FIRST 101 [Special Edition 2]

Good morning class…or late late evening for those of you on the west coast. Last week we began our special segment for the upcoming season by diving into what it takes to get two Poof balls in 6 hours. Now we will continue on our 6 week journey with…



Ok…so now after your exhausting search and the utter elimination of all 7 inch foam balls from existence, you are ready to start the design and build process. As most good engineers will tell you, its good to have a plan before you start drawing. Lots of drawing with no purpose just means a bunch of silly lines on paper which make no sense…and nobody wants that! How do you decide on what to design and build you ask?

I’m glad you asked…otherwise this post would have no purpose and I will have wasted your time. Thank you!

Here are some simple guidelines you can follow on your way to success and victory in this years (and years to come) FIRST competition.

Tip #1: Learn everyone’s name.

Now I know most of you are wondering…what does this have to do with the robot. Well, I wont lie to you, it has absolutely nothing to do with the robot. However, it is good practice to actually know the names of the people you are working with for the next 6 weeks. What I like to do is offer up some form of soda for forgetting someone’s name. I give myself a little buffer…giving me two weeks to remember. After that…if I forget your name, you get free coke on me! Pretty easy eh? Believe it or not, it works! The motivation gained from knowing I might have to give up a dollar to buy someone a drink, helps me remember anyone’s name, no matter how hard.

Tip #2: WWBD?

OK, so now you are into the brainstorming and strategy phase of your design challenge. As you know, the game has many challenging facets. How in the world can you choose a robot to take advantage of what this game has to offer? The answer is simple…follow this simple exercise…

“What Would Beatty Do?”

One simple question could provide you with all the information you need to know to be successful in this years game. All you have to do is sit around the table with the Mountain Dew (or Pepsi in my case) in hand, and ask the WWBD question.

i.e. This year, Beatty will get all 40 starting balls from its alliance partner and human player, steal all 40 balls from its opponent, score simultaneously in the 3 point goal and both 1 point goals…all while doing a back flip, picking up both alliance partners, and landing on the ramp in scoring position for the end of the round. No lie…they’re probably already done building the robot so you better hurry up!

Now that you know what you are up against, you can try to figure out how to stop them…er…how to try to stop them…er…uh…ok maybe you cant stop them, but you can utilize that pretty flashing LED pretty darn well!

Tip #3: Wait Until 2am:

Most veterans of the game will tell you that the best ideas for your robot will come when you are extremely tired, hepped up on caffeine, at 2 in the morning. I suggest that you just meet every morning at 2am and just forgo sleep. Imagine if every time you were working on the robot, you were coming up with the best ideas! You would be amazing…it would be like the best idea robot…and who’s gonna beat that.

Tip #4: Save your craziest ideas

Undoubtedly you will reach the point in the decision phase where everyone will be arguing over two very good ideas, and you have to reach back into your bag of tricks to bring the team back together. At this time, and only this time, it is key to bring out the “Its so crazy it might work” idea. People will be so wow’ed by the freshness and utter amazing…uh…ness of this crazy idea, that they’ll be forced to agree with each other and then you suddenly have your design!

Tip #5: Shhhhhhh

Speaking of the “its so crazy it might work” idea…now would be a good time to share a little something about secrecy. In this game you are looking for an edge. There will be dozens upon dozens of robots out there who can successfully score a zillion points. The only thing that will separate one team from the rest is the one little crazy idea which gives a team the edge. Now don’t get me wrong…I love Chief Delphi and the community which it brings. However, don’t be silly and divulge that crazy idea to the whole free world on this board. Not only do you ruin your chance at having the edge in the game, but you may also ruin someone else’s edge…and that my friends, is bad form. Kinda like talking in someone’s backswing in a golf game…its just not kosher!

Now you have been taught all the important things that you need to know about making your all important decision which will set you forth over the next few weeks. You can take from my words what you must, but remember…

Beatty’s already working on that dominating 2007 robot…and you are still on 2006. You’ve got some ground to make up buddy!

Class dismissed.

-Professor Grady

Professor Grady

Just saw your post. Thanks for the good words.

But I am surprised at the relative conservative capability you described on our 2006 machine. As for the 2007 machine, in anticipation of an aquatic game, we have completed a robot that “walks on water” and are well along with one that can “part the sea”.

Mr. Bill

We’re still debating between reusing our ball blower design from this year to “part the sea” or embarking on a new peltier-effect design to freeze the water and simply walk across. If we assume our opponents will be in the water during autonomous, freezing would have definite defensive advantages.


Oh MAN… I definitely want a copy of THAT button!

(Hey Bill Beatty… What’ll it take to convince 71 to make some as a swap item for this season?)

  • Keith