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

Maybe they could implement something similar to a withholding allowance?

You get 20-30 lb of pre-fabricated parts to go into the season with, only restriction I’d add is that the CAD for the parts has to be publicly published (like reused code). Also with a friendly reminder that there is no guarantee that anything made preseason will be legal in season and teams should make sure to read the rules.

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At a minimum I’d like to see every component needed to build, wire, and program the chassis (with extremely detailed instructions) in every kit every year.

AndyMark already has great instructions/videos on the chassis, let’s add in the other 2 to make it a complete set.

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On the note of publishing publicly, if we simply upload to a public GrabCAD or something like thingsverse without actively making any effort to make people aware of it (like a post on CD). Does this count?

Yup. Public is public. FIRST doesn’t really say how public it needs to be. There’s some pretty hilarious ways that people have ‘released’ things in the past.

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Glad to see this idea gaining some steam. I’ve been on this bandwagon for a while now.

I’m not sure I’d support a wholesale allowance of previously used components. I don’t want teams just using their robots from the previous year for a new challenge. I do think that the “new year, new challenge, new robot” portion of the program is integral to the FIRST Robotics Competition and massive part of what makes FRC so appealing and inspiring. I would hate to deprive a year of students the chance at following through a full design and build process, as I think that’s a huge part of the inspiration of the program. Too often on CD do people measure inspiration by what happens on the competition field rather than what happens in the build space.

But I do support the allowance of pre-fabricated or recycled parts in some fashion, we just have to figure out the best implementation of doing so. Limits could be placed on the weight, size, cost, or function of the components to be re-used. Personally, there are two areas I would like to focus on becoming legal. Allowing the use of pre-built and/or recycled drivetrains (and specifically the Kit of Parts drivetrain), and allowing the use of “evergreen” components and menial work. FIRST has already done some of the second category, loosening restrictions on some electrical components over the past five years to specify that soldering/crimping/cutting leads does not render them illegal to use in future seasons. I would like to see that expanded to cover more things, such as scrap material, gussets, gearboxes, etc.

Most importantly, I would like to see the opportunity presented for low-resource teams to be able to build their KoP chassis ahead of the kickoff date. They may still have to modify it after kickoff, but they can get a lot of the labor and learning done ahead of time and spend more time focusing on manipulating game objects. Releasing the rookie (or all) Kit of Parts earlier would also help this, but I understand their may be economic and logistical hurdles that make this more difficult. And in general, shifting the date that teams can start (and stop!) building may have significant impacts on vendor schedules and COTS availabilities. So any change made should be done with significant enough notice to allow the FRC ecosystem to prepare.

The removal of bag day does figure into this somewhat. Previously I assumed that higher level teams wouldn’t sink significant resources into pre-building a drivetrain that wasn’t optimized for the games’ challenge, but now with the possibility of building multiple robots over the course of the season becoming more legitimate, I may have to rethink that assumption. We may see teams compete once with a pre-built “generic” drivetrain built before kickoff, then show up at a later even with something tailored to the game challenge that they started after kickoff. Depending on how the rules (for both this and the end of bag day in general) are written, this could also apply to other robot systems.

As has been alluded to already in this thread, the enforcement of the “no work before kickoff” rules is already entirely an honor-based system, so no additional enforcement mechanisms would really be required compared to the current rules.

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I totally agree. System integration is something my team has always struggled with. But integrating systems onto a KOP chassis is the same task regardless of when you put it together. Reusing the one from last year gives you another few days to figure that integration out and make a better and more inspiring robot. Putting together the same chassis every year is not what I would consider inspiring when I could better spend my time working on a prototype for the cool mechanism my team has never used before. This is all coming from my perspective as a student BTW.

I am very torn by this. On the one hand, I can see it as supplying a much kinder/gentler entry point into FRC, and agree that this is good. It should result in more first year teams achieving a functional robot. On the other, this seems like glorified lego (you get all the pieces, and the instructions, and if you follow them carefully you get a robot). At this point you are not doing design, or fabrication. You are just doing assembly and potentially software. Certainly less frustrating when you are just starting out, but it really misses a bunch of the program. I think it is setting the expectations too low. I just can’t decide if my reaction is elitist (in that I am underestimating the challenges that would still remain) , or because I think (as a design/fab mentor) that the design and fab aspects are an important/integral part of the program. I would be sad if the kitbot (chassis) turned into an Everybot.

The kitbot chassis is a damned good/flexible design. You can build a very competitive robot on top of it, without having to make very many design decisions. Pretty much ensure the size you choose is legal and will allow you to package your mechanisms, make 90 degree cuts on a very limited number of parts and assemble.

