Is it worth it for a rookie FRC team to attempt building a shooter in 2020?

Basically the title. I am a part of a rookie FRC team. We obviously want to do well this year, and we were wondering if it is worth it to attempt building a shooter mechanism instead of just dumping the balls into the bottom port. Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!

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Truthfully it depends on your resources, time, mentors, and strategy.

What do your machining capabilities look like? How big is your team? What does your mentor base look like? There unfortunately isn’t a one-dimensional answer to that question, but I am sure the wonderful community on this website would be more than willing to help you answer that question for yourself.


It depends, a lot, on your teams manufacturing capabilities and prior experience, if any, in FRC (a coach from another local team maybe?).

There are a number of ‘build threads’ active this year in the robot showcase section of the forum, many with detailed information on their prototype mechanisms including freely available CAD. They range from stuff you can whip together out of lumber and 80/20 to laser or router cut plastics, and should at least give you a starting point.

For my money, I think the harder challenge for a rookie team is a ground pickup. Consider carefully whether shooting in the high goal is a worthwhile endeavor without a ground pickup capability. The build threads may give you another perspective on what those teams considered when asking the same question.


It’s pretty early in the season, so I would recommend you at least prototype some shooters and see what you can come up with! These kinds of decisions shouldn’t be made in a vacuum.

For my own two cents on strategy, if you think you will have limited resources, time, experience, whatever, you may want to consider focusing on climbing instead of shooting. Consider that a successful climb is worth five successful low-goal cycles, plus it will help your alliance get ranking points!


I would say yes, err and no

Check out all the simple single wheel shooters. You will likely have a hard time aiming since everything is so new. You CAN use the simple shooter to quickly get PCs to the other end of the field for teammates. No aiming or aligning, just shoot from the hip quickly.

Maybe set up with a wide dumper that collects from the loading station high feeders and can dump in the low goal. When and only then after it works, put a launcher in the corner of your bot that the dumper can funnel into. (Simple to do, just use a piston as the door)

Goal #1: Get a driving robot. Seriously, the very first thing you should do is put together the kitbot, get electronics on it, and get it moving. Everything else comes after that.

See how much time you have left after getting things moving, and figure out what you have time to build with your resources. No one else can answer that question for you :slight_smile:


To build on @Jon_Stratis recomendations, define a strategy to compliment an average alliance. Prioritize the capabilities to play that strategy, and focus on your highest priorities . A robot that collects from the loading station and can ferry balls through the trench and put them in the low goal will be valuable to an alliance. If you can also spin the color wheel you could be picked for finals.

Check out The 2020 Robonauts Everybot Low Resource Build thread for lots of great ideas and resources. You can add on floor pickup, high goal shooter, and a climber if time and space permit. Have an idea of what you want to do for those capabilities, but make sure you can accomplish your highest priorities reliably.


There is a school of thought that says you call your shot early and don’t compromise. To take a 2017 example, if you said “we’ll focus on gears, and if we have time we might do some fuel”, you were totally nerfing your gear plans (if unconsciously) to do fuel.

The Pandamaniacs defined only two hard requirements for this robot: it MUST hang, and it MUST score power cells. We’re pursuing a high-goals shooter now, but we have also benchmarked against 2009, 2012, and Ri3D 2020 robots to determine what we believe the performance level needs to be for shooting to be worth it compared to a low-goal robot. And if we can’t meet that standard, then it’s low-goal time.

For a rookie team, I’d be giving real thought to the low goal and giving myself plenty of shakedown time. In this no-bag era, I’m confident a lot of teams will be fooling themselves into building until the day before they load into their event.

Agree with everyone’s assessment. It’s very possible with a couple of mechanically inclined students and some scrap materials.

It took most of our Saturday and will need some adjustments but a prototype was a great and fun project using pairs of hands that would otherwise spend more time watching.

You could always make a launcher.

In 2012, 95% of our team was 1st and 2nd year students, and we had minimal resources. We made a pneumatic catapult, and we managed to have quite a bit of consistency with that.

Some of the tasks in the game each year are meant to be easy enough that rookies and low resource teams can successfully implement a reliable solution if they work hard and smart. Some of the tasks are meant to provide a serious challenge for the elite teams with extensive resources. Choosing the wrong game tasks to solve will lead to a team having a miserable season.

So although I do not know your manufacturing capabilities, I think iterating on the 118 Everybot Design from this year would be the best thing for you guys… even if you just take their strategy of dumping on the low goal you would be very effective and competitive in season. Also although this wasn’t the question of the post be sure to prioritize climbing


I do not believe that a catapult is a good solution to this year’s game. Ball throughput is very valuable this game and you can hold up to 5 balls. Even if it was perfectly precise I would have concerns about it’s fire rate. Unlike in 2012, this year you can drive right up to the low goal and vomit balls in with practically no velocity required, which I see as a very valid strategy.

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In some games (fairly rare), shooting in the low goal isn’t good, to the point where if you can only do that then you shouldn’t bother to pick up that game piece. 2017 and 2013 were like this. I do not believe this is the case for 2020 - the low goal is viable and pretty important.

Whether or not you should attempt a 2 point shooter is basically dependent on your team’s experience and resources. Whichever you do, do it fast - if you can score balls in the 1 point goal twice as fast as your best 2 point shooter prototype, then the 1 point goal is probably better. Being good at something less valuable is generally better than being mediocre at something more valuable.


I’d even say that if you can do a cycle of 1 point goals any amount faster than 2 point then it’s better (making sure to account for defense, driving time, etc.).
Between flooding your opponent’s feeder station and getting to the Control Panel objectives faster there is a lot of secondary benefits to simply scoring balls fast regardless of their point values.

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i’d say a launcher is a viable strategy if done right you can launch 5 balls off in quick succession and with less programming knowledge and less variables than a shooter. This is why it is more advisable for a low resource team.

my point is not between a launcher and a dumper, but a launcher and a shooter. Obviously you can have a quick dump robot, and it will score 5 pts quickly, but a lot of robots will be able to do that.

If OP can rustle up a catapult arm, and enough air tanks to sustain quick shooting then they can be an edge above the rest with much more ease than rookie/low resource teams that attempt a shooter. Bonus points if they can get a digital transducer.