Basically an opposite to What is the worst advice you could give? I couldn’t find any forum with the same idea so I decided to create one. So feel free to give out the best piece of advice about Vex in general.
Always ask the top teams at tournaments how they built their robot. They’re 9/10 willing to help. One time I even got pictures of a TP puncher from a round robin team
Always plan on the unexpected. Keep a couple tools, some nuts, bolts, a spare battery and other common pieces with you at all times during a competition.
Take your time in the design process, or your bot will be jank.
Hmm. Well I guess it isn’t over till it’s over. Keep going and never give up
Make sure everyone on your team is on the same page. Our team has had some problems with coordinating our building/general ideas/goals in the past that has definitely lost us valuable time.
Especially on the same page of the notebook. Do not leave empty pages in your notebook! Lolz
Don’t wait until the eve of a competition to fill in the notebook. Always try to stay upbeat at competitions even if you lose all of your matches.
Judges watch you’re team at the event outside of the interview.
If you’re stuck with a problem (especially in programming), zoom out a little. Consider the bigger picture and what you’re really trying to accomplish. Then, with that goal in mind, go attack that problem with a new point of view. This has worked for me several times.
- Traveling with code tip:
Before you leave for a tournament, save code to both your laptop as well as a USB. Zip-tie a rubber band onto the USB and put the rubber band around your wrist (Basically, the USB will stay on your person at ALL times during travel), and give your laptop to someone who has a backpack. If you lose the laptop, you will have a reliable backup on you at all times to borrow a laptop from another team.
- Zip ties/Rubber bands tip
ALWAYS make sure you have zip ties and rubber bands. They are esential and can help you in not just robot situations but emergency situations.
- You look like a geek, who cares tip
Have a fanny pack on you to carry rubber bands, zip ties, and tools so if you need to do something really quick you don’t have to run back to the pit if you’re in the queue.
- Coding backup tip
If you have a ton of space on your computer, always click “save as” rather than “save” so you will have yourself multiple backups, and when you save you set the name as the current qualification match number so you will know an accurate timeframe of when the code was downloaded.
- Lexan tip
Lexan is becoming more and more useful as the season progresses, as it is thin, light, and easy to cut. Go to competitions with a sheet of lexan, tin snips, and a drill so you can easily make objects in a bind.
Freaking smile, ya dork. You’re competing to have fun! If something bad happens, always smile as it is very good at reducing stress.
- Debugging tip
The output exists for a reason! Printing to the Console (VEXcode/VCS) While writing code, you can write a statement that prints to help get information on where the code gets stuck/yielded/pauses. This can seriously change 1 hour of problem solving to a mere 5 minutes.
- Social tip
If you’re wanting to be competitive, you HAVE to be social. Collaborate with other teams inside or outside your organization, or ask for help on a discord server. If you are just by yourself trying to figure VEX out, then how are you expecting yourself to produce something competitive as all the other teams will know more in’s and out’s of the VEX system than you?
- Hold your horses
As much as I love making creative designs, don’t immediately start building after a game reveal. You may find yourself not liking the design you build, then congrats you wasted $200 of metal. Don’t waste $200, and spend time planning either by making a CAD or listening to other’s inputs on VEXForum.
- V5 is strong
When building a robot, build it in a manner that is durable to a point where you are confident the robot can handle a drop of 1-2 feet (I’m not saying actually drop it, but build a robot that you’re certain it can handle such a drop). You need a robot that is capable of handling defense, as VEX can be extremely brutal especially with V5. As an addition, we don’t want your robot to be destroyed during transport to a signature event… Or even worlds
- Strategically, focus on now, not what may be ahead.
When competing, never look into the future. Always be skeptical, as optimism will kill you in a competition. And eventually, you will find your “I’m gonna do x and y for worlds” become a redundant statement because you didn’t qualify for worlds, and you overlooked your state championship.
- Engineering-wise, focus on ahead, but not the now
Build your robot in a manner 10 steps ahead of what you anticipate your competition to be, as other teams will be doing the same. Spend time perfecting your robot, and most importantly let your driver drive away with your robot to get the kinks out.
- Bored? That’s not allowed
Always make sure everyone on your team does something. Make sure everyone has something to do and don’t single anyone out. And when something is done, let them play around for all they want but never let them play with something they can’t easily get out of so they can get back to work when it’s needed.
Don’t be afraid to rebuild and try something noone is trying. I went 0-7 at a competition using a traybot, I then had a comp in two weeks and decided “ayy wallbots are tight” so I built one and got to the finals. I can’t count how many times I’ve rebuilt to something completely new and it’s paid off big time. It’s worth it
Easier said than done, but keep your chin up, stay positive, it actually helps push you a lot. Like everyone else, our team has disagreements, but when we’re able to not let it turn into an argument, when we can talk it out and smile at the end, it pushes everyone plus everyone involved to go even further because nobody’s bummed out.
That doesn’t even mention tournaments. During one of our tournament wins, there were droopy faces, arguments, and hissy fits, winning the tournament was fun, but that’s not the only thing that matters. A while back our team almost went 0-5-0, and tipped in our final Q match (our opponents got DQ’d). No matter what, knowing very well we were basically winless, we found good things about that day, things to laugh about, things that we can smile upon, moments that we can tell others about. That 0-5-0 day was amazing, because the wholesome joy and warm fuzzies of the team felt better than any tournament champion could ever get us, I even went out to eat with one of my teammates afterwards, we had a great time. On the car ride back we looked to the future, optimistically wondering what we could accomplish. That 0-5-0 day was better than any 5-0-0 day I’ve ever had.
Long story short, keep your chins up, do your best to never let them down.
Best advice I can give: Don’t go off topic. They will hit you hard for that one.
At competitions, not matter what bad stuff happens, try to find something to laugh at or be happy about.
Always take pictures or have people scout out the top teams for info on their bots or code, things like that. Also repetition and iteration are the most vital parts of building, dont become discouraged like I have in the past. It’ll do nothing but hinder you
The truest thing I’ve heard all week. I will take this brilliant nugget of knowledge and put it to use immediately.
Wow, you’re really holding on to that. lol.
Bring Uno cards to your tournament in case you don’t make elims.
that’s why we taped a uno card to our tray. we only lost one match after that