FIRSTFare 2010

Designing and building a FIRST robot can be a daunting undertaking, especially for rookie teams or new members of existing teams. Ideally, every member of the team should have enough background to make a contribution during the 6-week build season starting January 9th. Without seeing a wide range of robots, and understanding some technical basics, it’s hard to take a central role. That’s where FIRSTFare comes in.

FIRSTFare is both a robot show and a collection of technical/marketing seminars. You’ll get a detailed look at some of last year’s robots from veteran teams. You can ask dumb questions and no one will laugh nor will they feel like you’re “spying”. The teams coming to this event are there to share the tribal knowledge they’ve gathered. Last year nearly 800 people came. The other main function of FIRSTFare will be seminars on a variety of topics. These are typically presentations by experienced students, mentors, or vendors. There are multiple seminar tracks with something of interest to anyone on a FIRST team.

If you are a member or mentor of a FIRST Robotics Competition team this is the place to be.


FIRSTFare was held October 30th, 2010 at Catlin Gabel School in Portland. There was a special keynote address by Autodesk at 10:00am.


We had a packed schedule.  Click on this link (FIRSTFare 2010.v2) for the agenda.



  • Drive Trains for FIRST Robots 
    The drive train is the most important part of your robot yet many teams make some basic mistakes in their design and construction.  This session compares 2 wheel, 4 wheel, 6 wheel, Mecanums, treads, and some of the unusual ones.  We’ll look at the various transmissions and motors available to FIRST Teams.  Vendors such as IFI, Skyway, and AndyMark will be discussed and audience members will share their experiences.  Presenter: Dale Yocum.  Robotics Program Director, Catlin Gabel School Team 1540.

    Presentation: FIRSTFare 2010-Drive Trains

  • Project Management 
    Project management is the organization, planning and management of group resources toward a specific, time-based goal; a discipline which many organizations fail to use effectively.  Project leaders will learn to use concepts employed by Project Managers such as work breakdown structure, task dependencies and critical path.  Following these and other concepts will not only allow teams more time and energy to complete the design and build process, but will allow a greater share of resources for necessary support functions like fundraising, sponsor relations, community outreach and earning awards.  Presenters: Ejvin Berry & Chris Imondi  Boeing Corporation.

    Presentation: FIRSTFare 2010-Project_Management

  • Pneumatics for FIRST Robots 
    An introduction to the pneumatic parts used on FRC robots, engineering challenges and possible solutions.  Calculations related to pressure, cylinder, compressor and force and torque needs will be introduced   Presenter: Craig Boezwinkle, Mechanical Engineer, Western Integrated Technologies and mentor to team 2811.  WIT is a distributor, manufacturer, and integrator of Pneumatic and Hydraulic systems.

    Presentation: FIRSTFare 2010-Pneumatics Presentation

  • LabVIEW Overview 
    For those who want to know more about the programming language LabVIEW, this presentation offers an overview. It will discuss the salient features of the language which includes its being a graphical interface, its ability to create virtual world that can surround code to test that code, and that it is self-documenting. Also discussed is the fact that it is one of the very few “dataflow” languages which significantly aids in preventing ambiguous instruction paths which leads to efficient and rapid programming.  By Dennis Erickson, 1510/2898 Mentor.

    Presentation: FIRSTFare 2010-LabVIEW Overview

  • Sensors for FRC Robots 
    It seems that each year the use of sensors on the robot brings more to the game including the experience gained by students in integrating them. Working with the wide variety of sensors available becomes easier due to the ability to test and calibrate them using charts and graphs that is intrinsic with LabVIEW programming. Couple this with the ability to transfer real-time data to the dashboard, allows for a more realistic view of real world robotics.  Daniel Bramblett, 1510 Student Programmer.

    Presentation: FIRSTFare 2010-LabVIEW Sensors for FRC Robots

  • Effectively Using the FRC Camera 
    Using the camera both in the Autonomous and the TeleOp modes is becoming more exiting each year due to the relative ease in programming and managing video cameras. This presentation will review the last two year’s video approaches including masking (capturing a scene and displaying only the target and its characteristics) and pattern recognition (viewing a scene and identifying a predefined mathematical object) using LabVIEW. Both approaches would return the distance the target is away, its direction relative to the robot and how many targets are in the camera’s view.  Amy Wiegand, 2915 Student Programmer.

