The FIRST day...

What is everyones impressions about how the game actually played out compared to how they thought it would.

As my screen is filled with as many webcasts as I can find I’m surprised by a few things but others i thought would happen.

  1. In the majority of rounds at least 1 team fails to enetr autonomous because of the humans being to slow. This will surely decrease as time goes on but I’d think people would know to go fast.

  2. So many boxes left on the ramp at the end. Teams have to start knocking them down. This WILL NOT be happening in the finals.

  3. I haven’t seen so many bots tip over since…I’ve never seen so many bots tip. I thought that tipping would be a rare occurance except for ramp-dom fighting.

  4. I’m not surprised by the lack of stacking but its still early. It seams that instead of stacking most stackers end of tipping. The bots who stack inside the bot or steal stacks appear to be the only ones that contribute to the match.

  5. Scoring is very low, the highest I’ve seen as of yet is 120. The lowest 0 and the average total is about 60. Also the close rounds seem to be in the 40s while the teams who score about 90 normally slaugter there opponent.

  6. The score board, it took me 5 minutes to realize why the team numbers lit up. But I still haven’t figured out the numbers next to them.

Do you have any pictures or videos from the competition?

never mind, here is the sit that has the pictures

I haven’t seen so many bots tip over since…I’ve never seen so many bots tip. I thought that tipping would be a rare occurance except for ramp-dom fighting.

Nah I knew tipping was going to be very very common considering that you need a tippy robot just to stack boxes.

its deffinately different than what was expected by us. so few of the stackers ever touch boxes. a few more robots auto mode works than we were expecting, but most don’t look very effective yet. the highest stacks at the OH regional were 2 stacks of 3, made by robots, and one stack of 4 made by human players, no other stacks were left standing

I’d really like to here from people who were there and on the field, that view is always the best. Chances are they won’t be on in mass until Sunday though.

It appears that except for knocking down the boxes noone does what they designed there bot to do. The stackers just push the crates around. I haven’t seen a ramp-dom hold the ramp but I haven’t seen any of the true ramp-doms in action yet notable the technokats, clarkson, and swampthing. I have noted a few teams trying to hold the ramp but they just get thrown out of the way.

I didn’t see any teams trying to throw bins or drop them over the ramp. The most common thing was to plow them over the ramp or shove them into the dead-zone.

It seemed that the winner was the team who had the most of the robots on the ramp, and the decding factor was commonly the numbers of crates in there zone. The exception was when teams protected there human player stacks.

Here are my observations from watching the VCU webcast, and a little of the Buckeye webcast:

Less than half of robots successfully use autonomous mode.

Line followers almost never work.

Dead reckoning nav with gyro assist seems most successful auto mode.

Strong 4 wheel drive robots have advantage, especially on the wire ramp.

Tall, high CG robots with stacking mechanisms get flipped a lot.

I saw only only one real attempt at stacking bins. It was not successful.
seems like all teams have determines that stacking bins is a waste of time
and effort.

Many robots are inactive on the field at all times. Some never leave the
starting box. Others die and then revive. Other than the obvious cases
where there were drive motors and batteries lying on the
field during the match, I’d guess there are a lot of breakers being tripped
from teams trying to get too much speed through tall gearing, and that batteries are
dying before the end of a match.

Not may robots seem to be going under the limbo bars, even the ones that are
low enough, and the way is open. This is puzzling. It would generally be
better to get to the other side of the field under the bar than over the
ramp. Much less power/energy required.

Robots with pnuematic tires bounced around a lot and lost traction
if their tires were full. Need to soften the tires for less bounce and more

I think a lot of teams that shipped their 'bots with line following auto code will be now scrambling to figure out the yaw rate sensor!

Bruce C.

I’m curious how the different suction cup gizmos were working. I saw a bot at the Buckeye that had these long yellow paddle arms, couldn’t see the team #. But the bottom of them were lined with 6 cups each (12 total). They plopped them on the hdpe, but another bot pushed them right off, and they looked to be of average traction 2wd bot. Are those things working or what?? Looks as I expected, the hdpe is marred and sullied enough to prevent a seal??

So I guess that suction cups are practically useless in a pushing battle huh?

