PNW robotics teams, what'd you think of the district model?

Now that the championship is over, the PNW can look back at our first year of the district model with happy thoughts. We did it, and we didn’t blow anything up!

I personally think overall it was another great build season, 2910 had a blast at glacier peak and central. What do you guys are think? What kinks need to be worked out? What went well compared to last year?

I don’t like the 400 watt rule at all. I was also not expecting the number or plays we got so much stress for the drive teams. Other then that it was great i like it much better then the regional’s.

I’m not from the PNW, can you explain what this 400 watt rule is? I haven’t heard of a rule like that in MAR.

Each team is limited to drawing 400 watts at any given time during the qualifying district events. It is to save money.

The rule is in regard to power consumption in the pits. It really has little to do with money but rather more to do with available power at the smaller venues at the district level. Smaller venues like high schools have usually not been designed to have many circuits in their gym areas. This means that power must be brought in via external generators. District FirstWa volunteers did rent some hefty generators and brought in this power for pits. We were limited to this amount.

It usually meant that you could only be charging 2-3 batteries at a time in your pit. No large table top machines were allowed in pits. Battery driven power tools were fine but you needed to be careful about charging. It did limit pit displays that required lots of power

At DCMP we did not have this restriction.

Our team had to adapt and look at the way we used power during events
It actually was a pretty good teaching opportunity

We had no problems with the new set up.

Not entirely so,

After some concern from teams, the District actually got more expensive generators to alleviate some of the problem. This was before the season started. The ROOT of the problem is still the lack of power in these small venues.

I don’t see this changing next year even though the money has been spent this year to get started. At most events this did not appear to be a problem…if there were teams that had great issues with this we need to hear about them.
We did set up special charging stations at at least one event.

Teams have to learn that they need to use their larger power tools at home during the 6 hours of out of bag time. The other option is to use the machine shop that is provided

If teams had significant problems with the “400 watt rule”. They need to let the district know about them.

I really liked the district model. It allowed nearly all of the best teams to compete in one event. The volunteers and PNW planning group did a great job to put on the district championship and district events. One interesting thing I noticed is that even though there were many great teams in the PNW, some of the best teams did not make it into elimination rounds. I would have liked to see more of the best teams in eliminations. Despite this, congratulations to all the teams at the district championship! And congratulations to all the teams in elimination rounds. And great job 1318, 1983, and 2907 for being district champions!

I think the district model is absolutely amazing. The districts filtered only the best teams into the championship, which made it one of the most exciting events I have ever seen. The eliminations was unbelivable, and they were all really close matches, where every alliance at least had a chance to win. And then we get to send the best 24 teams from the PNW to worlds. The PNW is going to be very well represented at worlds, and we have some teams that could go pretty far.

Congradulations to 1318, 1983 and 2907 on winning the championship. You guys were really tough, and it was an honor to face you guys. You guys played amazingly, and made for some great finals matches.

Hopefully we can see you guys at worlds

Go Pacific NorthWest!!!

It was not a significant problem, more of a minor nuisance. As I understand it, this is only a PNW rule, correct? I have never heard of Michigan, MAR or NE implementing it. All Districts hold events in small venues, does the PNW just install fewer circuits in their high school gyms than other parts of the country?

With 4 batteries, 2 chargers, and the short district turn-arounds, we could not put a fully charged battery of our own in our robot every match. Luckily everyone else was smarter than us and had extra batteries. :o

FiM does not have this rule. FiM brings a large generator (not sure if owned or rented) to each event. This powers almost everything at the event. Not much is run of of the school’s circuits.

From what I heard, it wasn’t actually the generators that were causing the power issues. They had plenty of power. The problem was the spider boxes that split the output from the generator. They were too expensive to buy more, which made it so 5 teams had to split one 20A fused output from the spider box. If they had more spider boxes and used less teams per output that restriction could go away. Because I remember hearing that they actually had to plug some big lights into the generator at one arena in order to actually draw enough power to keep it running.

I only made it out to the Mount Vernon district, but I was pretty impressed. Teams got lots of playing time at a venue closer to their homes and in a more compact, intimate venue. In a lot of ways it felt very much like the 2008 Seattle Regional in Tacoma, which was one of my favorites.

I can’t, however, begin to imagine the volunteer effort that went into making this work. To keep everything running for seven straight weekends… wow. Every bit of awesomeness was paid for by the sweat and lost sleep of the key volunteers.

As for the 400W power limit, I’ve often thought it would be interesting if FIRST put some kind of limitation on the total energy that a robot can consume in the course of an event. It would make energy management and monitoring and efficient gearing and design very important… and would make pushing matches very, very expensive. Right now batteries and electricity are pretty much viewed as an unlimited resource… it would be interesting to see the creative solutions that teams would come up with.

Anyway, I was only able to experience the event as a volunteer this year… but I would have loved to have had my old team taking part. The district system really seems to be rather awesome.


For our first district event at Oregon City we ran up against the charging limit big time. We go through a battery a match because our robot can only go at match speeds for 4 minutes off of a single battery ( 2 matches = 5 minutes). This meant with the higher number of matches, we ran through our 8 batteries quickly, and eliminations saw us run out in Semi’s. Luckily other team’s loaned us batteries (shout out to 997 and 847) and we survived Oregon City. For OSU we bought 2 more and switched our chargers to 6 amp to cope with the increased throughput that was required. Overall it worked well and we have no complaints, but more power would be nice because more chargers could be run, in turn allowing us to charge at 2 amps and increase the life of our batteries.

Perhaps a little device like the Kill a Watt would be handy in the pits.

They come in power bar format as well, so a team could intelligently manage their pit power consumption.


The format is completely exhausting. The two-and-a-half day district event format is great, but the championship was a bit too long, I thought.

The execution, though, was great. I was impressed with the quality of the events we attended this season. Thanks to all who made them happen.

Having been a mentor for a year under the regional model and now a rookie team coach under the district model, I definitely prefer the new format, despite the increased logistical load. Our season definitely feels a lot more “complete”. 3.5 days in Portland was indeed long and it made travel fairly challenging (we went from just needing the load in crew to needing the whole team on Wednesday night), but I love that the 12 qualification matches per-event carried over from the district events to the championships. For teams that don’t make DCMP Elims (us and 38 other teams), those extra matches really help to make the whole weekend feel like the grand spectacle that it deserves to be.

Thanks for a really good time at The PNW championship.
Congratulation to 1318, 1983 and 2907 you showed how working together for assist points maked the difference.
That said our team 4061 struggled at Portland we still finished 10th and will be at Worlds. I think that the PNW will be represented well in ST Louis.