Design Technology and Engineering
Robotics Club

Robotics Resources

Resources and helpful guides can be found here for all FIRST Lego League participants.


EV3 Basics

List of 3 items.

Engineering Design Process

List of 6 items.

  • Overview

    How do you get from an idea, which is in response to a season-specific game, to a functioning, reliable robot in 3 months?

    Actually, how does anything go from abstract thought and not-yet realized to concrete and working in reality?

    Truth be told, there are countless processes that the world operates under. Punahou School has adopted the "design thinking" model, as made popular by Stanford University in the recent decade. What is presented here shows similarities to the DT model, but focused on giving you success in FIRST Tech Challenge.

    As an aside, for those who love diagrams and sequences of verbs, check out this collection of design processes.

    Taking a step back, what exactly is "design"? There are many definitions, but this one suits our situation the best. It is from Nobel Prize Laureate, Professor Herbert Simon, who said that to design is to devise courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones.

    What is our existing situation?
    • There is no robot designed or created.
    • There is a game challenge presented.
    What is our preferred situation?
    • To have a functional, reliable robot to perform well in the game challenge
    What is our course of action?
    • All the things done in the season, which this website will help to reveal.
    • Think of it as an informed decision making process
    If you'd like to see a part of the informed decision making process in action, watch this 12 minute video about choosing a restaurant to go to.

  • Divergence and Convergence

    Throughout the season, you will be going back and forth between divergent and convergent thinking.
    • Divergent: when you spread wide and try to generate as many possibilities as possible. Defer your judgment and focus on the quantity of what you can generate.
      • Think of this as "flare".
    • Convergent: when you want to zero in on making a decision based on criteria. This is where, as a team, you can judge what decision to make. Or, you need to inspect a situation to find out what specifically is wrong.
      • Think of this as "focus". 
    To make it easier to digest, think about ideate, select, and test.
    • Ideate: Generate as many ideas as possible (divergent)
    • Select: Choose criteria and make an informed decision (convergent)
    • Test: Encounter failure from reality and start over again (do it)
  • Decisions that Need to be Made

    First, let's consider a variety of questions that you need to decide throughout the season.
    • What does success look like for our team at the end of the season?
    • What game strategy do we want?
    • What types of mechanisms could we build to use that game strategy?
    • What are ways to build that particular type of mechanism?
    Looking at strategy is much like strategy found in team sports. Whether it be football, soccer, basketball, or anything in between, there are certain types of offenses and defenses that a team will be known for. Each strategy has advantages and disadvantages.

    The key difference between sports and robotics is that in robotics, the team designs and creates the robot. In sports, each person has strengths and weaknesses in their physical abilities and must develop and condition their bodies accordingly.
  • Engineering Design Process

    Finally we get to the actual process, which can be used at any level of question, from the game prompt ("What type of strategy do we want"?) to the physical prototypes that you make ("How will we make that particular type of mechanism").

    This is adopted from MIT Mechanical Engineering Professor Alex Slocum, who for many years taught the sophomore level 2.007 Design and Manufacturing I class. His predecessor was Professor Woodie Flowers, who developed the class in the 1970s and is the co-founder of FIRST Robotics.
    Notice that the ideate, select, and test, sequence can be applied to different levels of our process.
    • Strategy: What method of scoring, how do you want to “win” the match (other examples include board games and sports)
    • Concept: Ways to achieve the scoring strategy
    • Design: Mechanical pieces
      • A design has many modules
      • A module has many components
    • Analysis: Limits (weight, volume, time); physics/math models
    • References: Showing your work, inspiration for others
    • Risks, Countermeasures: What might go wrong, how will you prepare
  • Prototype

    What is a prototype?
    It is a part of the final product that is still being developed. We use this term frequently in robotics. A prototype should answer question that you have.

    Think about a consumer product like the iPhone. While it was being developed, Apple created many types of prototypes to answer questions. For instance…
    • a "phone" that has the right dimensions and weight that engineers carried around to see how it felt to hold and carry throughout the day
      • but it had no function
    • interactive paper menus that designers showed to end-users to see how they would respond to a new user interface
      • but it was not functional software that you could touch your finger to and have it automatically respond
    • visual renderings of the iPhone that you would see on a product page to see if it was visually appealing to customers
      • but it was not something you could interact with or feel
    The list goes on and on. Hundreds and thousands of prototypes are made before the final consumer product is created.
    In the robotics season, you won't have the same resources (time, money, personnel) as a corporation, but you still want to develop the most simple prototypes to answer questions about the robot you want to build.

