Onshape is perfect for high school and college robotics teams because it’s built for teamwork. I was not fortunate enough to have a high school with a robotics program, but I did participate in Formula SAE in college. It was there that I began to appreciate learning proper engineering techniques and collaborative problem solving. These skills are valuable for all ages and FIRST Robotics Competition is a great opportunity to learn them and use them in practice.
Get your team set up inside Onshape
Make sure your team is all signed up. You can do this by having your team go to our Education Plan sign up page.
After everyone has an account, have your professor or team lead create a team.
To create an Onshape team, go to “My account” and then to the Teams page. Create at least a “FRC #XXX 2019 team” team that includes everyone on your team. Feel free to create separate teams that are focused on subsystems, such as electrical or movement.
Once a team is created, you can share your documents and folders with the team, ensuring everyone on your team has access to the correct data (more on this later).
For more on Onshape teams and sharing within your team, check out this article in the Learning Center.
Structure & Data Management
Once you have your teams in order, it’s time to create some folders to share with your team.
Create a folder by going to the “Create” button and selecting “Folder.” Name the folder “FRC #XXX 2019.” Once the folder is created, select the folder, right click on it and select “Share.”
Now, select the “Team” tab, pick the team you just created, and click the blue “Share” button to share with that team.
Everything you create inside of that folder will be available to your team. You can filter by team-shared items by clicking on your team on the left side of your Documents page. You can also bookmark documents and folders. Every link to every element is unique, so you can send URLs instead of old files.
For more on this, see the Product Structure Organization Tips technical briefing in the Learning Center.
Importing data from your old CAD system
If you are a FRC veteran, you probably have files from an old CAD system that you use all the time or a previous year’s project you want to share out as reference.
If you are looking to get an assembly and its parts inside Onshape, try to get a “Pack and Go” from your old CAD system. If you cannot, create a folder with the same name as the top level assembly, and put all of your parts and sub assemblies inside and zip it. With your zip, click on “Create” from the Documents page, select “Import” and then the middle option to preserve your assembly’s structure with links.
This import method makes it easy to reuse and edit existing parts rather than starting from scratch.
For more on migrating from your old CAD system, be sure to read the Importing Data technical briefing in the Learning Center.
Before designing in CAD, it is important that everyone has a concept of basic geometric constraints. These constraints are Coincident, Concentric, Tangent, Parallel, and Perpendicular.
For an introduction to CAD, check out Cody Armstrong's webinar on CAD basics in Onshape:
Learning and working, together
Making sure everyone is on the same page at the same time is crucial to success. Onshape is a collaborative tool that thrives in project-based competitions. Your team can work on the same part or assembly at the same time – without any fear of data loss.
You can right click and select “Add comment” on any face, edge, vertex, feature, or instance. You can give design feedback and even tag teammates in the comments to give design feedback.
You can put links or QR codes on PDFs or parts for quick access to parts or assemblies. Onshape’s mobile app makes it easy to show and debug problems in between CAD and the real world.
Onshape isn’t just for CAD
The Onshape App Store offers many tools to help design teams achieve their goal.
A few of my go-to apps for team-based projects are:
- Link tab for Onshape This app allows you to pin webpages inside of Onshape. You can now have a Google sheet with your gantt or the rules page right inside of your Onshape Document for easy access.
- SIMSOLID offers a 14-day free trial if you need to run some structural analysis on parts to ensure you are loading them correctly, and so they won’t break when you need them most.
- VisualCAMc (14-day free trial) and Kiri:Moto (free forever) both offer CAM (computer-aided manufacturing) tools to make toolpaths for anything from a ShopBot® to a HAAS VF-2.
Building using 80/20
The Beams custom feature is today’s solution to building projects that involve 80/20 or similar extrusions.
To add the feature to your toolbar, go here and click on the plus button at the top of the page. Use the feature by selecting the Beams in your toolbar on the far right and select sketch lines or curves.
For more about custom features and how to make your own, see our curated Custom Feature page.
There is no need to design all of the nuts, bolts and washers from scratch or import them from a supplier. Onshape’s Standard Content is a collection of fasteners that you can insert inside of your assembly.
After you have some parts modeled and assembled in Onshape, select “Insert” and then the “Standard Content” option on the far right. Once you have found a component you are interested in, select “Insert.” There is also an auto-size button if you forgot the size of the hole.
If your school IT department needs URLs, IP addresses and emails to whitelist so your team can work with school emails and on campus networks, please contact Onshape Support.
Best of luck to your team during the competition and happy designing!