FTC:Getting Started

From Project Robotica
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Joining a Team

The first step to getting started is to either find a FIRST Tech Challenge team or create one. To find a team, interested students can contact local schools or youth programs to see if they have an available team. Some good places to try are local 4-H clubs, STEM programs, or Boy/Girl Scouts. Or, interested students can create their own FTC team from scratch with up to 15 students. Teams need coaches to help guide them. At least one adult will need to be willing to take on this responsibility and two coaches is ideal so that the responsibility can be shared. Some engineering, programming, or other STEM knowledge is also very helpful to have. Parents or teachers are often excited to help and willing to play the role of coach.

Local Partners

FIRST has many partner organizations that host events and help the community of FIRST. Each FIRST Partner helps run events in their respective areas so teams should check to see who their local FIRST Partner is.

Registration

Registering to compete in FTC involves multiple costs:

Item Cost
FIRST Registration $275[1]
Control and Communications Set $210
Electronics Set $240
Starter kit $450-650

Items needed for registration

  • Names of at least one adult who will act as a coach
  • Names and emails of team members
  • Name of team
  • School/Organization
  • A way to pay online for registration

Things needed for an FTC season

A team

To compete in FTC, an interested student will need to be part of a team regardless of team size. An FTC team can have 2-15 students on it.

Game Field

The game field has 2 main parts; the foam tiles and the perimeter. The foam tiles are 2'x2' and look like big puzzle pieces. A field is 12’x12’ so 36 are needed to form a full field.

The legal perimeter is made out of metal and acrylic can be purchased from Andymark. However, because it is fairly expensive, many teams make a DIY field perimeter.

Game Field Kit

Teams will need a field kit for the season if they want to test their robot and practice matches. Full field or half field kits can be bought from Andymark.

Hardware components

Hardware components are what make up a team’s robot and are vital to a team’s success in the season. Without hardware components, a team wouldn’t have a robot and wouldn’t be able to compete.

Programming software

Programming software is what allows teams to drive the robot manually as well as autonomously. Without programming software, the robot wouldn’t be able to complete tasks or move.

Paying for the season

See our funding a team page for more information on ways to pay for fees and equipment.

Hardware

Building a robot can be a daunting task. To build a FTC robot, a team should start out easy by building a simple robot. This is a robot that can drive around and push objects to move them. Building this type of robot will help the team grow accustomed to the new materials they’re working with and learn how to use the electronics.

How to create a simple FTC robot:

  • Step 1: Create a square drivetrain base.
    • Often teams use a starter kit from one of the hardware vendors their first year. The base can be as simple as four pieces attached to each other, but it should also be sturdy. The robot will be driving around so make sure that it can stay together.
  • Step 2: Add motors and wheels.
    • For a simple drivetrain, motors can be directly attached to the wheels.
  • Step 3: Attach and wire the REV Control Hub.
    • This hub should be attached onto the robot. Wires will go from each motor to a spot on the REV Control Hub. A battery will also need to be attached and plugged in to give the robot power.
  • Step 4: Connect the Driver Hub to the Control Hub.
    • Once power is being sent to the Control Hub it can connect to the Driver hub through direct wifi. See <url> for more detail on how to do this. Now the robot can be controlled from the Driver Hub.
  • Step 5: Configure the robot.
    • On the Driver Station App, go to settings and select “Configure Robot”. For each motor connected to a port of the hub, it needs to be named and a motor type selected. Name each motor intuitively like ‘leftFrontMotor’, ‘leftBackMotor’, etc. Once each motor has been configured, teams will program each motor and the robot will be able to run.

Simple Robot Resources:

Software

To get started with software a team first needs to decide which programming software to use. There are three different applications to choose from; Blocks Programming Tool, OnBot Java, and Android Studio. Once the type of programming software is decided upon, they should go through the FIRST Programming Resources to learn the basics. They can also reach out to find a coding mentor to help them. The first task should be to try to program the simple robot so that it can move around autonomously and with drivers controlling it.

Game Manuals

For the actual FTC season, a team should start by reading both FTC Game Manual 1 and 2 so that they know what their robot will have to do and what is considered illegal. Game Manual Part 1 describes the general rules of FTC and does not change significantly from season to season. Game Manual Part 2 is released the day of the season kickoff in September and describes the specific season’s field and game rules.

How to Get Extra Help

Other FTC Teams

One easy way to get help with FTC is to contact other more experienced FTC teams for help. Don’t be afraid to reach out to other teams because we all want to help each other. To find FTC teams to contact, it would be a good idea to create team social media accounts so that a team can more easily collaborate and meet with other teams. Some other ways to connect with other teams are through the unofficial FTC discord and reddit. These places are where a team can ask a question and other teams can answer the question to try to help the team.

The FTC forums are the best place to get rule clarifications as the makers of the game itself are on the FTC forums.

Mentors

Mentors are another great way to get help in FTC because they can give the team more help in areas not pertaining to the robot. Mentors also really care about their team as they take time out of their day to help them. Family members such as parents, grandparents, or family friends are a great place to start if a team is looking for mentors.

Teams can also find mentors by reaching out to professional engineers at local companies to ask them for mentorship. This also doubles as engineering outreach for the team.

Mentors don’t have to be engineers. In fact, parents or other family members without any technical ability are still amazing mentors who can help with many things besides the robot.

Team Management Software

Teams will also want to have team management software to help coordinate them throughout their season. They allow team members manage todo lists and communicate with each other when they are not in the same room together.

Additional Resources

References

  1. "Cost and Registration". firstinspires.org. Retrieved 16 Aug 2021.