Practice Bots

I was wondering how many teams make a practice bot?

We definitely have the manpower to make two robots, but we don’t have the time. We considered making two bots in the past, but we realized that making one was hard enough and that we wouldn’t be able to justify the benefits if we had to cut time on building the competition robot (which would be necessary).

My team made a practice robot for the first time last year and it helped us so much. All our of successes I don’t think could have happened without it. It was a struggle making two. Between the two robots, I spent 12+ days welding, and these weren’t short days either. Some of it had to do with using ancient technology (60+ year old welder) but all the work put into two was definitely worth it.

Last year (rookie year) we made a practice bot.

This year (second year) we are planning to make two practice bots*

Extrapolating means next year we will have 3 practice bots.

*I don’t actually agree with this, but I’m an alumnus with no say in how the team is run.

We make a practice bot every year but how complete it is changes based on our needs and time.

4513 is for the first time making 2 robots, exactly identical.

Something to remember, CD is populated with many upper tier teams in FRC, and this probably doesnt reflect too well a general consensus of FRC Teams, just ones on CD (id guess if it included all teams the “no” option would be significantly higher.)

We’ve been building practicebots for as long as I can remember, this year we have the resources to build our comp bot, an identical practicebot and an identical bot specifically for programming. We think it’ll be very beneficial for us and eliminate the debate of drive practice vs tuning autos and allow both to have the same amount of time to be worked on.

It really has snowballed to a point where to be the best, even building two robots isn’t good enough anymore. I really hope FIRST evaluates the current state of affairs for 2019 to reel this back in check. I’m out of money and space for all these robots. In some ways, I miss the old days of FRC. :deadhorse:

I realize this, but I have no way of getting that data, so this is the only way of getting a rough estimate for my question.

I can’t personally speak for every team but we make a practice bot just a little bit before our comp just so if we catch any mistakes on the practice bot we can fix it on our comp so we don’t have that problem at a competition. also that way we don’t have to wait for powder coating and things like that for the practice bot.

Something my team likes to do is only build a second practice chassis. We keep as much of are mechanism as we can as part of are hold out weight. This allows us to save time money and to keep refining are original mechanism after bagging.

We will be building 2 robots this season. The biggest reason we are going to do this is because we have 2 competitions to go to. So we want to get in lots of iteration and drive practice between the events.

If all goes well, we will likely continue this practice unless a rule change occurs in the future.

1102 has never won an event before, but I’m hoping some new practices we implemented this year might push us up a notch.

We design the practice bot first and then we make the final bot afterwards (so programming can use the practice bot for working on autonomous and such). All the things we learned and all the mistakes we made designing the practice bot help us to make the final bot much more quickly.

The good old days of crating up and shipping a robot to go to a competition 2 miles down the road? And hoping your crate arrives in one piece and not a pile of everything because they stacked the crates 6 high and yours fell down from the top? I don’t miss those days. (versus having a robot in a bag temping you to dig it out…)

Back on topic though, I think every team needs a practice/programming bot. I encourage all teams I see to have 2 robots, the one you bag, and a robot with a similar drivetrain and auto mode sensor package to practice auto modes on and get used to driving. Usually, this means getting last year’s robot out, upgrading the control system, and go.

Auto modes are 70%+ drivetrain/sensors only, and will be the majority of your work (unless you want a shooter). You can weigh down or put up wood to simulate mechanisms on the practice bot to simulate driving in a match, even if you don’t have duplicate mechanisms.

In 2014 Ultimate Ascent, we used our prototype robot “Woody” for drive practice, even though it was named not after Dr. Flowers but the primary material used in its construction. The extra drive practice proved sufficiently useful that we have made “clones” every year since. We typically build one, learning as we go, then build the second before bag day. We then bag whichever one is better (usually the second because it doesn’t have stray holes and such) and continue drive practice until competition. It also makes doing demos between bag and competition much more straightforward.

We build a practice bot so drive team can continue to practice and iterate as necessary. Last year our older students built the first bot while the younger ones helped. The second bot was then constructed by the younger students to reinforce what they had learned watching and helping on the first bot.

From experience, we built “2” practice bots in 2016, and we had struggles because of the time constraint. We had one Fully scoring chassis, then built a second completed robot, then perfected it for our competition bot. It didn’t take much longer than 2 weeks to have the first one built, and we finished the second by week 5 of build season. There was a bit of a press for time, but the main issue cam in the fact that we were so distracted by making them that we forgot to fully stress-test our drive train, shooter, and auton. This caused multiple issues. In early weeks, our drive-train broke every few matches, our shooter wouldn’t always get the wheels up to speed before we shot, and throughout the season we had code/auto issues that caused us to lose coms in multiple matches (including one where our robot accidentally re-activated auto and went and parked on the opponent’s batter :o ) Then mix that in with brown-outs and the battery falling onto the off-button due to us not securing it, and you make for a pretty bad year.

TL,DR Making 2 (1 competition + 2 others.) practice bots isn’t bad, just make sure you have the time to actually practice with it and make sure the final product is robust. Learn from my team’s mistakes! We got too caught up in the build process and forgot important things!

2791 builds two identical robots every year. We have a CNC-heavy workflow, so we just cut two of every part. We have no shortage of manpower so assembling the second robot is a great way to get more students involved.

1257 builds their competition robot and a much simpler practice/programming bot. They use the kit chassis so they just use another kit chassis.

A second robot is a great resource build also an easy way to overreach. Only do it if you have the money and the manpower to pull it off without skimping on the competition bot, since that’s the one that actually matters.

We’ve built two robots for the past 5 or 6 years. Even if it is out of wood the practice bot is great to have for driving practice while the programmers are working on the code for auto or in general.

+1 for 2659

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