Kitbot build day for rookie FRC teams

Team 3295 - The Poly Techs is in the planning stages for a kitbot build day for rookie FRC teams in the Southern California area. There are a large number of rookie teams this year and they are hoping to help make their rookie years successful.

We have a lot of great information from Harold Holley and the kitbot build day they did for the Oklahoma regional a few years back, but now we are trying to come up with a good list of tools and supplies we will need.

The basic plan is to have the rookie team build a robot from their KOP, with minimal modification to the KOP, and have a working robot at the end of the day.

Here are some items to start the list, please let me know what else I should add.


Clippers (to cut zip ties)
Wire strippers
Chain breaker
Small screwdriver (for WAGO connectors)

Zip ties
peg board (for mounting electronics)
#35 Master Links (?)

7/16 combination wrenches, 7/16 deep and regular sockets with ratchet drivers, I really like ratcheting wrenches too.

maybe some blue locktite

I would suggest a measuring tape. I’d also advise bringing extra safety glasses so rookies can get used to the idea of wearing them all the time.

This is a great idea.

I would also bring a Hacksaw &/or Bandsaw and some files. There are usually a couple pieces of the chassis that could be cut down to size.

If you are planning on having fully mobile units at the end of the day, a representative piece of carpet would be good to show the difference. Lots of teams seem to do a lot of testing on tile and then are shocked when their bot won’t turn on carpet. a 10’ x 10’ piece should work well.

Programming laptops to make sure they know how to work the code

Electrical connectors for the various wires: #8 Spade crimps for victors & jaguars, 1/4" female terminals for Spikes, a pile of PWM cables, a metric wrench for the nuts on the main circuit breaker, connectors for the battery cables (#6 wire) and plenty of wire (#10 thru #22, red & black at least).

All of which, IIRC, is in the KoP (how convenient!)

Allen wrenches for setscrews on sprockets.

Small Phillips Head screwdriver for the Jaguar/Victor screws.

Ethernet/Crossover cables (can’t remember if they are in the KoP).

Magic smoke for when someone inevitably wires a Jaguar backwards.

I like the frame be really square (must be the engineer in me.) One method that works well is to use a framing square to clamp the adjacent c-channels and then tighten the 1/4" bolts.

If it were possible to have some framing squares and quick clamps available, some teams may find it handy.

If possible, I would bring an IFI Kitbot as well, to demonstrate the differences between the AM and IFI kitbots and to inform rookies of another option they might prefer. I’m a bit biased toward the IFI Kitbot, but I think it’s an underutilized resource for teams to try.

We have been doing this for the past two years in Washington with many successful kitbots being substantially finished by the end of the first day!
Congratulations on your starting this fine endeavor!! We have had 20+ rookies for the last three years in a row…

I would suggest that you pre-cut some wood pieces for teams to use to secure their electronics and then join to their robot. This need not be very complicated… just some plywood that will fit in side the robot frame dimensions.

By the way… if you want to be REALLY NICE to rookies… buy a ton of 1/4-20 nylon locknuts and have them use those instead of the KEP NUTS in the kit.
They won’t vibrate loose later…

I would suggest that you contact Oklahoma and get the information that they put out.
We have used their stuff for awhile now. I would send it but I am not sure about what we can and cannot do. Those of us that do this sign a special agreement with FIRST not to disclose any information about the KIT before the kickoff so that we can prepare.

You will need a station to cut metal… (the frame does need to be trimmed) (We brought a chop saw)
You might also have a station showing teams how to break chain… and join it…
We used a simple station and had extra pieces of chain there to practice on…

If you get the information from them (Oklahoma) it will tell you everything you need.

Remember that you will need extra hardware for each team… This is what the FIRST non-disclosure statement gets you. They will tell you what extra hardware is necessary that is not in the kit.
It is normally minimal but it saves TONS of time knowing in advance and making up little bags for each team participating. Rather than running out the day of the kickoff and trying to find the pieces on that day.

You might discuss this with your Regional FIRST rep and see what they can do to help you get set up.
If there is anything we can do to help please ask…

FIRST teams from Washington State have done this for the rookies for the last two years and built over 30 robots in that time during the afternoon after kickoff.

It is a great way to meet new teams… and get the FIRST spirit building…

thanks for your gracious professionalism!!

email me and I will send you what I have from last year’s kitbot build if you want.

Thanks to everyone that has replied so far. I’ll compile a list after we do some planning on Monday.

@Bob Steele - What is the extra parts you are talking about? If it is specific to the game I think we will be avoiding that. We want to keep it simple by just sticking with the drive train and electronics.

And we did get all the info from the Oklahoma team, just haven’t read through it all yet.

I was the Lead Electrical Guy for the rookie build in NC last year, and we built and did basic tests with the electrical boards before mounting to the chassis at the end of the day. We wired main power first, then checked those paths with indicator LEDs and multimeter before proceeding.

What I noticed is that it’s handy to have one almost-complete set of wrenches, screwdrivers and the like in the electrical area to share, in case the mechanical teams are keeping the main sets of tools busy.

We had a couple spools of #10 and #16 wire (red and black, of course) and had a couple volunteers cut the main wires and crimp terminals on them for all the teams. I made the mistake of buying wire with stiff insulation at the local home center, and it was a pain to work with - start looking early enough and find some nice flexible wire, you’ll be glad you did. Get plenty of crimp terminals and a couple sets of strippers and crimpers, and three or four students with serious grip strength. The e-board is intimidating enough for rookies as it is, they don’t need to be distracted with something as mundane as crimping terminals to wires (though they’ll need to learn it eventually).

