Please help out this next year rookie. Is it OK for a team to start building the robot base before kickoff?
4.5 Fabrication Schedule
R12 Physical ROBOT elements created before Kickoff are not permitted. Exceptions are:
A. OPERATOR CONSOLE,
B. battery assemblies per R4,
C. FABRICATED items consisting of one COTS electrical device (e.g. a motor or motor controller), connectors, and any
materials used to secure and insulate those connectors
No, but you can have projects to practice development prior to kickoff to build upon skills that will be needed.
While rules change every year, this one has been constant. R12 states “Physical ROBOT elements created before kickoff are not permitted”.
Knowing how to build a base is most important. The actual building of the base goes pretty quick, once you know what you want to build. And there’s the rub: You don’t know until kickoff what you are building. For our team, this year’s and last year’s robots are pretty square. But, the year before that, we had a more rectangular one.
Welcome to FRC ! We know you are already on the right track because you are reading and posting to Chief Delphi asking good questions.
Also, don’t forget that there are other FRC teams in your area who can help with any questions or problems you have.
(Hint: Flash 1319 is from Greenville too)
Teams can do anything they want in the offseason, including building a fully-functioning robot base. That robot base cannot be used as the team’s base for the actual game if it was built in the offseason. However, having a driving base is an incredibly valuable research tool when determining the details of a drive train which will play the game. For example, only a few hours after kickoff we changed wheel configurations on ours until we were happy with the turning behavior and interaction with noodles on the floor, based upon our initial findings for how we would play the game. We were then able to start designing our actual drive train with confidence.
The drive base is also incredibly valuable if it has extra motor controllers so prototype manipulators can be mounted, tested and refined on a kinetic robot rather than a static lab bench.
It’s also a great team bonding experience, as having a working drive base can get team members motivated for the upcoming season. For pre-rookies, it’s a great student and mentor recruitment tool. It’s a great driver tool by allowing you to choose drivers based upon maturity rather than seniority or supposed experience since the driver can practice for longer periods of time.
If you’re considering making an offseason drive base, I recommend you go forward with it under the assumption you’ll build a new game-ready, separate drive base after kickoff. In other words, determine your level of funding, then if you can sustain it buy double of the electronics. No need to buy double motors/gearboxes/wheels quite yet - it’s all likely to change after kickoff. Also - it should be completed by Thanksgiving at the latest. We’ve found that a December deadline often tends to allow us to procrastinate into the Build Season.
What others have stated here is dead-on.
Every off-season, our club builds two or three bases with different drive systems so that even newer students to the club have a background in building them and so that we keep our skills with different drive trains strong.
Then, as a part of our design process, we choose a drive train from those we know how to build. (No experiments with drive trains during build season! We want to maximize the time we have to spend on the manipulators.)
I’d suggest building a complete robot and entering one of the area off-season tournaments in the fall. These are great, low-cost ways to get a good idea what to expect in the spring.
There is, of course, SCRIW in the Columbia area. THOR in North Carolina, and GRITS in Georgia to name a few.
If you have not experienced one of these competitions, they usually cost about $350 to enter, and are one-day events…so they don’t require time off school, or a large investment. For an established team, they are a great way to train an incoming group of new members - but for a new team they give you a build season and competition to go through before the build season and competition.
Jesse reminded me of something:
If you have the money to build 2 robots, the practice bot’s base can be built prior to kickoff.
Our team does all the testing with the practice bot, and the competition bot is built in the last 2 weeks of build season. At that point, the practice bot is modified to be as close to the competition bot as possible.
The practice bot also gives the programmers time to enhance the code after stop build, and the mechanical people the ability to continue upgrading the robot (hold back).
I applaud the team who can design and build a practice bot base to play the game before they know what the game is.
We’re moving that way, along a different path. While we recycle most of our manipulator pieces between years (we did keep our Frisbee shooter, it’s great for demos), we’ve begun keeping the drive chassis from each year. At the start of next build season, we expect to have a 6-wheel skid steer, an H-drive, and a mecanum ready to go to support manipulator prototyping. We usually decide on the drive train rather quickly, so the competition drive train should be (nearly) ready when we to build the competition manipulators.
Interresting. A local team that our group visited in Dec. was working on the base of their competition robot.
Was it something they ended up using, or was it actually something they were building for practice and experience? My team spent half the summer and the entire fall working on a chassis and drive train for swerve, just for the experience. It would be easy for someone visiting to think that work was for this season, and not just experience and practice.
We built three drive bases in the off season this year, one for our absolute beginners (2014 kitbot), one for intermediates (mecanum), and one for advanced (8wd West Coast). The experience was invaluable for the entire team, and we will do it again next year. And two of those bots ended up deeply influencing our design for the game this year.
But no team should ever, ever build a drive base (or create parts or programs) for the upcoming game before kickoff, with the exception of OPEN SOURCE, SHARED resources that the team develops and shares within the FRC community.
Not sure which of the other Greenville teams you visited, however what everyone is saying above is true no building is allowed prior to kickoff.
Hopefully there was a misunderstanding.
On to the topic of a new rookie for 2016 besides somewhere in Greenville where will this new rookie team be based out of?
They could have merely been developing the drive base in the off-season that they planned to use during the competition. They would still have to physically build a second one, but they could use the design (provided it was made public before kickoff) of their development chassis to help them refine the one they will use in competition.
That would be one major DQ, too. Only every match at the event, unless HQ intervened, and alliance partners would get them too if the robot made it to the field.
Let me put it this way, though: It’s a major enough foul to act as a significant deterrent. However, actually getting it called would take a really, really good look at the team’s build. And even getting that going would mean first saying that two team members have deliberately put their signature on a document saying that they did NOT start before Kickoff, knowing that they did in fact start before Kickoff. I highly doubt that FIRSTers would do that… but it takes all kinds to make a world, so there’s the possibility, slim though it may be.
I agree with the rest: 99% chance of it being a prototype. I know my team built one drivebase and had another frame built in the offseason… And I know that neither one is on a competition robot.
Games like this year, and 2009’s Lunacy are one of the things I really like about FIRST. They shake up the rules to the point where you can’t actually start building before the game is announced because you really don’t know what you are going to have to build.
I keep waiting to see the playing field carpet get replaced by an inch of pea gravel or something like that.
Ask yourself if they really were working on their competition drive base, how did they know how big to make it? How did they know where the bumpers were supposed to attach? How did they know what kind of bumps or obstacles it would have to drive over? How did they know how to best gear it to win pushing battles with opposing robots?
Thank you GDC, for keeping everyone honest!