FRC Blog

Kickoff and Q&A

Jan 09, 2017 Written by Frank Merrick and Blake Bourque.



Written by Frank Merrick.

I don’t know about you all, but I had a great time at Kickoff for FIRST® STEAMWORKS™! And I can tell you for sure the FIRST Robotics Competition staff was really looking forward to (mostly) having a genuine day off on Sunday, after, for some of them, weeks of no breaks and at least a few days that extended so far into the next morning that it made little sense to even go to bed. 

Here at FIRST, we use some Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure community response to the game release. Some of these measures may be a bit subjective, but it seems as if the game has been pretty well received:



YouTube/Facebook Combined Game Animation Views


YouTube/Facebook Combined "Likes" or "Thumbs Up"


YouTube "Thumbs Down"

0 (to a first approximation)






Off Da

We’ll have more about FIRST STEAMWORKS later!



Written by Blake Bourque, FRC Alumnus, and creator, along with Benjamin Carlson, of the new Q&A System for FIRST Robotics Competition.

With the new season upon us, you might be starting to have questions for the game design team. You are in luck. This year, FIRST has a brand new Question and Answer system designed especially for you. The new Q&A system has all the old features and some great new ones!

Much like the old system only one member per team can ask questions. As announced in last week's blog, Team Authorization Codes are available in the Team Registration System. Once you, or your team's designated question asker, has your team's code, head on over to the Q&A system and create an account for yourself. Once you have created an account, navigate to your user dashboard, enter your team number and your authorization code.

If you want to be notified when an answer is published to a question, make sure you are following that question by clicking the grey star, it will turn yellow to indicate that you are following it. You can see a complete list of your followed questions on your user dashboard. Remember, anyone can create an account to follow questions, you only need the team authorization code to ask questions.

After completing this process, you are ready to start asking questions! But remember the Q&A system won't open for questions until Noon Eastern on Wednesday, January 11th.

A major difference you will notice is that the FIRST STEAMWORKS Game and Season Manual is integrated directly into the Q&A system. This will allow answers by FIRST Staff to link directly to pages and rules in the manual.


I was a long time user of the Q&A system when I started talking with FIRST about a new Q&A system. My introduction to FIRST was as a freshman in High School; FRC Team 2648, Infinite Loop, was just beginning to form for their first competition season. My second year on the team, I was the programming lead and beta tester of the Java version of WPILib. As a Junior and Senior, I acted as the team captain, as we grew to over 40 members. Then it was off to college. 

It wasn't too long before I started to miss the FIRST experience: the excitement, the robots and the community. I learned that the local high school wanted to start an FRC Team. I worked with my friends in the student branch of the IEEE to provide support and mentoring to the team. That team became FRC Team 5122, the RobOTies! After graduating college with a degree in Computer Engineering, I moved to Bedford, Massachusetts and became a Mentor with FRC Team 4909, the Bionics.

It is my sincere hope that this new Q&A system improves everyone's quest in search of answers. Please remember that there are many other smart competitors asking questions so be sure to search their questions before asking a new one.


I look forward to seeing how teams use the new system and learning from feedback on ways we can improve for next year.

Happy Roboting!


chute door?

Chute door

So we aren't allowed to shoot the gear how are we allowed to place the gear? 

During the game after autonomous, can a robot hold onto more than one gear at a time?


are we allowed to use a ratchet strap to hoist the robot? If so, are we allowed to put a small amount of velcro on the bottom inch of the ratchet strap?

Hello! I only have 2 questions (so far).. And What program version is suitable for this year in Robotics? And do you need to be in Robotics for more than a year to be on the court for this year?

During the game can you not pass from the perimeter set for your robot at inspection, or is that just a set rule for the max perimeter 30×32.

My Team and I are unclear about some of the rules this year that for rope and robot size requirement. I would like to be clarified on the following if possibly.

LxWxH Maximum (Including Bumpers) Max Volume

Rope(If we bring our own)-
-Maximum and Minimum length from or to the grow. "How close or far away can the rope be to or from the ground"
-What kind/type or Rope is allowed to bring "Material Requirements" 
-Can a note be placed anywhere on your rope?
-Can a material such as a magnet be placed inside your rope?
-Maximum/ Minimum width of thee rope 

-Could you place a gear on the center lift and get 60 points making the router turn or dose it have to be on a side lift.
-If multiple routers are turning at the end of autonomous will you get 60+ point (ex. 2 routers are turning you get 120 points)

It seems like you have to click on each individual question to see the answer. Can you please give us a way to get a full list of questions and answers the way we could with the old system?

I was looking through the rules, and I am somewhat struggling to understand the rules for the starting size of the bot. It says that the starting size we have 2 options but the bumpers must be included in the size restraints. So I am wondering if you are referring to the frame size or what when you talk about the 2 boxes. (40x24x32, etc.) If we are talking about that having to include the bumpers, then the taller configurations volume shrinks to 20,700 cubic inches while the shorter but longer/wider configuration has a volume of 22,968 cubic inches. Thus it would be a loss in space on the bot by as much as 2,268 cubic inches if a team were to choose the taller configuration. Please if you can offer a better explanation or diagram that better explains the robot size our team would greatly appreciate it! Thank you, Bryce (2395)

The Q&A system this year is awesome! Thank you so much.

Can the robot be in contact with the gear while the gear is getting pulled into the airship?

Can bumpers be decorated as long as the lettering is still clear and conspicuous?

Does the robot have to back away from the ship in order for the pilot to lift the gear?

can you use Velcro on the end of the rooe

Are we allowed to use a cable ferrule on our modified rope?

Is there a minimum diameter our modified rope must be for it to be allowed to be used on the feild?

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