Research and Learning

This thread got me to doing a bunch of research on moment of inertia, and it got me thinking about how there are so many advanced topics that act behind robotics.

What are some topics, concepts, mechanisms, or whatevers that you think are worth researching/knowing about so that can make me a more useful team member + a more educated individual.

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I think one of the simplest and most general things you can do is take physics as early as possible in high school. Even a rudimentary understanding of how forces/torques/friction/moment of inertia/etc work can be very important foundational knowledge.

That being said, a lot of advanced concepts are simply unnecessary for success in FRC, especially for newer teams and students. (That depends on where you draw the line for “advanced,” of course!) FRC is largely its own game that you need to learn how to play.

If you want to become a more useful team member, Karthik’s presentation on FRC strategy is a must watch if you somehow haven’t seen it already. Check out his other renditions of it too, they’re a little different each time.
For other FRC-Specific stuff, 1678’s channel has a lot of good videos from their fall workshops.
Also read JVN’s blog.

For software, here are my favorite talks covering advanced topics. All of the concepts covered in these talks applied similarly to real-world robotics.
254’s Talk on Computer Vision
254’s Talk on Motion Planning
971’s Talk on Control System Modelling
971’s Talk on Test Driven Development (I’d recommend you watch System Modelling first, they’re meant to be viewed as a pair)

Hopefully someone else can post similar resources for design/manufacturing.

If you can lay your hands on a Machine Design textbook, you can probably pick up at least the “how-to” for gearing, shaft sizing, what happens when you put a retaining-ring groove in the middle of the shaft, and some of the gear design theory, among other things. The caveat is that that’s a college-level course, usually junior/senior level, so you won’t necessarily understand a lot of the WHY behind the equations, or even necessarily the forces and stresses. But it’s pretty neat to see some of what goes into stuff behind the scenes. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always DIRECTLY apply… I did some gear-tooth stress analysis vs. VEXPro gears for work once. Had to figure out how to handle the book assuming steel and the gears being aluminum. The gears lost.

On a more general note, physics for sure. The other thing you may want to do is try to find somewhere where you can take machine-shop courses of some form. Your team may not have machines, but being able to build accurately can save a lot of headache from what’s known as “tolerance stackup” (when a tolerance is loose, and you get a bunch of parts that are all that way, you can easily end up out of your total tolerance despite all the parts being individually in tolerance).

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