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

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.

Laugh.

Cry some more.

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

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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…

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).
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Whenever your teams are ready for PETG filament, please connect with us here or www.greengate3d.com We donated 100 spools for the 2022 season which went into First Choice KOP. All full (1kg) spools. No doubt we’ll make another donation for 2023, but for purposes of THIS conversation, when you need filament, it’ll be here. Got over 20,000 lbs of pellets for filament extrusion already in-house and LOTS of colors to choose from! ALL made in the USA, too

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That is awesome! Thank you for the gift to all FRC teams. :heart:

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Absolutely! Happy to have helped!