Robots in hometown parades

How common is putting the robotics teams in parades?

In the Albert Lea, MN parade earlier today both Albert Lea HS Catalyst (3633) and Alden-Conger Knights (2957) had floats with the robot driving on the road. 2957 made no modifications, but 3633 whipped up a pneumatic candy-cannon in a few days and used it with great results. We plan to have pictures and video of the event.

So, did your team participate in a parade, and if so, to what extent?

Back in the day, when the team carried itself with a bit more enthusiasm, we used to take part in the two local fall parades. They were awesome, but I would recommend choosing robots carefully.

For one year, we demoed the '07 robot. Wasn’t very cool when you consider that the game was similar to the 2011 game, and the most we could do was raise the elevator up and down.

But the next year, we demoed our '08 robot (the one that shot the big red balls). That was HUGE with the crowd, and we met huge cheers all the way down the route.

So I would think it’s common enough, just make sure to have something to please.

  • Sunny G.

1293 ran their 2005 robot in some parades that year. Some advice:

  1. If your robot is done with competitions, consider pneumatic tires. Converting to them saved us a bit of wear and tear on the rest of the robot.
  2. If you’re still competing, a trick Don Rotolo mentioned involved wrapping your wheels in painter’s tape, then duct tape. Similar effect, but it saves your wheels from the damage of the road.
  3. Think of how you’re going to handle batteries. 1293 modified their robot to add a tray to hold an extra three or four–just disconnect the dead one, plug in the new one, and roll on. (This was in the days of the IFI controller, where connections were made in seconds rather than minutes.)
  4. Think of how you’re going to drive it. Do you have a trailer to operate your driver station on? Hard to juggle joysticks and a classmate if you’re just walking.
  5. Think of how you’re going to handle the robot if it dies mid-route. This happened to 1293 in the Irmo Okra Strut parade when a set screw backed out, and led to me pushing probably close to 175 pounds of robot and extra batteries a good half-mile to the finish. Be able to load it on a trailer if it fails, or draft a linebacker from your school’s football team for the parade just in case.

I think they’ve done a couple of parades since, but I don’t know the specifics (I stopped working with them full-time after the following FRC season, but still keep in touch).

On that point, could you wire multiple batteries in parallel to increase the battery life?

If you’re looking to modify an old robot for use in PR events and parades, I’d recommend the VEX Controller. It works great, is very simple and connects almost instantly. Furthermore, the controller is completely handheld and doesn’t require any external power source (a big advantage for parades). There is potential for interference when using the crystals (we’ve only had issues with other VEX robots around using the same frequency), but these issues seem to be gone when using VEXnet which typically connects in ~10 seconds. Our t-shirt cannon Shockwave and 2009 robot Devastator, two of our popular PR robots are both running VEX controllers with very simple code.

2614 runs in 3 or 4 parades a year.
We modified our 2009 bot to dump candy, and it is controlled by a driver on foot with a backpack carrying the 2009 control system.
Up to three more bots are controlled out of the back of a leading truck that also carries candy refills and batteries. In a dead robot situation, we can load it up into the truck.
Tomorrow, we’ll be running 4 robots.

1126 participated in a parade this past saturday with 1511. 1511 had it hink 2 of their robots driving on the ground, and another 3 on their float. we (1126) had a robot in a small trailer just big enough to turn around on, and we had out posts and repeatedly made logos for the crowd on the pegs (we only had bottom and middle up)

we are also participating in another parade next week, we plan to do the same

we also duct taped an american flag to our alignment spear and had it “wave” to the crowd

This year we took our old (and partly torn apart for parts) 2009 robot to one of our towns Mardi Gras parades. We are from Louisiana, there are several parades a week in February and March, not even getting into the New Orleans ones. Since it was on short notice and during one of the last weeks of build season, we just put the robot in the back of my-car-turned-ghetto-Mardi-Gras-float. Although he didn’t run, people still liked seeing a robot covered in beads. We think we are going to do it next year (with way more beads because people are crazy about it) but I am a little worried about driving a robot down a 5 mile Mardi Gras parade route.

Each year team 256 parades one or two of its robots in the Homecoming Parade throughout downtown Willow Glen. A ton of people love it, and we end up getting a lot of people interested in robotics. After the parade we go down Lincoln Avenue (downtown) and let interested people try out the robots. We usually have 2 robots out there, our t-shirt robot where we fire t-shirts to people, and our competition robot for that year, unless there’s not much to show off, like previously mentioned.

Team 2957 had one modification, the american flag that flew on the top of the arm:)

We’ve done the local parade two years in a row now (won the Grand Marshall trophy both years.)

