[FTC]: New Android Control System

Anyone with a ZTE Speed device? I’m trying to use mine as a Wifi-Only device but it continues to try to activate on the cell service. At least I think that is what is happening.

Getting interrupts dialogs like:
“Activate Device: Are you swapping this device for one you currently have on your account?”
“The network did not respond in time. The sim card has locked. Please powercylce the device”

See Tom Eng’s post at the FTC forum: Tip on using ZTE Speed

And video by PhilBot posted here: ZTE Speed setup for FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC)

Youtube video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n597U6rcl2Y

I set up my ZTE using the above information and have not gotten the activation messages. Key I think is to take out the SIM card and put in “Airplane Mode”, and then enable WIFI.

Doesn’t “Airplane mode” lockout wifi as well?

Thanks for the links. I’ll have a look. Also - Many thanks for summarizing and recapping this thread. It’s extremely useful.


WIFI can be enabled while in Airplane Mode…

Ok… it’s time to get going on doing what it takes to make a robot run with the new control system. Information about the details of the system are becoming public at the FTC forum. I follow the posts by Tom Eng Tom Eng and Jonathan Berling (Qualcomm Engineer) very closely. They posted at the forms and videos on YouTube that demonstrate the new system’s architecture.

Below, I’ll fill in what I’ve found related to my end-of-school-year plan. The links (underlined text) is where I got the information.

**NOTE: None of this will be official until the robot build rules are published “[in early July](http://ftcforum.usfirst.org/showthread.php?4207-Game-Manual-release&p=13814&viewfull=1#post13814)”


  1. Figure out the Android controls and what components will be usable for 2016.
  • The “ZTE Speed” Android cell phone will be the official FTC “device” supported for the 2015/2016 season.

  • Other Android devices will be allowed, but not formally supported by FTC. As Tom Eng posted, FTC wanted a tablet for the driver station, but decided on the phone as more affordable. I want to investigate using something like the DragonBoard 410C as an alternative. A larger touch screen could provide more controls options.

  1. When the Software Development Kit (SDK) for the Android and Modern Robotics controls goes public this month (May), I hope to be able to figure out how all the components work together and move the programming environment set-up forward.
  • The beta of the SDK will be available soon; probably early June. While we won’t have the Modern Robotics Inc hardware until July-ish (late June ship date), Tome Eng and Jonathan Berling have video previews of the FTC software. It looks a lot like RobotC code for Android Studio. Tom also previews App Inventor programming.
  1. Since our team has limited financial resources, I want to figure out what is required to buy through FTC kits and what can be purchased more cheaply…
  • We’ve bought 4 ZTE Speed phones. 2 from Amazon ($40 ea.) and 2 from eBay (used ~ 35 ea.). Amazon price for Boost phone is now $56 (23May15).

  • We have not registered yet, and haven’t decided which kit to purchase. We’re thinking about two options: 1.) register and buy the “Electronic Modules & Sensors Kit “ ($391) or 2.) wait for components’ pricing and decide if buying individual components is more economical.

  1. Be prepared to understand and leverage the forum posts from programmers about Java Studio, App Inventor and the other computer stuff…

A big thanks to Tom, Johnathan, Phil and all the other forum posters who’ve helped us!

Where to start? I feel like a caveman looking at a Ferrari…

I’ll start with the driver station; figure out how make a program to get the game controller (F310) talking to the ZTE Speed. I was hoping to begin with MIT App Inventor, but couldn’t find anything on the internet to get me started. I’ll use Android Studio to program.


Phone Setup:

I used PhilBot’s Youtube video: ZTE Speed setup for FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC)


Software installation on PC:

  1. Download Java SE Development Kit 8 (JDK)
  2. Install/configure the JDK. I found this tutorial easier than the instructions from the download site: Android App Development for Beginners - 1 - Introduction
  3. Download Android Studio Android Studio
  4. Install/configure Android Studio. Again, found the following tutorials easier than the instructions from the download site: Android App Development for Beginners - 2 - Installing Android Studio and
    Android App Development for Beginners - 3 - Setting up Your Project
  5. Hook you phone up to your PC with USB cable, just like you would to charge it (USB-A to USB-micro B cable)
  6. Start your first “project”. I used this procedure from the “Android Developer” site: Creating an Android Project. But… this looks good too: Android App Development for Beginners - 4 - Running a Simple App Follow this tutorial except you’ll at the point when you run the program, you should choose your phone in the “Choose Device” pop-up screen. Mine reads as “ZTE N9130 Android 4.4.4 (API 19)”

If this procedure worked for you, you should see your Android screen change and display “Hello World!” (see below). You now have your “programming environment” set up, and made a program that is writing and loading an app on the phone.

