FRC Blogged - New FRC Calendar and Kit of Parts Evolution

Blog Date: 
Friday, September 7, 2012 - 12:06

New FRC Calendar

If you haven’t seen them yet, check out the new FRC Calendars, available in both ‘Month’ and ‘List’ views:

http://www.usfirst.org/roboticsprograms/frc/calendar/

http://www.usfirst.org/roboticsprograms/frc/calendar/list

 

Kit of Parts Evolution

As FRC continues to grow, we continue to try to find ways to better serve our teams’ needs.  Today, we have an exciting announcement regarding the Kit of Parts.

In 2005, the Kit of Parts Drive System was introduced. Since then, based on feedback from the FRC community, the KOP Drive System has evolved, but its overall goal has remained the same: give teams the opportunity to have a working drive system built quickly following Kickoff. However, not every FRC team wants or needs this component of the Kit of Parts. For the 2013 FRC Season, returning teams will have an option! Veteran teams can opt to receive a Product Donation Voucher (PDV) from AndyMark instead of the KOP Drive System at Kickoff. The PDV will be worth $450 and can be used on FRC-specific AndyMark parts, shown here. The option to opt out of the KOP Drive System for the PDV will be available ONLY from 10/1 to 10/18. During that time, the option to receive the PDV in place of the KOP Drive System will be found in the “What’s New” section on the right side bar of the TIMS main screen.  NOTE: If teams do not choose to opt out of the KOP Drive System in favor of the PDV by 10/18, they will be automatically by assigned the ‘default’ option of receiving the KoP Drive System as part of their kit as they usually would.

If your team decides to receive the 2013 KOP Drive System, you will receive an AndyMark C-Base chassis system similar to the last few years. It will again be a six wheel drive robot, with similar wheels to 2012, and with enough material to drive all six wheels. The 2013 gearbox is a ToughBox Mini with 10.71:1 reduction. The estimated final drive speed is about 10 feet per second.

Thanks to our partnership with AndyMark and with a donation from Gates, we are switching from chains to belts to drive the wheels. The KOP Drive System has been designed to be set up as either a six wheel drive “long” robot, or a four wheel drive “wide” robot.

We believe this is a positive change for a number of reasons. The belt system is between 1.5 and 2 pounds lighter than a chain drive system. Belts have also been shown through FRC-specific testing to be a more efficient system than chain drives. The assembly time for the KOP Drive System should also be reduced, since you no longer have to break chain or assemble master links.  Chain may provide greater flexibility in design, but we believe, for the stated overall goal for the KOP Drive System, a belt system comes out on top.

In the fall of 2008, FRC team 234, Cyber Blue, did a Design of Experiments study of the differences between belt and chain drive. Kit of Parts Engineer Collin Fultz was a mentor on the team at that time and helped with the experiment. Their final report can be found here. We believe that, with the help of Gates and AndyMark, we have mitigated the largest obstacles a team would face when deciding to use belts.

We are excited about this new opportunity for teams to make the Kit of Parts as valuable as possible and thank AndyMark and Gates for their support in creating this possibility.

I’ll blog again soon.
Frank

Comments

Can we get parallel notice of these blog posts sent out via the usual FIRST Email Blast system? It would be SOOOO much more convenient for team leadership.

Also - great changes!

Hi Travis. We try to limit blasts going out to all teams to one per week - two if there is something critical - to help cut back on email overload. If we say something really important in the blog in the last week or so we reference it in the blast. If you want to make sure you get notified when a new blog goes up, you can use the RSS feed at the top of the page - I'm told we were having some trouble with RSS feeds before, but that they're working now.

I am leading a rookie team for 2013 and I am disappointed that rookie teams are can't receive a voucher. We would like to try using belts this fall as we get ready for 2013, but we would also like the same option veteran teams have in choosing what type of drive system to use after we see the 2013 game. It has been tough gathering the $$ needed for our team to get off the ground and it's not fair to us that we don't have the same flexibility as other teams in allocating our KOP resources.

Hi David. Our experience is that the majority of rookie teams can find that first season overwhelming. The level of challenge a season presents is a critical part of the process - to grow and earn a genuine sense of accomplishment we need heavy things to push against - but we want to help reduce the chance of 'challenge' turning in to 'frustration'. The KoP Drive Train is probably the best choice for most rookies, but they may not have the experience to recognize that. For some this may not be the case, but we think this decision provides the greatest benefit overall.

If I may make a suggestion, as rookie team, I highly recommend starting out with the Kit Bot. I have attended several presentations on this and talked to people from many seasoned teams. The 6-wheel tank drive is generally the drive train of choice. While you will all sorts of variations of it, the Kit Bot provides a simple sturdy chassis that puts you on the same level as many of the seasoned teams. The Six week build season goes very quickly. The Kit Bot lets you get your chassis up and running quickly so you can focus on the rest of your robot, programming, and drive practice, etc.

What specific components comprise the KOP Drive System? We need to understand what we aren't getting vs. the PDV.

Hi Clay. The information in the third paragraph of the announcement is all we are revealing about the KoP Drive System components. The 2013 KoP Drive System is designed to be able to play the 2013 game. Identifying the components more specifically could - though not necessarily would- reveal details about the 2013 game we're not interested in sharing.

