Why do we bother bagging?

I’m glad we went from shipping to bringing our own robot to competitions, but why do we even bag anymore? Many teams build nearly identical twin robots so that work can continue after build season and into the competition. Yes, generally there is less stress for students and mentors after the robot is bagged, but many teams will still meet to work on the “practice bot”. Many teams, however, can’t afford to buy/make two of everything, so they’re really stuck with the robot in the bag. Why not make it fair for everyone to just leave it out so teams don’t need to waste money building a second robot to continue work? Let teams manage their own schedules so mentor and student burnout doesn’t happen.

Just my opinion.


This has been debated before. I’m sure you can find a thread using the search function if you would like to see more opinions on it.

The majority of replies to such threads can be summarized to: It is fair. Teams with practice bots worked to obtain the resources and skill it takes them to make two robots. The only thing stopping your team from being like them is more hard work.

Clearly our definitions of “fair” differ. Surely you can’t think that a rookie team building out of a parent’s garage is expected to be able to afford and build two identical robots in the same manner as teams with access to CNC waterjet, milling, lathe, etc. All that stuff doesn’t appear over their first year just by “working hard”. There’s a clear analogy to socioeconomics we have today, but I’ll refrain from going there.

On the other hand, you can’t think that every team should have to build out of a parent’s garage. I have seen more than one rookie team that looks like a FIRST veteran even without a mentor with prior FIRST experience. I suspect it was because they did their research before jumping in, reached out to other veteran teams, and used the resources available to them to succeed.

There are multitudes of resources for all teams, not just rookies, to help them obtain more sponsors, help, and other types of resources.

Really the question we need to start asking is “Why do we bother bagging at all anymore?”

When the competition landscape shifts to a majority district system, will we see the robot lock-ups disappear? Before? After?

Don’t say FRC will be keeping these kinds of restrictions forever. Some members of the community who have been doing this for far longer than I have (6 going on 7 years) think that bagging/locking up the machine is an archaic a practice as regionals in dense areas.

Surely you can’t think that a rookie team building out of a parent’s garage is expected to be able to afford and build two identical robots in the same manner as teams with access to CNC waterjet, milling, lathe, etc. All that stuff doesn’t appear over their first year just by “working hard”.

Powerhouse teams don’t pop into existence overnight. It can take years to reach the level where building two robots is within a team’s grasp. This year said rookie team may be building out of a garage but that is precisely where many big teams started. The year after though they can collect more sponsors and grow their team… and the next year even more- and although it won’t happen overnight if there is a strong enough passion and drive to improve and succeed, that former rookie team will be waterjetting practice robots in no time.

I know how tough it can be to feel “left behind” when you see these huge teams with massive resources but they were rookies too at one point and likely not that different than yourselves.

610 is not lacking resources but builds 1 robot.

Of course I don’t expect everyone to build out of a garage. I’m saying teams waste thousands of dollars every year to build a second robot that doesn’t need to be built. I’m sure there are some rookie teams like the ones you mention, but the reality is that those teams are very few and far between.

Really! It has been shown with RI3D that we don’t need 6 weeks to build. Many of us have jobs and family that if build gets longer we will not be around. As you have been told many times, life is not fair. Some teams have more, some less but all must be completed at the required time. This is just like the world we live in. Get the job done on time or your out. Best to learn these lessons now than when you are trying to feed your family.

If I got to decide, I would eliminate the bag deadline.

To be fair, there would still be high resource teams building two robots if we didn’t have to bag. Instead of building two identical ones in 6 weeks, they’d build one before competitions and then build a second one using what we all learn from the early competitions.

I still say that would be better. It would be easier for a lot of middle of the pack teams to build better robots with the same resources.

People would have to get used to the idea that you don’t necessarily want to meet 7 days a week for 3-4 months of the year. “But we have to, because Team ABCD does.” No, you don’t have to.

This thread is an excellent read, and covers this topic pretty in depth.

Post 204 is biggest thing you could take away from the thread, quoted below.

Post 207 and post 233 are also very insightful.

What I took away was, Jim Zondag is very smart, listen to him.

As a team that builds two identical robots (to very high standards of quality), I’d like to offer my perspective which you may find interesting.

Last night at 12:30 AM when trying to move this darn thing all bagged up, I found myself asking this same question. It’s entirely an honor system anyway. Not that anyone would, but you could just put it in the bag the night before the regional and no one would ever know. I could sign a form saying I didn’t touch it, and that’s the same as signing a form saying I bagged it, just, without the bag. It’s just a pain to move while in the bag, and I’d be happy if it went away.

We continue work every day starting this afternoon on our second robot anyhow. There is no real end of the build, especially not with a 45 pound withholding allowance. (and I know we’ve discussed this in other threads, so I don’t want to repeat it all).

