[FTC]: FTC Expands the kit of parts option for next season

Would love to see some pictures taken at the vendor booth at the FTC World Championship of these robots posted here. This is not a replacement or change in platform but as the thread title states an expansion of allowed materials.

Link to press release on the vendor website.
MATRIX Robotics build system

http://matrixrobotics.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/QuickStartRover_step_0.png

OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH THATS WHO THEY WERE…i was wondering why they got such a good spot and had soo many FTC teams around them. Go figure.

We’ve got some pics posted in the CD media of this new kit.
As others post, include a link(s) in a post in this thread.

Universal joint

Omni-Wheels

Timing belt / pulley system

Ball shooter

I actually uploaded those photos to the CD Media just for this thread. :slight_smile:

As you can see there are some really nice components that are currently missing in Tetrix such as some of the joints and belts which I got close-ups of. It seems like a great hybrid of what’s currently available in Tetrix and Vex while being compatible with the LEGO Mindstorms system.

I spoke with the gentleman at the booth for a bit who was the creator of the new platform. I believe he actually came up with the system to help grow FTC in Asia as it is currently too expensive for teams over there to order kits from here and having a second kit-of-parts made locally over in China would open the door to really getting FIRST going over there. The fact that teams here in the US and abroad would be able to mix & match components from Matrix & Tetrix seems like a potential win-win for everyone involved in FTC.

Some highlights from my conversation:

  • No pricing or availability yet; they are still sourcing some of the parts
  • Currently they only have VIs in LabView, but they’ve already reached out to CMU and it sounds like ROBOTC will be able to support the new platform
  • Those plastic push rivits in some of the pictures are designed for easy & rapid prototyping. You would generally use the screws and nuts when building your competition robot
  • The hole patterns (size & spacing) is completely compatible with LEGO Technic and Tetrix
  • The motors have built-in encoders

Below & in the subsequent posts are all the photos I managed to capture on my phone:

More pictures:




& the remaining pictures:




So now we get to also use VEX?!?!? Just kidding, but this platform is very similar to the VEX platform. It looks inexpensive, it has plastic gears (not a big fan, unless to want to build a light weight flying robot), all the metal parts look very much like VEX, as in if you wanted to alter it then you could just bend it, unlike the C-channel or really any of the Tetrix building materials. It looks more user friendly like VEX, but unlike Tetrix it does not look robust in any way what so ever, which means the first time you get rammed into a wall or pushed across the field, the robot would fall apart or get damaged. It doesn’t look all bad though, because they have some pretty cool pieces like the belt drive, which looks like it could come in handy. My guess is most teams that have done FTC for a couple years will mostly use Tetrix with a few of the cool pieces of Matrix, but probably wouldn’t use it for anything that needs to be robust. That’s just my thoughts on the new Matrix kit.

Besides the cool U-Joint, inclusion of timing belt & pulleys, I am interested in what appears to be modular connectors for angle and plates. Do I see two types in these images? A set of flat gusset plates and then 3 dimensional gussets for corners?

Other question, is the axle shaft square 1/8 inch or the D round shaft of the Tetrix? That would impact mixing and matching from the two sets in terms of motion elements.

I believe there are 3 different joiners in addition to the beams (flat and L) and the plates (flat gusset and flanged).
Straight beam connector:

Angled 2D beam connector:

Corner 3D beam connector:

This is something I overlooked when I was at the demo booth, but am now curious about myself.

I’d like to elaborate on this a bit. From more of an Engineering stand point.

First on my list.
-Gears.
–Plastic gears are not all bad. If its made of the right material, and is the right thickness they should be plenty strong. From what it looks to me the Matrix gears are VERY high quality (from what I could tell) I have no idea what material they are, I was told Polycarb (which is good) But other materials also have better properties. I hope that they choose quality over quantity to be completely honest.

It looks more user friendly like VEX, but unlike Tetrix it does not look robust in any way what so ever, which means the first time you get rammed into a wall or pushed across the field, the robot would fall apart or get damaged.

This part has me a bit. Irritated I guess is the word. The metal looked like it was 1/16 inch thick. (same as any Tetrix material) However It appeared that it was bent on a CNC break. Meaning its probably some grade of 5052 AL. I use 5052 AL on all my FRC robot designs as most parts need to be bent into shape. 1/16 inch AL with bends is plenty strong as long as you make the flanges long enough. Team 67 in FRC mind you does all 1/16 inch sheet metal on their drive train, and it holds up FINE. To say that the first time you get rammed your robot will fall apart is a bad conclusion/review, as if this does happen. Its not from the strength of the metal, its from the lack of engineering.

