Introduction

Hello! Welcome and thank you for taking the time to read Game Manual 0, the premier resource for new and upcoming FIRST Tech Challenge teams! If you are a rookie or a new team, we would especially like to welcome you to the FTC community. We want to make your beginning steps and transition into FTC as seamless as possible, and offer some of our own experience and advice compiled over the years.

The goal of Game Manual 0 is to create a comprehensive guide for FTC teams. Physical resources for FTC are few and far between, and online resources are scattered across the interwebs. Typically, the largest inhibitor for newer teams is the lack of knowledge base, as robotics is a relatively new STEM field. New teams also have not made connections to experienced teams who might mentor or offer advice throughout the season. Thus, they are left in the dark to figure things out, seemingly with no way out. While the journey of learning cannot be shortcut, Game Manual 0 seeks to address these shortcomings by providing a starter’s guide to the hardware and software in FIRST Tech Challenge.

When perusing this guide, it is important to keep in mind the authors’ perspective. Many of the teams who contributed in the writing of this guide are veteran championship level teams in the upper echelon of FTC. This means that most of our recommendations are almost solely from the competitive advantage standpoint. For example, teams can learn just as much from using a Tetrix kit compared to an Actobotics kit. Just because there is a competitive advantage to one does not translate into a learning disadvantage for the other. The guide has a plethora of useful information and knowledge (such as FTC and basic engineering principles) for all teams, including teams which are primarily trying to learn rather than compete. However, do take our recommendations with a grain of salt. We want to help all teams in FTC, but as our experience has been on the competitive side of the fence, certain parts of the guide may not be very applicable to some teams.

Furthermore, the guide is written with a specific audience in mind - first year rookie teams who have just begun their journey in FTC. Undoubtedly there is information in the guide that could benefit nearly every team (it’s impossible to know everything about FTC) - but our recommendations are geared for the more inexperienced teams. For example, we generally discourage teams from using arms and instead use linear extensions. However, there are many experienced teams with the capability to build such arms, and we do not discourage such an endeavor. Keep on the lookout, though - a future version of the guide for veterans may appear.

Before diving in, we would like to add a short disclaimer: this guide is not about how to build a specific drivetrain, linear slide, intake, etc. The purpose of Game Manual 0 is simply to provide knowledge and advice to teams about the possible options, as well as including some tips on how to get started. Game Manual 0 has knowledge and advice, but not instructions.

Note

It is of the utmost importance that all teams learn the proper way (by following the engineering design process), not by reading a step-by-step guide or instruction manual. Thus, while Game Manual 0 has plenty of advice, we do not have specific steps included. Good luck, and have fun in FTC!