Build season timeline advice

This year will be my first year as captain of my team, and in an effort to keep things reasonably on time, I have laid out a skeleton of a timeline for the season. I don’t plan to stick slavishly to this, but it’s an outline. Barring any technical problems with the sheet, any thoughts on the timeline? My team is a 4th year team with no precision machining capabilities in house but a reasonably quick laser cutting sponsor, if that helps. Oh, and the template for this was provided on another thread by a Maia Brandy, I will try to find the thread and share it here, much thanks Maia, it was very helpful.


here’s the link

The strategy/design phase seems quite aggressive; spending another day or two on strategy at the beginning usually pays off at the end. Especially when doing a manipulator type you haven’t done (or at least not in present team memory), you may find it useful to do some viability prototyping before selecting a design.

When I have done the project planning management, I found it useful to stub out development phases for two or more manipulators individually and adjust the names as we figured out what those were several days in. Then, I’d schedule the drive chassis to be quick, assuming it was a straightforward KoP build or simple mod. If a more unorthodox drive train was required, it became one of the “manipulators”. In Stronghold, the chassis was a manipulator, as it was how you damaged most of the defenses. Most other recent games, the chassis/drive train was just how you got from point A to B.

I see a few duplicate items (e.g. fabricating bumpers). It also seems strange that you’re making spare parts to go in the bag before completing drawings for fabricating the superstructure of the robot.

Our team used to make up a rather detailed timeline at the beginning of the season. But lately, we just discuss approximate time frames for stuff to be done by. My job as lead mentor is to make sure we’re getting stuff done fast enough that we don’t fall behind. I know we need a working robot by the end of week 4. It looks like you have that in your schedule.

The hard part is sticking to it. That means being able to tell every day, whether you’re on track, or not. If not, you have to get serious about getting it done, even if it’s not “perfect”.

Parts of your schedule seem pretty aggressive. When I was tech lead I set up chunks of time for each type of work strategy/design, mechanical work, electrical, and software working on getting skeleton code up. Our schedule was also a bit different as we also would build a practice bot so often parts of the time chunks would coexist at the same time.

Yes to this. Take a little more time to strategize, you don’t want to rush into one strategy right away before you can see if you believe it will work for your goals.

I would also suggest to add in some wiggle room in the event you face unexpected challenges during build season and if some things end up takiong longer than you think.

If you haven’t already, people may want to watch Behind the Lines Season 2 Episode 6, where Ken Stafford of Team 190 gives a rundown of their approach and their build season schedule. It’s just yet another resource in addition to everything else:

This is actually pretty close to our timeline.

Major milestones for us:

  • The Saturday of kickoff and the first half of Sunday are strategy based, second half of Sunday is beginning of prototypes.
  • Prototype review and design direction on Friday of week 1.
  • Chassis CAD complete by Saturday of week 1.
  • Subsystem CAD complete / final design review on Saturday of week 2.
  • Practice robot chassis drivable by Saturday of week 2.
  • Practice robot “complete” (initial revisions of all mechanisms usable) by Saturday of week 4.
  • Competition robot “complete” (initial revisions of all mechanisms usable) by Sunday of week 6.

The only thing I’d note is that we put a significant amount of work before the season starts in order to make a timeline like this workable.

For instance, we work hard to ensure that any critical COTS components we need are in our hands before kickoff.
(If you are waiting 3 days for that gear to come in for your drivetrain / mechanism its nearly impossible to keep to a schedule like this.)
We do design benchmarks in the off-season to identify what others did better and how we can to do improve our processes to build better solutions.
We do introspective sessions understanding what we failed at the previous year and how to avoid making the same mistakes again.

Maintaining an aggressive schedule like what you have is hard, and it requires you to understand your abilities and define what is in the scope of your team’s design.