How to win Takneek 101
Go back to your first Takneek. How many of you ended up short-circuiting your entire board? How many of you didn’t have ‘enough time’ to debug? Did you even know how to debug? How many could not get the components you needed? Could you complete your project?
The answers to these questions make it to the winner’s podium when you ask someone why they ‘left’ the SnT Council. My Takneek project had not worked. No one is to blame, but I chose to stick around. My reason was that my dad is a HAM radio hobbyist and a home brewer (HAM radio slang term for someone who builds gadgets at home). I wanted to know what my dad enjoyed so much. I have seen my dad working - a desk full of all values of resistors, capacitors that can ever come to use, soldering iron, magnifying glass, a relatively expensive multimeter, all sorts of antenna cables/wires, connectors, a ‘khazaana’ of all sizes of screws/nuts, etc. I have seen him work with such precision that I don’t remember if anything he fixed/built failed.
On the contrary, here’s what people in SnT council do - a freshie, learning to solder directly on his project and ending up soldering on the wrong side. All LiPo batteries swelled up because someone didn’t know the minimum safe voltage. DMMs ran out of battery because no one chose to switch it off. Soldering iron burnt its insulation. The list goes on.
What we are lacking is the basics. And because of it, we are failing as a community. Takneek’s first year problem statements are NOT easy. That is the reason why only so few people can complete it and the winner is decided from among them. Here’s a checklist of why I think the people who won could win Robotricks:
- You have all the components; you have a plan - a full-proof design - how to build it - people who will be doing it.
- You have a 5V adapter to test your electronics.
- You have a DMM to debug. Or you could make do with an LED.
- You have had the time to test run. Or your controller was born good.
- You have a 12V DC supply to test your locomotion circuit.
- You know how to solder/drill
- You have a ‘source’ to get all/some of the above done.
Here is the fault line - we want to build a complete working robot with a lifting mechanism within one week without any experience WITH the semester course load. How stupid can you get? If today, I were to participate in Robotricks, I would:
- Start early (at least try to)
- Google everything! It’s 2018. You can find video tutorials for everything from soldering, drilling, DC Motor circuit, How to use a DMM, etc.
- Get all the things I need. (Can pretty much depend on senior for this one)
So, here is how to win Takneek - The problem statements are NOT new - they cannot be. It’s all there on the internet. Get your basics right (aka first watch a tutorial) and start working!
In the end, if you don’t end up winning, please don’t come and kill me. I am sure if you follow the above recipe, you’d be better placed than a lot of others in the field of engineering itself. You’d have hands-on experience of doing things, and doing them the right way. Maybe that experience leads you to someplace good. (I scored an internship partly due to a project under the council :-D )
If you’re still reading and have made it to this point, here’s a bonus point for you - A lot of people seem to think that SnT Club projects are not worth it, that they’d rather work with a Professor. Well, that’s not true. As in the case of the Robotics Club, the projects are very varied. A lot of those which get heard about generally involve mass participation - introductory workshop, Techkriti projects, Takneek etc. Such projects are designed to be short and sweet. On the other hand, long-term projects like the Humanoid Project take in considerable time and effort. The team has been in constant touch with the faculty of the institute, have read all sorts of literature on BiPed locomotion, are working with really expensive servos, etc. I am not sure how many of you knew this.
Signing off. Hope you read this line too :-P