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  #31   Spotlight this post!  
Unread 10-19-2005, 07:03 PM
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Re: Should teams be pushed to make higher quality robots?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sanddrag
I used to approach robot building with the "just cut it here" or "drill it oversize so it'll fit right" attitude but no more.

I have been enlightened by the teams who create these professional grade masterpieces and now I'm on a quest to do the same, and hopefully have a few others join me.

I don't look down upon the "popular" teams with all their fancy anodizing and whatnot. Heck no. I look up to them and think "hey, that can be MY robot. I CAN DO THIS!" All it takes is a little determination.
Ultimately its your own experience which pushes you as a person, not neccessarily as a team, to build a better robot. What makes a robot look pretty is time and precision. Quality also gets improved through these virtues. When a person, not a team, gets fed up with cruddy parts, they spend a little more time on things. Trust me, in crude situations, I have seen a $20 drill do work that rivals a mill. Now, the neat little "306" machined into everything is a little harder.... So it really does come down to inspiration- in this case the inspiration to do better work! Functionality rarely has anything to do with aesthetics.
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Unread 10-19-2005, 07:18 PM
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Re: Should teams be pushed to make higher quality robots?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elgin Clock
Wow.. congratulations dude.. you know how to use the quote feature..
I think "teams should be pushed to make higher quality robots" in the name of safety, not in the name of vanity.

Deburr all metal parts, sand all wood parts, properly shield all moving parts from hands, watch the pinch points, use safe wiring methods.
For the saftey aspect everything you have mentioned (except for shielding moving parts) I've seen an inspector turn down a robot for not having done. It is in fact a rule that there are no sharp corners on your robots. With the case of the moving parts isn't a real concern because normaly common sence tells you when your testing the robot to stand back, well away from the entire robot.
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Unread 10-19-2005, 07:21 PM
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Re: Should teams be pushed to make higher quality robots?

Quote:
Im talking about the people who show up only to eat your food and screw around (yeah, you all know what I'm talking about. Every team has this happen )
Absolutely.

Quote:
It is not always possible for teams to create a robot that is "visually pleasing" . . .
While I understand that "pretty" is not always possible I do believe ths in good design form and function are intrinsically related, and that sloppy welds, and useless pieces cannot add to the robot. On the otherhand, pieces which look like what they do (at some level) tend to function better and work longer with fewer problems.

As far as "process" goes, it is nice to have meetings, the officious people get to talk a lot, and people get to hear the sound of their own voices, however, we have tried (not always successfully) to keep meetings to the bare minimum. The question is, do you trust the people working on a particular part enough to let them follow the common plans and not breathe down their necks? As someone "in charge" of certain project aspects, I can personally attest to how hard it is not to micromanage. Furthermore, process creates totally functionaless people, people whose only purpose is to facilitate the "process," and who use up resources while creating nothing of value.
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Unread 10-19-2005, 08:20 PM
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Re: Should teams be pushed to make higher quality robots?

One of the defining characteristics of engineering is that: Real engineers don't care about appearance!

Esp when you are designing what is clearly a prototype (one of a kind, tweak and improve as you go along) machine, like a FIRST robot, the only things that matter are form, fit and function.

Any time you spend making your robot pretty is wasted resources, because with the short 6 week design cycle you could ALWAYS put those resources to better use, making your robot function better, giving your drivers practice time, tweaking the SW in your control routines.

Real engineering is not about buffing and polishing metal and paint, its about finding the best solution to a real-world problem.

In the realm of a FIRST competition, a higher quality robot is the one that performs on the playfield and wins.
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Unread 10-19-2005, 08:44 PM
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Re: Should teams be pushed to make higher quality robots?

Quote:
Originally Posted by KenWittlief
Real engineers don't care about appearance!
Then I guess whoever was responsible for making the Segway an absolute masterpiece of art isn't a "real" engineer. They were only pretending then right?

Would you pay 5 grand for a segway if it looked like this? http://www.chiefdelphi.com/forums/pi...le&picid=11889

I think not.

