[FTC]: Questions about first time at FTC World Championship

FRC488 entered two FTC teams into the WA state event yesterday. We’re proud to say that, after some frustrating trouble with the blue tooth link, one of teams performed admirably and was part of the winning alliance. Also, they won the Inspire Award and are now qualified to attend the World Championship in Atlanta.

We have a lot of experience with Championship-level competition in FRC, but this is the first time we’re competing at that level in FTC. I have some questions about what to expect, how to prepare and how well our performance stacks up against what y’all are seeing elsewhere in the country.

  1. Presuming our FRC team is also in attendance, how do you successfully manage two teams that are not colocated? Do you share tools or have a separate set for each team? Share mentors? Students?

  2. How many teams compete in FTC at that level? How many qualification matches should we expect to play?

  3. To what extent should we be prepared to rebuild the robot? After sorting out blue tooth troubles, our machine scored 150+ points in the outer goal consistently and beat the next highest alliance score by ~33%. With improved ball collection, hopefully it won’t run out of balls in 15 seconds.

  4. Is the Inspire Award at the World Championship open to all participating teams or, as in FRC, are only those who’ve won it at the state level eligible? Is there a formal interview process?

I’ll answer as many as I can.
1.) The FTC teams generally have their own tools except for snips, wire cutters, etc. Our FTC and FRC teams were very close to each other, but I think we were just lucky in that regard. Our mentors who did both FTC and FRC during the build simply chose one and stuck with them. That was to keep everyone from running around, remembering two match schedules, etc. Not having the leadership doing both is the toughest part – our FRC team probably suffered some since the leader was primarily doing FTC. Yet such is life.

2.) Not sure – I can’t remember if they did 5 or 7 matches. I do remember that QP/RP were deal breakers, so teams who were dominating still had to score for their opponents to rank high.

3.) I would make improvements and work out the kinks with what you have. Perfect autonomous, improve the quality of subsystems, etc. In Atlanta '09, the FTC bots were scoring everything that they could score, and autonomous was the deal-breaker for who won the matches. I would expect to see matches with 400+ scores become common in eliminations. I know that one of our teams will be able to get 300 points (with BB) solo if left unchecked once they perfect it. They consistently got 100+ points this weekend and that was with alot of the subsystems being inconsistent. Since they have 2 more qualifiers and VA State left, they’re looking at perfection in Atlanta – not saying they’ll get it, but they do remember last year and how there weren’t any pucks left to score at the end of a match in Atlanta.

4.) Not sure.

A benefit of having both your FRC and FTC team at the championships means that more students can be there Wednesday to go through the FIRST Robotics Conference once inspections are completed (those happen on Wednesday, as do practice matches). I haven’t looked to see if this year’s FTC scheduling in Atlanta is the same as last year’s though. Congrats on the win!

A little background: After qualifying in FTC, I linked up with 1714 in 2008 in order to get help building a competitive robot and driving said robot.

There are separate pits, which you probably know (and granted I was in FTC when there was Vex so tools were more different), and basically what 1714 did was assign a few FRC team members to compete with the FTC team. Mentor help and other stuff needed was “on demand” (i.e. run to the FRC pits), though one parent was there to make sure things ran smoothly. Granted, this was a very independent, student run team; your mileage may vary.

  1. How many teams compete in FTC at that level? How many qualification matches should we expect to play?

I played 6. This was in Vex though. (I had a very negative experience with these matches… don’t get me started)

  1. To what extent should we be prepared to rebuild the robot? After sorting out blue tooth troubles, our machine scored 150+ points in the outer goal consistently and beat the next highest alliance score by ~33%. With improved ball collection, hopefully it won’t run out of balls in 15 seconds.

Design is an iterative process; there is no “done” :stuck_out_tongue:

Seriously, the only way you can figure this out is to watch other regionals and examine photos and video. As a third pick in FTC 2007-2008 it was obvious the robot needed rebuilding, so I brainstormed by seeing what other robots were doing and how they worked.

If you can make your robot better, I don’t see why you wouldn’t do it though.

  1. Is the Inspire Award at the World Championship open to all participating teams or, as in FRC, are only those who’ve won it at the state level eligible? Is there a formal interview process?

There was an interview process in 2008, but I believe it was for all awards, not just Inspire.

Our organization has had both an FTC and FRC team at the championship for the last two years.

  1. Have at least 1-2 mentors dedicated to FTC. Have separate tools for FTC. You need a separate FTC drive team, FTC scout, and Pit runner. The idea is to separate resources (both human and physical) so each team has clear roles and the best chance to compete well.

  2. Last year 50 teams competed in each of the two divisions. In past years, there have been 4-6 qualifying matches.

  3. From what I remember, there was not much downtime between matches. Make changes before you get there, pack the bot well, and you should have no problems.

  4. The Inspire Award is only available to teams that won the award at a state championship and attend the championship event.

Good luck!

Also something I forgot to add: While no state competition I’d ever been to required a cart, you’ll definitely need one at the Championship. Seems obvious in hindsight but for some reason I didn’t connect the dots.

A good FTC cart should be able to basically hold all of your tools too. Carts similar to the ones used for overhead projectors are roomy, hold a robot just fine, and can work well.

