Documentation is one of the most essential components of Vex competition. At all competitions, there are judging sessions for the robot and the Engineering Notebook. It’s important to make sure that all necessary components to the Engineering Notebook are provided for judging. It also allows teams to practice documenting and performing the engineering process. The point of an Engineering Notebook is to explain the engineering process in building your robot.
To start an Engineering Notebook, you should place an index with each section and page numbers on it.
After the index typically the common first section is a “Notebook Setup” Template. This is your way of formatting the notebook. Any formatting or mannerisms done in your notebook should be noted and explained here
Next is the Team Biography. This should include a group picture of the team as well as a brief description of the team members and their roles on the team. The example given is of Team P 2017-18 during the In the Zone challenge.
The next section should be the rules and requirements of the game. Above shows examples of In the Zone's rules. In this section you should summarize the rules from the game manual and include a field diagram. This section should make the rules clear to anyone who reads your notebook, regardless of if they are associated with VEX or not. In addition, this section is beneficial to your team as well, so write down what may help you.
After this you should put your brainstorming and design processes. This should explain the thought processes and ideas you had prior to and beginning the building of your robot.
Another important part to scheduling is deadlines and Gantt Charts as seen above. In the deadlines, all goals for the robot should be stated and clear for all of your team.This sets a goal for your team to meet and shows your intentions and planning for your team. The Gantt Chart is an effective way to represent your deadlines. In it you should define clear tasks, define the timeline you had and then place your deadlines based off this. You should them block out the time you will need plus a bit of extra time after the deadline in case you cannot meet it. You should not expect to meet every deadline on the date of the deadline and so you should block out time accordingly. You should also place blocks that cannot be done until one task is complete after the blocks of the prior task, for example, you cannot test a robot until the robot is complete; due to this you should have the beginning of your test robot block be at the end of your last building task at the soonest. Be sure to label your Gantt chart or present a key at the bottom. If you want to know more about gantt charts we encourage you to look into them using various resources, as a team we use Tom's Planner but there are various options to pursue. Gantt Charts are excellent ways to manage and track time and work on a robot.
In addition to Gantt Charts and Deadlines, it is also good to have both work logs and Schedule pages in your notebook. As seen above, Schedule pages were pages with a printed our calendar which had important events of accomplishments written on it from the day. This is a great way to track progress, give readers a decent judge of how often a team worked on their robot as well as to look back in order to see what occurred when. It is also helpful to include Work Logs as shown above that give a more detailed and accurate recording of all that was done to the robot each day. These logs should be as detailed as possible without being too wordy. Bullet points and charts are highly encouraged and beneficial.
Finally, you should include information about each tournament you've been to and describe them each and what was learnt, accomplished or won at that tournament and what could be improved.