What to do in the off-season

We are a small team that did really well this year. Someone mentioned that some teams work at robotics year round.

We do have some things planned. We are bringing our robot to some sponsers to show what they helped with and possibly get new sponsers. We will also be showing it at our schools and local events which may help get more students and adults to join. We have at least one off season competition and hope to get next year’s drivers some practice. We also have some students that plan on learning Labview so they can become more involved in programming next year.

I am curious what other teams do while waiting for next year’s kick-off in 262 days.

We always design and possibly build any cool mechanisms or drivetrains we saw or thought of during the season so that if we want to apply them some year in the future we know the ins and outs of it.

We teach a lot during the offseason, getting new kids started with the Pro-Engineer and C++ software. I would suggest if you are a small team trying to get more members in, especially younger members so they can learn.

We are doing an Offseason base as well, working on perfecting a swerve drive for next season.

Oh and of course the most important part, MONEY. Getting new sponsors for the upcoming year.

Currently we’re trying to get our workspace back from the massive explosion of tools and parts that it now is. I’m currently working on changing the wheel mounts so the chains don’t pop off the sprocket every ten minutes.

Over the summer we plan to build ourselves a new, better crate that can unfold into a workspace like some of the other teams did. Is it true that 2826 Wave’s crate unfolded into that awesome metal scaffolding around their workspace? (10,000 Lakes) I’ve got to get me one of those.
Anyone have any ideas for a good crate-that-unfolds-into-a-workspace?

We’re also trying to get more sponsors, and get the kicker to shoot the ball more that ten feet, and preferably not straight on the ground, any ideas there?


Sounds like you are off to a great start! Follow up on the things that you mentioned and what others have said. Add one important element to the list. Have fun together! We do this a few different ways. We have a team picnic, go to 6 flags together and have a team banquet. Just being together and getting to know each other during the off season will help tremendously.

I would venture a guess that most of the really good teams take a little time off to regroup and reintroduce themselves to family. But for the most part it is a year round activity. Our students push us to continue to meet and grow and learn together. They came back from Atlanta and generated a 3 page list of things they want to do.

  1. Last word of advise, look at those things that you can separate from build season and accomplish now. You already hit on a few:
  2. Work on web page
  3. Teach others about things like programming, CAD, animation
  4. Get new sponsors
  5. Send thank you letters to your sponsors
  6. Attend an off season event
  7. Attend an off season workshop
  8. Enter a 4th of July Parade with Robot
  9. Have a booth at a Fair
  10. Ask yourself what happened during build season, and what knowldge was most lacking, teach yourselves that new skill.

We hope OzRam will be coming down to RiverRage this year! There’s also Mayhem in Merrimack. Those are two great locals for NH teams. Off-season comps are important for many reasons.

Aside from robot building and teaching and of course boatloads of fundraising, we’re going to be having a lot of social gatherings for teambuilding. One of our freshmen, who is an absolute rising star, has been gathering kids together on the weekends for bowling and movies and stuff like that. I’m hoping to actually have some free time to get out and see the team. Picnics, BBQs, etc are great, and NH has some stellar State Parks for big gatherings like that.

Ther are alot 0of fun things to build! last off season, we build a T-Shirt launcher, to teach teh new students teh basics of robotics, and to use at school pep rallies!

Thanks, all, for the interesting replies. As just one part of the team (1st year electrical mentor) I do not know all the plans but it looks as if we do have alot of the suggestions covered.

jblay-Some of our seniors want to rebuild the robot from 2007, maybe because it was their first year? I don’t know if it will happen but it could be fun.

steelerborn-This year we used Labview and Autocad Inventor, both things that can be leaned and practiced during the off-season. I am trying to get ACAD Electrical so they can learn to make schematics if any of them are interested.

We are also trying everything we can think of to spread the word about what we accomplished and how much fun we had and how rewarding it has been, and hope to attract more students, mentors and sponsors. Last year we started an FLL team which we should probably be promoting at the same time.

Thaine-Our workspace is also a classroom so we could not get too carried away. The biggest cause of chains coming off that I have seen is usually misalignment or improper tension but I am sure there are others. We experimented with our kicker alot before putting it in the robot. We ended up with a large cylindar pushing an aproximately 3/4" horizontal tube below the center of the ball and were easily able to kick over the bump.

Sunshine-Great list. I think that we have most of it covered. I failed to mention anything about your first suggestion - having fun together. I think that is why we have been successful this year. This team has enjoyed eachother’s company all year and already have fun things lined up.

Isaac-We have talked about River Rage and Mayhem and from the sounds of it you will definately see Oz-Ram at at least one. I would like to be at both but it is not up to me. So much good can come out of being there from recruitment of people and sponsors to practice for our new drivers, and it sounds like alot of fun.

BEEKMAN-How do you build a tee shirt launcher?

Finally, thanks again to all for the suggestions. It is good to see that others want to continue and not just wait till next year and I hope this thread will help other teams also.

It’s weird. If anything, I kind of think off season has more of an impact than the regular season. During the regular season, students and mentors alike are many times so focused on the game at hand and continuous improvements and all that, they sometimes get a game focused tunnel vision (not that there’s anything really wrong with that). However, the off season allows students to step back, actually breathe for the first time in months, and really see a broad perspective of things.

That being said, I wish our team did more in the off season than it does. We do a few demos, at least one competition (normally Wolcott but that might change this year), new management elections, reflections on the past year, a team dinner, then we’re done until September where we do things like demos, team introductions, and B@tB. We’re also working on improving our FTC team, so hopefully that’ll get some work in preseason. I’m pretty envious of the teams that don’t stop meeting and working, even if sparingly, over the summer.

