Playing 2021 off-season without signing up for 2021 regular season

We are exploring options about how to possibly compete for next season.

Could a team play in the offseason, if we do not sign up for the regular season? Would we lose access to the Driver Station software and lose the ability to connect to a field in off-season events because of software updates?

Our hope is that FRC will have a 2021 season, and we can raise the funds to compete in 2 regionals as we have in the past, or in at least 1 event. However, we are being realistic about what the future economy may be, and we want to know what other options may be available. We are very concerned about the viability of our program for the coming season and the future.

I expect many teams are thinking about some of the same issues as us. For background, 2021 would be our 4th year. We are a community-based team in an impoverished rural area. The 3 local schools that we recruit from, do not have any excess budget to assist with our program. Our local manufacturing base is close to nothing. We have been successful in the past getting sponsorships from many of our local businesses. However, many of these local businesses will be lucky to be in business next fall, and will unlikely be able to assist for next season. The families involved in the program have also contributed money, allowing us to pay registration fees and build robots. However, some of our donors/parents are leery about paying for registration fees for next season, when the possibility that a 2nd/3rd wave of cancellations may occur. The experience of paying non-refundable registration fees for a cancelled event is still fresh in everyone’s minds.

We have looked at the possibility of switching to FTC, but a program that runs primarily in the fall is not a good solution for our current group of students and mentors.


I am not up on the software licensing side.

However, we did have a team that took 2019 off compete at SCRIW in 2019. Because our event was syncing with FMS, and because they were not official in 2019, they had to use a 999X number instead of their permanent number. I’m pretty sure their bumpers (recycled from the 2018 robot) still had the permanent number.

In terms of competing at an offseason, it depends on the event – if you have a specific offseason event in mind, I’d suggest contacting the organizers to see if they would allow teams in your situation to compete. That being said, you would not lose the ability to connect to an offseason field. It is common to see pre-rookie teams compete in offseason events using 999X numbers.

It’s going to depend on the event, but I suspect most events with space will happily grab you and yank you in if you let them know you’re interested.

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With the exception of the big invitationals (IRI, CC, TRI, etc.) most off-seasons will happily let you compete. If teams can compete under 9### numbers, then you should be able to compete too. Worst case scenario is that you need to borrow some stuff from another team to get set up, but luckily FRC teams are always willing to help.

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We’ve had a number of upcoming rookie teams compete at off-season events using a veteran teams practice robot. So it’s definitely possible to do. You’ll want to contact the event organizers directly, though, as they are ultimately the gatekeepers.

Its a crazy world right now and its hard to plan things out for sure. Assuming thing will get more normal you might consider coming down to Arkansas and the Ozark Mtn Brawl in September. It is a great off season event. Last year we took 2 robots and was given a 9000 number for the second so I am sure it would not be a problem. You guys had a great robot in Little Rock in 2019 and would have a great time at OMB.

You should not lose access to the driver station software. However, I believe you will not be able to use LabView (not sure if this is applicable).

The loss of Labview would make this a much tougher decision. We are currently a Labview team, and it would likely be difficult to find a C++/Java/Python mentor locally to help teach those languages. Thanks for the insight.

If you do decide to switch to C++ or Java, feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions. (I don’t know much about Python)

From what I know all of the Game Tools are publicly released by National Instruments meaning you should be able to install the radio config tool, the RoboRio imaging tool, and the Driver Station at any time from season to season (assuming this system isn’t changed from the last time i worked with this). But your access to the Labview development environment, and many of its perks will end after the current evaluation (typically is a 1 year license if received from the VKOP) is finished and you will be unable to receive the Labview license from the Virtual KOP if you’re not registered. So no, as long as you keep your software up-to-date and configure your radio at the event for the FMS, you shouldn’t have an issue connecting to the field and playing in the off-season.

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You could ask another team that doesn’t use labview for their labview key. As long as they don’t use it while installing the game tools package, you should be able to use it just fine.


^^^. This exactly. There are some teams that open their kit of parts and throw their LabView license in the trash.

I guess another downside of not being signed up for a regular season event is that you don’t get your kit of parts (I think), but I’m guessing you already realized that.

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Not sure if using another team’s license is allowable under the licensing. We will need to read through the documentation before we would be able to go that route

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