Pre-Season Education

I’m a Captain of Washington Robotics team Spartronics 4915 and we’re about to have a 6 hour meeting in a next week and we can’t think of a lot of things to cover in the mechanics sub team that will help our team be more successful during build season. We plan to organize the room and inventory, in hopes that it will have our new students be more familiar with the room and materials in the room (as well as have our room… organized), however we’ve already had them build some widgets so they have experience with the Mill and the Drill Press as well as reading CAD files. So what I’m asking, is what do you suggest would be good for preseason education / what your team does that more effectively prepares your mechanics subteam?

Rose Bandrowski

We do meetings throughout the fall to teach new students the skills they’ll need to actually build the robot come January.

If you only have the one chunk, there’s still plenty of useful stuff to do though! I’d start by going through what the first couple days of the season will be like - make sure the new students know what they’ll be in for, what they should be watching for in the reveal video, and how you’re going to go through the season.

It’s good they have some hands-on training already. Perhaps presentations on robot parts or mechanisms could help get their minds going on what designs are available, or feasible. This will help inform the planning process in the first couple weeks of the season.

We’ve been working all off season on a bunch of projects: tee-shirt cannon for our marketing/fundraising robot, shooter/hopper system similar to 254 since we didn’t even attempt a shooter last season, and a robot with an articulating arm for fictitious game (we’re thinking we’re due for a pick-and-place/arm centric game this year or next).

Although none of the project results are exactly world-class; we wanted to give enough projects for all of our kids to be involved, learn the mill, lathe, cnc router etc…

The last big thing that we do and might be most useful for you to do given it’s already november is to do a mini/mock kick-off. We started picking games from a few years back, walk the kids through how to think about strategy vs. jumping into mechanisms, and we’ll show Einstein matches at the end of the night to show how teams ended up really playing the game.

If you have your mechanical team reasonably ready to do the build, the next thing to teach them is how to design the robot. These are hardly unique, but let me direct you to three of my courses, about 25 minutes each. These cover things like keeping the robot from falling down as it accelerates, and being able to turn. The next step is to introduce the JVN calculator.

  1. Tool/machine training—not sure what your shop setup is but having as many people proficient on as many tools and machines as possible is always a good thing. There are a number of great youtube videos and lessons.
  2. FRC Rules—have people read the robot rules section of the manual. It seems to be pretty static from year to year and it’s good to know your constraints when designing.
  3. Practice building prototypes—fast prototyping is key to being able to try many ideas during build season. Perhaps have new members try to prototype a mechanism your team has already built, and have veteran members try a more ambitious mechanism you have less experience with. Remember, the goal of a prototype is to tell you if the real thing will work and tweak parameters such as speed or compression.

Edit: Follow this thread? The timing is eerie.

Funny you mentioned that… I didn’t see this post until I made mine. The world works in strange ways.

Thanks so much for all the responses! We do hold a fake kickoff the weekend before kickoff so they will be experiencing that beforehand just later on. I like the idea of prototyping and FRC rules (you’re right in that many are static), as well as showing them past mechanisms for games.
Thanks for your input, I’ll also be taking a look at those lessons to see how useful they are.
We also are planning on replacing our 2017 robot’s shooter with a new one that can shoot higher and using it to shoot team t-shirts at assemblies (inside the fuel haha), it’s just that not every student in mechanics can work on that project.

Couple of my favorites:

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