When you start an FTC team, consider creating a business plan. A business plan helps you keep track of the costs of having a team. It also helps you determine what parts you can purchase for your robot and what competitions you can participate in. The main parts of the business plans are income (the money you have to spend) and expense (the cost of what you need to buy).
Tracking your Money
When you start your business plan, you want to figure out the major costs of your team. You might want to consider coming up with the following categories to track your costs:
Registration / Competition
Team Registration When you start an FTC team you will need to register with the FIRST organization and purchase the initial set of parts.
Registration with FIRST is $275.
Team Competition Fee $0-$300
You want to join FIRST because this will enable you to compete and get your kit of parts. Depending on what state you live in, you will want to find the competition schedule and the cost for registration.
NXT Brick $265
Samantha Module $85
Spare Parts $0-$300
Next, you will need to purchase a Tetrix kit of parts, the Samantha module and the NXT brick. You may also want to budget some money for spare parts such as spare motors, chain and sprocket, etc. The tetrix kit is the main set of parts that help you build your robot. The Samantha module is what helps your robot connect to the field
T-shirts, buttons, banner $100-$300
Next, you want to outline the major spirit expenses such as t-shirts, banner or decorations for your pit. The pit is an area at competition that you work on your robot. Teams often bring a banner or decorations to identify their team space.
Once you figure out how much money it will cost, you need to figure out how you are going to raise the funds. We suggest you check with FIRST to see if there are any grants available. We were able to get grants from GM Foundation and Consumers Energy. Each team member may also need to pay a portion of the fee to participate.
Next, you need to brainstorm how to raise money. We had success by reaching out to company sponsors and by having bake sales at our school and can drives.
Good luck making a business plan and have fun!
The Purple Proton Blog Team (Zack)
When forming a FTC team it is wise to have a strategy plan.
Strategy is used with building your robot, driving/ competing with the robot, building a business plan and selecting which tasks to do on the field.
The Purple Protons made a strategy plan for our team. The first thing we do is Plan, then Prototype, Build, Test, Reflect and Modify.
When planning on how to build our robot, “Bob”, everybody on our team had a different idea, so after we talked about all our ideas we voted on them and the top three we would prototype. Planning is important! You don’t want to just start out prototyping with no idea what you are doing or you will have too many ideas and waste time.
Prototyping is useful to visualize the idea your team has. On our team, we used the cad program CREO, legos, cardboard models and drawings. We prototyped to help see the most successful ideas to build.
We then used our most successful prototyped ideas to build the robot. Once you have prototyped something you have an idea of how you want to go after building. You might want to follow the prototype or maybe you learned some things and want to build it differently.
After the robot or mission section is built the next thing to do is test. With testing you want to try every aspect of what you built. It is very helpful to write down specifically what you want to test and to have a team member record the specific results. You may also want to video tape or take pictures of your tests.
One you have the data from testing, the thing to do is reflect and talk about what went right or wrong and how to fix it. Once you know how you want to fix your robot, you need to modify it, and then repeat the whole cycle.
Good luck to your team and make sure you have a strategy!
The Purple Proton Blog Team (Evelyn)
Picking a Team Name
When choosing a team name, there are three things to keep in mind - Creativity, Spirit and Uniqueness. A successful team name will give you good ideas for spirit wear, not be completely humiliating and will impress the judges.
Choose a creative name. Don’t pick a name like The Dogs or The Cats. Pick something that has reasoning behind it. We picked the Purple Protons, because a proton is something that has positive energy. This name was picked to show our positive outlook on robotics and life in general. Also, a name like “Loose Screws” is something creative based on things used in robotics.
You might want to consider how you will use spirit with your name. For example, it is helpful to choose a color in the name. When you choose a color it opens up huge spirit wear opportunities and gives you a cool sort of trademark. For example, we’re the “Purple Protons”. This helps us center around the color purple. It is something that is easy for other people to remember and it gives a great base for us to center team spirit.
Pick a name that is unique. When you do that the judges will remember you and other teams won’t get confused by you and another team. No name is too wacky. The judges will remember oh those _________________________. I remember that interview I like them. Would you remember The Robots or The Purple Protons more?
Good luck in choosing your name. Have fun and stay positive when you build your team identity.
Stay positive, Robo people!
The Purple Proton Blog Team (Parker/Swaggy P)
Creo is a free to download program that you can use to make 3-D models of anything you want. It can be downloaded from the PTC website. Creo is a very easy to use program that I would recommend to any rookie team. If your team is in Michigan you can contact us about Creo.
The Purple Proton Blog Team (Alp)
When you are building your robot, teamwork is especially important in building the chassis. Teamwork is very important because a lot of great ideas come from many people, and with a lot of teammates you can make a very powerful chassis. Once you got a really powerful chassis it will increase the likely hood of getting your team through to the next competition. Your chassis is the main part of your robot, so you have to make it a very strong. You also need to think about space for your elements of your robot. For example, your motor controllers, motors, on/off switch, battery, and other parts of your robot. Remember, chassis can be made from all different sizes and shapes. Don’t be afraid to think out of the box with your team!
Proton Blog Team (William)
Community Service and Outreach
When it comes to outreach and community service, you have to think about your community and how you can teach them about robotics. Do the best you can to connect with your school, and even your local charity events. This will help you spread the word about robotics more, and help support the charity. Even try helping students at your school in FLL, to help promote FTC for next year! The more ideas your team comes up with, the better. Don’t be afraid to ask other robotic teams for ideas, try your high school team, and see if your team can help too! Remember, this is about having fun, supporting your robotics team, and showing gracious professionalism!
The Proton Blog Team (Kristina)
Our team has always had a keen touch of spirit. One key to our success with this is having a main color, which for us is purple. Once you've got that then it should be easy to decide how you want to be spirited. If many people on your team are dressed the same it is easy to recognize that your are all together and it may also bump up points for the motivate award. The motivate award is won by team spirit and understanding why it is good to do robotics. Our goal for spirit is to look like a blob of purple when our team is huddled together. One way we do this is by covering as much of our body in purple as we can. This may include wearing purple shoe laces, purple knee high socks, purple shorts, tutus, purple team shirts and undershirt with a purple hat or bandana. Spirit makes robotics a lot more fun for everyone.
Purple Protons Blog Team (Barry)
In robotics, scouting is used to find possible alliance partner in the elimination rounds. You should scout for teams in case you are in the elimination rounds/asked to be an alliance partner. Also, you can meet new teams and familiarize yourself with the robotics community. There are two types of scouting, match scouting and pit scouting. Match scouting is where you watch teams compete and record their abilities, strengths, weaknesses, etc. Pit scouting is where you meet the team and ask them about their robot, team, strategy, etc.
Steps to become good scouters:
1. Pick 2-3 designated scouters, who are rather social and are not drivers or mentors. You cannot pick drivers or mentors because they will be too busy focusing on strategy to match scout.
2. Work on an interview spreadsheet. Ask them about their abilities to complete certain tasks based on the game. Include what they would prefer to do if you were possible alliances. Leave room to record attitude and friendliness so you can know how well they work together. You want this to be short and simple to fill out. Try not to use too much paper, as you could lose them.
3. Find out who is competing, where they are from, and what they placed in past competitions. You don't have to, but it is highly recommended.
4. When you get to competition, you first want to talk to who you are allianced with. Bring a driver or mentor, so they can talk about strategy and who will do what. Don't be judgemental or rude if they are not perfect. This is about having FUN!
5. Try to talk to every team. It may seem tiring, but it is worth it, as everyone knows who you are. If they remember that friendly team who talked to everyone, they may pick you as a possible alliance.
6. Don't give too much away about your team's strategy and weaknesses. You don't want them using information against you. Even said, you don't want to seem too secretive, just say what you need to say.
7. Be social. Meeting new people may seem akward at first, but give it a try. If you are really nice, they may help if you are in a tight spot.
8. When the matches start, rotate between match scouters. No one should be bored, and everyone should get a chance to talk to the other teams.
9. Sit on the top bleacher seat available. This may sound pointless, but you don't want anyone reading your notes.
10. Once the matches are over, go to a private table (probably the cafeteria) and talk over your top 5-10 choices for alliances and rate them.
11. No matter what place you are in, be prepared to have to choose an alliance! Have one designated scouter prepared with your choice sheet.
12. Always accept if a team chooses you and you are not a captain! Make sure you say something along the lines of, "On behalf of team (insert team number here), we graciously accept/decline your invitation."
13. Listen to the announcements and instructions given.
14. Don't lose hope if you are not picked for the elimination rounds. This is a key time the judges watch you. Congratulate all the other teams and be upbeat. Remember, its not over.
15. Always remember: GRACIOUS PROFESSIONALISM!!!!
The Proton Blog Team (Riya and Leo)
The Purple Protons want to keep you up to date on our whole robot experience.