Basic knowledge of what a first year team should know

So we are a 8th grade team who will go to high school next year and our robotics teacher changed this year so she herself is somewhat new to robotics. So what are some things that she should teach a 6 th grade (first year doing vex v5 robotics) team. I already have some stuff down such as the motor specs and how to calculate gear ratio, rpm, and torque of gear ratios. I just asking what are some things you wished you knew the first year you did robotics. and some formulas that are important to robotics

Reading and understanding the game manual is really important.

Being able to research - learning how to build and learning what to build by observing other teams, either live or on the internet.


My first year I didn’t look at YouTube much as I didn’t expect much to be don’t there but this year I have found so much invaluable information from YouTube and it’s also a great way to give or get feedback.

It’s pretty simple advice but it helped me improve.

Don’t be afraid to Google it and every session do a quick search for vex over under on YouTube to always be in the loop about the latest meta or design ideas.

The Kepler Robotics YouTube channel and YouTube in general is also a great place to find Vex beginner concepts. You can find plenty of Vex beginners or Vex Basics videos.

Hope this advice helps and I wish you luck on your Vex adventures :slight_smile:


So far since you are on the forum you are doing better than I ever did. But what mavric said about youtube is a good idea look on the forums and teamwork is an important one. If you have a bad team morale then nothing will get done. Also have fun. When your having fun doing this you will actually do better if you are not stressing about every little thing.

Here’s another topic that has a lot of good advice too.

What Are Some Important Lessons You Learned From This Season (And Any Other Seasons That You Participated In)


Look at the BLRS Sigbots wiki, and Ryan Liao’s building masterclass on Youtube


As far as i have seen everyone is saying to search up ideas on google and youtube and on this forum. I do know about kepler robotics and, we have told our teacher about it. And how we should not be scared to redesign the robot and spend much more time on building than the notebook and CAD. So anything else we should know like formulas of how long the c channel should be for a robot to climb most efficiently.


120 Things before 1st VEX Tournament.pdf (59.4 KB)
I found this very helpful


In no particular order:

  1. Have all team members read the manual and mark important topics
  2. Have all members re-read entire manual, go over topics. I guarantee you will a) understand things better and b) spot something you missed.
  3. Display motor stats to the brain: watts, rpm, TEMPERATURE
  4. What makes something good build quality? - #15 by cat.chen
  5. Along with #3, USE the coding ability to your advantage, to understand what’s going on with your bot. There’s a LOT of useful data it can tell you.
  6. autonomous kickstart toolkit:

I would recommend starting a notebook (even if it’s an unofficial one) early, just to help plan out your ideas and so you can look back later. It’s useful if you do end up competing, and can even win you awards at comps. Plus, it’s good practice if you end up going into a STEM field.


Most important, be able to pass inspection at their first competition.

Doing less building and more driving and programming. Many new teams focus too much on building a “can do everything” robot and schedule the build to finish the day of their first competition. They are usually late with the build. They’d be better off trying for a robot that can do some thing or things well (not everything) and finish far enough before the competition for driving practice and programming.

Build quality. Inexperienced teams underestimate how much physical skill is required make a well built robot. They can go to youtube and try to copy ideas from top teams. They could be given CAD for a top robot. Building square, building tight, and building right are key skills that take time to develop. A key skill for a mentor is to walk up, shake the (no doubt floppy) robot, and point out that the robot needs to be built square. Should an intermediate team rebuild with Nylok nuts while a really experienced team just has enough torque to not bother?

Robot sense. It takes time to learn, but as the new team develops skill, they’ll learn what their robot should sound like and feel like. The discipline to see the robot not driving straight and debugging the problem to root cause rather than tweaking the code or having the driver overcome the issue. This goes along with build quality, but it is fixing the robot rather than putting on a band aid (say a loose bit that causes one side of the drive-train to drag). This goes along with designing a robot that can be fixed quickly in the pit between matches.

Engineering notebook. Even new teams should do one. The new mentor should volunteer to judge at a competition where her teams aren’t attending. One day judging will help a ton in teaching new team members.


All of this practical stuff up above is great. Just as important, I’d say, is learning how to interpret what you’re seeing. It will probably be easy to figure out which robots are “good” at any competition. But what makes them good? Is it the mechanical? Is it the driver? Is it the strategy? Probably a combination of all, plus more. But some robots will lean into one category more than another. Learning how to figure to the “why” will go a long way towards making their second year more successful than their first.

It’s okay to have no idea what’s going on at your first tournament or two. The game will slow down. Embrace the chaos with eyes open and take it all in. Learn how the Game (not this year’s game, specifically, but VEX, in a larger, more holistic way) works.

Talk to everyone. Talk to the teams you’ll be teaming up with. Talk to the teams with the cool robots. Talk to teams like you, who you’ll be playing with for years. Talk to them all.


I’d probably say that YouTube and online media are going to be one of the best resources you will find. The only thing is, don’t directly copy any designs you found because there might be something that isn’t shown that is what makes it work. Use YouTube for ideas and concepts and then expand on them when you start to prototype and build.

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You need to know how to talk and strategize at a comp. It is one of the sole things that brought my team to the finals. But you should also know how to code, accept you did something wrong and find how to fix, and remember that you are there to improve. Not to win, to improve. (But win anyway.)

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One thing I would have loved to know for my first year of V5 is that the small things, such as skills matches, one small comment on the notebook, or even testing something that has been run multiple times makes the difference. When we were in a finals match for a league my district was running, our alliance and us were eliminated on the first round, unfortunately. We didn’t move forward, but our alliance did. And when we asked to look at their notebook, we couldn’t believe what we were seeing. They had so much collaboration on it, and instead of giving every single detail, they gave the base idea. And when we asked how many skills matches they did, they did so much above the required. Doing this will almost guarantee you a win.