SparkFun Partners with FIRST Robotics

This Saturday was the kick-off for the 28th FIRST Robotics Competition. This competition has grown from a couple dozen schools to over 3000 teams internationally. This year, Sparkfun has reached out to help teams in this year's competition.

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This Saturday was the kick-off for the 24th Annual FIRST Robotics Competition - Recycle Rush. On behalf of everyone here at SparkFun, we want to wish all teams the best of luck!

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If you've never heard of the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), it is a one of a kind engineering / robotics / community event. Students spend an intense six weeks working with adult mentors to plan out, design, test and build a robot to compete in an annual game challenge. There are a lot of robotics competitions out there but none come close to the intensity, complexity and involvement as FIRST. If I counted correctly there are 108 regional & district competitions events across the world -- all culminating in the World Championships at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. The competitions start the last week of February. I encourage you all to grab your friends and family and go check one out!

This year's competition, [Recycle Rush]((, challenges teams to manipulate, move and stack large recycling totes on a 27' x 56' playing field. Teams work collaboratively in alliances of 3 robots to score as many points as possible during each round.

For the past decade I have had the pleasure and opportunity to mentor and coach three different FIRST teams in our area:

I've learned as much from my team(s) as I hope my students have learned from me. I've been looking for a way to join my work here at SparkFun with the amazing energy around FIRST. This year, I was able to convince our management team at SparkFun to partner with FIRST.

If you are with a FIRST team you will find that we have provided our 6 DOF integrated gyroscope and accelerometer package with the 2nd round of FIRST Choice Parts by AndyMark.

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This nifty sensor is a replacement to the Sensor Panel that has been included in the KOP for the past few years. It's a great sensor to give your robot precise positioning and turning accuracy. Our board uses the same 3-axis accelerometer (ADXL345 from Analog Devices) and a more advanced 3-axis ITG-3200 MEMS gyro. If you're looking for help hooking this up -- a long time friend of SparkFun, Adam Meyer, wrote up a great tutorial on hooking up this sensor to an Arduino on his site

Translating this to the new RoboRIO should be pretty easy with that new MXP expansion port. Both sensors use I2C and will need to be connected to pins 32 and 34 on the RoboRIO.

Make sure that you have your Priority Lists completed and submitted to AndyMark by noon (Eastern) so that you all have an equal chance at the FIRSTChoice parts and components donated by all of this year's sponsors.

Good Luck!

I just want to wish all teams out there the best of luck! In addition to our electronics and sensors - we also have a wide selection of structural robotics and motors from Actobotics in stock. Actobotics has a unique hole pattern that provides a variety of mounting positions and angles -- all using standard 6-32 hardware.

Dolly Wheel Plate - Idler A (pair)

Dolly Wheel Plate - Idler A (pair)

Dolly Wheel Plate - Drive B (pair)

Dolly Wheel Plate - Drive B (pair)


And, if you look at our Actobotics parts, our IT and Mechanical Engineering team just launched a new 3D viewing engine that's super cool! Look for the 3D icon on the product pages.

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Discounts for FIRST® Teams

In our effort to continue our support of great STEM programs out there we offer a discount code to all FIRST® teams. Just fill out the form to apply for a discount code for any purchases you make for your team this year.

I'm on a FIRST Team!

Comments 12 comments

  • James Matthew / about 9 years ago / 2

    Thanks for supporting this program. I've volunteered at FRC, FTC, FLL, and VEX events for the last few years. Support for these kids will pay off in the future.

  • Member #403458 / about 9 years ago / 2

    I've been lucky enough to judge these competitions on 2 separate occasions. If you've never been to one, you should definitely check it out since they are a blast. Thumbs up to Sparkfun for partnering up!!

  • ME heat o nator / about 9 years ago / 2

    While the partnership with FIRST robotics looks noble and loads of fun, I would like to congratulate you on the 3D viewing option. It seems hilariously logical to compare components to a banana!

  • RobotRacer / about 9 years ago / 1

    This is awesome news!!! I have been using SparkFun kits and parts to teach high school FIRST Teams basic programming and electronics for a couple of years :)

  • D_C / about 9 years ago / 1

    Awesome! On the blog post referenced I had suggested Sparkfun for them to partner with for making a breakout board for the expansion port!

    • Now that the RoboRIO is out and available, we'll definitely start looking at making an adapter for the MXP breakout. I'd love to see what teams start doing with the expansion port this year.

      • bk0y / about 9 years ago / 1

        RevRobotics already has a breakout for the MXP port (and a RIOduino and ...). It's available through AndyMark and you might even be able to use your FIRST Choice credits for the purchase. Not saying that SparkFun shouldn't do a breakout board, but if this one fits the bill I'd suggest your time is better spent doing something unique instead of re-inventing the wheel.

        • That's very cool. Thanks for sharing that. I love what the team at RevRobotics have done. The RIOduino is pretty cool. We are definitely not looking to copy or re-invent something that's already been made. I also really like their new structural system!

  • Rez1700 / about 9 years ago / 1

    Congrats on the partnership with FIRST Robotics. I was in the FRC competitions while in high school for three years (back in the day) and they were loads of fun. One of the main reasons why I tinker around with so many electronic gizmos! ha

    I can see this partnership going a long way with exciting new elements that can be added to the FRC robots from the creative minds of SparkFun and their great community. :)

  • Bozi / about 9 years ago / 1

    Thank you so much for the support of FIRST! As a member of FRC team, Team 5052: the RoboLobos, and someone who learned so much about electronics through Sparkfun's website, it's really cool to see this partnership

  • bt6467 / about 9 years ago / 1

    Thanks for your support of FIRST. I've been working with teams in the area since the double digit team number days. Las Guerillas - 2014 Champions Baby. Sparkfun is the perfect partner for FIRST. Cheers,

  • a2304 / about 7 years ago / 0

    This is awesome! FIRST is an excellent organization. I have been on an FLL team and an FTC team. Now that I have aged-out of the program, I still like to stay involved by volunteering at the events!

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