The final countdown and boy are my students and I excited. Here is our final checklist of items to bring. Help me out if I am missing something:
Extra screws, bolts, shaft collars, shafts, ect
Extra motors (We have 393’s but only have 296 as back ups)
Laptop and orange usb cord
Do we need to bring like balls and barrels to practice in between rounds or do people not do that?
Any thing else?
Thanks to all that has helped us, answered questions, motivated us, ect.
Rick Tyler: Yes, we have the chargers packed, but thanks for reminding me. We have charged and they are good to go. Water… Didn’t think of that. Just to keep in our area?? How much of a hustle and bustle is it during the tournament? Like non stop, not a break; eat lunch on the go? As far as batteries go we have 2 back up for the robot and one spare set for the controller.
Pace – depends on the event. At a small event (18-24 teams) with two fields, your students will feel like all they’ve done all day is stand in line to go on the field or been on the field. At a larger event or with only one field they will have more down time. If the event partner doesn’t provide some kind of food and drink concessions your students will have to rely on a drinking fountain which honestly doesn’t do much to keep them hydrated. A $3-4 case of drinking water makes this problem go away.
You sound like you have enough batteries for one robot, but I would consider buying a set of AAA alkalines for the joystick. Those AAA NiMH batteries take seemingly forever to charge and having one set of alkalines can prevent disaster. The club I mentor has multiple sets of NiMH batteries and about 1.5 chargers per robot, and they sometimes still dip into the alkaline batteries.
Make sure you and your students take time to talk to other teams and admire their work. Students LOVE to talk about their robots. Also, if you have a problem, ask for help. Mutual assistance is part of the VRC culture.
Don’t forget your notebook and any suporting materials for the judged awards.
Zip ties are also key. Since they can’t be reused, keep a healthy stock of them in your box.
A competition switch is sometimes helpful for autonomous tweaks but can be accomplished via the debugger if need be.
You said the one USB serial cable, but make sure you ahve a USB-USB one in case you need a redo of the firmware download too. Joysticks can go haywaire easier than the cortex but stranger things have happened.
You said tools in general but a tape measure is very useful for resetting heights on potentiometers too.
Rick Tyler: Yes I have read and the students have read the document. Great document, thanks for the recommendation.
Team 80: We did not do notebook, this is our first year and just worried about building a good robot. We will deff put more into it next year!
We have zip ties, and I believe plenty. We have a tape measure! Good advice. We are bringing other materials even those we don’t use for anyone else we can help.
I do have a usb-usb… The tournament is 32 teams, two fields… They do provide lunch, but still a good idea for water!
Thanks for everything guys… Can’t wait to get back on here Monday/Sunday and let you know what we have learned and how we did. Plan on taking TONS of pics and videos, while talking to TONS of groups. We are a small 3A school going against huge schools in the Dallas Metroplex. The only way to learn is to compete with the best
The traditional accepted method of attaching wire extensions is using zip ties. Spread the wires and loop the two connetors together and pull tight. Trim the ends of the zip tie for neatness. Let me see if I have a picture laying around tonight of this method. Or I could just snap one and post it.
Electrical tape I think is supposed to be used only for fixes to the wires and only sparingly so.
Keeping wires in the cortex is supposed to be via the cortex clips but that does not help so much with the extension wires - the ones without the tab - as they can still potentially slip out on you but that rarely happens.
Yes I have extra elastics… So no electric tape to connect external controllers to motors? I understand zip tying the wires themselves together, but to make sure the blue connector doesn’t come apart, I figured you can electric tape those… Um…
Another great thing to do is keep everything organized. Know where you put things. A good thing to invest in is a good toolbox. Sometimes, you may have to fix something, and not a lot of time to do it. If you know where your tools/parts are, you will spend less time looking for them
We use these tool boxes - a Plano 10" Pro Rack Organizer which sells for $28 at Sears (link below). Each robot has one of these for their stash of ordered parts/tools and the club has some general toolboxes for cutting tools, battery chargers, assorted metal, screws and the like that are common club parts.
Don’t EVER buy into the “we are just a small school going against the big, bad high schools” kind of argument. A focused team with a small budget has a great chance of beating a team from a huge school. There is no correlation between school size and winning percentage.
Team 80: Nice tool box! I like it… That will be on my wish list for next year.
Rick: I know what you mean. If this wasn’t our very first year, I would be all for that… Just being our first robot we have built and competed with Vex, a little nervous and scared So let me ask you guys: Do you have a class at school? Or do you do a lot of building after school? How many hours do you guys put in?
I agree with Rick. We were the 1st middle-school team that Michigan State University sponsored and they were unsure how we would do. We proved ourselves toward the end of the season when we beat MSU’s most experienced high school team 58-6 in the final round of a big tournament.
Listen to rick; don’t worry so much about the “big” schools. All they got is maybe more expensive parts, which is no big advantage. It’s all on your design and how you drive it.
My advice, just tell the kids to have fun and go for it. If your robot can score on the 30" and move, you’re ahead of most teams. One thing I would add to your list masking tape. It’s useful if you need to quickly swap batteries on the joysticks and to keep your driver from bumping the VexNet key on the joystick (if you have one) which can cause it to disconnect.
Our school is on its second year of vex and we meet for 2 hours after school Tuesdays and Thursday, except the week before competition where we meet everyday for as long as it takes for the bots to be done.
at our last competition we had a problem with our joystick and controller. we had to switch them both out so that might be a good thing to have just in case. depending on how much battery your robot uses you may need more… our bot uses the power expander and we still have to cycle through 8 between charging and matches. aviation snips are a quick and easy way to cut metal, if something bends, and a dremel is more precise if you have one. a tool box is definitely nice to have for all of the random things you might need. anyways good luck at your first tournament!! and have fun!
Something to never underestimate is strategy. At this point the design of your robot isn’t going to change, so driving smarter is the best way to improve your score.
When my team determines strategy, we assume that are partner can do nothing and develop strategies for the scenario when you partner doesn’t show or has a broken robot :(. We also determine strategies for when we are with teams with different types of robots - recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of your partners and opponents.
A last piece of advice, talk to you partners before you get to the field - agree on who will get each special barrel and start in each zone. Discuss each other’s autonomous in order to figure out the best plan. This will allow you to spend your limited set up time at the field setting up your robot correctly. (I can’t emphasize this enough!) At tournaments, we always give our less experience team members little checklists to put in their pockets to ensure the robots are set up properly, IE Cortex on, joystick plugged in/on, all wire connected well, etc.