Leveling of fields

Ok… i have no idea where should i place this post.
But just hope i can get the attention of the relevant people involved.

A thought just occurred to me - imagine you have a field that is not level, or tilted to one side (but still within vrc requriements of +/- 1" ), and you are stacking a 8 to 10 cubes high at your goal, and because of the slippery nature of the cubes and the tilted field, your stack of cubes toppled down.
It will be a nightmare to any teams that are in this situation.

A few of these similar instances came to mind :-
Nbn - the balls rolling to one side of the field due to tilted field

Skyrise - the infamous breaking of the skyrise section after you were done with the last section

Toss up - beach ball over-inflated at worlds

I am sure there were many more examples.
But i am sure you guys must have understand where i am coming from.

My main point - should we have a rule to ensure that the field is level during setup? One can easily use a spirit level to check.
But of course, it will be additional work for the EPs.

7 Likes

Please no more rules :slight_smile: Already have to deal with the <G6> programmers caveat.

It is a good point. There is no easy solution. For example, fields on floors that are not level - do you move to another building?

Hate to say it, teams will have to design better robots to deal with the irregularities of the playing field. It is good preparation for what is in store ahead in life.

But this has nothing got to do with the design of the robots. And that’s the main issue.
I mean… it affects how well the cubes will sit on top of each other, and looking at the slippery nature of the cubes, there is a tendency for the cubes to fall off when the field is tilted… especially when the stack gets higher.
So essentially, a tilted field will disadvantaged teams that design the robots to stack higher (which is one of the objectives of this year game).

I don’t expect to change building… but might need to do some propping (eg… just like how we insert papers underneath the legs of tables to level It) to level the field.

But as I said earlier, it will definitely be translated to more work for the EPs.

6 Likes

A lot of fields, and I truly do not know percentage wise, are just placed on the floor. No legs in those cases to prop up.

Where you could do it is with raised fields, which usually is a case where an outside rental comes in and installs them. You can specify level. However, on game day, what to do?

Will see how the season plays out, just another challenge to overcome.

1 Like

Just going to throw this out there, we are teaching kids of real world environmental effects outside of their control. The field is never going to be perfect.

At our Monroe County Fair Event, our field-levelers are working to level our field risers. This event is held outside under a tent on a grassy lawn, so there’s no choice but to use field riser. We have dozens of wooden blocks and shims, and get the fields level to within about 1/4" in four feet.

13909045_1624521457860031_1140565830592415061_o

4 Likes

I think a field which is not quite level will probably be fine. It will just require teams to pick up on it, see how high they can safely stack and then adjust their strategies accordingly.

2 Likes

I would love to have VEX or RECF standardize the field risers and make something available for sale / rent. We could buy 4 or 5 for FL and share accordingly. But as always the cost will get passed on…

7 Likes

You guys are most probably right… I was just being over paranoid. Sorry about that.

Assuming it is 1” raised up on one side, and taking the centre of rotation at the centre of the field, we are looking at the opposite length as 1” and the hypotenuse length of (6 x 12 =) 72”.
The tilt angle will most likely be too insignificant to make a difference.

But I do like the idea of vex-made riser though.

4 Likes

I know Paul Copioli before he left made some field riser plans public, but those were very involved.

1 Like

In Skyrise, my sister team used a bubble leveler to determine the fields were tilted nearly 4* from vertical. This is enough to significantly affect game play in a year where stacks are precarious, even if it’s something we’re supposed to “adapt” to.

But I think this is part of a bigger overall trend. Vex and the RECF need to make more of an effort for fields at worlds to be consistent with fields for the rest of the season. Elevated fields change the nature of driving significantly (especially for shorter drivers who are disproportionately female and who vex’s programs claim to help), the absurd overuse of antistatic forces teams to reprogram their autos every year, and many years there have been significant problems with game objects as well. Meng touched on the over inflated Tossup balls and the breaking Skyrise sections, NBN year had issues with overly firm balls, and this year there were issues with inconsistent stiffnesses of flags.

In my last 3 seasons at worlds, I’ve collectively been 3-6 on day 1, and then 20-2 on days 2 and 3. In those years, I’ve made significant physical and software changes all 3 years because of the raised fields, antistatic, and other problems. This embodies the adapt and overcome mindset that @lacsap talked about. Except I still think the fields should be consistent between my local / state events and worlds. Frankly it’s disappointing that so much money being spent on things like custom risers for elevated fields and semitrucks to deliver the elevated fields to worlds when competitors not only would rather see the money used to hire better refs etc, but the elevated fields are less enjoyable to play on than normal fields.

