Robot+Old Skis=Legal?

Hello all,

My team has designed our shooting mechanism using very old skis to prototype with. Now that we are getting farther into the build season, we have realized that our prototype is a very good final product.

The skis we used are late-80’s/early-90’s and are definitely not currently available new. We have greatly altered them, but the fact remains that they were originally skis and are not commercially available to other teams. Would these skis be illegal by FIRST guidelines?

We used them simply because the price was right (they were free), and we would hate to have to buy new ones- they aren’t cheap!!!

Please help!
-Ed C.
Vice President
Team 2064
Panther Project Robotics

From all the rules reading I’ve done, they’re definitely illegal.

Bummer, but that’s how the game works.

Bummer indeed. Intuitively one would think that the same type of COTS product is very readily available and thus the current ‘new’ value of the donated skis would be enough to validate their use, yet the rules as written don’t permit it.

search eBay and/or Craig’s list and see if any are out there for sale. If yes, the question is, does that make them available to any team?

neither Ebay or Craigslist act as VENDORS or would make the old ski’s a COTS…

Old ski’s are a no go a currently available model are ok.

I’d check out a type store it may be older or used but as long as it is available new you may be able to get some for cheaper

thanks for the clarification

in 2008, team 1350 used old skis bought for $10 for their robot with out any issues.

I would think your skis would be okay too

I suggest that you sumit this to the Q&A before spending money on a new set of skis.

While you’ve got some good advice from some really experienced FIRSTers, here, and I certainly see where they are coming from, I’d like to suggest a slightly different take on the issue.

I suggest the skis that you have used are not a component, but a raw material. “Old skis”, that need to be cut, drilled, and shaped, like any other raw material may well be sufficiently generic that the GDC would consider them as being available to any team. While other teams may not have access to your specific skis, they have access to others that are substantially similar. You gain no advantage by using old skis.

So I don’t necessarily disagree with the advice that you’ve been given, but there may be more than one way to consider the problem. Either way, new skis are definitely legal, and only the Q&A forums can give you a clairification on the the old skis that you can count on for inspection.

Good job of recycling, though. I hope you can use them!


Thanks everyone for a lightning (not lightening :yikes: ) quick response. I’m afraid this may go over like a lead balloon with the team though. I really am not excited about even bringing up the topic! (This was independent research).

Thank you dtengineering for that sliver of hope. We will definitely check that out before we spend. And playitagainsports is a great source for stuff like that. I’ll cross my fingers that I’ll live through the day- after all I am a programmer. Living is never certain for us. :ahh:

Interesting way to look at as you could say the ski is used only for it’s “material” and that this material is a COTS and the ski would now fall under.

FABRICATED ITEM – Any COMPONENT or MECHANISM that has been altered, built, cast, constructed, concocted, created, cut, heat treated, machined, manufactured, modified, painted, produced, surface coated, or conjured partially or completely into the final form in which it will be used on the ROBOT.

I agree it is well worth having your team ask in Q&A if you have vested a fair bit of time and strategy into it.

I agree with Dtengineering. If I took a piece of aluminum from an AC bracket off a 1967 FIat, and cut it to shape, then drilled and tapped it to make a part, I wasn’t using a 1967 Fiat as a component, I was using a piece of aluminum. I assume these skis are either wood or fiberglass, and what you have is a part made from wood or fiberglass, not skis.

I don’t think the intent of the rule is to make you spend a lot of money on new raw materials, but to make sure any component you use is available to all teams.

I would ask the question on Q&A, be sure to be specific in your phrasing as to whether the ski is used as-is, or just a donor for material.

Without knowing how much the parts still resemble skis, it’s hard for us to know if the skis are being used as a component or a raw material.

My guess is that if they’re fiberglass skis, or some other built up kind of thing, then the original skis are not merely a raw material, no matter what you did them.

I sure understand the situation you’re in, it’s a tough one. The only used non-robot type parts we’re playing with now for this years robot are ones that we have a COTS source of replacements for. btdt

I think Jason nailed this one. You really need to read and understand the definition of a COTS part and a FABRICATED part (too lengthy for this post). I believe you have a fabricated part. Unless it specifically uses the design of a ski that is not reproduce-able by other teams, I think it is legal. However, it also must conform to other rules sections. For instance, will it be used in contact with the floor or arena borders? Can it cause damage to the arena? It is being used in a safe manner?

If other skis with the same fit, form and function are available as a replacement part available to all teams, you should be OK (pending the Q&A answer). You would have to choose some skis that have the same specs that could be bought now, and use that as the price.

Also, as long as you didn’t start cutting the skis until after the build season started, then it should fall under <R33>.


Ski are an amazing resource to use. My team used them back in 2006 for our bumpers (And they never broken, they are rock solid) and we had no problems with inspections use older model skis, but we did make a mention on costs sheet how much these skis would cost today.

Hello all,

We are using these on a “kicking” style shooter. We are using a pair, cut to about two feet long, bolted onto each side of a shovel (a literal snow shovel- its been a heck of a winter in CT!). The shovel is formed to the tips of the skis, until the very tip of each, which too, has been sawed off. The mechanism is rotated around a shaft by pneumatics.

A word document is attached with a picture- I deleted “paint” from this computer and I have no pics (my hard drive can barely handle Labview).

VP 2064

2064 shooter.doc (23.5 KB)

2064 shooter.doc (23.5 KB)

Just out of curiosity, what about the skis makes them desirable to your team?

Skis are able to absorb quite a bit of energy elastically, without deforming or breaking, much like a steel spring. If the rules prohibit old skis, you could probably find a thin steel strip with similar properties.

From an inspector’s standpoint, I would look at the method the ski are attached to the pivot point and to what extent the movement would cause material failure. It will also be necessary for inspectors and refs to determine the extent of movement beyond the frame perimeter. I would think with this design, it will be easier to check.
From a mentor’s standpoint, I would look at replacement problems should the skis actually start to fail.

Hey all,

The reason my team used skis is because, frankly, they are pretty dang near indestructible. We are actually using some very early carbon core and fiberglass skis with steel edging. We beat our earlier prototype w/ plastic skis to death trying to find where the optimum pivot point was, and in the end, the skis weren’t even the part that failed- and that was with at least 50 dry-fires. Each ski is connected to the shaft by a pipe clamp- I know this sounds really weak, but it isn’t; we have placed 120 pounds of force on the tips and the joint doesn’t even flex (the tips do, which is what we wanted- anything more rigid would be shredded to bits by the end of a competition with our guys driving!).

In the end, we decided that we’ll contact Q & A. We are a bit to partial to our winter-weather-theme to redesign (skis & snow shovel).

Thanks for everyone’s suggestions,

Ed C.
VP of 2064