Re: Design Sharing
You've etched your name onto a tricky subject, Rod...
The veterans who have earned their place in being expected to have a unique, new, innovative, and/or stellar robot/assembly every year may not want to lose that 'title' (if you will). You may remember the mass histeria created by the pictures of Beatty's bot posted by oneangrydwarf over everyone trying to find out what they did.
While I would have liked to have seen things like Beatty, Wildstang, and Technokat's robots as it was being designed, I think it would also lose the shock and awe factor of some of the great designs. (Be it from a rookie or a veteran).
Then comes the matter of teams who do not make things in AutoCAD or take digital pictures (be it by ability or choice) who can not share their designs. Such as last year with team 470. We built our bot of scaled sketches and cardboard and string replicas instead of AutoCAD's precision. We had a unique design that many liked and others shrugged at.
Also, I think if you know the design before seeing it at competition, you might not want to visit the team and ask questions and study the parts. For example, I spent a good 20 minutes looking just at WildStang's wheels and "flippers" (as I've come to call them) as they tested some code.
When I worked at ComauPICO (Sponsor of a few teams) I had access to the full designs of a few automated assembly lines for Ford and GM. I had models of 2D Orthographic and 3D Solidworks pieces and in full assembly that I could look at. However, some of these were out on the plant floor only 30 feet away from my desk. Whenever I got the chance, I would go out and study certain pieces or maneuver's that the machines did. I found I can appreciate the mechanics of a design better in person than as a graphic.
The above are my reason why I am against the sharing of full designs before Shipping Date.
Now, the other side.. from ComauPICO expierience..
There were many times where I would look at the assembly, figure out what it does, then come back to my desk and pull up the drawings so I could see how it was assembled. In this respect, I would like to see teams post their designs after I've (and everyone else) have had a chance to look at them. Once we've come to appreciate the design, we can see the mechanics.
However, I do like the pre-ship pictures (without details) that get posted. It's nice to see what others are doing.