[FTC]: [FTC]: Tools and Best Practices at Events

I find myself in what feels like an odd situation - I’m now a co-coach for a rookie FTC team. I say it’s odd because I’ve been a past technical mentor for multiple FTC teams (“Hot Shot!” through “Block Party”), but I’ve been “out of the mentor game” for the past 3 years since the transition to the Android Phones. At a recent scrimmage I realized there’s probably a lot of tools and techniques FTC teams have developed that I’m completely missing - can anyone help provide some details and/or tips?

  1. We use the Blocks Programming method, our students are all middle school students with limited or no programming experience. At our recent Scrimmage we ran into the situation where we realized our programmer couldn’t work on programs while our drivers were practicing. Is this possible, and how do teams deal with this?
  2. When we flip the power switch on our robot, we can’t seem to find an easy means of visually determining if the power is actually on. The REV expansion board pulls power from the phones, so all of the LEDs are lit up even without main power. Short of adding some additional in-line LED indicator, how can one truly tell if main power is active? I know that if the phones and connections and everything is correct the DS phone app power indicator will turn green, but I want an on-robot indication of this.
  3. What does your battery charging station look like? I’m wondering if most teams still use single-battery chargers (like 2-3 Tetrix battery chargers) or if someone knows of a great multiple-battery charger for FTC batteries. (yes, I’ve cut the Tamiya connectors and replaced with Anderson Powerpoles).
  4. What tools do you use for your robot that you would recommend to everyone (beyond the stock tools you get with the kit)? On previous teams we had long T-style ball-end Allen wrenches that were a godsend, what other tools do you commonly use/recommend?
  5. Do FTC teams use robot carts? If so, what kinds of robot carts work for your team(s)?

Thanks!
-Danny

  1. When we flip the power switch on our robot, we can’t seem to find an easy means of visually determining if the power is actually on. The REV expansion board pulls power from the phones, so all of the LEDs are lit up even without main power. [snip]

If you update your Expansion Hub’s firmware, we’ve changed the blink codes to make it clear when the Hub is running off of 5V USB or 12V battery power.

You can find more information on the Expansion Hub product page and in the user guide: https://www.revrobotics.com/rev-31-1153/

I believe you can save your current code to a local machine and use a second device as the “home” to work on the code, save it again, then transfer over. I haven’t tried this method personally at an event however it was the main way I got a number of the demo bots up and running for workshops.