“The 2018 Robowrangler build doesn’t start at kickoff, it starts as soon as our last match in 2017 is over. We’re a ‘year round’ team.“ - False Swagger & Bravado
I mean… It doesn’t REALLY start in May. We’re typically bad at working during the summer.
We’re also not REALLY at full strength during the fall….
One of the reasons the (dozens of) readers seem to enjoy this blog is the glimpse they get into our process. To fully understand the Robowrangler build experience, you need to understand what we do to prepare for the build. I’m going to run through some of our pre-season activities.
While the specific off-season activities vary every year we typically have similar goals:
Goal 1 - Give the rookies an introduction to what it means to be a Robowrangler. Get them a chance to learn our values and see our process.
Goal 2 - Teach the rookies some basic skills so they’ll be ready to hit the ground running at kickoff.
Goal 3 - Give our returning veterans a chance to flex their muscles as leaders now that the seniors have graduated.
Goal 4 - Skill growth for all members.
Goal 5 - Housekeeping and projects.
Goal 6 - Team Building
What did we do this year? This was a “middle of the road” off-season when it came to activity. It wasn't one of our most productive, but a bunch of stuff got done. Each of our sub-teams met to do their own projects and planning, but here's some of the big stuff. In no particular order:
We designed and built the X016 prototype robot. Since this was a fully functional robot, we brought it to the Robot Remix off-season competition. Our rookies got a chance to pop some rivets, build their first FRC robot, and then see it through a full tournament before their first kickoff. Since the robot took the field, it earned the name: "Bolt"!
Sidebar - History of our “X000” series of projects.
We held our annual “Robowrangler Design” seminars for rookies and interested veterans. These sessions run through the engineering design process, the Robowrangler Design Process, our team goals, our goals for the competition season, and our metrics for success.
We talked about THE PACT!
“We’re all teammates, we all have the same goals, and we succeed and fail together. If I need help, I promise to ask for help. When I grow stronger, the team grows stronger. I will always help my teammates. When they grow stronger, the team grows stronger. No one benefits from pretending they don’t need help. I won’t pretend.”
We did three different design challenges as a team (think “build a paper tower as tall as you can” type activities). Many lessons were learned. Many towers failed spectacularly.
We held shop organization meetings. We spent a lot of time talking about the ways that "This year, we're TOTALLY going to stay organized during the build season. THIS time it's going to be different."
We ran a lot of VEX events. Sooo many VEX events. There are a lot of robotics students in the Greenville area. This STEM thing might actually catch on?
We ran a whole pile of outreach events and demos. Little kids love robots. (Then they love the fact that every student in the Greenville district has the opportunity to be on a robotics team starting in Elementary school!) Many of them grow up waiting for the day they'll be able to put on a Robowrangler shirt.
Every student went through some basic tool training and learned the fundamentals of our construction techniques. “Every Wrangler Rivets!”
One of our rookie mentors Bryan Culver held meetings where he dug through the 148 CAD archives with some interested students. This was a cool way for him to see our methods for design, and at the same time give some students a chance to talk things through with him as he did. This was fantastic for the kids. fun for Bryan, and funny for those of us who’s work was being reviewed. “Why’d we do it like that? Uhh… well… it seemed like a good idea at the time. I dunno, man. Can we move away from the 2013 robot onto something else already?”
We did electrical training workshops, where every student learned the basics of the control system, and the basics of getting a robot wired and running. “Every Wrangler Wires!”
We held 2 movie nights on the field in the shop.
We had a “Team Fun Day” with Go-Karts, Lazer Tag, Bowling, and Video Games at Shenaniganz.
We talked about paintball, but decided we don't really want to know how that plays out...
We CADed the X017 drivetrain as a design exercise. The X017 design is an evolution of the chain-in-tube, cantilevered-wheel style drive we started using with X009. Note: the lack of 775pro gearboxes.
We went through the 2017 “Robot” rules line-by-line and talked about the major design constraints we face. When we get the 2018 rules at kickoff, we'll review only the major changes. Individual sub-teams will learn the new rules backwards and forwards.
We use Slack for team communication, design discussions, and meme sharing. We did all those things in the pre-season, especially meme sharing. Lots of meme sharing.
We reviewed our Goal-Map from the 2017 season, and prepared to update it once we get the 2018 rules.
We played Ultimate Extreme Robowrangler Dodgeball. This is an important part of the process, which many teams miss.
What makes it ultimate and extreme?
That is a good question...f you're interested you need to come visit the shop and find out! Bring your A-game.