FIRST Robotics Competition Blog

FIRST Choice 2017

Nov 18, 2016 Written by Kate Pilotte, FIRST Robotics Competition's Kit of Parts Manager.


Updated: 1/3/17 to correct link from to

Updated: 12/8/16 to correct date changes and change in one product.

Updated: 11/21/16 to correct description about which mentors have visibility to a team’s voucher/FIRST Choice information.


FIRST Choice by AndyMark logo

It’s the time of year where we talk about what to expect from FIRST Choice. This blog should have all the information needed if you’re new (or need a refresher), but can also be skimmed by experts to get the gist. Here goes…

We’re doing FIRST Choice again. If you already know what FIRST Choice is, you can skip this part. If you’re still reading, you’re a rookie team, want a refresher, or can’t resist reading something you were told you could skip.

I’ll start with a general introduction of what we mean when we talk about the “Kit of Parts” (KOP). The KOP is a term that’s evolved to mean “goods we obtain from companies on behalf of, and provide to, FIRST Robotics Competition Teams.” These items then get to you, our customers, via three different methods:

  • the Kickoff Kit: items that we pack in totes (mostly in totes, there are typically exceptions for late or big items) and distributed to Teams at local Kickoff sites. There are two permutations of this – one set of items that go to all Teams and a second container that goes to 1st year, aka “Rookie,” Teams
  • the Virtual Kit: items donated by Suppliers, but don’t actually come to FIRST for redistribution. Custom orders (like Bimba cylinders), software downloads, and Product Donation Vouchers all fit this category.
  • FIRST Choice: FIRST Choice consists of an online menu of items available to 2017 FIRST Robotics Competition Teams, and it’s hosted by our friends at AndyMark (for free!). Its purpose is to make available a variety of goodies that Suppliers cannot provide in volumes to support all of the Kickoff Kits. Instead, Teams use a limited number of credits to pick and choose the items they prefer. Because of the limited inventory, we typically run out of popular items, but we’d rather make a variety of items in limited quantities available than none at all.

Priority Lists are back, and we’ll do two rounds (one before Kickoff and one after Kickoff). The Priority List process remains unchanged, and it’s illustrated in more detail here. Based on our experience from the previous two seasons, we believe that what it lacks in simplicity, it makes up for in user experience and satisfaction. The Priority List is optional, and the deadline for Round 1 Priority Lists is noon (Eastern Time) on Tuesday, December 6, 2016.

Each Priority List created by the deadline (one per Team), will be assigned a random rank. The order in which individual teams complete their Priority Lists before the deadline does not affect their rank. All teams that add at least one item to their Priority List by the deadline are put in a common pool and then randomly sequenced. This is what we mean by ‘random rank.’

Then, in rank order, AndyMark’s auto draft system will query the Team’s highest priority item and, provided the Team has the credits and FIRST Choice has the inventory, issue the item to the Team. This applies to each Priority List line item as ranked. If the team doesn't have enough Credits to cover the entire amount (but at least one) or FIRST Choice inventory doesn't have the entire quantity (but at least one), the team will get as many as their credits/FIRST Choice inventory allow.  If credits or inventory can’t cover one, it will move on to the next ranked item so the team is not skipped for that round.

Once it gets to the last ranked Priority List, the draft system will query that last Priority List’s next item and work its way back up the ranks (for Teams that know how we’ve done Alliance Selection in the past, this serpentine process probably seems familiar). This draft continues until inventory’s gone or Priority Lists have been exhausted. Inventory will be updated for when FIRST Choice opens for traditional “first come, first served” live orders.

Some new things:

We’ve added sample lists like “pneumatics” or “vision”. You can select a sample list for your priority list – or use it to get started and edit/customize as you see fit. Caution though, when you select one it will wipe an existing list and start fresh.

A little disclosure: Any motors you see available in Round 1; you can assume they’ll be legal on your robot.

A few other notes about the process:

Login information will be posted in each Team’s registration account (all Coaches/Mentors will see a button labeled “Access Passwords/Voucher Codes”). Only registered FIRST Robotics Competition Teams will have access to their login information, and thus only registered Teams will be able to create and submit a Priority List.

Priority Lists will be created using (and only accepted via) the Priority List feature on AndyMark’s FIRST Choice site.

