Building time

How long does it take for everyone to design and build a robot and how many people is helping…

just wanted to know cuz i find it that when theres more people the process becomes ALOT slower… as when its one person building and thinking of the ideas, build then talk later it works alot better. so your never acually wasting any time.

I can start from starch and finish a robot in around 3 days… around…12 hours total? I think?
I do most of my planning(when im trying to sleep,I find it that when i try to go to sleep my mind is at its highest point, kinda build a draft of what i want it to be in my head and start building the next day, and this repeats for the next few days till the robot is done)
Then my partner would test it and if it doesnt work we change what is needed to be changed

Haha I think im getting off topic~


it only takes us about 6 hours to have a competitive bot with 4 people working


To properly go through the engineering process it takes at least two weeks, but realistically I would say a month is a good amount of time.

Get group together

Review game related material

Define the budget

Brainstorm gameplay strategies

Fixate on certain strategies

Define the required criteria for the robot (what does this thing have to do for X strategy)

Brainstorm SEVERAL crude designs (whiteboard or pencil/paper work)

As a group review said designs, settle on one based on reliability, speed, complexity, cost, etc. (just use variables that are somewhat measurable or at least debatable).

Sleep on it, come back ready to refine that design. Creating some more detailed sketches or doing some of the numbers is a good idea at this step in the game.

Consider how your team could modularize the design so parts can be altered or replaced more easily.

Where are the sensors going? Figure out this one now!

Next consider weight and center of gravity. Is your robot going to be tipsy? (yes, that’s a half joke). But seriously, nothing stings more than getting toppled by a Canadian team at the world championship (which happened to us, eh).

Next check yourself for overcomplexity, can this design be accomplished with less moving parts? If yes, do it.

So now comes a time for a little game. It’s called, when this thing breaks, where? Basically every system will fail at it’s weakest link, try to find yours. If something is going to break, what’s going first? Point it out and discuss with your group how you might be able to fix this potential problem. Stronger gears, more power, less power, more structure, wire managements, etc. If needed, this could call for a redesign.

Next, see how you can add some spice to this thing. A good looking robot gets selected for an alliance. Plan some time to add some bling, and do it in the design phase. If your team has someone who’s into graphics, grab them and let them take a look at what’s going on. They should be looking at a nice drawling of the robot at this point in time. Take their input and (so long as the bling isn’t going to weigh you down or potentially disrupt an important system), integrate it.

Now take that awesome looking beast of a robot design and digitize it! This is the dreaded CAD phase. If you don’t have the software, well it’s free stupid so go get it. if you don’t know how to CAD, then you can grab some nice engineering grid paper and go to town but CAD is way better. The CAD doesn’t have to be complete or entirely awesome, CAD is just a tool, so model the important stuff and ignore the not so important parts if you like.

CAD should determine things like the superstructure, the modular parts and how they attach and wire placement.

Now review the CAD. Those renders might look sweet but that doesn’t mean that your robot will preform sweet, check yourself. Is this going to work? Are there weak points and can this play the game with the strategies that we previously discussed? If so, awesome.

Put together a bill of parts and fire it off for review (by whoever pays for the parts). Don’t forget replacement parts!

Did we blow the budget? Hopefully not.

Order those parts and wait for the UPS guy to arrive. Maybe now would be a good time to hit Photoshop for those fancy graphics or check out what other teams are doing. Perhaps a freshman could learn a thing or two or, if you must there’s always Halo (hey it’s teambuilding, now show that n00b who’s boss).

All joking aside, if a team has parts from a previous season, building a test bot, a programming base or training some of the new kids is a great idea at this point in the game.

Inventory the parts as soon as they arrive! Also store them in bins so that they are somewhat organized.

Hopefully you designed a nice modular robot so groups can split up and work on each component of the robot individually. Then those components can be bolted together to form your beautiful robot.

Now the programmers get the robot. They need time to do their job, so don’t bother them, but be there when they break it. Your robot is going to break, having time for that to happen before competition is a good thing.

Fix robot.

Continue programming, work out tele-op first so that drivers can take some time getting used to the bot.

Now programmers and drivers take turns using the bot. Autonomous should take extra time, so while the programmers are working all that out the drivers can play around. The team lead should allow all the students a good chance to play with the robot but he should be looking for a pair that operates particularly well together, that pair should drive the bot at competition.

