Part Restrictions

Hello everyone,
this is probably a weird time to post something like this with the competition just having ended however, as a rookie team member having just completed their first season some questions come to mind.

I’d like to start off by saying that i think what FIRST does is great. They’re obviously extremely generous, and despite the somewhat large budget required for a team, FIRST offers a lot of help and we definitely wouldn’t have been able to do it without their generous grants.

However, I am interested in some of the rules and aspects of the competition. For instance the parts restrictions seem to only stifle the creativity FIRST seems to otherwise promote. Yes, one could argue that by restricted the parts teams are allowed to use it forces them to really think and come up with something creative and unique, and that it may also be put in place to prevent the team with the largest budget and nicest parts from sweeping the rest of the competition. However i am somewhat disappointed that we are not allowed to use a wide variety of parts. Coming from a background in hobby robotics i saw many places where i could implement certain parts to aid in the operation of the robot, and make it less like a remote control toy.

I think it’s fair to say that one of the reasons FIRST has the part restrictions (and partnerships with companies like andymark) is based purely on economics reasons. Obviously without partners like andymark FIRST might not be able to provide the generous loans that it does however, one could see the monopolies FIRST has set up as reliant on economic reasons rather than restrictions forcing teams to be creative.

If anyone could offer more insight into why the restrictions they have are as such i would be very grateful. I’m sure i’m not the only one who was disappointed by the restrictions.

What parts are you referring to? I can’t really think of any time this season that I told myself “man, it would be awesome if I could use this part, too bad I can’t”… Electric solenoids? Other compressors?

I think it’s fair to say that one of the reasons FIRST has the part restrictions (and partnerships with companies like andymark) is based purely on economics reasons. Obviously without partners like andymark FIRST might not be able to provide the generous loans that it does however, one could see the monopolies FIRST has set up as reliant on economic reasons rather than restrictions forcing teams to be creative.

I think it’s the other way around. FIRST makes rules, AM sells rules compliant yet quality products all in one place, rather than FIRST making rules to help AM sell products.

IR/ ultrasonic sensors, additional touch sensors, pressure sensors, bluetooth modules (or other forms of wireless communication in addition to the gaming adapter to give the driver more feedback on the robot), Servos/ different motors, and other microcontrollers/ controllers in general. Originally i wanted to set up a circuit running in parallel with the CRIO that could micromanage different aspects of the cometition. For instance ball placement/ detection, aiming, detecting/ avoiding other robots, anything that would make the robot (since it is supposed to be a robot) “smarter”.

As for what you said about AM, i didn’t necessarily mean that FIRST designed the restrictions around the parts AM already made however, i think AM is the only site that sells a majority of chassis parts and whatnot (aren’t the pieces from the KOP all from andymark?). Additionally i think the only place where you can buy a lot of the electrical components is AM. I would just like to see the rules expanded so that different parts can be used. I just feel like FIRST has a lot of room to improve in terms of the robots. I feel that by allowing people to bring in knowledge from different fields they can greatly improve the overall quality of the game and robot.

You can use IR and Ultrasonic sensors, as well additional touch and pressure sensors.

There is a ton of bandwidth through the gaming adapter that you can use for additional feedback. Other micro controllers can be used in parallel with the cRIO, however the cRIO has plenty of processing power to handle all of those sensors.

The KOP chassis is from Andymark but you don’t need to use that chassis, you can make your own or if you can find one off the shelf you could use that.

Theonly real limits FIRST forces upon us is the motor limits, but that makes sense to me, with out these limits established and well funded teams could buy very high end motors that other teams can afford that would give thema big advantage. The motor limits even the playing field.

I guess I don’t understand your post.

IR sensors are legal. Ultrasonic sensors are legal. Touch sensors are legal. Pressure sensors are legal. Other microcontrollers used in conjunction with the Crio are legal (the crio and wireless requirements are there for safety reasons - FIRST needs to be able to KNOW they can kill your robot). Off-crio processors are legal. Custom circuits are legal.

Different motors? Why? Were the fisher prices and cims not powerful or fast enough? Your circuit would have been perfectly legal - as long as it fed in to the Crio.

