Suffield Shakedown observations...

Hi everyone!

Just got home from Suffield in what was a fun day of action. First off, I want to send out congrats to the Gael Hawks, Uberbots, and Litchbots for winning the scrimmage. Also congrats to Gael Force, BOP, and Panther Project for comming in second.

Here are some observations of the day. I invite those who attended to add on to this report so that we can get the word out there of what to expect.

-Speed = Good…the laps those little speedy robots made did make quite a difference.

-Hurdling = More Gooder!..By the end, it was easy to figure out that the best hurdlers were the teams running away with the competition. The Gael Hawks were amazing, the Uberbots were excelent, and Gael Force was strong as well. All three in the finals.

-Penalties, Penalties, Penalties…This was huge. A great number of matches were decided by penalties.

-The biggest culprit of the day was the “wrong way infraction” which teams would pass over a line, then slightly go back over the line. Keep in mind, once your robot completely passes the line you CANNOT let any part of your robot pass back over that line in the clockwise direction. I’d say there were about 20-30 infractions today on that penalty.

-Hitting outside the bumper zone was pretty evident. You cannot use your arm to hit a robot outside of the bumper zone…they are cracking down on this in a major way.

-Interferance Penalties were also called a bit. More often resulting from a team hitting another team that was trying to hurdle. A couple of times it was called for not allowing a team to pass.

-80" rule…its very easy to break this rule even if you think your robot is in spec! If you fall down, hit your E stop IMMEDIATELY! If your tower is extended, and you dont hit your e-stop, you get penalized!

-Eliminations…these were alot like the quaifiers. One problem I already see developing which worries me, is the fact that you cant really strategize to beat out a stronger team. Pulling off a “controlled defense” is not an easy task…because of this, its hard for the better robot not to win.

-Traffic Jams…suprisingly, these were not as plentiful as I expected. Occasionally there were points where things would jam up going around a turn. The biggest culprit of a jam up was a dead or tipped robot.

-Laps…I did see quite a few teams make a living out of doing laps. The enforcers, spontanious combustion, and Apple-Pi were incredible because they were so fast, yet so well controlled. They couldn’t fully offset the hurdlers, but they definately made a big difference.

-Scoring…scoring system was amazing. Flat out.

-Reffing…referees have alot to cover, they have the toughest job this year for sure.

-Excitment…game had its good points and its bad points. I am still waiting til the end to hold out judgement, but I think its going to be a big hit to some people, and a big miss to others.

Once again, thanks for the great time today everyone. We’ll see you in a couple of weeks!

A few notes after watching 5+ hours of Overdrive…

-Scoring Display…even when viewed on a large screen projector, the numbers do not show up clearly. FIRST should englarge the entire scoring panel so the number of hurdles and pushunders are very clear. The lines counter should also not dissapear the instant teleoperated begins, as this important stat is crucial for scouting.

-Tipping over…to all top heavy bots: if you can add weight on the bottom to cancle out your giant heavy arms, do it. Once a bot tips, play becomes uninteresting and akin to merging lanes on the highway.

-Catapults…while Suffield did not have as diverse of a selection of bot styles as i hoped, the catapult style proved itself to be very advantageous if done right. Arm bots need to almost latch onto the Overpass to hurdle, and merely getting close to the OP is not as easy as it seems. The catapults ability to launch while far away makes them lethal.

-Hybrid…if you have no idea how to do it, ask another team to help you program a dead reckon linecrossing code. Some teams just stood in place for the 15 seconds instead of collecting the easiest 4 points in the game. Just remember the value of 1 line now instead of 8 later.

I’m still not impressed with the game, but I’m waiting until Hartford is over to render my judgement.

I didn’t get to watch the webcast (kinda had our own robot to build :rolleyes:), but I’ve got some questions.

Who was the head ref? How much difference did laps make? What was the average score? How many laps did teams who exclusive chased after laps get? How many hurdles did teams get one average. Who got the most hurdles? How many did they get? Did teams try to hide the other alliances balls in the corner? How did the robocoaches work? How was Hybrid mode in general? Did teams go for placement at the end of the match? Where balls typically knocked off the overpass? How many? Did anyone ever get the wrong ball in autonomous? Did robots on the same alliance collide in autonomous mode, resulting in less lines crossed? Inquiring minds wish to know!

