I wish to make complex project X with W, Y and Z features. How do I do it?
September 10, 2012
WARNING: This project is only a mock-up project intended to help convey to the proper perception of how difficult or reasonable some random project X might be to take on. My target audience for this post is mostly impressionable, clueless youths (and I mean no disrespect), also people lacking method, common sense and/or social convention might benefit from it.
r0b0t_n00b -> This will be our fictional generic character representing someone new to the world of robotics.
So, r0b0t_n00b just arrived at LMR (for instance) which means there must be underlying interest in robotics, a motivation, a purpose to want to know more on the aforementioned subject.
So what should r0b0t_n00b do first? Common sense around the internet dictates the (sometimes enforced) rule of:
- SEARCH FIRST & ASK LATER
So, what if you have no particular idea of what to search? Ask yourself, do you really want to meddle with robotics? If there answers is still YES, there might still be reasonable why you may not know where to start. For that purpose there's always the START HERE BOT PROJECT. It's a fun project, and covers many of the basics of robot building.
You'll eventually run into problems during your robot building, so you'll be needing some HELP. How to get it? First, never go and SHOUT for HELP in either posts or shout box (deceptive name). This would be a good time to read the RULES, a better time would have been right during the time you took to register into the site.
So, how to do it? Well, do you have a specific problem, then write a FORUM post about it. Try to be the most specific about it as possible. Whenever available provide schematics of what you are doing, part names, and any helpful information, just don't go about and write something like:
I was building my bot, I turned it on and it does not work.
That's a BIG NO NO!
The shoutbox can be very handy, but comes with it's limitations, it's not suitable to ask questions that will require complex answers, so stick to forum posts for help, unless you just need a few plain short answers.
OK, now r0b0t_n00b has completed the START HERE robot and it even works, after some help received from the community.
So, you don't know what to do next? Out of ideas? Ever noticed the main page? Yes, that's the one that shows up when you login. Ever noticed how new projects keep showing up, or older ones progress and get updated? I would say that's a great source, because from there you get:
- A sensible idea of how much feasible an idea might be
So, now r0b0t_n00b has some idea of what it might do. If he's sure of it and he knows how to proceed, great, if not might be another time for a new FORUM post. It might be a question of feasability, implementation doubts/options or anything emerging from the fact that he ALREADY has at least a general, yet applicational idea of what might be required of him to do. A sensible expectation to have I guess.
So, now r0b0t_n00b got some answers and with help (or on its own) has decided on doing project X, knows a more approximate estimation of what might be required of him in terms of work to be done, costs, time, tools, parts, etc. Then start putting everything together, once you have something to show (might just be the first pieces of your robot put together) create a Robot project and might as well be good to create an associated Blog entry. I found the latter to be particulary useful to vent out some frustrations during the development of a robot, that way your robot project entry can remain a clean collection of steps, tips, instructions of how to replicate your robot.
If all goes well by now r0b0t_n00b should have completed his second robot and learned quite a bit more. Is he a master yet? Unlikely. But by now he should have a firmer grasp on how to proceed without being "hand held" all the time.
I understand that might be some language, monetary, skill and other type of constrictions. Still, every r0b0t_n00b should adjust his plans and ambitions accordingly. Not enough money? Then salvage parts, try to get them for free (don't beg), do a cost-benefit analysis before you take on a project and see if you can afford it. Problem understanding the language? Then you're probably not reading this far, if you are, then you are to be commended for making the required effort. Not the right tools, materials, skill? Adapt. can't do it yourself?, study your options, buy it done or have it made. But at the end of the day ask yourself: "What do you want? Just some shiny toys? to belong to the club just because it's what the cool kids doing right now? Or do you want to learn, improve yourself and in the meantime have a nice time doing fun stuff?"
And I think that's it for now [subject to possible further editing].
-- Dedicated to robotboy and all the robotboys out there. I only do this, because I care. Will you care too?
DISCLAIMER: I have no degree (and very limited experience) in tutoring/teaching. Also I know very limit or electronics or robotics and my first language is not english. There are people here that would write up this better than me in many ways, and actually recurrently do something like this already, just not "centralized". In fact, my main motivation for this write up is that despite seeing my redundance/repetition in trying to teach some basic things, some people still seem unable to learn.