Regional Inconsistencies

FIRST has just completed running 17 Regional events in the short span of 5 weekends. My hat is off to FIRST, the Regional Coordinators, and all of the volunteers. Everyone put their heart and soul into these Regionals and did an awesome job.

Since there were sooo many different people running these things in such a short amount of time (many at the same time)… there were some inconsistencies. While I usually save constructive criticism to the off-season, we are all on the verge of the Championships. I assume that FIRST is gonna re-convene over the next few weeks, compare notes, and get consistent on some of their minor differences so that all of the fields at Epcot are run the same way.

So… they could use our help. I have seen some inconsistencies, but I’ve only been at 4 Regionals (2 competing, 1 spectating and 1 volunteering). Here’s what I’ve seen:

  1. “Under the Goal” rule.
    Some regionals have DQed teams for purposely deplying parts of their robot under the goal (an extension deploying under the goal), while other regionals have let this happen as long as the goal is not interacted with or entangled with. For instance, on the west coast, teams were allowed to deploy under the goal as long as they were not lifting the goal or not entangled with the goal, but in the East teams were DQed for this.

  2. “Entaglement” rule.
    This was the toughest to judge and be consistent on. I’m sure that every regional was slightly different, from the initial bombshell fell during the first weekend. I think that we can all deal with this, but it would be nice for FIRST to define this better. In LA, one match happened where a robot entangled itself AND their alliance partner… but since the entanglement stayed within the alliance, they were not DQed… was this right? I think so, but I’m not sure. Also… some people think that entanglement can only be in the wheels. If this was the case, then teams would be “netting” their opponents. It would be nice for some clarity before the Championships.

  3. “Elimination round second match… who’s gotta play?”
    OK, if an alliance wins their first match of an elimination round, then the team who sat out has to play the next match (that’s easy), but what about the losing alliance? During some regionals, teams were allowed to keep the same two teams out there for the alliance who lost the first match, but during other regionals, they were forced to switch also. This may sound trivial, but who plays which match in the finals is important.

There may be other issues… can you think of any others?

Hopefully, first will clarify these inconsistencies. It would be nice to get clarity before we get down there, but that may not happen. They may most likely give us this clarity during the “driver’s meeting” on the first day of the Championships. We shall see.

Andy B.

Beautifully said, Andy. Not an ounce of whining while still putting forth a good set of issues to be resolved. I agree with all of your issues but would like to add one addition - batteries. From someone who at VCU was told that their team would be permanently DQ’ed if an official saw one of the previous year’s chargers in their pits, this issue was very importnat to us. Is it safe to say that batteries and chargers of last year models are okay?

~Tom Fairchild~

clamping to goals was a big part of this year’s competition, but clamping to the outside of the railing ? im not sure which team, but iv’e seen it happen, in the canadian regional, the team had one goal clamped, drove over to their zone and clamped thenmselves onto the outside of the field barrier, the ref seemed confused, he wasn’t quite sure of what to do.

Martin
907

I saw at the Western Michigan regional where a tether got tangled around another robot but they were never DQ’ed. At the end of the match they had to unwind the tether from around a wheel. I don’t know if they were on the same alliance.
Another match, a team tried to deploy their “tape measure” device but it kept bending (it was mounted to high on the bot) so they ended up driving their bot into the endzone to score. At the end of the match I saw the refs measuring the tape. I asked the team what was going on. They had a 1" tape measure on their bot and the judges told them that if they had scored with it they would have been DQ’ed. My question. Should the team have been DQ’ed for even trying to use it?

Wayne Doenges

This post is taken from another thread in the General Forum:

*Originally posted by Katie_93 *
**

At MMR, we were told that all of the corners on our robot were too sharp. Rather than filing them down we were told to tape them up, and that unless they were taped, the robot would not pass inspection. Along with taping up every corner on our bot, we were told to put tape over every bolt sticking out, also. We asked the inspector what tape he wanted us to use and the response was “Any kind of tape you want.”
So I asked, “Can we use electrical tape?”
“Yes.”
“Masking Tape?”
“Yes.”
“How about Duct tape?”
“Yes.”
“Duct tape!?”
“Yes. As long as the corners and bolts are covered any kind of tape is fine.”

