Thank you for following along on our third FIRST Tech Challenge Season. We are an all-girls team in NW Montana. At the 2022 #FreightFrenzy State Championship, we won the Inspire Award and were the Winning Alliance Captain. We just recently returned from the World Championship in Houston, and we already have news about the upcoming season: #FIRSTEnergize #FTCPowerPlay
This page is arranged chronologically, the newest at the top.
3/7/2023 – Updated Website, but season blog is behind
We weren’t as diligent with our team blog this season. We’ll try and get the major milestones documented here ASAP. Please pardon our dust as we work the bugs out.
9/1/2022 – Official FTC Documentation has MOVED
Happy September! We are only 8 days until kickoff! Updates from the FTC Team Blast today:
FTC has moved the official documentation to a new GitHub based location.
We haven’t dug in yet, but it looks nice and easier to search than the previous PDF files. Note the navigation bar on the side for Game and Season Resources, FTC Control System Resources, CAD, etc.
The links in our 7/27/22 update are still live, but we don’t know for how long or if some of them will stay live.
One of the new pages in the new FTC online resource is a FREE Software Page, including at the moment: Autodesk/Fusion360, PTC/OnShape, Dessault/Solidworks, and Monday.com. It’s nice to have a link for each with team instructions: Team Complimentary Software
One other note from the blast, the Machine Learning Toolchain will be available at kickoff. Last season it was accessed through the online scoring website. It looks like documentation will be in the GitHUB documentation and that should have a link.
8/29/2022 – We have dates for EVERYTHING Montana FTC and FLL!!!! Woohoo!
Montana FTC Kickoff: Saturday, September 10th at Lincoln County High School in Eureka
Attending teams get “Power Ups”, not sure what those are, but sounds like a game element. LCHS Robotics will also have a virtual show and tell for teams that can’t make the trip.
Thank you E-Hackers, Couch Potatoes, and Lazer Sharks in Space for hosting!
FTC Qualifier 1: Saturday, November 12th in Helena
FTC Qualifier 2: Saturday, December 3rd in Butte
FLL Qualifier: Saturday, January 21st, 2023 (still not solidified)
MT State FTC Championship: Friday, February 3rd, 2023
MT State FLL Championship: Saturday, February 4th, 2023
8/28/2022 – SWAE Day 2022
#SWAEDAY2022 was great! So many cool cars, and amazing technology!
SWAE is a team sponsor and we are so thankful for their support and encouragement of our robotics team and helping us chase our dreams!
Thanks, SWAE for opening your doors and sharing what you do with the community!
Photos are Katie with the SWAE Ferrari FF modified for Gold Rush Rally 2022 and Zeke their modified Boston Dynamics robot dog, and SWAE’s new 6′ long 3D printer.
8/21/2022 – Northwest Montana Fair
We had a great time sharing Grover and Demobot at the NW MT Fair on Sunday. So many families stopped by to play. Even “big kids” took a turn driving. Thank you to everyone that stopped by to let us share what we do in FIRST robotics.
8/10-17/2022 – Testing a new chassis design for the fair and we have a new mentor!
Grover is superfun to show off and explain to visitors at outreach events, but we needed a demobot with us at the fair for kids to drive. We decided to try a new chassis design with the mecanum wheels on the inside of the frame. Also in our demobot, we are testing the new goBilda hub-shafts. We finally got a title on our “coder throne”. Our lead programmer is our queen after all. An exciting addition to our team is new mentor Joanna! She’s a college student studying game and web programming. We’ll get a photo soon.
7/27/2022 – PowerPlay Season Resources
Don’t forget season resources are being updated regularly:
Game and Season Resources:
Robot Building Resources:
REV Official Documentation:
goBILDA Product Insights:
7/19/2022 – GM1 Released — Here are our noteworthy observations compared to the last 2 seasons.
- 1 Human Player per Alliance – there was 1 human player in Ultimate Goal, but most teams were remote and a drive coach was included in the drive team
- The “Drive Team” isn’t specific – so unknown if a drive coach is also included with the 2 drivers for each team – to be answered with GM2
- TSE is color specific – I suppose that means everyone will need 2 TSEs one with red as the primary color and one blue – also, may need separate machine learning models so you don’t accidentally pick up the opponent’s TSE as your own. Hard to say for sure until we see the game.