Our cart last year helped a lot. We put our robot, the 12V batteries, spare NXT batteries, the tool kit holding about 3-6 9V motors (it’s very good to have spare motors and servos) and just about every thing we need if the robot breaks down or if another team needs a motor or something else. Also it holds the laptop, the controllers, and it’s a lot nicer than carrying everything back and forth all day and it’s a lot faster and safer for the robot.

Here is a link to the cart we used at Championships.

Fits a full size robot and laptop on the top shelf, Battery charger on bottom shelf, and tool box in between.

http://www.target.com/All-Purpose-Utility-Cart/dp/B0002O9HXU

Thanks, everyone, for all of the good advice.

Another question – are we expected to bring the robot and other things with us when we travel or do we ship them down in advance in a crate? How have y’all handled that in the past?

Is FIRST receptive to sharing a crate with FRC and providing access to it? Probably not, I’d imagine, as it’s a logistical headache and runs afoul of their recent concern about overage costs.

We will likely build a small crate and ship it via FedEx Freight to our hotel if the Georgia Dome doesn’t accept drayage, but maybe we can find some way of getting it to come along for a ride on an airplane.

Bring it with you. No FRC-like shipping provided.

Is FIRST receptive to sharing a crate with FRC and providing access to it? Probably not, I’d imagine, as it’s a logistical headache and runs afoul of their recent concern about overage costs.

I don’t see why you wouldn’t as long as you’re willing to pay overage and wait until Thursday to get your robot. But that’s a lot of practice time missed…

We’ve actually checked our robot as baggage both years we’ve gone - It’s not too hard to keep it under the weight and size constraints and prevent it from going oversize, although there is a definite danger of either breaking your robot on the trip or having TSA freak out about it… both of which can be avoided with the proper planning.

There’s no system set up for shipping FTC bots so it’s probably a good idea to just take the robot with you.

FRC bots are typically unpacked Wednesday night around 6:00pm. That’s still plenty of time to get all of the Wednesday FTC activities done, but not much for practice and not much for conferences either.

I believe we got to our FTC pit at 4:30-5:00pm and setup all of the FTC pits, toolboxes, etc. Then I went to unpack FRC at 6(ish). Since none of the students could come on Wednesday due to the school district’s policies, the teacher’s 9-year-old daughter did the inspection. What was amazing was that since she did FLL for 2 years, she understood enough to get passed inspections (mom helped of course) with only some minor issues to be resolved by the students. I think the students still did the software inspection Thursday morning, and that only took about 10 minutes.

It’s not only an Idea you are required to have a cart, FTC Teams can play up to 5-6 matches during qualifying. This year 150-200 teams will be in attendance. Inspiration award is availiable to all teams. It would be a good idea to have separate tools though our school is taking 3 FTC teams and possibly an FRC Team. Lord have mercy on the schedule because i’m on the drive time for the FTC and FRC Bot XD.
You may need to be prepared for complete overhauls if nessecesary things WILL get rough out there. 15 seconds wow and i thought ours shot a bunch quickly hahaaa Nicee.

I was thinking under the strict following of (2009’s) “Only unpack your crate and then put it to the side and do nothing else” FRC rules, you’d have to leave your FTC robot physically at the FRC pit, though I could be very, very wrong.

No one stopped my team in 2008 when they didn’t have a cart. It just sucked a lot.

How do you know how many teams will be invited this year? The past few have been 50 teams per division (100 teams total). Also, it is impossible for one person to drive or coach for every match of FTC and FRC at the championship. The logistics just don’t work.

No one at FIRST has told us either that a cart is required (we didn’t have one in 2008) or that they will allow more than 100 teams. Where did you get your information? I count something like 30-something competitions, and with only the alliance captain of the winning alliance and the Inspire winner invited, I don’t even see how the event will get to 100 without allowing open enrollment. I’m puzzled by your comments. Thanks in advance for pointing us to the FIRST documentation of this.

You forgot The Teir Lottery wich adds the winning alliances partner making the number double, and also we were told we had to bring a cart but the person who told us to was if you rememeber the Nationals Announcer he’s from SC so he gave us our intructions for nationals, there will be without a doubt more than 100 teams from FTC there. And i know the logistics wont work for the FTC FRC runnning around feilds but i may have to do it.

Are they still doing what they did in 2008 and inviting the first selection through a lottery to fill the remaining spots?

Someone at the event I attended this season said that they were (I think they were from FIRST, but I’m not sure). However, eligibility criterion still haven’t been released yet, so we can’t be 100 percent sure.

From http://www.usfirst.org/roboticsprograms/ftc/content.aspx?id=4378

FTC World Championship Event Eligibility Criteria

The FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship will be held in Atlanta, April 14 - 16, 2010 (dates subject to change), at the Georgia Dome. 100 FTC teams will be eligible to participate in the FTC World Championship.

Eligibility criteria will be announced in September/October 2009.

Note the 100 teams thing as well.

Schedule-wise, it doesn’t work out if there are more than 50 teams per division. Running a competitions with 32 teams in a single day is rough as it is!

That criteria is quite ridiculous 100 teams wow