rockwell Distro blocks, Team LED, a tether cable for power up testing, two guages and the KOP regulator if you use pneumatics, school name and team number on four sides, and nothing that tastes bad, smells bad, messes the carpet or glows in the dark.
Another BMR, MWR, MNR, Championship inspector.

This is Excellent. This list should be included in the manual with the Robot Checklist. Or all regionals should have copies given to the teams as Highly Recommended reading. Thanks for putting this together. It’s all simple stuff but having the bumper off alone could save a LOT of valuable time, and Frankly, I hadn’t thought of that!


(You can be rented? How much?)

I would also advocate that you walk through the Inspection Checklist section of the manual for practice. Have one of the mentors or more veteran students play the role of the inspector. Take turns with different students answering the inspection questions.

Do this today. Do it again in a few days. Do it again a few days after that. With my rookie team this year, we’ve gone through it about once per week, with the robot in whatever state it happens to be in.

A lot of teams will be attending some sort of pre-ship scrimmage. It would be great if someone at each of these events could set up a robot inspection station and walk through the inspection checklist with each and every team. Most teams probably won’t “pass” at this stage, but it would be good to at least know what areas they should work on, especially if there’s something big they forgot.

Team 1501 (my team) will be attending the scrimmage at Ball State U put on by Team 1720. I will be happy to go over any robot that attends.

Wayne, can we rent you to help with inspections in St. Louis? :slight_smile:

All of your points are great advice. My favorite robot is the one that breezes through inspection because the team is prepared and everything is tidy.

This year, inspectors will be looking carefully for sharp edges, corners, points, or anything that might pop a trackball (or draw blood :eek: ).

We will see you there Wayne, but don’t look to close yet :slight_smile:

All of the aforementioned inspection notes and musings are great. I don’t want to feel left out so here is my partial list. (Yes, that means I will be posting more later.)

And to reiterate Wayne…Please have you BOM printed out. (Major pet peeve of mine.)

  1. <R04> Leading edges of lifting devices, forks, grapplers etc shall by not less than 1 in sq.

  2. <R05> 1/8" radius minimum on points and corners and .030 minimum radii on all contact point with the Trackball.

  3. <R08> 6” minimum section of bumpers

  4. <R14> and <R15> school name, number and primary sponsor must be visible on all sides. Number 4” in tall ¾’ stroke.

  5. <R16> 80” rule……enough said. Look it up.

  6. <R17> Flag holder to be 51” from floor, ½" PVC, capped, no holes.

  7. <R18> male PWM end w/in 4” of top.

  8. <R19> 0-8” from floor, frame to be w/in 10 degrees of vertical

  9. <R45> Circuit breakers must match KOP issue exactly.

  10. <R54> Please follow recommended color coding of wiring.

  11. <R58> Fisher Price p/n 00968-9015 only!!!

One last thing, Al said it earlier, we are here to help and make your tournament enjoyable. I enjoy inspecting and really enjoy the interaction with the students. Don’t forget your GP if we find something that needs attention. I’ll have mine.:smiley:

One minor point, the only thing that is required to be visible on all four sides is the team number.

Agreed, last year 330 didn’t have a single sponsor showing through the first minute and a half of every match, unless you could see in between our ramps. We passed inspection. We had team numbers in 8 places, though–one front, one back, three on each side (1 bumper, 1 outside of ramp, 1 inside of ramp)–to make sure we always had four numbers showing.

All our sponsors were on the inside of our folded-up ramps; they showed when we deployed.

I know that lighting holes are not allowed, but are we still ok to have holes for mounting? In the past we have had a 10mm hole in the side of the holder so that we could get to the bolt heads that held the flag holder to the frame.

<R17> [snip] The tube must not have any “lightening holes” or other
modifications other than mounting holes, paint, or other decorative
surface finishes.

Emphasis mine in both cases.

No Holes is relative. Mounting holes are permitted, but if you know what’s good for you, keep them smallish and to a minimum.



<R16> I take to mean that the robot must remain in the 80" cylinder at all times even though it is possible that a malfunctioning robot could exceed that. For example we have two arms that deploy. It they deployed together then it violates the rule. In proper operation they will deploy in sequence and not violate the rule. Does the inspector inspect for ‘worst case’ or do they leave that to the field scoring judge ?

Q. The Allen-Bradley gray, black, red distribution blocks - where does the 2 thin grey pieces go ? and are they necessary ? And why do the wires keep coming out of the block so stinking easily ? I don’t remember having this problem in the past.

I believe that they check for worst case and alert the refs if a robot might violate the rule. I think a Q&A said that.

The thin pieces go next to the center gray wall, IIRC. Not sure about the wires

To give some advice from the team/student’s perspective:

  1. Relax. Inspections are only stressful if you let them be. Remember, both you and your inspector are trying to enjoy the competition, not stress each other out. Tell an amusing anecdote or two if it helps (just don’t start on some bad “a blonde walks into a bar… ouch” type of jokes and stories).

  2. The scale is usually open for use for a lot of the day. So, the first thing you should do after uncrating your robot is to go weigh it. It makes for an unpleasant surprise if you discover at 5pm that you are over the weight limit. It doesn’t have to be part of an inspection or any sort of official weigh-in, just get an idea of where you stand.

  3. Partial inspections are your friend. Since there is only one sizing box, in my experience, a lot of time is wasted waiting to use it. Get weight/sizing done early and the rest should be a breeze. If you know your electronics won’t pass at the moment for some reason, go ahead and do the rest while you wait for the parts to fix the electricals. The same goes for just about anything. (Just don’t try to get a partial inspection when the incomplete subsystem poses a hazard to the inspector)

  4. Know the rules well and keep copies of relevant Q&A responses and the rulebook at hand. Everyone fears getting an incompetent (or just inexperienced, which can have the same result) inspector, and it does happen (usually pretty rarely though). Knowing the rules like the back of your hand is the most effective way to get through such an inspection.

The wires come out easy if you don’t strip them properly (5/8" insulation must be removed), insert them fully, and tighten the screw all the way.

If you do these 3 simple things, then the wires will stay in.

Thanks, that must be the problem. I think we are at 1/2" or a smidgen under. I’ll check it tomorrow.

And Yes, the FIRST Q&A clearly states that a robot that could physically exceed 80" can pass inspection but cannot do so during competition without penalty.

One side of the red and black blocks is open. The thin grey pieces go between the open side of each polarity grouping and the grey block that would end up next to it. The little plastic pegs on the corners of the thin grey piece will fit neatly into holes in the face of the red/black block.

Another thing… if the inspection station is open and ready, go and size & weigh your robot IMMEDIATELY after you take it out of the box. Sometimes your scale in the shop may not be the same as theirs, or your CAD modeling missed the placement of the flag holder and you are outside. Even if you are 100% certain you are good, or bad, see how you stack up with the REAL setup.

A little reason why… at RIT last year, we got there, found out our scale or theirs was 5lbs off… we shaved that, and just made it in under by the end of the day… and by end of the day, I mean we literally weighed our robot AS we were being thrown out the door… put it on the cart, and came back first thing the next morning. Friday morning, we all of a sudden were 3lb overweight again!! Luckily we ripped off the camera and a plastic panel and were legal, but it was crazy to see the calibration of the scale change that much over the course of a day!

And I’ve been an inspector before as well… let it be fun, let the kids use it as a time to really show off how much they have learned! I want to say that at least 75% of the inspectors are there to help you and can point you to other teams that can give you a hand if you need something, or will give suggestions on how to fix things.

Have fun & START EARLY!!!