Romi Projects for Full-Team Training

Has anyone found Romi to be a good platform for mechanical development, or is its strength really just as a tool for learning FRC programming?

The past two years, our team has done a fall project where we split the kids into five teams, and each team designs, builds, programs, etc an FTC-style robot for a modified FTC challenge, and then at the end of the semester we do a mini-tournament. This has been great fun, great learning experience, great for retention…but seems to have two flaws:

  • We use the HERO board, which needs code in C#, while in the normal build season we use C++. So the project isn’t super effective at training programmers, and new programmers struggle to contribute and stay engaged during build season
  • The overall scope of the project is too big, and it would be an astounding new accomplishment if every team got a fully-functional drivetrain by tournament day, let alone a scoring mechanism. This is not the end of the world, but it would be nice if the kids could get fall experience with scoring mechanisms too, not just drivetrains every year

So I’m intrigued by the Romis, and wondering if they might be a good fit for us. It seems to definitely check the box of “great practice for programmers”. And I like the idea of giving the teams drivetrains that are ready to assemble, so that they can focus most of their mechanical design and machining effort on scoring mechanisms. However, I feel like the standard Romi chassis is too small to work for us (maybe you could design a scoring mechanism out of Lego or something, but not using regular 2x1" stock, hex shaft, compliant wheels, etc). But this is just my guess, I would love to be proven wrong!

Has anyone found success with Romi as a full-team training platform? (i.e. engaging mechanical, machining, electrical, and programming students in something similar enough to FRC applications to be good training for build season) Or with cannibalizing a Romi for use in a different project that was good full-team training? Or is it mainly just good for programming?

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Based on my experience for this year, I would say that the ROMI makes a prefect programming tool for the team. Especially if you don’t have a lot of extras RoboRIOs to hand out. There are limits - no current CAN support is one. Stocked Motors/Encoders/Gyro quality is a hit/miss. (All these could change as the “Pi” ability gets explored/expanded more down the road).

I wouldn’t say that it won’t work for mechanical, but it would be on a much smaller scale then your typical FRC robot (in terms of power/size/weight/etc). One can certainly patched on more power by using an external battery but there are no inherited safety measures built in to the ROMI as it currently stand so additional care will needed to be taken into accounts if you wanted to go that route. But if you are looking at just the functionality and scaled down version, it would definitely work.

Have a look at Team 4905’s final robot in terms of mechanical design (serveral other robots has very cool and unique scaled down design as well if you were to watch the NE First Minibot final challenge) - NE FIRST Alliance Antics Tournament Champion Mini-Bot

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Definitely agree with @tkchan remarks above. I think it would be very hard to get anything close to a FRC mechanical platform without needing all the HW and expense associated with a FRC robot. That being said, I think there is definitely value in the Romi platform beyond just being able to program it like a FRC robot. With a 3D printer and CAD you can come up with all sorts of mechanism to fit to the Romi. Though smaller in size, all the principles of designing and prototyping a robust mechanism still apply. You can get plenty of cheep gear motors, servos, sensors and dc motor controllers off Amazon for the kids to use in their designs. You could also use FTC mechanical parts or Legos if you want, but why miss the opportunity to make everything in CAD? For the third Romi Challenge we designed our own custom gears, 3mm timing pullies, and timing belts. We printed the timing belts using rubber TPU filament. We had lots of fun prototyping and building on a small scale.

It remains to be seen how well this system is adopted, but it’s not hard to envision that some industrious team could either use the Romi Control board, or design and sell (hint-hint) their own control board that would interface with a larger FTC type battery to allow more flexibility. I really do hope that teams continue to use and develop the capabilities of the Romi as it is a great tool.


Thanks for the insights so far! I guess to clarify, we’ve found FTC-like robots good training for our mechanical and machining teams the past two years. While the mechanisms are definitely scaled down from what you’d put on a full FRC-size bot, they’re similar enough that our kids have gotten a good feel for how to design different types of climbers, intakes, and more specialized game mechanisms, and gotten good practice CADing in Onshape. We encourage them to use more FRC-type custom parts rather than FTC COTS parts (such as making the chassis from versaframe, custom bearing blocks, using hex shaft & 4" omni/hi-grip wheels, etc), so it’s good practice for the machining students too. From what you’ve shared so far, I agree that a Romi challenge could be pretty good for the mechanical team, but I think the machining would be much more challenging to incorporate.

I was thinking about this too, but it’s pretty far beyond my own skillset. Maybe I can convince someone else to take it up :slight_smile:

As said previously. The software does not have the immense safety features of the RoboRIO. There has and will be cases of your “robot moving on its own” due to protocol limitations. I dissuade from building a large robot with the romi platform.


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