Bot Building Resources
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Find Local Competitions
Before jumping in and building a robot, you need to know where it is going to compete, in what weight class, and the rules for that event/weight class. You may be limited depending on where you live and how/where you can travel. Use these sites to find a nearby event in your country or state, and check the event page for details on weight classes and rules.
Mostly US: The Builders Database
Global: Robot Combat Events
UK and Europe: Bristol Bot Builders
The Witchdoctor Junior YouTube video series is, I believe, one of the best starting points for a new builder if you have no real robotics building experience. It is geared a bit towards kids for their summer program, but it's perfect for anyone who is just getting started. This is by the Witch Doctor Battlebots team!
SPARC rules - used with slight changes by many competitions in the US and abroad
NERC Rules (NorthEast Robot Combat)
Note that any weight bonuses may or may not exist at your local competitions! Those are at the discretion of the EO (Event Organizer). If you have to wonder if what you are building is within the rules, contact the EO and ask.
Some general rules also vary by competition such as if flamethrowers or gas powered bots are allowed, or if autonomy is allowed, and what safety mechanisms are required.
Looking for a list of tools and equipment for your first tournament? Look here!
Other resource guides referenced here:
This should be the go-to in the future when it is more filled out.
Robert Cowan’s Resource Guide has a lot of overlap with this information presented here. He has a lot more commentary on the information/sources/services provided that you may find valuable.
Building Your First Robot - Guides
Beginner: Arizona Robot Combat Guide
ADVANCED: Riobotz Combat Robot Tutorial
Beginner to Intermediate: Just ‘Cuz Robotics Guides and Tutorial Videos
Sources for Parts:
Note: We use a lot of standard hobby RC electronics from RC cars, drones, and planes. Amazon and Ebay are often great places to get common hobby RC parts like chargers, radios/receivers, ESCs, batteries, and more. However there are a million specialized stores for these things that many in RC hobbies swear by. This list is NOT all inclusive, it is a collection of ones I personally have used or been recommended to use.
Amazon: Pretty great selection of all the parts you can find ‘anywhere’ and generally good prices. I use Amazon extremely often due to the fast turnaround and free no-questions-asked returns. My videos will often include Amazon Affiliate links to products in descriptions.
Ebay: Many of the parts on Ebay will ship direct from China, often cheaper and with bulk discounts not offered on other sites, but not always. Usually if I find something on Ebay or a Chinese site that sounds too good to be true for the price, I’ll google it to see if there is another store carrying it, and cross reference specifications with the manufacturer’s site to ensure it isn’t total BS. I have gotten great deals buying from legitimate hobby stores Ebay seller accounts, often bulk discounts making the order cheaper than buying direct from their site (HeliDirect and RobotMatter for example)
Banggood: China (with US warehouse for some items) [warning: this is a lot like Wish or AliExpress or Ebay, sellers can write whatever specs they want in a description field and you never know how legitimate these are! Also expect loooong shipping times for items not in a US warehouse. I have wanted 58 days for an order before]
Hobbyking - China (with US warehouse for some items) Hobbyking has some of the best item search filtering of any store. It is extremely useful for narrowing down your options to a very specific motor or ESC or battery. You might find it then on Amazon or another state-side source for faster shipping. [warning: parts often get discontinued without warning. If it’s only sold here, be warned when looking for spares months and years down the line!]
McMaster Carr: Mechanical parts, US only. Best source for screws, metal and plastic stock, specialized bearings, and hardware bar none. If they don’t have it you probably shouldn’t use it. Practically every serious US bot building competitor and engineering firm uses them. McMaster is also a good place to get CAD models of off-the-shelf components. They have cad files of nearly every part in their catalog, and is where you should look for hardware CAD. It should be noted that they are not the cheapest source for anything they sell, but they offer overnight shipping to most places and can help out in a pinch.
Robotics Stores - Kits, Mechanical and Electrical Parts, Wheels, and more
Fingertech: They have a huge selection and are probably the most well known name in Combat Robot retail. Wheels, hubs, pulleys, belts, Viper antweight kits, Beater Bar kits, ant and beetle weapon blades, batteries, chargers, raw titanium, steel or plastic sheets…. Also home to the most popular insect weight switch option. You name it! This is a Canadian company so expect shipping to be $8 or more USD and take a while. Run by Kurtis Wanner, a fellow bot builder. Many of their parts come with CAD models which is great for designing a bot.
The Robot Marketplace: This is another site that has some Fingertech products based in the US, but they also have a big selection of other mechanical and electrical goodies of all stripes. Run by fellow Battlebots competitor Jim Smentowski of Nightmare and Breaker Box.
Robotshop: This is a US distributor for Fingertech products, often it will be cheaper to buy from them in the US. They also have tons of their own stuff. Massive selection of educational robotics stuff, though some of it can be pricey.
RobotMatter: Source of the Mercurybox Brushless planetary gearbox kits and a variety of other parts. Relatively small selection but nearly all geared toward combat robotics. Run by yet another Battlebots competitor, who has competed on several teams.
Rectified Robotics: yet another source of brushless drive kits, this store is run by former/current WPI students from Team Ribbot on Battlebots. They sell a popular dual brushed motor ESC called the DDC ESC. They also have some other things for sale.
