This is my 12th year in FIRST Robotics, and I’d thought the build had generally become somewhat routine, the games somewhat predicable, and I’d just about seen it all. But now in the third week of build season, I’m finding this very difficult. Even with the ability to rapidly make parts in-house and over a decade of experience of doing this, I’m finding myself doubting our abilities to get it all done by the deadline, and do everything well in this game, and keep the robot built to our standards of quality.
Over 2 weeks in and here’s where we are:
Accurate prototype shooter.
Full welded steel pyramid about 90% constructed.
One goal and one feeder station constructed
All sprockets, bearing blocks, chain tensioners, and wheel axles machined
Electronics mostly laid out, and wire routing planned
Base chassis mostly designed. Still need to design base pan.
Here’s what scares me:
The climbing mechanism has not yet been designed for real in CAD
Neither has the shooter
Nor has the intake conveyor
Nor has the feeding mechanism
Nor has the storage area.
There are areas of our robot that could experience 600 lbs of force under certain circumstances.
All of the above I can see taking another full week to design.
And the really scary part, is I can envision a week straight of welding for 4 hours every night being necessary.
Fitting all this stuff into the new 112" frame perimeter has been a nightmare and a half. And I know there are others with more years in FIRST than myself who have mentioned the same difficulties.
If those of us with this much experience are having this much trouble with it, I fear for what the game will look like for teams of average standing. The teams who work out of a classroom or meet less than 20 hours per week are really going to struggle.
Is this the year one robot/team just can’t realistically do it all?
Is combining the challenging game with the reduced size just too much to ask?
Is there any wayto be competitive at this without meeting every single day until midnight.
I’ve poured every neuron in my brain and dollar in my wallet into this over the past two weeks, and it doesn’t seem any easier yet.
I think a lot of teams will really struggle this year, unless they decide to abandon any plans for hanging beyond 10 pts. The 20 and 30 point hangs will be very rare, especially for a robot that also shoots well.
Kudos to FIRST for really switching it up, but I feel this year has just taken a littletoo big of a step, to the point where the key members of a team are required to sideline the rest of their lives to be truly competitive in this sport. As a teacher, on top of my full time job, I’ve put in over 45 hours per week over each of the last two weeks (and so have some students) outside of the school day, and we’re still behind. Being a real leader in this sport is a full time job, which is a lot on top of an already full time job.
I’m not saying I want an easier challenge, but if after 12 years and almost all the resources we could need, me finding it difficult makes me think it’s terrifying if not impossible for many teams to do well in this year’s game.
Anyone agree with any of the above?