[FRC Blog] 2020 Motors, Controllers, and Some Other Robot Rules

Posted on the FRC Blog, 10/31/19: https://www.firstinspires.org/robotics/frc/blog/2020-motors-controllers-some-robot-rules

2020 Motors, Controllers, and Some Other Robot Rules

Oct 31, 2019 | Written by Kevin O’Connor, Senior Engineer – Robotics, FIRST Robotics Competition.


With Kickoff for INFINITE RECHARGESM rapidly approaching, we know teams are looking to make budgets, plans, and purchases to prepare for the season. To help you make informed decisions, there are some details about the Robot Rules we thought you should know before Kickoff. These details include the lists of legal motors, controllers, and MXP boards for this season, some adjustments to the rules about pre-kickoff work, and some changes to the rules regarding Robot costs and Bills of Materials. This season we have 2 new legal motor controllers and 5 new legal motors to introduce; these devices are presented below in alphabetical order by supplier.

AndyMark Hex-Output Snow Blower Motor

AndyMark has updated the Snow Blower Motor (am-2235) to a 1” long hex shaft output, allowing it to integrate with a much larger variety of available FRC parts. You can find more info about this on the AndyMark product page.

CTRE/VEX Robotics Falcon 500, Powered by Talon FX

The Falcon 500, powered by Talon FX, is a new brushless motor with integrated controller and encoder from CTR Electronics/VEX Robotics. This new smart motor supports many of the same closed loop features as the Talon SRX. In addition, the Falcon 500 brings many new features and improvements to the FRC community. You can find more info about these devices on the CTR Electronics or VEX Robotics product pages.

Johnson Electric Motor

FRC is happy to welcome an old motor partner back to the fold in Johnson Electric. Johnson Electric will be donating a small brushed DC motor with attached planetary gearbox, which will be available in FIRST Choice. This motor has a free speed of 410rpm, and a stall torque of 4.4Nm (+/-.6Nm) at 26A. A built in Hal effect sensor can be used to track rotation of the motor. Each motor will come with an output adapter to adapt the splined motor output to a hex shaft for easy integration with available FRC parts. More information will be available on the FIRST Choice product page when it is posted.

Playing With Fusion Venom

The Venom is an upgraded CIM motor with an integrated CAN motor controller and sensor assembly from Playing With Fusion. This device integrates the FRC workhorse CIM motor with a smart CAN powered motor controller to minimize connection points and, therefore, points of failure. To learn more about this device and how to use it on the FRC CAN network, check out Playing With Fusion’s FRC landing page.

Rev Robotics Neo 550

The NEO 550 is the latest addition to the REV Robotics, NEO Brushless line of products. Its small size and power are designed for all non-drivetrain robot applications. It has the same mounting holes and pilot as a 550 series DC motor, so it can mount in many off the shelf gearboxes. More info will be available soon on the REV Robotics Brushless page.

Allowed Fans change

You will also notice a change to the allowed fans in the list down below. This season all fans which meet specific size and power requirements will be permitted regardless of whether they were ever a Kit of Parts item. This should allow teams and inspectors to more easily identify allowed parts while still restricting the items allowed to small fans used primarily for cooling purposes.

Robot Cost Accounting

For the 2020 season, the total robot cost limit will be rolling back to the Kickoff 2019 total of $5000. We are also adding new exemptions for any Inertial Measurement Units (provided they still meet the $500 single part limit) and any Rockwell Automation sensors ever provided via the Kit of Parts (including FIRST Choice). Here’s the full rule text:

Rx. The total cost of all items on the ROBOT shall not exceed $5000 USD. All costs are to be determined as explained in the Budget Constraints & Fabrication Schedule section. Exceptions are as follows:

  1. individual items that are less than $5 USD each, as purchasable from a VENDOR, and
  2. items from the current year’s KOP, up to the KOP quantity (including the rookie KOP items). Identical functional replacements may be used to meet this criterion.
  3. Specific exempt items:
    i. Inertial Measurement Units (Note that [Single part limit rule] still applies)
    ii. Rockwell Automation sensors available through the Kit of Parts (including FIRST Choice) in any season

Pre-Kickoff Work

In an effort to increase the ability of teams to re-use parts in order to reduce costs and environmental footprint, we are making some tweaks to the rule regarding using fabricated items created prior to Kickoff. For the 2020 season, teams will be allowed to use COTS items which have been assembled, decorated/labeled, or had minor modifications made before kickoff. We know these changes may not go as far as some in the community may hope; we wanted to be cautious and see how these changes and the stop build changes affect teams before considering additional changes for future seasons. Here’s the full rule text:

Ry. FABRICATED ITEMS created before Kickoff are not permitted. Exceptions are:

