FIRST Robotics Competition Blog

2020 Motors, Controllers, and Some Other Robot Rules

Oct 31, 2019 Written by Kevin O'Connor, Senior Engineer -- Robotics, FIRST Robotics Competition.




With Kickoff for INFINITE RECHARGESM rapidly approaching, we know teams are looking to make budgets, plans, and purchases to prepare for the season. To help you make informed decisions, there are some details about the Robot Rules we thought you should know before Kickoff. These details include the lists of legal motors, controllers, and MXP boards for this season, some adjustments to the rules about pre-kickoff work, and some changes to the rules regarding Robot costs and Bills of Materials. This season we have 2 new legal motor controllers and 5 new legal motors to introduce; these devices are presented below in alphabetical order by supplier.

AndyMark Hex-Output Snow Blower Motor

AndyMark has updated the Snow Blower Motor (am-2235) to a 1” long hex shaft output, allowing it to integrate with a much larger variety of available FRC parts. You can find more info about this on the AndyMark product page.

CTRE/VEX Robotics Falcon 500, Powered by Talon FX

The Falcon 500, powered by Talon FX, is a new brushless motor with integrated controller and encoder from CTR Electronics/VEX Robotics. This new smart motor supports many of the same closed loop features as the Talon SRX. In addition, the Falcon 500 brings many new features and improvements to the FRC community. You can find more info about these devices on the CTR Electronics or VEX Robotics product pages.  

Johnson Electric Motor

FRC is happy to welcome an old motor partner back to the fold in Johnson Electric. Johnson Electric will be donating a small brushed DC motor with attached planetary gearbox, which will be available in FIRST Choice. This motor has a free speed of 410rpm, and a stall torque of 4.4Nm (+/-.6Nm) at 26A. A built in Hal effect sensor can be used to track rotation of the motor. Each motor will come with an output adapter to adapt the splined motor output to a hex shaft for easy integration with available FRC parts. More information will be available on the FIRST Choice product page when it is posted.

Playing With Fusion Venom

The Venom is an upgraded CIM motor with an integrated CAN motor controller and sensor assembly from Playing With Fusion. This device integrates the FRC workhorse CIM motor with a smart CAN powered motor controller to minimize connection points and, therefore, points of failure. To learn more about this device and how to use it on the FRC CAN network, check out Playing With Fusion’s FRC landing page.

Rev Robotics Neo 550

The NEO 550 is the latest addition to the REV Robotics, NEO Brushless line of products. Its small size and power are designed for all non-drivetrain robot applications. It has the same mounting holes and pilot as a 550 series DC motor, so it can mount in many off the shelf gearboxes. More info will be available soon on the REV Robotics Brushless page.

Allowed Fans change

You will also notice a change to the allowed fans in the list down below. This season all fans which meet specific size and power requirements will be permitted regardless of whether they were ever a Kit of Parts item. This should allow teams and inspectors to more easily identify allowed parts while still restricting the items allowed to small fans used primarily for cooling purposes.

Robot Cost Accounting

For the 2020 season, the total robot cost limit will be rolling back to the Kickoff 2019 total of $5000. We are also adding new exemptions for any Inertial Measurement Units (provided they still meet the $500 single part limit) and any Rockwell Automation sensors ever provided via the Kit of Parts (including FIRST Choice). Here’s the full rule text:

Rx. The total cost of all items on the ROBOT shall not exceed $5000 USD. All costs are to be determined as explained in the Budget Constraints & Fabrication Schedule section. Exceptions are as follows:

  1. individual items that are less than $5 USD each, as purchasable from a VENDOR, and
  2. items from the current year’s KOP, up to the KOP quantity (including the rookie KOP items). Identical functional replacements may be used to meet this criterion.
  3. Specific exempt items:
    1. Inertial Measurement Units (Note that [Single part limit rule] still applies)
    2. Rockwell Automation sensors available through the Kit of Parts (including FIRST Choice) in any season

Pre-Kickoff Work

In an effort to increase the ability of teams to re-use parts in order to reduce costs and environmental footprint, we are making some tweaks to the rule regarding using fabricated items created prior to Kickoff. For the 2020 season, teams will be allowed to use COTS items which have been assembled, decorated/labeled, or had minor modifications made before kickoff. We know these changes may not go as far as some in the community may hope; we wanted to be cautious and see how these changes and the stop build changes affect teams before considering additional changes for future seasons. Here’s the full rule text:

