Exchanging Parts (New Opportunity)

FRCParts-Extended
With Build Season coming up very quickly, I wanted to introduce a project that I have been working on: frc.parts is a website that helps facilitate parts exchanges. Whether your team needs a part for a fast approaching deadline or you have some extras to spare, frc.parts allows you to reach out to connect with other teams in your area.

My team has both asked for and received parts from teams in our area, but we were limited to teams that a team member had a connection with. It was hard for us to find parts when we needed them, because we do not have connections with a lot of local teams, especially teams that could use access to some of the extra parts that we have. frc.parts addresses this problem by creating an open community where exchanges can happen beyond a small list of personal contacts.

In order for this project to work, we need teams who are willing to be generous and loan parts to other teams. This will not only allow other teams to request parts from you, but will have people ready to help out when you need a part! Loaning parts can be a great way to build connections with other teams that could be helpful in the future.

I started this project largely based on my personal experiences with parts exchanges, so if you have any comments on how to improve it, please let me know!

It is currently only for the San Francisco Bay Area. However, if you and other teams in your area would like for another region to be added, you can request a new region.

I hope that you team finds this to be a helpful resource. Good luck to all teams this season!

FRCParts-Extended

6 Likes

It’s interesting to see this kind of thing spring up again. I will watch this with great interest.

Will there be differentiation for temporary loans versus permanent giveaways? (I ask since 857 may be looking to purge some old stock soon)

Is the only main requirement for a region to have 3 teams on board?

Would the UP of Michigan be a “State” or a “Metro region”?

The main requirement is three teams. I don’t have something yet for loans vs giveaways but I think either works. I will add it as a tag option soon. I would probably consider it a Metro Region because theoretically (I am not super familiar with Michigan geography) but I could imagine trading between parts of MI, especially since there are so many teams

As for the requirements for a region, the only requirement is 3 teams. I want this project to be more open so that as many teams can have access to it so if there is demand, then it probably will be created

I would love to have a setup like this available in the Boston area. My team in particular has a lot of stuff and not very much space to keep it all in.

2 Likes

I can’t speak for other teams in Colorado, which makes it difficult for me to fill out the application. My team is happy to lend, donate or sell parts as we can.

Great! If you have connections with some teams in Colorado, I would try reaching out to them to see if they would be interested in participating. I don’t know any teams in that area, but if two other teams are interested, I would love to add Colorado as a region! Thank you so much!

Is there any cost to you to adding another region? In other words, is it a time-consuming or somehow otherwise costly process? If not, I don’t see the harm in adding a region once a single team is ready to use it. It’ll probably grow faster that way. If I log on and see my region, I’d be more inclined to use it than if I had to fill out an application to add the region, wait for it to be added, and then re-market it to teams in the region who may have previously checked it out and seen that the region was missing.

As I see it, the worst that happens is a single team from a region signs up and has nobody to trade with initially but eventually, odds are they will find someone. There aren’t very many teams that are completely geographically isolated and there are people who are willing to exchange a farther distance (mail, etc.) to help out those teams in less densely populated areas.

Maybe consider also adding a tag for “willing to ship” and/or “willing to pay for shipping.”

5 Likes

I was thinking about that last night and there is no cost to adding a region. The form no longer requires three teams.

1 Like

It seems that all of the existing pages except for “How to Ship Parts” are no longer opening.

Thanks for letting me know! It should be fixed now. I am looking into the cause to stop this from happening in the future

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Is the website down for any particular reason?

Hi. It is down at the moment. This is a long answer, but it addresses the long-term future for the project.

My server host, which I used for FRC Parts and my FRC blog, was jacking up the prices to a level that I could not justify. They wanted me to commit to another year, and I had forgotten that my subscription was ending, so I had to do a fairly quick cancel.

Right now, I am working on migrating my personal website to a new host that offers better customer service, more control over the server, and much cheaper pricing. I started off with that because my personal website gets much more traffic, especially from FRC teams, than FRC Parts got.

If there is still interest in FRC Parts, I can migrate it over. I should have a back up from a couple of months ago, though there wasn’t a lot of activity since then. I might take this opportunity to start over and structure it in a way that makes more sense.

While I am happy to operate free services for the FRC community, and I have no intention of deploying advertisements on either of my projects targeted to the FRC community, the amount of time that I was investing into FRC Parts was way too much for the very little usage that it was getting. I found myself constantly having to update Discourse and Ubuntu, with very little usage (only about three posts were made on the website while it was up).

If you, or any other teams, have an interest in it being renewed, I am more than happy to get it migrated over once I have enough confidence in this new server host (things are going well so far). I am currently considering having it going live through the end of the upcoming year, which is my senior year.

What happens after that will largely be a factor of whether people use it or not. I had a lot of trouble marketing the app, and if the usage stays like it was before, I don’t know if it will exist past me entering college. My team isn’t involved in the project, so I can’t easily hand it off to other people still involved in FRC.

I am sorry for the long post, but here is what the immediate future looks like. I will try to get it started up again in the upcoming weeks on my new server host, though I am not sure whether I will go with discourse again or another service. At that point, I will probably post a post on Chief Delphi and my blog. What happens after that largely depends on whether I, as well as other users, can spread the message about the app, and whether the usage is enough to justify spending time in college to operate it.

1 Like