Building Robots at School

December 17, 2009

Autodesk Inventor for FRC and VEX

Filed under: Uncategorized — dtengineering @ 9:51 am

Autodesk Inventor is a great CADD program for designing mechanical systems. I especially appreciate the ability to download pre-built components, generate custom components, then join them together to test for fit and function. It can even run finite element analysis to test to see if things will break under load.

Most importantly, however, Autodesk is quite generous with their software when it comes to helping out students. Not only do they donate their software to over 1,300 FRC teams, but they will allow any student to use it for home use.

For FRC team members, take a look here for how to get hooked up with a fully licensed downloadable copy of Inventor. If you aren’t on an FRC team, but are a teacher or student, look here.

Please pay attention to the licensing terms, these free downloads are for personal or team educational use only, not for classroom instruction.

Once you have downloaded and installed the software, you can download VEX parts from here. For the FRC robots you will be able to download a “Virtual Kit of Parts” from the autodesk site once you are registered, or you can download specific parts from vendors such as You will also find plenty of tutorials on getting started available on line and on the Autodesk site.

Give it a try… 3D parametric solid modelling (what Inventor does) is a real revolution in mechanical design!


Gladstone Vex Tournament Photos

Filed under: Uncategorized — dtengineering @ 9:38 am

The Gladstone tournament was a great success! The 12A and 12B teams from ACME Robotics who flew in from Virginia raised the level of competition and, with the help of a third alliance partner from the Exothermic club pushed a “home field” alliance of two Gladstone teams and another Exothermic ‘bot to the limit in the finals. There were 49 teams at the tournament, so each of the excellent machines in the finals qualified for the worlds in Dallas. Most exciting, though, were the high quality of robots from many of the rookie teams… the students, teachers and mentors are all doing a great job.

Photos are here. Click on “slideshow” in the top right for the best view.

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