Dunno, that was the only bot I could make out from my 4" visual of the web-cast. Being that it had 12 of them sticking out all over the place, heh! But I’m sure more teams were using them. I just wonder if it was just them and the way they were applying them, or if this was a general problem??

Well, I’m on one of the rookie teams and therefore we have no experience so I’m just trying to get an idea of what regionals may be like.

P.S. We’re going to be at the Great Lakes Regional

We’re here at VCU, and we’ve noticed few sucessful autonomous modes. The only thing that seems to work best is dead reckoning. Our team created an auto mode w/ dead reckoning, and we only used timing, and we seem to have it going fairly good.
Alot of human player stacks have ended up being the final stacks, and thus, not knocked over. Also, stackers seem to have a big disadvantage to pushbots, because the pushbots move bins so well that stackers can’t work w/ the bins, or just don’t work well. We weren’t happy when we found out we couldn’t use our stacker, but we quickly shifted our strategy to be a pushbot, and we’re finding out that it was a wise move…

Stacking is useless.

The ability to move stacks may be useful but so far has been unsuccessful

The first stack attack is all-important

The best bots have a happy medium between strong and fast. 4wd is very helpful on the ramp, but not necessary.

Suction cups are impractical and not worth the effort.

Your bot must be able to take hits!

Traction on the HDPE isn’t really all that much of a problem.

Limboing is useful but not necessary. The biggest use is against a team with a strong autonomous. You can knock them off reversing under the bar and giving them a good hit.

From a driver’s perspective, the hardest thing is SEEING YOUR BOT. I advise all low teams to put some sort of flag on your bot so you have some idea where you are. One time, our other driver thought he was heading towards a stack off to the side in the blue scoring zone. We both lost sight of the bot, and the next thing we knew it was plowing through stacks at the top of the hill.

Some situations and experiences of team 540 at the VCU regionals:
We had six matches today. Yesterday, we got a partial inspection from an inspector from another team, and everything was checked off except for sharp edges, a couple uninsulated leads, size, weight, and components list. Today another inspector came 20 mins. before our first match and told us all of our wires needed to be rerouted and tied off. The rationale was that it might get caught in a mechanism, which I strongly disagree with. Some of our data cables got cross wired, and without enough time to check it, we didn’ find out until the start of the first match. We were immobile, and just sat there flapping our wings all match trying to fly. The moral is to either get a full inspection at one time, or make sure you get the same inspector. Lost 89-53 (gg team 339)

The second match, our drivetrain was very sluggish (although we’re still not quite sure why) and we spent most of the time trying to clear our our opponents scoring zone, while our ally was completely non-functional. We lost 62-8 (ouch!)

I left to get lunch before 3rd match because I wasn’t driving and the robot wasn’t broken. Before I left I gave our mentor very clear instructions that the battery needed to be replaced. It never happened and the level was too low. We ran for autonomous (into the wall), and then died. Our ally was only slightly more functional. Lost 77-3 (double ouch!!)

We finally got everything working before the 4th match (and I vowed never to leave again). Bot worked great, and we spent most of the match cleaning blue carpet (we were red). Our ally scored points and made it to the top of the hill after a brief fight. Won 73-41

Grudge match. This was exactly the same lineup as our first match (random computer my butt!) Same strategy as previous match. Knocked down a couple stacks of bins on the hill, then attacked blue’s bins. Team 388 had about 25 bins scattered across their scoring zone including 2 stacks. We basically set up a grid pattern to sweep boxes out of their zone. When we were done there were 3 left. We then pushed one box from the blue scoring zone over the hill into our scoring zone, which is the only time I have seen a box move from one zone to another. Went to the top of the hill and sat and watched as 339 and 388 battled over the top for the last 45 seconds. The reason we didn’t help was that I was yelling at 339’s drivers to let 388 have the hill- we needed some QP’s. Eventually they gave up trying to prove who had the most powerful bot, and 388 took the hill. Won 49-28

Last match- battle of the pushers. All 4 bots were low-slung, fast and powerful. Resembled battlebots. We shoved 1 bot off the top and took their place, and we were trying to push the other enemy off when our ally comes rocketing up the ramp, knocking the blue bot off, and taking its place at the buzzer. Possibly the most exciting match of the day. (at least that I saw) Won 70-32

We are currently ranked 17th, and hopefully that will improve tommorrow. If not, please, please, please, please, please, please, please pick us if you are in the top 8. We have a powerful and versatile bot that is working great. We probably would be doing better if not for 2 very dumb mistakes.