Shipping charges will apply (details to be posted on before Priority Lists are due), and just like last year, a billing address, shipping address, and credit card information must be provided before creating your Priority List. For international Teams, additional charges may apply, for which the Team is responsible and AndyMark will address on a case by case basis. 

Priority Lists are saved each time the user clicks “Update,” letting teams add, subtract, and reprioritize items until the deadline.

Upon the deadline, any existing Priority Lists will be locked, processed, and no additional changes may be made (we strongly encourage you complete your list at least a day before the due date to avoid unexpected delays or surprises).

We will not publicly publish Teams’ Priority Lists, the assigned rankings, or final order contents.

Any priority list submitted by a Team that has not secured first event registration payment with FIRST by noon, 12/6/16 will be discarded before lists are ported in to the auto draft system (please anticipate at least one business day for registration payment to be processed and the updated status to be relayed to AndyMark).

So, the timeline for FIRST Choice is as follows (all events happen at noon, Eastern):


11/21/16 Round 1 begins, FIRST Choice login information in the Team's registration account (for registered teams) and credit allotments live at
12/06/16 Round 1 Team Priority Lists due (with any unsecured teams' list discarded)



AndyMark notifies each Team of the Round 1 draft results


Traditional Ordering



FIRST Choice opens for traditional live orders
01/06/17 FIRST Choice closes



1/07/17 Round 2 begins, additional credits issued (unused credits do carry over)
01/13/17 Round 2 Team Priority Lists due
01/17/17 AndyMark notifies each Team of their Round 2 draft results


Traditional Ordering

01/20/17 FIRST Choice opens for traditional live orders
04/7/17 FIRST Choice closes for the 2017 season


Also, we meant to present the 1.94 in. and 2.55 in. spacers as packs of eight, not singles. We’re fixing that: the credit value will stay at five, the website will be updated, and the shipments will be kits of eight.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank AndyMark for their generosity and commitment to improving the FIRST Choice experience. They donate such a valuable service, and we’re so happy they’ve continued their support.  

If you have any questions about this process, please feel free to ask in the comments below or post them to the FIRST Choice Forum

Back to Blog


Hello, can you help me understand where to find this year's password to login to First Choice? It's not immediately evident where on our mentor registration page this button is and last year's password doesn't work. Thanks!




Log into your TIMS account and it is at the bottom of the page.

Slightly off-topic, but related to above comment: in previous years we could opt for AM  voucher if we passed on the KoP chassis elements. There was an option within TIMS to specify this choice for veteran teams. Is there such a choice this year, and if so, how do we access it?

This was an option again this year (reference, however the deadline had passed for the 2017 season. 

This is the second year I missed this - where in TIMS is this choice located?

The drive base/voucher option wasn't offered via the registartion system this year, it was done using a webform. Details were posted in this blog: 

If the Priority list had a line that indicated where the available credits end and over flow/back-up choice items begin. 

Good point. We'll note that for future development. 

There are two solenoid options (fc17-041 and fc17-135). It's hard to tell, but is there any significant difference between the two other than credit price?

The main difference is that the solenoid for 2017 has the ebox permanently installed on the valve whereas the 2016 one does not.

Even after the 11/21 edit, it says 'all coaches/mentors will see a button labeled "Access Passwords/Voucher Codes"'.  Does this mean more than the primary mentor and alternate mentor will be able to use the voucher codes or change the FIRST Choice priority list?

Any mentor with access to the team's registration account will be able to see that information. 

This Q&A from last year seems to indicate that anything listed on FIRST Choice does not count against the CAW, even if we buy it outside of FIRST Choice or already have it from previous years. Can someone from FIRST clarify whether or not that will continue to be the policy this year? Thanks!

The rules for the 2017 season won't be released until Kickoff, so we can't comment. 

This is potentially a silly question but we seem to have missed the first round due to mixing up dates. Are we able to use the credits during the traditional ordering before kick-off or will we need to wait for round two? Thanks!

Yes, you will be able to use credits not used in Round 1. 

Are the FIRST Choice items shipped separately or are they included in our KOP? Thank you.

FIRST Choice items will ship separately. 

I was notified last week of our FC items, but I dont see any shipping information. 

I logged into AndyMark with my team and the password and it shows I have 0 credits.   I know that I missed the deadline to create a priority list,  but I thought that was optional.   It is now after noon on 12/13  and the calendar says that the FIRSTchoice list is now open to all teams.   How many credits should I have?

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