OwObotics: Based in the UK, beetleweight brushless kit supplier, run by Gus Collier. A small selection of parts for combat robotics including drive motors, weapons, oddball parts and merchandise. OwObotics also offers design and manufacturing services, and regularly runs group buys of cut AR parts in the UK.
Endbots: Home of the Vector Kit, a common beetle horizontal spinner kit, and designer of another dual brushed ESC, but with a built-in receiver option, the DESC (not to be confused with the DDC ESC…) is used in Vector kits for its drive. They also sell some brushed planetary gearmotors called lightning motors and a variety of other things. Run by Jeffrey Olijar, Endbots also offers an Onyx (high % mass Carbon Fiber Nylon) printing service for builders in low volumes.
Botkits: Home of the extremely well-known D2 “Dozer 2” beetle wedge kit, and the Candy Wasp fairy kit. Their battle-hardened botkits gearmotors are often used stock or converted to brushless for other beetleweights.
Servocity: Huge name in the robotics world, this site was one of the first I ever used. They have a fantastic mechanical parts selection for pulleys, gears, chain sprockets, servos (duh), motors, etc. Not usually the cheapest source but they have an awesome selection. Offer educational discounts if you are a university team. Many of their parts come with CAD models which is great for designing a bot.
Vex Robotics: This is a site specializing in First Robotics parts and such, they have a great selection of mechanical parts with CAD models and amazing documentation. They have cheap brushed speed controllers that work for 3lb bots when modified following this guide by Sawblaze captain Jamison Go (MC29s). They also carry a large amount of hardware that can be useful for 3lb+ bots. Their Versaplanetary gearboxes powered the drive on my first two 30lb bots. The main thing I would look at here is the hardware, gearboxes, gears, hex shafting, and for huge brushed motors, ESCs like the Talon SRX.
Banebots: A go-to shop for gearboxes for larger bots (12lb +) and Colson wheels before many other stores cropped up. Their P6, P7 and P8 (formerly P60, P80, etc) power many a large robot, and the P80s are the gearboxes used for Bloodsport and Skorpios for drive in Season 5. They offer a huge range of custom gear ratios for their gearboxes. Banebots also has a full complement of wheels for 1-30lb bots. The T40 and T81 wheels are heavy for insect bots, but are very sturdy and can take a beating. When run on a proper dead shaft, they can survive most anything.
Andymark: Yet another FRC/Vex robotics focussed store, but with another amazing selection of wheels and mechanical components, as well as 57 Sport planetary gearboxes for larger robots. Their ‘stealth wheels’ were the option I used for my second 30lb robot.
Rev Robotics: Run by builders of Battlebots Season 6 robot Switchback, this company is based entirely around First Robotics (FRC and FTC) so mainly useful for larger bots. They have a selection of mechanical components that may be useful for combat bots as well.
Bristol Bot Builders: UK store run by the roboteers behind BBB events and the Two-Headed Death Flamingo heavyweight. Stocks components for UK ants, beetles and feathers.
AvidRC: A great supplier of insect weight bearings, they have high quality metric and imperial bearings in sizes smaller than 17mm for very cheap prices. Small bearings are ~$1 each and ceramic bearings are ~$5.
RC Hobby and Drone Stores
Great source of radios, chargers, batteries, and other expensive electronics with good return policies and search filtering
Maytech - Bloodsport used these ESCs for Season 4 & 5
Trampa - Many Battlebots use the VESC ESCs from this company
Team Just ‘Cuz Robotics - My own channel! If you’re reading this you probably know me by now. I have put together a huge range of content including fight videos, event recaps, detailed build guides, tutorials, and more!
Witch Doctor - This channel by the Battlebots team has a bunch of informational videos and some videos of their preparation for and recaps from Battlebots
Robert Cowan DIY - Has a wide range of information from general robot building to specific tool knowledge. Robert Cowan is best known for being the Captain of the Battlebot Copperhead in Season 6, on the team in prior seasons, and for his 30-pound undercutter Crippling Depression
Team Panic - Ben of Team Panic has a lot of good beginner information on his channel as well as build logs, fight footage, and event recaps. He is in Australia and mainly builds 150g antweights, and beetleweights. He has competed on Battlebots as the driver of Gemini and hopes to captain his own team someday soon!
Mechanical Ninjineer - Good channel with lots of content, not all combat-related. Mostly focusing on smaller insect-class builds.
Team Cerberus - Lots of fight videos, some build and event recap videos, mostly focusing on smaller insect-class robots.
Team Velocity - If you just want to binge watch a ton of fights, this is the channel for you. There’s not much tutorial information here, but there’s a LOT of fight footage.
Alta’s Projects - This channel has a few good build logs and some good information on smaller scale building. He is best known for a dirt cheap but very successful 1-lb bot called Krave Monster.
Chris Miksovsky - Chris doesn’t have a ton of content yet, but what it lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality. There is some good information to be had from his channel.
Black Lightning Robotics - Nik Buchholz, Bloodsport’s weapon designer, known for his Beetleweight overhead Phantom II. Nik puts together many videos on the Bloodsport youtube channel. Has a few event reports, build logs and some good fight footage with his small bots.