Prepare for FIRST LEGO League Robot Game. The complete guide

This FIRST LEGO League Robot Game guide is the single greatest resource to prepare for the competition. The goal of the guide is to make it easier for every mentor, team and team member to successfully get up to speed, participate and advance in the FIRST LEGO League competitions. There are over 300+ robots, 1500+ attachments/constructions, 50+ courses, 500+ tutorials available for rookie teams to start with, for more experienced teams to learn from and for everybody to have a lot of fun building consistent and reliable robots regardless of their experience and level.

Introduction - Why this guide?

We are mentors, judges, teachers, professional engineers and software developers with a lot of experience in FLL and we've been helping teams for the last 15 years. At FLLCasts we share specific courses, robot constructions, attachments and programs that demonstrate how different mission models could be accomplished. Note that we do not share solutions for the current season as this is against our rules, but we share the principles by which different missions could be accomplished and how similar missions were accomplished in the past. You have all the information on one place.

FLL is a journey and sometimes a difficult, but always rewarding one. You are not alone in this journey. FLLCasts has helped tens of thousands of students build Box Robots, use rubber bands and program advanced state machines to achieve consistency of the behavior of the robot. We are your partner with all the experience and knowledge that we have and we will guide you through the process of learning and accomplishing the missions.


FIRST LEGO League (FLL) 2022 Super Powered

This is the current season of the competition and you are reading this guide because you would like to prepare better for the robot game, have lots of fun and advance to the next rounds.

The guide will help you with designing and using compex advanced attachments, and will also help you with building reliable and consistent robots. But before any of this you should get familiar with the season, its missions, rules.

FLL 2022 Rules, Tips, Tricks, and Building instructions
FLL 2022 Super Powered

Where to start?

Now that you are familiar with the current season start by moving through a specific course for your LEGO set. You can participate in FLL with any LEGO set, but the four LEGO sets that are most suitable are LEGO Education SPIKE Prime, LEGO Mindstorms Robot Inventor, LEGO Mindstorms EV3 and LEGO Mindstorms NXT.

Both EV3 and NXT are no longer available from LEGO. LEGO does not sell these sets, but almost all of the constructions that were previously built with EV3 and NXT could be reused. After all, they are just LEGO parts with different electronics.

If you don't have a field from previous years you can use the FLLCasts Off-Season course to work on general competitions missions with a single LEGO Mindstorms EV3 set.


Learn from previous competitions

"Smart people learn from their mistakes. Wise people learn from everywhere they can"

When you prepare for the current FLL season there is nothing better than having all the experience from participating in previous competitions. But this is not possible, because previous competitions are...well...previous. You are forming the team now. It's a new team and all the experience from previous years is gone.

Luckily we've recorded and explained our solutions to the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) challenges since 2012. Start with the most recent and move back looking at the missions and their solutions and reviews. Learn how a similar mission was approached in the past. As you have this toolbox of knowledge you can now decide which of the attachments and robots to modify and use for the current season.


Build a basic robot

There are several different options for different robot bases, chassis and approaches. These robots are suitable for starting initially and getting going with the competition. Based on the review you've done of previous competitions you have to make a choice and this choice is "Which robot should I build"?

Learn by building several robot constructions and then choose a design that suits your team and your goals. Simple constructions are powerful and you could easily win a local or regional competition with them. Look at the robots that could be built from the LEGO set that you have, but also look at robots that are from different sets as they have a lot of good ideas in them that you can incorporate.

LEGO Education SPIKE Prime


LEGO Mindstorms Robot Inventor


LEGO Mindstorms EV3


LEGO Mindstorms NXT


Find an answer in 5 minutes

With FLLCasts Tutorials you can find the answer to your questions in under 5 minutes. All it takes to find the right "5 minutes video tutorial" and to watch it. Everything from the user of attachments, to programming the robot to behave in a specific way.

FLL Tutorials
STEM Tutorial

Advanced Robots

Getting a full run with all the points is difficult to achieve with a basic robot. The reason is the size, the number of motors, the number of sensors, and how easy it is to add attachments. There are a few advanced constructions that can inspire you to build the most perfect robot for your team and your FLL competitions. These is where the advanced ideas come into place. Also, don't forget that the more advanced robots would require a more parts than the standard set.

Box Robots

Box Robots is the concept of building the robot like a box. In this way it is easier to attach different attachments as the attachments are standardized - they are all attached in a similar way. The robots are also balanced and could be quite powerful.

