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Hardware is a very big part of FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) because it is the basis of all robots. There are many great ways to perform well in the hardware aspect of FTC. One of the biggest ways to have a successful robot is through strategizing or brainstorming how to best approach the season’s challenges. By doing this teams will be able to create a robot that best performs the current year’s tasks. One simple way to start off in making a robot is by using pre-made FTC kits. These include the basics of most of the parts teams will need for a simple and functional robot. Keep in mind that your robot doesn’t just have to be built out of these pre-made FTC kits. Teams can use any commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) parts that can be bought from a hardware store, as long as it has only one degree of freedom. One exception is hydraulics which are illegal in FTC. Another way to make unique parts for a robot is to CAD them. CAD is a great way to make custom parts for a robot that couldn’t be found at a hardware store. Plus, it’s a great way to impress judges and other teams.


In FTC, the drivetrain refers to the part of the robot that allows it to move around the field. A drivetrain is mainly composed of motors, wheels, and a chassis to hold all these things and other subsystems together. You can arrange these three things around to find a drivetrain that best works with your subsystems. Things like bevel gears and chains are all great ways to be able to position a motor farther away from a wheel if you need to use the space around the wheel for something else. Also, they can make a drivetrain faster and more powerful if you do it right. Since the drivetrain is such a big part of the robot, some seasons even had challenges where the robot had to drive over obstacles to complete a certain mission. However, once you get a solid drivetrain working for your team it will most likely be able to be applied to many other seasons.


Subsystems are the main way tasks are completed on the field(I.E. Collection systems or Launching Systems). These subsystems are attachments that each team creates in order to complete missions. Since these subsystems are so different and considered a different part of the robot, they are mostly controlled independently from the drivetrain. Each year the tasks change with the theme for that year. Because of that, new subsystems will have to be made that will best fit/complete those missions. Just like the drivetrain, 3D printed parts are a great way to customize your subsystems to better suit your needs. Having effective but unique subsystems will boost chances for many different awards like the Design Award and Innovate Award.



Electronics are what allows the robot to function the way you want it to. The diagram above shows a basic layout for robot electronics. Firstly, the drivers input commands into the game controllers that are programmed for specific tasks on the robot. The game controllers communicate with the Driver Hub. The Driver Hub then transmits commands to the Control Hub via Wifi Direct. The Control Hub is the main controller for the robot because of its connection with various motors and other electronics. The Control Hub also connects directly with the Expansion Hub. The Expansion Hub is used for additional motors and electronics.

There are many different types of motors and sensors that are available for FTC teams. This includes servos which are used for arms and other small mechanisms. DC motors are used for the drivetrain and bigger mechanisms. Sensors like gyro, vision, touch, light, and distance sensors are all great ways to help the robot better navigate itself and its surroundings. These different electronics will allow your team to effectively build a robot that will perform much better than it could without efficient electronics. With lots of hard work and dedication, your hardware can become an effective way to score many points, or even inspire younger kids to become interested in FIRST.


There are many companies that sell parts that FTC teams can use. Here are some companies that supply primarily to the FIRST community.

REV Robotics

REV Robotics sells REV Control and Expansion Hubs which are what control your robot. They also created the Driver Hub which is an alternative to using a phone as a Driver Station. Besides these electronics they also sell motors, batteries, chains, and extrusions. REV primarily uses 5mm to hex bore axles


Pitsco sells Tetrix C-channels and motors. The C-channels they sell are 32 mm x 32mm. The motors they sell are the Tetrix MAX motor and the Tetrix Torquenado motor. The Tetrix MAX motor is a small, weak motor that is outperformed by many other motors. The Torquenado is one of the strongest motors on the market. Pitsco typically uses 5mm D axles.


Actobotics sells a 1.5 inch C-Channel and motor mounts for many other companies' motors. They also have clamping hubs and servo mounts for sale. Actobotics also sells many starter robot sets teams can use. Actobotics sells a variety of different axles for teams to use.


goBILDA sells a 48mm wide U-Channel that is able to fit an entire motor in it. They sell many different motors in both 5mm hex and 8mm REX. They have motors ranging from 6000 rpm and low torque to 25 rpm and insanely high torque. They also sell bevel gears that are able to put your motor at a right angle to your axles. goBilda can also use 6mm D-axles.


AndyMark sells the field kit that teams have to buy every year. They also sell NeveRest Gear Motors that come in several gear ratios. They sell rectangular extrusions of varying sizes to be used as structural parts. AndyMark also sells Mecanum Wheels.

Company REV Robotics Pitsco Actobotics goBILDA AndyMark
Electronics REV Control Hub N/A N/A N/A N/A
Motors HD Hex/Core Hex Motors/UltraPlanetary Motors Tetrix MAX/Torquenado Motor Supplies Motor Mounts Yellow Jacket Motors, Multiple Gear Ratios NeveRest Gear Motors, Multiple Gear Ratios
Servos Smart Programmable Servo HiTec Servo Supplies servo blocks for mounting servos Dual Mode Servos HiTec Servo
Structural 15mm Extrusion 32mm C-Channels 1.5in U-Channel 48mm U-Channel Box Extrusions
Unique Parts Slim Battery, Mecanum Wheels Battery Clamping Hubs 2:1 and 1:1 Bevel Gears, Mecanum Wheels, Clamping Hubs Field Kits, Mecanum Wheels

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