However much some may want to deny it, I think a notable portion of engineering (and the FIRST competition) is being able to sell yourself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KenWittlief
Any time you spend making your robot pretty is wasted resources, because with the short 6 week design cycle you could ALWAYS put those resources to better use, making your robot function better, giving your drivers practice time, tweaking the SW in your control routines.
The idea I'm trying to present is that teams need not "waste" the resources they have but just find new resources. Make more time, get more help, strive for more, push for quality.
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Last edited by sanddrag : 10-19-2005 at 08:46 PM.
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Unread 10-19-2005, 08:47 PM
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Re: Should teams be pushed to make higher quality robots?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sanddrag
Then I guess whoever was responsible for making the Segway an absolute masterpiece of art isn't a "real" engineer. They were only pretending then right?

Would you pay 5 grand for a segway if it looked like this? http://www.chiefdelphi.com/forums/pi...le&picid=11889

I think not.

However much some may want to deny it, I think a notable portion of engineering (and the FIRST competition) is being able to sell yourself.
If you read the book Code Name Ginger, it was revealed that marketing, and Dean himself played a role in the look of the finished product, not the engineers. They were too busy actually making sure it worked.

Once that was done, it was redesigned many times by the engineers to specifications from higher up to make it marketable.
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Unread 10-19-2005, 09:53 PM
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Re: Should teams be pushed to make higher quality robots?

Having a quality robot is a good thing, right? OK, then, should teams be pushed to make higher quality robots? No. They should push themselves. If the level of competition is high enough, teams who want to win will push themselves.

The best quality robot, IMO, will be the one that has an adequate or top-notch design for the purpose and is built with the best that the team can throw at it. For one team, that is CNCs, mills, etc. For another, hand drill and hacksaw. The team with hand drill and hacksaw might not be able to produce a better robot, but they should not be discouraged. They should be supported by the rest of us to learn from what they did so that they can go beyond where they did the year before and further push themselves in the future.
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Unread 10-19-2005, 10:42 PM
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Re: Should teams be pushed to make higher quality robots?

Yes, to the outsiders, it is important to be watching pretty robots move around the field.

But you have to look at the people involved in building the robots and the goal of FIRST. What is more inspirational to the students? Having a gorgeous robot who just sits on the field and might be able to get you points at the end of the match if the other two robots make it back in time because she doesnt move. Or having a robot that isn't so visually pleasing, but she works and she does what she was intended to do? Which one of those two robots is going to make the students want to return? The one that looks good in pictures, or the one that looks good in vidoes?
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Unread 10-19-2005, 10:51 PM
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Re: Should teams be pushed to make higher quality robots?

Quote:
Originally Posted by shyra1353
The one that looks good in pictures, or the one that looks good in vidoes?
My point is not that you must sacrifice one to get the other. My point is that you CAN have time, money, and resources for both if you are determined to make it happen. Believe it or not, it is possible to build a robot that both looks good and performs well.

Also, I think if you read between the lines, several of the posts in this thread actually go to support my point that a lot of teams don't care and don't strive for more because they don't think it's necessary, they don't want to spend the time, or then don't think they can. I have no jurisdiction over how any team chooses to spend their time or whatever, but what I'm saying is don't sell yourselves short. You are capable of more than you know. Don't fall into that "we have no big sponsors and are lucky if our hack saw blade is sharp" mentality. Instead, do something about it. With a little effort and determination, you can suprise yourself with what you're able to pull off.
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Unread 10-19-2005, 11:04 PM
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Re: Should teams be pushed to make higher quality robots?

SOME teams have the money, time, and resources. Others don't. And that is always going to happen. Teams all have their own set of behind the curtain problems that they have to deal with., whether its money problems, resource problems, management problems, or even just social problems within the team. And all teams have to work together to overcome these problems.

I agree that a great looking robot is nice, and I should have stated that earlier. But, it is not necessary, and it should not be a requirement. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so to some pretty is a robot that can function smoothly, but to others it may be something completely different.

You say with a little effort as if there are a lot of teams who aren't putting in a lot of effort already. Being in FIRST is not an easy task. And many times, teams are hanging on by a thread. That's the reason a lot of teams don't have the time, etc. to beautify their already working robots.

