Oh how fast the season has gone by. We’re back to work! While it may be the frightening season of October, we all know your true fear comes in January. This is what you can do during this fall season to make sure you have a head start in the game and avoid the potential problems faced throughout this up and coming new season:
Teach/Learn alongside rookies about the electronic components that your team will be using throughout the off-season and build season. Whether you’re a veteran or a rookie, the study of electrical elements take time to learn. If you are new to the concept, learn alongside other team members and figure out what each sensor is about. As well as going over basics in the robotics community like the RoboRIO or the VRM (Voltage Regulator Module). As for veterans, teach new members about what everything does, as well as making sure that they get the hands on experience to grasp the idea. This will lead to through topics on more complex subjects, such as off-board vision processing, and use of several sensors during build season. This would not only give your team an advantage on knowledge but it will grant you time to focus on really learning and understanding the elements before the stress of build season and wanting to cramp all of this sweet information.
Learn how to code Java and use several educational sites. Pick the one website that you works for you and other team members. You can determine this by knowing what your learning style is. For visual learners, using a site that provides several videos might be the way to go. You can also teach any interested team member and hand them small tasks or assignments that test their/your knowledge, like making a Kahoot quiz for members to compete in, as well as separating members into groups and offering certain prizes or privileges for the team that can code the fastest. This will cut the time spent on re-learning everything from a certain period or, once again, having to stuff your brain with information during a CRAZY 6 weeks.
Build a simple schematic to learn the organization of wires and electronic components. A schematic is a diagram used for electrical or electronic circuits work. Our Control Systems team did this without knowing last year. Even a drawing of where everything will be placed on a piece of cardboard is a form of an electrical schematic. This off-season we were able to focus on transforming that piece of cardboard into a digital model. Models like these are really helpful when problems arise with spacing and organization of wires. Organization may not be the first thing that comes to mind when trying your hardest to create a functioning robot, but I could not emphasize more that it is. Wires are just as important as any other aspect of the robot. If you do not organize your wires, you will most likely end up with wires going all over the place, as well as have trouble with locating the problem because of that abundance of scattered wires. Wires are also prone to start bigger consequences, such as starting fires or interfering with certain mechanisms. By having an idea of wiring placement, you can avoid these problems and continue on with other projects.
Study tools and know how to use them. A general rule across all Technical subteams is the implementation of the study of tools and how you use them during that time of need. Concerning Control Systems, these are the most used tools:
Flathead ( of various sizes)
Screwdrivers (of various sizes)
Wire end ferrules
Heat shrink gun
With the proper knowledge of how to use these items, you can do anything, as well as preventing injury in the future.
If you’re still having trouble figuring out what type of projects one could do under Control Systems, in which case you’re not alone, I would suggest starting or looking into the projects that I want/have started on the team for this off-season or checking out the links provided; Building an off-board camera system, creating and mapping out the electrical schematic for our current robot, making a program that will enable us to do autonomous hab line crossing during sandstorm, and putting together the electrical components to make the elevator on our robot function.
Wiring Best Practices: https://wpilib.screenstepslive.com/s/currentCS/m/cs_hardware/l/826661-wiring-best-practices