When using components that you have not seen before it is important to take a little time to orient yourself before using them. The vehicle platform is no different: you should extract as much information as possible from its physical appearance, investigate any components that are not familiar, and check whether there are any special precautions you need to take. Be sure to make notes during this process - the table below provides some suggested timings.
|Initial inspection||5 min||If the purpose of some part of the robot is not clear, make a note of it. You will need to clarify its purpose before starting any practical work.|
|Questions arising||5 min||Compile a specific list of questions that you need to be answered before proceeding. These can be in note form but the best kind of questions are clear and explicit. Vague questions, or short phrases which are not questions lead to poor answers.|
|Background research||15 min||The answers to your questions will be found through a combination of whole-class discussion and Internet research. You will already have realised that finding worked examples is very easy in this subject area. At this stage, you should aim to apply a more sophisticated approach which includes the comparison of several possible examples, and the selection of the one which seems to be the most useful in this case. What selection criteria will you use? Make a written note of your reasoning which would provide a satisfactory answer to anyone asking why you made this choice.|
|Answers to questions||5 min||Write yourself a short but clear account of each answer. You should also include a link to the source of the answer if appropriate. Your notes need to be detailed enough so that if you were to come back to them after a week, you would still understand what they mean. Short phrases, abbreviations, model numbers, etc. may be fine in the very short term, but they quickly lose their meaning. Do your future self a favour, and spell things out.|
|Precautions to be taken||5 min||Take a moment to note down any physical or electronic precautions that might be required when you start working with the vehicle. These sorts of issue are usually to do with preventing damage to the equipment, but they can also include avoiding personal injury. You could start by considering what could go wrong under a series of heading such as: electrical (damage to components, power connections, personal safety, etc.), physical (what problems might occur when the vehicle moves?) and developmental (your implementation will change - when should you make notes and what should you include?).|