Interested Team FAQ

Support Documentation & Learning Resources
Registration Fees & Payments
Team & Season Planning
Competition Events
Registration Kits
What’s NOT included in the kit
FAQ
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Support Documentation & Learning Resources

How can I get more information about competing in the Bell AVR Competition?

Email us at BellAVR@roboticseducation.org for additional information about the Bell AVR Competition.

How does “building a drone” work? Are there instructions, or do we have to start from scratch?

The Bell AVR Drone comes with a set of open-source instructions, designed to be a similar experience as building an R/C car.  We will show you where every component, screw, and wire goes!  

The documentation is intended to be comprehensive enough for teams who have no prior experience with drone design / construction to achieve “first flight” within the first few weeks of build season.  

The documentation will also include “send us feedback” links on every page - so, if you come across a step that is particularly confusing, or find a different way to approach a problem, you can let us know and we will be updating the documentation throughout the season for all teams to benefit from!

➥ 2021 Build Instructions

What skills will teams need in order to follow the build instructions?

Teams will need the following skills in order to follow the build instructions:

  • Soldering 
  • 3D printing (.STL files provided)
  • Basic hardware assembly (screws, standoffs, nuts, etc)
  • Basic software installation and updating (unrestricted internet connection required)

What programming languages/environments are used?

The following programming languages/environments can be used:

  • Bell AVR Drone
    • Python, via VS Code
    • PC, Mac
  • Secondary drone (Tello EDU)
    • Scratch Blocks or JavaScript via DroneBlocks
    • PC, Mac,Chromebook, Android, iOS
  • Ground vehicles (Sphero RVR and Sphero Minis)
    • Scratch Blocks or JavaScript via Sphero Edu
    • PC, Mac, Chromebook, Android, iOS

What technical support will be available during the competition season?

An online discussion forum and Q&A system will be available to all registered teams, with Bell competition staff standing by to answer questions!

We will also be updating the open-source code, build instructions, and other support documentation regularly in response to team feedback.

FAQ
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Registration Fees & Payments

Do returning teams have to pay the full $4,000 registration fee, even if we still have last year’s materials?

Yes, all teams must pay the full $4000 fee.  In addition to the event registration, there are going to be several things changing in the kit from last year, so doing a cost reduction for the few similar items would not be very significant. 

This year's kit is being designed to be much more future-proofed, so a discounted "returning team kit/registration fee" is something that we are investigating for the future!

Is the registration payment due at the time of registration?

Generally, payment is required in order to ship the registration kit. However, we understand that school purchasing delays can happen, and we will do what we can to accommodate these situations case-by-case. We would still encourage you to go through the registration process on RobotEvents.com, choose "Pay Later”. However, this route includes the following caveats:

  1. Please be sure to inform your REC Foundation Team Engagement Manager upon registering.
  2. There are a limited number of team seats available per region, due to kit and event size limitations. So, the best way to guarantee your spot will be to get payment in as soon as possible.
  3. Proof of payment pending will help with this process, such as PO request correspondence or an accounting contact within your purchasing department that we can follow up with directly.
  4. If you cannot guarantee payment at the time of registration, please contact your REC Foundation Team Engagement Manager to request an exception.
FAQ
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Team & Season Planning

What type of time commitment is needed to be successful?

  • This will vary depending on every team’s individual circumstances, but in general, it can be viewed similarly to a typical robotics competition team schedule - 3-5 days each week of after-school meetings during the build/competition season, with some teams meeting on Saturdays or during class time when available.
  • Every team automatically receives registration for one qualifying event, and has the option to register for one additional event. All events are one full day and held on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.

We’ve never had drones in our school. Are there any safety concerns involved?

  • Drones used in the Bell AVR competition are designed and intended for safe educational use, as long as standard safety "best practices" are followed! 
  • Teams must fly the Bell AVR drone inside of a netted enclosure, with prop guards securely mounted.  We recommend a standard netted pop-up tent or a commercially-available drone cage. 
  • Drone use at competition events may only be done under strict guidelines (e.g. props must be removed in the pit areas, the drone may only be powered on in certain areas, etc). Full details & information will be found in the Assembly Guide and Game Manual. 

What is the overarching season timeline?

The 2022 season timeline:

  • August – Registration kits ship to registered teams
  • August 27 – Game release and season kickoff!
  • September-November – Build season
  • November – Competition season (see “Competition Events” for more details)
  • December 3 – Championship event

What is the recommended/minimum/maximum team size?

The minimum number is 7 students, to support the 7-student drive team. If you have fewer than 7 students, your drive team may not be able to complete all of the challenges successfully. There is no maximum, but we would typically recommend no more than 10-15 students for a single team.

What is the intended age range?

