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Start an FTC Team!

Every year we help mentor new FTC teams, and we'd love to help you get started! Here are our suggestions for how to proceed:

​First, set your goals. Is your team focused on learning, winning, having fun, a mix of all those? Great! FTC is compatible with your goals, but it helps a ton to know what they are before you get too far in. If your whole team (coaches & members) agree about your goals, things will go smoother.

Second, figure out your constraints. School-based teams might meet during classes or after school. Community teams will need to find meeting space (time to clean that basement!).

Communicate. Be sure to communicate with FIRST in Missouri they run our local events and are great. They can answer any questions you have and help you solve any problems that come up. 

We suggest NOT registering your team until the very last minute. That's because there are lots of grants available that can ONLY go to FIRST and can only be used for team registration & some other limited things. 

Here are the things we suggest you budget for as a first year team:

One-time expenses: (about $2,000)

  • $275 Control Set ordered through FIRST dashboard (use grant $)

  • $295 REV Robotics Control Hub ordered through FIRST dashboard (use grant $)

  • $600 goBilda Competition set is best for most teams, comes with 1 battery
    We highly recommend NOT buying a TETRIX or REV set through the FIRST dashboard.

  • $450 Depending on the game, a drivetrain kit from goBilda may also be good. We suggest waiting until game reveal (early September) and ordering then. The "Strafer" kit is very good most years.

  • $250 REV Expansion Hub lets you control 4 more motors than you can with just the Control Hub

  • $172.50 REV Sensor Bundle

Annual expenses: (about $1200)

  • $295 Team registration to FIRST (use grant $)

  • $225 MO/KS Event Registration to FIRST in Missouri

  • Game Set: This is the set of parts for each year's game, so it's an annual expense.

    • $cheap make the field elements you need to practice. FIRST normally includes instructions on making your own elements

    • $350 half field works well for most teams (use grant $)
      or

    • $460 full field if you have multiple teams or just want the whole thing (use grant $)

  • $200? additional goBilda parts:

  • $100? Additional supplier parts. Normally we suggest buying things from goBilda since they'll work well, but as you get more experienced there are lots of useful parts from these companies:​

    • McMaster-Carr​

    • AndyMark

    • Amazon​​

    • V-Belt Guys (timing belts if goBilda doesn't have a length you need)

    • Misumi USA https://us.misumi-ec.com/ sells linear slides many teams use.  goBilda's Viper Slides are probably easier to work with but are heavy. 

Optional One-Time Things (about $1000)

  • $259 Field Soft Tiles. These are the competition playfield, so having the same practice surface as you'll see at competitions helps. (use grant $)

  • $659 Perimeter Kit. These are the 12 foot x 12 foot walls. You can also make them out of PVC and plywood cheaper, but they won't exactly match competition fields. (use grant $)

  • 3d Printer. Microcenter often has the Ender 3 for $100 and it's fantastic for FTC teams.

  • Tools. A variety of tools will help you assemble robots and fabricate parts over time. 

Grants Available to KS+MO FTC Teams:

  • Sign up for goBilda's 25% discount here: https://www.gobilda.com/ftc/

  • FIRST in Missouri has a great list of Grant Opportunities: https://www.firstinmissouri.org/first-tech-challenge-team-portal/

    • Heartland STEM: $500 to Kansas teams​

    • FIRST Rookie Grants: $275 + $225, need-based

    • FTC Sim Rookie Grants: $1,000, need-based, removes eligibility for FIRST Rookie Grant

    • John Deere: $275 typically, must be close to a John Deere location

    • Boeing Employee Mentors: $800 for teams mentored by a Boeing employee

    • KC STEM Alliance: $varies

    • BAE Systems: $varies, must be within 75 miles of a BAE Systems site

    • Bayer: $varies, somewhat complicated, due by July 31st

    • REV Robotics: $varies

    • goBilda: 25% off for all teams

    • Gene Haas Foundation: $2,000

    • School District Education Foundation: If you are a school team, your district may have an education foundation that wants to help you get started!

Remember to NOT pay your registration yet, but you can sign up and get a temporary team number here: https://www.firstinspires.org/ 

Once your grant money starts rolling in to your FIRST account, you can register your team and purchase things through the FIRST dashboard. They have more items this year than in the past so don't be afraid to raise "too much" money this way your first year.

Season Schedule:

FIRST in Missouri has details about this, but you'll choose a few Meets where your team will drive your bot with other teams, then you'll have a League Tournament with Engineering Portfolio submission, judging, and awards. If you have an amazing year, you might advance to Missouri+Kansas State competition and even beyond to the World Championship in Houston.

Next Steps:

Info: Be sure to visit FIRST in Missouri for more information. There's a training session available September 30th, 2023 covering many valuable topics.

Meetings: Our team meets Tuesday+Thursday 7-9pm and our shop is open for 3 hours most Saturdays as well. Some teams meet more frequently, some less. Align your meetings with your goals and things will go well!

Fees: Many teams charge team members fees for shirts, team membership, etc. Our team charges $300/year and we meet year-round (so it's a great value in our opinion). This may not be possible for school teams, but setting fundraising goals per-member may help members feel more of a sense of ownership over their team.

Documentation: For judging at your League Tournament (and beyond!) you'll submit an Engineering Portfolio. You can get our template for one here.

Use our contact info below and we'll connect you with local resources to get your team going! We have "office hours" most weeks where we can Zoom with you or you can visit our workspace. We are also available via email & phone as needed to help any way we can.

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