Robotics Students Discuss FTC Cascade Effect Challenge

Grant Hawk Leader  of team 5233 and James Parry discuss ideas about FTC’s new Challenge Cascade Effect.

Ben States builds the journal for team 5233.  Team 5233 is interested in being contenders for the Inspire award this year, after coming up as runner-ups in last year challenge.





Chapelgate Christian Academy Goes To USNA FTC 2013


USNA Southern Marland Qualifer FTC Competition
Dahlgren Hall, U.S. Navel Academy Annapolis, MD

On January 12th,2013 Teams, 5233, 5293, &  5296 went to the Southern Marland Qualifer at the USNA Navel Yard, in Annapolis Maryland.The Challenge this year from First is called Ring It Up!. The turnament was held in Dahlgren Hall on the USNA Navel Yard.  They had 1 pit field and 2 turnament fields, 24 teams competed in this spacious and historic location. Durring our competition they also had a FLL turnament which was very cool to see.  The day started at 6:30 am and did not finish till 7:45pm each of our teams did an execlent job at competing and tackling this years challenge. Team 5296 was in the final 3 and won the qualifier. We have talented group of young men who have risen to the challenge and put a tramendus effort into building unique robots with diffrent strategies for winning the game. Thank you to the hosts Capt. Kevin Rudd USN 503-705-0128, Judges, Officials and Host team the Robo Droids.

NeveRest 40 Motor v.s TETRIX MAX DC Gear Motor

For years the DC motors that FTC robots have used to run were TETRIX MAX DC Gear Motors. This year FIRST has introduced  a new motor called the NeveRest 40 Motor. We are excited about them and want to share our first look on these new motors. This motor is a new and improved geared motor with an attached encoder. In the Game Manual Part 1, FTC has stated the following in rule <R09> (b).

<R09> Robot motors and servos are constrained to the following:

b. A maximum total of eight (8) TETRIX /AM-2964 motors (in any combination) or eight (8) MATRIX DC motors are allowed and must be controlled by a compatible TETRIX or MATRIX controller. A Robot is constructed with either TETRIX /AndyMark or MATRIX DC motors, not both.

NeveRest 40 Motor (am-2964)
NeveRest 40 Motor (am-2964)

Here’s a comparison of the two motors specifications.

Motor Specs Spreadsheet
Spreadsheet of the Motor Specs

The NeveRest 40 Motor is better in general than the competing TETRIX MAX DC Gear Motor. In specific the NeveRest 40 Motor has better torque characteristics and an encoder already built into it. Our Chapelgate Robotics Teams are looking forward to take advantage of these new features. These motors are both around $25, but with the NeveRest 40 Motor, you get more bang for your buck. So go buy the NeveRest 40 Motors today. They are available for ordering on the AndyMark website at If you have any questions or thoughts on the NeveRest 40 motors we’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

FTC Kickoff Event September 6th

Teams 5233 and 5293 attended the kick-off event on September 6th at Capitol College.

Workshop and seminar sessions started at 9am.  The new game was revealed and overview of the Maryland/DC FTC season began at 11:30am.

Our very own mentor and leader Jeff Cagle taught two seminars on Robot C the programing language for the premiere robotics programming language for educational robotics and competitions.

Jeff Cagle Teaches intermediate programing with Robot C at Maryland Kickoff
Jeff Cagle Teaches intermediate programing with Robot C at Maryland Kickoff

Maryland plans five FTC Qualifying Tournaments for the 2013-14 “FTC Block Party” season

These Qualifiers will each be for 28 teams with a proportional opportunity to advance to the Maryland FIRST Tech Challenge Championship.  We encourage Maryland and DC FTC teams to register for multiple events (up to three) and we try to have space for out-of-state teams as well.

The Maryland FTC Championship is on February 22, 2014 at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.  Thirty-two teams will qualify for the event from which six teams will advance to the East Super-Regional in Philadelphia March 28-29 and from there have the opportunity to advance to the FIRST Championships in St. Louis April 23-26.

We will have two rounds of registration for the Maryland/DC “FTC Block Party” Qualifiers.  Round One is from October 1-7 for our first three events in DC and Annapolis.  Round One will be for Maryland and DC teams only to select their initial event.  Qualifier assignments will be published by October 12.  Round Two of our registration, from November 18-25, is for all events and open to all FTC teams.  Preference will be given to Maryland and DC teams, particularly those that do not yet have an event assignment.  Assignments will be posted by December 2.

The registration fee for each Qualifier event is $150, due after final event assignments.  There is no additional registration fee for teams that qualify for the Maryland FTC Championship.

All Maryland FTC events are free and open to the public, and we encourage visitors to come share the excitement.  The best time for viewing is generally in the afternoon between 1:00 – 4:00pm as the teams finish their Qualification Rounds, make their alliance selections and engage in Elimination Rounds.  Better yet, please volunteer for an event!  We can use all skill levels and it’s a great way to see the teams in action.

Date (subject to change) Location Results
December 15, 2013 Sidwell Friends School, Washington, DC
January 11, 2014 US Naval Academy, Annapolis
January 12, 2014 US Naval Academy, Annapolis
January 25, 2014 location tbd
February 8, 2014 Marriotts Ridge High School, Marriottsville

Reflections on a New Year

Hi all,

The 2013 season is on the verge of starting.  CCA has two teams: Vector (5233) and Rexbotics (5293).  The teams formed up today and have already started divvying up roles.

Two things excite me about this year.  First, we have some really good roboteers, both newbies and veterans.  Watching them work, I got a sense of seriousness of purpose and collaboration that is very promising.  Second,  we are expanding out a bit with a Robotics Club after school.  The club will allow those who could not sign up for the class to participate.  We already have two volunteers to help with Robotics Club.  Look back here soon for an introduction to our volunteers!

On the technical side, we’re switching from LabView to RobotC this year.  The hope is that the RobotC compiler will produce more stable code than the LabView compiler, so that we have fewer Samantha dropout issues than last year.  That’s the rumor on the street, at least.


FTC 2013: Capitol College Kickoff

The 2013 Season Kickoff is coming to Capitol College on Sat Sept 9.   In addition to revealing the game, the kickoff will feature workshops on journaling, RobotC and Labview, building, and mentoring.  Yours truly will be there with some members of 5233 and 5293, as well as the Caglets.  Contact me through school e-mail if you are interested in joining us.