  2. BUMPERS (a protective assembly designed to attach to the exterior of the ROBOT and constructed as specified in the BUMPER Rules section),
  3. battery assemblies per Rxx,​
  4. FABRICATED ITEMS consisting of one COTS electrical device (e.g. a motor or motor controller) and attached COMPONENTS associated with any of the following modifications:
    i. wires modified to facilitate connection to a ROBOT (including removal of existing connectors)
    ii. connectors and any materials to secure and insulate those connectors (Note: passive PCBs such as those used to adapt motor terminals to connectors are considered connectors)
    iii. motor shafts modified and/or gears, pulleys, or sprockets added
    iv. motors modified with a filtering capacitor as described in the Blue Box below Rz
  5. COTS items with any of the following modifications:
    i. Non-functional decoration or labeling
    ii. Assembly of COTS items per manufacturer specs, unless the result constitutes a MAJOR MECHANISM as defined in I1
    iii. Work that could be reasonably accomplished in fewer than 30 minutes with the use of handheld tools (e.g. drilling a small number of holes in a COTS part)

Complete Actuator Controller List

  1. Motor Controllers
    i1. DMC 60/DMC 60c Motor Controller (P/N: 410-334-1, 410-334-2)
    ii. Jaguar Motor Controller (P/N: MDL-BDC, MDL-BDC24, and 217-3367) connected to PWM only
    iii. Nidec Dynamo BLDC Motor with Controller to control integral motor only (P/N 840205-000, am-3740)
    iv. SD540 Motor Controller (P/N: SD540x1, SD540x2, SD540x4, SD540Bx1, SD540Bx2, SD540Bx4, SD540C)
    v. Spark Motor Controller (P/N: REV-11-1200)
    vi. Spark MAX Motor Controller (P/N: REV-11-2158)
    vii. Talon FX Motor Controller (P/N: 217-6515, 19-708850, am-6515, am-6515_Short) for controlling integral Falcon 500 only.
    viii. Talon Motor Controller (P/N: CTRE_Talon, CTRE_Talon_SR, and am-2195)
    ix. Talon SRX Motor Controller (P/N: 217-8080, am-2854, 14-838288)
    x. Victor 884 Motor Controller (P/N: VICTOR-884-12/12)
    xi. Victor 888 Motor Controller (P/N: 217-2769)
    xii. Victor SP Motor Controller (P/N: 217-9090, am-2855, 14-868380)
    xiii. Victor SPX Motor Controller (P/N: 217-9191, 17-868388, am-3748)
    xiv. Venom Motor with Controller (P/N BDC-10001) for controlling integral motor only​
  2. Relay Modules
    i. Spike H-Bridge Relay (P/N: 217-0220 and SPIKE-RELAY-H)
    ii. AutomationDirect Relay (P/N: AD-SSR6M12-DC-200D, AD-SSRM6M25-DC-200D, AD-SSR6M45-DC-200D)
  3. Pneumatics controllers
    i. Pneumatics Control Module (P/N: am-2858, 217-4243, 14-806777)

Complete MXP List

The MXP approved board list remains the same as the 2019 season:

  • Kauai Labs navX MXP
  • RCAL MXP Daughterboard
  • REV Robotics RIOduino
  • REV Robotics Digit Board
  • WCP Spartan Sensor Board
  • Huskie Robotics HUSKIE 2.0 Board

Complete Motor List

  • AndyMark 9015 (am-0912)
  • AndyMark NeveRest (am-3104)
  • AndyMark PG (am-2161, am-2765, am-2194, am-2766)
  • AndyMark RedLine Motor (am-3775, am-3775a)
  • AndyMark Snow Blower Motor (am-2235, am-2235a)
  • Banebots (am-3830, M7-RS775-18, RS775WC-8514, M5 – RS550-12, RS550VC-7527, RS550)
  • CIM (FR801-001, M4-R0062-12, AM802-001A, 217-2000, PM25R-44F-1005, PM25R-45F-1004, PM25R-45F-1003, PMR25R-45F-1003, PMR25R-44F-1005, am-0255)
  • CTR Electronics/VEX Robotics Falcon 500 (217-6515, 19-708850, am-6515, am-6515_Short)
  • KOP Automotive Motors (Denso AE235100-0160, Denso 5-163800-RC1, Denso 262100-3030, Denso 262100-3040, Bosch 6 004 RA3 194-06, Johnson Electric JE-PLG-149)
  • Nidec Dynamo BLDC Motor (am-3740, DM3012-1063)
  • Playing With Fusion Venom (BDC-10001)
  • REV Robotics NEO Brushless (REV-21-1650)
  • REV Robotics NEO 550 (REV-21-1651)
  • VEX BAG (217-3351)
  • VEX Mini CIM (217-3371)
  • West Coast Products RS775 Pro (217-4347)
  • Electrical solenoid actuators, no greater than 1 in. (nominal) stroke and rated electrical input power no greater than 10 watts (W) continuous duty at 12 volts (VDC)
  • Fans, no greater than 120mm (nominal) size and rated electrical input power no greater than 10 watts (W) continuous duty at 12 volts (VDC)
  • Hard drive motors part of a legal COTS computing device
  • Factory installed vibration and autofocus motors resident in COTS computing devices (e.g. rumble motor in a smartphone).
  • PWM COTS servos with a retail cost < $75.
  • Motors integral to a COTS sensor (e.g. LIDAR, scanning sonar, etc.), provided the device is not modified except to facilitate mounting
  • One (1) compressor compliant with Rxx and used to compress air for the ROBOT’S pneumatic system

Many new motor additions, 2 with integrated motor controllers, what could the advantage of a motor like this be? Damaging the motor would be a lot more expensive because now the motor controller needs to be replaced as well as they are one unit.


