Our FTC season is only a bit longer than FRC season, so our teams begin competing tomorrow. Consequently, they start off a bit simpler than robots that show up later in the competition season.
The new material allowances gave the team an awesome chance to exercise our new sponsor some more and learn about sheet metal design – and how it important it can be to get things right the first time.
No video yet; my phone’s battery was dead last night. If I can make it to our first matches tonight, I’ll grab some video and put it up on our FRC team’s YouTube channel.
It works like you might expect; a simple-four bar (driven by a 67-esque lower four-bar) raises to the rings to any of the three scoring heights. It has PID control on the arm and drive for positioning.
The manipulator isn’t a claw; it’s more of a bucket. It slides up into the rings from below and pulls them away from the pegs to load. It can rotate forward to dump rings onto the pegs.
Yes – the arm is a 6-bar like those used by 67 and 148 in the past.
I wasn’t able to make it to the first league match on Friday night – I didn’t get done with work until they were nearly finished – so I couldn’t get any video. They are 6-0-0 at the moment with a high score of 240 pts., though, if that means anything useful.
While I think it’s awesome to see what the new rules allow for, and this robot is definitely impressive and a clear indicator of what can be done, I fear that it may result in a resource race that separates the haves from the have not further. One of the cool things I really liked about FTC/FLL is that the teams are required to all build from the exact same parts.
I’m more worried that FIRST’s “accessible” robotics program now requires a machine shop to be competitive. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again - what made FVC / FTC great was that you could build a world champion robot with a hacksaw and file. It was ALL about problem solving, prototyping, thinking, and hard work, without the massive divisions between haves and have-nots. I guess that’s not important now.
Sorry to detract from the thread - this is a beautiful robot and I can’t wait to see it progress as the season goes on. I bet the St. Louis version will inevitably be much, much different!
On the contrary, I believe the FTC rules allow more creativity while trading the TETRIX money sink for a Tools money sink where materials are concerned. This is due to the fact that TETRIX metal (and even VEX metal, to an extent) is so much more expensive than plain metal purchased in bulk. That’s a better investment for long-term sustainability of both the team and the program, IMO.
Student learning in FTC/FVC has always been about “which team(s) can do the most for a set of problems”. Teams who actively seek thousands of dollars in sponsorship for the robot are, and will always be, at a clear advantage to those which accept whatever sponsorship comes their way, regardless of whether a strict set of materials are used instead of open-ended materials.
Additionally, the open-ended materials will better encourage industry mentorship. (Anecdotal) I very much disliked mentoring VEX/FTC in '07/'08-'08/'09 due to the ‘puzzle piece’ nature of the competitions (yes I mentored both those years). The kids didn’t know any better – but I did, and having to learn ways to bang/cut/twist the puzzle pieces into submission was like pulling teeth when compared to the ability to design from scratch.
The Syzygy Bot exemplifies it all, and with great success it seems. I love the passive grip mechanism; the consultations with my FTC students have been somewhat fruitless in this regard. Perhaps the pictures/videos will push them over the edge to do it (because their complex designs still aren’t finished 2 weeks before competition…).
This. FTC5210 had a sheet metal sponsor (nothing fancy, they provide material and will do the cutting and bending by hand) last year as well but they couldn’t do a lot to help us due to material requirements. This year we have been able to save a fair bit of money by not purchasing Tetrix material.
I agree completely. I think 3231’s robot could have been made using the kit metal and parts, but it probably would have cost significantly more due to the price of the tetrix material.
The great thing is that an FTC team could probably buy a small inexpensive break and cut the sheet metal out themselves using a nice set of snips or a saw. This would arguably also better prepare your team’s members for the FRC build season because you are forcing them to use a design methodology that can apply directly to the following FRC build season.
I wish we could do more custom fabrication in the VEX competition. It would be a nice alternative to buying the high priced aluminum kits and would allow us to create some machines that stand out a little more.
By and large, I agree with Jesse as well. In my mind, the more flexible materials rules give FTC a chance to get out from beneath VRC’s shadow. The Vex components have always been more flexible and well-considered than anything that Tetrix offers and I think that’s evident in how successful each program has been. These new rules put FTC somewhere between VRC and FRC and make FTC more compelling for the subset of mentors (of which I am a member) that enjoy starting from nothing. There’s certainly merit in the flexibility an Erector-like kit affords, though.
For what it’s worth, a second of our three FTC teams - FTC4041 - built a robot that operates very similarly to the 3231 robot almost entirely from Tetrix components and is currently 2nd in the rankings for our league and just behind 3231.