What to know?


Hi all,
Our FRC team is going to be mentored by another team this upcoming January (we’re a rookie team). We don’t have much experience in robotics.

What should our team know, collectively, before we go to our first mentoring session? As in, what should everyone know, and what should I have people specialize in before the mentoring session?




Welcome! While I’m sure others will chime in, here is a good thread to check out that was created recently giving tips for rookie teams! It covers a lot of tips that many of us have learned the hard way.




Are you asking about what the students should specialize in or what the mentors should specialize in?



First off, welcome to FIRST.

I don’t think I Can cover every thing you need but I will give it a try. Also I’m sorry, I’m a Paramedic not an English major.

Its crazy how the rookies are in the 5000 number range now.
When I started my team 10 !! years ago we where in the same boat as you.
Not knowing where to start from.

Can we get some info on your team. Where are you located, number of Students vs mentors, and what is your workshop setup like, and what team will be mentoring you. And what events will you be attending?

Kick off is only a 11 days away so you don’t have much time. It all depends on how many students and mentors you have. Spend as much time with your mentoring team as you can, before the kick Off ( the start of the season and reveal of the game). They can help you the best.

I would go onto the FIRST website and read as much information as you can about the past games, to get an idea of what is a ahead of you. http://www.usfirst.org/roboticsprograms/frc/resources

As soon as the game is revealed, read the manual and watch the kick off animation a few time’s. To start brainstorming ideas. Your mentoring team should guide you through this process. They should help you set up a time table of when you need to have a task completed by, the 6 weeks go by fast.

With were to start it all depends on what you have to work with. It doesn’t matter if you have 5 students or 50. You will should break in to small groups of students and mentors to manage the different parts of the game. This is so you get as many students involved as you can and that they don’t get overwhelmed with this whole process.

Have a student or two study the game manual, so the others can refer to them if they have a question of what is legal and not. You will need to have an overall team strategy, to know how you will be playing the game.

Once you have a strategy, you can have a group or two work on the overall design of the robot. Then you can have a another group who does the building. This can even further and have sub groups within the main groups. To do more tasks.

I know I did not cover every thing and there is so much more to cover, I know other people will fill in the missing gaps, but to get you started your best sources of information will Be your mentoring team and the First website and the Chief Delphi forums. There are so many people willing to help all you have to do is ask.

Also this is your Rookie year, you are bound to make mistakes but that is OK. You will learn from them and do better next time.

The biggest thing I can stress is to HAVE FUN.



Thanks! We’re in South Florida and we have 12 students and 2 mentors at the moment.

What I was wondering is that what fundamentals should we have nailed down before we meet with our mentoring team? What are we expected to know, or what should we be able to do before we have our mentoring session, as a team?



Core basic tool identification and safe usage. That way you can focus on the core robot stuff and not basic tools with the other team.

Basic hand tools, basic wire identification, wire striping, color codes used, soldering, etc. If you have gaps in this area that is OK, but these may be easer to find help with outside of the precious time you will have with the other team.

If you have the tools down that is great! When we started with our second team as rookies we had students not know the basic hand tools, like what a Phillips screw driver was.

Next is a good idea of what each student would like to try to focus on this year. They will still get lots of exposure to other aspects of the team, but pairing them up with the right folks from the other team would be helpful.

A couple of students really learn the electrical parts, others how to set up the software and control system. Then the others can focus on mechanical design aspects.

Divide and conquer!




Adding to what others have said:

  1. How to drill holes in metal. Safely.
  2. How to cut metal. Safely.
  3. How to measure distances, very accurately. Inches, down to much better than 1/32" (much less than 1/3 the width of a ‘sharpie’ line)
  4. The proper usage of nuts, bolts, washers, lockwashers, locknuts, and thread locker fluid. Including ‘tight’ and ‘too tight’.
  5. The correct way to use a metal file. And safely.
  6. Why “polycarbonate” (lexan) is used and “acrylic” (plexiglass) is not. Very important!

AND, the MOST important thing to know:
7. How To Read. (Read <and obey> the rule book, often, or suffer the consequences)

Good luck this season, come back often and search to find answers. Ask if you can’t find what you need.






