The 26 Rules to FRC Design

The 26 Rules to FRC Design

Originally Dr. Akin’s Laws of Spacecraft Design
FRC Reference by Jay Trzaskos on Chief Delphi

  1. Engineering is done with numbers. Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.
  2. To design a robot right takes an infinite amount of effort. That’s why it’s a good idea to design them to operate when some things are wrong.
  3. Design is an iterative process. The necessary number of iterations is one more than the number you have currently done. This is true at any point in time.
  4. Your best design efforts will inevitably wind up being useless in the final design. Learn to live with the disappointment.
  5. In nature, the optimum is almost always in the middle somewhere. Distrust conclusions that claim the optimum is at an extreme point.
  6. Not having all the information you need is never a satisfactory excuse for not starting the analysis.
  7. When in doubt, estimate. In an emergency, guess. But be sure to go back and clean up when the real numbers come along.
  8. Sometimes, the fastest way to get to the end is to throw everything out and start over.
  9. There is never a single right solution, but there are always multiple wrong ones. Good design is having the forethought to distinguish these from the rest.
  10. Design is based on requirements. There’s no justification for designing something one bit “better” than the requirements dictate.
  11. (Edison’s Law) “Better” is the enemy of “good”.
  12. The fact that an analysis appears in print/online has no relationship to the likelihood of its being correct.
  13. Past experience is excellent for providing a reality check. Don’t let a poor experience doom an otherwise worthwhile design, though.
  14. The odds are greatly against you being immensely smarter than everyone else in the field. If your analysis says your terminal velocity is twice the speed of light, you may have invented warp drive, but the chances are a lot better that you’ve screwed up.
  15. A bad design with a good presentation is doomed eventually. A good design with a bad presentation is doomed immediately.
  16. Half of everything you hear on Chief Delphi is crap. Experience is figuring out which half is which.
  17. The schedule you develop will seem like a complete work of fiction up until the time you have to bag the robot without meeting it.
  18. It’s called a “Work Breakdown Structure” because the Work remaining will grow until you have a Breakdown, unless you enforce some Structure on it.
  19. (Montemerlo’s Law) Don’t do nuthin’ dumb.
  20. (Varsi’s Law) Schedules only move in one direction.
  21. (Law of Demonstrations) When the hardware is working perfectly, there are no scouts watching your match.
  22. (Roosevelt’s Law of Task Planning) Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.
  23. (de Saint-Exupery’s Law of Design) A designer knows that he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
  24. Any run-of-the-mill engineer can design something which is elegant. A good engineer designs systems to be efficient. A great engineer designs them to be effective.
  25. Capabilities drive requirements, regardless of what the systems engineering textbooks say.
  26. FRC is an unforgiving environment. If you screw up the engineering, it is impossible to succeed. (and there’s no partial credit because you almost made it to Einstein…)
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