Ry. FABRICATED ITEMS created before Kickoff are not permitted. Exceptions are:

  2. BUMPERS (a protective assembly designed to attach to the exterior of the ROBOT and constructed as specified in the BUMPER Rules section),
  3. battery assemblies per Rxx,​
  4. FABRICATED ITEMS consisting of one COTS electrical device (e.g. a motor or motor controller) and attached COMPONENTS associated with any of the following modifications:
    1. wires modified to facilitate connection to a ROBOT (including removal of existing connectors)
    2. connectors and any materials to secure and insulate those connectors (Note: passive PCBs such as those used to adapt motor terminals to connectors are considered connectors)
    3. motor shafts modified and/or gears, pulleys, or sprockets added
    4. motors modified with a filtering capacitor as described in the Blue Box below Rz
  5. COTS items with any of the following modifications:
    1. Non-functional decoration or labeling
    2. Assembly of COTS items per manufacturer specs, unless the result constitutes a MAJOR MECHANISM as defined in I1
    3. Work that could be reasonably accomplished in fewer than 30 minutes with the use of handheld tools (e.g. drilling a small number of holes in a COTS part)

Complete Actuator Controller List

  1. Motor Controllers
    1. DMC 60/DMC 60c Motor Controller (P/N: 410-334-1, 410-334-2)
    2. Jaguar Motor Controller (P/N: MDL-BDC, MDL-BDC24, and 217-3367) connected to PWM only
    3. Nidec Dynamo BLDC Motor with Controller to control integral motor only (P/N 840205-000, am-3740)
    4. SD540 Motor Controller (P/N: SD540x1, SD540x2, SD540x4, SD540Bx1, SD540Bx2, SD540Bx4, SD540C)
    5. Spark Motor Controller (P/N: REV-11-1200)
    6. Spark MAX Motor Controller (P/N: REV-11-2158)
    7. Talon FX Motor Controller (P/N: 217-6515, 19-708850, am-6515, am-6515_Short) for controlling integral Falcon 500 only.
    8. Talon Motor Controller (P/N: CTRE_Talon, CTRE_Talon_SR, and am-2195)
    9. Talon SRX Motor Controller (P/N: 217-8080, am-2854, 14-838288)
    10. Victor 884 Motor Controller (P/N: VICTOR-884-12/12)
    11. Victor 888 Motor Controller (P/N: 217-2769)
    12. Victor SP Motor Controller (P/N: 217-9090, am-2855, 14-868380)
    13. Victor SPX Motor Controller (P/N: 217-9191, 17-868388, am-3748)
    14. Venom Motor with Controller (P/N BDC-10001) for controlling integral motor only​
  2. Relay Modules
    1. Spike H-Bridge Relay (P/N: 217-0220 and SPIKE-RELAY-H)
    2. AutomationDirect Relay (P/N: AD-SSR6M12-DC-200D, AD-SSRM6M25-DC-200D, AD-SSR6M45-DC-200D)
  3. Pneumatics controllers
    1. Pneumatics Control Module (P/N: am-2858, 217-4243, 14-806777)   

Complete MXP List

The MXP approved board list remains the same as the 2019 season:

  • Kauai Labs navX MXP
  • RCAL MXP Daughterboard
  • REV Robotics RIOduino
  • REV Robotics Digit Board
  • WCP Spartan Sensor Board
  • Huskie Robotics HUSKIE 2.0 Board

