Retro-reflective tape vs Conspicuity tape

I was noticing the specifications in the Game Manual (5.9.1) says this year the reflective tape is 3M-973-10 School Bus marking tape which 3M calls Conspicuity tape instead of the Retro-reflective tape I was expecting from previous years.

Does anyone have any experience using this new tape for vision systems? Particularly on the curved surface of the cone node?


They included some in the KOP. Bust it out and take some pictures. Share your findings.


If FIRST needed more real retroreflective tape for the fields, they could have asked me. We’ve received about 10 miles of it from FIRST Choice over the years.


Has anyone found a reasonably priced source of the 3M 973-10 tape? When I looked, the only thing I could find was 6" wide x 150 ft long rolls approaching $400.

The 3M 983-10 is much easier to find in 2" width and reasonable roll lengths.

It almost looks like 3M has stopped making 973 tape. The 3M web page for 973 tape has an empty specifications section. By contrast, the 983 web page is chock full of specifications and resources. The 983 page looks alive while the 973 page looks dead.

We may end up buying some 983 tape to be able to compare to the sample of 973 tape if we can’t find a reasonable source of 973 tape.

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In the fall I purchased some 983 here, and today I put it side by side with what was included in the KOP. There are two differences, the diamonds on the 973 are about 2/3 the size of the diamonds on the 983 and the 983 has alternating stripes that are directional optimized. In other words one stripe is optimized for 0-90 degrees right of center and the next stripe is optimized for 0-90 degrees left of center as visible in the picture in the link.

Seems like the new stuff works okay.

We had no issues tracking the new tape with our Limelight during a brief testing testing session.


Just ordered a 50yd roll of this stuff from Pack-n-Tape, which seems to be one of the few distributors who still have it in stock. It wasn’t cheap ($113.00 plus shipping) but will make it possible to properly mark all our grid station poles so we can practice with the half field.

@Strategic, you might be able to launch the next Thrifty Bot if you start selling 4 yd sections of your big roll of 973 tape. At $20 per section plus shipping, you’d be at about 100% profit.

It’s ridiculous that there isn’t a reasonable source of this known-in-advance field build item.

I honestly don’t know why one of the vendors hasn’t already done this. It’s a fairly obvious way to make a profit and teams who are building field elements would flock to buy it at a price like that, since the KoP only came with 4’ of tape. A good four yard section would be all teams need and $20 is practically spare change for most teams that are going to build half fields anyway. I actually checked all the major vendors first before I went searching for it on my own, because I couldn’t believe that no one had it for sale.

As for reselling it, unfortunately our school district’s rules about that sort of thing are pretty dense. I’d have to submit a whole set of paperwork, get it approved by multiple higher-ups, etc. Just not worth the effort in the end, unfortunately.

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