We are attempting to start an FTC team this year (7314), but have run into an unanticipated dilemma. I’m asking for suggestions.
We ordered our TETRIX kit (w/ NXT) from FIRST on or before 10-August thinking that this would be plenty of time. We were wrong.
There are no TETRIX kits due to a counterfeit UL logo on the TETRIX battery chargers. We am hoping that this will be resolved and that the kits will ship soon, but I cannot count on this and the level of communication from FIRST on this issue has been minimal.
We’ve not used TETRIX in the past, so we’ve got no legacy parts. Here we are a week after kick-off and the team has got basically nothing to work with.
Are there a lot of other teams in this situation? What are you doing about this? How are you managing?
Personally from my own experience on an FTC Team, There are ways around using the Kit of parts. This year the rules have really opened up to using many different building materials. I would suggest maybe buying the parts that you absolutely need such as motors and tetrix axles and other hubs. This way you can start to build something. Designing out your robot might be a good use of this downtime as well.
I have most of a tetrix kit that I’m not using this year (It ran me ragged last year trying to run JFLL, FLL, and FTC simultaneously), and we could probably work something out such that you purchase/borrow it. PM me if you’re interested.
Also, despite not having a team I spent time looking over the new COTS rules and thinking about what I would do if I did have a team. My conclusion was that I would buy the absolutely required elements (Intelligent brick, Motors, Motor controllers) and then piece together a “kit” using other available components. The options at servocity.com had a lot of items that looked handy, or a system such as 80/20. It’s more time consuming but you would probably end up with a better kit for your money.
Thanks guys. As a rookie team, unfortunately we don’t so much have the cash up front to essentially re-buy the kit right now. It’s a good idea, but the kit and event registrations burned through most of what we had up front.
As an FRC team spin-off, we are well suited for taking advantage of the freedoms of the material list, though! It’s just hard to design when we don’t really understand how to interface with all the proprietary equipment.
Our biggest stumbling block now is not understanding the control system. For instance, can anyone explain (or link) how the motors interface with the controller? How many ports are there for motors, sensors, etc? It’s mighty hard to design without knowing that!
Thanks again, everyone. I think what we most need now is information–hopefully the parts will come in soon! I’ll look at the CAD, too.
The NXT has four sensor ports and three Lego motor ports.
The Tetrix DC motor controllers plug into NXT sensor ports. Each DC motor controller can run two Tetrix motors. They can be daisy chained together, so you can use three sensors and dedicate just one port to DC controllers if desired. Tetrix Servo Controllers (6 servos each) also plug into those sensor ports and can be daisy chained in the same chain as DC motor controllers. If you want to use custom sensors, you can use the NXT SuperPro Prototype Board from HiTechnic, which also plugs into a sensor port. You can also use a sensor multiplexer to get more sensor ports.
If you install LabView for Lego Mindstorms, you can create a blank robot program and then launch the schematic editor to look at the available NXT ports. It is a graphical editor that will let you plug in sensors, controllers, and motors.
Another option is you can buy the Matrix Kit of Parts which comes with everything you need to build a robot to get started. However, if your budget is limited for the season, the team is committed to using Matrix and raw materials.
If you are curious, our team has launched videos on youtube so your team can see the difference in robots you can build. The matrix robot is much lighter than the ranger robot. Here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/user/robogamersonline
Thank you, everyone. This feedback received has been extremely helpful and appreciated.
Our team now has some design parameters to work around and a much better understanding of the motor controls, which we had not hitherto.
I am also in communications with LEGO Education/Pitsco concerning this backorder and I hope that it will be resolved shortly (but cannot say with certainty that it will be).
Unfortunately, I suspect that the majority of teams most severely affected by this backorder are also teams with limited communication capabilities to the FIRST community (CD being a key conduit in this regard). I have to think that if NI (A company for which I have the very highest regard and use only as an example here) was unable to ship cRIO’s until well after FRC kick-off, there would be a great outcry from the FRC community. I hear basically nothing concerning the Tetrix backorder. Is this really a non-issue?
Agreed. As an FRC spin-off, this is likely to be our design philosophy (harkening back to the 2011 minibot “as little Tetrix as possible” rule), but unfortunately even taking full advantage of the relaxed material rules doesn’t compensate for not having any actuators or a control system–much less not even being really familiar with them at all. :o
We feel truly bad for the non-FRC rookies though, there are like 25 in PA alone, who I fear aren’t likely to know which way is up right now. (Rather difficult to build your first robot without control or power, not to mention keep rookie middle schoolers engaged in the effort.)
Hi everybody - FTC regional partners have been alerted that TETRIX competition kit back orders should be shipping now, minus the battery chargers. The replacement chargers will be sent out separately. At least this way teams can get started building.
Also, for those not already aware, all FTC teams can order most TETRIX parts at a 30% discount through the web site http://parts.ftcrobots.com
I noticed that the 2013 FTC Competition Kit Without MINDSTORMS was available. You might be able to order the retail kit (but not at the 30% discount) from Amazon. Or order it separately and borrow a brick till it comes in.