Cash value of parts exchanged at events

Just for fun. How much money in parts do you think is exchanged between teams at events?

At a District Event?
District Championship?
World Championship?

Hope everyone is having a good summer :+1:t3:

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Maybe around $1000 for a regional? Mostly pulling that number out of nowhere but I figure 40 trades of $25 parts isn’t too unrealistic for a 60 team regional… Now I’m wondering if there’s district events where trading parts has outvalued the registration cost.

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Sounds like a good Fermi problem.

Some WAG assumptions:

  • Each part costs between $1 (a bolt) and $50 (a motor or gearbox), maybe an average of $5?
  • 15 parts exchanged by each team over the course of the event
  • 80% of teams exchange parts

So for a district event, $5 * 15 * 80% * 40 teams = $2400, and scaled up to bigger events based on number of teams?


Based on personal experience, I’d say we borrow at least a gear or two, some bolts, maybe some metal, and we lend (or give) out a gear or two, some bolts/rivets, and some material

I’d say for our team, around $100 per event

$100 x 40 = $4,000 for a MI district event. I’m sure some teams will increase that if they borrow roborios or other big items (Bedford Express in 2013)

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Maybe as an addition or maybe a separate thread. Assuming the volunteer time is costed out at a commercial rate. What the cash value for the event volunteers? Judges? Mentors? Team member time helping other teams? Any one of them would dwarf the value of parts.

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I know that in 2018 we handed out about $1000 in parts throughout the year to teams in need at competitions. We were happy to help, but we were just curious what it ended up being!


225 2016-2019, it wasn’t uncommon for us to give away $100-$200 of parts/event. Items were usually motors/gearbox parts/hubs/gears & sprockets/speed controllers/air cylinders/raw material/etc. With ~10 events/year, that’s a lot of value exchanged.

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Here’s a corollary discussion to this thread - Does your team attempt to replace or repay the parts you accept from other teams? Does your team expect repayment or replacement for the parts you lend out?

I know 1712 has sometimes attempted to return items at the conclusion of a competition when we can or at future competitions. This is especially true of electronics (I know we’ve returned NavXs and gamepads we’ve borrow from other teams, for instance). Sometimes that’s not always feasible, particularly with mechanical components. We don’t keep any ledgers of parts we’ve taken or parts we’ve loaned out, and do not expect anything we loan out to be returned unless we specifically ask for it back.

I know on the sillier end of things, 1712 and 708 had a mini-prank war over a pneumatic cylinder once. 1712 borrowed one from 708 after one of ours was damaged. We attempted to repay them with a replacement cylinder a couple of weeks later at an event, but they wouldn’t take it. Ultimately it led to both teams repeatedly hiding the cylinder in the other team’s pit/shop over the span of a couple years while attempting to get the other team to take it back.


When we (4130) borrows items at events, we always try to get contact information and replace whatever we borrow. Often times the team will tell us not to worry about it but at a minimum we always like to offer.

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Just popping in to mention that among my fondest memories in FIRST as a student was dropping by 708’s shop to do a scouting seminar and then hiding The Piston in a toolbox on my way out and leaving a Dean Kamen business card with a hint as to where the piston was on Zygmont’s desk.

I recall they also baked it into a cake for us at 2016 (?) mrcmp.

(Also Hi Sean!)


Generally 5413 doesn’t ask for parts back. The one exception off the top of my head was a spare joystick that we knew wasn’t being manufactured anymore so we knew we would need it in the future.

I’ve always been “that guy” that packs way too much stuff for the event so the only thing we’ve ever needed to ask for was minor stuff like weird size fasteners.

Very situational. Raw stock or small components probably not. High value items probably so. Especially if it is a peer to peer sort of loan. (A team with resources similar to ours.)