Power UP Plywood Field Cutting Diagrams -- The Missing Manual

Kudos to the FIRST team for putting together some nice plans for building wooden replicas of this year’s field. As usual, however, there was no cutting diagram! Using this cutting diagram will save you several sheets of plywood.

I developed this cutting diagram for the BCIT Burnaby Kickoff event, in support of the new Canadian Pacific Regional (15 years of FIRST and I FINALLY have an event in my own province!).

This is designed to build ALL the field elements, so if you want to build just one or two it may not be optimized for your purposes. Just move the pieces about as you need.

We numbered each piece in bold felt pen as we cut it… it made assembly go much easier afterwards.

We also used 3/8" and 5/8" plywood in place of the 1/2" and 3/4" ply specified. It worked fine, but I might save some of the 2x4 trimmings to do a bit of reinforcing.

Good luck with your build! These things are BIG!!!


cutting layout 2018 Power Up.zip (65.9 KB)

cutting layout 2018 Power Up.zip (65.9 KB)

This is so valuable. Thank you! What’s even better, is I know you’re someone I can trust has done this right without any goofs. I really wish FIRST would put out drawings like this. We have our hands full already building a robot. Figuring out what lumber to buy and how to nest the pieces is not a challenge I need on top of everything else. One thing I noticed was I’m not sure if you’ve accounted for kerf of the blade much in your layouts. Does it all really fit? some of it looks close.

You’re right, these elements are big this year. I suspect a lot of teams will have real issues with figuring out where to put this stuff, and how to get it in and out of rooms with only a single-wide man door. I mean, shoot, I don’t even have enough clearance on both sides of my table saw to do some of these pieces. We really need to own a panel saw I guess. Does FIRST realize many schools don’t have the traditional “wood shop” class anymore? Maybe that’s why we build all this stuff for FRC?

We had a brand new cargo container delivered yesterday, and I’m still worried that we won’t have space for all this stuff. I mean, we’re pretty well equipped at about 4500 sq. ft. of total space, and we still have nowhere to put this or drive our robots. But, I guess we’ve done big stuff before, like the rack in 07.

Better yet you got to have all of it fit in a classroom cause you cant leave it in the wood shop…

Thank goodness we dont have to shove this in a closet, im sorry for anyone who does…

Heck, even the largest hallway in our school is only 12 feet wide, which means it won’t work as a practice space. We spent an hour canvasing the campus in search of anywhere to have a semi-permanent practice space, and came up empty handed.

Sorry for so many posts, but before I go buy material, I wanted to verify, Jason, what all does this build? A switch, a scale, a platform, an exchange, a portal, anything else? So I have this right? Also, what is this all going to cost me? I was thinking it would be worth it to go with a higher quality plywood on some of this, so that it’s flatter and more dense where we have to edge-nail it into itself.

EDIT: I have attached printable PDF versions of the drawings in the original post in this thread.

Cutting Layout 2018 Power Up Printable PDFs.zip (980 KB)

Thanks! Although I’m chuckling at the thought that I could do it without at least a few goof ups! :slight_smile: I’m pleased to say that these drawings have been revised to correct three errors we detected… one was, indeed, a kerf error. The other two were an incorrectly copied measurement on one part and an incorrect quantity of a different part. Even with those three errors we were able to construct working field elements for our kickoff event on Saturday… and the drawing posted here has been changed to correct those errors. It should work perfectly… although I didn’t measure the blade thickness on our table saws, I believe they were 1/8" kerfs.

I had Home Depot do one or two cuts on each sheet for me… made it much easier to fit the pieces into my minivan as well as to manipulate them on our shop saws. Having the drawings for each sheet printed out and some decisions on where to cut made in advance saved a lot of time. Although we did pay a cutting charge we didn’t pay for ALL the cuts… they do appreciate a bit of efficiency. We should have chatted with the manager in advance, we might have got them to waive the entire cutting charge.

This contains the parts for everything in the FIRST drawings. The Portal, Exchange, Switch, Balance… the whole kit and kaboodle (only one switch, one portal and one exchange, of course, not a full field). I wouldn’t recommend building it ALL. Clearly you don’t need a portal if you already have an exchange. And as impressive as the switch and balance are, one robot only needs one end of each. There will definitely be a simpler way to mock that up for practice. I have numbered all of the pieces, so if you don’t want to build a portal, just delete anything numbered TE-18002 and rearrange the pieces. Hopefully this drawing will save some time by serving as a starting point.

The cost, here in Vancouver, using 3/8" and 5/8" plywood was around $500-$600 CDN. We were building for a kickoff event and didn’t know how the pieces would be used, so we built everything. I wouldn’t recommend a team do that unless they had the space, time and budget to mock up an entire field and host practice rounds in the last week of build.

