paper: Stop the Stop Build

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Stop the Stop Build
by: Jim Zondag

This paper is an analytical summary of some of the many reasons why the FRC Stop Build process has negative impacts FIRST teams, and suggestions for potential improvements

This paper is an analytical summary of some of the many reasons why the FRC Stop Build process has negative impacts FIRST teams, and suggestions for potential improvements. Analytics from 2015 and 2016 were used from several sources. Trends outlined here have been more or less constant in the FRC since I began tracking these things back in 2005.

Stop_the_Stop_Build.pdf (416 KB)

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Teams, In response to the Stop Build survey circulated yesterday, I finished this paper I was already working on. In this paper I share some analytics on the realities of the Stop Build process and my opinions on possible future changes.

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I really hope you linked this at the end of your survey. If someone from FIRST reads through this we may actually have a chance in getting rid of this.

Jim, your 8 hours of unbag every week for every team would be the perfect first step. Thank you for your well thought out analysis.

It would indeed. I do feel like the hassle of dealing with bag forms and zip ties is going to cause enough chaos that it won’t be long before the bag goes pop though.

This is basically the ultimate paper regarding anything bag day.

Frank, we know you’re there.

Awesome paper, and love how many points of interest you touched based on with reasonable data points and comparisons. This could be a really good paper to share with many teams that believe that their season is only “6 weeks long”

A fantastic compromise. I am glad to see a take on this from one of the greatest FRC statisticians out there.

I have been very supportive of the retention of bag day for the reasons listed at the end of the paper. It is difficult with no data to support them, but they are very present and if they occur to the levels feared by some, though unlikely, would be detrimental to FRC.

After all things considered I cannot see any reason not to fully support this 8 hour per week period. It is about equal to one Thursday of work at an event, which is most of the time many teams are able to spend really WORKING on their robot.

Until there is a larger cultural shift in the community towards FRC as a sport it will be difficult to eliminate bag day, but adding hours to unbagging per year might be a good way to ease into that mindset, and help us bring the playing field up, and outsiders in.

Fantastic write up/proposal Jim.

Lots of people, my self included, have touted this type of info with out having the data and charts behind us to really show the truth for several years now. Hopefully this is something that Frank and the others at HQ see soon and implement for this coming year.

It isn’t anything that they would have to change on their end can just be an added rule to the rule book.

Really amazing work. Thanks.

I love that you specifically called out that “6 weeks is a myth.” It has been a myth for 2 decades.

I also love the data showing that basically a lot of teams are going to suck the first week they compete, whether that’s Week 1 or Week 5, they are going to have a bad weekend. And the longer they wait to complete, the badder that weekend is going to get because the rest of the field is making progress (by going to competitions).

The time has come. Let’s rip off the band-aide. End Stop Build Day. Let teams keep their robots for the full FIRST Season.

Will some teams build a completely new robot after Week 1? Sure maybe. But really, who cares? A lot of those teams will just put themselves into a deeper hole trying to copy Poofs or Symbotics or Robotnauts or whomever. They won’t discover the problems that are not obvious until it’s too late. And even if they are successful at knocking off one or two features from another team, I’d rather live in that world than the current world where so many teams bring less than functional robots to their first competition.

Dr. Joe J.

Awesome work. Thanks for putting this together!

My my attitudes have changed…

Excellent report. Thanks for putting forward such a strong argument Jim. Hopefully it helps sway FIRST’s decision.

The compromise solution presented here is brilliant, and is something that could be implemented immediately without any logistical changes on FIRST’s end. 8 hours of unbag time a week for all teams would be a huge improvement over the current system, and I suspect it would eliminate the need for practice robots for many mid tier teams. Upper level teams may still choose to build one, but the advantage gained over everyone else would be reduced.

Unbag time in your own shop is one of the biggest reasons District teams improve so rapidly and play at such a higher level. Give this advantage to everyone, every week, and everyone is satisfied. The people who want to rest, can rest, with just one or two meetings a week they can work on the robot tops. The people who want to work can carefully budget their time and use their competition robot extensively during the period after Stop Build.

If you are thinking Joe’s attitude has changed… I don’t know. I am not Joe. :]

I think the general idea of building a support robot for one of the elite teams. (Or having the elite team provide you a support bot to take to an event) is problematic. Not having a bag day will still make it problematic only more so.

No disrespect intended for 900 or the others involved in the topic of Joe’s post.

I suppose that’s the issue I’m getting at. Removing stop build in fact opens up new possibilities for teams to collaborate both at an event and prior to an event starting. Just a thought. :wink:


The only question I have with the compromise (and this applies to existing district rules) is: Doesn’t unbag time become an unlimited withholding allowance? What is stopping teams from tying a bunch of spare parts to the robot before re-bagging it? If that’s not really a concern, is there any point in keeping a 30lb withholding allowance?

Under current rules, District teams are suppose to respect the withholding allowance during the unbag time. Admittedly the only thing that keeps teams from unlimited spare parts is respect for the rules.

One advantage of district unbag is you are in your shop. You are allowed to fabricate unlimited amount of parts during the unbag window.

The withholding allowance rules also apply during unbag windows. You cannot introduce more than 30 pounds of non-COTS parts machined outside of the window, during the unbag window. You also get just one withholdling allowance for both the unbag window and the district event the same week as the window (District unbag times are tied to competing at events) - so it’s not like you can put 30 pounds on at the shop and 30 pounds more at the event.

You can introduce as many parts as you want that were machined during the unbag window, into the bag.