Three Simple Rules For A Successful Build
Simply put, the first week after kickoff is the most critical. To be successful and find yourself in a competitive position come competition time takes some hard work and discipline. While we all wish that we could just magically make an awesome robot appear on the table as soon as we figure out what we want to do, that is not always realistic. Here are three simple rules to help you get yourself on the right track as you make your decisions and begin the design stage of your build season.
RULE #1: DO NOT PUSH YOUR DECISION DEADLINE
We’ve all had those heated discussions. Team members are passionate about what they feel the proper strategy is to win a game in a given year. The problem is that you can literally argue about what you think the winning strategy is until bag day. Even the most established teams push back decision dates again and again. This is not a good practice if you want to have something to work with come competition day. At some point you have to stop and say “This is it, no more discussion, lets vote.” The sooner you get to the design process of your build the better off you are. Remember, you can make adjustments to the plan along the way, there is no sense in spending too much time to get the strategy perfect.
RULE #2: NO MAGIC
Maybe you have decided that you want to pick up your ball and deliver it to a launcher that will score it in the high goal for ten points. This is a good plan. However, have you thought about all the little transitions and nuances that you are going to have to address along the way? Its too easy to look at an empty spot in the invisible cube that will be your robot and say “That is the point where we will have a device lift the ball from point A to point B.” The problem is that it is easy to get tunnel vision, focus too heavy on the more exciting parts of the robot, and then next thing you know, your transition pieces become a half hearted afterthought that end up burning you in the end. Always design 100 percent of the robot from the beginning, not 95.
RULE #3: STRATEGIZE AND DESIGN TO YOUR CAPABILITIES
The bad news is that we don’t all have lavish facilities to build a robot in. The good news is that you can maximize what you do have and build a very competitive robot in the process. The key is knowing your limitations and not overshooting your bounds. If your design schedule doesn’t allow you to work a 7 day build week, don’t make a decision to build a robot that needs a 7 day build week. If you don’t have a ton of material, simplify your game strategy. Most teams who run into issues at competition time have bitten off more than they can chew with design, and end up with a half functioning robot. If resources tell you that you can’t do everything, pick one thing, try to do it better than anyone else, and add other sneaky positives along the way. Remember, you want to spend practice day in the filler line, not in the pit building parts of your robot that may not work.
Remember the most overused term in engineering…K.I.S.S.
Keep it simple….and smart.