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

#21

The current FRC rules allows the re-use of parts/materials from past robots as raw material i.e. if you cut the piece of 2x1 and/or don’t use the existing holes.

#22

Yeah, that’s not very helpful when I need a 32" piece of stock and my piece is 40" but theres a fabricated feature in the middle.

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#23

Then why don’t they already have 1 modular design they build, then slightly modify from year to year, and slap it on their robot? It’s because making something specific for the game will always be more effective than a modular design so I really don’t see the high resource teams using the same mechanism over and over because it costs relatively little for the benefits a custom tailored solution gives you.

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#24

Are you telling me that you only use long pieces of 2x1 in your robot? The relevant rules set out principles and are not prescriptive like the wire size/colour and motor rules.

#25

I needed a piece of 32" stock. All of the stock on hand was shorter, or had features drilled into it.

Could you explain what you mean by this?

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#26

Guys does this debate over this piece of 2x1 really matter? I think it’s clear that there’s times where reusing something gives no competitive advantage but would still not be allowed.

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#27

I’d provide the counterpoint. By creating this rule, there’s incentive to share interesting bits of software that otherwise wouldn’t be shared. You’re focusing on hardware. But, the planning and software that are an integral part of the robot must be shared in the off-season to make it legitimate to use during the season.

Is that the only way to achieve this? Absolutely not. Though, it’s important to note it does drive teams to make threads sharing their entire code as they know they’ll want specific components of that for future robots.

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#28

I would still require any reused software and cads made before the season to be released and maybe add a picture of any mechanism that will be re-used to the rules.

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#29

The way I see it the rules as they stand only really limit low resource teams. Powerhouse teams are as good as they are largely because they have the resources to quickly manufacture prototypes and robot parts. There’s a lot more to it than that, but when those teams have such strong manufacturing resources there isn’t much incentive to use a pre-fabbed general solution over a specialized one designed specifically for the game. Drive trains are a lot more general than ball intakes or elevators, but I’m sure 254 and others can pump out a west-coast drive in a few days at most.

Teams that don’t have any meaningful manufacturing capability (which I think is more than most people realize, I’d like to see numbers on this) could save on what limited manufacturing time they actually have and more importantly, would save money. Maybe for a team like that, the pre-fabbed mechanism from the off-season would be as good as or better than anything else than what they could recreate during the season. That team could focus on getting better at other stuff and have a better season as a result.

Yes, FIRST culture is changing. My question to those who have been around longer than I have is is that a bad thing? It seems to me that FIRST has been making decisions that benefit teams with fewer resources (two champs, bag day) over the past fourish years and I think that’s awesome. The bottom line is that removing these rules wouldn’t really hurt anyone or give anyone an unfair advantage compared to the advantage that some teams already have over others. All it would do is give some help to the teams that need it.

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#30

To do that the team would have to release their design into the wild by publishing it, to be allowed to reuse work done before Kickoff. Yes I realize that teams recycle old design concepts but that is not how the rules are written. Removing this requirement basically means large, well resourced teams will just run year around.

While I agree that each years game requires tweaks and fiddles to a design, being able to build up a catalog of sub assemblies, like say a optimized swerve drive that you can just pull of the shelf and bolt in gives a team a huge advantage. The removal of the bag was supposed to help the lower resourced teams, not deepen the divide.

#31

While I would recognize that just building a drivetrain takes engineering and is also inspiring, building a drivetrain WITH a mechanism that actually plays the game is far more inspiring. Plus if a low resource team could re-use an older drivetrain they could use the savings on other features.

I don’t know how it is with other industries, but in mine we are constantly limited in our design choices by how we manage to merge new parts/systems with carryover parts/systems.

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#32

Teams already run year round? (he says while looking over the CAD for the swerve module the team is currently building).

And as far as publishing goes, by the current letter of the law, I can theoretically keep that design to myself, and as long as i change/add/remove a single hole to any of the parts in that design, it is now by definition a new design for the season and I’m legally allowed to use that design that was developed in the offseason. This happens every year and tons of teams do it.

