General Building tips?

Are there any things I need to know for building? like what pieces should be used when constructing certain things or like tips on what not to do?

That’s a good question, with near infinite answers. People’s opinions will come in to play as well, so you’ll get conflicting advice. Nevertheless, here’s a couple of brief things I can think of:

The silvery looking stainless steel screws are harder to strip than the black ones. Because of that, we prefer using stainless.

Use the shortest screw you can to accomplish the job. This means you should buy more of the short ones, few of the long ones.

Nuts with the integrated grip-tooth lock washer are called Keps nuts. While some people hate them, we primarily use those for building, as opposed to nylock nuts.

Nylock nuts are taller than Keps nuts (unless you buy them outside of VEX) and they weigh more. Use those on parts where you don’t want the nut to unscrew. (Say when you’re using longish screws as pivot points in a linkage.)

When using Nylock nuts, in order for it to lock, the thread has to go into the nylon. This means you sometimes have to use a slightly longer screw in that situation. (Seems obvious, but I still see kids using too-short screws in Nylocks.)

That’s a very brief list, and undoubtedly, some people will take other positions on some of the issues.

My first year of VEX, I spent every living chance I had watching every single YouTube video on VEX there was, even videos from competitions as early as Clean Sweep from 2009. Reveals especially, helped me to understand the different mechanisms and efficiency of each, and how building the same robot as everyone else was not usually the best design. If you can grind at least 2 hours of matches from all of the past VEX games, and another 3 hours of robot reveals and innovate award submissions, you will find yourself way more comfortable building, like I did. And feel free to watch some FTC and FRC videos for some diversity. And if this is your first year, by far the number one piece of advice I can give you is to always try to build a Worlds-worthy robot. Don’t keep working on things that don’t work, build a robot that can do anything and everything as fast as possible. A good robot design with some extremely well-founded research will take you farther than anything else. But be sure to pair it with good software!

One other tip on Nylocks, if you are building a lift using nylocks, don’t use nylocks when you are prototyping. They make your life so much more difficult if you need to take them off. (especially when its midnight)

I watch a lot of reveals and stuff on my free time and have no problem understanding concepts but the issue i’m experiencing is more of not knowing when to use standoffs, or like not understanding what bearings do even though I know they’re probably important.

Remember to use bearing flats (the not so flat bits of plastic with 3 holes) on EVERY point when a shaft passes through the metal. Seriously increases efficiency and prevents your gears slipping past each other. Also means your shafts don’t wear down the metal they pass through.

You can (should) build your entire robot out of c-channels (of the aluminum flavor), but angles are nice for mounting lifts. But again, most of this should come obvious if when watching videos, you pay attention to how the robot was built, not necessarily its capabilities, or the pretty catchy song the team put in the video.

And make sure the shaft turns freely when the bearing flat is mounted. Tightening them down to much can deform them a little and bind the axle. If you feel binding use a rat tail file to open the hole a little.

How do I attach gears to c channels? Currently I just screw them on with a nut on the other end but is something supposed to be in the gap from the metal to the gear? tightening it seems to deform the gear

Yes, it’s best to use spacers so it doesn’t deform the gear. We had this same issue at first