This year’s competition had a needlessly complex construction process. The pole mounts were really annoying to get set up, and there were 20 of them per field. Everything combined, this is a very hard field set to construct and account for. I wish that vex would consider the complexity of construction and offer more components that can be installed with zip ties or various bolt lengths (I am looking at you 5/8" pole-mounting screws). Additionally, when parts are being installed on the field, the easier it can be detached and reattached to the field, the better. If we could take the whole net/flag structure off with just a few field bolts, it would make for a much easier time for Event Partners.
I do agree more thought needs to go into the repeated tear down and setup of fields, but one thing VEX did learn from and do better was things mounted below the foam. Starstruck, attaching the fence was a nightmarish experience. In The Zone and Turning Point both used the improved method of having standoffs that are attached to the plate and stuck up through the foam as a target.
Still we had a lot of trouble with this year’s field, especially attaching the posts to the perimeter. And there is a lot of field to field variability in the tightness of the net.
The poles this year, and their mounts have been a pain in the rear to do. At least for our trailer, we don’t have to put them on each time and they’re just attached.
I’ve found the variance in flag stiffness to be an issue with at least on the field play.
This weekend I was able to bend and flex the polycarbonate before I got it to turn, applying moderate human force more than what the robot could do.
Totally agree. I run a trailer for my region, and we were also able to keep the poles attached to the walls, which definitely saves on setup, but I still feel the field was unnecessarily complex in design.
I believe the following design constraints should be adopted by the GDC:
- All field elements should attach to the to perimeter with 1/4-20 hardware (and wingnuts if not attaching to integrated nuts on perimeter)
- The field should be able to be assembled by 2 unskilled volunteers in 30 minutes or less (after initial unboxing/assembly)
- The field should be able to be disassembled by 2 unskilled volunteers in 15 minutes or less
- The field elements should require minimal disassembly between uses (as many individual parts should stay connected as units as possible)
- Consideration should be given to the size and durability of field elements for ease of transport when not attached to the field.
I have noticed that some flags are really difficult, and I watched a team hit one dead square with a strong puncher and it not even budge. That ended up costing them autonomous. Not cool.
Also, @nnolte your ideas are awesome, if not lofty. Maybe if the unskilled volunteers were provided with a support video for those who are diagramatically challenged. I would love a simple component that once prepared, simply bolts onto the field, or has a plate that goes underneath the corner plates or wall connectors. Or have a structure that zipties to the walls when installed and just needs a decent amount of force to hold it against the wall and that is all. Things get lost after a season of field moving. Your #5 and #1 are great, and they should really take those into mind when designing these things.
Side note: we need a diagonally run wire or strut underneath the tiles to put the walls under tension and not bow outwards