Need advices from veterans!

Hi, I’m a sophomore and this year I decided to fully commit to our school’s robotic club. The problem is I don’t know where to start learning about everything in a robot ( motors, gears, electrical, pneumatics, wheels etc…)
I wish to accumulate enough knowledge that I can literally build a First robot myself when I’m a senior. Any advices will be appreciated!:smiley:

Best resource I have found so far.

Watch some of the workshop videos, some are better than others.

Good luck, while it is useful to have a general knowledge of everything but I would caution you to avoid the “jack of all trades master of none” scenario. Pick a couple that you think you you would enjoy the most and learn them thoroughly.

Then again, it is good to have someone that understand each part of the robot somewhat well. I think they usually call that person the build leader. :stuck_out_tongue:

But yes, for a beginner start by learning something well.

If you enjoy drafting (inventor, solidworks, etc…) I would recommend going that route. That’s how I started learning. Take a previous year’s robot, and model the whole thing with as much detail as you can. You’ll start to learn a LOT.

Furthermore, you’ll bring a skill to your team.

Your attitude is the first thing which impresses me. Looking around on these forums is your first step. Learn the basics of each if you want to become the jack of all trades but don’t get into details. Second, make sure that there is someone on your team (both at least 1 student and one mentor) who knows about the full workings of the new control system. For anything else, Chief Delphi is pretty much the place to look. Keep your attitude of gaining the most knowledge you can gain though, it might get you farther that you think.:slight_smile:

In my opinion this a great thing, I have done the same and by the end of your sophmore year you will know a little bit about everything. I totally agree with Akash. Start off by looking at previous games, robots and successful teams. 1114, 330, 217, 233, 254/968, 148, 11, 67, 987,25, 1024 are just a handful of good ones. Analyze their robots and look at what they do right. Then go back and check out the KOP and analyze each part and their uses. Learn CAD, Inventor or Solidworks. Talk to other teams and search chiefdelphi, it is a great source of info. After you are familar with these, start looking at the drivetrain. The drivetrain is a very important part of each robot. There are many different types:
-6wd = rocker = skid steer
-4wd = omnis and offset omnis
and so on, make sure to find out about different types of gearboxes.

Find out the pros and cons of each one and design a few, CAD it out. Then after that, take a look over the electronics and pnuematics. By the end of this you should know a fairly decent amount of knowledge. Look at how to design a proper arm (1323 or 330 or 67), forklift (254/968 has) a cool one) and take a look at team pinks telescopic arm. Research is one of the most important “element of first”. I hope this helps and I don’t think the poofs would mind showing you a couple of their old robots in person. If you need help, just email me

have fun,


I’m a sophmore now, and I started to become really involved during build season of 2008 (my freshman year). I just showed up alot, and was asked to do things by the higher ranking students on the team. Over time, I began to gain alot of knowledge about robots, and I was asked to join the pit team. Throughout being on the pit, and just being around robots, I gained alot of knowledge about them. Towards the end of the year, I completely took apart the wiring on the 2007 robot and re-wired it as just the drivebase. We loaded the 2008 code onto it, and it drove!

I then started to learn SolidWorks, working with current members of our team. Over the summer, I designed possible robot frames, gearboxes and parts for future years. None of them were ever implemented into our final concepts, but the critique I recieved about them helped me improve my designs. Now, for the 2009 year, I am the student leader of the CAD subteam, and I am one of the two student co-leaders the robot build team.

The key thing here is to show up. Doing CAD helps alot as well.
Also, be sure that if you have any questions, ask anybody else. Any mentor would be happy to answer it.

Actually, the West Coast drive is a 6WD “drop” (“rocker”) drive. Typically, the true West Coast drive has small (6" max) cantilevered custom wheels, while the larger 6WD class can have any one of a number of differences.

Oh, and “meccum” is actually “mecanum”. It’s an omni-directional drive.

There’s also the rarely-used tank treads, and the occasional 3WD, 2WD, or manyWD. (And for further confusion: the swerve. I still don’t quite know what the difference is between crab and swerve, other than the way the steering modules are linked.)

OK, off the drives now…

You really don’t want to try to learn everything in one year. Start with one general area, say mechanical. Learn all you want to know about that area, or until you know enough to know that you don’t want to know more. Then learn another. And another. Learn CAD along the way somewhere. A good place to start might be drivetrain–it’s the most key element of a robot, and it’s the easiest to get a working knowledge of and the hardest to master. Yeah, you get one in the KOP. Is that one the one you really want? Maybe not… If not, then let the fun and games begin.:rolleyes:

Thanks EricH, i messed up the drives a bit. THE KOP CHASSIS UH??? :ahh:

Actually, I was referring to the KOP gearboxes. Some types of drive virtually require a custom gearbox, while others do just fine with the KOP one. (My team used four Toughboxes in a mecanum drive last year. We probably should have taken out the second reduction.)

Starting with hardest ehh :eek:, have fun with that one.

Also some great resources are available on 1114’s website. Awesome powerpoints. Also, Greg Needel has the best powerpoints to train members.

Hope that helps. Other than just finding and researching information like this, its all learning by doing. Go look at your past robots (if you have them still) or go to some off seasons and learn how each robot was built in a step by step fashion. I suggest you start with mechanical design first for this year. Next year if you really want, move into CAD.

We did… I think the best we did was 4 laps, after changing sprockets at the event.

Attend the WRRF workshops.

I believe there will be one more this year. They cover all topics from mechanical to animation.

Or you could follow my example and fail at everything once and learn from your mistakes.

It’s only a matter of time before I run out of mistakes :wink:

What were the ratios and were you guys hurdlers.

There’s a lot of good advice here but there is one key resource I don’t see being mentioned. The mentors and veteran students on your team are some of if not the best resources for learning about the process.

I agree with the sentiment that it is best to start out by being an expert in one system. Do to the way our team formed I did not have that luxury, but I wish I had. Select a system, then find a vet or mentor on your team that worked on that system last year. Have them go through last year’s 'bot with you and explain how that system works. ASK LOTS OF QUESTIONS! Have them explain to you how it was made from an idea in someones head all the way to it’s final form.

This is extremely important and feel to ask anyone, FIRST participants and Mentors would love to help.

Standard toughbox inside; I recall we ended up with about a 1:1 (after a 1:3 was too slow) from there to the wheels. We weren’t hurdlers; we would have liked to be, but we had a variety of issues that had to be fixed.

My advice is to be at a lot of meetings, listen, and watch. Ask questions about something until you’re able to explain that thing to someone else.

Looking at successful robots is a great way to learn about the different options there are for building a robot. I would suggest also looking at some of the less successful robots as well. Figure out why robot A is more successful than robot B. Maybe they decided to use acrylic sheets instead of lexan to protect components, but quickly realized upon impact it shatters all over the field. You can learn from their mistakes without actually making the mistake yourself.

Don’t be afraid to ask your mentors and teammates questions. At competition, don’t be afraid to ask other teams questions, most are more than willing to explain components.