The only thing I see in your post is the servo / motor changes and wireless.

The wireless is that way for very specific reasons: interference, troubleshooting… what single component gave FRC the biggest issue this year? 1 guess.

Did you fully saturate the data feedback to the driver? Considering that the basic dashboard feeds back every input and output on crio, plus streaming video at the same time, I’m not sure exactly what you would want that you couldn’t add in.

Can you be more specific on the shortcomings of the dashboard feedback, and the wireless data connection? Can you be more specific as to why you couldn’t feed your circuit back through the Crio?

i thought there were limits on the sensors? I also thought that you weren’t allowed to have additional controllers with the CRIO. The only reason i suggested a parallel controller would be to interface the sensors (idk how to hook them up to the cRIO). Are you allowed to have bluetooth or something in addition to the wifi (or some other form of wireless communication)?. I wouldn’t know how to add addtional data to the gaming adapter once it was connected to the cRIO. I honestly thought that they were restricted.

Sixis: Read the rules from the games in the 1990s, then tell me if you still think the current rules are restrictive on parts. Look at robots from that time and tell me if restrictions stifle creativity. The rules and pictures can be found in a number of places.

Also, you can get some equivalents of the things that you can get at AndyMark through VEXPro, which is a division of IFI.

There are NO restrictions on sensors, except for the $400 component limit and what they can connect to. The Digital Sidecar is a typical connection method. Oh, yeah: if the components fit the cost limit and you meet the connection limits, you could build a co-processor to help the cRIO.

:frowning: i’m gonna have to use a rookie card on this one. I plan on looking but while i’m here can anyone tell me what sort of connections the cRIO can take? Serial? i2c?

I also want to apologize for my confusion and seemingly pointless topic however, i was under the firm impression that there was a limit to additional sensors/ components in addition to having to connect them through the cRIO. Thank you guys for clearing it up for me

The cRIO can take anything coming in from the Digital Sidecar, or on the CAN bus (which is some relative of the i2c).

Analog through the Analog Breakout, I2C and General Purpose Digital I/O through the Digital Sidecar (Can use multiple of these to set up SPI)

You can also utilize the CAN bus through either Ethernet port 2 using the 2CAN or through the serial port using a Black Jaguar.

This is not really accurate, read up on CAN, it is at best a very very distant relative of i2c.

The cRIO can read analog and digital inputs, as well as i2c. There is also a serial connection on the cRIO but in the past FIRST has limited its use, of course rules don’t always carry from year to year.

I’ll give you a general overview of the '90s rules.

You were limited to the KOP, a certain amount of raw material, and $X from Small Parts Inc. The KOP contained such items as a cordless drill, a dot-matrix printer (1992), and some other stuff of that nature, depending on the year.

Exactly what the raw material amounts were and what the cool stuff for you to take apart was depended on the year. The rules opened up around 2000, IIRC, and then some more later.

Some of the restrictive language is designed to make you think harder to overcome problems that other disciplines face everyday. (weightlessness for one and high temps for another) You can run parallel processing under certain conditions and many teams actually do. This year’s game did not lend itself to as much of that as I have seen in the past. The output of the parallel processing can be very inventively ported through some of the digital inputs. The only restrictions that have and will remain is the need for all motor and power output devices to be controlled by the single main controller which this year is the Crio. This need revolves around the requirement to start and stop the robot under field control and to prevent any robot movement with a single command of the person in charge of the field. Bluetooth products may be used in the future but some controls will need to be added to prevent parallel operation which is not under field control. The size and weight, motor type and number, battery and control system all add to premise that all teams are forced to design around and for these added “virtual real world” problems. By doing so, teams are asked to design to a very strict list of problems in addition to the game. That actually adds to the creativity of the design rather than limit it. If you have any specific items that you don’t think you could have used, please ask here or PM me and I will let you know if they were possible. I can also forward your comments to interested parties.

Rookie Card granted.

A closer examination of the rules shows that there are few real restrictions. Those that are real exist for safety.

Of course, some of the restrictions are there to just [strike]make our lives difficult[/strike] force creativity.