When I was a student on 1714, I calculated that we averaged one demonstration per week. I would not recommend this. :stuck_out_tongue:

Some things that you can do in the offseason:

  • Learn CAD. It can’t hurt, at all, and with a whole summer to play with it, you’ll learn a thing or two.
  • Design or build a robot for the VRC. Even if you never have a physical robot, and even if you never compete, getting practice analyzing a game is always a good thing.

Some things a team can do in the offseason:

  • Break into VRC teams. Having two or three of these is probably the best way to train new members in robotics, ever.
  • Work on an offseason project. Saw an awesome swerve drive this year? Try and make your own, learn some lessons from it. Challenge yourself.
  • Get some new sponsors. I’m personally really envious of 148 and 217’s support from IFI, so I’ll be hitting up every sheet metal manufacturing facility in the area to get some parts of my own.
  • Demo and fundraise! Demonstrations help spread the message of FIRST, and fundraisers can do that while you simeltaneously make some money for yourself.
  • Attend offseasons. By far the best value in FIRST. Shaker right now is planning on 5 off seasons.

I’ve always been a huge proponent of off-season events. Some north-east events are

  • BattleCry@WPI (Worcester, MA) =May 7,8 FULL
  • PARC (Tunkhannock, PA) =May 8th
  • Beantown Blitz (Boston, MA) =May 22nd
  • Mayhem in Merrimack (Merrimack, NH) =June 5th
  • Where’s Wolcott? (Wolcott, CT) =June 5th
  • RiverRage (Manchester, NH) ~October
  • Bash@TheBeach (Old Lyme, CT) ~October
  • Duel On the Delaware ~October
  • Ramp Riot (Ambler, PA) ~November
  • RaChaCha Ruckus (Rochester, NY) ~November

This list is just compiled using Google etc. Please correct me if any of this info is incorrect.

I’ve found that off-season events are a great way to (inexpensively) get more play out of that extremely expensive robot that you and your team worked so long and so hard over! And, if you plan your trip well, you can plan in all sorts of team-building activities!


Off season? More like on season, our season is always on. We develop new ideas, teach students about building, electrical, pneumatics, and tools. Work on programming, web design, networking, business planning, fundraising, and community service. We help with local teams to promote FRC and FLL. Help put on fall FRC and FLL events. Cook meals for the homeless, fund raise for those in need. It never ends.


Tunkhannock Area High school
120 West Tioga Street
Tunkhannock, PA 18657

Registration fee: $150

Doors Open at 7:00 AM and practice starts at 8:00 AM

Team registration page: http://asp.shinraikon.com/parcxiii/registration.aspx

Volunteer registration page:http://asp.shinraikon.com/parcxiii/Volunteer.aspx

Chicken BBQ tickets: http://asp.shinraikon.com/parcxiii/BBQ.aspx

We have been trying diferent kicker designs and now that the season is over we finally came up with a good one http://www.team1322.org/ideas.htm#Kicker . We are using two 1 ½ pneumatics to push two springs to latch the kicker. Than we are stretching the springs with the pneumatics, once they are stretched we can use a small pneumatic to release the kicker that kicks 35 ft. We also found that when latched and in the stretch position we cam very the distance using a VEX motor connected to a variable pressure regulator.


Even though that’s basically what we had for a kicker (huge super-piston pulls back giant spring, use a smaller piston to release a door latch to let the kicker swing) I think we might try that. I also heard of simple ideas like sticking a hammer on a servo and apparently that works.

Anyone have any recommendations for CAD software that is free/cheap and you can get a library of FIRST parts for it? (Not demo versions, please) I need to work on my CAD skills in the off-season, and Google Sketchup is just a tiny bit awkward for making robots with, and I haven’t found any FIRST parts so far.

We also have no major (non-local) sponsors, how do you people generally scout for sponsors? That also explains our lack of money, and, coincidentally, plethora of mechanical problems, lack of members, and low seed (see mechanical problems).

When’s the best time/way to recruit members? WE have four active members currently, and no captain, aside from I’m acting captain until we pick a captain or something.


There are a few different free CAD programs at no cost for you.
The ones I use are Autodesk Inventor and Solidworks.

You can obtain a free student Autodesk License by signing up at www.students.autodesk.com. After making an account, you can download all the programs for free (If you are a student of course).

You can also obtain a free solidworks license by contacting your local reseller and explain to them that you are from FIRST. They have a special version of solidworks called Solidworks Student Design kit.

Personally, I prefer Solidworks over Inventor. It is much easier to use and much more intuitive.

Thanks a lot, When I went to their website, I thought the “student license” was a six-week trial version for the build season. :o

I’ll have to look that up.


I signed up as a student at Autodesk. It appears you have to be at least 14 and know your school email address for a verification that you are indeed a student. I think you need to renew your license like every 13 months? Of course license ends when you don’t go to any school.

The Autodesk software packages have 13 MONTH licenses. You can easily go all the way through high school plus one month and never ever run out of CAD software.

It is the real deal. Full featured, all day long !!

Honestly, about 75% of what we do as a team is during the off-season.
-Service Projects (blood drives, community cleanups)
-Team Building Activities
-Administrative duties
-Funding activities and Partnerships
-Ordering of Materials
-Upgrade/revise/improve our facilities
-400+ person fundraiser luau
-End of Year Banquet
-VEX season-build, tournaments, and workshops
-Off-season events (varies)
-CAD projects
-Robot demonstrations at various events
-FRC sustainability and program management workshops
-Hawaii Regional Planning Committee

And of course, my day job.
-District Grant Coordinator
-Lead Robotics Coordinator and Mentor
-Learning Center Coordinator
-21st CCLC Grant Coordinator
-Technology Cadre Team
-Private foundations Grant Coordinator

And most importantly, full-time Dad!