Category Archives: Florida FTC

Off to Super Regionals

The Super Regional Championship in San Antonio, Texas is finally here and the whole team is excited to be packing up and heading west. Team Duct Tape is looking forward to judging, setting up, meeting new people, and having FUN!

Special thanks to Sumo Software for hosting a fun and exciting Game Night to raise help money for our trip to San Antonio. There were hot-dogs, snacks, beverages, and a variety of games provided that made the night a blast!

While preparing to travel, we were able to make tons of buttons to hand out at the competition with a tremendous amount of help from parents. We were also able to make more things out of duct tape swag, practice for judging, and both drive teams were able to sharpen their skills on the field. With only minor changes to the robot and presentation board, this past week has flown by.

We cannot wait for these next few days and we wish the best of luck and safe travels to all of the teams that are going to Super Regionals!

It’s a Block Party! Fiesta de Bloques!

The new FIRST Tech Challenge game has been released and we’re delighted to learn – it’s a Block Party!  What a great looking game, and what a great Kick Off at Middleton High School.

Many thanks to Middleton Robotics for a terrific and fun filled event!  We were especially happy to make the formal acquaintance of Scott and Jordi from Sumo Software Corporation , who will be helping out our parent sponsor,  Learning is for Everyone, with Robocon Tampa Bay.   Scott and Jordi turned out to be FIRST alumni – from 1996 and 2006 respectively! – and came out to the kick off to learn more about FTC. We’re glad they’ve found their way back to FIRST!




Congrats N.U.T.S.!

The Florida FTC kick off event was huge! Over 45 teams turned out for it, from across the state, with 400 students!  Our Florida Guess the Game winners is FTC 5070 Team N.U.T.S., who guessed there would be an endgame hanging component. They received a hand crafted duct tape backpack.

Our out-of-state winner is waayyyy out of state – in India! Congratulations to Team 7003, Electrohephathenix from Pune,  India, who not only guessed the game name correctly – Block Party – but also that it would involve manipulation of blocks in some way.

We may also have to give out some prizes for Most Creative Guesses, which would have to include FTC Team 5937, Renaissance Robotics, and one of their guesses which was that the game would be “Water Polo” and involve “Robots riding horses in a swimming pool while playing a ball game.”  Our other favorite guess came from Whitney High School FTC team 542, who said the game would be called “Beautiful Babies”.

The game will consist of transporting fish and other effective nutrient-rich food to live babies. The amount of points will be based on the amount of calories each alliance has given their baby. The endgame will amount to putting a cat on the baby’s heads. The cats will be docile because they are full of morphine. This will be a difficult and challenging endgame.”

TDT member Jacob with his little sister (under the big hat!)

No one can ever accuse FTC teams of lacking in creativity!

This coming Saturday, we put our duct tape noses to the grindstone and get to work planning out our new season build. Before the meeting starts, though, we’ve also got a fun and exciting international outreach project we’ve been invited to be part of by our FTC friends south of the border (or in our case, west of the border, across the Gulf of Mexico, in Mexico City.

FTC Team 3141, the Bears, is hosting an international FTC Google+ Hangout this Saturday, Sept. 14, at 12pm EST.  Besides us and the Bears, we’ll be joined by Landroids FTC 4220, of New Jersey,  and Team Beta FTC 3550, from Iowa.

We’ll start at noon (11am CST) with team intros, followed by team presentations and then “Game Talk”, where we’ll be chatting about things like Block Party first impressions, favorite aspects of the game, ideas about strategy and game play.

The Bears invites FTC teams everywhere to follow along at their Google+ Hangout on Saturday, and so do we!  In the meantime, we hope you enjoy the Bears’ bilingual presentation of the the Block Party! game.  Hope to see you, Saturday!


KickStarter Helps Duct Tape Keep Rolling!

We’re all doing the Happy Dance now, like Marissa and her little sister at left.  We’re so very grateful to all our great supporters for helping us reach our KickStarter target goal of $1000 so quickly!   For the first time in five years, we have a comfortable budget to work with at the start of the season. While our success has never hinged on our budget (we’re experts at making due with what we have!), being able to purchase the right parts and materials instead of making something “close” fit, will make a big difference in providing solid educational engineering and design instruction.

While there are different robotics education platforms with lower or comparable participation costs, we’ve always felt  the return on our FIRST investments are solid and enduring, with its more than two decades of character based, high energy, mentor driven success and $16 million in scholarships for FIRST students behind the experience.

Additionally, FTC build components are robust and adaptable to a variety of construction needs. The FIRST Tech Challenge program utilizes a combination of Mindstorms and TETRIX  educational building materials, which are offered to FIRST teams at a 30% discount.  While that helps, costs can still be significant.  Here’s a partial list of some of the TETRIX pieces we use and their discounted costs:

  • Motor Encoder pack: $56
  • High TechnicDC Motor Controller: $56
  • 4″ Omniwheel: $25 each
  • 4″ Standard wheels: $18 each
  • Gear pack: $70
  • Individual gears (40 tooth to 120 tooth) : $18 to $21
  • 12v NiMh 3000 mah Rechargeable Battery : $35
  • NXT Rechargeable Battery: $44
  • NXT DC Rechargeable Battery Pack : $55

We can reuse a lot of items year to year, but some things like encoders or gears and even rechargeable batteries, wear out or get damaged, and some things like registration fees and software license renewals have to be paid every year.  And this year, with the option of the Matrix build system, more new learning and building experiences will be available to us.

Other costs include:

  • Annual registration fee: $275
  • League fees: $250
  • Software license renewals: $100
  • Aluminum and plastics: $100+
If we make it to the State Championship, there are additional event and travel related fees.  And, new this year, the addition of the SuperRegional, a new level of competition between the State Championship and the FTC World Championship.

Your support gives us a healthy start to our season and the ability, for the first time in five years, for our students to be able to create a full season budget and add a new business aspect to their learning experience.

We’ve got more than three weeks left in our Kickstarter campaign, and hope you’ll continue spreading the word about our team to help us grow our 2013-14 budget even more and keep the Duct Tape rolling!

Thank you!