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Old 04-02-2012, 06:07 PM
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Format of an Engineering Notebook

This is going to be my 3rd year in the VRC competition (plus one year in FTC), and the past two years I have felt like my teams Engineering Notebook has not been very good. I am just wondering what type of format or layout you guys use for your engineering notebook. What do you add each meeting, and how do you organize it.

If someone has a sample engineering notebook they would like to share, that would be super!

Thank you!
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Old 04-02-2012, 06:18 PM
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Re: Format of an Engineering Notebook

We make maybe a page every meeting detailing what we have done, and organize these entries into different sections which have dividers in between them. Design, Build, Programming, Competition, etc. we also have a bio page at the front. Hope this helps!
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Old 04-02-2012, 06:28 PM
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Re: Format of an Engineering Notebook

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Originally Posted by Vacation9 View Post
We make maybe a page every meeting detailing what we have done, and organize these entries into different sections which have dividers in between them. Design, Build, Programming, Competition, etc. we also have a bio page at the front. Hope this helps!
So, do you have say at the front, your day by day progress, but then in the dividers: Design, Build, Programming, Competition, etc... You have a more detailed description of what you did for each thing?

Say you worked on your drive train, and some programming all day. Would you describe what you did at the front, then go to Build and give more detail of what you built, and the same for Programming? What do you include in your Programming Section. Do you print out your code or something, or just describe what autonomous should do?

Do you write it out with your hand, or type it out then stick it into your notebook.

Thank you!
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Old 04-02-2012, 07:47 PM
TRWSHSHLX TRWSHSHLX is offline
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Re: Format of an Engineering Notebook

The format my team and I had used is like this:

Cover Page

Table of Contents (for meetings)
Table of Contents (for figures / images)
Appendix (Bio / Code / Misc. Attachments)

Then here's an outline for a day's meeting:
Date
Task List (Programming / Building / Drivetrain... Whatever)
A tab or section specifically for each task

Conclusion (What was accomplished / possible goals for next meeting / etc.)

Our team had won a few awards using this format for our engineering journal this season. We did it electronically just for the sake of pictures but really handwritten is fine too as long as you RECORD EVERYTHING!!!

Hope this helps.
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Old 04-02-2012, 09:34 PM
devinc devinc is offline
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Re: Format of an Engineering Notebook

Here is the first page of my engineering notebook I got the first day of school freshman year. These were what we had to do in our notebooks...
-Write all ideas in notebook
-Record all assignments and sketches
-NO PENCIL, Blue or black ink ONLY
-Write neatly
-Clearly label, refer to sketches/diagrams
-Title every entry
-Date all entrys
-Dont leave any empty spaces. Put an "X" through blank pages and start entries on a new page
-Number all pages
-Sign after each entry

This has helped me throughout the years. This year we tried to do our notebook in MS word but I did not like it so I went back to a hard copy.
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Old 04-02-2012, 09:41 PM
jgraber jgraber is offline
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Re: Format of an Engineering Notebook

BEST robotics has a really detailed rubric for BEST Engineering Notebooks, and a notebook is required from each team to participate in the game.
Some of the highlights of the BEST rubric that may help for other competitions:
- Have a game strategy, and make a list of goals and features you want your robot to do to execute that strategy.
- Prioritize that list using Design Matrix, aka qualitative or quantitative Pugh Matrix.
- Show early design sketches of what you intend to build.
- Show some math to analyze if it seems like your ideas will work.
Quantities like power, energy, force, coefficient of friction, torque, mass, gear ratios, length of arms vs desire height all look good.
- Show pictures of something you built.
- Show performance measurements you made on what you built.
- Make some mistakes, iterate, try multiple things, measure their performance, decide what the important criteria are, in order to pick the best one.
- Iterate again.

Random other ideas:

Write down Lessons Learned from a competition and from scrimmage sessions, and what you are going to do about them.

Make simple driving exercises, and graph how performance improves as drivers get more practice. Track mean time between breakdowns, and if there are preventive maintenance practices that can reduce breakdowns.
Track mean time to repair, and how design changes can lower it.
Research some http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaizen methods like 6S and see how they can be implemented in your team. If I were judging, I'd be impressed by a Vex team with a team-appropriate 6S poster and visible signs it was taken seriously. Be sure to PM me if with a link if you do this.
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Old 04-02-2012, 09:48 PM
devinc devinc is offline
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Re: Format of an Engineering Notebook

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Originally Posted by jgraber View Post
Write down Lessons Learned from a competition and from scrimmage sessions, and what you are going to do about them.
This is also a good idea. After each of our tournaments we have to do a recap about how the tournament went, our strenghts and weakness's and what we plan on doing in the future.
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Old 04-03-2012, 02:16 AM
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Re: Format of an Engineering Notebook

We won the design award in 2011 in part because of our engineering journal (over 100 pgs, its about the whole process). We went through about 7 robots that we built and rebuilt to play different aspects of the game Round Up. The format we used was *picture of completed robot, objectives we wanted it to meet, mechanisms and designs that we felt would meet it, which designs we chose then a list of the build process and problems, solutions, analysis of each obstacle or difficulty. Once we had a finished robot we'd put down its specs such as, what can it do. A calender or schedule is also required. You also do not need any elaborate explanations, a picture and a caption is good enough.

And one comment we got, if anyone was going for design award, keep your explanations simple, and really know what you are talking about. The judges are sick of students getting told by mentors what to say, or talking about programming stuff that they really don't know about. We kept our presentation ridiculously simple and straightforward highlighting about 4 aspects of our robot that worked really well. Previous presentations before us I think went to the time limit. We took about 2 minutes to explain, 3 minutes to answer questions.

And of course, make sure your robot does what you explain it does during competition and is reliable. A non moving robot is a very very bad show when going for awards.
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Old 04-03-2012, 04:54 AM
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Re: Format of an Engineering Notebook

Thank you all so much for your help. A quick question, do most of you type out what you want to say, then stick it into a binder?

Thanks
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Old 04-03-2012, 08:22 AM
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Re: Format of an Engineering Notebook

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bot-E Builders View Post
Thank you all so much for your help. A quick question, do most of you type out what you want to say, then stick it into a binder?

Thanks
We write it out by hand. Then sign it. We only have a bio at the front.
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Gateway Season, Two Guys and a Robot (2001):
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VEX Mid-Atlantic Championship- Middle School Excellence Award Winners, Technology Quarterfinalists, 13th Seed
VEX Middle School World Championship- Finished 39th/76 in Spirit division
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