New member, new team, questions.

OK, soo, i find this forums, this is the first year my schools done USFIRST, and i have some questions.

First, i see all these teams here that have already built, or almost built, their robots. I was told that the ship us parts in January and then we have like 3 months or so to build it from those parts - are you allowed to recycle robots from lats year? are we hopelessly behind? please set me straight.

Our teacher/team coach/ MIT-grad-who-knows-his-stuff is also new, but he said that, as he understands, we can only use parts that come in the big kit, or that we purchase through a US FIRST supplier (THE supplier?), but i hear teams talking of using file cards as added traction on their robots, and I’m wondering how stictly we must stick to that, or expect other teams too. Are note cards legal? will they be?

This last one is about cost. We recieved a 7000 doller grant from NASA, as about 2/3 of everyone else did, and, as I understand, 6000 of that went to USFIRST to enter the contest, pay for EDURobot and the box of stuff they send us. The other 1000 can be used for extra parts. what did other people spend on their robots above and beyond the 6000 doller initial fee. I am wondering if I should begin calling local companies for grants. Help and answers are much appreciated.

sidequestion: does a team of highschoolers, mostly Juniors, a few senriors, and one freshman, maybe 10 of us in all, have any chance of building a winning robot in 3 months? Hell, i can’t remember if its months or weeks, but i hope its months.

Anyway, thank you all for your time, and remember, its in your own self intrest to help us, in case you wind up allied with us . . . . . . . . . . .

speaking of which, i watched the videos of last years competition, which involved big upright goals, with robots putting balls in them and trying to push them down to their oponents end of the feild. I also understand we don’t find out what we do this year until the ship us the parts . … . . am i right, or is it going to be the goal thing again. If everyone knows the task 'cept us, we should probably get going on design.

Again, Thank you all.

-Frank (Aflak is just a nickname . . . sounds like my last name sorta)

First, i see all these teams here that have already built, or almost built, their robots.
You are probably looking at robots from last year, no one has started this year (except for prototyping)

are you allowed to recycle robots from lats year? are we hopelessly behind? please set me straight.
NO and no, you cannot recycle robots or parts, and you are not hopelessly behind, once January rolls around you will be where everyone else is.

Our teacher/team coach/ MIT-grad-who-knows-his-stuff is also new, but he said that, as he understands, we can only use parts that come in the big kit, or that we purchase through a US FIRST supplier (THE supplier?), but i hear teams talking of using file cards as added traction on their robots, and I’m wondering how stictly we must stick to that, or expect other teams too. Are note cards legal? will they be?
You can use the parts that come in the kit in January and other materials that are included on the additonal materials list that you will recieve in january, restrictions etc. will be outlined at that time too.

any chance of building a winning robot in 3 months
I wouldnt worrying about making a winning robot your first year in FIRST, worrying about getting one done, if u complete that task you are truly a winner.

Hopefully someone else will add on to what i put.

:smiley:

Better Reply
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*Originally posted by Frank(Aflak) *
**OK, soo, i find this forums, this is the first year my schools done USFIRST, and i have some questions.

First, i see all these teams here that have already built, or almost built, their robots. I was told that the ship us parts in January and then we have like 3 months or so to build it from those parts - are you allowed to recycle robots from lats year? are we hopelessly behind? please set me straight.

Our teacher/team coach/ MIT-grad-who-knows-his-stuff is also new, but he said that, as he understands, we can only use parts that come in the big kit, or that we purchase through a US FIRST supplier (THE supplier?), but i hear teams talking of using file cards as added traction on their robots, and I’m wondering how stictly we must stick to that, or expect other teams too. Are note cards legal? will they be?

This last one is about cost. We recieved a 7000 doller grant from NASA, as about 2/3 of everyone else did, and, as I understand, 6000 of that went to USFIRST to enter the contest, pay for EDURobot and the box of stuff they send us. The other 1000 can be used for extra parts. what did other people spend on their robots above and beyond the 6000 doller initial fee. I am wondering if I should begin calling local companies for grants. Help and answers are much appreciated.

-Frank (Aflak is just a nickname . . . sounds like my last name sorta) **

1.) If your team is sending a team representative to a remote kickoff, or the Manchester kickoff itself, that person will be picking up a kit of parts at the kickoff event. In the event where you can’t send another to kickoffs, I believe you can arrange something with FIRST and have them send you the kit of parts.

