Ok, Im not going to get into the “arguement” about kit frame or custom, but i thought i would share some of my experiences with frames. My first year was 2003 and the competition was a fairly simple one. In 2003 you had to go up a ramp and then knock down boxes. the field was split into red and blue sides and the boxes were to be put onto either red or blue and stacked for even more points and then at the end of the match it was a king of the hill game.
Now in 2003 my team (541) built a frame out of extruded aluminum and some aluminum box tubing. We won the Buckeye Regional that year and were picked as an alliance in the championship. We had no problem with the strength of the frame or the flexibility in designing a super-structure. In 2004 there were balls to score, a large one to cap the goal and a two step platform where on the second level there was a bar to hang from. We (Team 541) had improved on our previous frame by going to aluminum channel. We did well that year and were pleased with the improvements. In 2005 the competition was stacking tetrahedrons onto 9 larger goal tetrahedrons. A robot had to pick a tetra off the floor or get one from the human player, and then be able to stack them. In this year i joined the team i am currently on (1270) and we worked with the same engineer from the previous years. Again we improved on the frame and were competitive, including going to the finals in the Florida Regional. Last year we had to either collect balls into corner goals or shoot them into a high goal. We again improved the frame and we again were competitive. Now I have seen hundreds of robots and i have seen both kit frames and custom frames compete with each other. I have watched kit frames fail just as much as i have watched customs fail. A frame is only as good as it is designed, and even if a kit frame is pre-designed to a point, there is always room for customization. There is no rule to stop any team from beefing up the kit frame to make it whatever shape possible, whether it is making a square bot to play defense, a rounded one to be manueverable, or to design a conveyor system or herding area for object pick-up. There is also no rule saying that if your team uses a kit frame this year you are required to use it again next year. As a matter of fact I remember Dean Kamen saying last year that FIRST is not meant to be an activity that only takes 5 or 6 months. So why not build what you have the resources for this year and after this years competition is over start gathering resources and designing a base that will be versatile enough to be designed already and able to compete in anything with a little modifications.