15 Random Things I Learned This Build Season, '09

This is inspired by my newly finished facebook note that my friends were bugging me to complete. Here are my thoughts on what I’ve learned this build season, now that it’s over.

[li]Project Engineers make alot of money not only because they have to know everything about the project, they also have to ensure the project’s success and find a way to keep everyone busy for the project’s duration. This last part is particularly hard.[/li]
[li]I figured out a metric with which to judge labor hours. Each ‘function’ on an FRC bot takes 10 solid hours for our team to fab, assemble and integrate with simple software. This assumes we already have the materials and are done with design and prototyping. It also precludes setup and cleanup times.[/li]
[li]Add another 10 hours if you or your team have never done that particular function before (such as conveyors), even if you have a previously-successful high-level design.[/li]
[li]Add another 10 hours if what you’re doing is actually hard (such as a fancy drive train)[/li]
[li]Quadruple that 10 hours if you’re all software engineers trying to create the piece of hardware.[/li]
[li]“Dewtoxification” is a real plague among teenagers.[/li]
[li]Sticking to a plan is very underrated. It was probably the only thing we did right on the first try this season. However, making a complicated plan is overrated.[/li]
[li]Consolidating strategies into a single mechanism is one key to success in FRC. We saved 10 lbs in weight when we realized that our ‘secret weapon’ was already on our bot due to the way our shooter is designed. Who knew?[/li]
[li]Do not powdercoat anything that deals with the production robot until as late as possible. This will allow you to weld as much as possible, which saves you time and weight in the end. This is more weight you can use for decorations :rolleyes:[/li]
[li]Doing the hard and complicated has a good chance of success in FRC, despite popular belief. 1885 has discovered that succeeding with something that’s hard and complicated results in a ridiculously fun-to-drive robot.[/li]
[li]If you want to see some motivated students, watch them be tormented by a robot that does all of its cool things while sitting in place because it’s stuck on a floor component at a scrimmage.[/li]
[li]You’d rather fail at a scrimmage than fail on Thursday at competition. On the same note… You’d rather your honeycombed aluminum drive train shear at a pivot point during practice on Saturday night before ship day, rather than on Thursday at competition. At least you can pull a couple of all-nighters to fix the problems so long as it’s still build season :ahh: [/li]
[li]The programmers are silently begging to do cool things with software. The only way they can do it before ship day is if you give them some dedicated builders to help them create prototyping platforms for them to run on. [/li]
[li]Do not sacrifice in the quality of those prototypes though, for if the software is near perfect due to good prototypes then theoretically the code will be perfect when it’s put on the robot the first time.[/li]
[li]The build students are begging to work hard to create a cool robot, if only they had an idea of what that robot should do.[/li][/list]

haha here’s my list:

  1. gearbox assembly is aproved by the government as a form of torture
  2. gear grease tastes like an old moose
  3. robots should be viewed with eyes and maybe hands but not so much the tounge.
  4. always carry spare everything
  5. double check for supplies needed before going to ACE
  6. planning is important but the robot isn’t built from plans
  7. don’t procrastinate

I cannot agree more. My favorite designs, and the ones I attempt to emulate myself, are the ones where a single system performs multiple tasks.

Mostly. Last year i found some 5+ year old lube in the back of our shop called “food lube” for food processing (i don’t have a clue why we had it). Anyway the stuff smelled EXACTLY like blue cheese, but I didn’t taste it, so…

#2 umm how do you know what an old moose tastees like, just out of curiosity.

and #7 is the story of my life.:stuck_out_tongue:

Here’s my silly list:

  1. You don’t wire the driver station switches that way.
  2. You don’t wire them that way, either.
  3. You don’t wire them that way, either.
  4. Radio Shack toggle switches break after three solder/desolder cycles.
  5. Batteries connected to chargers that are not plugged in do not charge.
  6. Four CIM motors have enough torque to push two chairs, a 120lb robot, and a desktop computer across a concrete floor in the amount of time required to retrieve a dropped disable/autonomous dongle.
  7. Pretty girls who can solder wires, write code, and build robots really do exist. :slight_smile:
  8. With regards to item #7, this xkcd comic couldn’t be more true. :frowning:
  9. Military-style safety swithces actually encourage accidental toggling.
  10. All that physics stuff really does come in handy.

I’ll post back with my serious list tomorrow.

Dewtoxification does not actually occur til the championships.

The one that stands out the most for me.
As you get older (9 build seasons and counting), the feeling of accomplishment after a long and tough build season never gets old. Its only when I look in the mirror.

We learned that Orbit balls don’t pass Canadian safety standards. (Source: Walmart)

I learned that it’s pretty hard to read the Sharpie back-of-the-hand shopping list after a day or two. It’s better to get the parts on the way home!

We learned that our shop walls are sound-proof to non-workers :smiley:

Here is my list.

  • Our team isn’t incapable of sticking to a schedule, but somehow always get’s done before ship/bag.
  • This game isn’t as bad as I thought it would be, judging by the build season.
  • Chief Delphi is really amusing at 2:00am, along with just about everything else.
  • 148 has some crazy mad robot skillz, though I suppose I actually knew this already. (also applies to 27, 968, 254, 100, 1625, and too many others to name.)
  • Ship day sounds a lot cooler than bag day.
    -Our team is actually capable of making an underweight robot.
  1. If you can, don’t go to radioshack more than 8 times in one day.

But what sounds cooler:

Bag & Tag!
Crate & Wait! (for Fed-Ex to show up)


After my 8th build season there is still much to learn…

…but the important thing to remember is to hold your head high at the end of the season and be proud of the robot you created, no matter how “good” it is. Anything you put that much time into is worth holding your head high for.