Seems that manufactures cheeped out this year and made the noodles smaller. I can only seem to find the 2"-2.25" variety at the local Family Dollars. I did find larger near 2.75"-3" at Target but for $3.99 each. In the past we did order a pack off Amazon but they too were the smaller Diameter variant. I don’t like the look of bumpers made from the 2.3-2.5 sized noodles.
If we can’t find 2.5" noodles to cover the 5" wood with-out looking like a saggy bag of ugly then do we start to push the robot inspectors to alow 4.5" boards
R30. BUMPERS must be constructed as follows (see Figure 8-6):
A. be backed by ¾ in. (nominal) thick (~19mm) by 5 in. ± ½ in. (~127 mm ± 12.7 mm)
tall plywood or solid, robust wood.
has anyone ran 4.5" backed bumpers with or with out hassle?
Maybe I’m just used to over stuffed bumpers and will need to scale them down to the low end of tolerance.
The other thing I seem to be missing is labeling of the noodles as 2.5" nominal. In all cases so far I have seen no sizing just Mega(~3") or nothing(~2.25).
Try searching walmart.com for pool noodles. I found 2.3", 2.6", and 2.75" - I would guess most inspectors wouldn’t question any of those, if those are the true diameters. Out of the 51 results for that search, I could only find 1 product that was both “legal” (listed at 2.5" diameter, made of foam, etc) and reasonably priced (Not some “designer” pool noodle with a floral pattern for $30).
The only times I’ve made teams redo their bumpers because of the wood backing were:
only 4" tall
not 3/4" think (I’ve seen both 1/2" and 1")
Not long enough (“full length” bumpers that don’t make it to the corner, or corner bumpers that don’t extend the proper length down the side of the robot)
I’ve also had teams replace their pool noodles when they don’t provide proper coverage or have significant deformity - a 2 1/2" diameter noodle should not be compressed against the board such that it’s less than 1" thick. Even if that wasn’t by design but just “rigorous game play” at prior events… you replace motors and wheels that wear out, replace the noodles too if they need it.
I just stop by Lowes whenever we are running low. They sell Inno-wave noodles which they claim are 2.5" diameter. I’ve never measured them to verify, but they seem to fill the 5" backing board perfectly. And they come in our team’s colors, so that is a plus!
The packaging to a price point on pool noodles from the dollar store has been going on for some time and as a LRI I have made teams redo bumpers that have been made out of the ~2" noodles. 2.25" really shouldn’t be used either as the spec is a nominal 2.5" which to me means +/- 1/8" not 1/4".
I know that it has been brought up with FIRST headquarters that the 2.5" size is getting very hard to find and they have been asked to make the rules reflect what is now commonly available rather than what was the norm when bumpers were introduced.
That said I’d stay away from the dollar store noodles at this point and order them off of Amazon or get them at a local pool store even if they are more expensive. You don’t want to be replacing 2 1/8" noodles at the event.
As far as the height of the backer board it is specifically noted as 5" +/- 1/2" and we’ve used 4 1/2" in the past when it was advantageous for example to maximize ground clearance and keep the top in the bumper zone.
I believe last year my team purchased maybe 2- dozen pool noodles from FIRST choice since we were pretty much just reusing them year to year for awhile (very deformed noodles). This year we made our bumpers 4 3/4" tall, just to be safe but we will probably go down to 4 1/2" next season if we discover a benefit. I’m not sure if we actually had anybody measure the height of our bumper that closely, if at all. I know they measured length, height from ground to top of bumper and felt the wood to confirm thickness, but not height of the bumper itself.