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Greetings Florida FTC Teams, Volunteers, and Sponsors (Please distribute this email to your team members, parents, and mentors):

Several of the Florida leagues have completed their first events and I have a number of lessons learned to share with you. There are a number of important topics in this FTC newsletter to help you throughout the remainder of the Florida FTC season. The following are the topics contained in this Florida FTC newsletter:

  1. Dean’s List Nomination Deadline – December 15, 2016
  2. Judge Video Submission – December 3, 2016 (repeat)
  3. Robot Design Recommendations
  4. New Phone Approved for the 2016-2017Season (FIRST repeat)
  5. Championship Waitlist (FIRST repeat)

Newsletter Details:

  1. Dean’s List Nomination Deadline – December 15, 2016 (repeat) The deadline for submitting Dean’s List nominations is just around the corner. All Florida league championships will be held during the month of January, 2017. Therefore, the deadline to nominate students is December 15th, 2016 at 11:59pm EST. Please make sure to log in and nominate your students today! Check out our Dean’s List Submission Guide which provides step by step instructions on how to submit the nomination. Please send any questions about your nomination to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
  2. Judge Video’s Submission – December 3, 2016 – The state wide Judge Video’s must be submitted no later than midnight on December 3, 2015.  The video registration information can be found on the following web page: http://ftc.flfirst.org/index.php/season/video-registration

    The Judge Video scores are 25% (see topic below about Advancing to the Florida Championship) of the score that is used to rank the teams in Florida and is a required for teams to qualify to attend your League Championship and the Florida Championship. It is important to recognize that the FIRST values the learning from all aspects of this program not just the robot competitions.  The judging process is about gaining an understanding of the broader characteristics of a team such as how the team worked together, what was the team’s design process, did they develop a business plan, did the team reach out to the local engineering community, what other types of outreach did the team perform, did the team come up with innovative solutions, what sensors were used, and what programming features did the team members learn, etc.  These are some of the things judges are looking for in your videos.  To gain a better and more complete understanding of the judging process please review the documents available on the following web page: 
    http://ftc.flfirst.org/index.php/helpful-links/award-information
  3. Robot Design Recommendations --  The following are recommendations and observations from the first meets held that can help your teams (please pass this information to your teams):
  • The new control system software appears to be much more stable and reliable then last season. However, we are still seeing robot issues but a majority of the robot issues are team induced problems.  The following is a list of issues we have seen in the first events that have impacted teams ability to operate their robots during the entire match:
  1. Cable Management -- Cable management can have a big impact on the reliability of your robot. Make sure your team has a plan for how cables will be routed between the different electronic components and be very careful about the USB connections. USB cables should not make sharp 90 degree angle turns coming directly out of the control modules as this often causes the cables to lose connection when the robot come in contact with another robot or a field object.  My primary recommendation is that you should not underestimate the forces your robot comes under when colliding with other robots and field objects during a match.  Make sure all of the USB connection to the control modules are secure. We saw several examples of an error message being displayed on the robot phone about being stuck in a loop. If your team is seeing this type of error message, I recommend checking all of your USB connections.
  2. Update Your Phones -- Make sure both your robot and driver station phones have the same version of the Android operating system.  Also, Android operating system satisfies the requirements: ZTE Speed – version 4.4 or higher or all other allowed Android devices – version 6.0 or higher.
  3. The final control system issue we have seen at recent events is that many teams from last year are not using the new style for registering opmodes. Teams should not be modifying the register opmode to put in their opmodes and the code should not be in FtcRobotController. The code should be in the TeamCode folder.
  • Teams need to make sure they protect their robots from potential control the opposing teams Particle.  Teams should be aware that they will still be penalized even if the Particle was launched by an opposing Alliance robot.  A forum post, Miscellaneous Game Questions post #16 covers this in detail.The following is information from the Florida Head Referee about this issue:

The forum post states that a legally "launched" Particle that lands in an opposing Alliance robot is deemed to be Controlled/Possessed by said robot and penalties will occur for the duration of the match. The forum post talks about deliberate strategies aimed at forcing a penalty but if the robot "launching" is attempting to score the Particle and it lands inside an opposing Alliance robot the opposing Alliance robot will incur penalties. Also Forum Posts #23 and #25 reinforce this ruling.

I encourage teams to review the FTC forum posts on a regular basis.

  • Teams are quickly learning that the 10 points given at the end of the game for claiming a Beacon can be an important part of your teams scoring. However, the Referees have observed robot behavior that will likely be considered to be field damage in future events. Robots are slamming into the Beacons and field perimeter to the point that at some events the Beacons required repair. As a result, for all future events referees will be enforcing Rule G15 regarding damage of game elements. Please have your team review the rule in the game manual part 2. The intention of the game is for the robot to activate the beacon via a mechanism, not by robots exerting blunt force.

  1. New Phone Approved for the 2016-2017 Season (FIRST repeat) -- A new phone has been approved for the 2016-2017 season. Teams now have an additional choice of using the Motorola Moto G4 Play with Android 6.0.1. The Game Manual has been updated to reflect this change, and the phone will be available for purchase through the FIRST Tech Challenge Storefront. This phone replaces the Moto G 2nd Generation, which is now out of production.
    1. Championship Waitlist (FIRST repeat) -- We have added some clarifying information about our FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship waitlist. Click here for more information! If you would like to join the waitlist please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. If you have any questions about the waitlist please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Follow Florida FTC at:

Florida FIRST Tech Challenge website: http://www.flfirst.org

Florida FTC Facebook page:   facebook.com/FloridaFTC

Florida FTC Twitter page: twitter.com/FLFTC   #FLFTCRocks

Florida FTC Forum:   http://flftc.forumotion.com

FIRST Tech Challenge Blog: http://firsttechchallenge.blogspot.com

Visit FIRST in Florida at FIRSTFL.org for more information and resources about FIRST statewide.

Hans K. Wolf

Tampa Bay Robotics Foundation, Inc.

Cell: 813-477-4595

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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