8 Likes

Tilted fields are certainly a big deal, and in my opinion worth the time for EPs to spend levelling. The field is the most key part of a competition; An extra 5 minutes spent making sure it’s not absolutely terrible in terms of level is extremely helpful, as it is not easy for competitors to detect that the field is tilted unless it’s particularly egregious or if they’re experienced and have had a tilted field before. This often leads to competitors thinking something else is wrong with their robot (for example this game a competitor might think they are dropping stacks because something bent during car ride and is hitting their stack) while it’s actually just the field being tilted. They can’t do anything about it, either, as the EP ostensibly doesn’t want to spend time fixing it.
Further, the +/- 1" rule really just means the best EPs should be leveling their fields. It’s simply going to improve the tournament, and so EPs who wish to improve the quality of their tournaments should definitely consider leveling their fields.

The expectation that teams should just “work” even if the field is out of the 1" tolerance requirement (what?) is unreasonable, and ignores the actual problem, that stacks will tip and it may favor certain designs over others. This argument can be acceptable if the issue equally affected all robots, but it doesn’t. Robots that are designed to make one tall stack will be disadvantaged while robots that are designed to make many small stacks will be advantaged. You could say that it just means the small stack design is superior, but the game is meant to be played in either of those ways. Why should a problem caused by tournament carelessness restrict the feasible designs of the game?

Also, @meng in your testing, have you found that even within the +/- 1" stacks can fall over? If so, that’s very worrying.

5 Likes

I hadn’t thought about this problem before, but it is definitely something an important issue. I definitely think that we need a rule about this. There is absolutely nothing we can do to prevent these tall stacks from falling over. The only possible solution would be to detach something from your robot when you complete a stack that supports the cubes, but that’s illegal.

Some people might say that you should just build shorter stacks, but in this game, that’s not really possible. If you want to win the match, you need to make tall stacks since you can only make 3 stacks. So we definitely need to be careful of this and we need to have something that ensures that all fields are level.

2 Likes

Think there is a fine line that needs to be drawn.
I am all for teaching the kids the real world environment, design with tolerance in mind, adapt on the spot, etc.

But skyrise sections breaking on its own?!
And how about beach ball inflated beyond the tolerance limit?
It borders on being unfair to the competitors.

Of course I know the floor that the riser is placed on is never going to be perfectly level. But what I hope for is that at least some effort is made to make it level within the tolerance limit (I.e. just like what @kmmohn did for his event… that was great! ).

Don’t think anyone will have ground for complaints as Long as the setup is within the +/- 1” tolerance limit.
But honestly, after all my years in worlds, I did came across some fields that were definitely beyond the limits. And the tilted field does affect some games more than others.

Anyway, this post is just to raise the awareness to the EPs that if the tilt is too much, it might affects the number of cubes that the robots can stack.
And I think as long as it is within the specified tolerance limit, then it should be fine :slight_smile:

6 Likes

No… i have not done any actual testing yet.
I will definitely get my kids to try it out tomorrow in the lab.

But based on mathematical calculation, i think it should still be ok, as Long as within the +/- 1” tolerance limit.

But I will do a testing tomorrow to see how much the field can tilt :slight_smile:

4 Likes

I’m just going to put this out there as something to think about.


I’m all for having properly leveled fields, but how is the typical EP, who does not have any fancy risers, supposed to accomplish this (assuming the floor is not already level)?

2 Likes

This is a great question. I was wondering the same myself. Unfortunately, I don’t have any control over how level the floors are at any venue I rent.

2 Likes

Or you could insert some sheets of paper under the scoring zones to make them level - where it is important.

4 Likes

If your venue floor is not level, you could probably level the goal zones separately from the rest of the field. A goal-sized sheet of polycarbonate with spacers or construction shims taped too it and installed under the foam could make the corners level, regardless of what is going on for the remainder of the field.

(Illyana beat me to this.)

5 Likes

Whatever you are using as a shim would have an edge to it… I suppose if you got the edge under the edge of the zone where you are stacking that would work. However, I don’t know if that would actually be any better. I will consider this as I am setting up my fields, but the cafeteria that I host in has a pretty good floor.

I saw some VRC field risers from team VIRUS that looked cool but were $2000+. These things are a big deal, and cost more than the field themselves. I would love to use them if I could get my hands on them, but my yearly budget (less WORLDS) is about $8,000. I like it, but I need help getting there.

4 Likes