Scouting Options

I just wanted to get a general survey on how you would be scouting this year. Personally I prefer to use paper. CD, your opinion?

Paper, this year I plan on having the scoots hand me a note card with the information I need.

It all really comes down to where you place the bulk of your scouting. In most years, stand scouting has been the obvious priority for teams over pit scouting. When it comes to the stands, paper is often the better solution if you have up to 6 people scouting at a time, but often gets disorganized to the point of no return. However, pit scouting (usually handled by the same 2-3 people) may work better with an app or other technology, and is definitely easier to work with. As a side note, not using paper in the pits gives off a slightly better impression to other teams than scrawling on some paper scrap.

Our team uses app-based scouting for both the pit scouting and stands scouting. We have 6 android tablets that connect to a laptop and dump data in Excel that we then analyze Friday night.

I voted paper because I heard talk about someone setting up a computerized scouting system earlier in the year, but haven’t heard anything since.

We have been developing computerized system over the last few years fron the paper collection method, we make changes to the system between events to increase effectiveness. We have transitioned the purpose of the scoutingpast alliance selections ti providing data to our match strategist to develop specific offensive and defensive strategy per match, per each alliance match-up maximizing out skills and exploiting the other alliances weaknesses. Using any system gives your team an edge, but over the last two seasons, scouting with the most current match data has transformed our team in competition. This may go beyond this thread am am very new to posting on CD.

We’ve been using 6 tablets with a laptop to gather data for the past several years. We attribute a great deal of success to this method. It enables us to make very quick decisions based on the aggregate data up to the last qualifying match. With the very small window of time allocated for the selection process, we’ve found it necessary to have something other than paper. Even if we’re not selecting, we can provide assistance to an alliance partner who may have selected us.

Every year I have one or two students ask me if we are going to switch to computer/tablet/app based scouting and my head strategist and I always answer no, with the same reason every time:

Paper doesn’t run out of power.

Some advice to any teams that are unsure about how they will scout:

There is no “one size fits all” for scouting. First and foremost, the point of scouting is to (1) gather data and (2) use that data to make decisions (alliance selection, quals match strategy, etc.)

(1) is easily doable with both paper and computer scouting. Paper’s advantages are that you don’t have to worry about the battery life of paper, and it’s less expensive and easier to set up.

(2) is far easier with a computer system. Having a database and a program (excel, app, etc.) to number crunch saves a lot of time.

I would recommend for a team to move towards computer scouting if they have the resources - that’s a big IF. However, computer scouting is much more likely to go wrong, so if you choose to do so, be prepared with a paper system just in case the electronics mess up. I have had to do that in the past, and the paper was extremely handy. There are a lot of options for computer scouting, so I won’t go into detail, but make sure to get the biggest advantage by writing the data in some way that a computer can parse through it. Otherwise, the computer system is no better than paper.

However, paper is an acceptable option too. It is much easier to create and facilitate, and is much less likely to go wrong. It will be much harder to analyze the information (some scouts may have to sit on excel for a few “minutes”), which is the biggest issue. If you do choose paper scouting, make sure to make organization (in the stands) a priority. One good way to do that is to have on dedicated scout to manage papers, and to keep a manila folder for each team to put their documents in. That way you can quickly distribute and receive papers during the matches.

One of those multi pocket accordion folders is great as well. We call ours the magic folder because it has everything you need.

We use papers to get the information in a sort of multiple choice format then a scanner and some software to get all the results into a spread sheet to pick from there. Works pretty well.

We no longer have problems with our tablet system running out of power. I’ll post about some other meta advantages.

While paper scouting can work for a new team that is just learning the game, moving to electronic scouting (we use tablets) can make your team better in more ways than you might think. Our bottom line though is that the scouting system is only partly about being more competitive. It’s as much about improving the skills of our team members, which is ultimately the real goal of FRC.

We originally set up our system as a way to reduce the clutter of paper AND to use our surplus of programmers (which I think is a frequent issue on many teams.) Their product definitely made us better on the field, our scouts lives easier in the stands and took our programmers to another level.

We are now able to easily send live data updates to our drive coach and strategist in the pits. We are able to develop draft lists easily and quickly. We are able to digest our data on the fly. And we are easily able to trace scouts’ errors.

Our head scout can focus on managing the scouts, not the paper. We can scout with a skeleton crew when we travel. The interaction with the tablet better constrains the choices that scouts can enter. And we’re able to track qualitative scouting better.

As for power requirements, it teaches our head app programmer and head scout to manage the schedule for recharging equipment. This is a big teaching opportunity for high school students who may not always have such management skills.

But most importantly, our programmers have learned to work in Android, iOS and server environments. They’ve learned statistical methods that are rarely taught in high school. Of course, the success of the system is a good reward, but even last year when we didn’t use the full capabilities of the system, the learning process was tremendous.

229 is planning on having paper sheets to collect data and then an excel spreadsheet to sort and analyze said data.

I came here to say literally all of this. Electronic scouting has monumental advantages over paper scouting, as it does everything paper scouting does, but faster and more efficiently. It enables scouting leadership to actually analyze the matches instead of sitting there typing in data for 12 hours straight. It forces scouters to enter the data you want, without “well, 3.5 times because xyz” scrawled on the corner of the page. Even during quals, we utilize the speed and efficiency of electronic scouting to boost our performance on the field. If you want an example, watch what happens with the blue side co-op totes. We called it the “co-op assist,” and it was a great way to utilize a team that struggled to stack, but could do co-op, while offsetting our inability to do co-op.

As the scouting captain of a second year team, i prefer to use the system i plan on running this year, a hybrid system.

  1. In the stands, the field scouts do their job on paper and hand their sheets to a digitizer once they are done.
  2. said digitizer takes the information on the sheets and enters them into a excel spreadsheet for easy access to information where i may be.

its the same thing for the pit scouts. this provides 2 layers of protection. the ease of use in obtaining information anywhere, but we still have the information on paper in case electronics fail us.

Last year we were able to have two scouts per laptop because it was fairly easy to remember and/or see at the end how many totes/containers your robot scored and then record these numbers after the match rather than writing down numbers as the match went along. With only three laptops at a time it was easy to form a rotation so charge wasn’t really an issue. This year, though, the actions of the robot you’re following aren’t standing on the field at the end for you to see. We’re thinking of having scouts take notes on paper during the match, then enter the official data into excel on their laptop between matches. This should eliminate whatever conflicts may arise from two scouts using the same laptop.

Clipboards look pretty professional though…

We used paper back when I was still a student of 3641, and I hated it because it was such a mess. 6 sheets of paper x 80 matches = yikes! And it complicated things when someone accidentally misplaced a sheet or two. Now, I think the Toasters are using another team’s scouting database that they’re sharing for both teams’ benefit, and it’s all digital.

That being said, I’m not yet sure how the team I’m currently mentoring does scouting, if at all. We’ll most likely end up going the paper route in the meantime for simplicity, perhaps with the goal of developing a digital solution for the future.

We use PDF Forms on Android based tablets. The only downside is the amount of time it takes to prep them. Last year, we would wait until Friday night to gather the data, but this season we are going to try to gather data from a few tablets every few matches so we can assist the drive team with picking the field defenses. For teams looking to start going digital, I would suggest the Amazon Fire 7, if you are on a tight budget.