Honestly, everything here would be beneficial in terms of knowing, but really all of that stuff the students can still learn from mentors, I’d say the key elements that your team should have should include a determination to learn and ask questions, a desire to be on the team, and an understanding of how much time (at least 150 hours from each student, and that’s an extremely rough estimate) and effort needs to be put in to this. Dedication is one of the most important things for an FRC team, because without dedication, there may not be a robot to show off at your first regional.



Where is the team located in South Florida, we are in Coconut Creek Florida. If you guys need anything feel free to message me on here. I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have.



Simple is easy, quick, and reliable. Easy, quick, and reliable wins matches. Winning matches gets to elims. Getting to elims gives you a chance at winning.

Simple robots aren’t bad. A simple design executed well gives you a better chance at winning competitions than a complex robot prone to failure.



And probably most importantly for the rookie teams out there: playing well with a simple robot is a ton of fun.



Welcome to FIRST! I’m glad to hear you have another team to mentor you during the season. That will be critical to your success since you appear to have no previous robotics or FIRST exposure.

Here’s what I suggest you do before meeting with your mentoring team.

  • Read the 2014 Administrative Manual and develop a list of questions. Logistics of an FRC team can be complicated.
  • List ALL of your basic assets. Your mentoring team can help you prioritize gaps. Your basic assets would include money, space, materials, and mentor / parent skills.

Here’s the key asset questions I would ask if we were helping your team.

  • What is your source of funds and budget for regional entry fees, robot parts & materials, and team travel?
  • Where is your build and team meeting space?
  • What tools are available for building the robot?
  • What are the skills and background of the mentors?
  • What is your schedule and team meeting times for the build season?

My robot advice is the same for all new teams.

  • Build the drive base in the kit of parts first before you build anything else. Get it wired, programmed and driving immediately.

Good luck!



Welcome to FIRST!

What you should know:

  1. This is supposed to be fun. If you, or the students, are not having fun, stop and rethink what you’re working on.
  2. Almost nothing works the way you want it to, the way your think it should, or the way it REALLY should the first time around. Learn as you go and remember #1.


I’ve found this Recommended Reading page by Spectrum to be particularly useful for new, old and forgetful people.




a d-bot with a solid drivetrain is a lot more competitive (and fun) than a semifunctional more complex robot.



I have found that Spectrum is one of the great resources for new teams. I have found none better. Being a new team that has help others gives them a different way of looking at problems then older teams have. What works for our team with a program that has been building on years of experience and training will not work for a new team. That is why I recommend Spectrum.



Have you taken a look at Team-in-a-Box (341, now no longer updated) or MOE-mentum (365)? I haven’t used them, mind you, but I understand that they’re pretty good as well, for a veteran (HoF teams’) perspective.



I’d say just keep it simple and have fun. As previous posters have said, even veteran teams can get tripped up shooting for the moon but ending up burning up on reentry. (sorry for the space simile). If you can pick one task to do and do it really well, that’ll make you look good. Some teams that I saw this year didn’t even drive – they just climbed. That might be an extreme example, but the idea behind it is sound: make your robot as break-proof and as idiot-proof as possible.

Also (I have to say this as a Chairman’s guy)-- do community outreach. It’s the right thing to do, as well as looking great on your submission a few years down the road.

If you’re interested, we have all sorts of resources on our website.

Best of luck!



I’d definitely agree with some of the previous posters. Building a simple robot that works well is a lot easier/better than trying to go the hard route and ending up disappointed. Your team has plenty more years ahead of itself to try harder robots out.
Also, don’t forget the things not directly related to the robot, such as outreach, team identity, or administration/ logistics (ex. budget, available resources). It’s easy to get so caught up in finishing before the deadline that other things fall through the cracks-- and teams don’t operate well without handling all of its aspects.
Third, know where to find the information you need. If it’s parts, know the popular websites that will have the part you need. If it’s advice, work with neighboring teams. Check out previous games and know what kinds of awards and resources available on the FIRST website. Other than that, your team will pick up a lot through the mentoring process and through experience :slight_smile: