FRC Rookie from Greece looking for help!

Hello everyone!

We are Team Terminators (Team 6839), an FRC Rookie Team from Karditsa, Greece. After a successful FLL season, our team decided to take things to the next level and complete in the 2017/2018 FRC season.

However, as we are the first FRC team from Greece, we have a lot of questions and things that need to be taken care of during pre-season that we unable to answer and tackle by ourselves. Here are some of those:

1. Pre-season Training: How could we possibly train during the pre-season (especially regarding the mechanical and programming part), as we do not have the Kit of Parts, thus not being able to have a hands-on training with the robot parts.

2. Build Season Management: How is a Rookie team able to manage the very limited Building season time frame in order to have a successful season, taking into account the lack of experience with the Kit of Parts?

3. Help Needed: As we are the first Rookie from Greece, and we have no Veteran team to mentor us in the area, we are looking for teams that would be interested in helping us in any possible way.

4. Participation: Last but not least, we would like to ask you for your advice on whether we should pursue and participate in this particular competition, given our situation as the only Rookie in our country. Lately, we are wonder if it is possible and worthwhile to participate in FRC.

Thank you all for reading this and we are looking forward to reading your replies!

Have a great day,
Evangelos.

The answer to a lot of your questions are dependent on resources. There are certainly rookie teams that form a few weeks before build season and jump right in on Kickoff day with no prior experience, and there are also rookies that get several months of a head-start like you are doing. Both can certainly be competitive given the right resources.

To answer your specific questions:

1. Pre-season Training: If your team has the money, you can buy many of the Kit of Parts components from AndyMark right now and have them shipped over. Since not many of the components change year-to-year, that would give you time to experiment and get used to the parts in advance, but it also isn’t cheap (probably about $1500-$3000USD before shipping).

If money is an issue, then perhaps training on more general engineering/programming concepts would be a good way to start. Taking some time to go over basic machining, mechanical design concepts, and programming (in Labview, C++, or JAVA) would give you a good head-start on the build season. Looking at some of the technical resources other teams have posted over the years is also a good way to learn about what to expect from a typical FRC season.

2. Build Season Management: This one is tricky and will require a knowledge of what kind of resources you can get locally (or at least from the same continent) ahead of time. A lot of FIRST-specific components like motors, controllers, and electronics you’ll have a hard time getting without getting them shipped from the USA, so those kinds of things I would recommend ordering as quickly as possible once build season starts to ensure they get to you by week 3-4 (which is about the time most teams are at the point of needing them anyways). I might also recommend contacting the customer support at VexPro and AndyMark as they might be able to make special arrangements to get your equipment to you on time.

After you get the FIRST-Specific items out of the way, then order as much as you can as locally as you can, this will save on costs and you’ll get build materials more quickly.

3. Help Needed: Geographically, the closest teams to you would likely be from Israel or the UK, however there have also been veteran teams who have been known to send mentors quite a long distance to help out new teams (the mentors from the USA that helped the new teams in China a few years back come to mind). I’m also quite sure there are a number of veteran teams who would be willing to help mentor you remotely (through Skype, email, etc) if you’re interested. If you’re ever not sure where to get help, contact FIRST HQ, they can put you in touch with the right people.

4. Participation:
Someone always has to be the first, in this case it’s up to you if it’s going to be your team that’s the first FRC team in Greece. Personally, FRC has been a huge, positive, life-changing experience for me, both as a student and as a mentor, and I highly recommend it. However, FRC is also a VERY expensive sport, and even more so because of the amount of travel your team will have to do to get to your competitions in other countries. That said, if you have the resources to be able to afford it, it’s a terrific program to be in.

I won’t tell you whether you should participate or not, that’s a decision you have to make based on the resources you have available and how committed you are to making the team work.

1. Pre-season Training:
So the Kit of Parts is mostly just the Kit of Parts Chassis and some basic materials to start your season off. It’s mostly used to allow teams to have the basic items necessary to compete. With that being said, what comes in the rookie Kit of Parts (KOP) is your control system. If you want to gain experience with controls (coding, electronics) you most likely need to purchase a complete control system from andymark, or find another team give them to you via purchase or donation.

