FIRST® Tech Challenge
Team Blast March 14, 2024

Hi ,

Here's some updates and news from FIRST® Tech Challenge.

In this week's blast: 

💻 Tech Tip of the Week

❤️ Bid For a Cause: 35 Years of FIRST® Virtual Auction  

2024 National Advocacy Conference 

👩‍💼 FIRST Certified Professional Development 

Tech Tip of the Week  

For those about to use sensors, we salute you with our Tech Tip of the Week! This week’s Tech Tip focuses on signal noise and how to eliminate it with ferrite cores. 

When deciding to use a sensor on a robot, we are normally worried about how accurate the sensor’s detection is, how much the sensor costs, or how the sensor’s protocol will interface with the control system.

It is not until the device is being mounted to the robot before we consider how outside electrical noise already present on the robot might significantly impact the performance of the sensor.

This electrical noise almost exclusively comes from the electric motors and other sources of electric fields on a robot, such as power wires, power supplies, some sensors (especially ultrasonic sensors and cameras), radio frequency generators (like the Wi-Fi on the robot), and other places.

This electrical noise can generate unwanted alternating currents through electromagnetic induction in nearby wires, especially sensor wires, and these unwanted currents can wreak havoc (create “noise”) within the signals from your sensors.

The amount of current induced in the wire depends on several factors including the strength of the magnetic field, the rate of change of the field, and the orientation of the wire. 

Some buses and wiring are more sensitive to electrical noise than others. On a FIRST Tech Challenge robot, long signal-carrying wires (such as Servo wires or I2C sensor wires) are most susceptible to induced noise. So how can we eliminate this noise?

The easiest way to remove noise is through the use of a Ferrite Core. Ferrite Cores, also known as Ferrite Beads, are made of a ceramic material called ferrite that has incredibly useful magnetic properties.

When a Ferrite Core is clipped around a wire, the induced “noisy” alternating currents in the wire generate electrical fields in the ferrite that act to oppose those currents - this has the effect of canceling out or removing the high-frequency noise.

It is not typically required to “loop” the cable around the ferrite core, but doing so could increase the efficiency of the noise filtering in cases where excessive noise is generated.

You can find ferrite cores already installed in cables meant for high-noise environments or highly sensitive devices such as USB webcam cables and monitor cables. It is best to place ferrite cores on the wire closest to the connector leading into the Control/Expansion Hub port. 

Bid For a Cause: 35 Years of FIRST® Virtual Auction

Looking for a chance to join Dean Kamen and FIRST supporters at a Lobster Bake at his New Hampshire home? How about a tour of DEKA and lunch with Dean? What about a relaxing Tuscan getaway in Italy? Or bringing home exclusive FIRST memorabilia? 

Check out the virtual auction and get your bids in by 11:59 p.m. ET on March 22, 2024. All proceeds support the FIRST mission.  

2024 National Advocacy Conference 

Join the Student Association for STEM Advocacy in Washington, DC, this summer for the 11th annual National Advocacy Conference. For over a decade, robotics teams have been advocating together in DC, and now is your chance to join us.

Students will learn how to talk to members of Congress through interactive, fun, and targeted training on June 23 and 24, and network with other teams from across the country.

Teams will attend scheduled meetings on June 25 to build meaningful, lasting relationships with members of Congress. Your team will promote robotics and STEM education on behalf of every student in America.

Join this once-in-a-lifetime experience that encourages participants to learn about advocacy, meet other students committed to change, and make a national impact.

Questions, more information, and registration available at or email Registration is now open!

FIRST Certified Professional Development 

FIRST Education is hosting both remote, and in-person regional and academy sessions for FIRST Tech Challenge.

Sign up for one of our upcoming professional development sessions and grow your knowledge and skills by practicing student elements of the FIRST program! More information can be found on our website and registration is through Eventbrite.

If you have questions, email

Upcoming In-Person & Remote Sessions: 

  • April 15-16 | George R. Brown Convention Center | Houston, Texas  
  • June 10-14 | Forest Lake Academy | Orlando, Florida 
  • June 27-28 | Online 
  • July 29 - August 2 | Davis Middle School | Compton, California 

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