Question to all teams...

As we all know, its an “almost” imposible task to build a robot in 6 weeks and when the robot is stuffed into its box for its dark journey to where ever it goes for storage prior to the game we only then realize how short 6 weeks is.
It never ceases to amaze me as to what great things can be done in such a sort time by so many teams in a little amount of time…

So heres the question… What if you got your kit and on the out side of the box was a note that said dont open and start for one to two weeks. Now you might need smelling salts to recover but some how you would get through it and deal with the shorter amount of time. But what if you found out that your lesser amount of time only aplied to your team.
This is whats happened to the team from Britain 759, they only now have their kit sent Fedex. The kit is also short of assorted items and as we all know many items were only shipped the other day.To build in 6 weeks is hard but to do it in 4 weeks and with parts missing is a disadvantage that I hope FIRST will address in order to be fair. There needs to be 2 set of rules if FIRST want this to be International.
Would any team object to International teams like the British, Brazil etc being given more or the same amount of building time as all the National teams.
If you think they should would you post why? so that FIRST might make a special set of rules that are more equal.
Thanks all.

It is unfortunate.

A good strategy on the part of any team facing a situation like this would be to download all of the documentation from FIRST, and spend the first couple of weeks coming up with a strategy and drafting the robot design. You can even build the robot’s base, custom wheels, etc, while you wait.

Then when the kit arrives, all you have to do is finish putting it together, and probably reworking a little bit of your design.

This happened to team 695 (Beachwood High School) last year. Due to a shipping problem we did not recieve the kit untill a week and a half in the building period. We were able to complete our robot and ship it off in the required time. As long as all teams are given the documentation at the same time, the building period is the same length for everyone. While it is possible to work around it it, it is a disadvantage and first should work on getting the teams the kits at the same time.

Team 695

It is unfair, and I do think that the issue needs to be addressed, but I dont think that international teams should be given more time than everyone else. If, for example they were given 6 weeks from the date that they recieve their kit, they would have an unfair advantage over everyone else because they would have had the 6 weeks that everyone else had, but they’d also have had almost 2 weeks prior to that to design and plan their robot after seeing the kickoff… that doesn’t remove the disadvantage of international teams, it just shifts it around so that the USA teams are at a slight disadvantage. Instead, what if FIRST could mail the kits to the international teams in advance so that they would arrive a day or two before the kickoff, and seeing as Fed Ex has been so willing to help out with FIRST why not get them to hold the kits until the day of the kickoff and then release them. That way it makes it fair to all, doesnt it? Just an idea…maybe someone needs to bring this to FIRST’s attention…

btw - nick, i sent you a pm ages ago and you still never checked it lol. have the britts recieved the boxes yet?

  • jacqui - 388 -

That is a great IDEA Jacqui, that is a very fair way to do it.
I thought about what some one else said about looking at the list of parts and the making the chassy in advance but as you all know they changed some of the motors and you really need the kit in hand to start building with confidance.

Quote “As long as all teams are given the documentation at the same time, the building period is the same length for everyone”. This is not true as some had the ramp and wall built in the first 2 days and others have their robot compleeted in the first 3 weeks and then spend the next 3 weeks practicing their driving, not all teams are equal.
The British team still have not gotten any bins from FIRST and wouldnt have any if Jacqui and I didnt send them some at our expense, could you envision what the bins look like from the FIRST documentation, I think not.
Many of the kit parts were missing and some might be broken and all this will take more time. Unfortunatly you cant run down to the local hardware store for spare parts in England and pick up parts like you can here. I got my bins at Walmart and there are no walmarts or bins in England.
I would like to see FIRST do some thing to help all teams that are at a different advantage than the home teams.
Jacqui Team 759 got 4 bins that I sent today and should get 4 more tomorrow then I think yours will get there by Friday, keep your fingers crossed. I believe they also got their kit today too but im not 100% sure.
Oh Well it will make it that much more interesting to build in 4 weeks, we dont need no stinking 6 weeks. LOL

Keep your spirits up :slight_smile: it is an unfair disadvantage to the britts, but challenges only make us stronger - and just imagine the feeling of pride that they’d get if they come to NJ and win or even place highly - knowing that the others all had such a head start over them… and if the limited time frame does limit their robots potential somewhat, at least they’ll know that it’s not their fault… I hope they do well, they deserve to… a lot of people without such sportsmanship would simply choose not to compete with the odds against them like that - so just the fact that 759 still strives to do their best under these circumstances really says something about their character :slight_smile: maybe with a little luck next year FIRST will take the international teams into consideration in their planning. goodluck 759 !

I hate to be the dissenting voice here, but I don’t see that the British team is at any disadvantage at all. In fact, they have a considerable advantage over many other teams, just that they have not chosen to make use of it.

Airfare from London to Boston (and then a 45-minute drive to Manchester NH) is currently less expensive than it is from Anchorage AK to San Jose. Or Hawaii to Los Angeles. Or Billings MT to Chicago.