In engineering, the visual aspect of a product is just as important as the functionality of said product, and I will agree with that. But, FIRST is meant to mimick the engineering world, not copy it exactly. If it were to do that, I would be expecting a cheque in the mail tomorrow.
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Unread 10-19-2005, 11:49 PM
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Re: Should teams be pushed to make higher quality robots?

You guys are getting too hung up on visual meaning "nicely painted" as opposed to "not canned together." One of our favorite sayiongs is "you can't just put a bearing in and ship it." The point, "git er done" but do it right.

More importantly, aluminum polish is surprisingly cheap (a couple of dollars for a whole tube) and it gives the freshman something to do.

There is no reason why so many robots need to look like overgrown erector sets, especially from teams with 3 digit numbers.

Furthermore, as I have stated earlier, a good design is one where the function dictates a form that is clean by itslef and that does not need to be covered.
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Unread 10-20-2005, 12:07 AM
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Re: Should teams be pushed to make higher quality robots?

it should not be a requirement that the robots look pretty and neat. There should however be a clear understanding and following of the safety issues that could arrise with a robot. It should be able to complete its task and do it in a safe manner. In my eyes that robot can beat and CNCed or TIGed robot anyday that can't even do the task for the game. While it being visually appealing is nice it is still not a must and probably will never be. We are given an objective and a task. If a robot that has tape hanging off it can do do the task then how are you to say it is less than any other robot.
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Unread 10-20-2005, 12:14 AM
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Re: Should teams be pushed to make higher quality robots?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sanddrag
My point is that you CAN have time, money, and resources for both if you are determined to make it happen.
Well, anything is possible. If we wanted to, it'd be possible to set up a colony on the moon. The problem is that some teams aren't as well off as others. Nigeria would have to work a lot harder to get their moon colony going than the US would. For some teams, the amount of energy needed to get on par with some of FIRST's more prestigious teams might not be worth it. I'm not saying that they have an excuse to show up with a taped together cardboard robot, but it might not be pratical for them to have their robot CNCed. If they spent all their time looking for resources, they wouldn't have time to build the robot and just have fun.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CJO
More importantly, aluminum polish is surprisingly cheap (a couple of dollars for a whole tube) and it gives the freshman something to do.
We make our freshman file recently cut things (many times, they were the ones that were forced to cut it). It's become a right of passage in the mechanical groups. Well, either that or a "I had to do it, so you have to do it too" kind of thing...
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Unread 10-20-2005, 12:51 AM
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Re: Should teams be pushed to make higher quality robots?

You cannot push quality any more than you can push a team or any team member to do anything they’re not inclined to do. Quality has nothing to do with desire – you can’t wish quality. Quality has nothing to do with time, or money, or the other guy’s attitude.

Quality has everything to do with craftsmanship. The problem, if you want to call it that, is that craftsmanship is not something like facial hair that you wake up one morning to find that you have. Could it be that the teams you admire are the ones with people who have learned the tricks of the trade, and others who are willing and able to learn them as well? Isn’t that why FIRST came to be?
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Unread 10-20-2005, 12:53 AM
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Re: Should teams be pushed to make higher quality robots?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CJO
More importantly, aluminum polish is surprisingly cheap (a couple of dollars for a whole tube) and it gives the freshman something to do.

There is no reason why so many robots need to look like overgrown erector sets, especially from teams with 3 digit numbers.
I don't think the freshmen comment was a very nice thing to say. At least on our team the freshmen are some of the greatest members. One was an operator and one was a driver. One did machining, one did wiring. Don't be so quick to talk them down.

I do agree with your statement about the erector sets though. That is exactly my point. Well, there might reasons but those reasons should be overcome with more effort and determination.

And yes, CNC, TIG, and anodizing and whatnot doesn't instantly equal quality. But I think that something that appears to be "slapped together" instantly represents lack of quality.

Why do teams spend a little extra money, time, and effort in making their robots look nice? Because they can. And what too many teams don't realize is that they can too! Don't underestimate yourselves; that's all I'm saying.

With that, I look forward to a year filled with well functioning, high quality, and aesthetically pleasing robots!
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