2.) You have 6 weeks to build the robot, before you have to ship the robot to an desinated storage place on Feb. 17th or 18th.

3.) Things you are allowed to build your robot with: The innovation FIRST control system that came with the kit of parts, all the motors from the kit, and some structural material included in the kit as well as some small parts like gearing and shaft collars, etc. And you will get a list of addition hardware, where you can look up the allowed material you can use for your robot. It usually include “any kind of gears and sprockets, chain”, or like aluminum extrusion up to a cross section of 2" by 2", or limited size of timing belts, etc. You will have to look up that list for specifics parts you can use for next year when you get the kit. Finally, there might be a company FIRST allowed you to buy things from, such as the small parts inc. from past years (although they are no longer FIRST’s sponsor). And you are limited to a certain amount of money you can use at Small parts. The filing card Team 71 used last year are from small parts I believe.

The most important restriction for the robot is two things: a size limit, 2.5’ by 3’ by 5’ in the last two years (which they might change), and a 130 lbs limit.

4.) You can only use past year’s robot parts if FIRST allowes you to. For example, I believe old motors from old robots are ok, as long as you only use the limited number of them on the robot at a time, and that they are the exact same model. Otherwise, you may only use parts you manufacture DURING the 6 weeks and the allowed time after competition every year.

5.) You are allowed to raise as much money as possible for your team, for team traveling, spare parts budget, raw material, etc. There is no limit on that.

One more thing. Feel free to ask question on this forum. There are plenty of people willing to help. Its much different from other competitions where each teams are for themselves only.

Hope it helps.

-Ken L

*Originally posted by Frank(Aflak) *
**

This last one is about cost. We recieved a 7000 doller grant from NASA, as about 2/3 of everyone else did, and, as I understand, 6000 of that went to USFIRST to enter the contest, pay for EDURobot and the box of stuff they send us. The other 1000 can be used for extra parts. what did other people spend on their robots above and beyond the 6000 doller initial fee. I am wondering if I should begin calling local companies for grants. Help and answers are much appreciated.
**

I don’t think that many teams got NASA grants, mostly rookies and some 2nd year teams, (the list) . You proabably want to start contating some compaines, our team is rather big (50 students) and we are going to Midwest and The Championship, but we figure we need to raised about $50,000 (the more the better) to compete successfully this year, we have gotten $5000 from our school and figure aboout $20-25000 in corporate donations, and we’ll fundraise the rest (candy bars, pizza, etc…)…

And the build is about 6 weeks, :stuck_out_tongue:

*Originally posted by Frank(Aflak) *
**…but i hear teams talking of using file cards as added traction on their robots, and I’m wondering how stictly we must stick to that, or expect other teams too. Are note cards legal? will they be?
**

Just a clarification, as I have seen some confusion in recent posts regarding this…the “file cards” referred to as being used by Team 71 in 2002, more specifically, are wire cleaning brushes for your average wood/metal file. I didn’t get a real close up look at them, but I’m guessing something similar to the wire brush on this page:
http://www.engineeringfindings.com/cat22/cat22pg450.pdf

or perhaps the “file card and brush” seen here:
http://www.engineeringfindings.com/cat22/cat22pg398.pdf

well, in regards to your last question, about cost, i would be fundraising, or looking into grants. 7000 is hardly enough to run a team, and your kit of parts is pretty limited. My team has done over 25000 in fundraising for this year, and we have the money we get from GM too, and its still not quite enough. But, that is after all, a veteran team your comparing to. Weve been in this for 7 years, and it takes a little more to run a team like 68, good luck to you though.

Alex

*Originally posted by Frank(Aflak) *
**…

-Frank (Aflak is just a nickname . . . sounds like my last name sorta) **

http://www.usfirst.org/robotics/doc_updt.htm

I highly suggest you go to that site and study last year’s documents.

Other than the game, the documents change very little from year to year. Read them and you will be the master of the competition. You don’t necessarily have to memorize them. But, if you read them, you will know where to look when you have to look something up during the build.

Granted, when the new competition comes out a new rule book will be published, but it won’t change a whole lot. You’ll still want to read the new one.

