R22 and previous year's designs

It looks like the wording of this rule is similar to past years, but I didn’t see any discussion of a particular aspect of it, and none of the specific examples in the rule cover it.

<R22> No final design, fabrication, or assembly of any elements intended for the final ROBOT is permitted prior to the Kick-off presentation.

Please note that this means that FABRICATED ITEMS from ROBOTS entered in previous FIRST competitions may not be used on ROBOTS in the 2011 FRC.

Since is very clear that the “No … Fabrication …” part means you can’t use parts fabricated for previous competitions, it would seem that the “No Design …” part means you can’t use detail designs from previous competitions. So if your team designed an omni wheel or mecanum wheel for a previous year, you can’t use that design this year. Even example 3 which says you can’t use a 2010 software “design” modified in the fall doesn’t explicitly say you could use it if you didn’t change it. Note that the last example’s wording is cutoff - I would guess it is the same example as last year which implies that you can use any design (past year’s or pre-season) if you post it as open source so other teams can use it.

So my interpretation of this rule is, if you want to use a design that you used from a previous robot (arm, wheel, structure, whatever), then you have to post the details in open source (team website, CD ?) sufficiently for other teams to copy it.

I think that is in the spirit of FIRST, such that veteran teams who don’t have to take the time during build season to design something share that knowlege with other teams to create a more even field.

Agree or disagree?

I believe that the intention of the rule is to stop people from taking, say the drive train or the arm off their 2007 robot, and entering it into a current competition.

Opensourcing the documents would be a technical way around, though likely not in the intention of the rule.

My interpretation is that teams must create all new designs, all new software, and all new fabrications for the competition. The intent is that all members of FIRST teams have the opportunity to design the robot, not just the members who designed things during the first couple of years of the team.

In other words, ALL teams should have to take the time during build season to design things.

You are allowed to take ideas and designs that you have developed and rework them and use them
You just can’t take a previous design and use it exactly like it was developed before kickoff.

You cannot EVER use a fabricated part from another robot. Even if you alter it.
It is only an altered design that you can use. You may reuse COTS parts if you have not altered them.

This, I believe, is what this states…

But, I think if you had an arm made of a long piece of square tube on a previous robot, you could still use it as square tube, provided you cut off the portions you modified, and were no longer part of the raw material (the ends).

But i believe the point you are trying to make is still absolutely correct, you can’t take an old gear box and just replace the gears with those of a different ratio, but the same center distance. You can reuse the gears, but you must make a new box to hold them from a different design.

Right. Any FABRICATED things that were fabricated prior to kickoff cannot be used. However, publishing the design magically transforms that ‘thing’ into a COTS item, which can be used even if it existed prior to kickoff.

Intent is a slippery slope.

If MY team had designed something and published the design (in a reasonably public place, like the team website or here on CD), and then built some of those things this year, I’d agree it complied with the rules. But I wouldn’t let them use what they’d built already (even though they could). I mean, what if they had built (& published) several different “drive modules” over the summer - we’d have a finished drivetrain already. And that advantage wouldn’t be right, in my opinion.

If I read the definition of COTS and VENDOR correctly, a simply publishing a design as ‘open-source’ does not make that design a COTS product. Based on the definition of VENDOR, an FRC team does not qualify, which means they cannot be a valid source of COTS.

Read Example 3 of the definition of COTS - a design which is available to all teams is a COTS item, but the part built from that design is not. If you have a previous design you want to use, as I interpret it you can either

  1. Generate an all new model and drawings to build it
  2. Publish the model and build it from the model
  3. Publish the model and create new drawings from the model to build it
  4. Publish the model and drawings and build it from the drawings

OK after reading my last post and thinking about it, do you really need to publish your design if you are willing to share it if anyone asks for it?

If I know that team XYZ had a really nice omni wheel last year and I ask them for their design and they give it to me, and I know they would willingly give it to any team that asks, isn’t that the same intent? How is finding the model online any different from seeing a design online, asking for it and getting it, other than actively publishing versus passively publishing it?

Also one other thing comes to mind, that I believe is technically not allowed but I would be willing to accept it. Suppose another team has a really nice CNC machined part they built last year and goes through the whole process of sharing their design, then they go to their partner company to have it made again this year. By the rules the company would have to recreate the CNC program from scratch before they build the part; do we really want to ask companies who are donating very expensive manufacturing resources to do that? I could probably live with letting them reuse the program.

The distinction I see is that Example 3 refers to obtaining the design from “a professional publication”, not from another - or your own - team. In fact, the definition of COTS itself specifies:

“…part commonly available from the VENDOR, available from a non-team source, …”

And the definition of VENDOR seems to exclude an FRC team, based on the requirement to meet all of the conditions it sets.

Yes, but the definition refers to the fabricated part (it says component or mechanism) not the design. The part is not COTS, period. But it doesn’t say that the design had to come from a vendor - if they got it from a professional publication it didn’t necessarily come from a vendor. Example 2 says “openly available blueprints”. There is no distinction on who generated the design.

Don’t forget <R29> when saying this, however. You can buy a gearbox from a vendor for use one year, and reuse the same gearbox the next, provided you didn’t modify it in any way, and it’s still available from a vendor.

Where this gets tricky is when the gearbox is delivered disassembled. In that case, taking the assembled gear box off an old robot isn’t “functionally equivalent” to the condition as delivered from the vendor. To get around that, you have to make it functionally equivalent, like we did last night with 2 old toughboxes… we took them completely apart and cleaned off all the old grease. Thus we return them to the condition as delivered from the vendor, and can reassemble them tonight for use on this years robot.

With this specific example, the students learn more than they would if we just bought two new toughboxes (plus we save a little money). They now know how nasty grease gets after a years worth of use, and the affects that can have on your gears. They now know the affect on the gears of a years work, and that checking them for wear will help prevent unexpected failures down the line. That’s stuff you don’t learn if you constantly buy new every year - and something the rules force us to go through if we want to reuse these gear boxes.

Asked and answered (I guess)

From example 3:

The design drawings would be considered a COTS item.

This to me means that the design itself would have to meet the criteria given in the definition of COTS, which include being provided by a VENDOR.