Tips from a veteran Robot Inspector

Now that we are getting near robot completion it is now time to do some self inspection of said robot.

  1. Go through the Robot Inspection checklist.
  2. Be sure Main Breaker is where anyone can reach/see it. If your robot starts to smoke, during a match, wouldn’t it be nice if someone can quickly shut down your robot without having to hunt for the OFF switch?
  3. One wire per Wago slot.
  4. Confirm proper wire gauge, per application, per breaker.
  5. Sharp corners. Remove them. I don’t like seeing blood, especially my own :ahh:
  6. Place air pressure gauges where they can be seen clearly.
  7. Confirm any appendage cannot go further than 14 inches.
  8. Bumpers. Use ¾ inch thick by 5 inches tall plywood, 8 inch minimum length. I have seen teams use ½ inch thick plywood and have to rebuild all their bumpers at a regional before they were allowed to play. Don’t be that team.
  9. Bumper Zone is 2 inches to 10 inches.
  10. Battery securely contained in robot. I have seen too many robots, during a match, dragging their battery.

At the regionals:

  1. Don’t wait till the last minute to have your robot inspected. You will avoid the rush from the other teams who waited till the last minute.
  2. Don’t get mad at the inspectors if they ask you to make some changes. They are only trying to help you have a great regional experiance.

I took a look at what my students had cut so far for the bumpers and caught this exact problem yesterday. Thanks for the reminder list!

I second this. Last year we made the mistake of not securing our battery before an Elimination match and it was thrown from the robot about 20 seconds in.

If your robot isn’t complete on Thursday, you can still get a partial inspection. For a big part of the day, there are usually a few inspectors standing around, looking for something to do. Grab one, have him/her look over your robot, cross some things off the checklist, perhaps the inspector can give you insight on simple ways to improve your design or make it compliant. Then, when you’re complete and ready to go, you can finish the inspection and be ready to play.

We do this regularly; it gives us a chance to have a fun, relaxed interaction with the inspectors. They’ve given us lots of tips - both design and strategy.

Inspectors, referees, field crew, administration - they’re all good people, and they’ve all been in your position before. Take the time to make good relationships with them. It’ll pay in spades.

Thirded with emphasis. Also, anything that’s elastic doesn’t count as secure. We lost the '07 Great Lakes Regional for 1114 because I assumed another mentor purchased a proper battery strap and it turned out to be elastic. After technical difficulties in Semi 1, we went out in Semi 2 without a bumper that covered our battery. All that was holding the battery in was this elastic strap. Someone hit us hard enough to rocket our battery out of the robot and there goes what should have been an epic trophy for my team.

Quoted for truth. That little breaker gets exponentially harder to find when you’re trying to turn the robot off quickly while still being conscious of the safety issue at hand. Print off the nice, red-and-white striped sticker from FIRST and put it on before the competition, and everyone will be happy.

Now that we are less than a week to Stop Work Day, (and since a new Inspection Checklist was released last night) it is time to remind all teams that robots need to be inspected before all competitions. As it appears that many teams are choosing pneumatics this year for some functions, let’s start there.

  1. The compressor used to charge the robot storage system must be an FRC legal compressor controlled by the Crio. If you choose to keep your compressor off-board, it still must operate under Crio control and all other robot rules must be followed.

  2. Valves must meet the max volume spec of 0.32 Cv per R71.

  3. Components may not be modified. This includes painting, grinding to remove weight, etc. You may remove the pin from a cylinder as long as the cylinder itself is not modified in the process.

  4. Tubing can be a maximum of .160 ID and all tubing must carry a working pressure rating of 125 psi.

  5. Working pressure must be supplied through one primary Norgren regulator at 60 psi. Working pressures less that 60 psi can be supplied through additional regulators downstream of the primary regulator.

  6. The pressure relief valve is not calibrated from the factory. You must adjust it to open at greater than 125 psi. This can be accomplished by bypassing the pressure switch and adjusting the valve while monitoring the high pressure gauge. Be sure to tighten the locking collar and test again.

  7. The pneumatic system will be checked during the “Power On” test portion of the Inspection Checklist on p2.

Please have several of your students and one mentor assigned to checking over the Inspection Checklist prior to sealing the bag next Tuesday. It will save you considerable time at your events. Remember that when you inspect early, you get to go into the practice fill in line and get some extra practice time on the field.

One quick reminder…The rules have changed this year for maximum size of the operator console. This is due to the ball return’s size in the driver’s station.

The Operator Console must not exceed 44 in. long by 12 in. deep (excluding any items that are held or worn by the
Drivers during the Match).

Are all previous year KOP valves considered legal?

Doubtful. The 0.32 C[sub]V[/sub] requirement is new enough that several years’ KOP valves likely have not been vetted by FIRST. Also, inspectors are not typically provided with documentation for KOP valves, especially from previous years.

The best protection is to bring the manufacturer’s documentation for the valve.