We wound up taping our corners and bolts with electrical tape, figuring that at least electrical tape is legal to use on the robot (though technically only as an insulator). Electrical tape is so thin, it doesn’t do much for dulling the corners, but we taped them up so we could pass inspection. The first thing we did when we got back was look for caps for the ends of our Bosch and caps for all of the bolts on our robot - no more electrical tape!

  • Katie **

From what I’ve seen and heard, at regional inspections a lot of things seemed to get by the staff. A lot of things were also overlooked by the inspectors themselves. It probably (and hopefully) won’t be this way at nationals… just something for the FIRST staff (and teams) to look out for.

  • Katie

Another one I noticed is trivial compared to the others, but I’m still curious about it. In Cleveland this year (and every other competition I’ve been to in 3 years) we were allowed to place our controls in the booth while on deck for a match. As long as the controls were not hooked up they were okay. However in Toronto we weren’t allowed to place the controls, between elimination matches we were even ordered to remove our controls from the shelf entirely. Did this occur at any other regionals besides Toronto? Does anyone know the reasoning behind this?

Another thing.
In Toronto the pits were mixed. Rookie teams were mixed in among the veteran teams. I think this was a good idea, however it definitely made pit navigation interesting. “Now Where the heck is 291?!?!?” Was it like this at any other regionals??

~JVN
Strategy Head
Team 229 - Clarkson University

Concerning the under the goal rulings.
Speaking with Larry Lowell (the head ref at WMR and I believe the head ref at the Einstein field at nationals) he said that if you intentionally go under the goal you will be DQ’d. If you inadvertantly pass under it or someone pushes it on you, as long as you back off immediately then your safe. If you don’t then you will be DQ’d.
This is in no way an official anything. Just what I’ve been told.

*Originally posted by JVN *
**In Toronto the pits were mixed. Rookie teams were mixed in among the veteran teams. I think this was a good idea, however it definitely made pit navigation interesting. “Now Where the heck is 291?!?!?” Was it like this at any other regionals??
**

Kinda, sorta, yeah. VCU they had a really nice arrangement. The pits consisted of a series of rows that opened up to a walkway to get to the field. The veteran teams this year were against the back of the wall, with increasing numbers going farther down the rows. Numbers were still in order, just across the rows instead of down them. Last year the numbers went down the rows so all the veteran teams were on one end and the rookies kind of got neglected on the other end of the stadium.

~Tom Fairchild~

Wow,
That VCU arrangement sounds good. It still has some semblance of order, and also accomplishes the mixing of teams.

Rock on Virginia organizers!

From what I’ve seen (which honestly isn’t much) the inspections vary greatly between regionals. To expand on the oddities of the MMR inspection Katie brought up, the inspector made our team power up the robot and show him the team number without thethering (blatant violation of FIRST rules). He also told our team that once we weighed in we could make major changes without weighing in again (note: despite the bogus ruling we did not make any weight altering changes).

As a member of the inspector team at SoCal, we found some rules violations that others missed at earlier regionals. Previous inspectors allowed velcro on stay-home devices which rule M11 disallows (we had to look it up). We made all teams file down their sharp edges and tie down their loose wires (despite the groaning from some teams). Most teams appreciated the thorough inspection, a few even thanked us.

To answer Martin’s question, clamping the field is illegal and should be a DQ. I don’t have my rule book in front of me now (shame on me!) so I can’t point to the official ruling. But I remember our team discussing this since we have a hook on the side of our robot. We had to train our drivers to be sure to not hook the side rail. At SoCal a robot hooked the rail and the drivers unhooked it within 5 secs; the refs looked at each other but didn’t make any call.

Mike

That brings back a grim memory. In the quarter finals in NYC we were were doing some last ditch attemps to salvage a match that wasn’t doing so good and in the process broke one of the latches on our goal grabber and couldnt grab a goal. We tried and tried with no success. We ran to the other side of the field and made a turn with about 15 seconds remaining. Then all of a sudden we could not move. It felt like our drivetrain was shot or something and we had no clue what was wrong. We were sitting there on the side of the field motionless. The buzzer buzzed and we lost. Then we walked over to get our robot and I fell down in laughter at the sight of our one good latch clamped to the side of the field. The irony was that we couldn’t grab a goal trying very hard, but we could grab the field with unknowing ease. O well, it was fun and we fixed our problem and were a major success at UTC. We did not get disqualified (since we lost anyways) but I don’t think we would have anyways because it was an obvious accident.

