Why aren't teams allowed to reuse fabricated parts?

Possibly, but I doubt many teams would be happy simply slapping a previous mechanism on a frame and then doing nothing further to it for an entire season. In the rare event that the mechanism works perfectly for the game, sure - but how often will that happen? Likely, some amount of modification will be needed - and modifying a system can teach you just as much and be just as gratifying as creating a new one.

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With all the comparisons between FRC and FTC in the year long season discussion, I’m interested to hear people’s thoughts on FTC’s allowal of premade components vs FRC’s prohibition on the matter.

One thing that I find fascinating about FRC is how it has attempted to retain so many elements of Woodie’s original design class at MIT.

The original idea for his class was to introduce the big concepts of system design while also attempting to create analogs for many of the constraints experienced in the real world (budget, schedule, etc). With the original class, each student received a box filled with parts from which they could construct their robot. The game each year was different and introduced at a particular point in the semester with the competition scheduled for the end of the semester. You were only allowed to use what was in the box (you were also allowed to use the box itself).

Many of the aspects of those early games led to very open ended possibilities in terms of machine design. There was no one right answer as Woodie was fond of pointing out.

Of course the students did not take the class more than once (hopefully) so there really was not a need for this particular rule in Woodie’s class. Restricting you to the box of parts was enough to prevent people from re-using something that a previous student had built.

When they modeled FRC using the key concepts from his class, Dean and Woodie needed to add certain rules to try to recreate that “start from nothing but a kit of parts” idea. They recognized that teams were going to compete year after year, so they basically said that you couldn’t re-use anything from the previous years. But obviously they could allow you to use standard parts like motors, etc.

Obviously FRC and the FRC parts ecosystem has evolved into a completely different animal these days compared to Woodie’s class. Most of that is great and in many ways more accurately reflect the real world where complex parts can be purchased from suppliers (think car seats being purchased from a supplier by the car manufacturer). But a part of me misses the simple brilliance that was in Woodie’s original class format.

For those who are interested, here is a documentary on Ping Pong Harvest . The a cappella group singing the MIT drinking song is bringing back fond memories…

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Hearing this song at age 8 was when my daughter announced she was going to MIT :slight_smile:

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If a team is that strapped for resources that reusing a mechanism in full or in part is their best option to hit the field to play a part of a game and allows them to focus energy, time, and money on another part of the game, I say we help take that burden off them and give them that opportunity.

Teams at the lower end of the resource spectrum are already jumping through hoops to get robots on the field. Let’s make that easier for them to compete and build better robots instead of keeping them arbitrarily constrained.

I would argue that in the hypothetical scenario you bring up, Option A is already being carried out by veteran teams making minor tweaks to mechanisms they have built in the past: custom drivebases or elevators (2018/2019). Its not a perfect reuse, but if you are already forced to remake it, might as well tweak it slightly to what is needed for the year. My point being that rarely would a team in 2019 say “You know what, we did the elevator year, let’s make the multi-jointed arm as a learning project”. It probably did happen, but lets not force teams there who already don’t have many options.

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Did anyone else immediately think of 254 when they read this? Or is that just me?

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I resemble this remark.

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I mostly see this from teams that will design a drive base over the summer and use it in the season. This is nice and I’d like to see it in FRC.

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Thought experiment: if 233 had actually showed up to competition that year with that same robot (assuming, of course, that it were modified to be otherwise-legal), would it have really hurt anyone else?

Well they basically did in the end.

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I am a simple man…
when I see a pink arm - I like the post

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I seem to recall a spoof video in 2019 where a team showed that they could use their 2018 robot to basically play the entire 2019 game. The only thing they fudged in the video what that they had a HAB 2 climb at the end that was actually some footage of the robot driving off the platform that they just played backwards.

I can tell you that many teams (including my own) were able to use their 2018 robot to play at least the cargo part of the 2019 game pretty well (on the practice field of course). And we spent a decent amount of our brainstorming time trying to come up with reasons that we should just re-build the same robot with a few minor tweaks.

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3512 did something similar for 2019.

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If they had 7 weeks of practice before the first event with a super competitive robot and most teams had maybe 2-3 there’s a decent advantage there.

Also having a team design and build a robot is kind of the mechanism for inspiration, so not doing that robs the students of the experience.

They could also be hurting themselves by stifling innovation (but I guess that is on them). Rarely does a past robot play a future game ideally.

That being said I’d be much more likely to encourage swerve if we could machine it before the season. Maybe a compromise is that you can run pre machined parts as long as designs are published? This would encourage teams to publish CAD too.

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Surely, they’d be capable of rebuilding the robot in that time while practicing with the old one, anyway?

Do we really need a rule to tell teams not to do absolutely nothing for a year, on account of it being uninspirational?

I’d be cool with this in spirit, but for a lot of the teams that are hit hardest by this rule, formal designs don’t necessarily exist.

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I’d like to see a rule change to allow the prefabrication of products that already exist in a similar COTS form. With Greyt Structures at WCProducts and AM or Versa drivetrains existing, teams could choose to design and manufacture their versions of it before kickoff and use it in competitions. Under this rule, teams could manufacture:

  • Gussets and Mounting Plates
  • Drivetrains (including Custom Swerve Modules)
  • Gears
  • Elevators
  • Turrets
  • etc
    This allows teams to focus on the game-specific challenges like handling the game pieces and interacting with the field as they don’t know the challenge and no COTS products exist for that. This is just as enforceable as the current honors system. If a team is using a prefabricated part, the Robot Inspector can ask what COTS product the part is derived from.
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I love this idea, but am not certain how it would work. For example, we have iterated upon the rev lift in the past. Under this rule, would we be able to use that in next game as it is similar to the rev lift (At this point, it is only similar because it is made out of extrusion and rigged in a similar fashion. The slides, extrusion, rigging material, and motor setup are different)?

I feel based on the description it would not, but based on the tenor of this thread, it should be.

I believe this rule is made to benefit Rookie teams. Experienced teams that have been competing in competitions can make and refine specific robot parts over the years, and might end up where they have a modulus robot with a bunch of optimized attachments and drives, where you could have different drive trains, shooter modules, etc, to have the perfect solution for every competition (And experience with coding said units), whereas a new team would be building from scratch.
Being able to use purchased parts levels the playing field, because even though the parts have been refined to be the best they can be, anyone can purchase them, so everyone can gain the same level of experience.

My intent is for this to be very broad to allow things like this.
“Oh, rev makes an elevator kit, guess we can make an elevator before the season.”
Maybe some people see this as too broad because of just how many cots products exist outside of the frc ecosystem, so we might need to limit it to COTS from FRC suppliers?

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