YMTC: How Open Is Redateam's Fix-it Window

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.

Redateam had there best build season ever! Redabot, nicknamed The Mississippi Slinger, was fully functional going into the crate. With such promise for the first-week Magnolia Regional, Redateam only takes one day off before returning to work on the Thursday after shipping Redabot. Thursday started off with a bang, twenty spare parts from 3:00 pm to 9:00 pm … everything Slinger’s base would ever need. The only thing left to do was to make some spare arms for Redabot. At 10:00 pm, the Firo Machine Shop’s CNC PVC Tube Bender, Ole Blue, was loaded with 1" PVC pipe. When Redateam pressed GO on Ole Blue, there was no motion but the screen flashed “ERROR 1801”. After several phone calls and an exhaustive search for the manuals, Redateam figured it out; a zero-radius corner in Slinger’s arm part file was carried through to the CNC file and Ole Blue would have nothing of it … what a smart machine. Although it took Redateam 5 hours to figure out the problem, it only took about 5 minutes to fix the files. Then at 3:15 am on Friday morning, Ole Blue bent 10 new replacement arms for Slinger; everything was done by 3:45 am. Another all-nighter but it was well worth it because in the semifinals of the Magnolia Regional, Redabot, in a winning effort, crashed into the wall destroying both of Slinger’s arms. Redateam quickly ran back to the pits, pulled out two of Ole Blue’s arms, and installed them on Slinger just in time for the finals.

Based on the 2008 Rules, YOU MAKE THE CALL!

I would venture to say legal.

They spent only 6+ hours working on the bot, the rest of the time was spent doing maintenance on their shop. The way I see it, the spirit of FIRST would not be trying to shut a team down because they had problems with their shop. Students learn a lesson about being prepared, but they learn even more lessons by having the parts they need when needed.

Chris McKenzie

R29> During the “FIX-IT WINDOWS” following the shipment of the ROBOT: During this period, all teams may utilize up to 10 hours of FIX-IT-WINDOWS to manufacture SPARE and REPLACEMENT PARTS and develop software for their ROBOT at their home facility. Fabrication of UPGRADE PARTS is not permitted during this period. The timing of these “FIX-IT WINDOWS” is at the discretion of the team. However, the total time utilized as FIXIT WINDOWS during this period must not exceed 10 hours, and all work must be completed
by 5:00pm on the Saturday following the ROBOT shipment deadline. Teams may manufacture all the SPARE and REPLACEMENT parts they want, but the amount of parts they can bring to a competition event is limited (as specified in Rule <R41>). The intent of the FIX-IT WINDOWS is to permit teams to prepare parts that have, or are likely to, become damaged during the course of a competition event, so they may continue to participate. Teams do not have direct access to their ROBOT during these periods, and must rely on information they generated and documented during the design and build process to determine the fit and function of any parts developed during FIX-IT WINDOWS. This is true for both hardware and software.

OK, I’ll bite. This FIX-IT WINDOW slamed shut on them at about 2:00 AM. 3:00 PM to 9:00 PM, six hours. Started to make arms at 10:00 PM with four hours left. At 2:00 AM they should have put down their tools. OK, I could be wrong, not knowing exactly what happend to the CNC. I look at this as though the error was in the program given to the CNC. The CNC would have worked just fine had the zero radius corner in slingers arm part file not carried through to the CNC file. This sounds like a programing error, not maintenance. The file must have worked when Ole Blue made the first set of arms, what happened? Of course, if someone tells me that this type of error is completely CNC caused, and not a programers error, I’ll give Redateam about another 3 hours 30 minutes before 5:00 PM Saturday to make more spare parts.

I’m with ALIBI on this one. 6 hours making parts, 1 hour to do whatever (might or might not count), 5 hours to figure out a file problem, 1/2 hour to finish the job.

The six hours definitely count, as does the 1/2 hour. The 1 hour of whatever, I’ll give to them, assuming they took a break to get food or something like that. So they’re at 6.5 hours.

The file problem is another matter. 5 hours to figure it out…Ouch. But, FIRST gives real-life engineering-type situations. Deadlines are one of them. Ship Date doesn’t care if you broke all your tools, you ship the robot (or what you have of one). The same would apply to the FIX-IT Windows. The five hours counts, and Redateam is in violation of the rules.

There is one other problem–the windows are impossible to enforce.

I agree with Alibi and EricH-
Per the rules, deadlines are a part of life, and sometimes, stuff happens. The five hours counts, and they are in violation of the rules.

Personally, I don’t think it’s in the spirit of FIRST to keep the team from using those spares just because of a machine error. At least they didn’t give up trying to fix it. Working til almost 4 am is true dedication.

However, rules are rules, and in this case they were broken.
Hopefully, lesson learned by Redateam. Sorry guys.

I dont think that because of a machine wasn’t working that they should be penalized time because they had to fix it.I think only the time spent making the parts should count, not making your shop work =P.

For technicality’s sake, does maintenance on a CNC count in the 10-hour FIX-IT window?

there was no motion but the screen flashed “ERROR 1801”. After several phone calls and an exhaustive search for the manuals

They may have considered however long this took as “CNC maintenance”. If it took 1.5 hrs to ensure the CNC wasn’t broken, then perhaps Redateam is within the rules. Their real-life deadline was 5pm on Saturday, which they met, so I would be inclinded to let this slide given the fact that one may not consider maintenance as part of a FIX-IT window. Since there is no rule describing tool maintenance in regards to the build season or FIX-IT windows (please correct me if I’m wrong, this is from memory) then they are technically legal.

Of course, one may argue that this was not tool maintenance since eventually the actual problem was with coded design and not the machine itself. This goes back to the ethical intent vs. actual behavior argument I’ve heard so much at work, in which intent usually doesn’t matter.

Very interesting scenario.

I disagree here. The machine was working properly, it was the program they ran on it (which they created) that caused the error. Since the machine was not broken, and their programming was, they are in violation.

This is also completely unenforceable … talk about a GP situation. How many teams would admit to ‘possibly’ breaking the fix-it window rules afterthey had won a regional?