    Presentation: FIRSTFare 2010-LabVIEW Effectively Using the Camera

  • Creating Custom Dashboards 
    The real-time dashboard in LabVIEW is one of the most exciting features to be included in the game. It provides status information on the robot itself as well as returns any or all sensor data for use in enhancing the driver’s ability to make decisions during the game. With the inclusion of a video feed to the dashboard, the driver can have ‘”eyes” just in front (or back) of the robot to help guide or in special cases have the robot seek on its own during the Autonomous or even in TeleOp sessions.  Dennis Erickson, 1510/2898 Mentor

    Presentation: FIRSTFare 2010-LabVIEW Creating Custom Dashboards

  • Website 101 for FRC Teams 
    Get the word out about your team in a high impact way. See what you need to do to win a FIRST Web Site award, basic design principles and how to setup and manage a website.   Some of the talk will focus on general website design and some will concern the use of WordPress as a content management system.  Presenter: Bob Goetz, webmaster for

    Presentation: FIRSTFare 2010-Website 101 for FRC Teams

  • Chairman’s Award 
    The Chairman’s Award is the highest award bestowed to a FIRST Robotics team at the Regional and Championship competitions. It is based off of how a team demonstrates FIRST’s ideals through community service, recruitment, mentoring, and gracious professionalism, along with other great team attributes. Discussion will include an introduction to the award, activities teams do to win the award, essay writing style, presentation tips, and sample questions. Rohisha Adke, Team 1540’s Chairman’s Manager. Team 1540 won the Chairman’s award in 2010 and 2007, and the Engineering Inspiration award in 2008 and 2009.

    Presentation: FIRSTFare 2010-Chairman’s Award

  • Scouting & Competitive Analysis 
    Scouting can make or break a competition. It can propel a team to victory, and can also spell defeat for an otherwise strong alliance. Regardless of your robot’s performance, competitive analysis and strategy development are key for the success of any robotics program.  This talk will cover the basics including: system development, management at the competition, strategy development and data interpretation, as well as the basic scouting resources that all teams should know. Following that, we’ll explore more advanced topics like Offensive Power Rankings and more formulaic ranking systems.  Henry Gordon, Competitive Analysis Manager and 2010 Dean’s List Finalist, Team 1540

    Presentation:  FIRSTFare 2010-Competitive Analysis and Scouting

  • FRC Radios and Communication 
    This presentation will explore how the robot talks to the field during a match. We’ll talk about tech specifics on the game adapters, the network communications as we understand them, how to avoid some common problems, and troubleshooting utilities.  Faith Baynes, Catlin Gabel School System Administrator, FRC Field Admin.

    Presentation:  FIRSTFare 2010-Field Connectivity

  • Marketing Your Team for Successful  Fundraising 
    Learn how to create your team image and story so that your fundraising efforts are successful.  Included will be tips on how to partner with industry, tactics for getting students in front of an audience plus giving an effective presentation.   Topics will include messaging, marketing materials, elevator pitch, budget clarity and how to find sponsors as well as grants.   Deb Mumm-Hill, FIRST Regional Director

    Presentation: FIRSTFare 2010-FIRST Fundraising Toolkit

  • Grant Writing Tips 
    Everything you need to know about writing grant applications to NASA, Platt and how to look for other grant opportunities.  Deb Mumm-Hill, FIRST Regional Director

    Presentation: FIRSTFare 2010-FIRST Team Grant strategies

  • Introduction to Java 
    If you’ve never programmed in Java before or need a refresher, this session will give you a high level idea of what the language looks like and what this object orientation stuff is all about.  This is a 1.5 hour talk followed by the latest on the Java Beta.  Andrew Merrill, Computer Science Instructor at Catlin Gabel School and software mentor for team 1540.

    Presentation: FIRSTFare 2010-Java-Introduction

  • Java Beta Update 
    Team 1540, was chosen as the NW team to beta test Java this year.  Hear their insights about this new version of the language and what they’ve found so far.  30 minutes.  Presenters:  Andrew Merrill, Computer Science Instructor for Catlin Gabel School and mentor team 1540.

    Presentation: FIRSTFare 2010-Java-Beta-2011