Rookie Teams - What is the biggest Mechanical Design Challenge many of you face?

I am in a PLTW EDD class, and in the class, the assignment is to come up with a problem, and to use the principles of engineering to solve the problems, whether that means inventing/innovating something, surveying something, or using other engineering means to solve the problem. As a FIRST student, I want to give back to the community by designing a mechanism to be broadly available to teams, including a rookie team that may not have the mentor teams to help them. I do have some ideas, but I would love to see others. They don’t have to be completely mechanical problems, but they do need to be things that are not specific to one design, and something that veteran teams may have the resources to design and rookie teams might not.


I’m not all that in-touch with the current batch of rookie teams, so I’m not all that qualified to answer your questions. However, I’d like to help out anyone else who was stumped by the acronym:

PLTW EDD: Project Lead The Way - Engineering Design and Development
PLTW is an educational program, and EDD is a class within that program.

Your project sounds like a great one, good luck on it!

Almost every rookie team, and some veteran teams :wink:, struggle with wire management for their electronics. A mechanical system for organizing wires and allowing for easy access would be cool. Maybe 3D printed parts that easily snap together? Sized specifically around common FRC parts?


Who? I don’t know anyone like that.

If somebody makes this, we will use it. Wire management is hard.

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This thread has a good example of 3d-printed wire management parts.


Welcome to Chief Delphi!

As Tom and Bordom observed, rookie and veteran teams would both be happy to have a system (or a good component of a system) to help organize FRC robot wiring. Robot inspectors would appreciate it, too. Clean, traceable wiring is not common. Teams that have it tend to sail through inspection, and they have fewer problems getting the robot back to match-ready condition after a mechanical repair.

On your own team, Mr. Dressel and Mr. Blair have both seen many examples of poor wiring causing teams trouble at competitions. They are always looking for simple improvements that students can pick up and use immediately. [I know them because I was a mentor on your team many years ago.]

BTW, congratulations on making the Dean’s List at Houston earlier this year!


Ahhh this i like. my team struggles with this as well and i never thought about it. Thanks!

Thanks! It was a lot of fun to visit hq and meet the other winners. It was a neat experience. Also thanks for the feedback.

Yes. Thanks for putting that out. If you have any ideas, i would love to hear them!

I wouldn’t say a singular “Mechanism” will solve the problems that rookie teams have. Even if you designed a COTS mechanism like an elevator or an arm etc a team still needs to implement it, and that is where the problems come.

To me a large problem Rookie teams and even veteran teams that lack resources is having the tools to manufacture things correctly. Example: This is the first year 3081 has been able to drill square and properly positioned holes since we finally started using a bridgeport mill with DRO.

I know there is a lot of solutions out there already that attempt to give rookies a more plug and play erector set experience to assemble their robot(Ie versaframe), but perhaps you could create some lower priced jigs that empower rookies to be able to swiss cheese tubing with holes every 1/2" or 1".

Some teams have used 3D printers to make jigs for this purpose. The drill locations get populated with a metal bushing. Long-life precision bushings are expensive, but for FRC application an Oilite in common sizes (1/8, 3/16, 1/4, 3/8, 1/2) is pretty cheap.

It was pointed out to me that Ozzyboard has a drilling jig now.

I totally forgot about this.

Good wire management really only needs a bunch of zipties and a lot of forethought and planning. Wire management devices applied without forethought and planning will still give a messy result.

There have been many threads on CD showing examples or good wiring practices.

Remembering back to our early years, and then working closely with a rookie team this year, I think the largest design challenge is not knowing how to “fit stuff together” and not knowing what COTS parts can help you do this. It really isn’t a challenge that can be boiled down to “here is the problem”, it is more of a conceptual problem.

Most young students I work with are almost immediately able to come up with conceptual ideas for mechanisms. When asked to draw them they usually start with stick drawings (which lack a 3rd dimension and any thought as to how they will be assembled/fabricated). They lack those elements because the students simply don’t know the methods by which things are assembled/fabricated.

The trick (well, one of the tricks anyway) is to flip the approach from ideation -> layout/sketching -> identifying-building-blocks to ideation -> identifying-building-blocks -> layout/sketching. But to get to that trick, a designer has to know how to “identify-building-blocks”.

Though this is true, small kits for different parts of mechanisms may help rookie teams, especially if they can also be made to be priced more cheaply, and perform well. Good examples of this are the Kit chassis, and elevator kits.This is more what I am looking to produce.

Those “building blocks” are kind of what i am trying to produce.

One of my students made a simple centering jig out of VEX IQ parts (could also be made from LEGO or similar). I also have a distaste for drill bushings, so we just use it to mark with a transfer punch.




This is super cool. Would never have thought of this

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By “building blocks” I more meant a sort of toolkit of "how"s.


  • 2x1 can be joined via gussets along the sides.
  • A thing that spins needs to ride on a shaft. A shaft needs to be supported by a bearing or bushing
    • Things that spin are sold with hex holes and can work with hex shaft
  • A hub is a thing that mounts to a spinning shaft, and things like wheels can be bolted to the hub to make them spin.
  • A gearbox can be mounted axially offset from a shaft and chain or belt can be run to the shaft to make it spin.
  • A pnuematic cylinder can have its rear mounted to something stationary and its front mounted to something mobile
    • If that mobile thing (arm) is mounted to a pivot point (using a shaft) the cylinder can rotate the arm a fixed amount.
  • etc.

I see. Though these are concepts that rookie teams with a mentor team easily get. A kit might serve this by showing how through dirrections on hotlw to build a thing, such as those kits for elevator slides or the Kit drivetrain. These kits can then be edited to allow personalization, and expedite the build process, especially for teams with a more basic tool and skill set.