FIRSTFare 2011


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 in January. 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 15th, 2011 at Catlin Gabel School in Portland.


You can park in the main parking lot, theater parking, or student reserved parking.


There will pizza sold by the slice as usual on site.  Otherwise you may want to bring your lunch because the nearest food to purchase is about a mile east on Barnes Rd. at the QFC shopping center (QFC Supermarket, Starbucks, Subway, Chinese takeout, pizza).  We only have a half hour break for lunch and there are even sessions like Girl’s Generation and BunnyBot Q&A happening then.  There’s not much time to go out.


It’s always great to wear your FRC T-Shirts if you have them so other FRC’ers will know where you’re from.


You don’t need to pre-register for FIRSTFare, just show up.  There is no charge.  Everyone is invited.  Please do get your name tag in the Cabell Center lobby, though.


You can download the presentations from all the FIRST Fares here.


We had a packed schedule.  Click on this link FIRSTFare 2011 – Final Version for the agenda.


Autodesk Inventor for Rookies

See what all this Inventor fuss is all about.  This breezy introduction will give you a sense for what the program can do and, hopefully, inspire you to try it for designing parts of your robot.  Presenters:  Paul Normand & George Cook from Autodesk.

Autodesk Inventor – Special Techniques

Special techniques in Inventor of particular interest to FRC teams.  Presenters Paul Normand, George Cook from Autodesk.

BunnyBot Q&A

Those taking part in the Dec 17th BunnyBot event can meet, share ideas, and get questions answered about this friendly competition.  The various field pieces will be on display. See what those Bunnies look like.  See a Nerf Swarmfire!  How is an Island built?  Dale Yocum, Head Coach of Team 1540 and organizer will shed the light.

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.  Presenters: Team 1510, winners of the 2011 Chairman’s Award  at the Autodesk Oregon Regional.

College Admission for FRC Students

Select Colleges and Universities around the country are providing scholarships and admission preference to students with a FIRST robotics background.  This session will help you leverage your FIRST experience to get into the best school for you.  Presenter: Jodi Walder-Biesanz, College Admission Coach.

Competitive Intelligence & Modern Technologies

See how team 2811, Stormbots does competitive analysis at the competitions.  This system consists  HTML SQL and Excel parts. The HTML is an actual website displayed on the galaxy pads, SQL sorts the data, and the Excel displayed it so informed decisions can be made.  Presenter: Sara Ashback  of team 2811.

Control Systems for FIRST Robotics

An introduction to the control system both from a hardware and conceptual standpoint.  Learn what the Input and Output capabilities of the cRIO are.  Learn how all this stuff is wired and best practices.  Presenter: Tim Bennington-Davis Mentor of Team 1425 and Woodie Flowers winner 2011.

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.


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

Girls Generation

Team 1540 will be hosting the second annual Girls’ Generation scrimmage on Oct. 29, where teams will play last year’s game (Logomotion), but with a major change – only girls form the drive team and pit crew. Join this session to get the latest details about the event and meet the other girls who will be involved. If there aren’t enough girls on your team for a full drive team and pit crew, you can connect with girls from other FRC teams and make cooperation arrangements. Marina Dimitrov, co-captain of Team 1540, will be leading the presentation and discussion.

Java – Introduction

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. Andrew Merrill, Computer Science Instructor at Catlin Gabel School and software mentor for team 1540.

Java for FRC

Assuming you know the basics of Java, how does it apply to FRC?  Find out from Andrew Merrill, Computer Science Instructor at Catlin Gabel School and software mentor for team 1540.

LabVIEW Introduction

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 Mentor.


Building on the introductory session, this seminar explores how LabVIEW is used for FRC robots.  By Dennis Erickson, 1510 Mentor.

Manipulators for FIRST Robots

Compilation of approaches used for FIRST robotics game piece manipulating systems. Will briefly discuss pro’s, con’s and design trade offs for a number of different manipulator designs. Presented by Bruce Whitefield, shop and design mentor for Team 2471, Team Mean Machine.  Director of Manufacturing Quality at ON Semiconductor.

New Coach Essentials

This pre-session is designed for coaches and student leaders new to FRC though anyone is welcome.  We’ll cover team organization, logistics, mentor roles, sample build schedules, budgets, facilities, tools, strategy, and much more.  Presenter: Dale Yocum, Head Coach team 1540, Oregon regional volunteer of the Year 2011.  FIRSTForce Metro coordinator.

People Management

There’s little more important than effective management and leadership of your team and its departments.  This talk focuses on how to get the most from people, have them feel their time was well spent, and make it fun being involved. For student leaders and mentors.  Bob Hendel, 1510 Head Coach and Woodie Flowers award winner in 2010.

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: Tim Bennington-Davis, 1425 mentor and Woodie Flowers winner in 2011.

Project Management

A discussion of basic tools that mentors and team leaders can use to establish a proper project scope, manage resources, track progress, and deliver results on time.  Tools discussed include: Skills Matrix, Resource Loading Diagram, Design Review, Work Breakdown Structure, Functional Efficiency Technique, Failure Modes and Effects Analysis, Gantt Chart  Presenter: Chris Imondi, mentor for local FRC teams and Manufacturing Engineer, Boeing Corporation.

Tool Design and Safety

Faster, easier and better quality work is done by using the right tool for the right job.  It also significantly reduces the amount of blood and skin needed to be cleaned off of your robot parts.  This presentation is focused on WHY tools are designed the way they are and HOW this affects safety.  Although this presentation is intended for everyone with less than 20 years of experience using tools; Safety Captains, mentors and parent volunteers supervising students, and newer team members, will especially get value from attending.  Presenter: Matt Driggers, Mechanical Engineer and mentor for team 2517, the Green Wrenches.  Matt has been known to demonstrate his topic in gory, noisy or messy ways so beware.

Website User Interfaces

Get the word out about your team in a high impact way.  This session s looks at the way website design affects the user experience.  Teams planning on creating award winning websites, no matter their technology, will want to pay close attention. See what website judges are looking for.   Presenter: Bob Goetz, webmaster for

Websites Using WordPress

An overview of the WordPress Content Management System and its application for creating full blown websites for FRC teams.  Presenter: Bob Goetz, webmaster for