Also, I know Litchfield has won this scrimmage before, and didn’t the Gael Hawks do pretty well last year? I remember watching their ramps deploy at any rate. :smiley:

Heh. Wow, that’s a lot of questions. :o

Yeah, the gaelhawks were with us, and we almost won.

*Head ref was some guy in an orange suit
*The laps turned out to make a huge difference, and there were some matches that were decided by them (if there were numerous penalties…)
*average score was in the 30-50 range for an exciting match, 0 being the lowest and 76 being the highest
*5-8 laps
*1-2 hurdles (0 low, 4 high)
*We got the most hurdles at 4
*one team tried, but it was their own ball, so i guess it was just a gripping problem. Those balls don’t stay in one place for very long
*robocoaches were useful with human input, but not with full control of the robot
*lots of teams took advantage of (attempting to) knock the balls off, and making laps, or combining the two
*many teams did, few succeeded consistently
*teams attempted to knock them off placed balls, but since they were placed with <10 secs left, you needed a quick method to be effective
*not that i know of
*not often… the only real error i saw was that some teams would run into the side of the divider, and would have their automode ruined. Not enough teams actually moved in hybrid to make this judgment.

that answer you?

I was surprised at the number of FRC teams in attendance who also had their sister FTC teams competing in the auditorium a few feet away, who didn’t bother to support them.

Gracious Professionalism? :frowning:

I was surprised how hard it was to knock the ball off the overpass. Just hitting was not enough.
I agree that the lap bots made a huge difference.

The Head Ref was Dr. Aidan Browne, Head of ALL referees and member of the GDC.

I know it wasn’t asked but, FIRST was well represented in Suffield as this was the first time the field had been used in a competition setting. It was a “Suffield Shakedown” for FIRST as well as the teams. FRC Director Bill Miller, FRC Engineering Director Neil Rosenburg, the incomparable FSM from NJ, Paul Kloberg, FIRST National Advisor Dr. Flowers (and Mrs. Flowers, nice to see you again.) I am sure there are others that made the trip from Manchchester, NH that I missed.

All of your questions regarding the game are important, but just keep in mind, this game, even though it seems simple, has quite a few of different variations and will evolve as the events unfold. Week 1 regionals will be very different than Week 6 Regionals and this is only the beginning.:smiley:

The most-hurdled match was the final match, where the winning team managed 5 hurdles combined (or at least according to the announcer).

The specialized lap-running bots (don’t have their #s, the webcast quality wasn’t good enough to read them) typically got about 7 laps. That’s pretty good considering it isn’t entirely likely that an opposing robot will get the 2 hurdles needed to offset that. Even the uberbots above said they averaged 2 hurdles in a match.

The field reset time was not fantastic, but that may have been because the teams were slow getting their robots on-field.

I cannot believe so many teams didn’t go for the drive-straight autonomous mode. This is the first year I’ve been in FIRST where you can actually get some permanent points simply for driving straight. If you have 3 robots that can do nothing else, having all 3 of them drive across the first line is 1.5 hurdles of points. DO IT. This is certainly something I see teams helping with at a competition pre-match: “hey do you have a drive-straight autonomous mode?” “no?” “ok here you go”.
If you’re having trouble with the code, here’s some:

pwmLeft = pwmRight = 127;
if(time < AMOUNT_OF_TIME_TO_DRIVE) // experimentally determined, but 100 might be a good bet
  pwmLeft = pwmRight = 190;

The farthest autonomous mode I saw was one of the Gaels with 3 quadrants crossed, AND a trackball unmounted.

Don’t panic. Some years no one has autonomous ready for the scrimmage events. Many teams were just finishing the mechanical assembly of their bots and have not had time to install and test their autonomous programs. Look for a lot more motion during match one of the first week Regionals.

Billy pretty much answered the rest of them, so I’ll just answer this one.

We worked with the Gaelhawks last year, which is why I remember this so distinctly.