  • Andrew

The metal looked like 1/32 inch to me (note it is held together with plastic pegs like lego), but its almost identical to VEX, I’ve used VEX and it does not preform well when there is contact involved, my team and I made that VEX bot as robust as we could and it took a great deal more work to get it competition ready, mostly because the kit it self is so flimsy. Say you take a VEX bot to the FTC world competition and it get rammed into a wall by a 52 lb robot (like ours this year), don’t you think something would break? All I’m saying is the new matrix kit is less robust then Tetrix but has some cool pieces that could be useful on a FTC bot, although I wouldn’t use it to build a FTC robot. As for your FRC robot, you wouldn’t use 1/16 inch for the base of your robot, it would be used to more less to plate the robot.

Did anyone get more information on the controllers, DC Motors, Servos and Battery? Are they compatible with their Textrix counterparts?

Not piling on rather suggesting a correction. l0jec posted that the plastic rivets are intended for rapid prototyping and for competition one would logically use machine screws.

It looked like they combined the motor and servo controllers into a single housing and the comm wires controllers appeared to be the same ones (with the RJ12 connectors) used with the NXT.

Other than that I didn’t get a lot of details. Didn’t even get the voltage of the power supply/battery, so how power distribution would work with Tetrix is still an open question unless someone knows. Hopefully it would not require a separate battery & on/off switch for students to remember. I hope that FIRST would provide a power distribution panel to handle such a situation?

If there is any chance of combining electronics between Matrix and Tetrix, they would both need to run of 12 VDC. FTC referees will still need a single switch to disable robots. You could accomplish this with another control box, but requiring 12 VDC compatibility shouldn’t be that difficult to design to.

I wonder if controllers can be mixed on the same sensor port. That could add significant flexibility. The Matrix controllers appear slightly larger than the Hitechnic controllers.

1/32 is way to thin to be what it was. VEX is also plenty strong even as Aluminum. Its made from the same material 1/16 5052 AL sheet bent on a CNC break. I don’t see any well engineered robots falling to pieces on the field in VEX. As for the 52 pound robot thing. VEX robots are normally much lighter (at least the ultra efficient ones) However that being said there were some 60 pound wallbots at worlds this year. Its a trade off really. One thing I will say is that I wont deisgn with Matrix unless they make the right kinds of strutcutral parts, parts like Long C channel for instance. I don’t trust the L brackets all to much for the main structure of a drive train those are “flimsy”
It also seems to me that their shafts are different sizes than Tetrix, which means I hope to god they make shaft couplers. Thats one thing that Tetrix even needs to make. But Tetrix and Matrix both have their major and subtle differences. Tetrix not needing nearly as much work as Matrix to make a robust robot. But Matrix I have a feeling will make things smaller. Overall next year shall be fun.

  • Andrew

P.S. 67 Team H.O.T. did a 1/16 inch sheet metal drive train this year. Almost made it to Einstien. 1/16 is plenty strong, if done correctly.

I think these parts are going to be used for the more intricate systems on FTC bots. Tetrix will be used more for chassis, and the heavy-duty stuff. And think about it. Why would FTC use these parts if it weren’t because of next years game? Perhaps there are going to be more precise manuevers we have to perform that Tetrix can’t handle.:rolleyes:

We spent some time at the booth talking with the Matrix people. Their system is based on 9V not 12V so even though the parts might integrate mechanically (Matrix is based on an 8mm grid while tetrix is based on a 32mm grid) the electrical components would likely require a separate set of wiring for power.

I was told that the 9v motors are slightly less powerful than the tetrix 12V motors we are currently using. They also have built in encoders. I would be interested in seeing what options we have to connect multiple motors in parallel on a single circuit and control them with a single shaft encoder the way we do with our tetrix motors.

Can someone put me to speed here please.

Lego Education and Tetrix are no longer working with each other (or so I heard), so Matrix will be replacing Tetrix?

No Matrix is simply an addition to the FTC competition legal parts. As far as I have heard. Mainly will be used by international teams at first and then slowly introduced to the state side competition.

Thats what I have heard.

  • Andrew