Snow compensation?

Living in New England really devastated our team this year. We ended up missing about 11 days.

I was curious on how other teams in this area compensated and over-came this issue. My team, still hasn’t yet.

Are there any simple time management ideas as well?
This is our second year and that’s still an issue we have, so the snow didn’t help us at all…

We feel your pain! We missed I think 6 days.
The only advice I can give is prioritize. I assume your team is doing district events as well? If so keep in mind those doing district events can unbag for a total of 6 hours prior to the district event.
There are certain guidelines that must followed so be sure to check the admin manual before doing so.

I am familiar with the 6 hour before events, and at this moment we will be relying on that a little more than we should. I am the head programmer and I have been excused from classes during my class week to finish the program (I go to a Vocational high school, so every other week I have classes)

319 lost about 8 days this year as well.

Here are a few tips from what I’ve learned over the years (in no particular order).

  1. Make a basic schedule. Try to plan out how long you’ll prototype, when the final robot concept will be decided, how long you’ll work on your design for, and when you want to have your robot done. Don’t get too detailed, keep it broad so you can be flexible if you need to be. Post this schedule where the whole team can see it so you think about it often.
  2. CAD as much of your robot as possible. Solidworks and PTC both offer sponsorships and ways in which you can get your hands on their software. CAD will help you plan things out spatially, and making your robot after it’s been designed in CAD is much faster.
  3. The kit chassis is really good. It’s robust, simple, and easy to attach to. Try to assemble your chassis by the end of the first week, then you can wire it and hand it off to the programming team to learn with while you design and build the robot.

Our design team struggles with CAD and Drafting even though it is an offered trade here at our high school. Its something that we have been working on and have been “winging it” since the season started… again…

Something to work on on the off-season! As one of my favorite FRC mentors always says:

Improvement in the off season is important, however the little time we have really held us back. We lost 11 days in a row, then proceeded to live in fear that we would lose more. We are expected to lose Monday as well due to more snow.

You have 2 mentors that are absolutely among the unsung rock stars of FIRST in New England. Listen to Bob and Chris. They will get you where you need to be.

There is always the bring the bot to a mentors house. Our bot was on my dinning room table for a couple days to get a jump on the wiring.

Learning how to manage the build season isn’t easy. This is 3467’s 5th build season and we still have areas we struggle in with staying managed but its better than before. For 2011-2013 there was a lot of “design as you go” mentality with a little forethought in CAD but it wasn’t concretely implemented. Learning how to quickly prototype and use software like Solidworks or Inventor in the off-season is one of the best things you can do. Establishing what you want to build and how to build it during weeks 1-4 makes weeks 5-6 go by much easier. We finalized our robot much later than we wanted to this year but being able to print off part drawings, make them, and assemble two sets (practice and competition robot) with minimal integration issues is well worth the time to design it all.

This snow has hurt us too and I’m pretty sure we have one more day coming on Sunday.

Most of the days we had to take off and we used those days during the beginning of the season to focus on the 3d design of the robot or using Google Hangouts to re-group and come up with game plans for the week. It was also good to take some time off and relax so we could put more energy into the meetings when we got back to the school. This past weekend we moved offsite so we could still work on the robot which was productive but wasn’t as efficient as being in the school.

Whenever you meet next your team needs to be honest with where your progress is and how much needs to get done. Letting go of a design, iterating, or scaling back is never easy but if it needs to be done so you can field a competitive robot for your first event you need to do it. Our team has been there.

You then have what looks like four weeks before your second event which is plenty of time to iterate and make your robot better with your withholding allowance.

If you’re not using anything to manage people (not sure how many you got) I recommend using trello.com
It’s VERY easy to setup and use.

The rules to make it work are simple.

  • one card one task, it gives you the option of having a checklist in the card but I highly advise against it. If multiple tasks belong to the same main item, color code it. (ie programming, mech base, mech actuator, electrical)
  • one person in charge of each card. If you have a question how something is going, you know who to go to. Don’t drag multiple cards in to the “Doing” list unless you’re actually working on it.
  • Organize the “To Do” list by priority. You don’t HAVE to follow this priority, but at least everyone knows what’s most crucial (ex: programmer might be finished with their latest task and top of the list is a mechanical one, he/she would skip down to the next programming task)
  • when a task is complete, don’t delete it, move it to the “Done” list. Seeing this list grow boost confidence and reminds you what’s been done so you know it wasn’t forgotten.

Google Hangouts and other types of time management have been something we have been stressing. The latest accomplishment communication wise that we had was that we agreed on having a twitter page to help us establish set goals and keep everyone informed, but even that struggles to complete its goal.
Many students also see to have little motivation to complete the tasks at hand. I am also a student and sometimes I find it hard to believe the amount of stalling that some students can do even when a simple task is at hand. Luckily we have had some hard working students available through the day.
We struggle particularly when we go into groups after discussing the goals that we would like to accomplish for the day.
Although we would love to take the robot to a mentors, the major problem at hand there is that our high school, Whittier Tech, consists of several different towns ranging from Lawrence to Salisbury, to Ipswitch and so on. There are 11 cities and towns total, which makes transportation a struggle. This is also why we meet here on Saturdays, here being the school. We are not allowed Sundays because the school is empty then.

Its tough during the start of a team because you need to establish the “corporate culture” that establishes the reputation of what is expected of students with regard to conduct during team meetings.

Feel free to shoot me a private message if you want to discuss it further.

We do have a few kids who have taken the opportunity to step it up on the team. In my opinion the reason why everyone might be so relaxed and calm about this is because of the fact that they have not attended a competition yet. Out veteran team members have stepped it up a lot, and a few of us have been looked up to and deemed “Admins”

I find this post kind of funny. I live in norther Minnesnowta and in the past we have consistently lost at least a week and sometime up to two weeks because of snow. This year we haven’t had a single day lost but other places across the country have. I think its funny how the tables have turned a bit.

Trying to establish that when you start a team is much easier than trying to change it much later on though, so I would create the groundwork for the team you want to see in 5 years.

Inertia is one cruel mother.

Also, to get back on topic, I proposed that West Coast teams bag their robots yesterday out of respect for the Northeast.

Haha I know right! Compared to some parts of the country/North America we haven’t gotten as much snow but some parts of New England have gotten a lot and the city where our District Championship is being held (Worcester) has gotten roughly 90" of snow making it the snowiest city in the US this year from a report I saw.

One of the big differences is while we get a lot of snow every year most towns/cities aren’t used to removing this much snow especially with multiple storms in just over a week meaning schools are staying closed for longer periods of time instead of just the day it snows. The roads and parking lots up here just keep getting smaller and smaller…

we have lost about 6 days and it really has hurt us quite a bit. We still will finish but we will only have 1 maybe 2 days to finish wiring code and test.

Did I miss it or did no one mention that you should use the withholding allowance strategically. Prioritize and focus on the 90+ lbs you need to bag. If you have designed modular concepts into your machine, this will be most effective.

Schools staying closed is a huge fear. For example Pentucket Regional is closed until the 23rd.