Tell us about your engineering notebook

No, I was not kidding. This was our entire notebook. :slightly_smiling_face:

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now I want to see the other notebooks.

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Yea, me too. TBH, that notebook would have gone back with a copy of the rubric and a note saying this is how notebooks are judged.

At best they would have gotten 1-2 points. If it was submitted by paper, they may have gotten the 5 point for having a paper book in ink. But this as an electronic submission would have missed the 5 points since there is no date on the entry.

Excellence is the notebook, the interview and how well the robot does. I’ve seen teams with better notebooks and interviews have a really bad robot day and not get excellence, but we’re very deserving of the Design Award.

As someone that had a dayjob that lived and died on documentation, I do like this award. It also gets someone that isn’t a builder a gateway onto a team.

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When I’m judging the notebooks I’m also thinking and making notes for the other awards. In this case, code/programming for the Think Award. Its great for there to be a few pages of “Why/How/When we did a PID” routine discussion and then the code with the annotations around it. But later on there is all the code, just code, no comments and I’m looking to see what this section of code does, etc.

Sometimes that is mitigated by really great class/method/variable names, other times it just x,y,oldx,olds, etc…

I’ll ask in the interview “who is the backup programmer” and then I ask them, “how do you know what the code does?” And go from there.

It takes a few moments to add comments and keep them current. Lots of teams dont use version control, so I’m sad there isn’t a version number at the top. (Better would be the display code version routine to display it out on the brain so you know which code it is). Having versioning comments in each function can show that the porogram as evolved (hey proof of iterative design).

So I like to see both, and your future code-coworkers are going to be happier.

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No, in my opinion the latter makes sense. Keep in mind that in the real world, some products have amazing designs, but not amazing execution. This can be caused by numerous things, but I think the most relevant factor to robotics would be time constraints. At least in California, the latter situation will never happen; awards typically only go to teams who are ranked in the top 60-70%. I have never seen a last place team get the Design Award. The entire point of the Design Award is to reward teams who have excellent planning skills overall, something that is crucial for having a career in STEM, which is what the REC Foundation is trying to promote: a way of preparing students for careers in STEM through robotics. Maybe it’s a little farfetched for a clawbot to win the Design Award, but apparently, unlike the rest of the teams whose notebooks were graded as inferior, they knew how to follow directions and properly showed why and how they arrived at their final design.

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To be fair, this was a middle school VEX IQ tournament with 7 teams. Now, there are of course some insane middle school teams, but for the most part, these are 11-13 year old students competing in a pretty low stakes environment (due to the nature of VEX IQ). It doesn’t seem too unlikely that the other teams simply did not submit a notebook at all.

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Fun fact: The claw types in the notebook were based on the Oregon team robots I saw for this year.

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Can coaches, siblings, parents, etc witness the notebook? My coach says no but he is often the only person who sees me design the part or work on it. Another example is if I’m at home working on the robot or CAD and only my family is home.
The point of witnessing is for patents and having a witness to prove you had the idea first, so I believe non teammates should be able to witness. Is this correct?

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in a professional patent-using environment maybe, but not at a vex competition. There is no need to prove you had an idea “first”, especially not in a time-sensitive notebook judging situation.

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Would it hurt how my notebook performs if I have a non teammate sign? Probably safer to just have teammate sign either way.

there are no points on the notebook for having a witness sign your pages. it’s good practice in the real engineering world, but your notebook would have to be incredibly close to someone else’s for that to be a deciding factor for the judges. If your notebook has a spot to sign, you may as well throw in some signatures (really doesn’t matter in this case who signs it, judges are not going to look into where the signature comes from). The rubric does mention that the author of each page should name it, so you probably should do that.

so basically, if you want to you can get someone else to sign each page as a witness, it certainly won’t hurt, although in all likelihood it won’t have an impact on your notebook score.

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Thank you so much for your response, I apologize for not responding sooner. There are definitely some things I would like to implement into our notebook. For example the rundown our team does for each match is much shorter. We mainly only focus on ourselves instead of everyone in the match. I also really like the idea of including images from the tournament in the review. We include images in other parts of our notebook, but we have not done it before in the competition review section. Again, thank you for the help.

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I was wondering how everyone documents their code in their notebook. We have a physical notebook and I found it hard this year to include documentation of our code as it can be quite lengthy. The documentation of code is probably the weakest point of our notebook. Is it okay to occupy several pages with just images, and then explain those images on several more pages? Any advice is appreciated, thanks!

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What I would do is include the ‘new’ code and annotate what was changed, why, how you tested it.

In the back of the notebook create a pocket (you can glue in one of those brown shipping envelopes and then double side print the code, fold it and put it into the pocket. You can get clever and import it into a word document and print it into 2 cols to save space.

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There were several times where code took up multiple pages in the notebook. I explained what we were trying to program beforehand then put screenshots of the code. Just make sure your programmer is putting some comments in the code to explain what it does, then in the margins explain why you have the specific piece of code. If you ever have a single picture that has to be split between 2 pages for space, just make sure to note that it continues.

This only works for smaller programs, but I agree it is a good idea if you can fit it.

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6 point font in two columns printed double sided can cover a lot of code. If you get past 6,000 lines you’ll need to switch to microfiche :slight_smile:

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We are new to the engineering notebook. The first year, we concentrated only on the build and to have fun. Next year, we are going to make a class of robotics. Would you be willing to share a sample of a good notebook? Thank you! Best regards, Pam

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Sure thing:
333A’a Change Up notebook (State Championship Excellence Award)
2915A Nothing But Net notebook (World Championship Excellence Award)
1575A Nothing But Net notebook (Divisional Design Award).
7842F Turning Point notebooks (PNW Championship [A Division] Design Award & Vancouver Island Regional Championship Amaze Award)
VEX Wiki Engineering Notebook tips (contains some helpful videos)

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Well it actually is a little late, she was a senior when it happened last year and I haven’t seen her since. Also I dont think my captain would have ever let us do that :joy:

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I like how this is more chat than notebooks because none of us have one or have a good one