Frank: Congratulations to FIRST and AndyMark on the KOP innovation. My veteran team has generally used the KitBot components for applications that do not take advantage of their true value. Knowing that a significant portion of our registration cost will go towards parts we want is a win-win - less waste and more value.
I have one concern- will Gates belts and sprockets be available in a manner similar to the arrangements in the past few seasons? We have relied on this excellent resource for many robot functions and would like to count on it going forward as well. Thank you.

Hi Ed, Thanks. AndyMark is a wonderful partner to FIRST and our internal KOP team is very focused on increasing the value of the kit to teams. Regarding your question: As a rule, we don't release any information related to the kit in advance of Kickoff unless we feel we have a very good reason - the broad details about the 2013 KOP Drive System being a good example of this. The details on any arrangements that may have been made with suppliers regarding belts and sprockets don't reach that threshold, sorry.

I see that the calendar was updated, is there a release date for regional schedules yet? or should we just keep checking back as to when those will be updated?

Yes, the release date is today! Check today's post.

The parts descriptions on what we are giving up seem a little too generic to make a decision on. I am electrical, and never really paid attention to the KOP mechanical parts. I understand that you can not talk specifics for 2013, so would it be safe to assume that the $450 we are giving up would be similar to the 2012 drive system http://www.andymark.com/product-p/am-0958.htm sold at $549. So electrically speaking there may be a couple of motors in this part of the kit, but not motor controls, disconnects, power protection, etc. Thanks for any additional electrical info you can shed on this.

In the original post, I compared the 2013 KoP Drive System to the AndyMark C-Base chassis kit, which does not include electrical components.

In http://www.usfirst.org/roboticsprograms/frc/blog-09-07-12 it mentions "FRC-specific AndyMark parts"; on http://www.andymark.com/PDV-s/436.htm it says that "[t]he AndyMark PDV will be able to be used on all products designed and produced by AndyMark". This seems to me to be a contradiction. Can someone clarify, please? My apologies if this is a silly question, or an obnoxious one or one answered elsewhere.

Hi Patrick, the original post says "...can be used on FRC-specific AndyMark parts, shown here", with 'here' pointing to http://www.andymark.com/PDV-s/436.htm. That page has a specific list of items available under the PDV.

Humm, I can't see any "specific list of items" on http://www.andymark.com/PDV-s/436.htm.
Instead I read "The AndyMark PDV will be able to be used on all products listed on AndyMark.com."
Please "unconfuse" me. Cheers

The page was recently updated. You can use the AndyMark PDV on any item on AndyMark.com. This simplifies things for everyone.

Will there be the option to pre-order these parts? I understand that we could order whatever we want now, and then use the voucher for $450 of additional parts later. But these later parts may or may not be useful for the 2013 season.

In our limited experience, getting parts to rural Hawaii, especially after some post-kickoff designing, takes precious time out of the season.

Where can purchase a cRIO?

Can veteran teams purchase a rookie kit?

Roger, for questions like these, please contact FRC Team support: frcteams@usfirst.org

My primary concern is that AndyMark needs to maintains stock of the appropriate parts. One of the biggest frustrations last season was that most of the qualifying parts that could be purchased using the Kit vouchers were out of stock very quickly and not replenished until after the season was over. Our team ended up deciding between not using the vast majority of our voucher points and ordering things we really did not need.

How do Canadian teams opt for credit?

Canadian teams can opt in to receive the Product Donation Voucher from AndyMark instead of the KoP Drive System the same way every other team can. Many Canadian teams have already done so. If you are having difficulties, please contact frcteams@usfirst.org. And remember, these vouchers are only for veteran teams, so if you're a rookie this option won't show up.

Are we just giving up the Drive in the KOP ?
Where do we get everything else that came in the kit? Like Software and all the other stuff...
DO we pick up the kit less drive at the Kick off event?

If you opt for the Product Donation Voucher, the only change is that you will receive the Product Donation Voucher instead of the 2013 KoP Drive System components. Everything else - how you get your kit, etc - remains the same.

Hi... so how do we get the new software for 2013 ..were we supose to pick up a smaller kit at the kick off..?

After reading through these comments and answers along with the original post, and reading through posts at Chief Delphi, I am unclear on whether veteran teams can opt to use belts or chains. In reading the original post, it says FIRST is switching to belt drive for the KOP. But unless I missed it, is there an official statement somewhere that says Veteran Teams WILL use belts?

Hi Paul. There's been no official statement that teams are required to use belts. Full rules will come out at Kickoff. Also, all rules questions will need to be directed to the GDC through the Q&A system, I won't be answering them here.

Im sorry if this question has been asked before, but Im confused. What exactly are we opting out on? If we opt out of the as I understand right now drive system, does this just mean the wheels, belts, motors, etc that just allows driving, or does it mean that we only get a voucher and nothing else? What im asking is would get still receive for example electronics (power board, jaguar, vector, etc?), software, and other game specific stuff (like the kinect last year). Essentially, if we opt out, what exactly are we opting out of? Sorry for the long question, I was confused. Thanks!

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