There are many local kickoffs on Jan.4th which every team should be attending to 1) Find out what the game is and 2) pick up some of the kit of material. At some of the sites there are seminars scheduled to share information (cooperation and sharing experience are encouraged in the FIRST - by the way, it’s not US FIRST anymore since there are many fine teams from Canada, Brazil, England and other countries). Back to the seminars - You should see if the place you are going for the kickoff has a “Rookie Camp” - this is where a veteran team or teams will generally outline the “Do and Don’ts” to help the Rookie teams from going off and doing something that would be detrimental. Lastly, use our Forum to “Ask questions about whatever - but please check out the existing threads because once this thing gets rolling in January the sheer # of posts will astound you and we get many redundant or nearly redundant questions. As a service to “Just the Rookies” I’ll see if Brandon can add a Forum where Rookies can ask questions without them being intermingled and lost in the other threads - sort of a Place where Rookies can ask questions that Rookies always ask” - Have fun and Best of Luck this year!

Here at Georgia Tech, we are preparing the new Georgia rookie teams for the season and have put a lot of good information on our website. We had our Rookie training session last week, the presentation for that is also on the website. Please feel free to take a look at it at www.robojackets.org.

You would probably want to raise at least $2000 for robot building as well as travel money for the team. Teams also usually have some kind of uniform (t-shirts, etc) and have buttons to give away at the competition. These are things you can work on now, or after the robot is built. A rookie robot can be very competitive, just try to keep your design simple come January. Don’t try to do everything and you’ll be fine. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Good luck!

I know Nate said something about this but I’ll clarify a bit more.

The file cards aren’t something such as in a library shelf of cards. They are used to clean out metal files (to grind down pieces of metal). A note card wouldn’t improve traction, but I’m sure they are legal.

In the past, all games (except the very first one) have been played on a specific type of carpet. I don’t know a part number or anything but keep that in mind when thinking of ways to gain traction while you build. (i.e. note cards have a very flat surface and don’t mesh at all with carpet, therefore almost no traction other than the weight of your bot).

Read through in the ‘Technical’ forums here, you may get inspired

*Originally posted by meaubry *
**As a service to “Just the Rookies” I’ll see if Brandon can add a Forum where Rookies can ask questions without them being intermingled and lost in the other threads - sort of a Place where Rookies can ask questions that Rookies always ask" - Have fun and Best of Luck this year! **

That would be great for a lot of teams, not just rookie teams, but teams with rookie students. What you mentioned is kinda like my idea of making a question forum (which the WRRF web team will work on during christmas).

It would be great to have a sub forum or something just for rookie FIRST participants to ask whatever questions they have, no matter how silly they are. And once the question got answered, it would be closed so discussions won’t be clogging up that forum. If people choose to discuss the topic, then they can post a new thread in other forums and put a link to the original question.

One thing I am not sure about is if the answered questions should be moved to the appropiate forum, or all stay in the forum where people asked the questions. It would be easier for the person who asked to find his/her answer if they are all in one place.

Everyone here has been more than helpful, and i’m looking forward to building with your support, and possibly seeing many of you at the events.

Thanks

Frank

Also frank, look for teams in your area, try and get some mentors

906 NASA/The University of Missouri - Rolla Robotics Competition Team & Rolla High School Rolla, MO USA

931 NASA/Emerson Electric/Ranken Technical College & Gateway Institute of Technology/Cleveland NJROTC St. Louis, MO USA

(taken from FIRST site, MO people willing to be mentors, I’m sure there are more also)

Ill mention that to our faculty guy, Rolla’s kinda far, but i think Ranken is this little tech school, the kind you see adds for on TV, in town. iiiinteresting.

I have no idea whom they are, I’m in Michigan, just grabbed their info from USFIRST.org

we have spent about $16,000 on regionals soo far (we are attending 3). and we have only bought some simple parts so far like wheels and stuff like that.

have no fear… you will do fine… maybe you will win Rookie All-Star?!? as for money… $7,000 wont get you far… like 222 we are going to three regionals… Chesapeake, Philly, the Rutgers one… we also want to go to nats… most rookie teams arent the greatest but some have good ideas… just work your hardest, be proud of what you did, learn something, and have fun because that is what FIRST is all about.

We are going to philly rutgers and Arizona.

Don’t fear, you’ll do fine. You’re NOT behind. Teams have NOT built their robots for THIS year’s contest yet. They can’t, and the rules don’t let them reuse their old robots. The Game is DIFFERENT each year, and a small team CAN make a winning robot. My last rookie team WON our very first contest with 12 kids and a PLYWOOD robot!

FYI, this is the second rookie team I’ve formed in the two years. I’m a FIRST nut who’s determined to have a FIRST/FLL team at EVERY local HS/JHS. (Year Two of my 10 Year Plan.)