To us, all that the current bagging rule does is cause us to spend thousands of more dollars and hundreds of more hours that wouldn’t be necessary if we didn’t have to bag. Imagine how far all that time and money would go in other efforts if it wasn’t spent on building a twin robot, because the real one is off limits by a millimeter of plastic.

The bagging does not stop anyone from continuing to build their robot. It only makes it more expensive to keep doing so. When you build a practice robot, you’re literally buying time. We do this, and I don’t like it. It becomes a competition of who has more dollars and who has more adults with more hours to spend away from their families and responsibilities. This is one area that there is really a disparity in FIRST, and I say this coming from the upper end of this spectrum. It’s easy to tell the others to work harder if they want your results, but not always practical for them to do so. It all boils down to who is involved with your program, and to what extents they’re willing to go to make it awesome.

The only real issue with not bagging is, nobody would attend the first two weeks of events if the build season extended right up to the events, and for that problem, I have no solution.

Either let everyone keep working, or (preferably) go back to the real, hard limit 6 weeks, so we don’t have this 3 month build season.

Let’s not continue this whole build two robots thing. I’m out of space to put them, and out of money to fund them.

Ok, first the garrage thing: code orange has built out of a garrage up till this year and they are a powerhouse in there area.

2nd: the practice bot does a lot of things. It alows students to get 2x the machining experience, 2x the drivers and 2x the troubleshooting. We have never built a practice robot before this year and it was our most organized and ontime build season ever.

I never said anything about if you’re building out of a garage, you aren’t a powerhouse. I did say, however, that there are many teams who start out building in a garage and by that, I imply that, like most garages, they don’t have access to the machines that many others do (I don’t know many garages with a Bridgeport mill or a lathe), and therefore is MUCH more difficult to reproduce nearly identical parts that are exchangable. I say this coming from a team who did build two robots this year. Two robots that have had some of the most machining and CNC waterjet parts of any robot I’ve ever helped make. The bottom line is that it’s just really expensive to do and we’d rather spend money elsewhere (tools? machines? more outreach?). So yes, students get 2x the machining experience, but, to quote one of my favorite movies: “…[W]hy build one when you can have two at twice the price?”

There would be a bigger difference between weeks 1-2 and weeks 6-7, but teams would still go to early events. Several reasons:

  1. Teams sign up for events that have open slots and that fit their schedules and geographical reach. Space in events is scarce.

  2. You can still qualify for the Championship at early events, and you can do it with a less amazing robot than you’d need at a later event. If you’re a team that is capable of building a reasonably polished robot in 6 weeks, maybe you’d be able to dominate at an early event.

  3. Logistically, qualifying early in the year is nicer than qualifying really late. You get more time to plan your trip. Also, if your team wants to make significant upgrades for the Championship, you get a longer time to plan that out and execute it without having to focus completely on shorter term, less ambitious goals required to qualify at the regional level.

  4. Having a big gap between regional or district events is pretty nice for giving upgrade time after the first competition experience. So I’d much rather attend week 1 and 5 than weeks 5 and 6.

That doesn’t mean every team would LIKE that system better, but I don’t think it would be a big problem to get teams to attend early events.

See I actually think the opposite for my team. We typically come up with really good strategy while not building as great of a robot and use it to our advantage. We have won two regionals 2005 and 2010 (week 1) and did not have the best robot at either event but executed a strategy well. Also, our team cannot support a longer build season as we are all exhausted. Just another take from a different team

Consider the fact that this is a High School level competition and a lot of students procrastinate. Having a deadline that isn’t right next to the comp’s means that a lot of high school students can actually balance out the time they have. I know freshmen who have put too much into Robotics and not enough into doing things like homework and have had to get kicked off the team because of bad grades. I know from experience that this community is fun and you can get wrapped up in it. When I was a sophmoron I made the mistake of not properly balancing my academic life with my robotics life and my GPA took a solid hit. Grades went down, parents got concerned, questions were being asked like “Well are you really at robotics till 11 at night or are you off being a little hooligan?” it wasn’t good.
First Robotics is a wonderful thing for highschool students to participate in but I do not imagine the founders would ever want to hear students were held back because they got too into robotics.
So yeah maybe bag and tag puts teams without the resources to make a second robot at a disadvantage, but the biggest disadvantage I could see is a team pushing too hard and tearing apart just because they didn’t have a little time off.

Nemo beat me to it- I echo his points with less eloquence :stuck_out_tongue:

The only issue we have with bagging our robot, this year especially, is trying to anticipate what position to leave it in OR what pieces to take off when bagging.
Our robot gets shipped to every competition, and without actually packing the rest of the stuff in our 1000 lb crate before we ship makes it tough.