While I’m on the topic, I’ll share an idea with other kickoff coordinators and their related field builders… we cut and number all the pieces in advance of kickoff, then have the students and mentors do the assembly in the hall we have booked for kickoff. It keeps lots of hands busy while KoP inventory and distribution is taking place, and gives a real sense of accomplishment at the end of the day for kids who are doing the assembly. We then have a random draw… the first team picked gets to choose which piece they take home with them. We’ve only had two official kickoffs here in BC, but it seems to be working for us.

Good luck sorting out what you need… the field elements are really cool this year, but they ARE huge. Perhaps space can be found to store a field piece in a larger, common area of the school. In 2006 for instance, we built the Aim High goal up against an unused wall in the school cafeteria and would take over the cafeteria at 4:00pm to do target practice. We did the same thing with the Overpass in '08. I’m also thinking that there may be a way to redesign some of these pieces using knock down fasteners so they can be quickly assembled and disassembled, kind of like an Ikea project.

And since I’m well past the TLDR limit for a post… I wonder if there is a software add in for SolidWorks or Inventor or such that will build a layout diagram as you design… just like sheet metal add ins have made sheet metal layout go easier, wouldn’t it be great to have a plywood and lumber add-in? Hmm… I think I’m going to ask Phil Dollan about that one…


A few photos from kickoff showing the field elements coming together.


Edit: The pool noodles with the KoP were a lucky find this summer… a friend at an events management company used them for the finish line at a marathon. I was able to stash them away and share them with teams because believe it or not, finding pool noodles in winter in Canada is not always as easy as you might think… :wink:

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Oh… one thing I forgot to mention that was noted by a very astute student at kickoff… the 12’ long 2x4 was actually slightly longer than 12’. It didn’t affect the assembly other than having to adjust a few measurements by 1/8" or so to ensure the structure would balance. So either cut the 2x4 down, or just be aware of this during assembly.


Thank you!
Thy name shall be blessed among all field builders.

On the initial errors in the drawings, can you give us some insight as to what exactly you changed, so I can re-generate correct PDFs, hopefully without re-doing all of them. With how much money I’ve invested in lumber this morning, I don’t want to screw this up.

My Home Depot bill today in Southern California came in at $628 including tax to build all this stuff, using 1/2 and 3/4 plywood. That includes screws, a bottle of glue, and two Burro sawhorses at $20 ea.

I need to figure out a way to rework the platform drawings and cut sheets to make the platform the true 104" wide (long?). This 96" business isn’t going to cut it for us. We want it to match the real thing. It’s really dumb that FIRST went through all this trouble to make all this stuff, then tried to save us money by making the platform different than the real thing. At least they noted it on the drawing I guess.

I changed it before posting… you’ve got the correct drawings!

Correct to the best of my knowledge, after having tested them once to actually build the stuff, at least. You’re correct that the ramp isn’t “life size”… but there is a half sheet of 3/4" ply left to play with… perhaps just build a middle section out of that?


For a team with extreme space/storage constraints, it seems like the minimum to build is an exchange (which also can serve as portal) + a 3x4 platform the height and angle of which may vary according to the specs of the switch and scale. See crude drawings on p. 2 of the file attachment.

For the taller adjustable height / adjustable angle platform, how would you recommend constructing that?

Scale vs. Switch geometry.pdf (371 KB)

Anyone know how to convert color or greyscale PDFs to monchrome black? This seems like something that should be easy but isn’t. I have Acrobat Pro as well as many other softwares, and I still can’t figure it out.

Try this page.

Print it to PDF again as Black & White.

Does this mean that kickoff coordinators have access to the field drawings before hand?

Yes, because they’re in charge of making the mock field for their kickoff.

No. Kickoff coordinators are separate from field builders.

Field builders apply to FIRST and after approval sign a non-disclosure agreement in order to receive early access to the field drawings.

So having a field builder is an optional extra for a kickoff event and you need space to build and store the field elements securely, as well as some volunteers who are not closely associated with teams and who are willing to undertake the terms and conditions of the NDA.

But also yes… the Field Builder (not the kickoff coordinator, although in our case I took on both roles) has access to the plans slightly in advance of kickoff… but that is it. We don’t know what the game piece is, the quantity of the field elements, or what the elements will be used for. FIRST, as you would expect, does a good job of keeping the game secret even from the field builders! I just don’t know why they recommended that field builders should get scuba certification over the summer… does that make any sense?


On behalf of team 2512, thank you so much for putting the work into figuring this out and posting it on here. You saved us a lot of time and headache!

Ours was $800 here in Hawaii.:frowning: