No prior knowledge is necessary, the goal is to learn. Only motivation will be decisive.
- Crafting and mastery of basic tools are essential skills. You also have to learn to use more complex tools such as the circular saw.
- Basic theoretical knowledge in dynamics and general mechanics must be acquired to calculate gear ratios, moments and coefficients of friction. Numerous teaching resources are provided by the teams and by FIRST® to learn from scratch.
- A third technical skill to acquire is the use of modeling software or CAD (Computer Aided Design). You will use this software to draw the various parts of the robot on the computer in order to generate plans for machining. The CAD of the robot also makes it possible to check the final weight of the robot and of each mechanism, to test the solidity and to find the weak points which are likely to break. This is the central element of the construction of the robot because it allows you to have an overview of the robot before building it (and therefore to make modifications if necessary). Some students must practice using CAD software (ex: Autodesk Inventor used at Robo’Lyon, Solidwork) to master them before the construction season. Many tutorials are available online to start learning.
- Programming is also essential to move the robot forward. There are many very simple programming languages like LabView. FIRST® provides resources such as libraries that facilitate robot programming.
To start robotics, nothing like taking inspiration from the teams that are already participating in the competition (see teams).
You should also read them on the forums (see forums) and study documents provided by FIRST® and the teams.
Here are examples of documents provided by FIRST® Québec: