Strange Donations

Hi all -

A discussion for the day - What is the weirdest thing(s) that has been donated to your team by a well-meaning individual or company?

Recently, we were given a set of “computer parts” that were really pieces to a number of electronic wall safes. Through the years we’ve been given random sticks of RAM (no random pun intended), lightly (or heavily) used wire, and a good amount of other stuff that we couldn’t find direct use for.

How about your team?

Tons of random junk- If it plugs into a wall and doesn’t work anymore, I’m sure the robotics team can use it, right? For a couple years we saved the interesting stuff and hosted a “take apart night” for all ages to come in and sate the curious nerd inside them.

We got a portion of an old CNC fabric cutting table from a company that makes inflatables. By “portion” I mean the boom that goes across the material, the X axis, and some control hardware. We thought about converting it to a router but decided to spend our limited summer time on more important things.

A parent donated a Rhino robotic arm, but we haven’t had the time to play with it.

I believe it was 2007 when we had a lot of golf club shafts donated. Not a terrible thought for an arm game, but not the easiest thing to work with. We ended up doing angle aluminum and PVC pipe.

We used to be sponsored by a Communications company they would donate their scrap cables to us, and we would strip them down for copper. We also at some point got donated to use the working parts of a “power pusher” car mover, and a the electronics of a rascal scooter.

I had to volunteer at a thrift store to get credit for an environmentalism class I took a few semesters ago, and there was mountains of “Junk” in their warehouse. I always thought it would be interesting to let a few teams of high school robotics students in there and challenge them to build a robot. They could ofc bring their own control system, and some hardware such as screws and bolts.

We just got a Stabuli TX60 arm donated by a local biomune company. Turns out, we didn’t just get a clean room robotic arm… we also got the clean room to go with it. So now there’s a 4"x10" work station with a large arm inside of it in the middle of our shop. We had a representative of their company come out a few weeks ago to talk to us about how it’s all (supposed) to work. Unsurprisingly, they didn’t give a fully functioning arm, this one had been having issues for… just about everything. It’s running off of 3.5" floppies and Windows 95, most of which barely work. We’re going to try and replace the computer automation and use the integrated controller for us, then maybe use an old laptop we have to try and run it. Not sure what we’re going to do with it yet, but it’s a cool demo thing.

In non-robotic arm things, we found an old wall timer the other day. Not just any wall timer though, this was a “game timer”. It had a 4 number pin to protect the electric plug and timing per day… not sure what we were going to do with that.

Ha! Finally a poll I can respond to with a top quality example! A couple of years ago we received a 3rd row bench seat from a Chrysler Mini-van. It is still used today sitting on the floor in our shop as a seat in our make-shift computer lab.

Not at all robot related - This sheep statuette

Kinda needs an explanation, huh?

I was soliciting donations for my team’s spaghetti dinner/silent auction a few years back, whenever Year of the Ram had passed (important). One of the stores told me to come back in a week so they could figure out what they wanted to donate. I come back a week later, and they give me not one, but two of these sheep (which had not been selling well). Needless to say we couldn’t sell them either so it’s just been collecting dust for a couple of years now.

And yes, if someone here wants to trade this for a team shirt or something I’d be more than happy to get it off of my hands.

Back when I was on 1699 we had a decommissioned bomb-bot donated to the team. I was really young then but I wish we refurbished it. They still have the giant steel claw somewhere in the workshop.

We get all sorts of weird stuff (somehow). One time, someone gave us (I believe two) lawn cutting robots.

Throwing stars? We had a handful of those come in via donation to the local hackrrspace.

423 once got a donation of a broken telescope. IIRC we gave it to one of our members who’s interested in that stuff to fix and never saw it again. We also got a donation from a local hockey team of a bunch of their old equipment. Turns out their sticks were carbon fiber tubes, so we cut them on the chop saw
and used them as lightweight tubing on the robot.

When I was on 423, the security officials at our school once tried to reprimand us for having dangerous throwing stars easily accessible. When we (obviously) had no idea what they were talking about, they pointed to our pile of plate sprockets. We had a good laugh at that.

We once received boxes of straws from Chick-Fil-A. We still have them, and haven’t used them all yet even though it’s been years. 1619 tends to have engineering challenges during the holidays involving these straws. Maybe one day they’ll all be used.

We also have a grill we keep in our storage container. Don’t know where it came from. I kept trying to convince the mentors to no avail to use it by having a team cookout.

We use to have some Millitary MREs from an old sponsor, but I think we ate all of them.

We got a ton of stuff from iFixit a few years back! It included about a dozen electronic calipers (apparently returned; we got two working, and one still does), lots of oddball tools, miscellaneous low-end electronics junk of every description, and (jackpot!) about two hundred tool kits of screwdriver handles with about 100 various bits. We still have about a half dozen of the kits in our tool chest, but we sold the rest for a nice chunk of change. Of dozens of fund raisers my church and the team have done over the past few years, this was definitely the one that did best out of my office at work; I sold about 15 or 20 at $25 a set.

Early in the team history, someone donated a bunch of uni-strut. Useless for FRC robots, but we’ve built several things from it, including racks for stock and a gallows for an end-of-season football rivalry game. Wait - we’ve used bits as dead weight on practice robots.

A box full of raspberry pi cases. At least 50.

How does everyone get so much cool stuff donated? We get the occasional computer and such but nothing this awesome!

We had a large corporate donor give us a dozen or so oscilloscopes. They were top of the line units in their day, which was about 20 years before we got them. We passed them on to rookie teams in the area at a Kitbot Build day. Each one came with it’s very own “decade box”. I forget if the boxes were 6 or 8 orders of magnitude

We had a bunch of carbon fiber golf club shafts donated that year too. They ended up being useful as the last (fixed length) part of our otherwise aluminum tube based arm.

before i joined the team they had a donation of a box full of bananas, an old fridge full of dairy products (the fridge still serve us).
after we won the DCMP a sponsor invited the whole team for a dinner (not so strange, but unusual)

We got some random Anderson connectors we never ended up using. And not just because we abandoned Anderson connectors, but because they were mostly of random sizes and form factors.

Also, we have some John Deere frisbees that aren’t remotely the same size or weight as the 2013 ones.