With that being said though, your team could start to learn building and design skills, such as CAD. Autodesk offers student versions of Fusion 360 and Inventor for free, and you can use this to challenge your students to design FRC robots from previous seasons, using a combination of off the shelf parts, and parts you design as a team.

I would also focus on brainstorming, prototyping, and precedent study of other teams and how they design and build robots, along with how their team is set up.

2. Build Season Management: As a founder of a rookie team in 2015, I can say it can be done! What you need to do is have team goals for your team to accomplish (such as haveing a working robot at competition) and going fro there. Create a schedule, and training and building sessions for the team so everyone is on track with the progress of the robot.

3. Help Needed: “As we are the first Rookie from Greece, and we have no Veteran team to mentor us in the area, we are looking for teams that would be interested in helping us in any possible way.”

We got you guys!!!
let us know what you need. We would be happy to be full time mentors for your team, and we can meet online every few days during the build season and whenever you need leading up to it.

Feel free to email me at messer@cwnchs.org so we can start to help your team!

4. Participation: "Last but not least, we would like to ask you for your advice on whether we should pursue and participate in this particular competition, given our situation as the only Rookie in our country. Lately, we are wonder if it is possible and worthwhile to participate in FRC. "

YES!!! FIRST is life changing! It inspired me and made enormous impacts within my community and team and can do the same to yours. As I have experienced, it creates a much greater impact than FLL, and you will see for yourself at your regional events and during the build season (and maybe even the world championship) how AWESOME FRC is!

Hope to hear from you soon and I’m excited to help your team succeed!

First, welcome to FRC!

Judging from the threads I recall over the years here regarding international teams, the biggest problem you may face will be parts availability, shipping, and customs.

If you have the budget for it, I would consider ordering a full robot kit now in the off season. A KoP Chassis, RoboRIO, PDP, VRM, Radio, motors, motor controllers, etc. Some (many) of those pieces will be useful to you either as spares once you get your official KoP, or you’ll otherwise need anyway (motor controllers). Focus on the parts that are generally restricted in the prior game manuals (eg motor controllers, motors, etc). Parts that are more free-for-all (eg polycarbonate, aluminum extrusions, wiring, etc) you should be able to source more locally.

See if you can get an idea when you’ll expect your KoP after kickoff, it’ll help you plan your time during build season.

Start looking at the control system requirements for the last 2-3 years. What gauge wire, pneumatics, etc. Try to get a list of places now that might stock parts you can use locally, and if you can’t find any, order in advance.

As far as training, it’s hard to lay out a good regiment without having some components on-hand. Programming wise, pick a language now. Labview would probably be the hardest to get started with early as you don’t have the software yet. (We don’t use LV, so I’m not 100% on this one - any LV teams have suggestions here?) C++ vs Java would be your remaining options. Your students are more likely to work with Java during their secondary or post-secondary education (if not in the real world) than C++, and personally, I think Java’s easier to learn and debug.

Get your programmers to start working through basic Java programming, and be able to make simple command-line programs. (Think the 1st half of a college intro to Java course). They’ll want to finish that by early to mid December at the latest. If you get a control system/kit together and can make a simple rolling chassis, they’ll want to get into the basics of WPILib as soon as they can.

It’s a lot to take on. I’m PMing you my email address. Feel free to contact me with any questions now, during build-season, or anytime. I see you’re coming to Tech Valley, and we’ll be happy to have you here, and help you as best we can.

I will add that you should consider joining The Rookie Network for help with rookie-type questions.

Turkey. See if you can make arrangements with a couple of the closer Turkish teams.