Next, I’ll try running a program from Android Studio that will talk to the Logitech game controller…

Now it’s time to actually do some work on program files. Up to now, I’ve only followed other’s procedures and relied on the automatic features of Android Studio. I need to understand what I’m looking at in this Android Studio window. There must be over 100 buttons and thingies…

  1. I started looking at the ton of directories and files generated by Android Studio (let’s shorten to AS). I’m wondering: “where’s the program code in all this mess”. I started reading here: “Your Android project is now a basic “Hello World” app that contains some default files. Take a moment to review the most important of these…”.

I’ve found Buckey Roberts’s tutorials really good at introducing me to the complexity of AS: “Android App Development for Beginners - 5 - Tour of the Interface” and “Android App Development for Beginners - 6 - Android Studio Tips

  1. When I had gotten to this point, I understood that the program code was here: C:…\AndroidStudioProjects\HeloWorld\app\src\main\java\org\simhardware\heloworld*MainActivity.java*
    . Then I did some study of Java for beginners. I got stalled with “object oriented”, “classes”, “methods”, “activities”, and a bunch of other concepts I couldn’t hold in my head long enough to see how this related to controlling a robot.
    I then went looking for “simple” source code for a program (app) to talk to the game controller (Logitech F310). I was looking for something that would connect and read input actions; analog values of joystick and digital button presses. I wanted it to simply write the data to a text screen on the ZTE. I didn’t find exactly what I was looking for, but did find this: “Supporting Game Controllers” and downloaded: “ControllerSample.zip” This is a simple game that looks like “Asteroids” that I played years ago at the video arcade. :slight_smile:

  2. I’m now playing with stripping out the game stuff and writing the F310 inputs to a text screen on the phone. Progress to follow…

Best buy has the ZTE Speed on sale for 39$. Got one yesterday. Really can’t do much until software and hardware are available.

I’m finding it very educational to set up the “programming environments” for App Inventor and Android Studio, and then going through the “Hello World” tutorials.

Phil Malone has an excellent Youtube video on setting up the “ADB” for programming the robot Android: Tutorial: Wireless ADB Setup for FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC)


Prices are out for individual controllers. No Sensor Pricing. We can’t buy yet, but at least we see the prices.


Power Dist. 89.95
Motor Control 79.95
Servo Controller 69.95
Core Device 67.95
Legacy Module. 64.95

No Prices for sensors yet.

Pretty good pricing. Here’s the email I got from Modern Robotics Inc.

Modern Robotics Core Module Pricing now available.

Modern Robotics has announced pricing for the range of Core robotic modules and details are available on our website at www.modernrobOticsinc.com.

Ordering and shipping will begin around the end of June, 2015 and updates will be posted on our website. For detailed enquiries you can contact us at sales@modernroboticsinc.com.

Tom Eng has posted links to Beta SDK and Apps on the FTC forum: Pre-release apps and software are available for download

Copy/past of his post:

Hi Folks,

The software development kit (SDK) and Android apps for the new FTC robot platform are now available on the Internet. Volunteers, teams and mentors can access the pre-release (beta) versions and begin to learn how to use the new system to create custom robot behaviors with the Android platform.

The SDK is available from GitHub:


The Android apps are available on Google Play (either directly from your Android device or from a PC)


Also, documentation is available to help the community become familiar with the new platform:


Please note that these are pre-release (beta) copies. The official release of the software is currently scheduled for June (to coincide with the release of the hardware modules).

We encourage users to post questions and share feedback here:



I have been maintaining a somewhat organized webpage on my Mississippi Robotics website to accumulate all I can find to help all of us with the new FTC hardware platform and programming. Enjoy and I hope you come up to speed quickly and smoothly. Everyone is being so helpful. It is good to see.



Nice webpage Ray, thanks!

Intelitek released new technology training modules for FTC: Sign up page

The specification page for the Android phone list more phones: 2015/16 FTC Control System Android Device specifications

This is true, however the only phone that will probably be allowed for U.S. teams will be the ZTE Speed at least for this first year. This is due to the WiFi Direct channel changing capability.

I’ve been following the forum at FTC and the programming people’s discussions of the recently released beta of the FTC SDK. I won’t try to keep up with these good programmers’ work until I get my hands on the hardware.

In the meantime, I’m going to get back to a project I started 2 years ago: building a modular drive platform. My son has agreed to work with me again. I’ll start a new thread soon and use the new control system for control.

Have fun,


Just posted at FTC forum:

I successfully placed an order.

Motor controllers are already out of stock :frowning: