What is your team's plan for dealing with materials and supplies this coming year?

This last year, we all faced many more issues with rising costs and supply chain breakdowns than the normal runs on popular items that are our annual tradition. I expect things won’t be better this coming year and may in fact get worse. How are you handling it on your team? How can we all work together to insure that resources are available for all those who need them, especially rookies and low resource teams?

On 1339, we have done or are in the process of doing the following:

  • purchased all motors, controllers, and standard system components we expect to use for 2023
  • consolidating our storage, and sorting motors and controllers that we can share with local teams in need. We plan to share all our brushed and some of our brushless components
  • purchase all metal, wood and plastic sheet and extruded stock by the beginning of the school year
  • strip all existing robots except the 2022 machine, and put all reusable parts back onto stock

I don’t have a great feel for reusable parts on old robots. Maybe that is a problem for our build that things tend to be unsalvageable other than maybe some key electronics.

I say that while only having had two RoboRIOs since the switch in 2015. But a lot of mechanical parts are too specific to the year they were built.

I think my team’s plan is:

  1. Order everything at the last minute to maximize shipping costs and delivery delays

  2. Forbid removal of parts from prior robots until we desperately need a part from it, then completely disassemble the poor thing in its entirety.

  3. Run into out of stock materials and electronics issues, then come back here to CD to complain about it.

I’ve been through this cycle too many times lol.

But seriously, I wish I was in a position to purchase parts in advance like you, but our budget structure and status prettymuch prohibits it


Wish we could order parts sooner but our books are locked until the fall, we’re even locked out of our build space until school resumes.

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Cry some more.


Our 2022 Bot was built from materials accumulated during the Covid years. I have started to look at restocking and yes inflation is real.


So many components are out of stock. Roborio 2.0, falcon 500, Rev PDH, just to name a few. Most suppliers can’t even tell when they will restock. It’s virtually impossible to plan anything in this environment.

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Same here. Run in circles, scream and shout.

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In anticipation of these problems, we strategically made an absolutely terrible robot for 2022, so will have no qualms cannibalizing the poor girl for electronics, Falcons, and pneumatic components. We have a sponsor who is giving us a bunch of cutoffs of 1/4" polycarbonate, and have a couple of lengths of box tubing in the supply closet.

If needs be, we’ll resort to plywood and pine studs…


Our team doesn’t really have a plan, but my plan is to watch certain items, and subscribe to ins stock on others and buy as soon as I can things we need.

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Last year when we organized our stock room we pulled all the items that we don’t plan on using (old pg motors, pwm speed controls, misc electronics, etc.) and donated them to teams in need. We have accumulated a fair stash of standardized stuff that we can use for our build if we can’t buy new. For us our space is limited so giving the stuff away made sense.

I suspect there are a lot of big teams out there sitting on piles of robot parts they will never use. It would be great if they did the same. Some kind of robot parts food bank where unused parts could be sent and needy teams could get parts cheap would be ideal, though it might be a lot of work and get abused.

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Your plan is our normal operating order schedule. Mostly because dealing with the accounts payable …person at the Board of Ed office is a ( no nice words to add). I try to get almost everything we need in before December as it takes an extra 2 weeks to place orders and then up to 4 to get things paid. Which is not helpful in the middle of a six week build.

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After what happened with supply issues especially this past season, I’m with OP. Buy all that you can you are certain to use, and buy them yesterday!


Those who have some sort of plan and act on it will have fewer nasty surprises.Unfortunately, the supply issues may be an additional design constraint for teams for the next season, at least.

I have spent most of the last week at work trying to find electronics components to use in our next-generation product. Many of them will not be in stock again until Q3 and Q4 of 2022. There are even some that won’t be in stock again until Q3 or Q4 of 2023. For one part, none of the distributors had any inventory, nor would they for over 6 months. The only two places that had them were “parts pimps” selling them for 6-8 X the normal price with no price breaks for larger quantities. We also get frequent requests from the Manufacturing group asking us to find alternatives for parts that are not available in time to meet our production schedules. Unfortunately, some of these parts are the same types of parts used in the FRC control system components. I can imagine there are people at CTRE, IFI, REV and NI going crazy chasing parts.


I’ll add on to this (work-related non-FRC) anecdote with my own.

Before 2020, if anyone at JPL wanted a PWA with a microcontroller on it, they’d develop the PCB layout and firmware, and then send both off to a turnkey fab/assembly house. The vendor would etch the PCBs, procure microcontrollers, flash the firmware, then solder the uCs to the PWB along with all the other components.

Last month, I was designing a control board, and I decided to order all of Digikey’s stock (at the time) of PIC18F47Q84s. I figured that it was safest to have the chips in-hand ahead of time, and tell the fab house to DNI those components. That turned out to be a good decision, because right now I see that Digikey doesn’t have 18F47Q84s in stock. It’s a lot cheaper for us to install and program the chips ourselves, than to re-spin the PCB for whatever new uC happens to be in stock.


For more chip shortage goodness, I recommend Adafruit’s chip shortage YouTube series. Certain ICs are running 100+ week lead times right now.

We’re in for a long few years.

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The only reliable method I’ve seen is to go to an offseason with those parts and setup a table with free to take sign. There have been several unused online attempts at making parts shareable.


We’ve posted photos here on CD of our giveaways in the past and were able to get stuff to teams that way. Will likely do it again this year. I like your idea of setting up a table at an off-season too, if we’ve still got stuff in the fall that’s what we will do.

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To begin with, I kept my fingers crossed for this:

And this summer we’ll try to buy what we can afford without maxing out credit cards. Students need to do some serious fundraising.

  1. What did we buy last year?
  2. What do we still have?
  3. Subtract 2 from 1, buy results as early as possible
  4. Make friends with all teams local to you.
  5. Borrow/beg from said teams if you are desperate.
  6. When you return what you borrowed, include a bonus gift (ranging from t-shirts to food to alcohol, if it’s a mentor-to-mentor transaction).