Lessons learned – Komplete Kaos’s FRC 2017 season

KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid!

Your design doesn’t need to be complicated, simple designs are easier to maintain and fix. Creating and building a simple but highly effective, well build design is harder than it seems but is better than a complicated and poorly built design. When your robot breaks during comp (it will), a simple robot is much easier to fix than a complicated one. Simple and smart over complicated. 

Learn CAD and use it

We created parts of our robot using CAD software to design custom parts of our robot. This was essential in manufacturing our custom parts and was integral in us being a competitive robot. We didn’t custom make everything on our robot but it certainly helped us to compete at the level we did.

Be ambitious

As a rookie team we were not seen as a competitive robot at our regionals and the championship. We needed to learn to become independent as we became a competitive robot and ended up coming 4th at one of our regionals. As a team we had to be ambitious as we went into the finals.

Display gracious professionalism always – there will be many curve balls

As many teams do, we faced challenges at the competitions and difficult calls made by referees. A controversial call was made against us however we had to get up and keep going, as a team and an alliance at our regional we accepted the call the head referee made. The way we handled ourselves earned us much praise and respect from teams, volunteers and mentors at our regionals.

Get sponsors

It may sound silly, but talk to everyone you know about FRC; someone will help. Most of our sponsors came from personal contacts; for example my sister’s best friend’s dad that has a plastic manufacturing company – everything helps!


FRC takes a lot of time and some money! You need to be prepared for some late nights and intense weekends, particularly if you have a small team like ours.

Be open and direct

Learning to communicate effectively is one of the big life skills that everyone should know. Communication is vital both within your team and externally. You need to be prepared for judges, sponsors and teammates to ask you question you hadn’t even thought of. Within your team it is vital to have important communication to ensure that everyone is on the right page and there are no miscommunication (which we have definitely had).

Repetitive prototyping

This was a really important skill; learning how to have an idea, create the basics for it, test and then improve. It was how we developed our climber and gear intake. We need to test all of our ideas fast; “Fail fast in order to succeed sooner.”

Get your finances sorted as early as you can

As a team we spent what seemed like ages going round and round on finances. Eventually we didn’t come up with a system and we are still working things out. It would have been better if we had put the time into developing a better financial plan to make it smoother going into the intensive build season.

Mechanical, software and other build skills

We learnt how to build and program a robot for the competition. This involved learning to code various different things, from the basic getting started project to vision tracking and use of sensors. We also learn about forces, torque and motor loads, and how to work out the right motors and materials to use for different components and modules of the robot.