<Be sure to include links to pictures or videos that help to illuminate your points.>


Throughout the year, we have learned the value of planning effectively. For instance, during the planning process do not limit yourself to one idea. Even if it may seem like a weird idea, jot it down anyway because you might find it useful in the future. Even though planning is important, we learned that designs do not always work as expected. Our experience with planning was not a positive one, as we ended up with designs that did not function as well as others could have. For example, we had an idea for our competition bot, but in the process of building the arm we discovered that it was not working as well as we had planned and we should have thought of another idea. While it worked fine, we could have created a more stable, and precise arm. Therefore, our advice to you is to test soon and often that way you do not continue working on something that does not have great potential.

Building was our favorite part of creating our bot this year. Typically we had an idea in mind before we began to build, although sometimes in the middle of building we would come up with better solutions and changed the current model. We believe that this was fine, and we would encourage you to do the same as even the most comprehensive planning cannot anticipate everything. When going through the building process, we emphasized the use of symmetry. We found symmetry to be very important because it helped with balance, which is essential to general use of the bot. Also while building, we would recommend splitting the work into smaller tasks so efficiency in building will increase and no one will be sitting around.For example, in the process of building microbot, we had two people working on different parts of the bot at the same time. Sometimes we both tried to solve a problem simultaneously in order to have more options.


As we have mentioned before, we found testing to be essential. Remember to test different components of the bot individually and to test them every time you change any aspect. This is useful, because it means that you are controlling your variables. By controlling your variables, you will be able to problem solve more easily and more efficiently. For instance, we tested the arm of the microbot before attaching it to the bot in order to make sure that there were no problems. After attaching the arm to the bot, it was important to test the bot as a whole in order to see how the bot worked as a unit.


Typically we had one person programming the bot alone to be more efficient while the other two worked on the bot. In our class this year, we had someone who was the master programmer and she was our go-to person. However, we all were well-versed on the ways of programming and we were able to contribute to writing the program for our bot. There were more challenges when programming microbot because we used more sensors, and a camera. When programming the competition bot, we really wanted to make use of the magnetic and infrared sensors, but because of a lack experience, we were not able to do so. As we developed more skills in programming, we were able to make use of more sensors, including the infrared sensor which we had previously struggled with. RobotC itself is a pretty user-friendly program, so that was useful when leaning to program.


Be confident! Even if you aren't thrilled with your bot going into the competition remain positive. You could easily be surprised by the success of your bot. Also don't be discouraged by the really competitive teams. We promise you there are going to be some really nice, and helpful teams at the tournament as well. Also, in preparation for the tournament, it is good to go to some scrimmages to practice maneuvering your bot. Going to these scrimmages is also useful for testing purposes. We STRONGLY recommend going to a scrimmage before the competition because in our case we did not know how to best use our arm and competition day would have gone a lot more smoothly if we had practiced before. Also in the competition, one of the best things we did was add an autonomous program in the middle of the day. There is a lot of down time and we suggest that you try to use whatever time you have to work on your bot. For instance, that autonomous program we added on a whim ended up being one of our strongest assets.

Us on competition day. GO LINCOLN!


After the tournament is over, you will probably feel a huge sense of relief. It feels really good to be done, because in the few weeks before the tournament, you usually get pretty worried about whether everything will work out or not. During this period, yes you will get to relax, but the work is still not over. Use this time to make a new bot. It will be really neat to see how your skills have improved and the ease with which you are able to create a new masterpiece. It is also interesting to challenge yourself in a new way so try to vary the type of bot you make.