How to make a good notebook


#1

So I know the engineering notebook is all about documenting the design process throughout the season but I was wondering what everyone else does to support the design process to make the notebook good/award worthy. Like how much math and physics do you guys have (and typically of what), how much cad and sketches, do you guys use a lot of pictures from practice, how detailed do you guys make it, how much programming do you include, or is there anything else you think is important to include when making a notebook. Thanks!


#2

Personally, my teams notebook (under the guidance of my mentor) has a substantial amount of math and physics in it. Some pages are filled only with numbers, equations, and formulas. Of course we have the basics as well as some in depth descriptions of every aspect of our robot. I am new at this, however, our notebook is above par. At least that is what I have been told. I am no notebooker, Its really not my style or preference. However, I do believe a ratio of 2/3 - 3/4 pure writing and descriptions with the rest being math/physics/cad is a good way to go. That might be a little extreme but it has worked for us. Just make sure your math and physics are correct. It sucks being called out for stupid mathematical errors at competitions. They know.


#3

The amount of math in the EN really depends on the level of the team. A middle school team wouldn’t be expected to have physics and calculus equations in their EN. In fact, if I were a judge and I saw that, I would make a note to ask the team about it during their interview. Most students don’t get to physics and calculus until 11th or 12th grade - so if you have students on your team with those capabilities, it is a great idea to show the practical application of what you are learning.

However, you don’t need calculus or physics to demonstrate that you have a grasp of the concepts you are putting into practice. A team could draw a diagram showing where the forces are applied, discuss the impact of friction on design, mechanical advantage of gear ratios, etc.


#4

First off, My team started off with making sure we documented everything, Including what was achieved on meeting days. THen you want to make sure if you ever use a mechanical gear system to note what type of gear and the ratio and the motor speed etc. You want to have pictures and a page for each component of your robot. Your final 3 pages should be all the pictures of your final robot, Your code that has a flow chart on the same page, along with your explanation why you built your robot.


#5

That makes sense, my team is a majority juniors and seniors who use calculus in our programming (with PID) but we have always struggled when applying it to our robot in the design process. We currently include some basic math (such as gear ratios and flywheel velocity) which probably isn’t advanced enough for us considering our grade level. Thank you for the examples, it will definitely help!


#6

Thank you for the advise! Do you use the flow chart for the autonomous, the code in general, or just something else in the code?


#7

I would for sure recommend flow charts instead of copy-pasting code. Copy-pasting your code line for line into your notebook will be uninteresting to judges and won’t do you much good unless you actually explain what it does. Flow charts are probably the best way to do so.


#8

That makes sense although in my area we are basically required to have code line for line in our notebook anyways and if we don’t we won’t get considered for the design award. But i agree, flow charts would be a good way to explain the code. Thanks for the advise!


#9

We also have a lot of detailed sketches… sometimes we take over 45 minutes just to get every fine detail.