Calculations and Math in Engineering Notebooks?

I’ve been looking to see how I can improve my team’s notebook for next year. I’ve read many of the other threads here regarding tips on engineering notebook. I’ve seen many of the same things: follow the rubric, CAD, PID, use a lot of pictures, be consistent with the format, etc.

However, there was on aspect that really interested me that many people have suggested (and something I’ve been suggested multiple times in my time in robotics): use calculations and math in your notebook. I know it impresses a lot of the judges and makes you stand out. This is definitely something I want to start doing, but I’ve never done calculations in my notebook and I haven’t been completely sure on how you could use calculations in the notebook and how teams have utilized them.

In this thread I want to hear about some of the use of calculations in robotics and how they can be used in future seasons. I’d also like to hear some examples of math teams have done in their notebook that really impressed judges and the usefulness of it.

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Mechanical advantage could be a head turner

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Pretty much anything that makes you stand out, and shows that you have put real thought into your robot. Math, calculations, gearing, ect.

When we were designing our lift we calculated the theoretical lifting times and capacities for different gear ratios given motor torque and power.
We also calculated loads/torques on chains and gears and other mechanisms and compared these to their breaking strength as well as some trig for lift banding and some other stuff.

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Depending on how advanced your programmer is, they will have boatloads of math lying around.

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I’m not sure about this year, but I know that a lot of teams wrote down their projectile math for their various ball launching devices during turning point. Basically any math that you use for your robot can be written down

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I coach middle school IQ but there are 2 simple examples I used with them. They later admitted it helped show them how math is practical

  1. I made them measure the diameter of their wheels and from there get to number of rotations for the motor to move their robot X distance. I wouldn’t let them use distance in Vex blocks until they demonstrated it this way.

  2. they had a rack and pinion type lift and used some simple math to figure out number of motor rotations to lift a cube just high enough to clear all the pins as they drove across the field

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It really depends on the game. Like in turning point and nothing but net you could do a lot with projectiles and if you used sensors you can try and do odometry which would loom pretty impressive. Then like this year in tower takeover my team did a lot with gear ratios, torque, lbf, center of gravity, voltage, current, etc . All that math was really helpful because we would know how much we would need a gear ratio to be to hold a certain amount of cubes and our tray at different points of the tray being lifted. The math we did relating to the motors was also really helpful and can be used for any game. We also did a lot of speed calculations for the drive base and certain lifts based on different weights. Also if you have any math in your programs you should be able to show math in the notebook for that like in PID loops.

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Did you then compare to actual lifting times and capacities. I’d be interested in seeing that comparison.

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This year I calculated all of the torque and speed values for different sprocket sizes on the rollers to find which one we needed. I also created a custom ranking stat that factors in WP, TRSP, and OPR (It was more representative than CCWM this year)

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We were planning to but never got around to doing it in the end

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Any calculations applicable to the design/implementation of your robot should go in the notebook. Also, judges really like to see that.

In addition to some of the things listed in this thread, I did some basic math on the physics of the tilter (ie. force x radius x sin (angle) = torque, math for torque and rpm of the motors) and the arms. Then, I compared it to the torque of the cubes and arm/tray metal to show the judges that it would work theoretically as well as experimentally.

Remember to relate whatever you do math for to back to what you are trying to demonstrate by doing the math, such as a justification for a change on leverage, banding, lift capacity, or efficiency of a component.

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