I know you meant to program the Robot Controller. And the answer is as EricH stated, no you don’t. The dongle is just to disable the robot, Run the autonomous code and allow you to access additional channels so you can have a mini/practice competition with other FIRST robots.
I Love Andy Mark stuff and I’ve put down a few bucks for MANY of the fine products… However… $35 seems a little steep. It IS a nice looking box I admit.
The only real reason you’d need the dongle is to invoke autonomous mode and buying a 15 pin male BD15P connector and soldering a small switch isn’t that hard. (If it is… call me and I’ll send you mine!)
If the tutorial was talking about USB->Serial adapters, yes, you will need one if you don’t have any computers with serial ports.
If it was indeed talking about competition port dongles, you will only need one if you intend to do something in hybrid. If someone on your team knows how to operate a soldering iron, they are really easy to make. At Palmetto last year, we realized we had forgotten the one we have been using for years (at least since 2004); so, we made a new one out of a connector we had packed for some reason, a PWM cable, a piece of kitbot frame material, and a couple of switches another team (I think it was 343, but my memory is fuzzy) gave us. While it was a far from ideal solution (bad design for ESD reasons), it worked and we got a simple autonomous going with it. To make it properly, you need some kid of backshell, better cables, and a better box to put it in (like a RadioShack project box). The wiring diagram you need is available from the IFI’s website.