[FTC]: Tips for our first-ever FTC event

Greetings from FTC 5526. Saturday is our first-ever FTC event. It’s a Qualifier for the Pennsylvania state tournament.

While I personally have four seasons of FRC experience as a team coach, I’ve never been to an FTC event. If anyone would care to share some general tips with us, we’d really appreciate it.

Things we might forget to bring, ideas to help inspection to smoothly, things to make sure we take care of the robot before and during matches, etc.

Looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with. Best of luck to all FTC teams this weekend in Pittsburgh. We’re really excited!

Congrats on making it to your first ever FTC Qualifier!

I guess I got lucky spotting this post because our team, MASH 4077 will also be attending that qualifier. Here are the general things you need to make sure you bring:

-Your Robot!
-Engineering Notebook
-Batteries/Battery Chargers
-Any spare parts you feel you might need
-Laptop with RobotC/Labview

Those are the key items you will need to bring. Other things you may bring, but aren’t necessary are:

-Flyers, etc.

It will run almost like an FRC event. There will be two inspection stations set up (Hardware and Software) so you want to get your robot through there ASAP. Make sure your robot is within the 18" cube, your NXT Brick has “samostat” downloaded, etc. The matches won’t start until around 11:00 even though they want you to arrive around 7:30 to have room for error.

You should see us there (we’ll probably be the first ones there), so any questions about programming, mechanical malfunctions, parts, just come over to our pit and we will be glad to help you out! See you then!

Congrats on your first event!! I’m sure you guys will have a blast. FTC can be a little less stress and just as much fun as FRC.

I’ve been an FTC head ref for the last 5 years at the Northern NY tournament, and I hand out a “head refs sheet” with some pointers for each team. I will post a few of my more generic points here :slight_smile:

  • Inspections
  • Go to inspections as EARLY as possible. This is even more critical in FTC than in FRC because this is when they check your control system to make sure it works with the field. You are at a later event, so the field should be just fine, but it helps to get there early just in case. We had a few teams miss their first match because inspections got backed up.
  • **Practice Matches **
  • If there are practice matches GO to them. It is a great time for your team to understand how refs will call the game, ask questions, and see if there are any differences with the field (and make sure your robot syncs with the field!)
    • Coaches Meeting
  • If there is a coaches meeting with the head ref, go to it and don’t be afraid to bring questions. The only stupid question is the one you don’t ask. I can’t speak for all refs but I would rather answer stupid questions than call needless penalties.
  • Opponent Robot Legality
  • If you see a robot that has something illegal about it, go ask the team about it. If the team denies it, go talk to the inspection staff. If they aren’t sure, go talk to the referees. It is important that you bring it up as SOON as you see it, because often it won’t be dealt with once you make it into finals. I had a team complain after the finals of an event that “it wasn’t fair, XYZ part was illegal”. But at that point I couldnt do anything about it. I couldnt rerun all of finals, and the team honestly didnt realize it was illegal and no one else caught it in that timeframe. So bring it up early.
  • Always make sure you have a charged battery going into a match, just like FRC, they will not rerun the match if you have a low battery. Though in FTC, the problem is sometimes exacerbated because sometimes they don’t have an easy way to detect if its battery.
  • Penalties
  • make sure you have read the rules carefully. I know when I ran the tournament there had been several updates to SG5 and SG6, and it was somewhat confusing. If you aren’t sure, ask your head ref before the competition. I absolutely hated calling the 40 point penalties, but there were plenty of times I had to.

Have a great time!!

@FTC-4077 Awesome! We’ll see you on Saturday then. Thanks for the list. We don’t have a banner for this team yet, but we’re considering a few cheap props. Hope we can build them tonight.

@Kim Greatly appreciate your perspective as a head referee. I’ll pack a printout of your post and let the team read it on the bus out there.

Super excited for the event tomorrow at Robert Morris University! If I remember, I’ll post back here and let everyone know how we do.

Beyond what has already been mentioned, bring zip-ties. Lots of them.

I personally would also recommend bringing a few extra tetrix parts (especially wires), just in case. A few extra DC motors would also be greatly beneficial, as they sometimes like to burn out at the least convenient time possible. :rolleyes:

Good luck, and don’t forget to have fun and learn, no matter what happens! :smiley:

Thanks everyone. We ended up having everything we needed due to great suggestions here. Everything went smoothly. We passed all the inspections first time through.

On the field we found that crates are a bigger obstacle than we anticipated, in autonomous mode. We got wedged on them a few times while trying to turn inwards towards the bowling ball. We ended up just going straight the last three matches and taking the 5 points for the alliance.

In teleop, WOW were those racquet balls causing trouble for driving. We had built some guards around the wheels and stuff, especially between them, but those little balls managed to squeeze their way into all sorts of problematic spots. We spent as much time trying to work out of jams caused by them as we did trying to do anything else.

Anyways, we finished 2-3 and ranked 13th out of 19 teams. No penalties that I’m aware of. Not bad for our first competition!

I was rather surprised at only getting to play 5 qualifier matches despite there being only 19 teams AND two fields, which were even run simultaneously after lunch. I was figuring to play 8-10 matches. We’ll certainly remember in the future that each match played is that much more important due to how few chances we have to prove ourselves.

Overall my team had a very positive experience with FTC this season. The team is looking forward to trying to make a few refinements to our robot before the school district’s “Tech Expo” in April, wherein I requested a booth setup to showcase our FIRST teams and their robots.

Thanks to all the judges, refs, and volunteers who were there on Saturday making FIRST magic happen. Much appreciated!