2013 Initial Brainstorming Meeting 01/06/13

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2013 Initial Brainstorming Meeting 01/06/13

Post  Krysta Traianovski on Sun Jan 06, 2013 1:42 am

Here is a basic outline of tomorrow's meeting and a primer on the basics of the design process!


  • Greeting and seating
  • Watching the game animation (one more time doesn't hurt! Smile )
  • Special Circumstances
  • This Year's Build Season
  • The Design Process

Basics of The Design Process

The design and thinking process undertaken at the beginning of our season is critical to our success and preventing headaches later in time!

The purpose of design is to generate ideas, understand the problem and what limitations it brings, create criteria, evaluate ideas and select and refine those ideas. Design is a logical process that ensures the final product is well thought out and works as desired.

Design follows the same path every time to allow you to get the best ideas and perfect them.

1. Introduction and Defining the Problem

The first step in the design process is to be introduced to the problem at hand and to ensure that the problem can be clearly defined.

In our case, this is accomplished by watching the game animation a number of times to understand overall game play, as well as understanding what resources we have access to that describe our problem (the game).

The manual, white papers, game animation, field diagrams, kit of parts list, etc. are all available at usfirst.org.

2. Brainstorming

Once we know what our problem is and feel confident we have the necessary description of it, we can immediately begin the brainstorming stage!

The purpose of brainstorming is to generate a large number of ideas without passing any type of judgment on them. At this stage there
is no rejection of ideas and nothing is ruled out or ridiculed!

One way of knowing what has to brainstormed is breaking up the big problem into categories – i.e. the robot is separated into functions: autonomous, picking up Frisbees, throwing, climbing, drive, etc.

The most important thing to remember during brainstorming is to be open-minded, encourage others and don’t be afraid to share your ideas Smile

3. Understanding and Strategy

After a large number of ideas have been created through brainstorming, we need some way to work through them and decide what will work.

In order to do this, we have to ensure that we thoroughly understand the problem at hand and what strategy we would like to take to deal with it.

At this stage we would make sure we remember (and understand!) the rules from the manual, and how game play works. Developing a basic strategy for the games helps to identify what is important for the robot to do.

4. Evaluating Ideas

Now that we understand what we want the robot to do and have plenty of ideas to choose from, we can organize the criteria and evaluate each idea.

A popular way to do this is with a “matrix”. A matrix looks like a chart with the criteria laid out across the top in columns, and each idea as a row. A scale can be developed (by picking simple numbers is best like 1-5 where 1 is best and 5 is worst) to rate each idea under each criterion. In this example since a rating of 1 is best, when we add the totals for each idea, the ideas with lower scores are overall better.

This can quickly sort out which ideas are worth further consideration.

5. Selecting Ideas

Once all the ideas have been evaluated and ranked, we can select which ones will go onto the next stage to be researched and sketched up!

Just because an idea got the overall best score does not necessarily mean it is the best!

Remember to keep in mind the priorities for the robot design strategy itself! Some criteria are more important than others, and sometimes a sacrifice must be made in one are to get a better design.

6. Researching, Sketching

After ideas are selected based on their merit, they will be sent off for further development.

At this stage, you may be left with a problem such as: “I know I have to make a part that goes up and down. How do I do that?”.

You can research different ways of making something go up and down (track, winch, pulley, etc.) and then draw some sketches based on that. Your research can come from past year's games, looking at what types of parts are available in the kit of parts and suppliers like andymark.com, or even browsing chiefdelphi.com for inspiration from others!

7. Prototyping

Depending on time, resources, complexity and importance of the component, making a prototype may be appropriate.

This allows you to see problems you may not have before, and further refine the original idea you had based on research. All ideas can use a little troubleshooting!

If materials are not available, you can always try building little models out of PlayDoh, Lego or anything else you have around just to get thinking with your hands Smile

8. Re-sketching and Validation

This stage allows us to make changes based on problems we found while prototyping or troubleshooting, and to improve what we originally found.

We can redraw our ideas, and share with others for critique. This is meant to be friendly and constructive – a way to improve our design and look at it with fresh eyes.

At this point you may find that you need to go back to step 6 and loop around until your final design is strong enough.

9. CAD & Synthesis

The final stage is to bring together all the ideas and create a computer version of design.

Making a proper CAD model in Autodesk Inventor (freely available to all students and full of tutorials, go to autodesk.com!) is important for a number of reasons:

- Understanding how the parts come together
- Making a very close estimate of the final mass and other properties
- Making a properly sized diagram of each piece so that they can be made to fit together and made to the right size the first time!

Once this is complete, all instructions will come from our models and diagrams about how to manufacture and create the different parts of the robot. We can use the design process as a tool to practice logical and critical thinking, as well as to develop a strong plan for actually building the robot!
Krysta Traianovski
Krysta Traianovski

Posts : 88
Join date : 2010-10-03

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Re: 2013 Initial Brainstorming Meeting 01/06/13

Post  Jasonii13 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 2:00 am

Aye Aye Captain bounce


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Re: 2013 Initial Brainstorming Meeting 01/06/13

Post  Jane Elizabeth on Sun Jan 06, 2013 9:00 am

Excellent description of the design process, Krysta, and I hope all team members read through carefully. The value of time spent in the design process cannot be underestimated, and can save a huge amount of time in the build process.

Measure twice, cut once.
Jane Elizabeth
Jane Elizabeth

Posts : 115
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Must do before todays meeting

Post  David Smith on Sun Jan 06, 2013 10:29 am

Everyone should read at least one area if not all of the manual
It can be found at


David Smith

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Re: 2013 Initial Brainstorming Meeting 01/06/13

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