ROBOT League Update for Week of January 21


Three league tournaments completed and only the league championship remaining.  I would like to thank all of the volunteers that helped make the tournament at Polk State College successful.  Our league championship is February 2, 2013 at Jesuit High School at 4701 North Himes Avenue,  Tampa, FL 33614

This email contains information that will help you prepare for the event.  It is very important that you review all of the following hardware and software recommendations with your team members.

  •  Hardware Inspection Volunteers – The hardware inspection process for the league championship will follow the approach we implemented this weekend at Polk State College. Therefore, I am seeking two adults to volunteer as hardware inspectors on February 2, 2013.  Hardware inspectors are needed from 7:30-9:30am.
  • Hardware Inspection Feedback – During the first three league tournaments, our objective has been to ensure each team is able to operate their robots on the competition field.  Therefore, we have often not always enforced all of the robot rules.  However, as we progress to the league and state championships, the robot rules will be enforced and teams will not be able to compete if their robots do not pass inspection.  If you are unsure if a specific part is legal, I encourage teams to post questions on the official FTC forum. I also strongly encourage teams to review the game forum on a weekly basis.  In “The Robot – Inspection and Build Rules” section of the forum there are currently 269 clarifications posted such as the fact that lead fishing weights are not legal and drawer slides that you can purchase at Home Depot and Lowes are considered to be a legal “linear slide” part. As an FTA, it is my responsibility to review the game forum on a weekly basis.  Therefore, I expect the teams to also take the time and review the game forum.

    The following is a summary of some of the common challenges we have seen during hardware inspection:

    •   A robot Robot_BOM is required and the attached spreadsheet (click on link) is the recommended format.  You are only required to list non-Tetrix components such as linear slides, plastics, metals, etc.  In addition to the part description, the template also asks that you reference the specific game rule number or forum reference that makes the part legal.
    •   Robots must fit in an 18 inch cube at the beginning of a match. Make sure you check the size of your robot regularly. Most importantly, you need to valid the size once the robot has been initialized and all of your servos are set to their starting position.
    •  Illegal material such as lead or manufactured parts other then the items explicitly mentioned in the rule book or forum are not allowed.  Plastics or metals that have a design pattern are most likely not allowed because the pattern was created through a manufacturing process.
    •  The NXT screen, Tetrix power switch, and Samantha module must be mounted on the robot such that it can be easily accessed by the FTA.  It is difficult for an FTC to debug programs with the robot if we do not have easy access to these components.  Also, be careful to not mount the NXT or power switch in a location that can be bumped by another robot or field element.  We did have several instances of robots turning off during a match when bumping another robot or field element.  The accessibility of the NXT, power switch, and Samantha module needs to be considered during the design of the robot.  Please review rules RG05 and RG07.


  •  Software Recommendations – One of the most common software mistakes I have seen this year is teams not properly telling the NXT which program to run during the TeleOp phase of a match.  When teams set their robot on the field, it is their responsibility to turn on their robot and start the autonomous program.  The Field Control Software (FCS) is responsible for starting your TeleOp program once the autonomous period ends.  However, you need to tell the FCS what is the name of your TeleOp program by running the “Program Chooser” and selecting your TeleOp program. RECOMMENDATION: Once your robot properly connects to the FCS, you are allowed to ask the FCS operator to tell you what is the name of your TeleOp program set in the FCS software.  If the name is not correct, you can go to Program Chooser and reselect the TeleOp program name.  You then need to ask the FCS operator to disconnect and reconnect to your robot.
  •   Engineering Notebook Recommendation – At the Polk State College tournament, our lead Judge Marian Manganello, recommended that each of the teams should review the FIRST recommendations on structure and content for the engineering notebook.  The engineering notebook guidelines can be found on Part 1 of the Game Manual in  chapter 3 starting on page 13 I encourage all team members to review pages 13-15 of the game manual to  better understand what the judges are looking for when they review your engineering notebook.  This will become more important at the League Championship as the engineering notebook will be used to score teams for several of the judge awards.  For example, the Think Award is an evaluation of the quality of a team’s engineering notebook and how well it captures the teams experience throughout the season.
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