Hi everyone rookie team member here and wanted to hear what you think the best scouting strategy for a rookie team is. We already have a good idea of what information we want to collect but have yet to decide wether to use paper or technology for our scouting. We know using technology, which would be iPads for every scout with 1 or 2 laptops for us, would be faster and more efficient but we don’t get how we would transfer the data to one big spreadsheet without manually entering it from every device.
Dido to what has been said above. If don’t already have something then stick to paper this year. Use the off season to develop the framework and architecture for your own app. Something that you can easily change the values from year to year so that it can be easily reused.
Many teams use a single scout per robot per match system where they gather stats on each and every robot each match. This really requires 6 full time observers watching each robot, and often someone to help collect sheet or tabulate data or coordinate assignments.
Most teams that do this generally have 10-20 students that will be in the stands and can support this effort in shifts as it can be exhausting work.
While in theory your 6-8 members could do such an effort, I would be concerned about fatigue which can result in poor data, which can result in poor results.
I recommend to use paper with 12 scouters, 6 scouts at a time, each scouter watches each robot, then after a while the other 6 replace them and this way all the scouters have enough rest time.
If you can’t get 12 scouters, try to at least have 9, then you can divide them into 3 groups of 3 and change between them, for example, in the first shift groups A,B scout, in the second shift groups B,C scout, in the 3rd shift groups C,A scout and it continues this way.
My team uses Google Sheets spreadsheets for our scouting to take advantage of the share-ability of the document and the auto syncing from each device, so we dont have to worry about transferring anything. Basically we create one big document that has a different sub sheet for each team at the event and then put a bunch of match forms in each team’s sub sheet, so for a given team all the information stays together.
At the events we have each of our scouters in the stands with an iPad putting the match data directly into the spreadsheet. Since there is usually no wifi by the competition field our scouters are editing the document offline and then the information from each of the six iPads will all sync up later when there is a connection.
Our team places large emphasis on scouting, not to say that others don’t; however, we have at least 7 people in the stands and at least 6 pit scouting. Let’s start with the pit scouting. Some discount this and regard it as a very unhelpful and biased method. Be that as it may, if the correct questions are asked, pit scouting provides very beneficial information. Based upon the condition of the pit, one can determine the organization and efficiency of the team. Now, as for the questions I would ask, make sure to choose those that a team must answer without bias. General questions like, “What kind of wheels do you have?” can help to establish a good idea of the maneuverability of the robot. The speed question lends itself to opinionated influence if the exact speed in ft/sec is not known. So, many teams may say, “fast.” However, you and your pit scouts must take this with a grain of salt as all teams want you to pick them come eliminations and being fast is an attribute many want on their elimination teams. Follow up questions could be, “How many obstacles has your robot traversed today?” or “Which obstacles do you prefer to traverse?” As I said before, try to find questions that prevent the team being interviewed from being able to sway their answers from the actual truth.
Now, on to stand scouting. This is what has gotten us to the finals in 2 state competitions. At least 7 scouts are necessary. 1 lead scout who holds the binder (I’ll get to that in a second) and 6 members who watch the robots on the field. You can definitely train more scouts in to rotate them so no one gets burnt out; however, it works just as well to have the same 6 scouts. Now, we use paper in massive 3 ring binders. We divide the teams by two. So, we have roughly 30 teams per binder and each binder has 10 premade scouting sheets per team. This helps out the scouting team so they don’t get burnt out as quickly. The binders are lifesavers. At the end of the day, our scouting team can easily look through the binders to determine our match strategies for the following day. They are also really helpful in creating preliminary “pick lists” for eliminations. The lead scout has another duty on our team. He/she must communicate all necessary information to the drive team for the coming match. By necessary, I mean that info regarding the ability of the robots along with the ability of the drive teams must be included. Not included would be random bits of information like how the team loads their robot onto the field (<-- as a really bad example).
In conclusion, a mediocre robot has the potential to make it very far into the elimination rounds if that robot’s team has a spectacular strategy/scouting team. On the other hand, a great robot can easily drop out of the competition if the strategy/scouting team doesn’t do so well.
Find a quality veteran team in your area and ask if you can help them scout. Send your most enthusiastic and dedicated scouts to help. Both teams will get better data (the best data is collected by students who want to scout), you’ll foster a relationship with another FRC team, and you’ll learn a lot more about scouting for future years.