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September 2011

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From:
VA/DC Referee Advisor <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
VA/DC Referee Advisor <[log in to unmask]>
Date:
Mon, 19 Sep 2011 10:44:10 -0400
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There are variations in the robot game rules every year, but, for as
long as I have been a referee, the rule on allowable electrical parts
has limited teams to how many motors may be used in a match. Teams
are allowed to swap out entire chassis sets between matches if they
desire, but extra motors need to be left in the Pit area.

This year you can see it in the rules
Rule 4, Equipment
Electric Elements Section
-- Bullet 2: You are allowed a maximum of three MINDSTORMS™ motors in
the competition area.
-- Bullet 3: These quantity limits don't just apply to what's on your
robot "right now"...[they apply to] everything you have with you [in
the competition area]
-- Bullet 7: No other electric elements nor devices are allow for use
in any way in the competition area
-- Bullet 8: Spare electrical parts are allowed in the PIT area

The Example in Bullet 3 was also in last year's rules, and the limit
on total number of motors was emphasized in several places:

Example: If you have multiple motorized attachments, but it takes two
motors to drive the robot, you must find a way to switch that
third/last legal motor from one attachment to the next.
— A fourth motor in the competition area is always illegal, no matter what.
— Even if you plan to run only three motors at a time, the fourth
motor is illegal.
— Even if the fourth motor is a spare, or used as weight, or as
decoration, the fourth motor is illegal.


So to recap and emphasize, A fourth motor **in the competition area**
is always illegal, no matter what.

It is possible that a high-scoring team from the World Festival used
more than 3 motors and no referee noticed it in any of their 5
opportunities, but I am skeptical. I have seen some amazing chassis
sets in which the robot brain and its attached motors could be swapped
from one giant chassis to another, with gears set up in just the right
places to be able to drive each chassis without having to
remove/replace motors at all. (In fact, I've had to take a really
close look to make sure that it was allowable under the rules.) Maybe
something like that is what was seen last year.



The rest of this note is Philosophy--it doesn't discuss any rules
interpretations.

What should a referee do if a team brings more that the allowed number
of electrical parts to a tournament match? Some of the "excitement"
of being in a tournament-day atmosphere is having to react when things
don't go as expected, and adjust strategies to do as well as the team
can do under time-pressured conditions.

Best Choice) Ask the team to remove all extra/unallowable parts away
from the competition area and not use them in the current match.
--this lets the team make an on-the-fly engineering and strategy
decision about how to get the best results. In other words, "take
lemons and make lemonade."

What if the team cannot make this type of adjustment on a moment's
notice? [BTW--This took me a while to come to grips with as a
referee.] Well, the point of an FLL Tournament is to let FLL teams
show what they can do, and to make their own decisions. If their
match equipment does not comply with the rules, then they cannot get a
score, because it is too hard to sort out, at the end of the match,
what would have been done in compliance with the rules, as opposed to
what happened due to having extra stuff. (Also, if the team wanted an
official score, they could have limited their equipment as described
in "Best Choice", above.)

It's better, if possible, to let them show what they can do with what
they have--as long as it doesn't affect the score of the team on the
other side of the table. That gives them the learning experience of
running the robot at the table, and they'll have an opportunity to
make adjustments later in the day, or maybe during the next season.

It doesn't help anyone to send a team away from their first experience
totally discouraged and determined that STEM is too hard and confusing
for them to have any success or fun at.

Steve Scherr
VA/DC FLL Referee Advisor

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Gail Drake [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
> Sent: Saturday, September 17, 2011 9:54 AM
> Subject: Question on FLL Rules
>
> Steve,
>
> Hi, this is Gail Drake.  I have an overall FLL Rule question.  I am asking this question because I saw a major difference in a call that you made and the World Finals last year, and want to be sure everyone in FLL in the country is on the same page this year.  Two years ago, you disqualified ErinGrace's team (or gave them zero points) because they took their entire brain of a robot from one robot to another (you counted all motors on both bases and said it was over the limit).
>
> The winning team at St Louis did the same, and it was acceptable.
>
> Do you know what the official consistent rule will be this year ?
>
> Thank you and looking forward to another season with FLL and you.
>
>
>
> Professor Drake
> Battlefield High School
> Information Technology and Programming Faculty
>
> ILITE Robotics Coach, FRC Team 1885, FTC, ZERO Robotics, Seaperch US FIRST FLL Judge, Tournament Director
> (571) 261-4726
> [log in to unmask]
>
> FIRST1885.org
> ILITERobotics.org

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