  1. If you are using a chain be sure to put a guard over it, if there is any chance someone can get aan appendage caught in it ::ouch::

This is all great advice. It is so importance to go through the checklist yourself, before build season is over. So, here’s the official checklist:

  1. Go through the Robot Inspection checklist.

And, because there’s been so much discussion about bumper length:
8) Bumpers. Use ¾ inch thick by 5 inches tall plywood, 8 inch minimum length.
The 8" does not include any plywood in the corner (overlapping another bumper). You must have 8" from the vertex (corner of the frame perimeter).

I hope this helps. Good luck, everyone!

Do you have a link to this? I don’t remember seeing it on FIRST’s site.

What about protecting the shooter wheels? Our gears are relatively inaccessible but one could stick their hands into the wheel. Any comments or suggestions?


Clearly marking it as a dangerous area (caution tape or Yellow/Black stripes) is better than nothing if some sort of physical guard is not possible because of other constraints.

IT would be tough to prevent people from putting their hands in the wheel without actually hindering the ball’s path out of the shooter. I would do with enguneer’s recommendation and put some caution tape or warning sign near the shooter. Like what you see on a lawn mower reminding you that blades moving at however many RPM can be hazardous to the well being of your fingers. :smiley:

We are assembling our shooter - it sits on a what looks like a 17" dia gear. In some places this gear gets close to the plate under it. If one got a finger under it or near the gear (on a AndyMark gear motor) that drives the turntable, it could hurt you. So my question is - will a robot inspector likely make us cover this area for safety reasons?

Keith and Joe,
The best answer would be to protect as much of the shooter (or any moving parts) as best you can. Field resetters, judges and refs aren’t always robot team members.

Next installment in the Al’s Annual Inspection list. Thanks to Wayne for getting it started this year.

Ok bumpers have been around for a while, they change a little every year but they are here to stay. You must satisfy all the bumper rules, not just selected ones. So here goes…

  1. They must be backed by 3/4" thick plywood, 5 inches high. If you are not able to get 3/4" in your country then the nearest metric equivalent is OK. Pine boards and MDF are not allowed.
  2. You must have two, vertically stacked 2 1/2" pool noodles. Color is not a consideration but they must not be modified by inserting round bar stock to add weight or shaped in any fashion to allow better functionality for your robot. Exception to this rule below.
  3. Bumpers must be covered in strong fabric of red or blue color, closely matching the colors of the First Logo. 1000 denier nylon is recommended. You will need to change colors depending on which alliance you are assigned in any match. This means you either have a method of changing colors on one bumper system or you have two bumpers systems, one blue and one red.
  4. You may add a 5" long piece of pool noodle in a vertical orientation to cover the corners of your bumper system. This is to insure that no hard parts of your robot or bumper is capable of contacting another robot or field parts. You may miter the corner pool noodles to accomplish this protection. See Fig 4-6 in the robot manual.
  5. Bumpers must attach firmly to the frame of your robot, be able to be easily removed or mounted and all parts of the bumper system must remain inside the critical 2" to 10" above a flat floor. All sections do not need to be at the same height but they all must remain inside the bumper zone when mounted.
  6. Bumpers need to have your team number displayed on four sides of your robot. The numbers need to be 4" high, 3/4" stroke and readable from a distance. Team numbers need to be white in color or outlined in white. If you are doing well, you want other teams to know who you are.
  7. Small gaps behind the bumper system are allowed due to boltheads, fasteners and welds. However, bumpers only work when backed up by robot structure. So small spaces can be bridged by the bumpers but nothing greater than 8" long. See Fig 4-7 of the robot rules.
  8. With this year’s game, many teams will design their bumpers to have openings for appendages or ball handlers. That is OK as long as all exterior vertices are covered with a bumper section (backing board) of at least 8" in long on both sides of the vertice.
  9. Your bumpers will be weighed separately at inspection so remove them but bring them with your robot to the weigh and size station. One complete set of bumpers must weigh less than 20 lbs. Both sets need to be weighed if you have a red and blue set.
  10. Securely fastened to the robot frame means threaded fasteners, cleavis pin attachment or some other rigid form of attachment. Zip ties, duct tape, rubber bands or velcro do not meet the requirement of secure fastening.
    There are several questions about bumpers on the Q&A forum, I suggest you search ‘bumpers’ on the forum and read them. You can find it here…

For that I would definitely cover it with some sort of shield. I thought you were initially referring to the wheels of your shooter. For the safety of your team and the event volunteers, I would protect the area.


As far as the wheels, which I thought is what he was talking about, it would be difficult to protect them without blocking the ball. I would completely agree, however, that any other area that could be considered unsafe should be covered by something to prevent caught fingers. I’m working field reset this year for the first time and I certainly don’t want to be hurt in any way that isn’t due to a lack of attention on my part.

I was - these were two distinct questions. Thanks for the advice on both!