Our team is looking into making some excellent bumpers this year and we were exploring options for different fabrics, at worlds we say Robowranglers really nice dark blue bumpers (examples). We like it because it looks almost black and it fits with our color scheme more than regular blue does. Also, I wanted to ask, for any teams who do the dark/navy blue bumpers do you face any legality issues during inspection? If it ends up being a bit of a legal drama than we might just avoid it.
This is the same stuff that they’ve been using since 2019; we’ve been using using it for the past two years and have never had issues with RI’s at local regionals or at the championship (and I’ve never heard about any other teams having issues using it either).
I will note that a lot of the top teams who have used this fabric before switched to different materials (possible all the same material) with a lighter hue closer to the prescribed shade (see: 604, 971, 1323, 1678, and all this year). I don’t know why exactly, or if it’s a game-specific solution, but it might be worth looking into.
We use 1000D Cordura from Seattle Fabrics. It’s a good, durable fabric and if you get your bumper cover nice and tight, it looks great. (Note that the First Robotics Blue) color is considerably darker than pictured).
I’d also recommend Siser Easyweed heat transfer vinyl for your numbers.
At the Arkansas regional, the head inspector told us that First wanted “first blue” although the rules don’t specify. We had a navy blue similar to 148s. He ended up letting us pass inspection after a lengthy discussion but strongly suggested we change to a brighter blue like the first logo. It didn’t end up affecting us, but it became a bigger headache than it should’ve been.
At the team’s discretion, they may request a different INSPECTOR or invite the Lead
ROBOT INSPECTOR to participate in their ROBOT’S inspection.
You have rights as a team, ask for clarification, for a rule, or a different inspector. Don’t permit you or your peers to be held in limbo by non-rules at the behest of an inspector who didn’t clarify what they meant adequately.
The last time that language was used in the rules was in 2012, R28D (emphasis mine):
D. be covered with a rugged, smooth cloth. The cloth must completely enclose all exposed surfaces of the plywood and pool noodle material. The fabric covering the Bumpers must be a solid red or blue in color. Visually, the red or blue must be as close to the corresponding color in the FIRST logo as reasonable (i.e. to a reasonably astute observer, they appear similar). The only markings permitted on the Bumper fabric cover are the team number (see Rule [R35]).
If any inspectors are still trying to enforce that, please direct them to a more recent rule book - preferably 2015, so you can skip bumper inspection all together
That said, use your best judgement. Please don’t try to squeak by on a technicality - you want scouters and your alliance members to be able to identify which alliance you’re on!
Gee, why hasn’t anyone on my team thought about that…
This isn’t relating specifically to bumper materials, but at States this year (FIM), our inspector warned us that in the future, the Inspectors are going to be more strict about what fonts are allowed. We passed inspection though. (This was our first year using custom numbers on our bumpers, and this surprised us because we’ve seen plenty of teams do similar things with their branding in the past.) Has anyone else heard this, is this something they’re considering changing in the rules next year?
For reference, these were our bumpers on our robot. (Red and blue are identical besides the color)
Yes. They have made a number of teams change their fonts. They are getting far more strict with it. For instance 33 no longer does the border around theirs. We were told the crosshair in the center of our “8” is no longer allowed, so we kept a paint pen on hand to color it in if they demanded it.
At the Great Northern Regional, we were told our numbers weren’t allowed because they weren’t solid. We had to use a paint pen to fill in our gaps. It definitely does say “solid numbers” in the rules but we thought it was pretty obvious what our numbers were. Lesson learned.
As to bumper numbers, I’m not aware of any inspectors that are a big fan of the change this year. For reference:
consist of only Arabic numerals at least 4 in. (~11 cm) high, at least ½ in. (~13 mm) in stroke width, and be either white in color or outlined in white with a minimum 1/16 in. (~2mm) outline,
consist of only white Arabic numerals at least 4 in. (~11 cm) high, at least ½ in. (~13 mm) in stroke width,
The blue box was the same both years, but I think it got a little more emphasis in training and a slightly different understanding with the change to the rule itself:
The ½ in. (~13 mm) stroke width requirement applies to the majority of the stroke. Font elements less than ½ in. (~13 mm) such as serifs, rounded edges, small hairlines or gaps, etc. are permitted as long as the majority of the stroke meets the sizing requirement and the numbers are unambiguous.
Personally, I’d like to see this rule loosen up a little, but I do understand the need to ensure refs can easily distinguish robot numbers quickly on the field, which is where I think this change originated.
If they’re going to lock things down as much as they are, they might as well just mandate a specific font so there isn’t any doubt about what’s legal and what isn’t. I don’t know what warranted the change to bumper number rules, but saying we all have to use, for example, 4 inch tall numbers in Impact likely resolves whatever issue they had.