What do I need to build a robot?

Building a radio controlled robot is not a difficult thing to do. Outside of a frame and armor, the essential internal components can be broken down into five categories; motors, wheels, batteries, speed controllers and radios. The trick to building a competitive ‘bot is to find out what brands have been tested, and are being used, by successful competitors. You may want to search our Builder Resources page or the Photo Gallery for examples of robots already built.

How much will it cost to build a robot?

A minimum cost to build a 120 pound, radio-controlled robot would be about $1,500. Its components would include a required IFI radio system ($895) and scrounged parts from sources such as liquidation stores, salvage yards, and wheelchair shops. Say you wanted to build a robot that could be entered in a competition such as BattleBots IQ™. Using proven components to build your robot would run you about $3,000.

How can I get sponsors to help pay for a competition robot?

This may be the most important question of all. The most difficult task in building a good robot is acquiring adequate funding. Choosing a design, picking out components, cutting, welding and computing are easy in comparison. First, don’t expect to get sponsor dollars the same way the “pro” builders do – basically, by offering corporate logo exposure on TV in exchange for money or product. Unlike these pro competitors, amateur competitors are on an educational mission. That makes it a lot easier to get financial help. Here’s why: Thousands of manufacturers from coast to coast agree that an economically dangerous trend is gaining momentum; the purchasing and manufacturing of products made in other countries. With that shift comes loss of American jobs, technical experience and even innovation. Businesses would be more likely to help sponsor your team if you claim you are part of the future of American manufacturing; that they are actually sponsoring a team of future engineers, designers, programmers and fabricators. Manufacturing type businesses may even help by offering materials, cutting, welding, machining, etc. Build a relationship with them, and they are likely to help down the line when you need travel expenses covered. Use this perspective in approaching businesses in your community, the bigger the better. Perhaps one of your team members has family ties to a business.
They may want to have their logo on the ‘bot, so offer to do so, but don’t tell them that your robot will be seen on TV. At this time, for a high school event, it’s really not likely.

Finally, here are some additional pointers

  • Asking for financial help is not fun. Don’t expect it to be.
  • Don’t take rejection personally.
  • Be persistent, not pesky.
  • Be prepared with information about the BBIQ program.
  • Keep your teacher and principal’s phone number handy.
  • Think and act positive.