I like the middle ground of the Everybot published design. You get a fairly basic design to build, using readily available stuff. However, you have to fabricate some parts so you get to learn how to do that. Build it exactly if you want to guarantee functionality, or start with the design and iterate on it if you have some design bandwidth. Gives you a nice progression into FRC… Year 1 build the Everybot. Year 2 tweak the Everybot manipulator. Year 3 take the design concepts shown in the Everybot into consideration in your own design.

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I agree.

The barrier to entering FRC is also an important consideration. I think the old message, that a team could start with no previous competition experience and play “on a level field” against veterans, needs to be scrapped. The field has not been level for rookies for a long time. My own estimate is that the last time that was true was 1996. :wink:

Growing the FRC community requires that we change in directions that drive cost down and increase the potential for iterative improvement within each new game cycle. I like Nick’s suggestion because it will do that.

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Hey now, a rookie captained an alliance to Einstein in 2009. Not quite Beatty in '96, but not that far off. :wink:

You don’t use any short pieces in your old robot? If you need a longer piece than what you have available, then you would have to buy longer stock. I’ve had to buy new material too.


If you study the Game Manual, you will notice some of them set out principles that the teams are to follow. These generally do not have dimensions or other specifications. The rules on COTS parts and the re-use of parts and software are examples of this.

Prescriptive rules are ones where one has to do what is described. Examples are the sections of the Game Manual (any year) that refer to the wire colours and sizes or the motors allowed.

Would we have things like the 2910 swerve and other team inspired COTs items if teams were allowed to use stuff built earlier?

Allowing prefabricated generally useful items seems pretty benign to me. I don’t see what difference it makes if Team A has a stash of COTS gussets they purchased in October while Team B has a stash of gussets that they fabricated in October.

I’d probably go further and say that published designs of gear plates or whatever could just as well be produced early instead of rushing them at the beginning of January.

I can’t figure out how far down that path I’d be willing to go if I was writing the rules. Taken to an extreme, a team could build a refined drive base with a two stage elevator and wrist joint already in place. Then design an arm and end effector during the season, and you’re already sitting in pretty good shape. That seems like a pretty big head start, but maybe this is ok? Teams already have drive base designs and elevator designs to fall back on, and drive bases and elevators are available as COTS packages.

I agree with the sentiment that teams should give their students the chance to experience a good design process each season. Would opening these rules up result in a worse design process for a lot of teams? I don’t know. I suspect that some teams would settle for a suboptimal solution that’s already sitting in their shop and miss out on the chance to design something better. Other teams might get a chance to design a good manipulator with the time they gained by having the drive base done early, rather than designing a mediocre one under the traditional rules.

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Every year, I see a few teams who essentially show up with the KoP chassis and little else, indicating that assembling the KoP chassis probably used up a lot of their bandwith. If they could re-use a previous chassis, it might not be the optimum choice (in terms of long vs. wide) but they would have the chance to get it running reliably in the off-season. They could then focus almost all of their efforts on the scoring mechanisms, which is a lot more inspiring. We have a couple of “perpetual rookies” with little in the way of money and mentors that could possibly use the same chassis for quite a few years and do a lot more than just try to play defense with a hastily assembled box on wheels.

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The other side of all this is that if more teams re-used parts from previous robots, the money that sponsors gave the team to create everything brand new could instead be directed to sustaining struggling teams or starting new teams.

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For overall sustainability, I feel we should focus on areas other than allowing teams to use gussets manufactured before Kickoff. For the teams that I see in our area that are struggling, they generally build simpler robots so the cost of buying the gussets will not be that great. Well, not in comparison with the registration fee.

I think your overall reaction is fair and measured. You are clearly laying out your opinion, while also being self-aware of how your background could influence your reaction.

I think I share some of the same concerns you have expressed.

However, I think having an easy-to-build, scoring robot for FRC can actually be a great thing for FRC teams. When any FRC team gets to the carpet at a Regional/District and actually scores points, there is an emotional (dare I say “inspirational”) payoff for their season that can’t quite be matched in some of the “hard lessons” of manufacturing, programming, designing, prototyping, etc that come with the current FRC paradigm. This emotional payoff is part of the magic of FRC, seeing your machine work on the competition field. Teams that come with non-functional boxes on wheels (or worse) often miss out on this aspect of FRC. I see it every year at the Regional events I attend.

Removing the barriers to that emotional/inspirational payoff at competition has been a priority in other robotics platforms. I’d like to see those principles transferred to FRC.

-Mike

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Serious question, if they arent taking advantage in the offseason to learn the KOP chassis now, what says that they will if the rules change?

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I started to think about what it would take to get an Everybot into the kit of parts in the yearly game design cycle and I can see why this hasn’t happened yet.

What if, for example, the kit of parts came with the parts to build a robot capable of certain parts of the game, but it was always random. Say one team’s kop came with a level 1 cycling bot with a climber, another with a rocket bot and no climb. I don’t wanna see this implimented, but it’d be a hilarious kop lottery

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