This will vary depending on every team’s individual circumstances, but in general, it can be viewed similarly to a typical robotics competition team schedule - 3-5 days each week of after-school meetings during the build/competition season, with some teams meeting on Saturdays or during class time when available.

Every team automatically receives registration for one qualifying event, and has the option to register for one additional event. All events are one full day and held on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.

Can I keep my current VEX team number or set a custom team number?

Yes. Please complete the registration process first and receive a generic number, and then contact your REC Foundation Team Engagement Manager to request a number change.

What type of practice/lab space is needed?

  • A standard engineering/robotics/shop classroom should be sufficient for preliminary build and testing (plenty of lab tables, power outlets, computers, etc).
  •  The absolute minimum space that would be recommended for basic indoor testing within a netted enclosure is roughly 12ft x 12ft x 8ft.
  • Outdoor flight is not recommended, and must still be done within a netted enclosure.
  • Although a realistic playing field is always helpful for practice, most teams do not find it necessary to build the full 15ft x 40ft x 15ft netted field.  Having enough space to simulate a “half field” (15ft x 20ft x 15ft) or focusing on individual field elements (ranging from less than 1ft x 1ft x 1ft to 4ft x 8ft x 8ft) should be sufficient for most teams.

Note: All dimensions above are listed as length-width-height, or X-Y-Z.

FAQ
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Competition Events

What is the competition season like? How many events are there? How often do teams compete? 

  • Qualifying events are held each of the first three weekends in November
    • Week 1 (Nov 5-6): Austin TX, Grandville MI
    • Week 2 (Nov 12-13): Arlington TX, Grandville MI
    • Week 3 (Nov 19-20): Arlington TX, Grandville MI, Washington DC
  • The season-culminating championship event is on Dec 3, 2022
  • One event is included in the team registration fee, and teams have the option to register for a second event for a $500 event fee.
    • If a team qualifies, the championship event in December has no additional event fee.

What are competition events like?

  • Events are one day long, and are all held on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.
  • All teams play up to 4 scheduled matches over the course of the day.
  • Teams will be expected to interview for judged awards.
  • Teams will have an assigned pit space, roughly 10ft x 10ft, with a table and a power outlet.
  • Events are free and open to the public. Spectator seating is available!

How do teams register for an event?

To register for an event, you will need to visit the page for the event (example) while logged in, and add your team to the waitlist.

First Event – Teams registering for their first event should be automatically moved from the waitlist to the “registered teams” list.

Second Event – Teams registering for their second event will receive an invoice for the $500 registration fee through RobotEvents before being added to the “registered teams” list.

Contact – The best resource for help with this process is going to be to contact your REC Foundation Team Engagement Manager, who will answer any questions you may have!

Note: Events this season are held over one full day. Most weekends have two events held on back-to-back days so that fields can stay remain set up overnight, but these are not actually 2-day events.

How do teams qualify for the championship event?

Qualification criteria will be released alongside the rest of the game materials in August!

FAQ
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Registration Kits

One Bell AVR Drone Kit

  • 1x carbon fiber quadcopter frame 
  • 4x brushless motors (BLDC motors)
  • 1x 4-in-1 electronic speed control (ESC)
  • 1x Pixhawk 5X flight controller
  • 1x Jetson Nano 4GB Developer Kit
  • 1x Stereolabs ZED Mini camera
  • 2x additional cameras
  • 2x 14.8V 5200mAh 135 C batteries
  • 1x 100W AC/DC battery charger
  • 8x 10-inch props
  • 1x transmitter / receiver / telemetry radio
  • 1x peripheral control computer (Adafruit Feather M4 Express and Featherwing kit)
  • 4x peripheral servos
  • 2x game-specific peripheral sensors
  • 1x NeoPixel 8x LED stick
  • 1x NeoPixel 0.5m LED string
  • All necessary hardware (nuts, screws, etc) and wiring

One secondary drone

  • 1x Tello EDU
  • 8x props
  • 4x Mission Pads
  • Battery / charger / etc

One set of ground vehicles

  • 1x Sphero RVR
  • 3x Sphero Minis
  • Batteries, chargers, etc.
FAQ
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What’s NOT included in the kit

Netted tent/enclosure for testing

We recommend a standard netted pop-up tent or a commercially-available drone cage.

Field elements

  • There will be CAD and specifications for a “team version” of the playing field posted upon game launch, that can be built from “off-the-shelf” materials like plywood and PVC pipe.
  • There are two field / game elements that drones will interact with.  Teams will receive samples in their registration kit, and links will be provided to commercially available equivalents once the game is released. 

Additional Items Not included

  • Laptops / tablets
  • Soldering supplies
  • 3D printing supplies
  • Metric hex keys/wrenches recommended (mostly M2.5 and M3 sizes)
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