Electrical Component Legality/Avaliability

With all the frustrations around motor/speed controller availability the last few years, here’s what I think FIRST should do:

All robot components that are restricted by FIRST (motors, motor controllers, power distribution, robot controller, etc.) should have a minimum quantity available by a date prior to the season. Preferably Novemberish. This isn’t “expected delivery”, or “promised delivery”, or “just need some QC before allowing orders”. This is actual parts on the shelves to fill orders.
A list of legal parts can be released to the teams shortly after this date to start placing orders for what they know will be legal and available for the upcoming season.


  1. Teams will have a reliable supply of legal parts.
  2. Teams won’t lose the F5 lottery waiting for a limited supply of parts to be released mid-season.

The downsides:

  1. This will force teams to stop using parts (speed controllers mainly) once the manufacturer has consumed their supply and no longer manufacturing new parts. This may be a burden to lower resource teams. Honestly not sure how much impact this would have.
  2. Teams will invest in a set of motors/controllers in one year, only for them to become illegal the next when the vendor runs into supply issues.

What am I missing? We’ve not had many parts move from legal to illegal in the past, but I also can’t remember ever having this level of supply issues from our vendors.

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I don’t understand the point. FIRST is going to control the major suppliers of FRC parts? I don’t think any of the suppliers would be willing to sign onto that.


Legislating supply chains is bad for teams.

I would rather they do away with the absurd definitions and allowances they have and remove limits.


Weird, haven’t really had this issue myself.


Sounds like a great way to make FRC more expensive for teams that need it to be cheaper.

FRC has historically avoided making previously legal parts illegal when technically and practically feasible. This allows teams without the resources to purchase new items to continue operating.

We don’t need this program to become more wasteful and environmentally unsustainable than it already is.


Not sure what you mean. Absurd definitions for COTS parts?

Or, hear me out… FIRST could simply make more motors/controllers legal, thus giving teams more options. There are plenty of PWM controlled ESCs out on the market for both Brushed and Brushless motors used in the RC market.

Giving teams more options means no one is forced to buy new hardware because their current stuff got ruled illegal due to global supply chain issues, but potentially still allows teams to be competitive by using other COTS options.

Right now FIRST seems to wait for manufacturers to present products to them to get their blessing on legality, but FIRST really aught to be more proactive in actively going out and finding alternative options if they want to get around the supply problems.


I agree wholeheartedly. It just seems unlikely.

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This is a non-starter already given that it leaves the Spark MAX as the only remaining brushed motor controller, and would effectively ban them entirely if REV were to to make a revision of the controller that could not control brushed motors. This would end up concentrating all the demand from teams who wish to use their existing back-catalog of motors and supply issues would be even worse.


Is it more or less likely than FIRST ruling existing motors illegal thus forcing teams to buy all new stock? One option has basically zero downsides, other than FIRST having to dedicate resources to do it. Even the old Victor 884 controllers were kept legal for like a decade or more after the last one was produced because teams had so many of them, I don’t see FIRST making a move like making common hardware illegal.

  • What constitutes a COTS part.
  • What constitutes a VENDOR.
  • What motors (without integrated controllers) are legal.

To me, these definitions are absurd. They aren’t realistically helping teams at this point and they don’t line up with reality. Fig leaves to protect those who lack imaginations I suppose.


These two are super annoying, also the whole no part roll over even if you publish all CAD & the manufacturing process is ridiculous and hurts small teams who can’t afford to remake parts every year.


It would also make the Rio v1 illegal.


The Victor SPX and Talon SRX are both still available to purchase. No idea about their supply levels, though.

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Yeah. That’s legit.

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Sadly the teams who have cash sitting around can buy the items in bulk, what first should do is take some of the money they get for running events and put it towards purchasing motors and limit how much each team can purchase and thus allow everybody a fair shot. Again as stated in above this would also be tough as I am sure FIRST doesn’t want to police the supply.

There is no good answer. However, you can take note that students are learning a valuable lesson about how they won’t always have the things they need in there professional careers to be successful and how to plan for the shortage.


This seems like it’d only be feasible through suppliers limiting stuff directly. Even then, how would FIRST enforce it?

A 10 motor per team limit could be bypassed by claiming to be from another team and shipping to a different address. Not to mention, FIRST would have to ensure that, say, CTRE doesn’t limit everyone except 217 (I don’t know if 217 and CTRE are still “together”, but they founded it so you know what I mean), or that WCP doesn’t send 20 of their new fancy motor only to 1323 but limits everyone else to 8.

I was referring to if FIRST can partner with and secure enough stock for enough teams to have at least some access. Teams that buy 20-30 falcons a season shouldn’t be allowed to do that ( not sure how to enforce this though ).FIRST could do some sort of voting process to lock in this amount ( i’m sure there’s enough money from all there donations and sponsors). Basically 12 falcons at 200$ * 3000 teams is like 8.5M$ . this would guarantee enough access for everybody. This would have the side affect of also giving companies a one customer sale. That’s just an example of one common sought after part it could even be an opt in program that teams have to enroll in and pay FIRST . Teams would still have the option to purchase outside of this new system / marketplace . It just seems silly that you block access to specific hardware but don’t ensure there’s enough for everybody.


I would provide it through the FIRST dashboard. no way to fake team purchase with some sort of code.

In other words, what you’re saying is:

FIRST should act as a (or as the only) reseller of the high-demand motors and stuff so that there’s a guaranteed supply for all teams, and impose a limit on how many are bought.

Nah. It’s actually simpler than that. All HQ has to do is return quantity limits to the motor list. 8 NEOS or Falcons per robot. Now there’s no incentive to do more than about 16 (2 drive bases).

(Note: I’m not actually being serious here, though that may be a nice temporary measure.)