Sunday, November 4, 2012

Email from Joel Volm - November 3, 2012

Hi everyone! 

Hopefully you are all designing, prototyping, building, and programming like crazy. It's only about 6 weeks until the big competition. Remember, you can finish building your robot weeks before the competition but you will ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS have a bunch of programming and mechanical issues that will take extra time and it's always nice to have a week or so to practice driving so DON'T PROCRASTINATE!!! You should have a base already built and be prototyping/building extra mechanisms now. Your programmer(s) should also be looking at the code now so they are ready to program when needed and they can ask questions at next Friday's meeting (November 9th at 7pm).

A couple of things to keep in mind:

1) Remember, if you need parts from KING TeC's treasure hoard you can call Joel Volm (after 5pm weekdays or anytime on most weekend days) at 952-447-1509. His home address is 13509 Webster Ave, Savage. During the school day use this e-mail ( We have metal rails, motors, wheels, etc. You can also fabricate any part you want out of cardboard, plastic, aluminum, etc.

2) Some of the "VEX Inventor's Guide" binders might not have a detailed explanation of how to make a double-rail wheel system for the base frame. This is very useful for newer teams as it is a way to make the wheels much, much more stable. It would be under the "Structure Subsystem" section. If your binder doesn't have a detailed description of how to make a sturdy chassis you can go to the following link to the VEX webpage to see how to build one. While there you can also see some more advanced parts available and, if we don't already have them, please feel free to buy them yourselves and then donate them to KING TeC at the end of the season (wink wink).

3) If any teams with new members are having organizational problems please feel free to call Joel Volm at the above phone number or e-mail Mike Lins. We can attend a meeting with your kids and help give you a boost. We can help assign team roles, go through a design/prototyping process with you, and possibly give you a tour of our HS team's facilities.

4) You should have a "rules master" that knows all of the game rules by heart so you don't spend a bunch of time designing something that might be illegal. You should also be keeping an engineering notebook that logs everything you do at each meeting. The notebook should include drawings of designs (even if you don't wind up using that design later), topics you discussed, parts used or needed before the next meeting, strategies, t-shirt designs, ,etc., etc., etc. New teams can look at some older teams notebooks at next Friday's meeting to get ideas.

5) If anyone wants to see some very well made VEX robots (kind of like the KING TeC level of complexity) go to Youtube and search for VEX robot competitions. You will see some extremely complicated Vex bots made by high school kids for the official VEX competitions and you might find some designs that you could possibly emulate. You can also get a better idea of how the competitions will work. For the new teams - please don't be intimidated by these robots. We don't expect yours to be anywhere near this complicated. For the 3rd year teams - we expect your robots to be 3 or 4 times more complicated than these (ha, ha).

6) KING TeC is hosting a huge state-wide competition with the big FRC robots on Saturday, November 17th in the Prior Lake high school gyms. It will be a great way for all of you to see a competition up close. This competition will be run almost exactly like yours in December but the robots are about 5 feet tall and 120 pounds (cool!). The competition will run from about 10 am until about 5 pm. It's free to the public. We encourage all of you to stop by for at least 1 hour.

7) Your main job as a team is to build a robot to compete but, as in the real corporate world, you also have to be able to sell your product. Don't forget marketing. You want to advertise yourselves and your robot to other teams so them might select you in the final rounds. You want to have a well-designed and coherent team uniform/t-shirts. You will eventually want to think about making your robot look interesting/pretty/exciting after all of the main functional components are installed. One huge part of KING TeC is our marketing department. We want to look good out on the playing field and we want everyone to know that we are there.

8) Remember to check the team blog-site once in a while. There may be updates and helpful hints. This is also an older post that has a video of last year's competition for those that want to see what a competition look like.

9) One of KING TeC's guiding ideals is this: "Winning for us is having a running robot on the field." Winning a competition is never our main goal. It is a nice perk but never the most important thing. If you can design a mechanism and get it to work during a competition you and your team are all winners. The most important thing you can get out of this program should be technological skills, team skills, and a lot of fun.

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