Sharing Designs

one of the few things our team has never gone into is how we make our wheels. Sure we give them readers digest version but the fine details is something we hold very close. Same goes for our 4 ounce breaks. I suggest you find a team or place that will let you use a lathe because with wheels you want everything to be even.


I still don’t understand this attitude.

your kidding right :ahh:


i think telling teams how you do something is almost a must in first. Not only does it make you push yourself harder to be better but allows other teams to become more competive in first. However getting into the fine details is like trading base ball cards. You do not trade your babe ruth rookie for john doe wheaties card.


I do, in a way.

In FIRST, we help each other. White papers, mentoring other teams, and so on. However, I think that it’s reasonable for teams to withhold a little bit of the “secret sauce” that makes their robots uniquely better-suited for a certain task.

Nearly every field has certain tricks that people keep secret from their competitors to get a slight edge. Using a tool you fabricated yourself to reach that one darn screw hole. Stuffing a 500-HP engine into a small car and making it look stock. Writing the program that does what you want your way. None of these may be particularly public, but nobody raises a stink about them.

That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t attempt to figure it out for yourself. 25, for example, goes to a heck of a lot of competitions (last year, I recall New Jersey, Palmetto, the Championship, and a bajillion-million off-seasons). Each of those events has a bunch of camera-wielding nuts, all snapping pictures of the robot in action. And going into 25’s pit, there’s no barriers stopping you from getting up close and personal with their robots (unless you count fear of being bearhugged by Big Mike as a barrier). So one could probably get some good views of what they’re doing.

So perhaps a team doesn’t want to let out all of their secrets. That just gives you a bit of a challenge. Go up to the team’s pit. Ask questions. Take pictures. Figure out how it works. Test it out when you get home. Then YOU can post it on Delphi (giving credit where it’s due) and be showered in praises, green dots, and photoshoppage.

As long as there’s a competition involved, someone will have a brilliant idea to give themselves an edge. Sharing it is awesome, and I highly recommend it, but nobody ever said it was a requirement.

People don’t have problems with other teams not sharing designs. Problems arise when people come out and bait others with statements like “xxx on our robot was so great, but haha, Im not going to tell you how it works!!!”. If you want to keep your “proprietary” ideas secret, that’s your team’s decision. There’s no need to be arrogant about it though.

And at any rate, if you want to see how 25’s done their wheels, they have indeed shown everyone how to do it. See this picture.

Now with all that info just think of what we did not tell you. Yet you have enough info to go out and do it yourself


What else is there to tell?

I don’t want a carbon copy of your wheels… I want to improve upon your design.

I really don’t understand the point you are trying to make though. Are you in support of teams sharing designs?

yes i am into sharing ideas. But we do not like giving away everthing because we want teams to figure it out on there own. I will give you one example about the wheels we do not talk about until after the comp. Tread design, every year when the game changes we change the way the treads are cut. We do not tell teams how or why we cut them until after the reagionals or somtimes nationals depending on how easy it is to copy. Great example of teams taking a design was back in 2002. team 88 tj2 had a great idea of how to get there robot back to the home zone. after the nj reagional everyone copied them.


Are you talking about electrically-powered tape measures (or similar devices)? Because those were developed independently in several places, and after a build-period Q&A post describing them, many more teams put them on (well before NJ). If it’s not the tape measure that you’re describing, then I’d hardly see how “everybody” had one.

Incidentally, I’d submit that the vast majority of teams who used tapes used illegal ones, because of the then-in-force additional parts rules. By those rules, teams could only legally use the tape measures from Small Parts Inc.—which were a particular Starrett model that wasn’t widely available.

half the fun of this program is being given a problem to solve, then coming up with creative solutions.

personally I would much rather have someone tell me “we found a way to launch 10 balls at 100mS intervals and put them all in the target from 30 feet away” and stop there

than to have them tell me exactly how they do it.

Sharing critical information is one thing: how do I get the code to download, how to you connect the compressor to the valves…

designing our robot for me? no thanks! Thats OUR job :^)

Tristan, 88 used a very long strip of polycarb that was rolled up and then released at the end of the match. It would unroll itself all the way back to the home zone. It was pretty cool.

I think part of the complication of this subject has to do with the difference between engineering concepts and designs/strategies, so I’ve divided my comments:

I think all teams need to increase the frequency that they share engineering concepts. Concepts such as how to telescope tubes using a single cable/string or how to create a claw on an arm that doesn’t change it’s angle (two-bar linkage). Sharing these ideas barely stunts creativity because they are the solution to the common problems that arise in engineering designs. I think it’s actually more likely to increase creativity because it gives teams/students more tools in their engineering toolchest to pull out and use on their designs. These concepts are often text-book, but that doesn’t mean a high-school student is exposed to them or even has access to them which is in part why FIRST is such a great experience.

To sum it up, this is about the question “how does it work?” which is something well all thought before we smashed open our first alarm clocks to find the ticking answer.

That said, I think designs/strategies should stay with a team at least until competition. Now, I know I showed the world our prototype ball launcher, but the reality is that there was no more there than there was at the FIRST kick-off. We simply remade a softball launcher using kit parts and robot-legal materials to prove that kit parts would work. What I think should stay with the team is their brainstormed/tested design solution to a part of the game challenge (such as ball collecting/launching). And my argument for this is in line with many others - keep the solution out of your mind and your creativity will have to take over to solve the problem. And that creates a greater learning experience.

To sum this one up as well, it’s about the question “why was it designed that way?” Why can take apart a keyboard and figure out how it works. But to understand why we have the QWERTY keyboard layout takes a lot of creativity and learning unless you have the answer handed to you (you know, in history books or online). You don’t get the answer by taking about the keys and playing with the membranes and silicone!

EXACTLY! :smiley:

I personally think that if you must share your designs, do it when there is no time left for others to copy them. If everyone shared everything, we would have 2,000 excellent but identical robots, leaving the matches up to random chance! :ahh:

…imagine that. If we all worked together, the world would be a better place. When we protect proprietary information, we make life better for ourselves at the expense of other people.

I see what you’re saying, but I think that forcing others to think through different design choices on their own is more beneficial to them than handing them the “best” design on a silver platter.


I got pretty defensive in response to MK’s post, and decided to edit this.

I can certainly understand where MK is coming from, it would be great to live in a Star-Trek culture world where everyone has their basic needs met, and we all spend our time and energy making the universe a better place.

The problem is that, time and time again we have learned that human nature does not work that way. For whatever reasons we are competitive creatures, and without some level of competition we tend to fade into stagnation.

That does not mean people dont care about other people, and making the world a better place. Most people do care, but at the same time there has to be some direct benefit that comes back to them personally as well. It takes both.

Intellectual Property is the life-blood of many american companies. We spend years researching and developing new ideas, systems, products… That reseach is not free. The IP that comes out of it cannot be given away for free, or the people who have created it will get nothing for their years of dedicated work and creativity.

Yes, because if you are just “given” everything, you learn absolutely nothing and cannot design anything on your own. You stay dependent on those “higher minds” that gave you the design in the first place. This is far less beneficial to society as a whole, for what happens when those “higher minds” stop giving away their designs?

Which part of ‘work together’ implies a parasitic relationship?

We all know what human nature is… :smiley: