Design practice

This summer I would like to design something that will give me a bit of a challenge. Hopefully my team will be able to use it in the future, but it’s mostly just personal practice. I love different drive trains, but I think swerve is a bit above my level. What is a good design challenge that you reccomend?

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Try doing Cadathon.


Different drivetrain gearboxes are always a fun project and definitely useful assuming you have the machining resources. Different numbers and types of motors, shifter and PTO’s and multi-speed gearboxes are all super neat. There are a ton online to use for inspiration. A butterfly drive or rocker drive like 118 used this season could also be fun to design and are a bit less resource intensive than swerve.

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Why do you assume a swerve design is above your level? I ask because I remember thinking the same thing, but then I just dove into it as a sophomore in high school. This was back on 4256, and the results were not as fruitful as I would have liked, but swerve is a project. The best time to do it is in the offseason.

Are you just looking for a design challenge? Or do you want to build it? What have you designed before?

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I haven’t done much design work, but I have been interested in the design aspect of things for a while. I might be able to do swerve, but I kinda want something else to design first. Being able to build my design would be great, but my team is working on running a workshop for our local teams, so idk when I’ll have build time available.

I think designing a light West Coast Drive with a custom gearbox would be a great challenge then. You can learn about lightening and belt/chain paths there. Model the electrical layout if you want an extra challenge.


It wasn’t so much a CAD thing as a design thing, but several years ago (between 2015 and 2016), I decided to develop a significant number of options utilizing the KoP chassis as a base. While I never used any of the plans I developed specifically, it turns out that “The plan is not as important as the planning.” The lessons I learned in that process guided my team’s robots even past when I left the team, and possibly other teams’ robots as well, as I have since done KoP presentations at local “seminar” events.

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I have been pondering a design project of the ultimate defense robot. It doesn’t matter what the game is, so it could be used any/every year. It will be strictly to get in the way and to push other robots out of position. Maybe it will do some ramming if that’s legal, but that’s secondary.

It can be relatively small since you won’t need any room for mechanisms to actually play the game. I think most of the frame will be steel, with provision to bolt on additional material down low just to increase weight and further lower the CG. The bumpers will go all the way around and weigh the full 15 pounds, with steel braces in the corners. Probably a 6 wheel drive, but using something a little tougher than the KOP chassis. Maybe more steel.

It needs to have the top enclosed so that offensive robots can’t reach in with their fancy manipulators and rake through your electronics and controls. If another robot drives up on it or falls on top of it, you can just roll out from under without suffering any damage. It will probably need a camera or two for driving, again, well protected. But, other than the drive, no motors or controllers required. No fancy mechanisms. Just a remote-control box on wheels.

This will make a nice little demo bot and give our next comp bot something realistic to practice against, assuming we decide to build an offensive robot to actually play the next game,

For a CAD design project, I would set out to make it as modular as possible. First the basic drive, modules, then a frame (or interchangeable frames – a square, a wedge, a circle – that could be swapped out), an electronics module, a camera module, perhaps a traction pad option. Bumpers to match the chosen frame shape.

Also, try to incorporate as many COTS parts as possible, That speeds up the CAD and also saves a ton of time if you have the opportunity to actually build your design.

Now is a great time to work on your CAD and design skills. Hopefully you can find a team member or two who want to do the same. It is more fun and more useful when you have someone else to bounce ideas off of.

Mrs. B

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Adding onto Cog’s post, participating in the CADathon is certainly a great way to practice designing mechanisms for a given task, and its great to learn from others. You can find details on the last one here . We will have another one later this summer (late July/early August), will post details as soon we actually figure out the details (currently we’re all trying not to fail finals after champs).

It’s a great experience to practice your skills and learn from others, you can participate either solo or with partners, and we can even partner you up with experienced cadder’s if you don’t have a partner of your own!

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2D routers are becoming more affordable and widespread. Design a drivetrain which can be made completely from plywood (or lexan), and COTS parts. That way you can prestock the COTS parts and sheet material, and have a working drivetrain by the end of week 1.

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