Which do you like better...FTC Face Off or VRC Elevation?

Hi Everyone,

I was just wondering what competition everyone likes better.

I’m guessing the answer on a Vex forum is going to be Elevation.

Elevation by a longshot.
Faceoff is another FTC game where complete dominance can occur. There are only 4 “autoloaders” per team with 8 pucks each. Each championship team will be able to consistently take all 8 cubes and dump all of them into the center triangle, and in autonomous one loader will probably be emptied, which leaves 3 for operator control. Within a minute every puck can be scored and there will be almost nothing to do for the remaining minute.

I can think of almost no way a robot can be left with nothing to do in Elevation.

If you think about it another way, with good tray-loaders there are only four scoring opportunities per alliance in Face Off. Dump the tray, flip the pucks into the goal, and go for the next. If everyone does their job, most pucks are in the goals and the few left on the floor are practically not worth scoring. The long autonomous period combined with the HUGE bonus for scoring in auto means that matches with good robots are frequently over in auto, and done within the first minute if not. If one alliance scores 5-10 pucks in the center goal in auto and the other doesn’t, the match is always over in auto.

A Face Off match between evenly-matched good robots can be fun (it looks like T Rexes fighting over poodle snacks) but otherwise not so much. The last final match at Vancouver/Gladstone was about as an exciting finale as I’ve ever seen in five years of watching robots. I love Elevation.

PERSONAL NOTE: Near the end of that last finals match I was watching our 575 robot. They had just capped a goal with their last on-board cube and I looked up at the clock to see if they had time for another. There were 9 seconds on the clock and I thought, bummer, it’s over. When I looked down again, they had scooped up a cube and just managed to deliver it and back away when the clock ran out. They had picked up a cube and scored on the 15" goal in eight seconds. Even though they lost the match by 10ish points, it was totally cool. Elevation joins FRC Overdrive in the “speed and agility are more important than pushing and shoving” game collection. I Elevation.

ANOTHER NOTE: There were some great moments in yesterday’s FTC tournament in Des Moines, Washington. Most of them were some great brute shoving another robot out of the way and scoring anyway. Strength and power (and the smell of burning motors) was more important than speed and maneuver.

I realize that. I wanted to get other people’s thoughts on Face Off. I just recently went to watch a Face Off Competition and wasn’t impressed at all. I thought the game was terrible.

I wouldn’t go so far as “terrible” but it didn’t match my personal tastes. It would almost have made a better all-autonomous robot game.

The FTC game isn’t bad… when the field management system actually works. The catch is that the VEX game is more fun because, in my experience, there are more teams able to play a game with a $75 entry fee than a game with a $275 entry fee… especially when additional teams from a school or organization are just $25 each.


A key distinction. At the Washington tournament yesterday three very experienced software guys made the FMS obey, and things went very well. The field only hiccuped a couple of times, and the event finished within a half-hour of its scheduled time. Twenty-five teams managed to play five qualifying matches and a full set of 2-team-alliance eliminations. As with most robotic competitions, the level of play in the semifinal/final stage was really impressive and a lot of fun to watch.

The matches that I watched in Atlanta seemed very anticlimactic, because most of the robots where able to easily score all of the pucks, which left nothing for the robots to do in the ending part of the match, where most of the excitement is in a lot of other robotics games.

Could you explain what you mean by “hiccupped”? We had a robot dead on the field, and the students were quite sure that the robot and transmitter were turned on only seconds before the match. Immediately after the match, they were given permission to check the robot out on the field control system at the Robot Skills field, and everything worked perfectly. When we asked the software help desk what happened, he said it was most likely a “hiccup”, which we didn’t understand.

We consider ourselves fortunate that we didn’t lose TWO matches due to a dead robot, like our neighbor in the pit. They hypothesized that the “hiccup” was caused by overcharged batteries, which I had never heard of being a problem before.

This is an apples and oranges thing. The quote you clipped was a comment about an FTC event, where field crashes before and during matches was a common problem this year. That the field only crashed twice in Des Moines, Washington, was a good sign. I called them “hiccups” but they were actually crashes that necessitated field restarts.

There should be no such thing as an “overcharged” battery if you are using the Vex charger.

All the field control software does in Vex is turn on or off the operator transmitter. It doesn’t talk to the robot controller. The only glitch that the field software could do is to only turn on some of the ports, but not others, but I’ve never seen that. The most common reasons for a non-starting robot are:

  1. Loose battery cable.

  2. Robot controller that has been left on for a long time until it times out. Sometimes, if the controller is left running indefinitely, it will hang even if it doesn’t have a timeout in the code.

  3. Tether cable is not plugged all the way into the transmitter.

  4. Tether cable is defective.

  5. Receivers on the robot are not plugged in. (very common)

  6. One receiver is plugged into the programming port on the controller.

  7. The wrong master code is on the controller, or the competition template has not been properly installed.

If it didn’t work on the field, but worked later on the skills field, I would look for a tether cable problem. The second good possibility is a loose battery connection (they happen with a well-worn battery or controller). The third possibility is that gremlin got in the system and crashed the robot.

Sorry to hear that this happened. Go check those batteries and controllers. Turn the controller on, and wiggle the battery connector. If the red program error light comes on, either your plug or your socket is loose. We’ve started to use latex bands to hold the battery plug in place during matches. A loose plug cost the 418 alliance the first match in their semifinal match in Technology. They added the band and worked fine in the second match (when their partner stripped the gears in a drive motor and stopped running right). Back-to-back rare errors cost their alliance a shot at the championships. As our students are starting to say, “that’s robots.”

Occasionially one of the pins inside of the female battery connector on the microcontroller gets pushed in, but I have been able to fix this by taking the microcontroller apart and either taking the pin out by grabbing the wire with some pliers and bending the little locking tab back up with a screwdriver or using needle nose pliers to put the pin back in, than filling the connector with hot glue.

Robots happen.

I have to concur about hiccups. We had a BC FTC/FLL Tournament in January. The FTC field did a number of “hiccups” where parts of the field control system would fail (either Bluetooth or driver station controls or the whole system). I believe the longest delay that we had between repairs was about 15 minutes. That aside the tournament ran quite smoothly although we didn’t really go in there with a “do-all” robot due to time constraints (instead we just had one that could drive around and knock pucks off in defense).

  • Allan Kuan