Browsing articles from "September, 2011"

Samantha module

Sep 30, 2011   //   by sam   //   FIRST Tech Challenge  //  No Comments

For the information of all FTC teams out there, the Illinois Institute of technology has done a study on the best way to attach the Samantha module to the robot. They suggest attaching the module sideways; it increases the range of the module, they say. Check out this link for more information:

Getting a team up and running Part 2

Sep 3, 2011   //   by sam   //   Getting Started in FTC, Tutorials  //  No Comments

A continuation of the previous tutorial by our previous manager Aaron. Read Part 1 here!


Now that you have a list of goals, everyone needs a job. Analyze the list and figure out what the different roles might be. (Basic ones are: Manager, Software Engineer, Hardware Engineer, Media correspondent, CFO – Chief Financial Officer.) It might sound like a great idea for every team member to work in all departments but from what we have seen it isn’t. It is impossible to organize tasks that way, no one will know who is doing what. Also, if people specialize in one area they learn more in-depth, resulting in a more sophisticated robot. Keep in mind that team members can have more than one job, just not every job. Editors note: we actually switch around jobs this year, so that everyone would be able to learn something new every year.

Every Department should have a group leader. The leader will divide up tasks within his team, and is responsible for making sure that the projects given to his group are completed on time. Ex. The Manager tells the Head of Software that he needs a program to make the robot cross over a bridge in the center of the field. The Head of Software can write the program, or allocate it to a member of his software team. The head of software is also responsible for making sure that the bridge-crossing program is done, whether he writes the program, or someone else does. With many jobs that focus on projects that aren’t based on the robot, like media, often there aren’t enough people for a “group.” There still should be someone in charge so that there is someone making sure those projects are done on time.

A good way to organize who does what is with a RACI chart:
R: Responsible – Makes sure the project gets done (usually group leader)
A: Accountable – Does the project (can be the “R” or can be anyone in the group)
C: Consulted – If the person working on the project needs help, they should find the “C.”
I: Informed – should know the progress of the project but doesn’t need more info, and doesn’t help.

Some models include an S for supportive – this person can provide recourses or play a supporting role in implementation.

This is the format that our team used:

 Task1    Name     Name     Name     Name  
 Task2    Name     Name     Name     Name  

Another way that the RACI chart could be written:

  Name     Name     Name     Name  
 Task1    C   I   A   R
 Task2    A   R   C   I

Editors note: Many companies also use RACI charts, or a chart like it. Whether or not your RACI chart helps you (we hope it will) show it off!

Get a team up and running Part 1

Sep 2, 2011   //   by sam   //   Getting Started in FTC, Tutorials  //  No Comments

So you have a team setup, but don’t know where to start? Here are some helpful hints (and directions) from our manager last year, Aaron.

Make a list of goals
If a team starts working on the robot right after watching the kick-off video, then at the end of the season maybe they will have built a really cool quadruped robot. However, (unless the challenge is to make a quadruped robot) the team will

Starting to list ideas
Starting to list ideas

not have a competition ready robot. Instead, take some time to brainstorm useful features for the robot, and write them down on a list. After the team agrees what should be on the robot, divide the list into “Must have” and “If we have time, this would be good to put on the robot.” This list is now a list of goals for the season. Feel free to add, subtract, and rearrange the items on the list as the season continues.

Keeping things in order

Similar to a list of goals is a Gantt Chart. It has all the tasks that need to be accomplished and also has dates by which the tasks need to be done. They take a long time to make, are hard to share with the whole team at once, they can get large and unmanageable, and a lot of times can end up not being followed. However

Gantt Chart
Gantt Chart

they are used a lot in business, and if you can use one successfully (or not successfully), mention it to your judges. Many of them use them at work and will be very impressed. Check out or Gantt chart. It has columns for: Task, percent complete, notes, start time, end time, entire length of time, and the calendar. At the very top (not shown in picture) there are dates, and the bars stretch between the dates.

To Be Continued…

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