    Inevitably, additional issues will pop up when you build your final robot. However, prototyping with simple materials will save you time later on. Examples of prototypes are
    • using a simple, but understanding, pen/pencil sketch to convey an idea
      • using graph paper to get more precision on your idea
      • using computer-aided design to layout hardware
    • using cardboard as a stand-in material
    • using black plastic rivets instead of nuts and bolts
  • Coming Up with Lots of Ideas (Divergent)

    Generating a large quantity of ideas is difficult. With practice, however, you can get really good at it.
    Common Struggles:
    • Too Broad: Divide and conquer (mind map)
    • Not Enough Expertise: Do more research, Ask for help
    • Inhibition, “That’s a Lame Idea”: Learn to let go and judge later, Practice improvisational comedy
    Suggestions to Breakthrough Struggles:
    • Defer Judgement: You’ll judge later during the convergent part of the process
    • Build on Others’ Ideas: It might be obvious to you, but since it might not be to someone else, you should still say it!
    • Change Assumptions, Constraints, Viewpoints: Wild ideas may inspire others, Reform wild idea into something appropriate
    • Look for the Next Answer: Quantity over quality (will yield to quality)


List of 7 items.

  • Overview

    These are the materials that enable you to design, build, and test your robot for the season. See other sections under "Resources" for additional pertinent information.
    Make sure to check out the official FTC site for the latest resources:

    "Hardware" or "Technology" will refer to all the building materials—structural, electronic, and otherwise—that is loaned out to each team for the season.

    Punahou Robotics will manage the flow of inventory. We will balance on one hand, making sure teams have what they need, but on the other hand, making sure one team does not possess a disproportional amount of hardware.
  • Basic Pushbot/Kitbot

    For rookie teams, we recommend building a simple pushbot or kitbot to gain the building and testing skills first while developing your strategy/concept/designs in parallel.

    The instructions are found here from the FTC site. Make sure you've reviewed the Google Slides for Hardware (see above).
    Also, here are some notes that might be helpful as you build.
  • Electronics

    REV Robotics Expansion Hub
    • We don't use the REV slim batteries
    • Rather, we use the TETRIX ones
      • Only use slow-charge (lower amperage) unless you are going to be present throughout the duration of fast-charge and switch it back within an hour
    Video playlist from REV that describes basic components of a robot. It walks you through the electronics, too
  • Sensors

    MotoG4 phones
    • 2 Android phones: Robot Controller is on robot; Driver Station is outside of the arena
    • Driver Station phone should be used in its case
      • We'll be designing and printing new 3d printed mounts for the Robot Controllers
    • Don't drop the phone
    • Minimize the times you put in your Google Account info on the phone, in case the phone gets lost
      • We realize sometimes it is useful to connect to the internet and/or download things from the Google Play store
      • If possible, keep the phone not connected to the internet (but WiFi needs to be on to connect to the other phone)
  • Accessories

    • Logitech F310 
    Assorted USB connection cables
    1. USB A to USB mini
    2. USB A to USB micro
    3. USB mini to USB micro
    4. USB female A to USB micro
    • These cables are not designed to be on competitive robots and will wear and tear over time.
    • Extend the life of these cables by handling carefully and not carrying by the cord
    • Same thing goes with your gamepad
  • Programming

  • Onshape (Computer-aided Design)


List of 1 items.

Game Play

List of 5 items.

  • Official Rules

    For any FTC season, there are two Game Manuals, both of which are found on the official page.
    • Game Manual 1: rules that usually don't change much from season to season; outlines what you are allowed to use on your robot. Available to read.
    • Game Manual 2: released on kickoff day (September 7, 2019) and details the season-specific game: the field elements, scoring elements, and how to win a match.
      • Throughout the season, as teams develop strategies, clarifications are made on the official FTC forum
      • Since Hawaii plays its season earlier than the mainland, Hawaii FTC may decide on clarifications
    • One page summary
  • Match

    A match is one instance of the game in the context of a competition, whether the League Events throughout the season or at the State Championship.

