1. Can I use your robot designs or programs for competition?
A: That depends on the extent to which you use my design. If you intend to use my design as a starting point for your own and draw inspiration off of my work, then you may do so. However, neither I nor the competition rules will permit direct copying of designs from the internet. You probably won’t do very well if you do that, because my designs aren’t optimized for any competition; they’re just a generic representation of a general idea.
If you want clarification on what qualifies as copying, my video “When is Copying Robot Designs for Competition Bad?” is an important guide for anyone who is currently studying competition robot designs on the internet.
The most important point is that the judges will know if you copied from me. I have personally communicated with some judges and at this point, practically every judge is familiar with my website and my YouTube channel. They know what my designs look like and will recognize copycats when they see them.
2. Where do I purchase the big wheels that you used for your Sirius/Spica robots?
A: These wheels are referred to as “large motorcycle wheels.” The part number for the tire is 88516 and the part number for the rim (plastic hub) is 88517. You can purchase these parts on various sites online, but the most common way to acquire them is on sites such as bricklink.com or brickowl.com.
3. How/why do you have so many additional programming blocks in your EV3 programming environment? Are you using a special version of the EV3 software?
A: I am using the EV3 Home Edition of the MINDSTORMS software; it’s the same exact one that everyone else uses and it is not special in any way. I have extended my library by downloading and importing programming blocks from third party companies such as Mindsensors and Dexter Industries. This enables me to use their sensors with the EV3 programming environment.
If you would like to know how to import additional programming blocks into the EV3 programming environment, you can watch my tutorial “How to Import 3rd Party Blocks into EV3-G.” However, if you only plan on using EV3 sensors and won’t use third party add-ons, you don’t need to worry about this, as these extra programming blocks don’t do anything extra for the base EV3.
4. I cannot open the building instructions you have on your Downloads page. Do you have them in PDF form?
A: Those are not building instructions, but rather LXF files meant to be opened with the LEGO Digital Designer (LDD) software. LXF files are 3D CAD models of the robots that open in the LDD software; the software is also capable of generating a step-by-step building guide and a bill of materials for the robot. (If you would like to know how to do this, see my tutorial “How to Get Building Instructions and BOM from an LDD Model“). It is for this reason that I do not have the building instructions in PDF form; there would be no point, as LDD does everything a PDF can do and more.
LDD is a free download, and you can get it on the LEGO website (http://ldd.lego.com/). Practically the entire MINDSTORMS community uses LDD to share their creations, so I strongly recommend that you download it and familiarize yourself with the software.
5. How do I get my robot to line follow over a line with gaps in it?
A: My tutorial “Program your EV3 Line Follower to Cross Intersections in Lines Unaffected” answers this question. Yes, I realize that the topic may seem different, but whether your robot is crossing over an intersection in a line or a gap, the technique is the same. The robot doesn’t care whether there is an intersection or a gap in its line; both will disrupt the robot’s line following, so we can use the same technique to tell the robot to ignore this feature and continue on unaffected. That’s what the tutorial covers.
6. Help! I have a robotics competition in [Insert ridiculously short time frame here], can you send me building instructions and programs for a robot to use in the competition?
A: I get this question with surprising frequency. The answer is always no. This also applies for any variation of the question “Can you build my robot for me?”
7. Can you make a tutorial on a specific FLL or WRO mission?
A: No, I will never publish tutorials on a specific mission. The reason for this is twofold. First, the purpose of my tutorials is to teach engineering and programming concepts, and I merely use competitions like FLL and WRO as a vehicle to do this. Second, publishing tutorials that are too specific would defeat the purpose of the competition and violate the rules of said competition. My videos teach you the concepts but leave the application and execution to you; it’s your job to make a working, winning robot.
8. Would you be willing to do private tutoring/lessons over Skype or Google Hangouts?
A: No. This is something that I have always wanted to do, but the reality is I do not have the time to do this. Remember that while I do run this website and YouTube channel, I am a student first and I prioritize my schoolwork. My schoolwork takes up a lot of my time, and I do not have enough spare time to meet the time demands of private tutoring. Sorry!