What are the requirements you need to meet for extra needed unbag time?

Our team competed in week one. We have a mysterious issue where we randomly lose communications during a match. If you want to read through all of the specifics, here is the link to my thread about the issue and asking for help.

I was wondering what the requirements were for extra unbag time. If you read through the link, it shows how frustrating this problem is. We need extra unbag time, purely for diagnosing. Any ideas on how to achieve that?

I don’t have a citation on this, but something like this would likely not qualify. I believe extra unbag time would be for something like your robot being stolen or a natural disasters. And even then…

Now if you had a sponsor demo of your communication system… :wink:

(Don’t actually do that)

You don’t get extra unbag time without specific permission from First. They only give that in unusual situations. Like demonstrating your robot for the president of the United States.

One way to get legal unbag time would be to register for a District event. You would get 6 hours unbag a week before the event. It would be bad form not to go to the event though.

We have week 6 on its way. I just don’t think 6 hours will be nearly enough time to even test and diagnose the issue, on top of the other necessary fixes our robot needs. I understand robotics and troubleshooting in general is supposed to be difficult, but if an FTA + CSA + several other knowledgeable people can’t find the source, I feel like we are a special case. To put it in perspective, if this issue is not fixed by/at competition, our sponsors have wasted thousands of dollars for us to not compete. Yes, FIRST is supposed to be about everything you learn on the way, but you can’t deny the fact that there is still the competition element. If FIRST was completely about meeting new people, why wouldn’t they just host get-togethers? If FIRST was completely about learning how to build robots, why wouldn’t they just sponsor schools to have robotics classes?

I feel like our issue is different than most. We have a massive amount of stacked issues and haven’t had the time to test specific parts and pieces for failures. Yes, other teams have that type of issue, but we were the only robot at our week 1 event that was flat-out not able to perform for half of our matches. In fact, the only other team that I have heard of that has only been able to perform only as much as we have is 4201.

We would only use our time to test and diagnose this problem, not even to do the work to actually fix it. This would put us into a position where we will only take the time to find the reason why we can’t compete. It wouldn’t be an unfair advantage, it would actually be leveling the playing field. Think about the other robots that get partnered up with us, all setup with a disadvantage of playing 2v3. Now our issue is interfering with other teams’ opportunities to succeed in competition. If they need someone to oversee us, the FTA assigned to us at the competition told me he is able to work with us when our robot is unbagged.

This was a long, unnecessary explanation for Chief Delphi, but I’m pretty upset with our current situation and it’s how I feel about it. We would ask FIRST for the time, I was just asking here to see if it stood a chance of going through.

Reading through your other thread, indications point to your lift motor being the problem. Last year we had a similar issue. We used a mini cim on our fuel intake and at some point the wires got pulled which created a short at random times. We had checked everything we could think of and found the shorting out motor by accident when someone rested their hand on the motor while we did a systems check. The pressure was enough to move the motor to the point it shorted out and we lost comms.

We switched out the motor and no further issues. The reason, we determined, that it was random was we rarely activated the fuel pick up and only if a fuel ball came up in a certain path was there enough pressure applied to make the motor short out.

I know you had a motor expert say it wasn’t likely for a motor to short, in our case it was were the wires entered to motor housing. It’s worth checking as it sounds like you’re lift motor gets a lot of use and is when you lose comms.

Reading through your other thread, indications point to your lift motor being the problem. Last year we had a similar issue. We used a mini cim on our fuel intake and at some point the wires got pulled which created a short at random times. We had checked everything we could think of and found the shorting out motor by accident when someone rested their hand on the motor while we did a systems check. The pressure was enough to move the motor to the point it shorted out and we lost comms.

We switched out the motor and no further issues. The reason, we determined, that it was random was we rarely activated the fuel pick up and only if a fuel ball came up in a certain path was there enough pressure applied to make the motor short out.

I know you had a motor expert say it wasn’t likely for a motor to short, in our case it was were the wires entered to motor housing. It’s worth checking as it sounds like your lift motor gets a lot of use and is when you lose comms.

I totally understand your problem and situation, but unfortunately you are not the only team to have not functioned for the majority of an event. I can’t name teams that have had the same issues off the top of my head, but I can guarantee you there are quite a few every single year, and at a good number of events. This isn’t really a situation (as far as I understand) for which FIRST will allow you to unbag to work on the robot.

Heck, even teams with more than one AndyMark employee have taken a big L at their first event–with multiple mysterious drivetrain issues–and didn’t get extra time.

If you can fit in an out-of-district or regional play, that would certainly buy you time (literally). INWLA, MNMI, MNMI2, OHCL, and WIMI are all Week 4 or 5, vaguely Midwestern, show open spaces on the FIRST website, and outside of Michigan so you have the best chances of bouncing back at your Week 6 in-district event.