We put 3 old competion robot on a trailer and have some VEX robots to drive around. This year we made a custom robot shaped like a doghouse (we’re the Swartdogs.) The doghouse robot was a big hit with the crowd. We used two batteries in parallel and made it through the entire parade - it was about 45 minutes drive time I believe.

In the afternoon we do a demo for 2 hours driving last year’s competion robot. Overall, it’s a really good event for us.

We (33) participated in a Rochester Chhristmas Parade last fall (erm… winter? it was freezing outside) along with teams 1, 201, and 245 (Juggernauts, FEDS, and Adambots respectively).

We borrowed a truck from Chrysler, and decorated it. The parade required all floats to follow a “candy land” theme for the parade, hence the candy. We used our 2007 robot, 201 and 245 (on the other side of the honeycomb wall) used their 2009 robots and exchanged balls between them. The robot in the picture is limp because it is turned off, but it waved the FIRST tube around well once we turned it on (we also tried to get it to throw a tube, but the tube just fell).

We won First Place in the high school/college category.

Team 166 just participated in Merrimack’s parade - we didn’t run it during, but we ran it before at the pancake breakfast. I don’t really know what happened, I was serving strawberries in the kitchen, but I saw quite a crowd there!
During the parade, we had the robot posed with a tube traveling in the back of a trailer. In past years, though, we’ve had our infamous grillbot follow the parade.

Team 2471 participates in their town parade every year. We also have a festival afterward, where we set up games for people to play with our robot. This year it is a timed trial with an obstacle course and the deploying of our minibot.

We build a new robot for the parade, our “MascBot” which is made for our highschools mascot costume to go on it. Last year the parade and festival them was “Wizards” or something, and we made the arms of the mascot spin and the head rise up and down. We actually won second place in the walking float division.

We are from a really small town, and are thinking about being in bigger town parades, specifically the Portland parades that I have never seen our Portland teams be apart of.

Y’all got me reminiscing now…

I stood with my 4th grade son as we watched the local robotics team drive down Main Street on the Fourth of July.

They handed him a flyer that announced that there would be a chance to see the robot in the park after the parade.
He looked up at me and said “Dad? Can we check that out?”
(he said that a lot but that’s to many tales to tell here)

Fast forward.
Georgia Dome!


That same little boy (to me) on the drive team. Up there with Dean and Dr. Flowers.

Yup! Parades are good.

3193 runs our robot in our hometown’s 4th of July parade the last 2 years. It’s a 2.5 mile parade, and both years only needed one battery change. We have a pickup truck lead the way with signs, batteries, the drive controls and drive team. We pass out candy to the kids and informational flyers to the high school kids and adults. It’s a great time, and the huge crowd really loves it!

1089 Has for the last few years run one or more Robots in our local parades.
We do this as one of several community outreaches we do every year.

This way the local residents know us, and we get to inspire the young child watching the parade. We usually let the young kids toss the game piece(s) so we can demonstrate.

We also talk with the parents/adults along the parade route about FIRST as well as FLL, FTC and FRC. We even hand out buttons/pins to the kids to wear when we have extras.

It’s a great way to get yourselves out there.

We are in our local Homecoming Parade and Fourth of July Parade. We usually just put our current robot on a trailer that we decorate and drive it through the parade while team members hold banners and hand out candy and flyers. We are usually a big hit with the crowd, even without a running robot.

Team 1477 - Texas Torque participated in our hometown parade. We just attached a trailer to the back of a van and put a scoring rack and the robot on the trailer. Somehow the rack was the exact width of the trailer and it ended up taking up half the space on the trailer. Part of the trailer wasn’t very sturdy, so we could only demo on half of the trailer, leaving us with about 16 sq feet of space to move our robot, meaning that we only had enough space to put up tubes on 2/3 of the rack. We had to put our driver station and everything all behind the rack in an extremely cramped space with 2 people trying to drive the robot. The trailer didn’t have a rear end either, so we had to tie a rope across the back to try to keep the robot from accidently driving off the rear end of the trailer (it actually worked considering we rammed the rope with the robot about 3 times while driving).

We’re getting ready for our parade this weekend, as a matter of fact. The five local teams [all in about a 20-mile radius from three towns] traditionally have one big float + robot-driving display in the Philomath Frolic and Rodeo parade. The local team provides the float, well decorated with robot caution tape, team flags, etc, we stick our drivers and driver stations on that, the rest of us walk alongside or behind with the robots. Of course it’s a great new-student involvement activity [we stuck a team flag into the hands of a robotics-minded 8th grader last year]. Last year the whole display got Judges’ Choice, I believe.