[FTC]: Anyone new to FTC or TETRIX, READ THIS NOW!

There’s a lot to absorb in the first few weeks of the competition, and only SOME of that is technology based information.

This year National Instruments included a cool little printed manual in the Competition Kit. It’s called:

“Getting Started with NI LabVIW and FTC”

And although it’s targeted directly at LabVIEW users, it also provides some fudemental building and testing information that applies to ALL the programming languages.

I STRONGLY recommend that anyone interested in building up their first FTC robot should consider starting with the robot described in this manual. It’s not likely to win any creativity awards, but it’s a good solid workhorse that will let you get up and running quickly to evaluate the mechanics and any software that you choose to use.

I was able to provide input into the control system side of the manual, so I did my best to include as many “tips” as possible to help rookies avoid those “D’oh” moments.

Hopefully this manual will also be online soon, so I’ll add a link when I see it.

Good luck to everyone this season.


Just an update to my suggestion that you all check out the “Getting Started with NI LabVIEW for FTC” manual. (GS Manual for short)

I’ve uploaded a zip file to the NI FIRST community page with a fairly detailed description of a “fun Bot” that we designed for demonstrations. It’s based on the standard robot design in the GS manual, with a manipulator added.

The zip file contains photos, the LabVIEW program and a description of how the code works.

It’s located here: http://decibel.ni.com/content/docs/DOC-6611

There’s also a video on youtube if you want to see it in action.

In the video it’s actually being controlled directly from a PS2 wireless controller, but the sample code is for standard FTC bluetooth control.

okay noone in my team knows how to program cuz all our programers have already graduted. weve tried to mess around with labview but dont understand it. is there a text based system we can use to program the robot? we just cant grasp the visual one.
i think robotc is text based but i dont know and i have no idea about the other one. all this stuff is confusing!!!

You are correct, RobotC is text based, and the third option (NXT-G) is another graphic based language.

ROBOTC is the way to go for a text-based programmiing language for FTC. There are tutorials on how to use it at www.ftctraining.com (scroll down below the light-yellow box that has information for last year’s game). You can also go to www.robotc.net/FTC and scroll to the bottom of that page to the “FTC Tutorials and Resources” section and click on those hyperlinks. That should give you a great start.

Good luck to you and your team.

I understand that any new language/environment can be confusing… which is kinda why I recommended that you READ the Getting Started manual. Did you try this approach?

Unlike a video game, “Messsing around” with a new programming language isn’t the best way to get started any more (even for experienced programmers).

Trying to just “guess” the basics won’t work.

Open the user manual, use a tutorial, look at the templates that have been provided for teams, read some help files… heck… as a last resort… ask an adult to help you learn it.

If this doesn’t work for the first language you try, try another.

Your first goal should just be to get the robot moving… the fun starts after that.


I can program using Java so I am going to use the RobotC program if my mentor says its okay. Do you know if we can use this program for the FRC competitions also? We have tried going through the tutorials for labview and it just confuses us more. I will talk to my mentor tomorrow and see if its okay that we use the RobotC program. Thanks for the help. Im pretty sure this will be my new favorite site all season!!! :S

Sorry, no. Only LabView and a version of C++ for embedded processors.

Whatever you feel comfortable with!

BTW, you will be able to use Java with FRC.


WE CAN USE JAVA!?!?!?!?!?!?!!?!?!?!?!? :ahh:
YAY!!! :smiley:

maybe my time will win this year!!! we got second place alliance in last years frc regionals competition in oklahoma city. the year before was our rookie year and we did pretty good. i hope we get to nationals this year!!!

ooops. My bad. They did announce that there will be a Java version of the code for FRC this year. I’m sorry for the mis-information.

Thanks for correcting me Phil.

yay! good news my mentor says hes gunna let us use the robotc program!!! :smiley: we are getting our ideas together and its going good :smiley: ill post any questions we have as the time comes thanks for all the help!!!

As a follow up.

The “Getting Started with NI LabVIEW for FTC” document has been posted on the NI site, so you can download and view electronically.


For those you who do have questions regarding NXT programming in LabVIEW, National Instruments has made a considerable investment in technical support for the 2010 season. Like during the FRC 2009 season engineers with special training are monitoring the forums at www.ni.com/first and will be answering all FTC support and programming questions.

When in doubt - go to the source.


anyone know if we can do tank-like wheels? instead of 4 seperate wheels getting the 1 belt wheel thing on each side… anyone know what im talking about? i havent seen anything about it in the rules but i wanna make sure…

:confused: :confused: :confused:

I assume you meant tank tread/tracks.

There aren’t any “off the shelf” solutions for this in FTC.
However, there is the possibility for creativity.

eg: LEGO has tank tread, and they are permitted this year. There are heavy/light weight variations. Probably not the best for drive system, but siutable for a conveyor.

Plus to can always make your own with the allowable materials (metal/plastic). Tough but not impossible.

It’s a parts list thing… There are no tank treads in the list, but if you want to make some out of something in the list, and you can make them so they won’t damage the field, you can go ahead and do it - It will probably get you some good engineering points…

The tank like wheels in this particular case

  1. are not very feasible, Phillbot has given you probably the easiest way to create treads, but even then, they wouldn’t support a robotics weight and move well.
  2. wouldn’t exactly give you any greater advantage than wheels. In fact, they might actually slow you down, because the sprockets for the tank treads would probably be smaller than the larger wheels.

Just somethings to think about.

i had to ask because some members of my team kinda wanted to do it and i thought it was an interesting idea to play with. we probably wont end up doing that. however it would be interesting to see someone do it… :rolleyes: but then again there are going to be a lot of cool ideas out there for this

Curious about wheel options. This is the first year my high school has had a robotics club and we are participating in the First Tech Challenge. If we went and bought some special omni-directional wheels would our robots become invalid? We purchased the tech kit but we are eying a completely different set of wheels.