Also see if they have a Kickoff event out there–that may help with making sure you get the kit of parts a little faster, or making connections. Yes, that does mean going across the border…

4. Participation:
Someone always has to be the first, in this case it’s up to you if it’s going to be your team that’s the first FRC team in Greece. Personally, FRC has been a huge, positive, life-changing experience for me, both as a student and as a mentor, and I highly recommend it. However, FRC is also a VERY expensive sport, and even more so because of the amount of travel your team will have to do to get to your competitions in other countries. That said, if you have the resources to be able to afford it, it’s a terrific program to be in.

I won’t tell you whether you should participate or not, that’s a decision you have to make based on the resources you have available and how committed you are to making the team work.

Quoted for truth. We aren’t in your situation–we can’t tell you for sure whether or not to go for it. My personal advice would be to see if you can make it work for (only) one season. After that? Your call.

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Hi Team Terminators,

Team 6314 has a brand new website with over 60 different resources, tutorials, videos, and presentations. We know what it is like to start a team if you want to PM (Private Message) us on Chief Delphi or email us at dmrobotics6314@gmail.com we would be happy to talk to you and walk you through the whole process! We have a whole list of different team management documents and tutorial presentations that could help your team. As former rookies, we know what struggles you are going through, so we would love to help! Let us know what you are interested in and we will be glad to help! We actually have a whole guide with curriculum and basic tutorials for rookie teams that we would love to share with you. We would love to help you out, let us know how we can help you!

DM Robotics
FIRST Team #6314

Hello Team 6839, Team 6305 would be happy to answer any questions that you have. Feel free to pm me!

I suggest you send it out mass emails to as many businesses as you can for sponsorships because one of the biggest problems rookie teams usually have is money and mentorships. Remember there is no harm in asking. Since you are the first try contacting your mayor or governor (or equivalent) because they may help. Also do research into the laws for transporting your team and robot and supplies and try to talk to teams in the nearest comepetition country incase you cant bring certain items so they can give you them when you arrive. When in doubt do as much as possible before build season begins

Hi Evangelos! I am a mentor from Team 20, a veteran team located just a 15 minute drive from the competition you’ve registered for, the New York Tech Valley Regional. We would be glad to help you and your team for your rookie season and in preparation for the competition in the spring, especially since we will also be at the same competition!

Personally, I helped start a rookie team in the U.S. 2 years ago that won 3 rookie awards including a Rookie Allstar award at the FIRST Championship. Last year I worked closely with a Rookie team that joined us from Turkey for the New York Tech Valley Regional, who also earned a Rookie Allstar award at the regional level. I am familiar with the challenges facing newer teams, how to work effectively with the rookie kit of parts components and drive base, and my teammates and I would be thrilled to help by sharing what we can to help you succeed.

  1. Even lacking the physical kit of parts, there is plenty that can be done to prepare for the season. Some key ways you can prepare include (with helpful links):
    -Developing a Team Structure: http://www.simbotics.org/files/pdf/runteam.pdf
    -Learning about Strategy for FRC: http://www.simbotics.org/files/pdf/effective_first_strategies.pdf
    -Organizing your Build Space
    -Training on your Machining equipment
    -Learning the Wiring and Code that will be useful during the season:
    http://wpilib.screenstepslive.com/s/currentCS/m/cs_hardware/l/144971-wiring-the-2017-frc-control-system
    Example for Java: http://wpilib.screenstepslive.com/s/currentCS/m/java
    -Learning CAD and getting Filesharing implemented before the season
    For example, GrabCAD Workbench: https://grabcad.com/workbench
    -Learn more about how robots are designed and constructed:
    http://www.andymark.com/category-s/508.htm (a good starting point for the basics)
    https://www.greybots.com/videos.html (more advanced, likely to have present material that exceeds the recommended capabilities of a first year team, but it’s good to start learning and see what is out there, and pick up on some good tips if you have the time)
    -Purchasing equipment and materials that will be useful for the season; if we spent some time going over what you already have I may be able to help evaluate what would be good purchases to prepare yourselves.

