PSA: Kickoff Starts at Noon EST This Year

Just a friendly reminder that FIRST changed the kickoff start time to Noon Eastern time this year, which is a bit later than previous years. I completely missed it when I read the blog post, so I figured I’d throw this out there in case others missed it too. Here’s the blog post for those who haven’t seen it: Kickoff, Teaser, and Wood Field List of Materials

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Yup! I totally missed this too. After confirming with a few others locally that this was indeed NOT a typo, we ended up changing our schedule here for the 8th accordingly.

Once It was pointed out, I do vaguely recall a blog post from last year announcing the change to noon EST. If I recall, it was in an effort to make things easier for teams on the North American west coast.

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I just realized this the other day. For Israel teams, that means instead of the game being released at around 6pm local time it’ll be around 8pm. In previous years we spent the first evening after kickoff going over the manual. Looks like we’ll have to push that off until the next day now.

I get the the reason behind the decision that it makes it easier for west coast teams, but I hate to think about the Chinese and Australian teams whose kickoff is now 1-4am.

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Thanks for the reminder. If going the Kansas City kickoff this year another reminder that it is UMKC Learning Center and NOT at Garmin.

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First they release a field list that potentially is the most complex or expensive field ever, then they hold back the RoboRio 2 image for non-beta teams, and now they go and shorten the build season by a couple hours?!? Man, this is going to be a rough season. :laughing:

All kidding aside, this is a good change. Now if only they would make events start a little later in the morning.

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I hope not.

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Terrible timing for a complex/expensive field (not that any year would be much better). I hope Andy at least has a sufficient and ready to ship supply of the one field element. Teams need to be able to focus on building a robot which is a hard enough challenge even in a “normal” year…

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Agreed. I’m worried that some teams might show up to the competition without a robot because they spent l all their hours and dollars building the field.

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That’s not part of the challenge?

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Reality is, it is.
Teams in general that dont practice, come unprepared vs. teams that do. The better the field, the better teams can be more prepared. Unfortunately for us, it has never been good with respect to building as close to a real field as possible. 2017 airship year, it hurt us a lot. 254 built as close to a real airship as possible.
Moving forward, there needs to be a better option for teams, where field complexity is factored into the game design. 2014 comes to mind.

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I have also seen low to mid-level teams that built all the field elements when they realistically could only interact with a fraction of them. The resources that went into building the unused field elements could have gone into making them better at the roles they ended up with.

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I agree with this. Analyzing the field elements to see what you should build and how (this may be different from the drawings that are provided) is almost as important as analyzing the game to see which objective(s) you want to tackle.

They’re an aid, not a requirement. Nobody needed to build an airship unless they were hosting scrimmages. 90% of teams would be better served stacking the recycle bin on top of totes or taping a hexagon to the wall than they would be building the boiler or the inner/outer port goal. [High level] teams here on CD are superimposing their “needs” with the capabilities of teams far below them.

And I’m in the camp (maybe it’s a camp of one) that says, “Please don’t ever consider team field element difficulty in game design.” Having a fun and challenging game is so much more important than the top 20% of teams being able to mock up a realistic, transportable, color-accurate, perfectly to scale, inexpensive set of field elements. Learning which of those qualities are important is a valuable skill.

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Honestly it’s more important. The field element simulation drives the game analysis and robot design in non-obvious ways.

The loss that stung the hardest as a student was when my team built the Team Version Field Elements for the 2010 Climb, which used 4x4 replacing the side pipes, and from them believed we could only use the pipe at the top… When the only successful climb strategy was to grab a side bar and flip up.

In 2017, we put vision tape on wood and had an excellent auto-align feature… that failed whenever the camera got glare off the real field plastics.

I now put a lot of my effort into making realistic-enough elements so that my students don’t get blindsided by differences like that, and then open our field to as many nearby teams as I can schedule into the space so that they don’t either.

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Plenty of robots climbed using the top bar, including two robots on the championship-winning alliance. I agree with your sentiment though, it was a lot easier to flip, and the team version of the field didn’t make that at all obvious!

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Figuring out how to simulate real life is a skill the students will need when the enter the working world. It requires a deep understanding of what is really needed, beyond what the specification sheet or wish list says. Getting it right is not easy but it is worth doing. The team version of the bridge for Rebound Rumble messed up a lot of teams. There were also years where we cut a hole in a large cardboard box to simulate a loading station and got most of the value of having an “accurate” one with clear panels.

There are getting to be more teams that have full size fields that are willing to share their facility with other teams. One of those in the Houston area has 6 FRC teams working there so I believe they share the work to build the field elements.

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Sure and they can do that in their mechanism prototype process. Deciphering the far-from-production-quality field specification is absolutely not something I will just let be “ParT Of The ChAlleNge” when it’s so core to my students having a good time and returning to support the program.

The workload associated is why I invite our neighbors over to share :slight_smile:

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I’ve not only seen it, I’ve been there. I worked with 3946 its rookie year of 2012, but really and more formally got involved in 2013. I was the primary mentor working with the climb team. The 2013 climb was more complicated than any since (so far at least) in that a full climb essentially had to go through three cycles because you couldn’t touch higher parts of the pyramid until your robot was itself higher than other certain levels. We spent way too much time and effort building a pyramid, when a wooden frame and three segments of pipe would have served us quite well. We only got the robot supported completely by the pyramid one time, and that climb was invalidated by a bit of hanging reversible bumper that touched the carpet. After that, I always advised the team to hold off on building field elements until we had decided what we were going to attempt, and to only re-create the parts of the field elements with which we would interact. We didn’t always make the right choices, but after that we did better at reducing the scope of what we tried to do.

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A good engineer doesn’t just come up with an idea or a solution, draws it up and walks away. It is also part of the engineer’s responsibility to be able to prove that their design or solution does fulfill the requirements. That means they need to be able to test the design or solution, or at least direct that testing and/or the development of the test systems. In FRC, the field elements the teams build and practice with are those test systems. It has to go beyond just the prototype stage.

This is like me having to read through the documentation for a chip or IC I am considering using in one of my designs at work. Some of the datasheets do not contain the information that it should. Some of them contain contradictory information. Some of them contain information that is incorrect. Some of them contain suggested application circuitry that only works under very limited circumstances (this is usually not indicated) so they are not suitable for my application. It is unfortunate that the information provided is not “perfect” but that is real life.

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In my time with my team, there hasn’t really been too many times where we build the actual field elements. in 2018, we used a vending machine to emulate the height of the larger scale, and a car lift with a piece of aluminum box tubing to simulate the climb bar, went to champs. 2019 the only thing we built was a wooden box to act as the steps for the climb, got knocked out in the quarter finals. 2020 before the world came crashing down we cut out some cardboard in the shape of the high goal.

While there’s definitely value to building some structures, it may not be worth it to spend the time and resources to do so before figuring out what your robot will be doing. Especially with smaller teams, the focus should mainly be on the robot. If teams aren’t able to build a robot because they spent all their money building a field, then that’s poor management by their mentors.

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