[FTC]: Rookie Team Needs Help With Tetrix FTC Kit!

Hi everyone!

I’m in the process of starting a rookie FTC team at our local high school and would like to find some kind of plans to build square bots, etc. to get our feet wet. I’ve found several references on the VEX based FTC kits, but nothing on the TETRIX based kit.

It’s a bit frustrating because the FTC training site (hosted by Carnegie Melon) only has a few of its links active, the links in the TETRIX Creator’s Guide are not active, and there appears to have been no effort whatsoever on developing any kind of documentation to support the FTC transition, particularly for a rookie team with zero experience with robotics. Why would FIRST make the transition without any of their training material done?

About the only idea I can come up with is to reverse engineer the VEX based documents, such as the ones found here:


It’s hard enough getting a community excited about robotics, but to get into a program with practically no documentation or support is going to make it a lot harder…

Any suggestions are welcome…



p.s. I’m starting an FLL team as well, and that’s going great…a lot of online resources, books, etc.

I would recommend looking at pictures of the robots that where built for the showcase game. You could give these to kids to get some ideas on how things go together. The best way to learn is to play with it.

Also I highly recommend Team Unlimited’s website for pictures and information about kit.


If you have any questions about the kit, feel free to send me an email to: patrick.vex@gmail.com

I’m currently working on 2 presentations for powerpoint, one is on the three new coding languages (sample code, coding basics, etc.) and the second one is a introduction to the new kit (similarities to vex pieces, tips on structural parts, etc.). I’m hoping to have them both done in October (but sports and homework are definately impeeding my progress :p).

I don’t want to minimize your concern on a rather significant over site on FIRST’s part, but take a deep breath and relax. You have at least 11 weeks to build your robot before your regional. Take this time to familiar yourselves with the kit and try and come up with your own designs. Turn this difficulty into a learning experience.

Thanks for the input, Tyler, Patrick, and Wilson!

I didn’t mean to sound like I was whining, just venting frustration with the poor job of documentation…

Tyler and Patrick, I’ll be sure to monitor your team’s progress. Your doing the FTC community (particularly Rookie teams) a great service with your website and posts. Please keep up the good work. Patrick, I’ll be keeping an anxious eye out for your presentation, and will email you with questions.

Wilson, good suggestion. I view this as a good learning experiece as well. Since most of the kids I’ll be recruiting have zero experience with robotics, I was just hoping to have them start out by building a robot or two from plans, just to build their confidence and get them hooked on the fun. That approach has worked well with our rookie FLL team, and kids were literally programming plan built robots with about 5 minutes of instruction. Perhaps I should have the FTC team start out by building Task Bot with the Mindstorms kit, and playing around with NXT-G, since that is the program we’ll probably start with.

What do you all think about trying to build a Tetrix bot with the VEX plans I mentioned in my previous post? Is it worth the effort?

Thanks again.


Nothing wrong with building a square bot with a simple drive train. The programing alone would be a good experience. You can even have the students calculate the speeds of the different gear ratios given the free RPM’s on the motors. Since we don’t have plans, give them as much support and help as you think they need.


Great questions. I’m sure there will be more training info once the kit gets out.

For programming, there are webinars held every thursday. They are going to start this week so you’re not too late. They’ll walk you through programming, here’s the link: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/en_US/island/webinar/webinarNotStarted.tmpl?Action=rgoto&_sf=1


Sorry for the late post – haven’t been in this subforum for a while.

Your situation reminds me a lot of when we pilot-tested Vex when it was first released in April 2005. We had done FLL for 2 years, and Vex felt A LOT harder. The other teams seemed to have it “together” – many had FRC experience, and it seemed that they could design things and we couldn’t. There was no documentation, not many fun parts, and no programming platform. We entered our first competition with a cracker box on wheels, placed 44th out of 53 teams, but more importantly than our low ranking, we felt that we hadn’t learned much and didn’t know how to learn more.

After the first competition, we lost 3 of the 4 team members who thought Vex was “too hard.” The last member and I plugged on, gaining knowledge tidbit by tidbit, tracking down all the designs we could. We pestered the more experienced people, trying to reconstruct what they had built (and often failing).

The end result was Vex for the Technically Challenged, which you referenced. We knew that there were others far more knowledgeable than us, but we thought, “Hey, there must be SOMEONE out there that would benefit from what we struggled to learn.” As FLL coach, my main duties had been cookie-baking, car pooling, and refereeing disputes on whose turn it was on the robot. Navigating an uncharted robotics system was far more demanding, but ultimately rewarding.

Starting up a robotics team on a new system like TETRIX is harder for rookies than using a developed, documented system, for sure. But you also have the unique opportunity of being not only a pioneer, but approaching this frontier as an “outsider” to robotics. This means your contribution and perspective are extremely valuable. You know how a “newbie” thinks, and the problems they encounter, unlike people who are veterans to FRC or FTC. In a year, you could be writing “TETRIX for the Technically Challenged.”

In the mean time, it sounds like you’re gaining a lot of good information. Our best wishes for your team-- we hope that the season is a rewarding and learning experience.

Yolande, the Technically Challenged

P.S. Our latest updated materials are posted at http://www.vexrobotics.com/vex-education-general-resources.shtml. Although they’re Vex specific, you may find the builders’ guide (Vex Machinations) useful, as it highlights engineering principles as well as specific projects to build.

P.P.S. Will we see you at the FLL tourney in Modesto?

Ok, so i have one more ultimate resource. Now, the basics of building can’t be taught, such as how to screw in screws and stuff.

But, this year’s kit includes a wide variety of new challenges. From programming the darn thing to wiring (no more simply plugging in the wires into the microcontroller).

So, on basic wiring concepts, and all the help on programming you could ever need, visit this website. www.ftctraining.com . This includes a forum for all of your questions, and step by step material to help you through all aspects of building.