Complete Motor List

  • AndyMark 9015 (am-0912)
  • AndyMark NeveRest (am-3104)
  • AndyMark PG (am-2161, am-2765, am-2194, am-2766)
  • AndyMark RedLine Motor (am-3775, am-3775a)
  • AndyMark Snow Blower Motor (am-2235, am-2235a)
  • Banebots (am-3830, M7-RS775-18, RS775WC-8514, M5 – RS550-12, RS550VC-7527, RS550)
  • CIM (FR801-001, M4-R0062-12, AM802-001A, 217-2000, PM25R-44F-1005, PM25R-45F-1004, PM25R-45F-1003, PMR25R-45F-1003, PMR25R-44F-1005, am-0255)
  • CTR Electronics/VEX Robotics Falcon 500 (217-6515, 19-708850, am-6515, am-6515_Short)
  • KOP Automotive Motors (Denso AE235100-0160, Denso 5-163800-RC1, Denso 262100-3030, Denso 262100-3040, Bosch 6 004 RA3 194-06, Johnson Electric JE-PLG-149)
  • Nidec Dynamo BLDC Motor (am-3740, DM3012-1063)
  • Playing With Fusion Venom (BDC-10001)
  • REV Robotics NEO Brushless (REV-21-1650)
  • REV Robotics NEO 550 (REV-21-1651)
  • VEX BAG (217-3351)
  • VEX Mini CIM (217-3371)
  • West Coast Products RS775 Pro (217-4347)
  • Electrical solenoid actuators, no greater than 1 in. (nominal) stroke and rated electrical input power no greater than 10 watts (W) continuous duty at 12 volts (VDC)
  • Fans, no greater than 120mm (nominal) size and rated electrical input power no greater than 10 watts (W) continuous duty at 12 volts (VDC)
  • Hard drive motors part of a legal COTS computing device
  • Factory installed vibration and autofocus motors resident in COTS computing devices (e.g. rumble motor in a smartphone).
  • PWM COTS servos with a retail cost < $75.
  • Motors integral to a COTS sensor (e.g. LIDAR, scanning sonar, etc.), provided the device is not modified except to facilitate mounting
  • One (1) compressor compliant with Rxx and used to compress air for the ROBOT’S pneumatic system



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How is the KOP is defined for Robot Cost Accounting? Vouchers, FIRST Choice, only your team or other teams, etc? 

If items are in FIRST choice but a team doesn't get their first choice can they still cost account that zero dollars or do they have to get lucky to be able to do so?

If two teams have identical BOMs could one be legal and the other be illegal based on how they happen to spend their Voucher (or if they are allowed to get a AM Voucher, rookie team's can't) and which items they are lucky enough to acquire in FIRST Choice?

How are the Analog Devices ADIS16448 IMU's going to be treated this year?  The retail cost is >$500 each, but they were available for several years from FIRST Choice.  Will these be allowed and exempt under Rx.C.i or will they not be legal this year?

Are components in the virtual KoP exempt from BOM accounting in the amount they were actually acquired by the team?

Thanks for giving us the cost accounting rules ahead of time.  Would you be able to explain how FIRST Choice items will count?  The rule says that we can exclude "items from the current year’s KOP, up to the KOP quantity", but it's not obvious how this applies to FIRST Choice.  It would be great to understand this before we have to select items for FIRST Choice.

Thanks, everyone, for your good questions. We just re-opened the official Q&A system to handle these. If you still have questions, please post them there. Lead mentors 1 and 2 have been emailed the codes necessary to submit questions.

What is the justification for creating inequity in the BOM accounting system for teams? A new/rookie team that is required to pay more in registration and is required to receive the Drive Base Kit is inherently unable to build the same robot as a veteran team that is able to opt for the AM voucher instead. The FIRST Choice lottery system also introduces inequity into the cost accounting rules for teams as hundreds of dollars of their budget is left to random chance or used for extra game pieces by international teams.

In all our rules, we try to strike a balance between equity among teams and keeping the rules practical. While there may be some rookie teams that push the $5,000 robot cost limit with their very first FRC competition robot under the current rules, we would expect that number to be very small. This makes the concern that rookies can't build the same robot as veterans more philosophical than a real-world concern. The same could be said of the FIRST Choice lottery system budget impact. Probably with many of our rules folks could come up with corner case scenarios that aren't perfectly fair, but we need to find a balance to keep the rules manageable. At the same time, as with all our rules, these are subject to change in future seasons. We take what we learn each season and continue to make improvements.

Me and my first robotics team are having trouble programing our robot because the menu for the motor actuators seems to have a malfunction. Please help, we are unsure of a way to solve this.

Hi Cassidy!

It's not clear exactly what you're referring to in your post. This type of question is usually better suited to a Forum where we can go back and forth to better understand the issue, share screenshots, etc. If your question is about FTC you can find the forum here:

If your question is about FLL or FRC you can find the forums here:

Kevin O'Connor, Senior Robotics Engineer - FIRST Robotics Competition

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