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Board index » 2014-15 State Robotics (Do Not Use) » 2014-15 State Arena




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 Post subject: State Suggestions
 Post Posted: Mon May 04, 2015 12:09 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 31, 2014 9:15 am
Posts: 164
Location: Los Fresnos CISD
Congratulations to everyone who competed at state! I'd like to see if anyone has suggestions for next year's event. This is my second trip up there and a few things have come to mind.

1. Provide practice tables in the pit. For some teams it is difficult to bring a full practice board. It would be nice to have a few tables set up for practice in the pit.

2. More consistent tournament tables. Our team scored 200 points less on a table that had East-West ripples than on a table that had North-South ripples.

3. Bigger score screen. The screens for the featured tables were double the size of the score screen. It was really tricky to see the scores.

4. More judge training. I know this is a tricky one and I do not want to speak poorly of the volunteers, but I saw a few things happen during the matches that should not of happened. I saw one team restart their robot a full 6 inches from the south wall and another restart their robot with a configuration significantly beyond 12" in length (that one may have fit diagonally, but I was not close enough to be able to tell).

_________________
*All opinions and suggestions are based off of my interpretation of the rules. I am not an official representative of TCEA.


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 Post subject: Re: State Suggestions
 Post Posted: Mon May 11, 2015 7:13 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:32 am
Posts: 12
Hi Brian,
I think these are excellent suggestions. We also noticed the mats had ripples in them. I don't think they were the newest mats made by TCEA. The mats we got from TCEA are thicker and don't create ripples after being rolled up for long periods of time. The surface of the newer TCEA mats is also not as slick as the older ones that ripple. I think, especially at State, the mats used need to be the newest ones and not some old ones. This was extremely unfair to teams who ran on the older, rippled mats because not all of them were like that.

Thanks!
Terri Armendariz


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 Post subject: Re: State Suggestions
 Post Posted: Tue May 12, 2015 12:56 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 31, 2014 9:15 am
Posts: 164
Location: Los Fresnos CISD
tarmendariz wrote:
Hi Brian,
I think these are excellent suggestions. We also noticed the mats had ripples in them. I don't think they were the newest mats made by TCEA. The mats we got from TCEA are thicker and don't create ripples after being rolled up for long periods of time. The surface of the newer TCEA mats is also not as slick as the older ones that ripple. I think, especially at State, the mats used need to be the newest ones and not some old ones. This was extremely unfair to teams who ran on the older, rippled mats because not all of them were like that.

Thanks!
Terri Armendariz


Just to play devil's advocate on my own suggestion though, having a perfect playing field also negates the scenario's intended purpose. If our robots can not overcome random obstacles like rippled mats, how could they ever harvest food on an uneven dirt farm? I think I might purposely have my teams practice on imperfect mats to see if their robot is capable of overcoming it next year.

_________________
*All opinions and suggestions are based off of my interpretation of the rules. I am not an official representative of TCEA.


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 Post subject: Re: State Suggestions
 Post Posted: Tue May 12, 2015 4:14 pm 
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Joined: Tue Aug 23, 2011 1:50 pm
Posts: 652
BrianKMartinez wrote:
...having a perfect playing field also negates the scenario's intended purpose.

I wasn't going to say anything on this subject, but now I feel compelled.

When I use to Head Referee FIRST LEGO League (FLL) in Austin, FLL would release game mats some years that were folded up - there would be distinct folds, ripples, and patterns in the mats from the folding process that were REALLY hard to get out. However, days after the mats were shipped to teams there would be huge message board posts (by other teams) about how to perfectly flatten and smooth the mats - even though they were told that events were not required to perform the complex processes the teams were performing to flatten their mats. I personally would hang the competition mats on a rack in my garage October through December (similar to laying a carpet on a fence) and would let the heat expand and straighten the mats, but the mats would NEVER be as glass-smooth as the teams would get them - I had 25 mats, they had 1. At the events the coaches would scream in my face about how they spent so much time flattening out the mats perfectly and designing a robot that was PERFECT on that incredibly flat surface, and how I was ruining the kids' lives by not providing perfectly flat mat surfaces or letting them play on their mats. I made the mistake of mentioning to one particularly unruly coach that if they'd have spent the time they used flattening the mats to make their robots more robust to field variances (like the folds everyone had in their mats) they might have done better. The coach packed up her team and left in record speed, I swear there were flames coming out of her nostrils; I felt bad for the kids on her team who did not get to compete the rest of the day. I ended up awarding the Performance Award (1st place game award) to a team who designed/used a double-caster-ball system to overcome the ripples in the mat so their robot was perfect no matter the field imperfections. On one hand here's a team who was incredibly innovative and designed around the problem, and on the other here's a team refusing to participate because I didn't do something I wasn't required to do (and hadn't done any prior year before that, nor any year after that).

Rule 2.0.7 says your robots should be ready to handle some waviness in the mats. Still, I get complaints if the mats aren't glass-smooth. Clearly we've had problems in the past where the mats had such bad ripples the mats would "bunch-up" as the robots moved across them, and that's definitely not acceptable. When I got the first "report" that the mats had ripples, the first thing I did was walk over to each table and slid my hand over them to determine if the mats would "bunch", or if I felt a robot would be "significantly disadvantaged" by playing on the surfaces. I detected no bunching, and I felt the mats only had minor waviness in them (indeed, though, the mats were not consistent in their variances, but I did not expect them to be). Of course, if you relied on an absolutely glass surface you'd probably have problems guaranteed - but with rule 2.0.7 nobody would do such a thing, right? ;)

I'm not arguing "who's right, who's wrong", but I am trying to set some realism factors that you're going to have to consider in to your robot design and practices. There is definitely going to be some amount of "folds/waviness/deflection" in the mat no matter what you do, so it's best to prepare for it rather than ignore the possibility.

-Danny


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