    Based on previous seasons, a match consists of two periods
    • Autonomous (30 seconds): like in FLL, the robot behaves based on your programs, which instruct the robot to do tasks and perhaps make decisions based on sensor information.
    • Driver-Controlled (120 seconds): use your gamepads to control the robot and work with your Alliance partner to score as many points as possible.
      • Last 30 seconds of the Driver-Controlled period is the end game, where certain ways of scoring are unlocked.
      • Driver-Controlled period is sometimes known as Tele-Op
    An Alliance consists of two robots (two teams). In a match, one Alliance is the Red Alliance and the other is the Blue Alliance. Assignments of colors change each match. Match schedule is computer generated.

    A team that is your Alliance partner one match may become your Alliance opponent in another match.
  • Inspection

    • Passing inspection is very important. Details for inspection will be provided once kickoff happens.
    • A team must pass inspection at each League Event in order to participate.
      • Punahou Robotics will attempt to prepare all teams, but each team bears responsibility for meeting requirements.
  • League Event

    All information based on prior seasons. Details will be updated after kickoff
    • League Events happen on Saturday mornings from late October through November.
      • Occasionally on a weekday if it is a holiday.
    • Sign-ups will occur electronically after kickoff.
      • Teams rank preference of which League Events they want to compete at
    • Last year, there were 4 League Events on Oahu. Each team must compete in two.
      • A team can compete in a third one, but it must be on another island. There will be at least two on another island. Teams will have to use their own funds for travel.
      • Further details on advantages of a third LE will be provided.
    • At a League Event, a team will play 5 matches.
    • The computer generates a schedule to attempt to maximize time between matches.
  • State Championship

    Info pertaining to Hawaii 

Season: Hawaii-Specific

List of 6 items.

  • Overview

    This information is specific to FIRST Tech Challenge in Hawaii and at Punahou School.

    This page focuses on the timeline of the season in Hawaii. See other sections for additional pertinent information.

    The "Gameplay" section has information for the Rover Ruckus game.
  • Pre-Season

    (from summer until early September)
    • Form your team
    • Review information on this website
    • Develop system of binders and any printed materials that are useful
    • Spend time with the team (team bonding) outside of just building the robot
      • Very important when times get stressful!
    • Establish Team Code of Conduct
    While there are general rules and expectations of being a team supported by Punahou School, each team should create their own "code of conduct"—expectations of behaviors and commitments that each student (and indirectly, family of each student) will do his or her best to abide by.
  • Kickoff

    Initial details are Saturday morning, September 7, 2019, at the Mamiya Science Center at Punahou. Presentation in Cornuelle Hall.
    • Updates to Hawaii season format
    • Rover Ruckus game revealed
    • Interaction with field and game elements
    • Workshops to help teams with strategy and development
    • Details for non-competition awards will be given
  • Before First League Event

    (from early September until late October)
    • Establish initial strategy for your robot
    • Identify areas of knowledge/skill that you want to learn and also need to develop
      • Important for rookie teams to focus during first year. You can't learn, let alone master, all the expertise required, so figure out what you want to focus on
    • Build a simple robot that can drive and move around a game element
      • Add sensors for a simple autonomous code
      • Add additional DC or servo motors for some sort of manipulation
    • Create a packing list specific to your team (Punahou Robotics will provide basic supplies for all its teams)
    • Create a checklist for things you need to do once arriving at the League Event and during matches (guidance will be given when we get closer to this)

    It is much better to have a simple robot that works repeatedly and withstands the wear and tear of many matches
    a robot that supposedly does many tasks, but rarely works effectively
  • During League Events

    (from late October until early December)
    • Discuss within your team what has worked well and what might need changing
    • Often teams will completely take apart their robot and/or redesign it
    • Seek help from veteran teams and mentors
    • Get to know other teams during practices. Take the initiative to lend a hand or share your experiences. Others will reciprocate.
  • Hawai'i State FTC Championship

    Saturday, December 14, at Le Jardin Academy. 7:30a to 4:30p.
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