Last year we (the ÜberBots/Gaelhakws alliance) made it to the finals, but lost and came in second overall at the scrimmage. We faced against the Gaelhawks at the Regional and beat them. We were psyched to work with them again at the scrimmage this year, and we finally won together!

Great job to all the teams who showed up. It was a pleasure competeing with and against so many great teams. I was impressed with the speed and efficiency that the Uberbots had with the telescoping Arm. We seemed to be a good alliance along with the trusty Litchbots lapbot to aid in the scoring.

Those of us who are able to attend this scrimmage have a great advantage because we get to test our robots in the heat of the battle while there is still time to fix/adjust things. If you are in the area and havent been there before, mark your caladers for next year because the information you walk awy from there with is invaluable. (Bit you have to signup early next year, as there is only room for 30 teams and I understand there was a wait list)

Thanks to all those volunteers who help put this together. I run the webcast with some other mentors on the team and we are there when the countless number of people setting up and somthimes are there till the wee hours in the morning finishing setup before hand. Its come a long way since it began as a makeshift testing ground for a hand full of UTC teams and now its as large as many regionals (and more in the wings waiting)

So a big thankyou to all those that have helped it grow over the past several years. The fact that FIRST sends down a full staff and leadership team, along with the Field and scoring systems in addition to many officials that work at many different regionals each year, tells you how important this is to the game itself.

Look forward to seeing you all at Hartford.

Just curious, how many teams did the IR and how successful was it?

Um… what kind of drive system are you expecting? I can’t think of any where it would make sense to use the same value for the left and right PWMs. Most systems have the left and right motors facing in opposite directions and would therefore use value pairs where one side’s value is equal to 255 minus the other’s.

Actually, it depends from setup to setup. Currently, a dashboard hooked to our robot’s OI would read 255 on both sides when the robot’s going forward–but because we flipped one side of our drivetrain’s wires. Saves us the programming tomfoolery otherwise required.

A large number of teams that I’ve seen have figured out that it makes a lot more sense to swap the motor wires on one side of the drivetrain, rather than having to remember to handle it in software.

Right, that would be a good fix… I started my robot-programming career with a VEX kit, and that’s not an option there, so I guess I never considered it when I graduated to FRC programming.

Actually, we had an average of about 3 hurdles per match, maybe slightly more. we only had two matches with < 3 hurdles.

Also in some test runs today, we learned the importance of the autonomous mode… we got a maximum score of 32 points in a single run today. Considering that most matches at suffield averaged about that, that is a huge amount of points.

8 points this year is like 20 last year.

Well, reporting from the Gaelhawks side of things, it was awesome to work with the Uberbots and the Litchbots, and finally win with the Uberbots after last year!!! To answer some of the questions, we use our IR for some very high level autonomous coding. Based on accelerometers we drive around the field, but buttons modify the path and robot actions.

We also, similar to Uberbots, hurdle 3 times on avg, while also placing at the end. Other teams seem to avg 1-2 hurdles though. A key problem, as noted, is that robots seem to be VERY tippy. It was also great having referees doing a great job and really calling the penalties. Thank you so much, it keeps the fun in the game.

One thing 230 learned is that having the wiring for your IR receiver get caught in one of your chains is, rather surprisingly, not very good. During our first practice match we noticed almost immediately that the bot wasn’t driving right, and then we noticed that there were wires hanging out, so we drove to the wall and hit the E-Stop.

Another thing we noticed is that the bumps created by the supports for the middle wall are higher than we thought, to the point that our autonomous ran into the wall after hitting them.

This may have been asked somewhere else, but is a copy of the webcast available somewhere?

As for our drive system, we have our motors the correct way, compensating in the program. As it turns out, this typically works a lot better for the type of filtering and tracking math we have.

Our bot had some huge drive issues at the scrimmage, much do to with out wheels. We replaced our wheels today, and we are back in action, running around like crazy and picking up and scoring balls.

As for IR, we attempted during one match, just to see how well it actually worked, and it quickly became unreliable, as the bot moved away from the player station. Must try a more powerful, concentrated IR transmitter. As a driver, I only saw one other team in total use IR, but I was only on or near the field about 20% of the time.