Robot rules, waste, and program accessibility

I know other topics have been posted about this, but I think this relates to a wider topic that I feel the need to address. In the most recent rules update, the longstanding rule allowing commercially available screws was modified to only allow steel or stainless steel screws. This follows along with similar decisions to no longer allow pneumatic tubing of identical properties but of a different color, or to disallow VEX parts that have been removed from the VEX website, and likely some other things I’ve forgotten

So now, if a team has an entire collection of aluminum screws, are they supposed to just throw it out and buy entirely new ones? Inflation is driving up the cost of everything and we’re very likely about to go into a recession and let’s throw another cost at teams for no apparent reason by forcing them to buy all new hardware?

Where are these decisions coming from, and who do they benefit? Is there some mass cheating I’m unaware of based around unusual screws or blue pneumatic tubing? When I and others complained about the removal of Bo3 and its affect on the ability of the competition to determine who had the best robot at the event, it was pointed out that the priority of VRC is not finding the best robot, but rather creating an educational robotics platform. Even if there is some fringe cheating happening, how does this square with the traditional view presented by the GDC that the priority is a sustainable and affordable robotics program, even at the expense of the competition at times?

This is a death of a thousand paper cuts of (at least from the outside) dumb decisions that hurt competitors and help nobody. To say nothing of how I’m supposed to check what material screws are made of at inspection. I’m so looking forward to sending a team home because they’re using aluminum screws and failed inspection /S


TL;DR - I agree with this post

I have said that the competition isn’t about the robot it’s about the plethora of life skills that roboteers collect.

I am good with the BO1/BO3 split (BO3 for the finals match) change. It has shortened our finals and has allowed us to set up where most teams at an event can be in the finals. I also support the 2 robot alliance instead of the original 3 robot alliance. All positive changes in the format.

I’m not happy about the 3D printing, but get that the coaches are not behind it due to the perceived cost.

I am baffled by the current “Screwgate” actions. There seemed to be a relaxing of the rules across the last years to allow metric sizes, a variety of lengths, different heads (torx/star, hex, cap, etc.) and nuts (plain, thin, locking, nylon, nylon thin) Facing the reality that a fastener is not a big deal.

There is not a huge cost in this, nylon is a cent more per screw, aluminum is about 2 cents. Across an entire robot, about $2.50.

I think US teams should push back against “metric teams”. They are allowed screws that are slightly smaller and lighter than US/Imperial screws. And changing over to metric screws adds about 4 cents per screws so now my robot costs me an additional $8 to build, and as a coach that additional cost is completely out of the question. Coaches put their foot down on creating $7 3D parts, this should bring the torches and pitchforks out over this.

Not really where the parts war will end up, but maybe in the Coaches meetings in July RECF can talk about the long term roadmap for the competition. There seems to be a disconnect between allowing / emphasis on aluminum struts and channels at very expensive prices and then scrooging out on fasteners.

Edited to add about the pneumatic systems that were
a) Expensive
b) Out of stock
c) weird rules about color of the tubing. I mean I get it for red and black electrical wires, the electrons only flow one way. But hey a tube is a tube, not sure how the air knows that it’s blue or black


Couldn’t have said it better.