2009 Kitbot Assembly on Kick-off Day
Ron Markum, Team 1750, Stillwater, OK; Ed Latimer and Ken York, Team 476, Ponca City, OK
Written by Ed Latimer
Ed Latimer
[email protected] (H) 580-765-8624, (O) 580-767-5443, (Cell) 580-761-0403,
Ron Markum [email protected], (Cell) 405-61212-4812
Ken York
[email protected], (O) 580-762-7500, (Cell) 580-763-7570
This document contains instructions for preparing your kick-off site to help any and all teams there build the kitbot after
the kick-off presentation on Saturday, January 3, 2009. We did this at the Oklahoma kick-off last year to help rookie
teams ‘get over the hump’ right away and it was a great success, with every one of the 24 teams that stayed having a
rolling robot in about 4 hours.
FIRST asked us to write instructions for the preparation work and robot fabrication so that every kick-off could hold a
similar RQBS event (Robot Quick Build Session) this year. We signed confidentiality agreements, purchased a 2009 kitbot
frame, and built the kitbot. We can say that, compared with last year’s kitbot build:
- The kitbot frame/transmission assembly is easier than last year (thank you AndyMark.biz!)
- The list of ‘Goody’ bag supplemental items you have to supply each team in order to get a rolling kitbot is
much smaller than last year
- The electrical/electronics hardware and wiring assembly for the new control system is about the same
amount of work as last year
- But, this year there are software manipulations that are necessary as compared with none last year.
The software is by far the biggest worry for this year’s kitbot build as it is a new and complex software controls system
that will be especially daunting for rookie teams. Though it is quite possible for every team to have a robot built and
operating in tethered (wired) mode by the end of the afternoon, to have every robot operating in wireless mode in a few
hours will be a challenge. In order to ensure that all the teams have the best chance possible for getting a rolling robot by
the end of the afternoon:
1. You must have a Control Systems Expert for your RQBS. This person must be familiar with the controls system,
meaning a mentor from a beta-test team, a representative from National Instruments Inc., or a veteran team
mentor who received their controls system box early and worked through the software. If the person you identify
as your Control Systems Expert has questions, have them contact Ron Markum, Ken York, or the Team 476 control
systems experts listed below that worked through these issues for the beta-test:
a. Mike Wade, mentor, [email protected]
b. Jordan Wade, programmer, [email protected]
2. Have every team that gets their control system ahead of time perform all the software work they can before kickoff day. This not only gets each team as far along as possible but also means you will have more people to help
3. The majority of the electrical/electronic components will be fastened to the electronics board using sticky-back
Velcro. This quick but temporary installation will give each team maximum time to work on the software and
control interfaces.
4. At the time of this writing in mid-December, we are finding that it is difficult and taking a long time to get the
software to run the robot in wireless mode. Therefore at this time we strongly recommend a deadline during
your RQBS for giving up on the wireless bench-test and installing/testing it on the robot in tethered-only mode.
We suggest a time of 3 hours from the start of the kitbot build. If we change our recommendation on using this
deadline for giving up on operating in wireless mode we send out an email blast.
We hope that this does not discourage you from holding a RQBS for your kick-off. With every team in your area gathered
together in one place, there will not be a better chance this year to mentor rookie teams and for veteran teams to share
knowledge about the new controls systems. And the RQBS provides the perfect forum for doing this.
Timeline for the Robot Quick Build Session:
0:00-0:30 Everyone in the big Assembly Room; pull needed kitbot parts out of the boxes; divide into 3 teams
0:30-3:00 Programming Team works on its tasks in the Programming Room
Electronics Team works on its tasks in the Electronics room
Transmission/Frame works on its tasks in the Assembly Room (option: separate Transmission room)
3:00-4:00 Mount the electronics board on the robot in the Assembly Room, connect wires, and perform tabletop tests.
4:00-5:00 Drive robot or continue troubleshooting as needed; start packing-up and cleaning-up
Note 1: Before you start at time 0:00, it is helpful to have looked through the kit of parts boxes for 15-20 minutes to see
where the parts are located that each team needs to pull (these parts are listed and shown in the PowerPoint
presentation, Getting Started – Main Assembly Room ).
Note 2: It will also be helpful to download and save the appropriate videos from andymark.biz before 0:00 as that will be
a very busy website that day.
Note 3: You need to have a room for those team members and adults not interested in building the kitbot. We suggest a
Team Training area to discuss team organization, awards, travel, fundraising, etc.
1. Set-up for the rooms. This is described in the RQBS PreKickoff PowerPoint presentation and is reviewed again in
each room’s section further below. The Programming and Electronics teams will spend time going back and forth to
each other so have these rooms close together.
2. Hardware. The hardware items that need to be purchased are described in the RQBS PreKickoff PowerPoint
presentation. Instructions on exactly what to give each team on kick-off day are given at the end of this document.
3. Tools. The tool list that each teams needs to bring with them is described in the RQBS PreKickoff PowerPoint
presentation. If you have teams that are on a tight budget that get overwhelmed by the list, point out that some of
the tools can be shared between teams. A couple of tools that are really important for the RQBS are the 3/16” allen
wrench bit for a cordless screwdriver/drill to be used by the Transmission/Frame team, and a good set of wire
crimpers for the Electronics team.
