During the finals at the Buckeye regional, between finals matches #2 and #3, a 6 minute field timeout was in progress, at the 3:00 mark, the #2 seeded alliance attempted to but was denied using their timeout.

Is this correct? We were under the impression that we had until the 2min mark to call the timeout, but the Head Ref stated we only had 2 minutes after the field reset lights went green in our last match (Finals 2).

We were then permitted to use our backup coupon with just over 2min left of field timeout.

Check out Figure 10-4 under Section 10.9 on page 116 of the game manual. The referee was correct. In addition, I believe the FMS will not allow any exceptions to the rule any more.


If an ALLIANCE wishes to call a TIMEOUT, the ALLIANCE CAPTAIN must submit their
TIMEOUT coupon to the Head REFEREE within two (2) minutes of the ARCADE reset signal
preceding their MATCH. If there is no preceding MATCH, the TIMEOUT coupon must be
submitted no later than two (2) minutes before the scheduled MATCH time. The TIMEOUT will
begin two (2) minutes after the ARCADE reset signal (i.e. at the end of the TEAM TIMEOUT
Coupon Window depicted in Figure 10-4)

Meaning it has to be submitted in the 2 minutes after F1

Yep, ref was right. What we’ve done in the past is to stand next to the ref with the timeout sheet in hand and talk to him. Ask him when you HAVE to give it to him, and hand it to him at that time. That gets you the most “bang” for your buck.

We ran into this same issue at Tippecanoe. The ref was correct and the call was made properly.

One additional piece of information we discovered due to trying to play the timeout within the first 2 minutes of the field timeout:
THE SCOREBOARD TIMER IS NOT THE OFFICIAL REF TIMER. There is apparently a separate timer on the head ref panel that only he/she sees.

I feel like this is a massive oversight on FIRST’s part. While the text in the manual states that it’s after the reset signal, the only person who has this time is the head ref. The chart in the game manual shows these times on a bar chart specifically referring to the field timeout. The public looks at a different timer which has no official meaning.

This has the effect that the alliance timeout is virtually worthless. The maximum letter of the law has the effective value of 2 minutes, whereas the practicality is that it’s more like 1 minute. because the public field timer is usually delayed from the official field reset timer.

Ok so related question, then: WHY?

Our machines could have so many issues that are not immediately obvious in the first two minutes after the field reset lights go green (that time is often consumed by removing robots from climb situations and the field) but could be discovered during IO checkout next to the field.

What is the downside to allowing teams to call a time out during any part of a field time out?

We found the window for calling a timeout to be a bit short. After finals 1 in Las Vegas, the robot came off the field and the drive team said there was an issue with the wrist. We turned the robot on, tested it, and immediately saw that there was an issue with the wrist gearbox. We tried to call a time out but were too late. I think we could have been faster if the drive team was running while carrying the robot off the field, but I’m pretty sure that’s discouraged.

With all of the actions that happen after the reset signal time, you really don’t have any time to verify whether or not you have a problem that warrants a time out.

I’d like to thank the 379 for offering to use their timeout in the semi-finals of Buckeye Regional as well when our alliance member needed the extra time to fix their swerve drive module (this was also against the rules as back-to-back timeouts aren’t allowed).

Time, and the overall quality of the production.

If a team calls a 6 minute time out at the end of the 6 minute field timeout at the end of Finals 1, that is 12 minutes of downtime between the two (theoretically) most exciting matches of the event.

If you think about the event from a spectator perspective, 12 minutes is a lot of downtime between the peaks of your excitement levels. Keeping those matches as close as possible while still allowing for teams to get their bots ready is a good goal to have.

IIRC, the mandatory field timeout also didn’t exist until very recently. I randomly picked 2011’s manual and found no mention of it- back then teams had the option of using their timeout coupon between back-to-back matches, or just getting right back out on the field. The field timeout was put in place because it turns out that teams very frequently need a little bit of time between matches. It’s a free alliance timeout (the field secretly doesn’t actually need a 6 minute timeout).

This is the most effective way to do it under the current system. Heck, go ahead and tell the head ref exactly what you’re going to do–bonus points for the scorekeeper too (since the scorekeeper, not the head ref, is the one that actually clicks the Timeout Start button in FMS).

If you’re in quarters or semis, you know you’re on deck and can have the captain post up in the question box as needed. If it’s a finals situation, you may do well to start the conversation while the purple lights are still on, before you go get the robot. You were there, you know what (if anything) was acting up with the robot.

But in the case of back to back matches, you don’t get a 6 minute time out. You get a 2 minute time out.


T0 is when the field lights go green. If you are in a back-to-back match a 6 minute FIELD TIMEOUT begins immediately when the field lights go green. That is 6 minutes to identify and fix any issues your robot may have.

As per 10.9:

If circumstances require an ALLIANCE to play in back-to-back MATCHES during the Playoff MATCHES,
the Head REFEREE will issue a FIELD TIMEOUT to allow Teams to prepare for the next MATCH. FIELD
TIMEOUTS are the same time duration as TIMEOUTS.

If, during the FIELD TIMEOUT you opt to also use your alliance’s TIMEOUT, that alliance TIMEOUT is effectively worth 2 minutes, but the total timeout period is now 8 minutes.

I understand that, and don’t have an issue with that. The part I don’t like is how you have to know whether or not you will need to call that time out as soon as the robot comes off the field. There is a very narrow window to make that decision.

I think the rules would be better if teams could ask for the 2 minute extension up until the field timeout expires, in the case of back-to-back matches.

I think that would be reasonable. I wonder if the reasoning for the current rule is due to the fact that all timeouts are 6 minutes from when they are started (thus to get the 2 minute extension the scorekeeper starts the new timeout 2 minutes into the old one), or if they are trying to ensure that both alliances have a relatively equal idea of when the match is going to start (so when alliance A calls a timeout at 5:59, alliance B isn’t already on the field waiting for them).

The problem I see, as do others above, is that you really don’t have time to identify the problem if one exists (unless you visibly see it happen during the previous match) . In our case, the problem wasn’t even found until our partners brought their robot off the field and visually inspected it.

Generally, if there’s any indication whatsoever that there might be a robot issue, especially in finals, we use our timeout coupon. It’s better to be careful.

Another common practice is to stage our student right next to the head referee and unless we tell the student otherwise, have them give the timeout coupon at the last possible second. This lets you keep the coupon if it turns out not to be an issue, but also lets you be as careful as possible.

The system does feel archaic, but it has been the same way for at least a few years now, so teams should at least be informed about the rule.

I always thought it was weird how there was such a precise and strict time the timeout had to be called, but, at many events, the end of the timeout is very relax and almost like a reminder to start to get ready to get back on the field.

That’s been clamped down on. I’ve been to several events where the teams are instructed to be ON the field at the end of the TO, with queuing applying the metaphorical cattle prods.