Starting a new team for this season. We bought a new kit and getting stuff ready.
One question… Does your team have a full field? I was looking at space and thanks to a great local company we have a meeting space that can hold a field but didn’t know if spending the money was really worth it.
I have seen the plans for a low cost field but still cost money.
I don’t know about the state of your funds, but if you’re starting a new team, I don’t think a field is what you want to spend your money on. The object kit is usually enough to design and test whether your robot interacts with the game objects as you intended. Are there any established teams near you that are getting fields that you can practice on? Honestly, unless you’re programming an intricate autonomous (rare for new teams, the first year is usually spent getting to know the design system, and how things work), the field isn’t absolutely necessary.
I have looked around and haven’t been lucky to find another local team. We know they are out there but still looking.
Just like you said it is our first year and I’m sure there will be other stuff the team will want. The budget it tight but want to get the team what they need and thats why I wanted to ask the experts (other teams).
I was shocked about how much foam tiles cost even from ebay or harbor freight. :eek:
You definitely don’t need a field per se, but it will be a huge benefit once you get a robot up and running and want to practice. However, a goal kit with a few sacks will fill 80% of your practicing needs and is a fraction the cost of a whole field.
The field perimeter really isn’t worth buying unless you are going to host a tournament. My team has a field because we host a tournament each year, but we rarely use it otherwise. Gateway was really different because you needed the perimeter to attach all the goals and things, but in games like Round-Up and Sack Attack (this year) a few wooden stands will work perfectly for holding the game elements together.
My team does have a full field. This is our 3rd year going in, but we were only able to get it since we have full funding from the local US Army Core of Engineers branch. In Sack Attack, you won’t need all the foam tiles at all. Only about like 1/4 of the field, so you can practice autonomous’.
So we just got our first vex field a couple of weeks ago. We got our sack attack field like two weeks ago. I would recommend that if you only have one team and if you are starting new, you don’t really need a field. Our team has been pretty competitive over the last 4 years in vex, and we never had the field. It might just be easier to get the $50 small package of field elements. This is very helpful. Hope you can be successful next season and good luck.
We have three teams, so a full field is helpful to allow us to scrimmage before tournaments. Our drivers are able to get the experience they need to perform their best at tournaments.
When it comes to autonomous, if you use time-based code (instead of sensor-based code), it is useful to have at least part of a field with elements to make sure the code is effective and you are good at repositioning the robot.
If you are on a tight budget and only have one team, the object kit and goal kit should cover your needs (unless you are trying to score in the high goal, which you would have to build, or are planning an intense autonomous or programming skills run). However, as your team is new, building a solid design is far more important than trying to achieve every challenge the game offers.
AURA doesn’t have a field, and our reaction whenever we lose is always “we really need to get ourselves a field” :). Without a field your robots will be less tested so you will run into more unexpected problems during competitions. We were world finalists this year though so despite not having a field we still did ok :p.
I definitely wouldn’t get a field straight away, and probably not in the first season. Even if you do have the money to spend you can probably use it better on something that will last until future seasons. It’s something to consider once you know that the team will be active enough to make good use of one. Once you have two teams (if that happens) you’ll be able to use a field more effectively because the robots will be able to practice against each other.
During the season you will build robots that you think will work, then take them to a field to test and invariably discover a long list of things that need to be fixed. Then you fix them and wait until the next time you get a chance to use a field. Iterating through this cycle lots of times is how you get a great robot, but without a field your iterations will be much slower.
One result of this for us is that in the period between building the robots to our satisfaction and being able to test them we often have quite a lot of idle time when there really isn’t any building to do.
From the point of view of running a high school team, this isn’t a good thing and if you don’t have regular competitions that you can attend you might have to think of things for the team to do during these periods.
So to summarise, having a field will help your team competitively and allow the team to be more active. On the other hand, money. It is easily possible to have a happy and active robotics team with no field, and you can still do well.
The thing you can’t really do without is game objects. Either buy a set of 21, split a set with a nearby team or if you can’t do either then borrow some off another team.
Our first field was eight classroom tables flipped on there side and foam tiles from various sources.
We held our first scrimmage this way.
Then we built one with just 8, 1"x6"x6’, particle board planks bolted together. We were fortunate that some one gave us a VEX field from the first experimental year that is about 15’ by 15’. We bolted it together with the ends sticking out like a pinwheel. Every year we build our own field elements.
Point is fields are great but not your first priority. See if a parent has some construction/fabrication experience, and maybe will donate the raw materials and build it too. Never be afraid to ask for help. You can accomplish a lot with some ingenuity, and isn’t that what robotics is all about.
Being a new, one-team club, you will probably only need one trough, about 20 sacks, and 4 foam tiles. This way, you’ll be pretty much prepared for conditions at a tournament.
If you want to find other teams to practice/collaborate with, talk to them at your first tournament. For brand-new teams, the first tournament is a learning experience, so I wouldn’t worry too much going in. While you’re there, see if any of the teams are close to you and want to practice/collaborate with you for the rest of the season. After, you can become a very competitive force at the later tournaments.
I plan on having the team go to a tournament to just watch and learn, Then hit up our first one. As the coach/mentor I have done robotics teams in FIRST and like how VRC lets you compete at more then one tournament. Seems the amount of work you put in will be more enjoyed with more chances to compete
We observed the first tournament this year, but we decided we would’ve gotten more benefits from being there if we’d actually competed. The early-season tournaments are good for new teams, because the elite teams all have lots of technical problems, too, so almost anything can happen. You can’t lose anything from competing with a less-than-perfect robot early in the season.