Design Process

The design process is an iterative approach to organizing people, ideas and work with the goal of creating something.  Variations of this process have been used all over the world to create every single thing that nature has not provided. If you plan on creating ideas, things, code or solutions. We recommend you commit this process to memory so that as you encounter challenges you have the tools at your disposal to work with others on ways to overcome those challenges.

Their are millions of ways to solve every problem and millions of ways to find every solution.  The process we are about to go through is optimized for high school robotics, and is just one of those millions of way to find a solution.

FRC Design Process

Since FRC build seasons last 6 weeks here is how we recommend you spend the first 2 weeks.

FRC Design schedule

Now lets go through the detailed steps of the deign process

  1. Understand
  2. Brain storm & trade study
    • Document requirements
      • Pull from your team’s goals
      • Pull from the rules
      • Pull from your team’s base line strategy
    • Brainstorm
      • Identify all of the ways a team could  meat all or some of the team’s requirements
    • Check ideas for feasibility
      • Reduce the list based on the team’s limitation’s
      • Reduce the list based on rules violations
    • Trade study
      • Add a weight to each requirements
        • 1 for nice to have
        • 3 for want
        • 9 for need
      • Score each feasible idea on how well it enables each requirements
        • 0 for negative or no impact
        • 1 for some impact
        • 3 for average impact
        • 9 for significant impact
      • Verify scores with prototyping and learning
      • Identify the preferred solutions for each capability
        • multiply the weight by the enabling score and sum the products for the feasible idea
  3. Prototype & learn
    • Prototype as many of your  ideas as possible
      • Make prototypes fast
      • Make prototypes cheap
      • Do not make prototype perfect
      • Prototype mechanical ideas
      • Prototype code ideas
      • Prototype electrical ideas
    • Use as many other prototype data points from outside of the team as possible
      • Other FRC teams
      • Other FTC teams
      • Other FLL teams
      • Other Vex teams
      • Other robots
      • Other industries
      • 3 day build teams
    • Research how the rest of the world has solved similar problems
      • Document commercial solutions
      • Document research solutions
      • Document future solutions
    • Document lessons learned from prototype fabrication
    • Document lessons learned from making the prototype function
    • Identify what knowledge you will need to detailed design each systems
      • Identify what mathematics you will need to know
      • Identify which sensors you will need to know how to use
      • Identify chat electronics you will need to know how to use
      • Identify what mechanical systems you will need to know how to use
      • Identify what code you will need to know how to apply
  4. Concept design
    • Make “Back of the napkin” Sketches
      • Sketches on paper
      • Sketches on white boards
      • Sketches in power point
    • Create Concept CAD
      • Make 3-6 concept CAD models
    • Focus on feasibility
    • Focus on form factor
    • Start to think about parts
      • What supplier
      • How to fabricate
      • What can be ordered now
    • Identify risks
      • Technical risk
      • Lack of knowledge
    • Create baseline system diagrams
      • Identify all of the critical systems
      • Identify the control logic rules
      • Identify sensors
    • Document assumptions
    • Lock down tea strategy
  5. Detailed prototype
    • Prototype as many of your conceptual designs as possible
      • Make prototypes fast
      • Make prototypes cheap
      • Do not make prototype perfect
      • Prototype mechanical ideas
      • Prototype code ideas
      • Prototype electrical ideas
    • Focus on design convergence
      • Work through details
      • Identify key variables that make the component function
      • Look for ways to simply design
    • Interact with game pieces and field elements
      • Verify preliminary calculations
    • Reduce risks
      • Validate assumptions
      • Reduce points for mechanical failure
      • Minimize loading
    • Create pseudo code
  6. Detail Design
    • Create prototype CAD
      • Check final details against calculations
    • Host design review
    • Maximize multi use
      • Details
      • Sub assemblies
    • Maximize symmetry
    • Maximize passive systems
    • Create final systems design
    • Create detail CAD
    • Create BOM
    • Design driver station
  7. Sourcing & fabricate
    • Order all of the parts
    • Fabricate detail parts
  8. Assembling
    • Assemble sub assemblies
      • Test sub assemblies
    • Assemble minor assembles
      • Test minor assemblies
    • Assemble major assemblies
      • Test major assemblies
    • Assemble robot
    • Wire robot
    • Install electrical systems
    • Install pneumatic systems
    • Run systems test
  9. Finalizing
    • Test robot functions
    • Optimize final design
      • Modify game element interaction to be as speedy as possible
      • Modify computer vision to be as accurate as possible
      • Modify PID loops to increase efficiency
    • Test teleop code
    • Test autonomous
    • Test driver station
    • Practice driving
    • Fabricate spare parts


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