- GET STARTED EARLY
A major roadblock for us was that we waited to order parts until we saw what other people are doing. You don't have to settle on a design before Tuesday, but you should be trying out things to see if they work or not. A significant number of our challenges could have been avoided with a tad more time. Plus, if you're fairly certain you're going to need a part (motors, etc.), and that's getting shipped in, that time waiting for parts is hard to buy back!
- PROTOTYPE AND TEST (OFTEN AND THOROUGHLY!)
We faced significant problems from systems we thought were working fine, until we had a recurring bug that was hard to determine the source of. Our line following, for instance, was believed to be a code problem, until we realized that it was a combination of both non-optimal motor behavior (motors that can only move fast are hard to control) and poor tape sensor placement. If we had a prototype to work through this, we would have realized this sooner and maybe could have done something more about it.
- GO TO THE PRL EARLY
You're not the only one working on a project. The laser cutters get busy FAST. Get a design figured out and cut it ASAP. If you have to go back later to change your design, that's fine. We were left stuck without structural platforms due to the limited hours available at the PRL, and that slowed down building and testing.