I’m new to HS robots, what should I know that’s super important?

I’ve done VEX IQ for 2 years, got to states twice and went to Worlds last year. I am team captain of my team this year for V5 and I feel like my team doesn’t know much to do. We don’t even know where to start with the robot. We have a drivetrain/function robot(mostly haha). But we don’t know a lot of things like pistons, autonomous (only a little), and everything other than screwing in pieces. And it’s very overwhelming going to competitions and seeing all these great robots compared to ours. We’re freshman btw

Does anyone have any recommendations on how to start learning everything?

Thanks!

You might find the VEX Library for V5 useful for learning about new parts, techinques, and programming.

Other than that, you came to the right place! The VEX Forum is a great resource to connect with other members of the community to gather information about how other teams do things.

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I’ve generally found teams are excited to brag about their robots at competitions. Ask them about 1 thing you think is really cool on their robot. Ask if they’d be willing to be sounding boards after the competition as you build a similar component.

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A tip I have for you is to google around or peruse the forum looking at bot designs. You can get some great inspiration from stuff that is out there. Getting a look at a good bot is really helpful when starting out.

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@Mentor_355v what do you mean by sounding boards? And thanks for the advice, we’ll do that in our next competition

Someone to bounce ideas off of. If you want to build something similar to what another team has, being able to talk to them about problems you encounter along the way, they may already have solved and may be able to guide you through. I’ve found teams more likely to provide this feedback if they know you’ve already tried things and got stuck. So not:

What steps did you take to build your Super Awesome Component.

But:

When we build our First Attempt At Super Awesome Component, it didn’t seem to work as good as yours. Here’s a picture of what we have so far; we think X may be the reason why. What do you think? Did you have a similar problem?

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I get that it can be overwhelming as a rookie, competing against teams with lots of experience and highly capable robots. Remember that these teams were once like you - not knowing much.

There’s the old saying, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time”. One thing that I really like about VRC, especially compared to my (limited) experience with FRC is how long the season can be for a team. This can encourage incrementalism.

Set manageable goals for your robot to accomplish tasks you find fun/compelling/competitive. Maybe it’s “have an auton that pushes discs into the low goal”. Maybe it’s “Be able to play rollers”. Maybe it’s “Have an endgame mech that scores X tiles”. Once you achieve that goal, try it out in a competition or scrimmage. Observe; maybe it needs to be refined. Maybe you’re happy with it, and you can set another one that you think will raise your game play further. Document this in your Notebook so you can refer back to it next year when you might have a similar problem (especially useful with drivetrains).

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Just doing it incrementally, small steps. While I am only in MS it was a big jump from VIQC to VRC (Like note booking and how to screw a screw). I wish you good luck!

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@Mentor_355v thank you, this was very helpful and my team will definitely try this.

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I am a senior now but, I was a leader of a freshman team with absolutely zero experience. We were from a small rural school that just started a team. We tried to make a bot similar to one we saw in a reveal and it was terrible. We failed because we tried to make our bot too complex. My advice to you is to focus on making a sturdy bot that can do one part of the competition well and advance it from there.

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While most top teams design their robots from ground up with special placement for every single mechanism and it looks like one cohesive compact unit, this is hard for new teams. You’ll get over the whole “oh there’s screws; oh we use square shafts that we put through plastic pieces with round holes that we plop onto aluminum with square holes” pretty fast so don’t worry about that. What I recommend you do it treat your robot modular at the beginning. If you have a lot of people on your team, split them into subteams. Focus on the drive base. Try different wheels and drive types. Beginners love the mecanums because they’re cool and can make your bot go sideways. Make that base sturdy and make sure your driver is comfortable driving it around. Then figure out how you will score. Catapult, flywheel, whatever. Make a prototype. Test it. Make it smaller, better, faster. Figure out an intake. Then keep going forward from there, figure out how/where you want to mount your shooter, where to fit your intake. If you are running out of time/ideas and/or have to go to a competition tomorrow and are freaking out, remember a drive base is crucial, you need to have something that can move around. Then think about scoring. Easiest mech to make is (personal opinion) the roller spinner. A motor a shaft a flexwheel. If you don’t have flexwheels, anything that looks like a wheel with rubberbands around it, just browse this forum and YouTube and you’ll get ideas. A pushbot that can push discs into your lower goal. Things can be done simply and matches can be won in many ways. You’ll get good with experience, this is what VEX Robotics is all about, you learn while doing and having fun. Good luck.

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I would recommend going back 5 years, looking at the game manuals, and coming up with build ideas and a guess on how the matches will go (what will be scored, by what method, how often, etc). Then go to youtube and see how that compares to what actually happened.

This will help w/ bot design… a crucial component that relies HEAVILY on experience. The other stuff can be figured out as you go.

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I meant to write more, but the edit button seems to be missing these days so here’s an additional post.

My suggestion, which I think also stands on its own merits, was written in an effort to optimize your most vital, scarcest resource: time.

Design/build goes much better if you’ve got a realistic chance your design will actually 1) go together and work 2) be competitive. This leaves more time to learn the details you don’t know yet, write auton code, practice driving, etc.

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