If that isn’t an option, or even if it is, you need to make sure your six hours are used in the best possible way. Part of how that team I mentioned earlier was able to bounce back was the patient help of CSA extraordinaire Alan Anderson, so definitely find a CSA that would be willing to crash your meeting when you unbag. I would also take advantage of the LRI pre-inspection option in the manual this year, so that any other issues you have floating around can be identified earlier and your withholding tailored accordingly.

It’s going to be an uphill climb no matter what, but it’s possible. Keep fighting!

Needing extra unbag time requires “Act of God” circumstances. You are not facing an Act of God, you are facing an Act of Quality.

What do I mean? Reading through the other thread, you have a system-level electrical quality control issue. They happen, some years. We had one last year, chased a comms-destroying short all over the robot during SFR, ended up rebuilding the entire wiring harness and fixing five or six other similar & related symptoms by the end of the event. Implemented a current draw budget in design & mentor-based QA process on every step of our electrical build this year, no electrical symptoms at Utah. We fixed the team process & culture around electrical quality, and our symptoms went away.

You are not alone in the program with your problems. Read 4201’s oddly similar San Diego post if you want to commiserate.

You can fix your problems. Prep spares of everything from PDP to motor, inclusive. Swap systematically. You’ll be fine.

You don’t need extra unbag time to do it. (See above posts, if you want to buy it anyway)

Ask for help, get it done, and after the season remember these panicked moments & let it drive you to research best practices to implement in your summer projects. :slight_smile: Ask questions; don’t be afraid to talk to powerhouse teams.

FIRST has no obligation to you or especially to your sponsors to make this any easier for you. If this program was easy, I wouldn’t be doing it.

An example of a situation where FIRST allowed Un-Bag time, is when 115 's entire trailer was stolen with their robot inside it. First allowed them to ‘Un-Bag’ so they would be able to build a robot to compete at their next event.

This is an excellent idea for you guys. Getting an extra set of eyes to look at your robot can often be very helpful and I’m sure there’s an LRI in your area you can reach out to. If you’re not sure who to reach out to, send an email to your district officials and I’m sure they can find someone to work with you.

Here are the citations:

Robot goes in the bag on Stop Build

No touching before or between events (or during events after the pit closes). Exceptions are for software development, preinspection with a certified LRI, and display purposes. No work can be done on the ROBOT during these exceptions.

Anything beyond this is such a rare occurrence that FIRST does not (to my knowledge) share what would be considered a legitimate reason to need time to unbag. As others have said, natural disasters and other tragedies and major hardships* are the only times these exceptions are really made. It sucks that your robot isn’t functioning how you would like - but we’ve all been there. CD can be a great resource for you to troubleshoot your issues but it is not the place to ask for rule exceptions.

*If you truly think your situation qualifies as this, contact FIRST. Don’t ask us - we’re all just using Google and Ctrl + F.

The demise of the bag cannot possibly come soon enough. That’s all I got.

Sorry OP, I really wish things were different.

I guess I won’t pursue the extra time. I still think it’s ridiculous that they don’t allow teams to diagnose severe issues like ours. It seems pretty mean to me.

Whatever, I guess it is what it is. I just wish it wasn’t.

cc: Frank Merrick, FRCTeams

Use your 6 hours to diagnose rule out as much as you can during that time fix what you can while diagnosing. next event make sure you get there early Thursday get your robot checked in and continue to diagnose until you figure it out. You should have about 5 hours Thursday, and if you get there right when pits open on Friday you’ll have another 4 hours or close to it. Events are your friend when it comes to work time and resources. Gather as many knowledgeable and willing people to help you as you can. We went to our first bumpered event 2016 our robot did not comply at all. we had a inspector about 4 team mentors, and about 6 students work with us to get into compliance. by the end of Thursday at pit closed we were all fixed up and ready to compete.

Thank you for the advice. We are making a list of things that we will test, and a list of things we will replace. The first part of the 6 hours will be doing that, the next part will be testing functionality, and the last part will be the application with driving. The FTA, Alex, said he could work with us during those 6 hours to help out. Also, luckily, he is an FTA at our week 6 competition, so he’ll be able to help us there as well. In my other thread I’m still gathering information about possible causes. I’ve dropped the idea of the extra unbag time. We’ll make the best use of our time and do what we can. I apologize, yesterday I was upset about the whole situation again. I’m realizing now the only thing we can do is our best. The extra unbag time would be a bonus, but if we focus we might not need it.

I guess this case is closed.

We’ve all been there. Things went so sideways for 5402 at their Week 1 last year that I literally gave myself a cold sore over it. Sometimes it just takes sleeping on it and looking at the problem with fresh eyes. :slight_smile: