E&R Unit 4: FTC Robots

Building and programming larger robots for the FTC program


Now that we’ve done some work with simple robots, it’s time to move on to larger robots and more complex challenges.  In this unit we’ll get to build the first round of our larger FTC robots!  For those that want to be part of our competitive robot teams, this is the place we start!  When we build our large robots, we’ll follow a similar strategy from before:

  • Build the robot frame.  We’ll start with the standard frame by following instructions.
  • Program the robot to do what you want.
  • Test & fix your robot and its program to complete various challenges.

Our FTC robots will be a little more time consuming to build because they’re made out of aluminum bar, screws, and nuts instead of just LEGOs.  Also, the programming will be a little more complicated just because it’s a different system with more components on it.  The trade-off will be that these robots will do a lot more than the LEGO robots did!  We’ll follow these steps:

  1. Use the tutorial and instructions to build a simple robot frame
  2. Use the tutorial and instructions to write a simple robot program
  3. Then adapt your program and your robot to accomplish various challenges

When you’re done, you’ll have built your second robot, and will understand how all the FTC components work together!


(30 pts)  About 2 days

First we need to build our robots.  This process takes two main phases: the first phase will be following the video tutorial and written instructions to build a simple frame out of the aluminum parts, motors, and wheels.  The second phase will also rely on a video tutorial and written instructions to wire the electrical components into your robot.


(30 pts) About 2 days

Once your robot is built, the next job is to program it.  We’ll do this in a program called Android Studio that can program a language called JAVA and create a mobile app to control our robots.  There is a beginning default program to get loaded into Android Studio with your team, and then we’ll make the robot move!  Once it moves, edit the beginning program to complete your first task.


(60 pts) About 4 days

Finally, you get to adapt your robot to accomplish a variety of tasks.  Start by selecting 2 easy tasks and get those working. Then choose a medium & hard task to work on.  Work with your team to accomplish each challenge!

Part 1: Building

Building a simple FTC Robot frame

Basic Electronics Diagram

To build the basic robot, you’ll need to follow a tutorial video and written instructions to build a simple frame.  We’re going to follow the instructions closely on this to make sure we all get functioning robots moving before we start customizing.  Then, follow the second tutorial video and instructions to attach the electronics components to your robot.  When everything is attached, have Mr. Benshoof approve it and move on to the programming step!


Watch the Frame Tutorial and make a few notes and a sketch in your engineering notebook.

Build the basic frame by following the instructions carefully.

 Watch the Electronics Tutorial and make a few notes and a sketch in your engineering notebook.

 Attach the electronic components by following the instructions carefully.

 Have Mr. Benshoof confirm your initial robot build before starting programming.

Robot Overview

Basic Frame Tutorial

Basic Electronics Tutorial

Gears & Chains

Rigid Frames

Good Wheel Bases

What’s Due In Part 1: Buildng

  • Watch Tutorials
  • Build Basic Frame
  • Attach Electronic Components
  • Get Mr. Benshoof’s Confirmation

Here’s what’s due in Part 1: Building

  1. Notes in your engineering notebook about building the frame and the electronics components
  2.  Basic robot frame with components assembled
  3. Have Mr. Benshoof confirm your basic robot and electronics

Part 2: Programming

Upload a basic program and complete a simple challenge

Wiring Diagram

We know that programming is one of the big challenges in robotics.  To get started, we’ll upload a simple pre-built program and make sure that your robot can move.  Once it actually moves, we’ll go in and make some changes to the basic program to make our robot complete a basic task.  This will get us all setup to start doing bigger challenges!


 Watch the Programming Tutorial and make a few notes in your engineering notebook.

 Upload the tutorial program to your robot and run it to confirm everything moves.

 Watch the Basic Task Tutorial and talk with your team about how to solve the problem.

 Make small changes to the tutorial program to complete the basic task.

 Have Mr. Benshoof confirm your basic task is complete!

Programming Introduction


Programming Tutorial

Android Studio Basics

What’s Due In Part 2: Programming

  • Programming Notes
  • Get Robot Moving
  • Complete Basic Task
  • Have Mr. Benshoof Confirm Task

Here’s what’s due in Part 2: Programming

  1. Notes in your engineering notebook from the Programming Tutorial
  2. Get your robot moving with the Tutorial Program
  3. Complete the Basic Task
  4. Have Mr. Benshoof confirm that you completed the Basic Task

Part 3: Challenges

Complete a series of challenges with your robot!

We made it!  This is the exciting part, where you get to adapt your program and change your robot in small ways to accomplish a series of challenges.  You’ll start by choosing 2 of the 5 available easy tasks to complete.  Once that’s done, pick 1 medium-hard series from the 3 available and start tackling those.  You’ll need to work with your team to brainstorm possible solutions and do a lot of trial-and-error!


  Review the Simple Challenge with your team; brainstorm solutions and decide how you want to tackle it.

 Work with your team to solve the challenge.

 Have Mr. Benshoof confirm your team’s success on 5 consecutive runs!

 Review the Hard Challenges with your team and select one (1).  Brainstorm solutions and decide how you want to tackle it.

 Work with your team to solve the challenge.

 Have Mr. Benshoof confirm your team’s success!

 Complete your short reflection on the FTC Robots and our process

Challenge Summary

Rover Ruckus Game Overview

Example Rover Ruckus Match

What’s Due In Part 3: Challenges

  • Teamwork & Brainstorm Notes
  • 4 Challenges Complete
  • Mr. Benshoof’s Check-off
  • Robotics Reflection

Here’s what’s due in Part 3: Challenges

  1. Teamwork & Brainstorm notes for all your challenges in your notebook
  2. 2 Easy, 1 Medium, and 1 Hard challenge complete
  3. Mr. Benshoof should have checked off each of your completed tasks
  4.  FTC Robotics reflection written in your engineering notebook

Double Check: Unit Expectations

Check what you need to have completed by the unit deadline

The purpose of this unit is to give you a chance to apply your robot building skills with a larger robot. The FTC system gives us more options and more flexibility than the LEGO system does, so we’ll want to use the larger system for most of our robotics work.  Even still, this unit reinforces the idea that to build good robots we need to Plan, Build, Program, and Test until things work!

Engineering Notebook:

(Part 1) You should have notes on building the basic frame and electronic components

(Part 2) You should have notes on programming FTC Robots with Android Studio.

(Part 3) You should have teamwork notes about every challenge your team tackled.

(Part 3) You should have completed your 1-page robotics reflection in your engineering notebook.

Building & Making:

(Part 1) You and your team should have built the Basic Frame and attached the Electronics Components following the instructions.

(Part 2) Complete the Basic Task by making small changes to the Tutorial Program once your robot is moving.

(Part 3) Complete 4 challenges (2 Easy, 1 Medium, 1 Hard) as a team by making adaptations to your robot and its program.

Benshoof Checkpoints:

(Part 1) Have Mr. Benshoof approve your basic robot frame

(Part 2) Have Mr. Benshoof confirm your completion of the Basic Task

(Part 3) Have Mr. Benshoof confirm the success of all 4 challenges