4. Personnel. Again, this is described in the RQBS PreKickoff presentation. I’ll add that you can never have enough
adult mentors from veteran teams to help out. Some veteran students can also help (students from Team 932 lead
the Transmission Assembly session last year). Anybody that is skilled in this year’s electronics and software needs
to help out in the Programming and Electronics room.
5. Printing. There are a number of documents that each team needs a hardcopy of for the RQBS. These are located in
the Print folder. Regarding the full copy of the 2009 rules, this is expensive and requires a lot of hustle on kick-off
day since some the sections are not released until then, but we found that it was really helpful for at least the
rookie teams to have a complete reference manual starting on kick-off day.
Main Assembly Room
Everything starts and ends in this room: the first 30 minutes to pull needed parts from the kit-of-parts, and the final robot
assembly of the electronics board on the finished frame is done here. This is the largest room you will need. Every team
needs their own table and you need to have all the extra hardware items distributed to each before you start; the
Transmission/Frame teams stay in here (unless you have a separate Transmission room) ; this is also the Final Robot
Assembly Room.
Here is the set-up for this main room, which needs to be the largest of the rooms:
o Every team needs their own work table big enough and sturdy enough to use for assembling a 27” x 37”
robot; we used lunch tables last year with a laminate surface
o A screen and projector hooked to a computer w/internet access for downloading instructional videos
from andymark.biz and for displaying the Transmission and Frame assembly PowerPoint presentations
o PA system with microphone
o All the mentors and students started out in this room
Tell everyone as they come in to resist the urge to pull everything out of their kit of parts and to scatter the extra
hardware items. Use the Getting Started – Main Assembly Room PowerPoint presentation to go over the
introductory outline and then to help teams get their needed parts out of the kit of parts. There are pictures of
the parts that need to be pulled in the PowerPoint. Take your time in pulling the parts and make sure everybody
is together – no stragglers. You want to avoid having parts strewn everywhere and having teams lose parts. If
teams are having trouble finding/identifying parts have them raise their hand so a mentor can help them.
Dismiss those that want to attend the Team Training session. This helps clear the room.
Dismiss the Programming Team to their room. This is quick as all they need is the software CD.
Have the Electronics Team then pull their parts and send them off to their room. The Programming and
Electronics teams will be the critical path in the build session.
Have the Transmission team pull their parts next as they only have a few to pull from the kitbot frame box with
the rest going to the Frame team. If you have a separate room for the Transmission team, send them there after
they get their parts. If they are working in the same as the Frame team they will have to wait until the Frame
team gets the rest of their parts and gets started as they will probably take more time than the Transmission
This will leave the Frame team to pull their parts and they can start their assembly right away in the same room.
There is a separate PowerPoint presentation for the frame assembly. Step 1 on the first slide is to show the Cbase frame assembly video(s) from andymark.biz, then either use the PowerPoint presentation as an instruction
manual or re-show the video in sections as the teams assemble the frame. Be prepared for whichever instruction
method your session leader prefers.
If both teams are in the same room, you will have to show the Transmission PowerPoint - including an assembly
video from andymark.biz – after the Frame Team gets started. A print-out of both PowerPoint presentations for
each team is definitely a helpful reference if you only have one projector screen for both of them.
When the Transmission Team is done, they can join the Frame Team in mounting the transmissions on the robot
frame and installing the chains. Teams that have never cut chain before will need hands-on help from mentors. If
teams share chain break tools make sure each team labels theirs.
It is likely that the Transmission/Frame team will finish ahead of the Electronics and Programming teams and will
be waiting on them.
Transmission Room (optional)
- If you can afford the luxury of a separate Transmission room, here is the set-up:
o The room needs to be big enough for each team to have about 4 ft of tabletop or benchtop space for
assembling the transmissions. They will be handling a few very small parts and it will be easy to knock
them off and lose them.
o A screen and projector hooked to a computer w/internet access for downloading instructional videos
from andymark.biz and for displaying PowerPoint presentations.
o A PA is not needed in this room.
o Locate the can/tube of grease in this room.
Show the transmission assembly video from andymark.biz and then either use the PowerPoint presentation as an
instruction manual or re-show the video in sections as the teams assemble the frame.
When they are done, have them go back to the Main Assembly Room to mount the transmissions on the frame
and install the chains.
Electronics Room
- Here is the set-up for this room:
o Each team will need 6-8 ft of tabletop and benchtop space
o Power outlet close to every team’s work area in case their laptop needs charging during the periodic visits
from the Programming Team.
o Have the extra hardware in this room as detailed at the end of this document.
o A screen and projector for displaying the Electronics Assembly PowerPoint presentation. Note that this
room does not need internet access.
o A PA with microphone is definitely helpful but may not be necessary if you only have a few teams or a
small room and your lead mentor has a loud voice.
