What Can We Do (As a team) to Make Inspection Easier for RI's and LRI's?

I was wondering what teams could do to make the inspection process easier. I was inspired by this thread. Since it is before build season, I wanted to see if there’s anything we can do during build season to make it easier for the RI’s and LRI’s. (I do not speak for my team, I speak just for myself and what I hope to do.) There was a robot inspector that mentioned it being difficult to check our bumper “insides” since they were wrapped up nice and pretty. So… Here are my ideas!

-I was thinking we could take pictures as we build our bumpers, and have them accessible to the inspectors. (So any questions on the insides are easier.)
-As well as pictures of any “hard to see/hard to inspect places” I.E. under the robot.
-Having the voltmeter out and ready for the inspectors.
-Written dimensions on bot, or in easily accessible place. (Frame length, frame width, height, etc.)
-Software up to date and pulled up.

Anything else? I’d love to add to the list!

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The biggest thing you can do to help is to print out the inspection list and do it yourself on the robot before you go to the competition. Verify that you pass all the inspection points and that you have a way to allow the inspector to perform every inspection.

As an inspector, I would not accept a picture or written dimension as proof (disclaimer - I am not an inspector).

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I am an inspector, and I would vastly prefer seeing things with my own eyes rather than in photographs. Having the DVM handy and the driver’s station running are good ideas.

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Sounds good, I meant like the pool noodles and stuff that is covered by fabric. :smiley:

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A (somewhat cringe) 2014 article I wrote on this:

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I can only speak for myself, but measurement and my fingers have told me whatever I’ve needed to know to inspect bumpers.

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If you run into this situation again (and the inspector is making it challenging to pass you, or delaying your inspection as a result), ask to speak to the LRI at your event.

I’ve been doing this for over 10 years now (not nearly as long as some, I know :yum:) and have never had to prove what was inside our bumpers. Unless there is clearly something abundantly wrong with them, there should be zero need to see the “insides” of your bumper. And if your inspector thinks there is, again, ask for the LRI. Tearing apart and/or rebuilding bumpers at an event is a huge headache and is very time consuming.

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Write “Ickerstay easplay” on a $100 and tape it to your RoboRio. I kid…

Yes doing your own pre inspection is number 1.
Make panels that conceal electronics or connections easy to remove to you can show your work so to speak. This is especially true for panels covering the RoboRio, PDP/H , and compressor.

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One idea I liked was having local FRC teams inspect each other (assuming you have local teams close enough). Basically going through the whole checklist with a pair of eyes that hasn’t seen your robot before.

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This, very much this! Another great option (not always available to all teams) is making friends with a local robot inspector and asking them to swing by on a build night to do a mock inspection.

There’s absolutely nothing official regarding this, but can be immensely helpful to have a second set of outside eyes look things over.

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I have been inspecting robots for a few years and here is what I would recommend to make it easier for RIs.

Before design/build:

  • Read all of the robot design rules, a couple of times

During design/build:

  • Put the key parts electronics in easy to see spots
  • Mark where your breaker (and dump valve) is with a label
  • Deburr your sharp edges
  • Use a bumper system that is quick to remove/install
  • If using pneumatic, make sure your Nason Pressure Switch or Rev Pneumatic hub is easy to access
  • If using pneumatic and have a lot air storage, have them filled.
  • Either put the small pressure gauges where it’s easy to read them or don’t use them

After Build:

  • Have a couple of people (Students/Mentors/Coaches/Parents) inspect the robot using the inspect list (it’s posted publicly a few weeks before the first comp)
  • Before your comp double check for software updates

At Comp:

  • Keep your pit clean
  • Only have 1 or 2 students in the pit during the inspection, with 1 mentor near by.
  • Sign up early for inspection
  • Do fixes/upgrades to the robot AFTER inspection then do a quick re-inspection after.
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Have a multimeter on hand with you. Our team did not for a district event and nearly paid the price (thanks 238).

Aside from that, be sure to have driver station running and be ready to demonstrate robot functions really as soon as the RI asks about it.

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I agree with this.

I would also add that try to make sure the students or mentors available during inspection are knowledgeable about the robot wiring and pneumatics. (It is much faster for the inspector to ask how is the RoboRio powered and a student to point at the port than it is to try to trace wires. It is definatly not a test and not a requirement to pass inspection, but it can add some time if the inspector is searching for components and trying to trace what wires are going where.

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RI here, absolutely ask for the LRI in these scenarios, you always have the right to do so. Never do any notable modifications to your robot based on what an RI tells you. Personally speaking, if anything ever seems off to me/a fix would require significant time investment, I’ll always tell the team I’m going to go find the LRI first

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Lots of good stuff here, Just did my first go as a RI last weekend (for FTC). Here are a couple additional things that stood out to me as ways to speed the process:

  • be sure you bring everything required to the inspection
  • be sure the student(s) at the inspection are knowledgable about the robot.
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It’s already been mentioned several times here but going through the checklist at home as a team is a great exercise.

One specific item I’d like to mention is checking frame perimeter and height extension limits carefully. The hardest thing that I ever have to do as an inspector is tell a team that they can’t use* a high value or high effort subsystem because it sticks out an inch too far or travels outside of the extension limits momentarily. Catching this before you get to competition will make everyone’s inspection experience easier.