You can’t reuse kit parts if they’re not in this year’s kit. Same P/N parts can’t exceed the # allowed. For motors, that’s equals the # in the kit. No advantage.

Teams simply consider the old kits’ identical parts “spares”. Some DO use their old robots & kit parts to cheaply make a second “practice” robot for drivers training after their main robot has been shipped.

The kit is QUITE extensive, and has ALL of the allowed motors, computers, etc… That levels the playing field. You’ll receive several stackable storage CRATES full of parts. The six week limit on time keeps major corporations from “tooling up” TOO much.

You WILL “learn” from each contest. Many teams refine tech between years (ie drivetrain, gearboxes, grippers) but rules state you MUST build EVERYTHING on the robot DURING the six weeks of the current contest. Therefore, ANYTHING you make NOW is a “prototype”, and must be REMADE after Jan 4, 2003.

Pay CLOSE attention to the Additional Hardware List (AHL)! It’s the list of “extra stuff” you may add. It is mostly “stock” parts like “plywood, aluminum, pipe”, etc…, but there are some interesting items on it.

Machining however is UNLIMITED. Some teams go nuts with basic AHL stock, making car transmissions out of a raw block of metal, vectoring drives, or Transformer ™ Robots! :smiley: AVOID COMPLEXITY in year one! FIRST stated that “this year, we’ll include ENOUGH stuff in the kit to make a drivetrain in FOUR DAYS”. DO THAT.

My advice for year one: KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid. Simple=Reliable! Get a drivetrain up FAST. Avoid gear shifters and “vector drives” at first. IMHO, these “funny drivetrains” cause most of the field failures I’ve seen. Instead, pick one gear ratio or make it “pit changeable”. Focus on “payload” (game) devices and driver practice. You MUST have practice time!

My best advice echos others: Download last year’s rules and STUDY THEM. Many things are VERY stable, like the motors, the controls, general safety rules, the batteries, and even the “Qualification vs Final Elimination” format.

<< MONEY >>

There are only a few things that REALLY cost you:

  1. FEES: 1st Regional(or Nats)=$5K. EACH additional=$4K. BTW, a NASA grant is $6K, not $7K. $5K for one NASA sponsored regional, and $1K for the robot or other expenses.

Unless you have a GENEROUS sponsor, I recommend finding one additional MAJOR ($5K) sponsor for each additional regional. That equals a regional and $1K more toward the robot per added sponsor. Add ANY >= $5000 sponsor to your Team Name!

IMHO, TWO Regionals = a Good Year. The VERY first Regional is “debugging”. By Regional Two, you’re cruising well! A NASA grant, and one more “Major” sponsor, and you’re all set.

Beyond two regionals, it gets tough. It gets costly (travel & robot ship), & not EVERYONE can afford THAT much time away from school or job. Given more “major cash” sponsors, IMO build a better bot, pay for travel, and SAVE SOME for next fall, vs Regional #3.

Q#1: “Go to Nats??” IMHO, IF cash is tight & Nats are FAR away, you’re best to avoid it in Year One. It can easily DOUBLE a small team’s annual budget, and can break you shooting for it. Figure $1K/person. Build the team this year, THEN shoot for Nats. We’re an “odd” team which could attend Nats, but we’re NOT trying THIS time. (If by some miracle we WIN a Regional our first time out, :eek: then we’ll worry about where the money will come from!)

My recommendation for a Regional #3 or Nat replacement: One or more local “Repeat” contests! Many high schools in an area hold CHEAP after season one-day Saturday meets with the current year’s robot and contest rules. Hey, we all have the bot, so let’s PLAY!!

Repeats are FUN, VERY similar to a Regional, and cost about $400 per event vs $4000! You can STRONGLY stretch a team’s annual budget with them. You get PLAY time at about 1/10 the cost, and NO hotel bills!

  1. Robot building: Cost is HIGHLY dependent on complexity, and the kind of manufacturing technologies on hand. You’ll need a couple of grand MINIMUM (more if building a workshop for the first time and need “basic materials” like boxes of screws), and currently the sky’s the limit for $$ (size, weight & AHL govern). If your sponsor(s) include machine shops, you’ll probably make a metal robot. If your sponsor is a lumber yard or a plastics house, gee… guess what a lot of your robot will be made out of? USE YOUR LOCAL RESOURCES AND TALENTS.