So when all those other teams from remote areas across the U.S. and Canada had to find the resources to get themselves to a remote kick-off location so they could retrieve their kits, can someone tell me why we need to make special rules to accomodate teams that are “X” miles/borders/oceans away?

This is absolutely not a “nationalistic” bias. I would say the very same thing about a group from Wisconsin or anywhere else that was asking for special privileges.

As a counter-example, I look to the Brazilian team. Every year, they have managed to get to the kick off to retrieve their kits, and fly home with bins 'o stuff in tow to get started on the competition as soon as possible. Never once have they asked for special dispensation or accommodation. And every year, they put out a very impressive robot (I still remember the match we played with them at the Championship in 2000, which we included in our team video), and they show up in force. And they make it all work from the southern hemisphere!

The folks from Team 388 that have chosen to help to help out the British team by sending them a pile of containers are to be commended. You truely represent the spirit of FIRST. But I would hope that the actions that you had to take this year will be the exception, and not the rule, of how international teams are supported in the competition.


p.s. Jacqui - I REALLY hope you are able to get the first FIRST team in Australia started! It would be a wonderful addition to the “southern cross contingent” started by the Brazilians!

hmm…that offers a different way to look at it! Lol I dont know why but it had never crossed my mind to even consider the idea of the britts just even one or two team members flying to one of the kickoff sites… just didnt seem practical I suppose, but the thing about the airfares being more from some remote sites in the usa is a very valid point i guess…my team was able to drive to richmond for the kickoff this year so I hadnt really thought of that :stuck_out_tongue: maybe the britts would want to think of doing that next year, even if it does require a little extra fundraising…

thanks for the support dave, i was thinkin itd be kinda cool to have an aussie team in FIRST, but the support I’ve recieved through this site has really been a great motivational factor to get me thinking bout what I need to do to actually make it happen when I get home…I’m definately gonna give it my best shot :smiley:

My team didn’t touch the kit for a week, aside from inventorying it. We use the time for brainstorming about strategy and design. Although I do think it would be nice for forigen teams to have more time, I don’t think it will happen because it will be very hard to enforce.

“”“So when all those other teams from remote areas across the U.S. and Canada had to find the resources to get themselves to a remote kick-off location so they could retrieve their kits, can someone tell me why we need to make special rules to accomodate teams that are “X” miles/borders/oceans away?”""

You might be right dlavery but as I said " Would any team object to International teams like the British, Brazil etc being given more or the same amount of building time as all the National teams.". I assumed that national was inclusive of the 48 states, I didnt realize that Canada was part of this nation. LOL

When the kit goes to England it isnt sent as hand luggage with a passenger, its sent FEDEX and fedex doesnt deliver it the next day to the team, so far it took a week and a half.
The Bins took 9 days that I sent by post, I would have sent it Fedex but their 3 to 5 day delivery was $571.00 not including the cost of the 8 bins, I know what it cost by mail for me but I have no Idea what it cost team 388 to send 10 bins air mail.

Still you and others are right and we should look at it as a chalenge, its what the Britts do best and yes we will build an awsome machine that I recomend adding to the list of teams to watch out for.
So Look out… “The British are comming” “The British are comming”. LOL

Just like some of the international teams, the Hawaii teams go through more delays than the average team on the mainland. Ordering parts can take several days, shipping delays can make it take even longer, etc, etc. But after the first year, we (team 831) had a good idea of the parts we were going to use this year(structural Al, lots of sprockets, chains, etc), so we ordered a bunch of supplies so we had a good stock on hand when we began. I would recommend every team that regularly encounters shipping delays to order parts beforehand. That way, the only parts your going to be waiting on are the things in the kit. Some of the things in the kit could be bought at local stores to save even more time while waiting.

-Just a thought

My opinion on this topic reflects those of Mr. Lavery. It’s too bad that teams get a late start if their kit is shipped out slowly, but they had the chance to pick them up at any of the remote kickoffs. Send someone to pick it up next time, and you can have the kit by Sunday or Monday.

At the moment, there are only few teams outside North America that participate in this competition, and so FIRST have not had the chance to arrange details in the matters regarding those teams.

Yes, they had the chance to go to kickoff and pick up the kit… And yes they know the game the same time as everyone else… But in the future of FIRST, when there will be many teams outside of North America, I believe arrangement should be made such that those teams outside of North America won’t have an disadvantage in the competition, no matter how small it is.

Already some measures were taken in the writing of the rules, and measurements now come in meters instead of inches. But more should be considered, because those teams live in countries without things we take granted for, such as local distributors for motors and competition objects like balls and bins. It is unfortunate that students with the same passion to compete and learn from this competition should have to pay more and wait extra long for things they can’t easily get to.