My team is at the St Louis regional. I’m an engineer/mentor who helps mostly with drivetrain and electrical things, so I had some extra time after we shipped the robot. I volunteered to help the FIRST crew at the regional.

I spent Thursday inspecting robots, and today doing sundry odd-jobs around the pits and playing field. I got a very good close-up view of many robots and many matches.

Some apparent trends:

(1) Stacking appears to be a waste of time because almost any robot can knock down a stack, and a robot that is powerful enough to defend a stack can usually get more points by finishing on top of the hill. Every stack that actually survived to count in scoring at St Louis today was made by a human player. The highest multiplier achieved today was six, and that only happened in one match.

(2) Powerful robots tend to win by forcing the wall to fall their way and then staying on the hill while forcing opponents off. Typical QP totals were about 100 for the winning alliance, and there were several high-scoring close matches where the winners got more than 200 QP. The highest QP total I recall was 250.

(3) Because of the ramp, this game is very hard on robots that are not built to take hard shoving and impacts. Many robots sustained major damage. Some left parts on the field. Several were disabled or knocked over. One emitted smoke during two of its matches.

(4) Lowriding robots can help win matches if they are driven well. I saw at least two matches in which opposing KOH robots shared the hill, while the lowrider on one side rounded up bins in its own scoring zone and also cleared bins away from the opponents’ zone.

I would argue that you just haven’t seen any good stacking bots yet…

Saying that “stacking is a waste of time” may or may not be an accurate statement. “stacking is a waste of my team’s time” would’ve been a better phrase :slight_smile:

You may be right, but until my team gives it a go I will remain positive.

Seriously though, I was watching the VCU webcast and I didn’t even see anyone attempt to make a stack. Why I don’t know- probably because it’s a waste of time.

The question as I see it is:
Is stacking a waste of time, or have we not seen a team with enough practice and a good enough bot to do so successfully?

Everyone is bashing the suction cup bots. We have not been moved after deploying the cups. If you do it correctly it works.
Our team pushes down our cups, starts a vacuum pump on them, and after 2 seconds pull them back up. You aren’t moving us, period.

Way to brag dubes… way to brag

Check out the picture, 190 couldn’t push us off so they resulted to climbing on top (our robot definately SUCKS!)



playing8 (cropped).jpg

playing8 (cropped).jpg

I think the value of stacking still has not been determined. Watching VCU, there just weren’t enough ATTEMPTS at stacking for people to decide on its effectiveness. Many teams just didn’t try even though their robot was built for it! I think that rather than stacking being a problem, it was an error on the robot’s part.

Ball grabbers last year who were truly effective such as 121 (heh, nice to drive with you guys at nationals) were rare but their potential in a game and consistency was unrivaled. They won matches and they won them big. I expect big, experienced teams this year to be able to dominate whatever strategy they happen to have chosen. Whether it’s KoH or stacking, each provide great ways of winning or getting points but require a robot that can do it. Being the first qualifying day of the first regional, it is expected that many team have not completely finished and perfected their robot. Going to two or more regionals will definitely affect robot performance in the stacking area. I believe by the end of the month around the time of the Canadian regional, stackers will be dominant in getting points.

That’s just my thoughts on this at midnight.


Our team pushes down our cups, starts a vacuum pump on them, and after 2 seconds pull them back up. You aren’t moving us, period.

I am fairly sure this is in violation of rule m12.

Only the allowed air cylinders and permitted suction cups may be used to generate vacuum.

You might want to fix it before you go on, just so that you stay within the rules.

Back on topic:

What are the average top of the ramp times? No boasts, only facts please.


An air cylinder generates the vacuum.

Team Update 10:
In order to facilitate the use of off-the-shelf suction cups, especially those with built-in
fittings, connections or supply tubing, additional fittings such as reducers and connectors will
be permitted to connect the suction cup to the ¼” tubing supplied in the 2003 Kit of Parts.

Our suction cups have built in fittings. No one said that we could not connect a vacuum to the built in fitting on our prefab suction cups. Still think its in violation?