A set of colored electrical tape is handy for marking things. Our team marks power and control wires plus each breaker and jag/victor/relay and motor with a consistent color throughout. Wildstang 111 wrote the book on how to do this (thanks again). Home centers around here have small rolls of red, white, blue, yellow, and green in a set for about five bucks. Also bring a full roll of standard black. You may want a knife or shears to cut the tape.

During build season we realized we needed a bent WAGO tool because we didn’t leave much room next to the power distro board. What we wound up doing was buying a couple sets of cheapo mini screwdrivers and used a torch and vise (and once, some bad language) to make our own. Make one of these for each of the rookies and you’ll have friends for life.

I’d use 3/8" or 1/4" plywood rather than pegboard. The holes you’ll need to drill for mounting components don’t follow the pegboard pitch. We had templates for drilling holes and locating components (I believe they came from the Mother Ship). Teams were supposed to bring their own drills and bits, but having a spare set on hand is helpful. Bring a circular saw, tape measure, pencil and straightedge for that team or two who didn’t pre-cut their board properly.

I’m sure I’m missing some things (I was still getting used to the idea of foot-high bumps running the width of the field when we were doing the build), and you’ll have ideas of your own. It’ll be a busy day, but very rewarding. Good luck!

  • Steve

I’ll put this out there as an idea and for others planning similar sessions to consider. If this is for a kick-off, how much benefit is there to have a 20 plus 30 by 38 rectangles with electronics as compared to not cutting down the kit frame and allowing teams to think through the game and plan the drive base to thier strategy? In San Antonio, we have held a modified quick build by having teams build the basic drive base 38 by 38 and control system wokrshop but we don’t have them marry the electronics to the drive-base. Multiple times during the chassis session, we remind them them that what they have built is not a legal design and to go back to their shop and design a robot that fits the allowed footprint. It is less stressful on all to not have to chop frame rails, marry the electronics and put basic code to be driving only to have teams needing to redo all that work if they choose a different base. One downside that I’ve heard is that some quickbuild teams leave thinking that they have a nearly complete robot and one has 20 squarebots at the tournament 6 weeks later.

The 2010 RQBS has a suggested tool list:

Allen wrenches, you kinda need them to assemble the frame

OK, I’m working on the powerpoint for the Programming room for the Kitbot build day and have some questions regarding the classmate the rookies will be receiving. Hoping the beta teams might have some insight…

  1. Will the roookie classmates have any software pre-installed?
  2. Will Labview CDs come in the KOP or need to be downloaded?
  3. Will the rookie classmates have CD/DVD reader?

I can’t speak for sure about this year, however I can base my answers off last year’s kit hoping it hasn’t changed TOO much.

  1. The classmate had an image on it including OpenOffice, Labview, Windriver, and Netbeans. Unless FIRST has made major changes, I would assume the image will be very similar.

  2. Two years ago, the Software bundle included 2 DVD’s which were used to install anything you would ever need for programming(Labview(and cRIO imaging tool, etc.), Windriver, etc). I don’t remember exactly how the software bundle arrived last year, however I don’t think it was very different with the exception of the thumbdrive that was available to reimage the classmate.

  3. As the classmate series are netbooks, they do not have CD drive. I would not expect any difference this year. However, I heard somewhere that any laptop could be used as the Driver Station this year(speculation on CD maybe?), so that could make it easier for teams to keep programming and driving separate.

hope that helps.

Thanks Fletch, that does help. I was having a hard time remembering what last year’s rookies got.

Still would like to hear from Beta Test teams if they saw the new classmates.

Also, does anyone know if there is an official place to ask this kind of question? Is the 2011 Beta Test forum the right place?

The FRC Blog confirmed that we’ll be able to use laptops other than the classmate as drivers stations this year.

I have participated in the Oklahoma build day every year since it was started by team 476 in '08.
It has certainly helped the Oklahoma regional tremendously in keeping teams involved,
and competing every year by guaranteeing that every team has a driving platform by the end of kick-off day.

If you already have the instruction information from the OK staff, then
I’m sure you already know more about the workings of “Kitbot day” than I can help you with.

But, for the sake of common knowledge I’ll share a bit about how it is run.

Each aspect of the robot is broken down into small sub-groups (electronics, chassis, programming, and gearbox).
Each sub-group has it’s own work area, the chassis is worked on in the main kick-off room, while
each of the smaller sub-components are worked on in a classroom or meeting room to prevent over crowded workspace.

Each sub-team is responsible for the following areas:

Gearbox: Assembling the Andymark gearbox.

Chassis: Putting the chassis parts together including the frame, wheels, assembled gearboxes, and chains.

Electrical: Mounting all electronic components to the electrical board, and wiring
everything together so all they have to is hook up the motors and a battery and drive the thing.

Programming: In order for the rookie programmers to be able to get everything running today, they need
to be able to pick up their classmate and C-rio the night before kick-off and download all necessary software.
Then during the “kitbot day” they can put together a basic drive program.

I’d say the most important parts of running a “kitbot day” is makeing sure you have ample room for each of the
sub-teams to work, and having enough staff for each sub-group so the rookies can receive help when needed.
That ways you don’t have one person trying to help 8 different teams build a toughbox or strip a wire.