(*) This depends on the rules in any given year, some items will fail inspection, others will draw penalties on the field.

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I’ll emphasize this. Make sure every STUDENT you plan to have working with your inspector at competition is involved with this process and understands everything on said list.
Nothing upsets me more than when I come to inspect a teams robot and an eager likely well intentioned mentor pushes the kids aside to answer all the questions with the hopes of getting inspected faster (the kids don’t learn this way and any inspector I know would be more than happy to better explain the items on the list to kids so they better understand them)

Having these 2 items along with your usb/ethernet tether handy and ready to go are going to be time savers for sure.

BUMPERS please make sure your teams bumpers can be removed and attached (whether reversible or not) in a reasonable amount of time. If your team is struggling with this there are plenty of forums on here about various different ways to attach bumpers. I say this because bumpers need to be removed for initial weight and frame perimeter measurements then reattached for bumper rules measurements. Being able to do this in a reasonable amount of time will save time for you and your RI

I’ll echo this as well, If you have things to add or major changes to make please get inspected first. Once initial inspection is done reinspection for any added of modified component only requires an inspection of that component and a reweigh. This will allow you to finish said work with a much calmer mindset knowing everything else on your bot is good to go as well making the lives of your RI’s easier as we can sleep a lot better at night knowing the next day we only have to reinspect a single mechanism of a robot rather than do an entire inspection.

^Please read the manual. The biggest thing I failed teams on last year weren’t things like sharp edges or frame protrusions as you might expect they were wire gage and pneumatics. The gage of wire for specific devices and breakers as well as the amperage of breakers and fuses allowed for certain devices is specified clearly in the game manual as are the allowed and required pneumatic components and ways/order they need to be connected together to be legal.

The last thing I’ll add is just because you passed at your first event doesn’t mean you get an automatic pass for your next. I had a few teams this year fail for small issues and try to argue “they passed us at our last competition thats not fair” and even had a mentor on one team pull me aside and tell me it was ridiculous that I was requiring them to make changes to pass. (Fun fact powering your Rio off a 20A snapaction breaker in a main PDP slot is not legal in any way)
Not every inspector picks up on everything and inspectors are not your enemy. I personally assisted quite a few of the teams that i failed inititally last year in making the required changes/modifications to pass.

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This should not be necessary. In a decade as an LRI, I have only opened up 3 bumpers during inspection. One, the pool noodle was compressed to under an inch thickness. The second, the team ironed on their numbers after assembly, melting through half the noodle. And the third was made with 3.5" noodles that the team “cut down to size”

I will get down on my hands and knees to look under your robot, pictures aren’t necessary and don’t tell the whole story. Pay attention in the rules when it says “must be visible”, and understand the difference between “must be visible” and “must be visible for inspection”. “must be visible” means the FTA’s want to be able to find it without touching your robot to help diagnose connection issues. “must be visible for inspeciton” means we can touch it and move things to see it, just don’t make it too difficult!

Always useful.

Not necessary, we’re going to measure anyways.

Always useful.

The number one biggest thing you can do to prepare for inspection is to print out the checklist and go through it. Look at every item on the checklist critically and make sure it’s an “easy pass”. Then bring in someone who doesn’t know the robot (like a parent) and have them run through the checklist with you. They’ll have more questions, like “I have no idea what a PDP is” - by taking the time to answer their questions and educate them on everything on the checklist, you’ll get even more comfortable with the process and your robot!

Make sure everyone on your team knows that it’s ok to ask for a second opinion from the LRI. If something is going to take a long time to fix, or impede the functionality of your robot, please ask for that second opinion. We don’t want you doing anything that doesn’t need to be done!

Identify who your “inspection students” are. These are your experts. You should have someone who knows how to connect the driver station. Someone who knows the electrical system inside and out. Someone who knows the pneumatic system inside and out (if applicable). And someone who knows how all the mechanisms work and how to get them into the starting configuration. Get everyone else out of the pit ahead of time so you have some room to work with the inspector!

Finally, while everyone else should give the inspector some room to work, you want them relatively nearby - if there is an issue that needs to be fixed, you want everyone (students and mentors) to be available to hear what the issue is. It’s much easier to ensure everyone is on the same page when they all get the same information and we avoid playing a game of telephone!

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To add to this: a lot of week 0 scrimmage events offer “pre-inspection” by real RIs (e.g. they might be the same RI you’ll see a few weeks later at a competition event). You can also reach out to nearby teams and ask one of their mentors (who might also volunteer as a RI!) to come in to do a mock inspection.

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Coming from the FRC world to inspect for FTC last weekend, I was a little surprised to see the FTC rule on this. But the more I thought about it, the more I liked it. Basically, if it is a team’s first competition of the year and a there is a minor rules violation that is not easily fixed, and it is neither a safety issue nor confers (in the judgement of the RI/LRI) any competitive advantage, the team is informed of the change they will need to make before their next competition’s inspection, but they are allowed to compete. I wonder if something like this would be of value in FRC’s inspection process.

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