Lowered part count is almost always the end goal when money is no object.

Motor stopped working? Why bother with testing the motor and controller when you can just swap the whole thing?

Not a great mindset for reducing waste, but engineering is about meeting requirements, and if it fits the requirements, it ships.

I mean, the CIM one is already obsolete thanks to NEOs, so we probably won’t see many and they’ll fade into obscurity.


We will have options to address some of these failures after things settle down a bit.

Playing With Fusion, Inc


Really excited for the possibilities that the smaller NEO and the Falcon 500 bring!

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New motors are cool and all, but PRE-KICKOFF WORK REFORMS!!


The IMU exemption is interesting. Makes me interested in what exactly will constitute an IMU (single axis laser ring gyro???), and if this is implying the need for more advanced navigation this year.

Additionally, aside from the linkage to MAJOR MECHANISM, the pre-build work list seems reasonable. Especially the last bullet-point that effectively says “any reasonably small nitty-gritty task”, this seems like a good level-set with a sane reality.


yea that imu thing caught my eye and I think there will be a reason that those are exempt


I’m 99% certain it’s due to the Analog Devices IMUs from FIRST Choice, which have retail values above $500 but due to the KOP rule changes last year had to have a specific rule put in place to allow them.


The new Snow Blower Motor with Hex Output is in stock and shipping now :stuck_out_tongue:


This rule isn’t nearly explicit enough. How do you account for items in FIRST Choice or Vouchers? Is it just your vouchers and FIRST Choice or everyone’s? Are teams limited by how lucky they are in the FIRST Choice Lottery or their ability to predict which items they will use with Vouchers? Can a rookie team that is unable to opt out of the Drive Base kit still build the same robot as a veteran that gets the AM Voucher?

My current thought is to hold the AM voucher until near the end of the season so we can ensure that the items we purchase are all actually on the robot. FIRST Choice is trickier but we will be much less likely to request any items that are also KOP such as PDP, PCM, VRM, since that doesn’t help us lower the BOM. Getting speed controllers and motors are more valuable until we learn exactly how they plan to account for these items this year.

I love this update, and would like to see it go further in the future as well to allowing teams to use custom parts that are identical/similar to COTS parts. Including custom made gussets, etc that match COTS parts or even further and just getting rid of the no work before kickoff rule entirely.


Can anyone from the suppliers of the new motors say if they’ll be in FIRST Choice?

How many holes can you drill, by hand, in 30 minutes?


Are we talking belt C-C holes or swiss cheese?

I propose a controlled test… put a dozen freshmen in a room, give each a drill, drill bit, and 100 feet of tubing, and average the size mess each one makes.


A handful. :fist: A double handful :open_hands: if you don’t care where exactly they are.

I’m happy to see a bit of loosening on the “pristine” state of COTS items, including assembly of gearboxes and such!

Also loving more brushless options. It’s a shame two of them have integrated controllers, both for cost and (assuming they’re only CAN-controllable) use for practice projects where PWM is still the easiest signal to generate. Added: I see that the Falcon 500 is PWM-controllable. I expect the Falcon 500 in particular is going to bump up the importance of current budgets of high-end teams, and reduce their need for PTO gearboxes.

Added: Oh, yes! And that these rules were released early enough to help guide pre-season purchasing, especially use of FIRST Choice. (Though I concur with @AllenGregoryIV that it isn’t clear what quantity of FIRST Choice parts are in the KoP!)

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…closed-loop torque & servo control modes onboard at $120 for the integrated package is really interesting.

But the Falcon500 is just $140.

I could see the Venom working at a $99 price point.

Yes, yes, yes. Wow these are good updates.

I wonder if the “no work before Kickoff” rules could be worked into Major Mechanism definitions instead of contained in the Fabrication section.


So on the pre-kickoff work, would we be allowed to assemble a MK2 module before kickoff? It is the assembly of COTS parts (the module itself, absolute encoder, NEOs) and a modified wheel. One of our students was able to assemble 4 of these in a little under 2 hours. Would that fit under the rules, or would the module need to be disassembled prior to kickoff for use? Not sure how building the module would fit in since it contains certain parts that are purchased separately from the module itself.

Yes, I read that as being squarely in the definition of 5ii of the FABRICATED ITEMS rule above.

Shoot, 5.II won’t cover the kitbot drivetrain since it’s a MAJOR MECHANISM. I’m really glad they made the change, though. I can think of a few things off the top of my head that can be reused now due to the changes in the rules.

(A handheld bandsaw might be able to make the drivetrain cuts in 30 minutes, though…)

Edit: Also, all computer fans are allowed now! This isn’t that big, but it’s nice to have.