Let's Make Robots!

Read the manual! (A guide to newbies)

Well folks,

It seems we have a lot of newbies lately. This website is here to ask questions and get answers however, there seem to be a lot of questions popping up that sorta shouldn't be asked... Here's what I mean:

If you are new to electronics or robots or programming don't ask a question about step 487 when you know nothing of step 1, 2 or 3. Again, if you are new to this don't even think about motors or sensors etc. YOU NEED TO START WITH A BLINKING LED, period. Baby steps, folks!

Second: (And this drives a lot of people nuts) I would say about 80% of the questions asked around here are found IN THE MANUAL(S) If you are using a Picaxe (I'm sure there is simmilar help with other systems) there are 3 manuals available. In your Picaxe Programmer software, Under "Help" there are PDF's for getting started, BASIC commands and even how to hook everything up. Under that same menu there are also PDF's for just about every Picaxe modual they make. PLEASE, PLEASE, Read these manuals! Seriously, grab a beer and just read them --Under interfacing circuts there are pictures on how to hook things up and chunks of code to make them go. I still to this day, like to browse the BASIC Commands PDF and am still finding commands I didn't know about that seem to make my life easier.

Third: Break everything up! If you are trying to add a Sharp distance sensor to your bot, don't try to add the code into your main code. Instead write a seperate code including a debug command just to be sure the sensor is working and you can get an idea of the numbers it is spitting out. Next, write these numbers down on paper noting what variable number coresponds with what distance. You should do the same with your drive code: Write a seperate code including the commands you need for Fwd, Rev, SpinR and SpinL. LABEL EVERYTHING WELL WITHIN YOUR CODE TOO!! Now when you go to write your main code you have all these little snippits to go back to and you know they work. If nothing else, being able to cut and paste will keep you from having ot type too much. --As a point of reference, I have about 30-40 "sub-codes" I wrote to run Walter before I even thought of trying to put them together into one big code.

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Chris the Carpenter's picture

I can agree with the above posts, and I can admit I am guilty of some snarky behavo(u)r around here and I first offer a small defence. The RTFM issue for me is a simple one -Have you done any preliminary legwork (of any kind) or are you simply asking to have your homework done for you. I have no problem answering a multitude of questions around here however, when someone asks, for instance, how do I wire an IR sensor to a picaxe, it simply shows they have not even taken the first step in the fact that this is covered step-by-step in the manual. In comparison, if they were to say, I have the IR sensor wired but I am unable to tell which pin is 1 and which is #3, this shows some effort.

Here is the answer: When a "questionable" question has been asked, I think the proper response is "what page in the manual are you looking at so i may help you better?" -or- "What exactly about the diagram confuses you?" 


On a related note, I must admit (and I truly don't know if I can fault people for this or if it is a personal pet-peeve) it drives me nuts when people are asking questions about step 482 when they have not mastered step 1,2 or 3. If one were to look at Walter, for instance, one could assume I have a computer background or some other background in coding etc. I believe I am the example of someone who did do everything step-by-step and paid the dues that allowed me to get to a project like walter. If you want proof, please find my posts and go to the last page. There you will find a crappy RC car, badly coded with 2 LDR's attached. I indeed started with a blinking led.

dent's picture
I can certainly agree with the first part... :)
Chris the Carpenter's picture

I don't want to put too fine a point on it, but... this is going on too long -Dent, it's you.

Dude, you posted a "I NEED HELP RIGHT NOW" post in the blog section, then posted in the shout-box less than 5 minutes later that no one was helping and they needed to (I checked the time-stamp!). I think I have articulated this before, but maybe I might need to be more direct...

You are on step 3 and asking about step 400. -You need to get the basics down first.

Stop laughing (joking) about these "what to do (what not to do) as a newbie" kinda posts -we are talking about guys like you

We love you and want you to succede but man, you gotta work a little here.


dent's picture
yup, i know. I have a very short patience :)
rik's picture

Agreed. On all of it. I too am feeling frustration about people wanting, needing, demanding even sometimes, to be helped. But my response to that kind of attitude has been a bit different. I noticed myself skimming these posts, disregarding them most of the time.

That's what I see as "load sharing". Let some of them go by. Someone else will carry this one. Only when I feel up to it, up to remaining patient and polite, will I answer such a post. Usually with the obvious request for more info. Explaining how it is impossible for anyone to write a sensible answer. Trying to subtly convey that the are in fact being assholes for wasting my fricking time!

That's when I fall back in my, new, default mode: disregarding, silently delegating, sharing the burden with my homies. Not out of conviction or any kind of wisdom. It's merely behaviour I started to notice in myself.

emuller's picture


I'm sure none of you have ever asked questions, the answers for which are in the manual.

/end sarcasm....

I realise the frustrations, but I don't think LMR is a pissing contest, it's a community forum. If you don't want to answer people's questions, then don't.

As a newbie, I DO read the manual, and the advice is good - but since I have no reference frame, I am simply not sure that I've a) interpreted the manual correctly b) interpreted the problem correctly, c) read the right section, d) supplied the right/relevant information,e) use the right components, f)plugged them into the right place, g) understood my electronics properly, h) done my mathematics correctly... the list is endless, of course - but it is endless because I have no experience or reference point from which I can quickly diagnose a problem.

The point of a forum is not to brag, or demean, it's to open YOUR experience to US. In return, we hope that we can develop our hardware/software to broaden the experience for everyone.

You were all newbies once, and although I think a lot of you have creations for which you should be proud, pride in a community forum has no place.

Patience is a virtue, and we all win. jumping up and down and inflicting initiation rites on people in the form of quizzes or tests, is just.. barbaric.

dent's picture
That is exactly the words I was looking for! I joined LMR, and I have received tons of help. But I also have seen the dark side of this site. People just can't shut their mouths and ask nicely!!! "Don't use caps", "Read the fucking manual", "Stop spamming" "Do this", "Do that"!!!!! I am tired of talking to sore losers!! True, I can be frustrating. I am a NEWBIE... We ALL started here, believe it or not. I would be more than happy to help anyone, as long as it is in my own skill level. Why can't somebody just return the favor??  I just don't understand!
TotoroYamada's picture

Am i the only one who find that post insane?

 "People just can't shut their mouths"? "I am tired of talking to sore losers!!"? "Why can't somebody just return the favor?"?

And the worst... "the dark side of this site"

I haven't been there for long, and i'm a real newbie too, but i was telling myself that one of the things i like here, is that LMR is a friendly community, in which i never saw any troll (like you can on many other forums), where people were willing to help. Well, that was before you.

jklug80's picture
I agree with you. I read the manuals but my background is 100% software and coding not electrical diagrams and such. I asked a lot of basic questions and no one got on me or told me RTFM. I think the main issue is since we are growing th enumber of people asking questions that are already answered on the website in great detail is also growing. I tend to reanswer someone's questions a couple times and point them to the area where it was already answered. After a couple times I ignore most of their posts because they obviously haven't looked here for the anser in the search box. It does get annoying, but telling someone RTFM! isn't a good answer all of the time. Sometimes Ive read it 5 times and still dont get it. Other times I got lazy and havent searched elsewhere and wanted a simple answer ;)
iCon's picture
i would have to say, (somewhat from personal experience) that most of the beginners here look for the easy way out, rather than just looking through the manuals they have other people do it for them. However in then end having others help you detracts from the real purpose of answering your own questions in the first place, (which should be to learn more about robotics and how you can do it on your own). Just my opinion on the matter