Here are a few things I like to see happen…

Have some sort of remote kickoff at the other countries. Even though teams might not be able to send representatives over there, at least the kit of parts will be at the remote kickoff, easier to distribute to teams around the area than from US. Have a place where the kit of parts are gathered earlier and shipped off to the teams at a more reasonable time. This might be done by having FIRST giving those teams the highest priority in the kits and send them the first few ones put together in Manchester. This will be the same reason why there are remote kickoffs all over the US.

Finish designing the game with a month to spare, so that competition objects like balls and bins are shipped to remote kickoff site around kickoff. This can be done by having Dean, Woodie, Dave, and others make up their mind a little earlier.

More written rules for teams outside of North America that deal with the difference in language and currency and measurement units, so the teams don’t have to waste extra time during the 6 weeks to translate everything into words they are familiar with. This will have to be done by volunteers from the teams outside of North America. Same thing for travel arrangements… I am not saying FIRST should make travel arrangements for teams outside of North America, but it will be nice to see teams in the same country help each other out and give guides to each other in this matter.

Keep in mind that, things will only be done if there is a demand for it. I am talking about numbers of teams in Brazil, or England, or Germany as great as those in states with regional competitions. That will be really cool to see. It will be like the changes FIRST made when it expand from New Hampshire to the whole country. This will be an expansion from the United States to the whole world.

So, to all the teams outside of North America: recruit more teams, and your wish will come true.

I seem to remember Dean saying something about how impossible it is to make things completely fair to everyone. And it’s true. Can you handicap things to make them more fair for teams wiht 8 students and not 80? Or teams who lose engineering support at the last minute? Or what about rookie teams who have no clue as to what a regional is like? Or any of 1000 other things that can go wrong.
Sure it would be better if the teams outside the lower 48 got their kits at the same time as eveyone else but sometimes that is not going to happen. But you know, it’s not a good idea to start putting things together too soon either. I wonder how many teams start putting kit parts together before the second week of the build period? Probably only a few. Most teams actually plan first. So getting a kit late is not always a disatvantage. The documentation is of course available on the internet anyway.

*Originally posted by Ken L *
This can be done by having Dean, Woodie, Dave, and others make up their mind a little earlier.


(great crashing sound as Dave falls over on the floor, clutching his sides in a laughing paralysis…)


Thought you would like that… Just a suggest anyway… Maybe you guys will actually listen to it sometime :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue:

Since teams in other countries already know the main objective of the game and how it’s played, they can use the fact that they don’t have the kit as an advantage. They’ll be forced to have more organized brainstorming sessions with a lot of prototyping, so when they do get the kit, they’ll make it really well. Some teams just dive into the kit and start trying to make a robot, which doesn’t work very well especially if they skip the detailed brainstorming and/or drawing/prototyping stage.

Dave, Bill and Ken said everything I was thinking!

Teams from anywhere and everywhere have the opportunity to attand a kick off and pick up their kits then. If not, they are going to have to wait for the kits to be shipped. If they 100 or 1,000 miles away, it shouldn’t matter.

Having remote kick-offs for international teams might not be a bad idea. The only problem is that there are so few teams right now, it would be hard to hold something like that. Maybe have a remote kick-off in Brazil, Canada and somewhere in Europe. But like Ken said, more teams means a better chance for a remote kick off!

To answer the main question, I don’t think any team should have more or less build time than another. But then again, you can never make anything 100% “fair”.

  • Katie

True, FIRST will never be completely fair, thats just some of the things we have to live with. However i think compromises can be made to even things up in regards to overseas teams.

Pre-shipping of the parts to at least the country (or hawaii!) that they are intended for sounds like a good idea. However i have a suspicion that kits may be changed at the last minute so things could be left in or out of preshipped kits. Someone may correct me on this one.

I accept that teams shouldnt really be building in the first two weeks anyway however there were some quite critical things that needed to be looked at from the kits, when designing.

First and most obviously are the bins, we dont have them here and there were no detailled documentation regarding them that we could find. At present, two weeks after kickoff, the two prvided with the kit have still not arrived. If we had no contacts like Nick in the US or the generosity of Jaqui and 388, we really would be in trouble.

Other items need to be ordered from the US during the build period, like pnuematic cylinders. Last year they took 3 weeks to arrive, so after ordering them in the middle of the 2nd, they arrived with just over a week to spare. Had there been any trouble with shipping (like our 2002 robot taking 3 months to arrive back from the NYC regional), again we would have been in trouble.
One way around this is to permit alternative suppliers of parts and although i confess i havent examined the suppling rules in great detail this year, i applaud the efforts of FIRST to “open up” the supplying market. (Can we have RS and Maplin on the suppliers list next year please!).

Although things are never going to be perfect, if there was some specific provision to encourage overseas teams it would increase the appeal for people to start new teams overseas. These provisions need not give these teams an advantage, but some recognition of difficulties would be appreciated!