What advice would you give rookies? #BotChat update 1/6/12

Sunday’s #BotChat had 17 participants, with many more lurking. (Next week you should join in!) Here is the last question of the evening, with everyone’s answers. I took out users Twitter handles, but if you’re curious about who said what, you can just search for #BotChat on Twitter. Join us next week, Sunday 1/13 at 7PM Eastern time.

If you have other advice for rookies, feel free to reply to this thread.

Q5: What one piece of advice would you give a person or team entering its first build season? #BotChat #omgRobots

You don’t get to the top of a building in one big step, nor should you build your robot that way. Iteration is the key to success.

Success is what you strive for, but reaching such a bold goal is a multi-year process. Research, Iterate, & ask for help. #Learn

Do one thing well, then move to the next most important thing. Otherwise you end up with a half built robot…

Look at your resources! #driveinaday @VEXRobotics / @RobotIn3Days / #omgchiefdelphi / @andymarkinc / #omgrobots / @FIRSTweets

Take your time figuring out WHAT you want to do before determining HOW. Be open to all ideas initially. #BotChat

Determine your abilities, build within them. Start with a simple drivetrain that will end every match moving! #Botchat #omgrobots

Don’t try to build too much! think simple and reliable #botchat

Don’t bite off more than you can chew. There will be time for that (unless you’re a senior, then sorry). #botchat

Pick one thing, get good at it, be happy with that. #BotChat #omgRobots"

Use others’ developed ideas, like 1114’s Kitbot on Steroids, so you can focus on the tough problems #botchat

Find a veteran team in your area and get their help. #BotChat #omgRobots

Keep it simple. You can’t do everything in the game, especially this years game. Pick one thing and do it really well. #BotChat

Always design and compete to win while working within your means and remembering that learning is the main point. Have fun! #botchat

It’s all about having fun & watching people grow, take the time to build your community, reach out to #BFFteams & #nevergiveup #botchat

Fail Faster, Learn More, Focus and Execute. Thank you @kylehughes27 for ingraining that in me. #botchat #lifemotto

Plan to use twice as much time as you think you’ll need. Don’t get discouraged. Learn something. Most importantly HAVE FUN! #BotChat

It is the hardest, most challenging, FUN you will ever have. #botchat

Keep up with schoolwork! #BotChat

By far my biggest advice would be this, from a rookie last year:
Work hard, and don’t shirk menial labor. If you do that without complaining, trust me, the chances will come for you to get the “shiny” work.

Don’t be afraid to challenge your mechanism lead’s decisions…sometimes grizzled old vets need a little push and enthusiasm to keep going.

Don’t be afraid to speak up during brainstorming sessions! Just because there’s a 4th year veteran giving out a detailed techinical idea doesn’t mean that an idea you thought of can’t be expanded and built on.

Give it your all!

The single idea I want all rookie teams to embrace:

You do need help. Don’t reject offers of assistance from veterans. There are more things you don’t know than you think there are.

Don’t try to do everything. There are ways to play the game and score well without having every capability. Maybe you play defense and climb, maybe you pick up frisbees and shoot, whatever you decide, in the beginning it’s better to pick a couple game elements and do it well, rather than doing everything poorly.

If you do it, write it down. Document everything. It’s maddening your first year when everything is new and you’re trying to figure it all out from scratch; it’s even more frustrating to be in your second (or eighth) year and know you’ve done it before but can’t remember how it was done.

As a founding member of my team, a design tip I live by is the engineers mantra, KISS. Keep it stupidly simple, or keep it simple, stupid. I think rookies should focus on a simple task and design and work at it. Excel at one part of the game instead of trying to juggle the whole challenge. In 2010, when my team was a rookie team, we wont Rookie All-Star at the Granite State Regional just by focusing on defense, scoring on the low pegs, and the mini-bot. We could have attempted to play all facets on the game, but its sometimes better just to focus on one or two.

Keep it relatively simple and access the help from FIRST, nearby teams and CDers.

Good luck!

While you are taking all this great advice in this thread, make sure you are having fun. Some days will be frustrating, some days will be incredibly rewarding but make sure in the middle of all of it you’re having a great time!

One rookie team I helped even went so far as to take one night off when things got a little too stressful and had a movie night.

USE THIS WEBSITE!!! We didnt use it much until the end of the season last year and it really helped!! Ask beandip3160!

In case anyone is curious, or wants to answer any of these others here on CD, here are all of the questions that we asked on Sunday for #BotChat.

Q1: #UltimateAscent Wow! What do you think is more critical: the ability to score the discs or climb the pyramid? #BotChat #omgRobots

Q2: Documenting throughout Build Season is as important as robot build. How does your team document what it has done? #BotChat #omgRobots

Q3: How many points minimum do you think an alliance has to score to win a majority of matches in UA? #BotChat #omgRobots

Q4: Defend or refute Dr. Flowers’ quote from #frcko, “Our professional knowledge comes from the brilliance of others.” #botchat #omgRobots

Q5: What one piece of advice would you give a person or team entering their first build season? #BotChat #omgRobots

My biggest piece of advice would be to read the manual. It’s much better to find out what you’re thinking of doing doesn’t follow with the rules on day 4 of build season than on day 1 of your regional.

I agree KISS. We are in our 4th season. Out first year we tried build a GOD robot. It drove
Year 2 drove picked up pieces
year 3 drove picked up shot and had autonomous
year 4 ??? climb drive shoot pick up vision sensors.

Also don’t over look little things. Bumpers Our first year we could change from red to blue in about 30 minutes:)

  1. Don’t just read the manual, understand it and keep up with the updates.
  2. Ask specific questions so you get replies that are meaningful, including pictures/drawings is a great way to show the community what you are trying to accomplish.
  1. READ THE MANUAL, so many people don’t understand the game and it makes me sad.

  2. Don’t build outside of your means. A dumper robot that drives and scores in the low goal is better than a robot that doesn’t drive, but has a shooter.

  3. A lot of rookies have trouble with electronics, so Code Orange made a video tutorial series about FRC electronics. LINK We hope this series can help some rookies. :]

  4. Spend that 25% more to get half way decent tools that will last 2-5 years, rather than buying cheap tools that last a week and break.

  5. Find a kit bot build day near you.

30 minutes? please, we can in seconds, we have a schmancy velcro flip up/down design :wink: hahaha im nothing if not competitive

Don’t discount the idea of building a defensive robot. In this game, the robots that can pick up discs quickly off the floor will score the highest, and shutting them down will help you out. Last year my team won the Utah regional as the 8th seeded alliance captain, as a defensive robot. Good defense can enable awesome offense.

Don’t try to do everything, it just wastes your time to try to make the perfect robot, be sure to prioritize! Organize your parts, tools, and team, this really helps move the build along quicker. Also, SET DEADLINES (and be prepared to have them delayed by a few days), this is absolutely crucial to making sure that progress is being made and that you have a well functioning robot before ship.

Like many others have been saying, our first year the robot just drove so anything at that level or above that is a good accomplishment.

Never ever use a servo for something that is going to have alot of stress on the servo :ahh: