2015 Lessons Learned: Your Team

There are currently two threads right now that primarily deals with what we liked/disliked about FIRST this year. My question is what did your team learn this year good or bad? Delete thread if redundant

We did more with controls on our team this year than we have in a long time. Part of this was due to the necessity of of having multiple positions on some of our systems, some was due to our team using mecanum drive, and another large portion was a new mentor on our team who deals a lot with really interesting controls applications in his job. With his advisement, we developed a system on our forks to control them more precisely. It was one of the cooler subsystems on our robot.

Sadly, I was only able to be in/aware of FRC for the past two years. I’ve already seen a lot of growth on my team, which is awesome. This year we were able to build a fully functional practice bot for the first time, which helped drastically with drivers practice. We also got a lot safer. Our Chairmans group made its second submissions. We made another FTC team. All super awesome. A huge thing I got to see was our team being seed captains. Twice! It was something awesome to see after always being picked instead of doing the picking. Making the junkyard robot was also really, really fun. Robo Downey Jr. will always have a place in my heart.

There is still room to grow. Which isn’t bad in the least! Our team already has summer outreach events planned and pretty darn good goal setting. Plus, we can only get safer. We can only reach out more. I’m really proud of what I’ve seen and been able to do, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Our team had some issues this year, mostly organizational issues or issues with individual team members that impacted the whole team. We’ve learned lots along the way of things we definitely need to do next year (drive team tryouts, branch out to more than just engineering students, etc) to be successful and what we need to never do again/do differently to function as a team.

TALON 540 learned a spectacular amount this year, from both build season and competition. Our build season was the first time we truly implemented a 2nd robot, duplicating TALON 8.0 almost exactly (minus a few mechanical differences) and completely electrically. It was the first time we engaged in an extended prototyping phase, spending many days playing with different slider mechanisms for our lifters. We spent more hours driving before competition before any other year. And those were just the biggest ones.

At Virginia, we learned what it was like to win and compete exceptionally well. Maybe our most successful campaign, we captained an alliance at Virginia for only the second time in our team history (#7 captain in 2013), and ranked highest we had ever had at the competition as well (#4 ranked, #3 alliance captain). For the first time, we advanced to the finals, not just as a pick but as a captain. None of the students on the team this year had ever advanced past the quarterfinals. Although we fell just short of winning it all, we learned what it was like to be that successful, and it’s something that has inspired my team to do even more in 2016. Did I mention we made some amazing friends along the way? :smiley:

Yet, just as important was our experience at Championship. In Newton, we came in 75th place, the lowest finish our team has had at Championship with the current student body. We took many things from this, such as playing the game as we designed our robot to play it (capping four stacks) instead of trying to do too much and playing worse in the process. We learned how to focus our on the field frustrations toward improving our robot, and with the help of our pit crew, our lifter mechanism became continuously better as the days continued. Our awards presenters did exceptionally, and learned from other amazing programs along the way. Watching the other robots inspired us to think that the seemingly impossible really is possible. And maybe most importantly, our entire team had fun, we made more friends, and our younger members got inspired.

We can’t wait for the 2016 season. Although I am a senior and am heading to college, I’m excited for what my team will do next year.

Our team had some organization issues and we didn’t take advantage of our time as much as we should have. This year we were able to stay much later than ever before and yet we kept getting distracted and tired after hosting multiple rookie seminars and demos. We got our robot mostly working for our first regional but there were some flaws such as the bellypan weighing more than it should have, not having a stabilizer built in time, and some of the new members lacking experience from not always coming to seminars.

By the time of our second regional, we had gotten a stabilizer working but it still had some issues which we could’ve fixed earlier but it was our first time working with sheet metal. At Windsor, we still hadn’t fixed our stabilizer until the playoffs but it was too late since it had bent during the match knocking over the stack that could’ve potentially got us into the semi-finals.

All I’ve got to say is that our season was rough. We were able to expand and improve on a lot since last season. Many new members joined our team, we submitted Chairman’s for the first time, we built an awesome offensive robot when we usually build defensive robots :wink: and we got our first Innovation in Control award. Next season, we’re going to keep on working on our time management, keeping our new members up to speed with the rules and seminars, working on improving our Chairman’s submission and continue learning.

We endured a lot of experiences, had a lot of discussions, and worked through a lot of challenges. I can let you know next season whether we learned anything.

For 857, we found some of the same. We were in a top 8 position at our two district events and champs (but not MSC :rolleyes:), and were finalists at one of those districts. That shows us that our breakout performance in 2014 is not a mere fluke.

We also won our first design awards in forever (Industrial Design and Excellence in Engineering). The lesson here appears to be: design cool features into the robot that are relatively unique at your event (effective game piece management and ability to fit in shipping crate come to mind), show success early and maintain it, and describe the heck out of your robot. Also, it showed us that you don’t need fancy resources to win those awards, as it was largely hand-built of things like 80/20 and C-channel.

We learned how to make an effective lift using REV extrusion, which is a big deal since we’ve gone through a lot of poor lift designs over the years.

just because you can CAD…dont mean you can design::ouch::

Code Orange had a very interesting season this year. In the electronics and programming department we focused on reliability. Robust wiring lead to having just one wiring problem(which turned out to be a bad ethernet cable) through three competitions and 70 matches. This was a huge step up from last year where we lost several matches because of a few loose wires. We also put in fail safes in our code to prevent things like a sensor failure or bad joystick from ruining a match or stalling a motor.

Also I learned this one the hard way:
Check your drawings BEFORE you print them

We’ve learned a whole lot about our team’s capabilities.

Contrary to what happens to a lot of teams, our design process was very conservative; we were capable of much more than we actually sought out to do. Our team won its first regional and got its first bid to championships since 2005. However, we were capable of building a robot that was more competitive. We also learned about our limitations. We attempted to do some massive changes before championships, but we discovered our limits and as a result, were unable to field a competitive robot at championships. We recognized that we should’ve put the effort for a more competitive robot at the beginning of the season. We’ll look to do so this upcoming season, and try to make eliminations at championships.

We learned a lot about our team. We were able to compete in 2 regionals for the first time ever this season. We were alliance captains at both regionals and a ranked in the top 3 in our second regional. We certainly learned that as a team we have the potential to make nationals. The biggest thing we learned this year was to double check all of our fuses before playoff matches. As a loose fuse made us useless in our first eliminations match in our second regional.

We designed and built an entirely new drive system during build season. We utilized octocanum this year despite not having built and designed it before build season, so we had a few people on the design team furiously design it and it came out perfectly. It gave us everything we could have asked for and we can’t wait to continue refining it and eventually post the CAD :slight_smile:

So true. Same with machining and building. Design is a skill in itself that needs to be built up with time and practice.

We learned (or at least, I finally learned) that the best teams have good strategy. Anybody can build a robot. But to plan it out and use strategic design is a skill found consistently in the best teams. A well made robot can only go so far without a strategy behind it.
We also learned that machining every part on the robot in two weeks was a bad idea.