Introduction

The purpose of this article is to offer helpful information for those unfamiliar and just getting started with the VEX IQ Competition (VIQC). Topics in this article will cover the purpose of building Snapshot and the next steps to make it your own.

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Hero Bots are designed by VEX engineers each year to play the Competition. The Hero Bot design changes from year to year depending on the game, so this year’s Hero Bot for the VIQC game Slapshot is Snapshot.

Remember, the Hero Bot is designed as a starting point for you to test and improve upon, not an end product. The Hero Bot is designed so that new teams can learn valuable building skills and have a robot they can customize to compete with early in the season. Advanced teams can also use the Hero Bot to be able to quickly assemble a robot to investigate the game's dynamics.

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This year’s Hero Bot is in no way a final product however, a Disc scoring machine. To reiterate, the Hero Bot is a starting point. We here at VEX believe that everyone should have a fair chance at competing in this year’s Competition, thus the Hero Bot is born.

Competing can seem intimidating, especially when there are teams who have been competing for many years with a lot of experience.

Building Snapshot, one is able to understand more about the game and what is actually needed in a robot design, rather than just reading it on a piece of paper.

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Perusing the Slapshot Game Manual, it is hard to exactly envision a robot that performs scoring activities while at the same time obeying rules as a newcomer.

This is exactly why Snapshot has been made and offered to everyone, for the purpose of allowing everyone to start in the same place regardless of experience.

Beginning Robot Design

Think about it this way; there is almost an infinite combination of the parts and connection patterns provided in your VEX IQ Competition Kits (link to poster). With that statement being true, mathematically, anything is possible. You just have to find that exact formula to answer all your problems. The question that arises with that is this, “Where do I start?”

Starting Line

Believe it or not, once you have built Snapshot and tested the game, you have already started! When beginning to freely-build, it is definitely worth your while to state why and for what purpose you are freely-building. The questions to these answers have most likely been found through your testing of Snapshot. It is often helpful to document your thinking and design constraints found in the game manual before you begin to build.

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  • You could make a chart with the goals you want your design to achieve.
    • Some examples of goals you may want to achieve include:
      • I want the design to repeatedly score in the 4-Point Goal Zone.
      • I want the design to remove Discs from Dispensers.
      • I want the design to be very mobile.

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  • You could also make a chart with the constraints on your design.
    • Some examples of constraints you may have to consider include:
      • Only can use less than or equal to 6 IQ Smart Motors.
      • Fit within an 11” x 19” x 15” (279mm x 483mm x 381mm) volume.
      • Only launch Discs under the Fence, not over.

It is important to lay these questions out, not only for the sake of remembering them, but also to stay on track. With infinite combinations of connections, it can be hard to remember exactly why you started once you have started. Listing your goal and all the limiting factors can help to ensure you create what you originally wanted.

Design, Create, and Iterate

Knowing your goal and constraints sets the stage for designing your solution. Before building, it is important to have a plan. Build Instructions offer a very specific and detailed plan for a build. When free building, plans can be looser, but should involve some kind of sketch of what it is that you are trying to build. This means practice creating a mental model of your idea, transferring that to paper, then matching your drawing to actual pieces from the Kit.

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Once you have laid out what you want to achieve with your build and the factors directly in between you and that goal, it is then a balancing act. You must find the perfect balance between your constraints and your goals to create what exactly you set out to achieve.

Do not be afraid to try new things! It is important as you experiment with these possible solutions and builds that you do not follow one specific path. With an almost infinite combination of parts in the Kit, there is definitely more than one approach to your problem! Test and iterate on your build to make sure it achieves your goal and still meets your constraints. The entire free building process is loads of fun as it places you in the driver’s seat! Lastly, while this is a competition, it is a friendly competition to say the least.

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Visit the VEX Forum and VEX Professional Development Plus (PD+), which has a lot of great resources from other team’s builds! Get inspiration, ask questions, or view solutions to questions you may have that have already been answered by either VEX employees, VEX mentors, or VEX enthusiasts!

For more information, help, and tips, check out the many resources at VEX Professional Development Plus