PCs Jamming in scoring chutes on back of Power Port

During our one event this year (NC Pembroke District Qualifier), there were several issues with power cells getting stuck in the PC counting chute on the back side of the Power Port. In several cases, the power cells did not drop through the scoring light beams and were never counted in our score. This seemed to only happen on the red side of the field. Here is a screen shot from QF2-2 showing the power cells jammed up:

Pembroke Q2-2 2-11

In one match (Finals 1) the refs had to reach into the chute to get the power cells unjammed which, for some reason, ended up re-setting the score such that the score read 0 at the end of auto (the refs eventually fixed the scoring error and adjusted the score).

Several other teams at the event said that they had experienced the same issue (again, only on the red side of the field).

Has anyone else experienced this issue?

Since it looks like we will be using the same field next year, I wanted to share this issue so that if this is a common issue we can look at ways to fix it. If this is an issue with just the FNC field, that is also valuable to know.


If I recall correctly, I saw field staff on both sides of the field at either our week one or week two events here in ontario, equipped with what appeared to be a glorified broom stick. They would use said broomstick to agitate the PC’s when this would happen.


I believe there is a mechanism in the scoring chute that shuffles back and forth to try to help the balls find their way through. I’m assuming there is a motor in there to perform this motion. I wonder if we could re-design that system using the same motor to incorporate something along the lines of a spindexer (oriented vertically like a water wheel) without causing too big a tear up to the design. Or maybe a minor tweak to the existing system would be sufficient.

There is. IIRC, it looks like a PG gearmotor that’s driving a sweep arm to keep the Power Cells moving and send them through one port or the other.

If I’m not mistaken there’s a similar unit for the Low Goal. Inner Port doesn’t need one.

Return of the Pokey Pokey Guy!

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In ISR 2 (maybe in 1 too but I wasn’t there) there were a lot of instances where teams like 1690 and 3339 shot too fast and their balls got stuck in the inner port chute. IIRC, the field management guys used a poking stick to resolve the issue.

Inner port definitely needs a re-design. It got jammed up multiple times at LAN, resulting in what should have been inner goal scores becoming outer goal scores.


Inner port doesn’t have one, but it’s also the place where the largest number of jams happen, probably because it doesn’t have one.

The counter for the inner port is offset to one side, with a piece of lexan acting as a ramp towards that side (only a few inches across), and this area is where the jams happen. In order to get it unjammed, a field volunteer would need to reach up (with a stick) through the counter and poke the balls, causing the count to get screwed up. At my events, they ended up removing the ramp portions to provide access to poke at the balls without screwed up the count. It didn’t seem to impact the balls ability to go into the scoring box under normal circumstances, and having a dedicated field volunteer back there on each side during the matches resolved the issue completely.

The other areas, with agitators, have dedicated access slots for the poking stick, should a jam happen there, as I recall.

I saw this too, in the videos from both Wake and Pembroke. It wasn’t just the upper goal, either. I saw at least once where the same thing happened in the lower goal, also on the Red side of the field. You may well be on to something that can be looked at and fixed, since we have a lot more time to repair field elements before next season than we’d usually have (and, of course, we have actual field testing.) If you haven’t done so, maybe it’s time to bring this up with Marie (maybe during the MAB meeting on Monday?) and see what FIRST NC leadership thinks can be done. I’m sure there’s not much they can do right now with everything still shut down, but they know how the field is put together and can probably use the video to diagnose the problem and come up with a fix that can be implemented once we can access the field again.

To Michael’s and Jon’s point about the inner goal getting jammed and field staff having to reach up through the goal/counting mechanism to relieve the jam - there was an update to one of the Lexan pieces to provide an access hole for a field reset volunteer to reach in and relieve the jam. This allows the volunteer to relieve the jam without going through the counting mechanism.

And about the jams in the low/middle goal counting areas, there should have been a field reset person assigned to watch each end of the field and use a highly technically-termed “pokey stick” to relieve the jams. This role for field reset was in all of the training for the Field Supervisors.

Somewhat related, but I hope they introduce a ~3 second “dead” period after auton for balls to be counted and scored. It seemed like any team with a >3 ball auto ended up scoring in the last few seconds of auton, and the balls would pass the laser after the “double point” period was over, meaning all the hard work that was put in to score those for double points is not necessarily wasted, but the payoff is not what it should be.

Its like your boss promising to pay 150% if you work overtime, and you finish your overtime shift and you just get paid your normal hourly wage.

Thank you for this information.

I don’t think we had the update for the inner goal jams at our week 2 event as the ref ended up having to reach in through the scoring mechanism which caused our auton score to reset (zero out).

There was a field reset person behind the driver station area. I do not remember ever seeing them use the “pokey stick” (or ever seeing a stick at all), but I was not really watching that closely. However, for some unrelated reason many teams were having a lot of issues with their vision systems and there were a lot of PCs that were being shot over the wall. It seemed like the field reset people had their hands full chasing these errant PCs.

This feels like a problem that was discovered fairly late in the field development. It seems like they added the sweepers in an attempt to fix it, which I am sure helped, but did not completely eliminate the issue. So they implemented the pokey stick. Given that we now have another 9 months or so before the fields will be used for competition, I wonder if HQ would be open to exploring better solutions. Certainly, we have a unique opportunity where a) the field element is not being kept secret, b) we have a bunch of extremely gifted problem solvers to crowd source a solution from and c) we have the time.

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This “dead period” has been part of the rules since the game was released. See section 4.4.1 POWER PORT Scoring in the game manual. The wording was clarified in TU8 and the blue box added in TU10.

The final assessment of POWER CELLS scored in POWER PORTS is made five (5) seconds after the ARENA timer displays zero (0) following AUTO and TELEOP, respectively.

And a blue box clarifying:

POWER CELLS scored during the five (5) seconds after the ARENA timer displays zero
(0) following AUTO earn AUTO points and, if STAGE 1 has been ACTIVATED, count

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Wow, I must be blind. There seemed to be a few times at my event that balls weren’t counted as scored in auton, but they might have been jammed and had to be “poked” by the designated ball poker. Thanks for the clarification!

I think that you’re probably right that the jamming in the Power Ports were likely found later in the design/development process and so the sweeps and pokey sticks were added as “fixes” versus going through a whole redesign. I was only trying to point out that both of the jamming issues mentioned in the thread had remediation in place - the inner port modification was released during Week 1 and the pokey-stick person was in place prior to Week 0.

I’m sure that a redesign of at least part of the Power Ports is something that the talented engineering staff at HQ will be looking into over the next few months.

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