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FLL question; "So how to build strong"

Last Saturday I was at the biggest FLL Region finals in the Netherlands as the well known MINDSTORMS doctor, and there I got the Question;" How do I build a sturdy and good winning robot?"
It is real hard to answer that question, as all missions are different and need different robot approaches, but some general rules do apply always. First I tell the teams that the robot with all sorts of odd angles to connect the tools is not the best, (so rather not use the standard 9797 base robot). I advice the kids to do the following regarding the caster wheel: " go to a shopping mall, take a shopping chart and place it on a free area, then turn all the wheels perpendicular to the forward direction. then use one finger and push forward. Observe where does the chart goo? straight ? so what do you think happens with your caster on your robot? indeed likely the same, so if the free moving direction is not secure, what does that tell us of the mission motions? , right so rethink your caster....

but then there are some good advices to be taken form various books, and right now I like to highlight two:

The Unofficial LEGO Builder's Guide (Now in Color!) by Allan Bedford. (link)
The book is more basic about building technics, like houses, models and mosaics, but can be very useful for all your side work like building the project with LEGO. It even has a section about basic parts and that can be use to learn what other parts you can use to build the special tools for the missions.

The other book:
The Unofficial LEGO Technic Builder's Guide by Pawel "Sariel" Kmiec. (link)
This one can be used much more there it basically talks about technic and that is what we use in the MINDSTORMS set. There are real good sections about how to use gears, and make much better reinforcements to make your model stronger. some advanced mechanisms might help the teams to make a tool that automatically turns back in a begin position. Advanced usage of pneumatics can be real nice too.

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