Once that pair is determined they get dibs on driving, it is now their job after all but they still have to share with the programmers.

Ok, so the programmers come to the team lead and they say that the autonomous is done. Ok, run it ten times, how many times did the robot hit it’s mark? Try for 8+ out of ten. A robot that hits it’s mark half of the time is bad.

The day before competition you will want to go through and check every part of the robot for wear and tear. Replace motors that are questionable, check wires, look for anything that looks like it might fail.

A checklist of procedures to be done before and after every match is a great thing to have, and materials for scouting are fun and a must.

Anyway, so to answer the question, however long it takes to do all that is your answer, I say a good team can get it all done in a month.


For Vex I’ve found that full CAD is beneficial and results in a better final product, but a worst quality to time invested ratio. You can build very competitive robots without CAD, and even pretty good ones without “Crayola CAD” if you work correctly.

The more time you add to “prebuild”, the less time build takes, but the relationship isn’t linear (i.e. an hour in CAD doesn’t save an hour of build time). Getting the right balance takes a lot of finesse and experience.

Some things to consider:
*]Once more than 2 people work on a mechanism, efficiency begins to drop. The key word is mechanism, not robot. If you have design done in CAD or otherwise, you can have teams of 2-3 working on separate subsystems simeltaneously. If you’re building up without much predesign, you obviously have to finish the drivetrain before the mast and arm.
*]A lot of time spent on building from teams that don’t do enough pre-design is simply taking apart mechanisms, reconfiguring, and putting them back on, because they didn’t get them right “the first time”. This time saved is often hard to foresee - predesign ensures everyone is on the same page.
*]If you don’t know CAD now, it will take you longer to learn it than it will to build a robot. However, that doesn’t mean pre-design is not an option. Graph paper and PowerPoint are two tools I and others have used extensively in Vex design that serve surprisingly well.

This assumes “build” refers to the detailed design and assembly process, rather than the entire design process.

it depends on how long you put into thinking about the design and drawing. when i said 4 hours i meant constructing the bot. i also assumed that all team members were working on separate mechanisms (chassis. intake, lift mechanism, etc.)

Well said Cody! I feel like posting that on the wall of our robotics room.

Thanks, while that list isn’t complete, I felt it was a good start. We should formalize it.

My team built a robot in four days that beat almost everyone at the first competition of the season… :smiley:

woah, cody
what you said is right, but i really dont thinkaAlot of those step is necessary, like my robot was build on a buget, what ever i can fond lying around the room i could use, and I would build the robot in my head and peice together where everything might go and how it will work. I know this will result in a simple robot, but i believe making ur robot over complicated is kind of a waste of time

took at least 2-3 three weeks (summer vacation) to cadd out the robot and used facebook to share it and get all team members opinions
after that, i printed out all the different mechanisms and handed them out to everybody
we built the robot in 2-3 days
and then theres tweaking and autonomous…

Around ~50 hours minimum for me (one person) to fully build and plan out, time is spent with ~40 hours building and ~10 hours planning. Then after that, anywhere from 0-30 hours of tweaking and making it better. I tend to leave stuff until last minute >.< like 2 weeks before a competition before I start.

What he said… except that CAD’ing, we do real life prototyping, works wonders if you don’t cut parts every single time you make a change.

If y’all can build so fast, please consider my proposition… :smiley:

Please? Thanks! :smiley:

we have about 3 people who put in approximately 10hrs a week, and another 3 that put in about 5.

It generally takes about 2 weeks to build/design, and another 2 to perfect and program.

So all together in people hours, it takes about 180hrs (0.0 just surprised myself) - but that is for a competitive robot, with a competitive program etc, and with a 6 person team (with the hours added up) - and about 40hrs in actual time

Also keep in mind that my list is the entire circle of stuff that we have learned to do. This is coming from a team that placed 3rd, IE Semi-Finalists at the world championship.

There is a big difference between a robot and the robot.

Teams that are gunning for gold should be prepared to go through this entire process two or three times a season.


Haha, yes but we know you didn’t need to design it much. :wink:


P.S. Cody: AWESOME I love your post. I’m printing it out just to help me through the design process. :slight_smile: