What subtitutes controllers, radios, Victors and Spikes?

We want to run an off-season project to make three simple student-built robots. Maybe the school won’t let us use all the Inovation First material, because it’s expensive. I would like people to tell me what I can use instead of the Robot Controller, Operator Interface, radio modems, Victor speed controllers and Spike relays.

It doesn’t need to be so good and with such quality as the ones used in FIRST. When I can remotely control some motors to go forth and backwards, I will be satisfied. But it must be kind of cheap!

Thanks in advance for any answers

PS: please don’t move this to another forum that no one reads!!! nobody would answer and there would be dust accumulated on the thread!

Regular R/C equipment isn’t nearly as cool or functional as the Innovation First controller BUT for testing of motors and drivetrains you can buy a 4-6 channel radio with Electronic Speed Controllers in the amp range of your motors for a very little bit of money. Many Battlebots use this kind of setup. When your design is proven then later wire up the bigger stuff. You can also buy the Stamp microprocessor on a project board to test out code on. I think the Isaak32 might be cheaper than the big one that we use also.

What do you mean by “wire up the big stuff”?

I don’t want to use it just to test the system, I want something definitive.

The “4-6 channel radio with Electronic Speed Controllers” sounds great. What kind of stores should have it? What is it used for usually? (model aeroplanes, toys…?)


6 Channels, FM. You’ll have to buy a mixer to run single-stick controlled skid-steer or else you can get used to the weird non-mixed style. This leaves you with 4 channels of fun.


This site has RC interface switches as well as motors, bearings, wheels, axles, etc. This will get you ON/OFF control. Not too cheap, but it’s top quality. Did you know the guy operating that site has also been a judge at the SJ regional for a few years now? You may have seen him on TV as an announcer on Robotica (and no, he’s not not Ahmet Zappa :wink:

For speed controllers, if you’re 12V or under then RC ESCs are the cheapest. Otherwise you’re in IFI Victor territory unless you want to rig up a whole bunch of relays for super-twitchy control.


A few years ago, back in the pre-InnovationFIRST days, Team 120 reverse engineered the old style FIRST controllers and developed their own version. The controller boards are functionally and pin compatible with the official FIRST boards used up until the 2000 competition. The plans for the build-it-yourself controller can be found here.

Good luck (and if you build this version, be sure to thank Team 120!).


the link you posted says “access denied”. It says that I should try it in some days, and I did, but it didn’t change.

an isaak 32 is identical to our first controllers, and is used for battle bots so it has the same cost…if you want something cheaper go with the isaak 16, its the same basic computer system only no transmitter displays and a few less inputs, but it is half the price