Friday, January 15, 2010

FIRST Robotics - 5 Weeks to Software

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) design is in full swing! The first week should have been full of brain storming and starting the design. By this time (the second week) the robot team should be prototyping, figuring out what works and what doesn't. Also all the sensors that need to be on the robot and where they go. The software team should be figuring out how the sensor's, actuators, and motors work. One hint, put all the sensor's you can on the robot, whether your know if you're going to use them or not. It's better that they're on the robot rather than trying to get them on later.

This week the software team needs to make a list of the tasks the robot needs to do. Brainstorm the software requirements. Then they need to be prioritized the list based on what's most important for the robot to do. The list may consist of things like acquiring the target and moving the robot square for a shot at the goal as the top priority.

You need to make sure the software tasks that are highest priority are done first. Things needed for the teleop mode need to be done first since most of the robots time is in teleop mode. Also see what can be used in both autonomous and teleop mode. But don't forget about the software for autonomous.

Before you modify the basic code, make a copy of whatever code is working. Always keep a backup of the latest, working software so that when something gets screwed up, which it always does when you're trying new things, you have code to go back to. When you make a backup, put a date in the backup name so that you know what code was developed when.

Do not be surprised when you have to scrape what you're trying and go back to the last working code. But don't be afraid to try stuff, that how you learn.

After this week you should have a list of prioritized software tasks, and some experiments with sensors, the camera, actuators, and motors going. Basically a plan what your going to do.

Good luck with your project.

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