- Start the PowerPoint presentation for the Electronics Team. The assembly is a long step-by-step process and the
PowerPoint is the only instruction manual available (no video), so it is unlikely that all the teams will always be at
the same step shown on the projection screen. So it is almost mandatory that each team have a printed copy of
the PowerPoint presentation as a reference manual.
- This will be a busy room as the Electronics Team will be assembling hardware and wiring components there, and
the Programming Team will be visiting a lot towards the last half of the assembly process to download software
and perform benchtop tests.
- The Electronics Team will need to drill about a dozen holes in the Electronics board you provided them as soon as
they start the assembly. Make sure they do not drill into the tables, and try to control/clean-up the drill shavings especially if you have a carpeted room. Another option is to have them take the electronics board to another
room or even outside when they have to drill these holes.
- Remember to pick a deadline time for each team to give-up on operating in wireless mode and stick to it. There
may be a strong temptation to stay on this task if they feel they are close, but our experience has been that it can
still take a long time even when you think you are close.
Programming Room
- Here is the set-up for this room:
o Each team will need their own tabletop space for laptop computers and to spread out instruction
o Each team will need a power outlet close to every team’s work area for keeping 1-2 laptops charged
during the afternoon.
o Every team will need internet access for downloading software updates and instructions.
o A screen and projector for displaying instructions from the National Instruments and FIRST internet sites.
o A PA with microphone is again very helpful but may not be necessary if you only have a few teams or a
small room and your lead mentor has a loud voice.
o This is the room where you need your Controls Systems Expert!
- There is a very simple PowerPoint presentation for this room. The control systems expert will work mainly from
the instruction manuals or internet pages.
- It is possible that the Electronics Team will be bringing the electronics board into this room instead of vice versa,
have enough space available in case some teams prefer this.
- Remember the deadline for giving up on operating in wireless mode
Kitbot Final Assembly
- Do the assembly in the Main Assembly Room. The PowerPoint presentation for this task is at the end of the
Electronics PowerPoint so you need to have that installed on the computer in the Main Assembly Room.
- Each team will have to drill about 3 more holes in the electronics board while it is on the robot in order to install
some supporting bolts for the board. Again, make sure they do not drill into the tables!
- The teams will need to do yet another software and programming check once the electronics are hooked to the
actual drive motors on the robot frame. Be sure the robots have their wheels off the tables so they don’t take off!
If the robot doesn’t work then teams will move into troubleshooting mode and may go back to the Programming
or Electronics rooms.
Kitbot Testing Area
- When teams get ready to drive their robots, have them move to a large open area. Last year we just pushed a
bunch of the tables out of the way in the Main Assembly Room and use that area. You may want to go to a
separate area outside, or in a hallway, or in other rooms. Each team will need their own floor space to try their
robot. If you are cramped for space or there are many teams ready at the same time have them take turns.
- The kitbot robot can run pretty fast, so tell the teams to be a little cautious when they first run it so they don’t
give it full throttle and run into a wall or a crowd of people !
Last note:
If you find that your kick-off site cannot accommodate the exact set-up described here, there are certainly ways to
improvise or substitute. If you have questions about how to set-up your area or questions about this document in
general, feel free to contact us using any of the means listed at the front of this document.
Hardware Items Needed for Each Team
* An asterisk after the hardware item means it is defined by a McMaster-Carr catalog part number in the RQBS PreKickoff
PowerPoint presentation
1. 1-quart Ziploc ‘Goody’ bag containing the following:
a. (2) ¼-20 Nylock nuts *
b. (2) ¼-20 x 1” screws *
c. (2) 10-32 x 1” machine screws *
d. (2) 10-32 Nylock nuts *
e. (about 50) sticky-back Velcro 1” dots * , or substitute 4 ft of ¾-1” wide sticky-back Velcro tape
f. ‘Sandwich bag’ stuffed inside the 1-quart bag that contains the following:
i. (3) ¼-20 Nylock nuts *
ii. (3) ¼-20 x 1.75” screws *
iii. (12) 10-24 x 1” self-tapping screws *
g. If you can coil your 24” zip tie * or substitute material for holding down the battery in this bag, do so;
otherwise give it to each team loose
2. 17” x 37” x 3/16” pre-cut base plate for the Electronics mounting board
3. 8” x 32” pre-cut base plate for the Drivers Station
4. Printed materials detailed in the RQBS PreKickoff PowerPoint presentation, including the two 11”x17” drilling
templates for the Electronics Team
Hardware Items Needed to Share or as Spares
- 1 can/tube of grease
- Masking tape (1 roll per 4 teams)
- Several magic markers
- About 50 ft #10 AWG wire – both red and black *
- About 50 ft 2-conductor #14 AWG wire *
- Spare 24” zip ties * (or substitute zip ties)
In whichever room the Transmission team is located
Electronics Room
Electronics Room
Electronics Room (see note 1)
Electronics Room (see note 1)
Electronics Room (see note 2)
Note 1: This is needed in case a team uses up the #10 AWG wire that comes in their Controls Systems Box because they
cut the wires too short.
Note 2: This is needed in case a team needs to take their battery off, for whatever reason, after they have secured it (zip
ties are one-use items)

2008 Kitbot Assembly on Kick-off Day