  2. As far as build season management, my recommendation to most teams that are doing this for the first time is that they plan to have about 15 working hours scheduled per week. I find that it quickly becomes difficult to get a robot ready for competition if you aren’t coming close to that. This doesn’t necessarily mean every member will be putting in 15 hours every week, some might only put in 5-10 hours per week, but that there are at least 15 possible hours throughout the week that you plan on having available to those that can show up. On Team 20 we have 20 hours per week planned as open shop working hours. On Team 5811, it was 16 hours.

One way you can definitely improve chances of a successful build season is by paying close attention to the golden rules in the strategy presentation linked above. By carefully considering which tasks in the game your team will design your robot to accomplish, and building a machine that is consistent with your resources, you can build a successful robot that fits the time and resource constraints for your team. Now if it comes down to the end and the robot is behind schedule, it is likely that the hours might stretch longer to upwards of 25 hours for the last week or two, so don’t be too surprised if that happens.

  1. We can definitely provide help remotely over Skype and through email exchanges. Getting a feel for your exact situation (e.g. team size, build space/resources, mentor expertise, business partnerships,…) will be helpful in providing the best possible assistance. We have friends on other teams who are familiar with the challenges that come along with international travel to get to events, so we could get you in touch with them to share what they know. At the competitions, it is very common for the volunteers and veteran teams to help the younger teams at the event. We will help you pass inspection, get ready for the matches, and with any tools that are more difficult to bring overseas. For example, we’ll have a small band saw, belt sander, and a vice in our pit that other teams are welcome to use. Often times local teams will bring extra robot batteries and chargers to lend to the international teams for the weekend. Sometimes international travel restrictions make it hard to bring those batteries along; plus they’re heavy.

Truthfully you’ve already found an outstanding resource for help by posting on the chiefdelphi forums, so that tells me you’re already on the right track. I’ll send you a direct message with more detailed contact information for myself.

  1. There are certainly challenges associated with starting any new FRC team, and definitely some even greater challenges unique to starting the first new team in your country. But it’s also an outstanding opportunity. Obviously other FRC teams have been the first to start up in their country by now, and several have been successful in establishing a substantial enough following to host FRC competitions in countries like Israel, Australia, China, and Turkey. So don’t feel like it is doomed to failure, but be aware it will be quite the challenge. Good luck, and let me know if you would like to establish further contact. I look forward to meeting you and your team in person in March!

Hi Team 6839,
Team 3390 from Ankara-Turkey is inviting you to an Off-season event with the theme Deep Space.
We will be pleased to see you. For details you can visit our website or contact us.
Twitter: @team3390

Instagram: @team3390

E-mail: team3390@gmail.com

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we had 79 teams last year, will have at least 2 kickoffs and 2 regionals this year. (In Turkey)

There’s a lot of really good advice in this thread already, so I’ll focus mainly on just a couple points:

2. Build Season Management: I recommend focusing on one scoring method your first year. Pick one of the game pieces, and one place you’re going to put it in order to score, and make sure you can do that reliably. Once you have more experience it will become possible to be more ambitious, but for most rookie teams getting one mechanism to work well is plenty challenging. I also recommend spending a lot of time at the very beginning of the season reading the manual, and making sure everyone deeply understands the game and the robot requirements, before you start designing the robot.

4. Participation: I recommend reading through the GuamFIRST rookie “application” to help you figure out if you are in a good position for doing FRC. Paper: GuamFIRST FRC Rookie "Application"
If after discussing those questions you think your group might not be well-prepared for FRC this year, you might consider doing FTC instead, and transitioning to FRC in a year or two. A successful FTC team will have an easier time recruiting mentors, getting sponsors, and negotiating with your school for resources than a brand new group that hasn’t yet demonstrated that they can follow through, finish a robot, and compete.

This thread should probably be closed. Original post was in Oct. 2017, for a team looking for help on the 2019 FRC Season. According to TheBlueAlliance, it appears as if they never even competed in that year. Looks like the team folded before their first year competing.

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And yet their social media profiles are still active, mentioning the Name the Planet Contest and using DDS imagery…interesting.