Thankful for No Bag Day

Yes. I remember a local team that has been to Einstein, unbagging a robot that had no wheels or control system installed. Apparently, their sheet metal sponsor was behind schedule and delivered their parts the evening before Bag Day.

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Has Week 1 Competition…

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But that means there’s no use for this video :frowning: Who am I kidding? Of course there’s still a use for this video.

Context

Bagging your robot in 18.36 seconds

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That is why I do FRC: To go Insane.

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Since our team has typically participated in Week Zero (historically the weekend prior to bag day) and Week 1 events, having no bag day only gives a few extra days that hopefully SW and drivers can use.

There was one year that our team lost over a week due to exams mixed with snow day/school cancellations. No school == no robot time.

Good luck everyone from New Hampshire

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I believe that this is a great thing for low budget teams. Last year, we were on track to finish on bag day at 12 am (it got stressful at the end). However this meant 0 practice time and no chance to revisit our designs. Other teams however get a practice bot (which is still helpful this year to a degree) to keep driver training going and create subsystems that are tested and ready to install.

With Bag gone, we are still on track to finish by the end of February but now will have 3 weeks to practice and improve on software + revisit designs looking at what is most important.

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While I have been aware of a different feeling this year, it’s hard to separate out how much of that is due to the lack of bag day, and how much to other factors. We’re still going to a week 1 comp, but also we are not making a practice bot, due to the lack of bagging, so that is definitely a factor contributing to the team not going positively bonkers like headless chickens at this point. However, we also have a very smart, motivated, dependable, hardworking (if small) team, which is a bit different from the past few years, and we’ve been able to avoid ‘biting off more than we can chew’, for once.

One thing I’ve noticed, though, regardless of the CAUSE of OUR particularly calm season, is that the more relaxed build season is giving us much more opportunity to actually teach the students; not only how to use tools, write code, etc., but also more of the fundamentals and underlying math and physics. Just yesterday one of our mentors was explaining EMF to a group of students, who were engaged and had the time to ask questions and explore the topic. Similar detailed explanations have occurred much more often this year, as we have the time to take a break from frantically devoting all efforts to getting a robot finished (and then a second).

I think this change is beneficial in many ways. I know as a mentor, I’m not going to be any MORE burnt out than I was in the era of the bag. I feel like I can breathe now, and the season will still basically run from kickoff until our last competition. No change there, but at least it’s a LOT more enjoyable this way.

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Our biggest mistake was deciding to build 2 robots with No Bag Day. 3 extra Build Days (ship Feb. 20) isnt a reason to build another fully functional bot.
Next season and beyond, never again.

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Do you normally not build a practice robot? What is your team’s schedule like during competition season when you presumably rarely have your real robot because of long shipping times? Do you do iteration in small pieces without a practice robot and bring that to competitions to iterate?

If I don’t have a complete nervous breakdown at least once during build season, somethings wrong.

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Like right now for us. We have 0 parts assembled and it is 1.5 weeks until the local scrimmage. Time to reconsider the meaning of life. The programming team loves the mechanical team.

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Are you sure we don’t belong to the same team?

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Who knows? Colorado and New York are pretty close.

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Up to about a few years ago, we have never had a practice robot.
Our drivers would get the last weekend of build season to practice driving, in between the programmers working on auto and basic robot functions. The only time they practiced were at regional events on Day 1.
Recently, we have built a practice bot, but because we are gone so often, we have yet to practice outside of the 6 week window til this day. Hence, the practice robot has only allowed programmers to revise or change some routines. We dont iterate also due to lack of time at home/shop.
The challenge this season is we have a practice bot (1st robot of 2) that weighed in at 138.xx lbs. We had to spend the last 8 days cramming changes and lightening parts, which we still need to retrofit a completely wired robot.
I didnt forsee the overweight part, where if it was just a practice robot, we could have left it as is and just focus on the real comp robot.
Hope it all works…
It doesnt help that Robot 1 has to ship out next week Thursday already, with Robot 2, 3 days later.
We could have built just 1 robot if we didnt sign up for Taiwan. But with the lack of regionals these days, its hard to plan out back to back weeks when regional event locations arent scheduled the same every year.

Competing in Week 1 and 2 events.

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Considering our robot is still basically a drivetrain right now, I’m very glad that we don’t have to bag today. However, we’re still competing Week 1, so the rush is still on…

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I was vehemently against the removal of bag and tag day because of what it will do in regards to kid and mentor burn out, and well, it looks like I may have been wrong. We elected not to build a practice robot this year, and despite some issues on the programming side of things, we seem to be in pretty good shape, with the mechanical/electrical teams having very little to do at this point and only the programmers in a scramble.

Given that in the past few years we got as much practice as we could in with our practice robot after stop build day, I don’t forsee this actually costing us time and burnout, and instead saving it; that’s with the unchanged goal of a fully functional and ready-to-compete robot by Week Zero.

I think that, with a more confident programmer base (we lost our only programming mentor last year and are basically starting fresh again), this build would have been almost relaxing…at least in comparison to the past however many years.

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My projects always expand to fill the deadlines. Unfortunately that meant work got in the way of mentoring this year. Maybe you did a good job keeping your team on task. it will be interesting to see not just this year, but next (and future) season(s) as well.

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I can’t imagine what it was like to be a rookie team with the six week build season; teaching everyone how to build a robot while simultaneously trying to build a robot is a strenuous, time-intensive task. No bag day is allowing us to actually design our own robot and the kids are learning exactly how to do everything in the process.

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We have kept our deadline as “functional robot on stop build day,” so there’s no extra time to fill. What’s freed people up is the lack of need to build a second robot–we built some spare parts and will likely do some upgrades as the need arises, though.

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One of the things I didn’t like about the bag day was the timing - Tuesday at midnight. A lot of our students simply can’t be out that late on a school night, and mentors need to go to work the next day. This tended to result in a mob of students in the evening that slowly petered out until maybe 10 people were still around when we bag the robot. Those people then go home exhausted, and we spend the next few weeks fretting about what we didn’t manage to finish and how we’ll try to cram as much as possible into the next unbag window.

This year we are setting a self-imposed “bag day” deadline of Saturday, Feb 22 at something more sane like 9pm or 10pm. We’ll have a team party to celebrate. We planned a public demo at our local library for the following Wednesday Feb 26 so that gives us incentive to make sure there’s something functional to show - and still give us a few weeks for tweaking, software, testing, and driver practice before our first competition in week 3.

We’re still building two robots, so we can practice, tweak, do software testing, hardware iteration, etc. simultaneously and also to reduce wear and tear from practicing.

In addition to these strategies we’ve also been trying harder on each subteam to keep expectations more realistic. When we set our priority list on kickoff weekend the top priority was “a robot that drives and passes inspection”. There were a lot of laughs but the reality is, we didn’t deliver that by our first event last year (we got it up and running during the first event) so students know that this is a priority. Sure, we want a climber. Sure, we want to do the control panel. But first, let’s just get something that works.

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