FLL 2016 “Animal Allies” Mission Model Building Instructions released

2016-08-01 @ 11:00am

The FIRST LEGO League Mission Model Building Instructions for “Animal Allies” will again be released at the beginning of August.  (This is in contrast to the 2015 “Trash Trek” season, where model instructions weren’t available until the challenge release date.)

Instructions will be available at http://www.firstlegoleague.org/missionmodelbuildinginstructions .

Many teams that register and purchase a field kit early in the summer will receive their LEGO parts and field mat during the last week of July.  With the release of the Building Instructions on August 1st teams can begin assembling the mission models and looking at the field, although the actual game challenges won’t be released until August 30th.  Building the mission models is an excellent way to start a FIRST LEGO League season, and can also be used to “break the ice” with new team members.

When you receive your field kit, don’t open up the bags of LEGOs or otherwise mix them up until you’ve looked at the mission model build instructions.  The numbers on the bags correspond to the build instruction files, and the models are much easier to build if the pieces aren’t all mixed together.

FLL 2016 Kickoff / Team Dynamics Clinic (UTD)

2016-09-10 @ 1:30pm - 4:30pm, University of Texas at Dallas / SEEC


This event is intended for coaches and mentors only.  Please pre-register for the event.

We are having a Kickoff and Team Dynamics clinic on Saturday, September 10, at UT-Dallas from 1:30-4:30. The kickoff will be held in the Cecil Auditorium in Hoblitzelle Hall on the UTD campus — see this map for location and parking.  The closest places to park are Lot H and Parking Structure 4 (PS4) on the west side of campus; you can use this parking permit to park in either the GOLD (yellow) or GREEN spaces of Lot H or PS4.  To get to these lots, enter from Waterview Parkway on the west side of campus using either Frank Johnson or Franklyn Jenifer drives.

The kickoff event is free of charge, but we ask that participants pre-register for the event so that we can communicate event details directly and have an estimate of attendance size.

What are the Kickoffs?

  • These are introductory meetings/presentations where we go over many things you’ll need to know about participating in FLL this season.
  • Generally there are at least two Kickoff sessions each season (one at UTD and one at FCA).  Each coach/mentor only needs to go to one, and it doesn’t matter which one.  Rookie and veteran coaches are welcome at both events.
  • These are HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, especially for new coaches/mentors.
  • We will go over exactly how the events and competitions run (rules, policies, what to expect), and there will be Robot Game tables and fields set up with experts there to explain the Robot Game missions and rules.
  • It’s a great opportunity to meet the North Texas FLL community, get your questions answered in person, and figure out exactly what will be happening for us this season.


For more information about the event, please contact Patrick Michaud at pmichaud@pobox.com .

FTC scrimmage at Greenhill School

2015-12-11 @ 6:00pm - 9:00pm, Greenhill School

Greenhill School is hosting a scrimmage from 6:00pm-9:00pm on December 11th at Greenhill School in Addison.

Some of the specific details are still being worked out, but we want to let teams know about the scrimmage event so they can put it on their calendar and start making arrangements to join us. Space will be limited to approximately 8-10 teams.

Registration: If you’re interested in attending, please send an email to “ftcscrim@roboplex.org”. Please include your team number, team name, and the number of people you will be bringing. We have room for only 8-10 teams, so we will confirm your attendance in a separate email shortly thereafter.

The primary purpose of the scrimmage is to help teams better prepare for competition events later in the season. In particular, this is a chance for teams to experience the robot inspection and match setup processes prior to attending their first (and possibly only) competitive event.

We will definitely be running matches at the event, with referees. Since it’s hard to know which teams will have working robots (and when they’ll be available), we may generate match schedules “on the fly” as teams’ robots become available.

Programming assistance and mentoring will be available from other teams and coaches at the event. Veteran teams can view this as an outreach opportunity to help other teams get to operational status. Remember, at competition alliances are randomly generated, and you don’t want to find yourself paired with an inoperable or unreliable partner.

Part of the value of the scrimmage is that teams can also see the many ideas and approaches that others are developing to solve this year’s game challenge. In previous years the scrimmage events have often provided the small boost team’s need to go from a barely workable design to a well-functioning one.

Watch this page and the North Texas FTC Google Group for more information.


