Starting a robotics team!
We have been involved in FIRST robotics for about 8 years. We participated in FIRST Lego League (FLL) for 3 years, which is a great program for grades 4-8. In the last 5 years we participated in FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) for grades 7-12.
First, you need two coaches, both coaches are required to complete on-line training with firstinspires.org to be registered before you can register a team.
Note that FTC costs a lot more than FLL, mostly in Robot parts and electronics. The annual budget for a FTC team is minimum $2000. You could easily spend another $1000 on more robot parts, and there are registration fees to consider. RI FTC has very reasonable fees; this varies depending on the local organization and their expenses.
If you qualify for the FTC Worlds Championship, the fee is $2000.
Parts can be ordered through PITSCO from the link on the FIRST dashboard and registration is paid there too. We recommend buying the Rev control hub and controllers there, but don’t buy the kit of parts as there are better ones.
If you haven't bought a kit of robot parts yet, we use the Servocity Actobotics system at servocity.com. It has more parts to do more things structurally and the company innovates new parts that help with the current challenges. We are invested in this system and have bought 4 kits for two teams. If we had to start from scratch today, we would probably recommend the Gobilda FTC kit at gobilda.com and the strafer chassis.
You can start with one kit and one electronics hub; that gives you 4 motors. Use two for the drive and two for other mechanisms.
Thanks for reading!
Get started as soon as you can.
Contact us for any questions!
To start, you can program with the Blocks system on the robot controller app, and a two wheel tank drive is easy to build and program.
Eventually as you work with more complicated drives you will need more motors and parts as well as a second electronics controller. We recommend waiting, as next year there will likely be a new controller to replace the on-board phone. Currently, the connection between the phone and controllers is problematic.
Read the FTC forums and subreddit first to learn from others experience, as well as the game manuals parts 1 and 2.
Use the First portal to get a list of teams and get in touch with some that are nearby. The community is very cooperative and should be willing to help out. Maybe one of the more experienced teams would like to mentor yours. It looks good in their engineering notebook. FIRST is more than the competition, there are awards based on design, outreach and overall team efforts.