What does your team do for a Systems Check?

I have heard of several teams that do a “Systems Check”, usually before going on the field. For the teams that do have a checklist for that, what things do you usually check?

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Do you need it to work during the match? Test it.

Did you just change/fix/modify/etc anything about a mechanism? Test it.

Has it been a while since a mechanism has broken? Test it.

Does the mechanism have a history of being finicky? Test it.

Did you have any issues last match? Test it.

Test it.

Make time to run these systems tests. We usually run them immediately after we get back from a match, not as we’re loading on for our next one. Give yourself time to verify everything and react to any potential issues that pop up.


Our programmer @maccopacco could explain it better but we have it setup where the robot can detect missing sensors, motor controllers, etc, and let us know to troubleshoot. We also have a drivetrain test that will let us know what condition our motors are at (775 Pros) to tell if we burnt one up, and if everything is working fine.

Beyond that, we power up, build pressure and cycle every manipulator to make sure it works.

Make sure all encoders work, we are pretty much crippled if even one of our encoders isn’t working:

  • Move the drivetrain wheels on the cart and check if values increment
  • Move elevator and arm manually to make sure values increment
  • Move climber to home position to check limit switches and encoder values

We also have LEDs on the robot that indicate if all cameras are connected for vision processing. When the robot is powered on, the lights blink red until everything is connected and sending data.

We also run a diagnostic program after every match that analyzes the DS log for brownouts (so that we can inspect the battery), excessive current draw, dead motors (we had one motor go dead in our 2-motor elevator gearbox in 2018 once), etc.


Our pit checklist is pretty extensive. Feel free to check it out here!

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The key point here is that the “systems check” done evolves through the season, mostly from new failure points you observe as you play more matches.

In our case, it involved running a full practice match (including the autonomous) in order to see if the components on our robot are performing as expected, especially feedback devices such as encoders. A wiring check is done as well.

It’s also important to assess why something broke down, with that information you can further broaden what you look for in between matches.


Like @Jeremy_Germita said! Also, the basic perennial items which are on the checklist most or all years:

  • Is the battery fresh and plugged in and the main breaker on?
  • Is the pneumatic spill valve closed?
  • Are the arms inside the frame perimeter?
  • Are there any disconnected/loose wires or tubes or cords or chains or belts?
  • Are the control systems on (check LEDs; most control items should have either a solid or flashing light).
  • Is the correct autonomous routine selected?

Tagging of what Type has mentioned, we absolutely love the Motor Checking Utility we created a year-ish ago.

Our coaches are big on having numbers behind our claims, so that if per say the programmer burned out our drive motors in a bad auto routine (sorry @Type), we can show the progression of the decay of the motor and prove it isn’t fit for competition and therefore worth our budget to replace it.

We’ve also identified some pinions that had misshapen teeth, loose gearboxes, and tons of other fun to fix things with this tool.

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Porque no los dos?
We run a systems check after things have settled down after the previous match in the pit, and while we’re in queue. The queue systems check is an expansion of topping up on air pressure and usually includes running through the major mechanism functions, testing sensors, and cycling a few game pieces.
Might as well make use of the waiting part of "hurry up and wait’

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Here’s a general template for our system’s checks. It varies from robot-to-robot. Order may vary.

  1. Drive forwards
  2. Drive reverse
  3. Turn left/right
  4. Intake(s) in
  5. Intake(s) out
  6. Manipulator(s) up
  7. Manipulator(s) down
  8. Manipulator pre-set positions
  9. Toggle pneumatic joints (continue until compressor kicks on)
  10. Allow compressor to fully fill pneumatic storage
  11. Change bumpers
  12. Check any troublesome fasteners/connections/etc
  13. Change battery

During each of these steps, we have multiple verifications that take place. The programmers/operator will watch sensor outputs on the dashboard to verify that they’re updating properly. Electrical members will watch speed controller lights to ensure they’re blinking properly. Mechanical students will watch various mechanical aspects (chain tension, shaft deflection, etc) to ensure it’s as designed.

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We test every mechanism on the machine each time it comes off the field before we change the battery, followed by a thorough visual inspection. While we don’t have a formal checklist (we would lose it), the test sequence becomes habit pretty quickly.

This was the final iteration of our checklist this past season, modified as things went.


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