- TSE size – min 3″ x 3″ x 3″, max 4″ x 4″ x 4″
- Penalty points in traditional matches are added to the opposing team rather than subtracted from the offending team
- No hints as to game arena orientation, game elements, terrain to traverse, etc.
- Promote Video Theme: “How I learned about FIRST“
- Ranking Points! The largest change for us is how ranking points are calculated. Our last 2 seasons have been based on total match points. For PowerPlay teams are awarded 2 points for winning a match, 1 point for a tie and 0 for a loss/DQ/NS. Overall scoreboard ranking is based on average ranking points (not total). Tie Breaking Points (TBP) will certainly be used this season. As a refresher, TBP1 is the autonomous score and TBP2 is the endgame task score, the averages of which are used in tie-breaking the ranked scoreboard.
- Averaged Ranking Points; highest to lowest, then
- Averaged TieBreaker Points (TBP1); highest to lowest, then
- Averaged TieBreaker Points (TBP2); highest to lowest, then
- Highest Match Score, then
- Random Electronic Draw
For those that are new in the last 2 seasons, here’s a scoreboard screenshot from Skystone 2019-2020 from the Montana Championship. The top 3 teams all had an average RP of 2, but the teams were then ranked by TP (TieBreaker Points, now we use TBP).
Interesting Note: For Skystone TP was an odd calculation, the TP was the pre-penalized score of the losing alliance, given to both alliances. So the first ranked team in this case, the average of the losing alliance scores in their matches was 39. So, highest ranking points, plus the average of the score of the teams you played against. Maybe the prevailing thought in ranking was “you won, but against stronger opponents”? Perhaps this discouraged too much defense, as you’d want your opponents to have as high a score as possible, without beating you. Maybe teams even helped their opponent with points if they had a clear win?
7/13/2022 – GM1 will be released on 7/19 per FTC’s Twitter today.
7/12/2022 – Still waiting
Well, our 7/12 prediction was a bust. Word on Reddit is someone got credible info that GM1 will be released on 7/18, next Monday. All we received at 10:00am MST today was an FLL email with links to the FIRST Energize season media files.
7/5/2022 – Waiting for Game Manual 1 Release — And what’s up with REV Hubs?
Last season Game Manual 1 was released on July 13th which was the Tuesday after summer break. When we asked about a July release, we were met with a YES on Twitter. FIRST is closed for summer break this week and reopens next Monday the 11th. Will we have a surprise on 7/12? Game Elements weren’t included 2021 GM1, but they were announced in May of 2021. Since we haven’t had a game element announcement, maybe we’ll get one of those soon as well. September is sooooo far away. Side note: if you need anything from AndyMark, shipping is free on Tuesdays for purchases over $50 this month. We are waiting until after GM1 comes out, just in case there’s an indication some of the clearance game elements may be helpful while waiting for the real ones in September.
In other news, there don’t seem to be encouraging updates from REV regarding the availability of Control Hubs and Expansion Hubs. The latest info can be found in the 6/16 FTC blast.
As of today, Driver Hubs are listed as “In Stock” on the FIRST dashboard via the “Control and Communication” set and on the REV Robotics website.
The “Electronic Set” via the FIRST dashboard is still sold out but appears orderable, so that’s promising. On the Rev website they are listed as out of stock with the following note:
“Due to global supply chain shortages, control system components can only be built in batches. At this time we have exhausted all of our supply of control and expansion hubs until the next batch is delivered. Due to ongoing supply chain disruptions, we do not anticipate re-stocking of these devices until late summer of 2022.“
We hope the late summer re-stock is true and has enough to support new and upgrading teams.
Without, at the very least, 2 old cell phones and an Expansion Hub OR an old cell w/Control Hub w/wo an Expansion Hub, it is impossible for a new team to start in FTC. Old cells aren’t impossible to come by, but Expansion Hubs have been. So far official documentation has said even with shortages, only approved hardware is permitted. Perhaps there will be something new to announce with GM1 on this topic, but we aren’t holding our breath. FIRST has put out advice for teams (especially dissolving ones) to either sell their extra hubs back to REV, even if broken, or work with their region PDP to lend functional extras to new teams starting up in their region.
