Since my last update, the House of Black has been very busy indeed. We’ve had visitors, we’ve made major changes, we’ve started transitioning from prototypes to “real” production robots and our initial design is almost complete. Let me give you a sneak peak on how it’s been going as we head into Week 5 of the build season (And some teasers of the 2019 Robowrangler Robot!)Read More
We’re NOT the furthest behind we’ve ever been, but we’re definitely not on a “happy pace”. We’ve made a LOT of prototypes this year. A wide variety of different stuff, with very few of them getting “refined” in any significant way. Instead we have many shallow” prototypes that teach us something quickly before being thrown onto the shelf as the team moves onto something newer. We’ve got a plan for the robot… actually we’ve got lots of plans.
Every time we find a good plan, within a day we find out why it’s NOT really so good…Read More
I receive emails all the time from people who are curious about the Robowrangler process. They ask about how our team is organized and how we do things. Usually somewhat innocuous questions result in “wall of text” answers from me (since I always feel the need to explain the underlying “WHY” of our methods). There is a large overlap among emails, with many people asking about the same things.
I intend at some point to write a “How to Robowrangler” whitepaper which compiles a lot of this, but like many other things in my life - haven’t been able to get it done as fast as I want.
So… in lieu of a comprehensive paper. I’ve decided to start posting a few of the Q&A emails.Read More
I’d like to try out a new segment, the “JVN Top 9”. Today I bring you…
The Top 9 Lies Designers Are Telling This Year
Let’s face it, if you’re on a design team… if you’re doing systems integration… you’ve heard these said, you’ve said some yourself, or at the very least the little voice in the back of your brain has tried to convince you, because if the voice is right the whole robot will work amazing!Read More
“Do you guys have a good plan? What do you think the robot is going to look like?”
I know most people won’t believe the answer, but if a Robowrangler tells you “We don’t know yet” they’re telling the truth. As we cruise into Week 2 of the build season it feels like we’ve raised more questions than we’ve answered.
Each day we know more than we did the day before.
Each day we know more about “what we DON’T know.”
However, I think we’re finally honing in on a strong direction for the system and a set of design team priorities for the detailed design.Read More
On the Robowranglers we’ve been trying to emphasize “Simplicity First” design. This doesn’t mean our robots will always be simple, but it means we’re going to try to make them as simple as possible. This means we try not to add anything to the robot unless it has been fully justified.
The justification is never “Why not?”
We believe that simple robots are more reliable by default, and enable us to fulfill our “EVERY MATCH” performance goals. We believe that simple robots are typically lighter weight and smaller which often enables better performance on the field. We believe there are advantages to all these attributes, and we’re pushing to make this a core of our design philosophy.
In 2018 a young mentor named Bryan “BJC” Culver joined the Robowranglers. Bryan is an alumni from FRC33 - the Killer Bees, was an IFI intern, and eventually a VEX engineer. He is one of the most talented young engineers I’ve worked with, and he’s taught me a lot over the years (and is still teaching me).
During his year on the Robowranglers Bryan showed how counting the number of “Individual Actuations” on a robot is a great way to QUANTIFY something like Robot Simplicity.
Lets see how the historical Robowrangler robots did based on this metric!Read More
Teams are frequently contacting the Robowranglers for help. At this early point in the build season they typically ask us: “What robot should we build?” or some version of that question.
For the 2018 game I created “JVN’s 2018 Priority List" to help answer this question, and it turned into one of my most popular blog posts. I’m always a fan of stealing good ideas, especially when I can steal them from myself, so with that said - here’s my priority list for 2019!Read More
I frequently talk about the importance of prototyping. A prototype is anything which helps a designer learn about the problem they’re trying to solve, or about a potential solution to that problem. In FRC many of the prototypes we build are physical mockups of robot systems. However, for years I’ve talked about the importance of using CAD for prototypes. This is partially because I’m not a very skilled craftsman, and struggle to put together anything “in real life” which will actually work. It is also partially because as most designers know, CAD can be a powerful tool for systems integration!
In the early stages of the FRC season I love to do something I often call “Crayola CAD” to prototype mechanisms.Read More