Recommended Inventory For New FRC Team?

Hey!

My school is starting a new FRC team for the 2017-2018 season, and were just starting to workout a budget and inventory system. We currently have 7 FTC teams at our school, and have a wide array of FTC parts that become very helpful for building anything we could possibly need in FTC.

Where is a good starting point for building up an FRC parts inventory? We’ve looked into the VEX PRO box tubing and such for a robot chassis, but what motors/gears/screws/plates/wheels/control system parts should we stock up on? Any tips are welcome :slight_smile:

TL;DR Which FRC parts do we buy a lot of?

I look forward to reading and contributing to this thread, but I would also point you to these similar threads and subforums. Chief Delphi is a wealth of information.

Ah thank you! I was wondering if there were any new updated parts that teams recommend!

Are you guys planning to build a summer robot and compete in off-season competitions?

If you are stocking up for the season, the rookie KOP has all of the electronics and components you’ll need. In addition I might suggest some 775pro motors.

Along with VersaPlanetary stages and output shafts, as they’re the main gearbox for the 775pro.

I would also suggest some BaneBots wheels for shooters. It may seem odd to get these before you even know what you’ll be building next year, but you’ll want to get into prototyping as soon as you can.

I’ll think of more later, because there’s quite a bit. To get an idea of what you’ll get next year, look at the yellow KoP tote packing list from this year. It’s not exactly the same, but it’ll be very similar.

We are looking into a summer build competition for a new challenge (not Steamworks), so hopefully that will also give us a good idea for what we need for the real season!

I’ll also support the previous suggestions of the 775pro and VersaPlanetary gearboxes. The VersaPlanetary is an incredible product that allows rapid iteration and experimentation of different gear reductions for a vast range of applications. Make sure you follow the load ratings guide though!

Since it’s a very popular product, many key components and add-ons to the VP gearbox is out of stock for the current season, but if I were you I’d keep an eye on the VexPro website for when it becomes available in the fall.
Alternatively, you can ask local teams for any components you may need, many would be happy to help a pre-rookie team in need!

In terms of other components, I’d suggest you begin stocking up on motor controllers, especially Talon SRXs. They may be on the pricier side, but CANbus integration as well as other features make them an unparalleled product.
If you can’t fit them in your budget at the moment, I would recommend looking at the REV Spark, another recently developed motor controller.

For making your electrical connections,Anderson Powerpoles are the way to go, since they make your wiring much cleaner overall (and making it easier to connect and disconnect different components). Make sure to buy the crimper as well, it’s a worthy investment.

For wheels, I would also like to suggest buying some Colsons for drivetrain and shooter applications, since they are very durable compared to Banebots wheels, which tend to wear quickly. For intakes, the new AndyMark 2" compliant wheel works well with 1/2" hex shaft (I suggest pairing it with Thunderhex), especially in manipulating hard plastic objects like the gears from this year’s game.

Outside of COTS components that you can buy online, I suggest making sure you have a healthy stock of surgical tubing and zipties of varying lengths. They help immensely with prototyping and are a constant on most FRC robots every year. :smiley:

That pretty much sums up what I can think of at the moment. Make sure your shop has a decent stock of aluminum sheet and tubing as well as polycarb for raw materials. Best of luck in the 2018 season!

We end up using pneumatics on most of our robots, I think two of the past dozen years we did not, the other ten we did. So you might want to see what comes with the rookie KoP for pneumatics these days, and if it does not include anything, maybe get all the parts to make a complete system, to play with.

Also some building materials, you mentioned vex rectangular tube, but we use flat stock, angle, square and round aluminum thinwall tube, and polycarbonate sheet (usually 1/8" sometimes thicker or thinner), on most of our robots.

There are some other materials that are good to make robots from, that you can buy locally for not much money, but that’s not stuff you need to stock ahead of time (examples, we use various thickness of plywood, a few sizes of lumber, some bits of steel, and lots of small hardware).

Don’t spend all your money on stuff you may or may not need, though.

When we started our team in 2015, we talked about our plan for build season and decided early on that one of our key strategies was to build a practice robot identical (or close) to what goes in the bag.

Knowing this, we budgeted for a full second controls setup in addition to the one we would get in the rookie tote, and bought a second RoboRio, PDP, VRM, PCM, main breaker, radio, etc. I think we just bought the complete FRC control system bundle from AndyMark.

Some teams get away with just one control setup for both robots by using a quick-disconnect and putting the control system on a modular board.

POOL NOODLES!!!

You will NOT find them in the winter at ANY store if you live in the north. We bought 20 noodles last summer and it saved us a ton of hassle.

Also, I suggest experimenting with 80/20 if you have no experience with any structure elements, and using different sensors/cameras. Make some auto modes, build a table or cart out of 80/20 to get the students hands on experience with building a robust structure. This will definitely help you in the build season.

HA! Good point. Everyone moving to the FRC team has at least 2 years of experience in FTC, and we’ve all gotten used to the REV build system. I know that a 1in REV extrusion exists, does the Versa box tube system have a similar build/design strategy?

If your team is on any sort of a budget, I would strongly suggest Vex as a great starting point. While AndyMark has a lot of good products, Vex is usually much cheaper in price, even though there is a level of sacrificed durability.

If you’re looking to stock up on something you’ll use, I definitely recommend Vex’s versaplanetary gearboxes. We’ve used them for 5 unique functions over the past several years (including climbing this year), and they’re on 3 of our last 4 robots. Also, Vex is a good place to pick up hardware like hubs, pulleys, sprockets, Hex shaft stock, bearings, etc.

I would recommend their VersaFrame chassis for future years, however as a rookie team it’s probably best that you use the Kit of Parts chassis. It sounds like you guys have a good starting point with so many FTC teams, but FRC is a huge step up, and there will definitely be a learning curve for you all. Best of luck next season!

If you haven’t yet, I would strongly recommend reading the Robot section of this year’s rule manual. This obviously isn’t next year’s manual, and some parts of it will definitely change, but this section should stay pretty similar. A lot of it will feel familiar to FTC rules, but there are some pretty key differences that you should try to get to know before ordering parts or thinking about design.

8.5- Bumper Rules, particularly R29 about bumper construction, is really important. More than a few rookie teams have messed up on bumpers. Andymark sells a lot of bumper stuff, which you’ll need almost every year.

8.6- Motors & Actuators and 8.7- Power Distribution are also pretty different from FTC. In addition to what other people in the thread have said, you’ll need some extra batteries and chargers.

You can use the REV 15mm or 1" system in FRC if you’d like. And yeah, VersaFrame is pretty similar, with tons of square tubing and corner gussets, but you’ll probably be drilling a lot more holes.