MANY teams have shifted to “Structural Aluminum” systems for their frames (8020, Bosch, IPS, and similar). Search here for threads about them for more info. They’re a modular shelving material that looks like an “X” on the end. It allows you to make a robot with a cutoff saw, drill, screwdriver, and standard nuts and bolts. It’s not light per unit length, so be VERY careful about weight. Advantages: It is VERY STRONG, EASY to work with, and FAST to change!

Stretch your building budget: Collect a LOT of local “material sponsors”. Go to local hardware stores, lumber yards, plastic houses, a home building electrical supply, a carpet store, (etc.) and ask STORE CREDIT and SCRAPS. About $200-500 is the right amount to shoot for per business. This gives you a “walk in” situation for parts WITHOUT knowing WHAT you need up front. It costs the business a FRACTION of what they can write off for tax purposes (they write off Retail Value). Schools are Government Entities so, donations are FULLY tax deductible. Give them your school’s Tax ID number and you even eliminate the Sales Tax! A GREAT deal for everyone involved. Put their name(s) on the back of your team shirts, invite them all to your end of year “Team and Sponsor” Party, and present them with a frame-able certificate for their support.

We built TWO robots last year on a few grand in cash and about 20 of these little donations!

  1. Travel costs. A BIG one. If there’s a “local” regional, GRAB IT. If you’re attempting two regionals, that cuts travel costs in HALF. Vanpool if possible vs flying. Sardine yourselves in rooms at away games. Get a nearby dive. You just need SLEEP. You’ll be busy at the contest site during the day and the Team Party at night, and won’t be AT that expensive four star hotel! :slight_smile:

Our team separates the Local Regional (for us: GLR) and Away Games. We have a Travel Team for any Away Game, whose size is variable.

The way our team works it this year: “All student fundraising gives a 50% credit toward your PERSONAL Away Game travel fund. Raise $1 for the team (net), and you get $.50 credit toward travel costs IF you go to an Away Game. Therefore, if you raise enough team bucks, you go FOR FREE. If not, and wish to join the “traveling team”, you may do so by paying the remainder of your own travel, hotel, and food.”

This is not a problem for the team to pay for, since they raised the money FOR you! It is quite a motivator, too! This places the size of the Travel Team SOLELY on the motivation of the students! The more they raise, the better the robot we can make, and the larger the Traveling Team. Note if you have TWO “Away Games”, the traveling team might NOT be the same! We’re only going to one Away Game THIS year, but our rule is that the “Top Fundraisers get FIRST PICK of WHICH game they’ll attend, in order of fundraising, until all teams are filled out.” Next we backfill the traveling teams, then add ALL self funded members. This spreads the fun around to more students.

  1. Team shirts, paraphernalia… My advice: Go for a Material Sponsor for them. Many teams simply make buttons to trade, and you can make your own shirts if necessary.

Last year, my rookie team couldn’t get a sponsor for the shirts. So, we did the shirts VERY cheaply. We obtained a donation of new white T-shirts, and bought a few K-mart sale packs as well to supplement them. We then dyed them all with Rit Dye, worked up the art work on the school’s computers, and silk screen printed them in the school’s Graphics Arts lab. The Adults had polo shirts while the students had T-shirts. We even made two different colored shirts for EACH member, so the team wore different colors on different competition days! Worked GREAT.

Our trading item for the regionals (a “hand clapper”) was a donation, and students used Sharpies to add our team number to them. There are MANY ways for a creative team to mass produce cheap swap items for trade. Get an Art Teacher involved. THEY’ll know what to do!

General Advice:

  1. Make SURE you THANK your sponsors at the end of year. A party is only one good way to do it.

  2. There are a LOT of grants out there. READ THEIR SUBMISSION RULES. It tells you a LOT about HOW to approach them, and WHEN to submit the application.

Example: MOST grants do NOT wish to pay for “fees”, but WILL pay for “educational materials”. So, in that case you wouldn’t say “your money will pay a contest fee where by the way we’re sending a bunch of kids to Houston to Party”. Instead, your application should talk about how “your $5000 grant will be used to purchase a reusable Robot Parts Kit, and Educational CAD, Animation, & Office Software to assist teaching our students about robotics and project management”. (You keep the kits, and they can be used for classes… Got it? )

If you have other questions, feel free to ask!

  • Keith

MAJOR PROPS to the first obsessed man above… (not like thats a bad thing…) he really knows his stuff. print out that post and save it. it could be real useful.