Another Regional Inconsistency is depicted in this other thread: Duct Tape

FIRST definitely needs to clarify the under the goal rule…

In VCU, even incidental contact was being called… but it seemed it was never called until the end of the match (so if you were under at the end and only at the end, irregardless of during the match, you were DQ’d). Teams would be in a pushing match and the goal would slide over their arm… not lifting or damaging the goal, just slightly contanting… and if the match ended that way, they were DQ’d.

In Cali, it was the complete opposite. At one point a robot even had a forklift like device down, it delpoyed under the goal and the goal began to ride up on it. It seemed to be a blatent violation of the rules (whether or not it was intentional)… but it was never called.

And teams had tape measures of Kamen Devices and they were allowed to be used… despite previous messages on the Yahoo Forums…

For the sake of all teams, I hope FIRST clarifies these rules and sticks to the rules that have been most commonly enforced over all competitions (if it was allowed at several, and disallowed at only one… allow it, and vice versa…)…

Also, we were asked specifically to put our controls up at VCU and weren’t even allowed to stand behind the player stations in Cali… the way it went in VCU was much nicer and more convienent for all.

That’s all I can think of right now… I’m sure more will come up!

*Originally posted by JVN *
**Another one I noticed is trivial compared to the others, but I’m still curious about it. In Cleveland this year (and every other competition I’ve been to in 3 years) we were allowed to place our controls in the booth while on deck for a match. As long as the controls were not hooked up they were okay. However in Toronto we weren’t allowed to place the controls, between elimination matches we were even ordered to remove our controls from the shelf entirely. Did this occur at any other regionals besides Toronto? Does anyone know the reasoning behind this?
**

Interesting you should ask.

During the elimination matches at the Great Lakes Regional, the controls of the teams in the non-playing match were sitting on the shelf. Then, a robot crashed into the wall at a high speed knocking the contols off of the shelf and onto the ground. I’m not sure, but I think that this team’s competition was over due to their controls smashing into the ground. I believe this is the reason that FIRST is no longer allowing the controls to be on the shelf if you’re not playing.

*Originally posted by colleen-t190 *
**And teams had tape measures of Kamen Devices and they were allowed to be used… despite previous messages on the Yahoo Forums…

**

When in doubt between the Yahoo forums and a team update, go for the team update. And, as I said before, if you read team update # 6, on the part that specifically addresses to tethers, you’ll note that it does not prohibit any tether, it only lists devices that could present a risk of entanglement, etc. However, in the end of the text, it is clearly stated that what does present a risk of entanglement is subjective, and the decision is up to the inspector/referees at the regional.

So, as someone pointed earlier, people are blaiming on the teams with tethers for breaking the rules and now getting advantages for it. That’s not true. Teams that took the risk of building extendors are being rewarded for it, be it with the extra points in the end of the match, be it with awards - we won the Judges award at Seattle for Outstansing Machine Design, especially our tape measure.

Just my 2 cents

Mr. Baker, the only question that seems to be left unanswered in any form is the question of who needs to play in the Finals.

To my knowledge, the rules state that every member must play in a series of three UNLESS on of the alliances robots are disabled.

We ran into a situation like such in the Silicon Valley regionals where one of our parts had bent one of their drive sprockets.

This allowed us to complete consecutively with the same two robots for the remainder of the Finals rounds.

Hope that clears up somethings.

From Update #7

The following text is added after the first sentence of Rule T11: “Therefore, the team that did not compete in the first match of a series should compete in the second match of the series.”

Based on what I read of that rule, I assumed that BOTH alliances had to substitute the second match of each round of the elimination rounds.

This is how I have heard it was enforced in LA (and some other regionals), but this was not the case in Cleveland, Ypsilanti & Grand Rapids (and most other East of the Rockies Regioinals from what I understand)

The rule as enforced at these East of the Rockies Regionals might be more properly written as:

If an alliance can win an elimination round by winning the next match and their is a team on that alliance that has not yet played, then the alliance partner that has not yet played must be one of the two teams to play that round.

This means that an alliance can loose an elimination round without playing every team, but it cannot win one without all members of the alliance playing in at least one match.

To be honest, I like this rule better than the rule as written. It makes for some very tricky questions for the alliance captain to noodle through.

I can live with either ruling. I just hope that FIRST has it be consistant from division to division AND that the ruling is clearly explained before drafting.

Joe J.