Hey guys! I’m new to VEX, as this is my first year. Our coach/mentor sort of taught us the basic programming, but he taught us NOTHING about actually building our bot. I’m hoping that you guys can give me a few tips & pointers! Also, my team(Of 8) includes a couple people who don’t make any contributions to the team and just mess around. Any tips for handling them?
As this is your first year, I would suggest starting with a relatively simple robot. Look through the VEX Forum and Youtube videos, and take a look which robot designs work and which don’t. While you shouldn’t completely copy another robot (not only is it a bad practice but usually ends up in building a worse robot), it is good to gather ideas from what others have shared to develop your own design, especially if you don’t have much experience working with the system yet.
Make sure you plan and draw out all or most of the design before getting started. It’s really good to get everyone’s input for the design, even if they don’t seem to be really interested. I would recommend building prototypes of mechanisms you aren’t sure about, for example make a quick prototype to test the launch idea before building the whole robot around it.
Then build the robot. If there are people who don’t know what to do other than messing around, try giving them a simple but useful task to build, and if they refuse to do that they can sort loose parts. Build the robot, test it, improve it, and so on. If you need help on something, ask here as many people can help you.
Lastly, if you haven’t used the VEX system before, here are some things you can look at:
Inventor’s Guide: http://content.vexrobotics.com/docs/inventors-guide/main-2008/vex-inventors-guide-07022008.pdf
VEX Curriculum: http://curriculum.vexrobotics.com/
There was also an interested site made by (I think) a coach, but I can’t remember what it’s called.
I would begin with a very simple build, such as VEX’s Clawbot. Although it’s not nor meant to be the most sophisticated build, it would provide you with a good stepping off point for building.
It should teach you that the black plastic thingys (bearings) are to provide stability in axles and the collars are to lock the axle in place at a certain location. I forget if it includes washers or not, but washers are used between the shaft collar (or something else) and another thing on the axle to allow you to lock the shaft in tighter without reducing smoothness.
Also, the build will be a stepping off point in gear ratios, which are essential in VEX competitions (for lifts and launchers). Small to Big = Torque (Power) and Big to Small = Speed. Usually, you would need to use many gears together to produce a huge gear ratio (in both speed cases and torque cases), so practicing gearing on some spare C-channels should increase your building strength.
There are many more essential things to be competitive in VEX, but this list should be good enough for now.
Usually, non-committed members lose interest and drop out pretty quickly (in less than a couple of months). Try to stand up as the leader and give each of them a task to do (such as building the left part of the base) should keep them busy. However, some people are not and will never be committed. A few words with them along the lines of “go build or go home” might work. Our school has “competition groups” and “club groups”. The club groups come just to have fun and interact with robotics, but they don’t enter competitions; they just do it for the heck of it. This has worked the past two years we’ve been in robotics, but sometimes.
Chit-chat and goofing around is okay just as long as it doesn’t get out of control (Plus, it would be boring without any weird/funny conversations in the background). Finding a common music interest and playing it while building is a great way to build without getting stressed out too much.
Never forget the real goal of the VEX. You’re in this to gain experience and to make unforgettable memories. Have fun!
[Confetti] 100th post! [Celebrates for 10 seconds] [Goes back to Spanish homework]