Should teams be allowed to reuse fabricated items and/or build before Kickoff

I think the better question here is why do we give a ****? Let’s just eliminate the rule so we can all move on. Someone please point out the benefit of a rule that requires us to make these distinctions. How is the students experience in the program being improved by rules like this? You could argue it actually makes it worse.


The vendor rules exist to prevent teams from building parts/mechanisms before the season. Under the current rules, all fabrication must happen after kickoff, however you are allowed to pre-buy COTS parts from any entity that meets the definition of a vendor. Without the vendor rules, there would be nothing preventing a team from making a custom swerve module in the off-season and then calling themselves a vendor, thereby making the part COTS and legal for the season. Thus creating a sort of unlimited build season.

Now, I’m not saying that the vendor rules are the only way of implementing this sort of restriction, nor am I saying that this sort of restriction is absolutely necessary (it has always seemed weird to me that you can pre-buy a part, but you cannot pre-build the same part). Just pointing out one of the potential reasons why these definitions/rules exist.


Yeah I guess your second paragraph was really more along the lines of what I meant. Is it really a bad thing to allow a team to potentially pre-machine a part or even pre-build an assembly before the game is released? For the most part outside of a drive train it would be hard to pull the trigger on building something before you even know what the game is. And with the growth in what’s available from COTS, you can get entire subsystems now from a vendor before the season starts. For example, you can buy a Greyt Elevator before the season starts, but you cannot build a custom elevator before the season starts.

If it is a fairness thing, then all this rule really does is give teams with lots of money a potential advantage. I would argue its not really much of an advantage whether you have lots of money to pre-buy assemblies before the season, or to pre-build assemblies before the season either, so my argument why care about any of it? Let teams do whatever they want before the season and use from that what they want. If anything this will only improve the student experience as it would give students more time to learn about different mechanisms in depth without having the game challenge released sooner, which can lead to other downsides (i.e. design convergence like VEX sometimes sees).


I was told the “don’t build before the season begins” rule was in place to minimize the gap between veteran and rookie teams.


Actually, if this rule wasn’t in place, veterans could actually help rookies more by allowing them to use old parts and mechanisms if they wanted. With the current rules any of those old parts or mechanisms from previous years are all illegal to use by your team or any other team.


This also hurts low resource teams, as they are forced to have to entirely rebuild their robot every year as opposed (taking the 2018 and 2019 rules for example) to using the same exact chassis as 2018 in 2019 and iterate on the mechanisms on top of it.


I recommend splitting this topic, as it warrants its own discussion.

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One of the original points of the competition was to the design and build the robot in 6 weeks. I realize that has been stretched to break point. The low resource teams are always going to be disadvantaged by their lack of resources. The rules are shaped to do what they can. Maybe we should have claiming rules. It would allow teams to buy other teams robots for a fixed price. It would limit the resources a team would be willing to risk. They do that in horse racing.


We’re going from “robot in 6 weeks” to “robot in two months” to “robot that’s built throughout the year”, which to me seems to be too large of a jump. I like saying that we rebuild it in January each year with a new game, it’s part of the culture.
I understand why OP won’t release the vendor name, but what they did was perfectly legal as long as the bearings were public-facing.


I’d modify that slightly to this

The goal of the program was never to build a robot.

We’ve moved far past the point of having fortune 500 companies sponsor every team, and to accommodate the goal of inspiring as many students as possible to enter STEM careers, I believe some changes have to be made.


Allowing teams to build whatever they want to willy-nilly and then use what they want on a robot regardless of when it was built, or by whom, would destroy any semblance of parity FRC currently has.


I can tell you that there are teams that reuse their chassis the following year, whether they’re supposed to or not. In 2012 and prior years, the robot was limited to 28"x38", and the inspection stations had a box it had to fit in. In 2013, they went to a 112" frame perimeter, which is significantly smaller. I was LRI for two events that year, and at both events I had multiple teams that just built on their prior year’s chassis and didn’t realize the rule had changed - it was quite painful telling them they had to cut 10" out of the middle of their robot, and that I was going to ignore the illegality of what they did, since they wouldn’t be able to even get on the field if I didn’t.

It was also clear this year, when looking at some robots, that they used the AM14U3, and not the U4. Many of those teams likely reused last year’s chassis, but it’s possible they took advantage of a sale to buy a U3 before the season and then opt out of the U4 so they could get the voucher instead. When it comes to inspecting them, I prefer to assume it’s the second scenario, but I think we all know it isn’t for many of those teams.


I completely disagree with this statement. Right now the teams that can afford to already build these mechanisms in the offseason for development and learning experience, and then spend more money to build the exact same thing during the official season so they can use essentially what they already made. All the rule does is make teams who have the resources waste money, and those who do not have the resources fall behind.

This is the exact same reasoning that eventually led to FIRST eliminating the bag for next season. Sometimes it feels like we are banging our head against the wall with justifying why rules exist when it’s pretty much because “that’s the way it has always been”.


This is a great example of why it does not make much sense to keep this rule when teams with less resources are clearly benefiting from reusing something like their KoP chassis, or would benefit from doing so.

Like eliminating the bag, I think lower level teams will actually benefit more from the elimination of this then higher level teams, despite what the stigma is around this or how people try to justify the way the rules currently are.

My Master’s Degree Thesis was on why some schools have these types of programs and some schools don’t, so I’d like to imagine that I have some idea what I’m talking about. I didn’t say there is a whole lot of parity, I said that what parity there is will vanish with this rule change.

Teams with the resources to design, build, test, and store modular solutions to common object-displacement problems would have a huge advantage over teams that do not. Aaaaand it would no longer really be a robot-building competition.

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Do you really think that the top competing teams such as 254 and 118 would just use some standard ball mechanism they built in the offseason on their competition robot over something specifically designed and tweaked to play as efficiently as possible? For the top teams any pre-built system other then a drive train would likely serve as nothing more then something to build off of for prototyping.

For a lower level team with limited money and meeting time, being able to front-load some of those work hours to get a finished robot done before the game kicks off would be huge, and potentially cheaper.

This has proven to be true in our OCCRA offseason program, where teams routinely reuse old parts from the previous years robot to mitigate cost and time that the students need to put in during that season to field a competitive robot. I would say most of the teams that compete every year reuse their drivetrain, and I think this has a lot to do with the very high percentage of moving functional robots in every match we had last year.

Again, this is pretty much the identical argument that surrounded getting rid of the bag. I guess we don’t technically know how that has turned out yet, but I think the fact that FIRST finally agreed it made sense in today’s FRC to eliminate it means they finally understood this fact.

I’m curious what your opinions on the elimination of the bag is?


As an alumni of OCCRA I have to support this point. During the season I was able to use 2x1 stock that already had a whole or two in it. As silly as it sounds, that alone was huge for us because it meant we didn’t have to try to scramble to buy more stock, but instead we could assemble our mechanism and have more time to improve on it.


Seriously can someone please split this discussion as it is pretty off topic but still important? @Karthik @Chris_is_me

People - at least try to stay on topic, or make a new thread.

Split from the $0.73 per Flanged Bearings thread as requested.

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In a perfect world, people could use stuff like gearboxes and chassis in season, but I think the rules would be too hard to write, so I’m personally fine with no prefabricated items.