YMTC: Bluateam Uses Old Pixels

Thank you 2008 GDC! You Make The Call (YMTC) is a series of situations where you are the official and make the call. Please reference specific rules when applicable. The results of YMTC are not official and are for educational purposes only.

What a great prototype … Bluateam’s best ever! Bluateam has just come up with the cleverest tracball launching mechanism; after a KABOOM:ahh: , the tracball easily clears the overpass, short-hops the back wall and then rebounds directly into Bluabot as it races around the track for another 10-point lap. Now it’s time to turn the 250 pound prototype into a Magnolia-Regional-Winning robot. Since Bluateam’s base from 2006 was continuously making very fast left turns, albeit unexpected and unwanted:D, the team decides that the '06 base, affectionally known as ‘Lefty’, will be perfect for FIRST Overdrive. For the wheels, Bluamentor carefully explains all of the '06 wheel details, (diameter, bearing seats, treads, tread lips, spokes, etc.) to Bluastudent. Bluastudent listens intently while Bluamentor goes beyond the wheel and begins to explain how to drive ProE. The The next day, Bluastudent arrives with a renewed zeal because it is time to make the CAD model of the '06 wheel so Bluateam can manufacture the '08 wheels. After a casual double-click of the ProE icon to get things rolling, the unthinkable happens, an engineer’s worst nightmare, the screen displays, “PROE CAN NOT OBTAIN A FLOATING LICENSE!” Bluamentor shakes his head in disgust, “Oh yea, they UPGRADED ProE over the weekend.:mad:” Bluamentor then remembers as his frowns turn to smiles, “No problem, I have the CAD and IGES files from 2006 on this network drive. We’ll just use them to program the Bridgeport. We’ll have wheels made by the end of today!!!” Bluastudent is disappointed about ProE but is PUMPED that she is about to mill the '08 wheels!

Based on the 2008 Rules, YOU MAKE THE CALL!

The part is greenlit by the 2008 Parts Use Flowchart, so I say Bluateam is good!

The progression I followed for the flowchart led me to this critical question: “Is the part or material off-the-shelf or is it custom made by the team after the start of the 2008 Kickoff? (See Robot Section)” The part was definitely MADE after the 2008 kickoff.

Further, the robot section specifically prohibits “fabrication and assembly” prior to the start of the 2008 build season, but encourages “design exercises.” This quite clearly indicates to me that the main intent is to prohibit robot building, not robot designing, prior to the start of the season. Without preseason designs (and without re-using old designs in a new season), many of the fantastic designs we’ve seen wouldn’t have existed.

Conclusion: nothing in the manual specifically prohibits the use of old pixels and reusing the old design is in line with my interpretation of the intent of the restrictions.

Many, MANY, MANY teams design something preseason, anticipating a game that will suit whatever they design. I’ve seen hundreds of “off-season” projects posted on CD, then re-made and put on to a robot.

On the contrary, section 8.3.4 Fabrication Schedule does address designing. It specifically makes the described situation illegal.

This is the rule being broken here:

A part fabricated using last year’s CAD file was not designed during the Build Season.

Alan is 100% correct. Whether or not every team follows this is a huge grey area but the intent of the rule is to keep every team whether it be your 10 year teams, or 1st year teams on the same playing field when it comes to making parts.

Not everyone even has CNC capabilities, so I’m not even sure if a proposal to voluntarily make your robot parts available to every team as a CAD file from year to year would be allowed as a form of “Commercially Available Off the (Internet) Source”??

One can only speculate what digital media restrictions will be in place in the future as FIRST continues to grow in the digital age.

Just as the world is fueled in the debate as to who “owns” digital media such as music files, this could become an even more grey area than is now.

I think the rule as written currently is just meant to be a banner about the theory of “shortcutting” the system for older teams and to (as I stated before) keep the field level for all participants.

While every intention is made to do this, Dean himself has said in the past that FIRST is not supposed to or meant to be fair for everyone involved, as it is a microcosm of the “real world” of engineering, but all attempts to be fair are tried by FIRST with the rules in place that all teams must adhere to.