Box Robots for a rookie team could be challenging, but you are participating in FIRST LEGO League after all :). Challenge is what you are here for. Check out the Box Robot courses first to learn the ideas behind the concepts and implementations. Then build the robots following the building instructions.


X-Y Robots

We call them the "X-Y robots" and the idea is simple - you have one massive attachment at the front that moves left to right on the X axis up to down on the Y axis. Technically it is possible to accomplish many missions with these attachments.

These are advanced robots. Be aware. They provide sharp knives and you can cut yourself. The other thing about these robots is that one such robot almost ruined a season when they introduced them as almost everybody was jumping on building such a robot for the competition.


Attachments

Learn to build attachments. Rubber Bands, Gears, you name it. Do not over-engineer. Use as few parts as possible. Build simple pinless attachments that could be changed quickly. An attachment should work 9 out of 10 times. Use rubber bands, gear wheels, worm gears, racks, levers.

Do not focus on the set here. FIRST LEGO League allows the use of almost all LEGO parts (check with organizers of your local competition if parts are forbidden). This means that you can explore attachments with EV3, NXT, Technic, Robot Inventor, SPIKE Prime. All the different LEGO sets and you can learn, be inspired and inspire team members. Some additional parts could also be purchased easily on the internet - try Bricklink

Program a robot

You can not prepare for competition without learning how to use the sensors. Learn to use them, to follow lines, position yourself on the field with the Color/Light sensors, to detect your rotations with the Gyro, and to use State machines to separate the states in your program.

What you should be looking for is how to reliably and consistently position on the field starting from base.

LEGO Education SPIKE Prime

LEGO Education SPIKE Prime is programmed with Scratch and with Python. The Scratch version could be downloaded to your computer or you could use the online version at SPIKE LEGO Education website

Scratch is easier to start with and it is not less powerful than Python.

LEGO Mindstorms Robot Inventor

LEGO Mindstorms Robot Inventor is programmed with Scratch and with Python. The Scratch version could be download to your computer or you could use the online version at SPIKE LEGO Education website

Scratch is easier to start with and it is not less powerful than python

LEGO Mindstorms EV3

You will surely get tired of all the differences in the venues and their lighting conditions. Winning teams have the sensors properly calibrated and could calibrate them very fast, just before the runs.

Mindstorms robots are programmed with a LEGO Mindstorms EV3-G software, which is already deprecated. But you can also use Scratch to program them.

LEGO Mindstorms NXT

Mindstorms NXTs are programmed with NXT-G.

Advanced programming

Learn more advanced programming like moving straight and state machines. This is the most common problem at competitions. How do you move straight? or at least Straighterrrr?


Consistent and reliable robots

We try to build robots that can accomplish the missions 10 out of 10 times. Building and programming a reusable and consistent robot is the single greatest thing you could learn. Look at the different examples for "10 out of 10" tutorials.


Tips and Tricks from previous seasons

We publish tips and tricks at the start of every season. We share what you could look at and learn from. Make sure you check them out as they gather all the resources for the seasons with all the rules, building instructions and the specific tips and tricks how a mission could be accomplished.

2021 Cargo Connect Tips, Tricks and Building instructions


2020 RePLAY Tips, Tricks and Building instructions

2019 City Shaper Tips, Tricks and Building Instructions

2018 City Shaper Tips, Tricks and Building Instructions


Finally, explore further

At FLLCasts.com we have many resources on a lot of different topics connected with FIRST LEGO League and other robotics competitions. Make sure to check for new Tutorials and Building Instructions

All reviews from 2012 to current day

These are reviews not only for FIRST LEGO League, but also for World Robot Olympiad. Check them out. You might find interesting attachments and programs on which to base you current approaches to the competition

Testimonials

FLL Casts has great content! Our team is composed of 4th-5th grade students and we found the information you provided on topics like Box robots *extremely* helpful. Also, the tips on how to follow a line and other types of intelligent robot control are invaluable. There is no resource like FLL Casts out there for a new team of young kids who are eager and excited to learn the EV3. Neither Lego nor First Lego League provides *any* step-by-step instruction from both a mechanical and programming point of view - which seems like a huge miss.

Dave Covino

February 2021
I want to thank you for your programs, they were so valuable in having a FLL team move forward.

Jerome Seppelt

January 2021
First of all, you have produced a page with very nice content. Thank you very much. Since I participated in the FLL contest, I was using your web page in robot design and basically to learn the codes. I chose not to participate in the competition this year. I am thinking of rejoining your platform when I decide to join the competition again.

Sertan GÖNÜLTAŞ

November 2020

See all Testimonials.

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