If you are a new team looking to start up in Montana, we can help you get hold of our PDP. We can also help you through the FTC Rookie Grant application process, $750 toward getting started is quite helpful.
5/31/2022 – ANNOUNCEMENT! We have a new home!
We are so excited! One of our team sponsors, Logan Health, has provided us space to set up our robotics lab. The local Girl Scout office didn’t renew their lease, so we needed a new home by 5/31. We are incredibly thankful and now very busy getting unpacked and settled in our new space. We’ll share more about our space later and we’ll get an open house on the calendar soon. Thank you Logan Health!
5/25/2022 – 2022-2023 Season Recruitment – Want to join us, let us know! Now recruiting girls that will be in 9th-12th grade
5/24/2022 – FTC POWERPLAY Season Teaser
To be honest, this isn’t much of a teaser. Lots of roundness. Still leaning toward hockey pucks. AndyMark also has electric green large wiffle balls, never know? Last season the game elements were confirmed on 5/20 and Game Manual 1 was released on 7/13. No sign of either of these yet. It is telling that on AndyMark we are used to seeing a tape set and a tool set, but this season we have only a “PowerPlay tape and tool set” so far. Interestingly the only tools needed to assemble the field are diagonal cutters, maybe for cutting cable ties. Seems odd. Maybe other tools would be too obvious and give something away? Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
5/3/2022 – 2022-2023 Season Theme Reveal: Power Play
We have a theme for the 2022-2023 season….. Power Play! Sounds a lot like “Face Off” from 2008 even with a round suspiciously hockey puck looking logo. Could we have pucks as a game element in the coming season? Maybe?
Here is the season teaser video:
So, we know the season has to do with sustainable energy. We are excited for the FIRST LEGO League teams. Our Innovation Project in 2020 was a sustainable energy idea. As mentioned above, that round icon in the FTC theme logo looks like a hockey puck. Maybe hockey pucks representing (button cell) batteries on the game field, or stacked they look like battery life indicators? We are hoping the light beacons make a comeback, or something similar as beacons haven’t been used since 2016-2017 in Velocity Vortex. Beacons introduce a different kind of game strategy. Time will tell.
Season registration begins May 20th. Also, on that date last year the FTC game elements were revealed, we hope in less than 3 weeks, we’ll know what items the robot will need to manipulate this coming season.
5/1/2022 – Recruiting for the upcoming season
Know a high school girl that has an interest in joining RoboScout Squad? Join anytime between now and September 6th. The sooner the better if they want to start learning the ropes before the new season starts. First team trip possibly Saturday, September 10th. If we don’t travel that day, we will have our own special event day locally to celebrate season kickoff.
Prior experience not needed, we are happy to train the willing. Trust us, if you want to learn this, you can. There are also many roles that make up a successful team besides building and programming a robot, if those aren’t your cup of tea:
- CAD Design
- Rules and Safety Specialist
- Strategy and Alliance Scouting
- Documentation Specialist
- Presentation and Script Writer
- Marketing, Website and Social Media
- and more!
- We are always seeking adult team mentors in all fields and levels of expertise
We historically meet in Kalispell on Wednesday nights 5:30-7:30, Sunday late mornings 10:00-2:00, and some no-school days. Rare Saturdays for special events. There could be a state qualifier tournament as early as mid-November. Tournaments are usually on Fridays or Saturdays, and there could be as few as 2 and as many as 5 tournaments before the first week of March. Travel sometimes requires overnights. It is definitely a time commitment. Email us or fill out our Contact Us form for more info. If we end up with excess interest, we may need to move to an application process.
***Please note all team members, traveling parents and/or mentors are required to join our Girl Scout Troop. That side of it can be what you want. If you want to dip your toe into skill building, badge earning, local Girl Scout activities/adventures, Highest Awards, and service projects you certainly can. If you just want to do robotics, that’s fine too. But we all sell nuts/candy in October and Girl Scout Cookies in the late winter/early spring.