If in the future a team was allowed to use their old CAD parts (legally written into the rulebook) with the blessing of the all powerful and knowing Manual if they shared their parts, I’m willing to bet most teams with extensive design hostory within their teams over the years (CAD, blueprints, etc…) would jump on that bandwagon and share knowledge in order to allow this shortcut.

I know we would be willing to share our information if this was allowed, and actually have in the past even without this additional incentive.
But maybe, just maybe that is the real test of this limitation as it’s written now.
Not to share things just as a trade-off to benefit from it somehow, but so that your team is the position to give knowledge more than to receive at times.


Alan, I stand corrected. I admit I had not read that rule.


Well, we are the officials, but we still have to go with technicalities. I only knew these rules because we had to nitpick this year to ensure we were following guidelines in order to use pre-season prototyped ideas for the drive train for our end-result bot. Everything has to be re-created if you did anything custom pre-season. While we all want to see bluateam succeed, they have several other avenues to succeed other than a left-turning robot.

Honestly, Bluateam could find a contingency wheel for now and figure out their ProE licensing issues. This would allow their wonderful KABOOM device to still go Kaboom Kaboom (Penguin Christmas Caper anyone?) while they fixed their other issues. Usually wheels are not so close to everything else that they require extensive integration for spacing and you can always use the Skyway wheels with some ridiculous manipulation for whatever temporary setup.

There are always 2 ways to solve a problem; just because one refuses to figure the second solution out when the first solution has a problem doesn’t mean he/she gets to bend the rules.

I think Alan has it right. When Bluamentor and Bluastudent saw the Bluascreen-of-death, they needed to start singing the blues. To raise their spirits before they start over, they might take in a Bluaman show before returning to the Bluashop.



I agree that I have seen quite a bit of design and re-work going on around FIRST and for many robotics competitions. I think teams should be designing and prototyping ideas before a build season. I understand that R28 states that designing parts for the robot before build is not allowed.

However , I think the GDC should totally remove R28 next year, because that rule discourages teams from designing in the off-season.

But it is important that we understand the difference between this and what is prohibited in Section 8.3.4 and by Rule <R28>. Off-season development of ideas, proof-of-concept builds, construction of prototypes, engineering models, etc. are all great things to do. Teams should be encouraged to exercise as many of these options as they can. Fortunately, Section 8.3.4 does not prevent them from doing so.



I agree that R28 does not specifically address the pre-season building and ideas. Therefore I retract my previous statement of totally removing R28. However R28 does mention “design and fabricate” and I think design should be stricken from that rule because teams should be able to “design” before the build season. Detailed designs are somewhat suspect as mentioned by the manual , but “design” only in the Build season from R28 seems too vague.

Personally, I’d be all for them using the wheel design. The student is still learning (albeit a little bit differently, but they’re still learning), and so there shouldn’t be much to discourage this. Besides, if the wheel was to be designed the same way, wouldn’t there be no traceable differences between the two? So why re-draw a part you’ve already drawn, if it won’t change?

Not too sure about the rules, but morally, assuming it’s not an entire robot, I have no issues with them rolling out the new wheels.

I voted Hold, because I think Alan’s view of <R28> is correct.

Pre-kickoff exercises are a great way to kick-start a team’s season, and as Dave pointed out there is no prohibition on such exercises in the 2008 rules. Many of us feel they should be encouraged. Thinking should never be against the rules of FIRST, or any other rules in my view.

I’ve used revisions of pre-kickoff designs on several FRC robots. The design revisions were always made to correct (or attempt to correct) a perceived defect in the pre-kickoff design. Since neither I nor my team has ever designed a perfect part, I/we have always been able to identify helpful revisions to pre-kickoff designs. ‘Defects’ could be functional ones such as a structural weakness, or fabrication related such as small fit tolerances or extra machining steps.

In my experience, by the time one of my or my team’s designs gets close enough to perfect that revisons aren’t needed, that design has become a standard production item for some supplier – so it’s faster and cheaper to buy it than to make it. As the old engineer’s saying goes, better is the enemy of good enough.

The difficulty arises when a team decides, for sound reasons, that a pre-kickoff design is good enough – but that design is not available as a COTS item. Does such a decision itself constitute design? (My answer is emphatically “sometimes”.) IF the GDC were to reach a consensus that it does, THEN they should rewrite <R28>.