NASA RAP Robotics Design Guide

Wow. Now I’m even more stunned. 3 years in the making. Damn.

1 Like

I think it would be really interesting to see what “magic numbers” and rules of thumb the NASA house teams often use when designing robots.


AWESOME INPUT!!! We’ll get this incorporated into the next version and reduce the file size … I tried a few things before we released it with Adobe Acrobat Pro and never got it under 200MB so this is GREAT information … I’m a NOVICE at Pro :slight_smile:



Karthik, concerning “I want to say this is the best resource for the FRC community, but that already belongs to the Everybot.”, I’m pretty sure you are not going to offend the individuals that were the driving force behind the design guide nor revamping the EveryBot program, since they were the same two individuals! :smile: THANK YOU Ryan! … THANK YOU Ethan!


It’s really easy to compress the pdf using Adobe Document Cloud compression. I ran it through that service and it was compressed to 13.5 MB. The file contents look just fine after compression. There are no options for fine-tuning the compression like with ghostscript, but for easy compression, the Adobe Cloud is excellent.


I read through a substantial part of this fantastic resource last night. It got me wondering if NASA and the RAP team might have considered or be willing to take the basic content of this document and convert it into a “living document” of some sort that could be continually enhanced and edited and reviewed by the knowledgeable and dedicated robotics community members. Something akin to an “FIRST Robotics Knowledge Hub” or Wiki concept. Would this be something the NASA RAP team has the bandwidth to initiate and possibly serve from the NASA RAP website? It just seems to me that as fantastic as a resource as this document is it has the potential to become so much greater of a resource for so many teams, especially if it was a “living document” rather than a static giant and sure to grow in content PDF. Please don’t take this as any criticism of the tremendous effort that must have gone into preparing this work. It really is fantastic!




Hey! Concerning " It got me wondering if NASA and the RAP team might have considered or be willing to take the basic content of this document and convert it into a “living document” of some sort that could be continually enhanced and edited and reviewed by the knowledgeable and dedicated robotics community members.", we are going to do this BUT we intend to do it NASA old-school with revisions and a revision table. The revision table will be targeted at people who have read the document and just desire to see what is new in the document and will not detail a bunch of wordsmith edits. We will also be taking EVERYONE’S input and “processing” their input to expand and make the design guide better. The process basically has us asking ourselves whether someone’s input is a good practice that we believe should be propagated. For example, “drink lots of water” is definitely a best practice that will never be in the design guide. Another example, “set screws should be used to position pulleys on shafts” is certainly a common practice that has been around for over 100 years but you will not see it in the design guide with the current “keepers” of the design guide. This editing and updating process is definitely more taxing on the “keepers” than Wiki-style documentation but it is also creates for a better vetted design guide for the users … okay, that is arguable but we certainly feel that it makes for a better vetted design guide :slight_smile:

We certainly recognize that the content of the current design guide is NASA House Team centric but we expect that in a decade, this will not be the case as the robotics community contributes. And since we use Google Docs and Teams meetings to gather virtually to edit the design guide, we can expand the “keepers” of the documents to be others in the robotics community. We’d love for you to sit in on some of the sessions :slight_smile:

Thanks for the kind words and hope this explains our thinking,


THANKS! I tried the Adobe compressor and it does significantly reduce the file size (13.5 MB as you got) and also significantly reduces the image quality so I think the answer is to stick with offering the large file but have the smaller file linked as an option on the RAP website. It will certainly be nice to have both … high quality for zooming in on pictures … low quality for quick access and sharing.

THANKS again,


I wish that the tech writers we have here at work understood this. Their focus on making small file sizes made many manuals unusable.

This is one of the most difficult problems to solve in FRC currently, getting teams to build within their means.

At the end of the document we link @Karthik Effective FIRST Strategies presentations. It would probably be better to include them in the first few pages. Every FRC team needs to watch this presentation. Specifically for robot designers is Karthik’s Golden Rule #1 which is to Always Build Within Your Limits.

I like the idea of having a section on how to design with limited manufacturing resources, this is currently on my list of additions to make. We can incorporate a lot of the work we have done on the Everybot project over the years here.

However, while this will help guide teams on how to design things they can manufacture, it still doesn’t help teams design things that work, are robust, reliable, efficient, economical, or elegant.

I think part of this problem could be helped by adding more fundamental design principles, the things that most experienced designers forget young engineers weren’t born knowing.

Currently the mechanisms section of the guide is there to really give awareness to what is out there and what has been done. I believe awareness of past solutions is critical to making good decisions on what to design, but knowing fundamental things such as don’t put bolts in shear, longer flanges create stiffer parts (2nd moment of area), avoid bending stress, why preload helps, etc is the knowledge that’s needed to make designs actually work.


I briefly browsed the document, and found that this is quite a good reference for mentors. As mentioned by others, not all teams have the same resources and experience to build performant complex mechanisms. However, taking the key principles behind some of these mechanisms, teams could build simplified mechanisms that would be achievable within their means and still be competitive. One key take away so far I am thankful for, is that the word “prototype” is mentioned 35 times, with numerous pictures and example using wood. This is the aspect I will most likely use the most with our students.

1 Like

Through an entirely separate conversation I was having today, I realized the similarities between this and the long-standing “one stop shop” of combat robot knowledge, the RioBotz combat robots tutorial book. That has been a wonderful resource to the combat robot community for more than a decade now, and this has the potential to be on a similar level in FRC.


After referring back to the RAP design guide so many times, I figured it’d be worth it to get it turned into a book to add to my library. Came out great, thanks again to the RAP team for an awesome resource!


Now I kind of want to see one of these in every KoP. However, I’ll settle for an Everybot instead. :wink:


This topic was automatically closed 365 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.