Now that my children have aged out of FIRST Lego League competition, I would like to share lessons that I've learned in how to develop a winning robot and team. These insights were gained over the last six years of competition. Our team (the Lake Anne Sea Monsters) has placed first or second in robot performance or design each year at the Virginia / DC FLL Championship, the world’s largest FLL region.
Mastering the Lego Robot is organized into five training modules. Each module includes example programs or building instructions. At the end of each training module is a summary of key points.
• Building a Competitive Robot Includes brick-by-brick instructions for building a robot that can be used for most FLL robot performance challenges. The design is optimized for speed, fast transitions, rough handling and light sensor usage. It is a good starting design for rookie teams. More experienced teams can gain ideas in how to build a robot that won't come apart and how to balance the weight of the robot so that it will go straighter.
• Robot Performance Fundamentals Discusses every aspect of creating fast, reliable programs and attachments. Most notable is how to create a master program from “blocks” that are triggered with a touch sensor, which can cut seconds from each transition.
• Using Light Sensors Successful line following requires doing five elements particularly well: finding the line, aligning to the line, following the line, stopping along the line and orienting the robot after stopping.
• Putting It All Together Focuses on what to do the final week before the regional tournament. How to build a master program that maximizes the score by picking which missions to run and in what order. Second, how to drill the team to perfection.
• Before & At the Tournament Basics on how to organize practices, what to bring to the tournament and what to do at the tournament. Also deals with preparing for robot design and teamwork, including examples of robot design documentation.