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#33

My team isn’t particularly large, but we’re fairly well resourced - we can afford to go to champs 3 years in a row, as well as 2 regionals, and have a build space at the school. There are other teams that have more resources, though. We run year round right now. Granted, what we may build in the summer/fall doesn’t go on a robot come January… but what the students learn goes into that robot. And by working year round, they are able to complete grants, find sponsors, and raise funds to keep us decently resourced.

#34

I definitely think there’s an argument for being able to make COTS-equivalent parts prior to build season start with the intention of using them during the build season. Who cares if we machine a set of COTS-equivalent gearbox plates ourselves in December and end up using them in January? Teams re-use the KOP frame all the time in order to save money. Forcing teams to re-manufacture COTS stuff just because it’s build season seems a little silly to me.

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#35

Actually it is not even close to the “letter of the law”. You cannot do design and fab work prior to Kickoff and use it, unless you have fully published said work, prior to Kickoff. The verbiage changes year to year but it would have been R15 & R16 this year. What you suggest it completely and utterly in violation of the spirit and the actual rules, as they have existed in recent previous years. It may be legal next year.

R16: Software and mechanical/electrical designs created before Kickoff are only permitted if the source files (complete information sufficient to produce the design) are available publicly prior to Kickoff.

The examples in the blue box covers off your “minor change” example, and is clearly called out as a violation. Using your summer project as a proof of concept and basis for your design, done after Kickoff is fine. Grabbing the CAD files and moving a couple of holes is clearly way more than “basis of your current design”.

The claim you make that “tons of teams” do it may or may not be true. However, that has absolutely nothing to do with its legality.

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#36

Sure. We are trying to run over the summer now that we have build space. Doing work, learning skills, trying new ideas is great. However, being allowed to prebuild stuff is a significant departure from past practice and would not be a rising tide change.

#37

This is one of those cases where I think overall program sustainability is more important than team equality.

Take gussets for an example. Allowing teams to manufacture gussets before kickoff reduces the overall cost of the program because it’s much easier to get them waterjet cut by a sponsor when it’s not under the 6 week deadline. However not every team has access to a gusset-making sponsor, so there’s a risk that allowing early manufacturing advantages to the teams with that access. The current rules seek to keep things more equal by making everyone paying the COTS rate (or scrambling to manufacture in January). I don’t know if that actually works to level the playing field - different teams have different amounts of money to spend on a COTS inventory. But it does take away an opportunity for teams to make the program cheaper.

I think it’s more important to reduce the cost of running an FRC team than it is to try to (ineffectively) keep everyone spending the same amount of too much.

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#38

The extreme, slippery slope argument is that it would allow teams to enter an old robot. Lots of teams could have lightly modified their 2018 robot to play 2019. Thinking about it now, I would have been OK with that - it would have really reduced costs, and generally increased competitiveness. But I feel like that’s an unpopular view.

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#39

Our team had a sponsor who would waterjet parts for us. Due to the sponsor’s busy shop schedule we could only get 1-2 jobs done in a build season and maybe 1 more after bag for spare parts or withholding fixes. I wanted to have them cut some gussets for prototyping before one season, but didn’t want to have to deal with managing what made it onto the comp-bot so just went COTS instead. Would have saved a good amount of money for the same result.

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#40

I am a fan of letting teams do this.

One of the reasons VEX EDR is fantastic is the kit can be re-used, in it’s entirety, year after year. Obviously, the very competitive teams are using way more than a basic VEX kit, but hundreds, if not thousands, of teams following instructions to build a claw bot or equivalent and play the game with just that. Which I think is great for those teams and the program as a whole.

There’s a broader discussion here about hardware cost year to year, which is a good discussion to have.

Overall, my biggest wish is the KoP came with a bundled “claw bot” that can play the game at a basic level, and score points when assembled/programmed. IMO, this would raise the floor significantly.

Essentially, I’d like to see an everybot in every KoP.

-Mike

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