Programming Skills Challenge

Reading the programming skills challenge rules

Prior to the start of each Programming Skills Match, each Robot may use their four (4) Balls available as Programming Skills Preloads. A Ball is considered to be legally preloaded if it is touching the Robot, not touching any other grey foam tiles, and is fully within the field perimeter. Any unused Programming Skills Preloads become Programming Skills Control Loads. Please note, the twelve (12) other Preloads that would be used by other Robots in a normal Match are available as Programming Skills Loads

and

Programming Skills Load – The sixty (60) Balls that Student Drive Team Members of each Alliance may load onto their Alliance Starting Tiles or into their Robots during the Programming Skills Match.

So there are 76 balls available as Programming Skills Loads (60 + ANY unused preloads). A robot can be programmed to just keep firing and a driver can time how they are dropping the skills loads to it. An accurate mortar that does nothing but keeps firing can win programming skills? This doesn’t seem to require much programming.

I think this “accurate motor” may be a bit more complex than you imagine

I believe what Chris meant is that all a team would have to do is create a cannon and set its angle so that the arc would be perfectly set to shoot all 60 or so balls into the goal, therefore resulting in an “accurate mortar.” While this may be true, you should also consider that none of the bonus balls are available as a control load. A winning programming skills run will most likely have the robot going after the scoring objects on the field, including the bonus balls, in addition to shooting the control loads available. It should also be considered that the goals do have a limited capacity. It’s more than likely that you’ll have to aim for the other goal at some point if all you’re going to do is shoot your control loads. This will require you to move the position of the cannon which can be time-consuming if done by hand and not by programming.

Just to clarify, there are only 60 programming skills loads available, with 4 preloads.

Also, I think that early programming skills scores will be dominated by sit and shoot routines, but teams will have to use the bonus balls towards the end of the season if they want to be competitive at worlds.

Agreed. To begin with, the most viable option will be to just turn on the cannon and launch the loads into the goals. Obviously, robots will become faster and more effective as the season goes on, allowing for more complex routines involving the bonus balls.

Here again is the rule, bolding added by me
Prior to the start of each Programming Skills Match, each Robot may use their four (4) Balls available as Programming Skills Preloads. A Ball is considered to be legally preloaded if it is touching the Robot, not touching any other grey foam tiles, and is fully within the field perimeter. Any unused Programming Skills Preloads become Programming Skills Control Loads. Please note, the twelve (12) other Preloads that would be used by other Robots in a normal Match are available as Programming Skills Loads

So as I read it, if a team does not preload any balls, those 4 become Programming skills control loads. Also, the 12 other preload balls become programming skills control loads. 60 + 4 + 12 = 76. Certainly, if the canon has some kind of hopper, which you’d want to make it more likely to introduce the control loads, you’d load all 4 preloads there. It’s still 76 balls available to a robot that doesn’t move. At 5 points each, you’ll be hard pressed to beat it moving around the field.

And yes, the net may fill, so there could be minimal programming to adjust the robots direction and elevation to fill the other net, then perhaps a 3rd change to start filling the low goal. But once the angles are known, it’s not that difficult.

I agree that the bonus balls provide more potential points, but it seems like it will be harder to drive to a pile of balls and get a bonus ball without knocking it away. Say a stationary mortar hits 20 balls (thats only 1 every 3 seconds) in the high goal for 100 points… you’d have to nail all 10 bonus balls, from 10 spots on the field, to tie that.

24 driver control loads per team: 24x2=48.
3 sets of 4 would-be preload balls: 4x3=12.
1 set of 4 preload balls: 4x1=4.
So…
48+12=60 programming skills loads + 4 max preloads= 64 max programming skills loads.

To further clarify 1mathman’s math, the 12 other preloads are already included in the 60 programming skills loads as stated by the 2 rules originally posted. And yes, while 64 balls is still a somewhat staggering amount to have available to load through human interaction, it’s reasonable to assume that as the season progresses so will the speed of the scoring of the skills loads. In order to create a programming skills run capable of competing on a national or international stage, the robot will have to pick up the balls already on field in addition to scoring the loads.

I see my mistake in the # of balls. Thank you

Agree, but I do agree with the others as well that the programming part of NbN is devalued. I’d rather see a focus on programming. Make everyone (not just those that want to win worlds) move that robot all over the place and pickup, load, and fire balls. Maybe make the bonus balls 20 pts each. Then you really have to go for those.

Also, what about the 15 second autonomous in the match? It seems that you are just going to have four bots shooting four balls and not moving. MAYBE the more advanced ones might go for more, but with skyrise, moved and did something.

For a regular match, you only get your 4 preloads. The other 24 balls are reserved for driver control.

At the HS and VexU level, the robots may have to move in a programming skills challenge I have a hard time envisioning many middle school teams getting more than a shot a second off and so will certainly be tempted to simply sit in the corner and fire for effect.

I get that, but everyone will just sit there and fire the 4 balls. It will be tight to then move out of the base, go pickup other balls, load them, and fire within 15 seconds.

I don’t remember seeing a requirement to leave the base (granted I didn’t read anything about the VexU). Just sit there, load, and fire all the balls.

The more I think about it, they had to test this out. Maybe it will be next to impossible to fire a ball from the loading zone to the high goal? Because if you can design a robot to do it, the actual programming part is so minimal to pickup 300+ points.

It would be so much better to make the challenge with only the four preloads - no other programming loads. That would force people to actually program their robot.

Everyone also said last year that there is no way anyone would build more than one or two skyrise sections in 15 seconds.

Team 62 could build all 7.

I think your setting your expectations much to low.

I think this would be a good idea for the Programming Skills Challenge. It would require much more programming effort.

This year I’ve seen middle school teams beat high school teams many times. Also the high school robot skills world champion had a lower score than the middle school champion.

I agree…something needs to be done to make the robots actually have to move, particularly in the programming skills challenge