– Coach, FTC #7172 “Technical Difficulties”

Some notes from regional FLL referees

Yesterday several of the region’s FLL referees met with Joe Varnell (North Texas Head Referee) to review the rules and common situations encountered this year’s game. We also reviewed some of the questions and topics that have arisen during the many scrimmages. Here’s a summary of some of the more common ones, so that you can be aware of them prior to arriving at competition. This is just a summary recap — please carefully read the mission descriptions, rules, and game updates for full details.

Rule D08 – Models: Teams are not allowed to attach models to other objects, including other models. For example, in scrimmages (and some YouTube videos) we’ve seen teams try to attach the Chicken to the studs on the top of the Octopus, in violation of rule D08. Any models that violate D08 will not be counted as scoring.

M10 – Demolition: When demolishing the Building, the Robot must not break the bracket in the process of doing so. If the Robot breaks the bracket or separates its Dual Lock while demolishing the building, this mission will not score. (Rule R15 — Field Damage)

M05 and Plastic Bag Removal: Although the game video shows the plastic bag being removed from the Sorter by hand, this is NOT allowed. (Robot Game Update #2 and rule GP5)

M03 – Transport mission: In order to score 110 points for the Truck/Yellow Bin mission, BOTH scoring conditions must be visible at the END of the match. If at the end of the match the Yellow Bin is on the mat, or anywhere such that the Truck is not supporting all of the Yellow Bin’s weight, then you don’t get the 50 points for that part of the mission, even if the Yellow Bin was on the Truck at some point earlier in the match. (M03 and Robot Game Update #14)

M08 – Composting: Some of the composter models seem to be a little finicky, even when apparently built correctly. We’ve seen cases where a robot triggers the model properly but the model fails to release the compost for no obvious reason. While referees and field reset personnel will do their very best to keep the composters working, we know that sometimes things still don’t work out.

If a composter fails when it’s clear that it should’ve worked, referees will try to manually release the Compost (or provide an alternate) in a timely manner if that’s possible. If it turns out to not be possible, referees will apply GP3 (“Benefit of the Doubt”) to decide how missions related to the Compost should be scored.

However, there are some common situations where leniency won’t be granted. For example, if the Robot hits the composter hard enough to cause its “green lid” to fall backwards into the pendulum mechanism, then any failure to release the Compost is considered normal and the referee will not attempt to reposition the lid, restart the pendulum, or manually eject the Compost. The same goes for other strategies where a Robot activates the composter in a rough or uncontrolled manner.

R13 Interrupting: Penalties for touching / interrupting a robot outside of Base are applied the next time the robot is Launched out of Base (rule R13). Historically such penalties have often been called “touch penalties”, but it’s not the touching of the robot that incurs the penalty — it’s the returning to Base for re-launch that is penalized.

Thus a team that stops or interrupts a Robot and leaves it place (or doesn’t re-launch the robot from Base) doesn’t receive a penalty for that final interruption.

R10 “Hands Off”, R12 “Launching”, and R14 “Stranding”:  Anything that the Robot causes to happen outside of Safety stays that way — teams and referees do not attempt to “reset” or fix them by hand. (Exception: The Careers mission grants some leniency to R10 for the Sorter Model.)

So, if the Robot leaves a Model or a piece of equipment completely outside of Safety, it’s considered “Stranded” (R14) and remains there until the end of the Match or the Robot moves it (R12 bullets 4 and 5). Each piece of equipment (mission models are never “equipment”) still outside of Safety at the end of the match incurs a Junk Penalty (D09 bullet 2).

Anything that is completely in Safety the team gets to pick up and keep.

Things that are stranded partly in Safety get special treatment that occurs at the moment they are stranded — i.e., when the Robot loses contact with them:

  • Equipment that is stranded partly in Safety is taken completely into Safety (the team keeps it) and immediately incurs a Junk Penalty (R14 and D09). Again, mission models are never considered “equipment” or “junk”.
  • BARS of any color that are partly in Safety are immediately taken completely into Safety, and normal rules and scoring then apply for them being in Safety (Robot Game Update #6).
  • All other models that are stranded partly in Safety are immediately picked up by the referee and taken out of play (R14). This generally means that these models can no longer be used to score missions.

The end result of this is that nothing is allowed to rest partly in Safety, other than the Robot itself and the things it is transporting.

I hope this is useful to teams, and we all look forward to seeing your robots at competitions!