Announcing the SparkFun-Actobotics Stairclimber Challenge

Do you have the guts to get the glory?

Favorited Favorite 0

Today we are excited to announce the SparkFun Actobotics Stairclimber Challenge! This new contest invites you to show off your robotic chops and win some pretty hefty prizes. Are you up to the challenge?

Here's how it's gonna go down. There are five basic rules:

  • Build a stairclimbing robot. How you interpret that is up to you, but it needs to climb stairs.
  • Use some (or all) Actobotics parts.
  • Use some (or all) SparkFun parts.
  • No commercial or off-the-shelf bots. It has to be an original build.
  • Clearly explain your robot in your video.

You have until March 16th, 2015 to submit your entry. Submission works like this:

  • Take a video of your entry in action and be sure to clearly explain how both the mechanical and electronics bits work.
  • Post your video to YouTube and include a materials list in the description. Email the link to
  • Entries MUST be received no later than 11:59 p.m. MT on March 16th. Please don't email it after this and then try to get your entry in - rules are rules!

Entries will be judged based on 1) adherence to the above rules, 2) creativity, and 3) video quality (did you explain the bot clearly and can we tell how it works).

alt text

Prizes will be $500 in SparkFun credit for first place, $250 in SparkFun credit for second place and $100 in SparkFun credit for third. Plus, of course, all the glory of having your bot features on the SparkFun homepage for all to see.

Questions? Comments? Leave 'em below.

Otherwise get building - and may the best bot win!

Comments 33 comments

  • kabram / about 9 years ago / 4

    Considering that even a half-decent actobotics stair-climbing robot will cost > $500, this is a raw deal. But a clever way to increase the sales of expensive components!

    • As high-quality parts, Actobotics gear can be a bit pricier than other options. But you only have to use some Actobotics parts - no requirement to exclusively use their parts. You could use one piece of beam or one servo if you were so inclined.

      • Kellsch / about 9 years ago / 1

        They're not "a bit" pricier than other options. It's literally more expensive than 8020 aluminum extrusion, and 8020 is already viewed as one of the most expensive options out there. I literally didn't even think that it was possible to get more expensive than 8020. Holy cow.

      • mkruse / about 9 years ago / 1

        Or.. one bolt? Because that would be my budget at those prices. :(

  • Member #394180 / about 9 years ago / 2

    This is going to be almost as bad as the caption contest - vague rules, subjective criteria and capricious victory decision at the end, followed by endless whining about fairness.

    Actually, it's worse because it's going to cost money to enter.

    You were warned (SparkFun and the entrants).

    Have fun.

  • Gono / about 9 years ago * / 2

    Is the contest open worldwide?

  • Could I work on this with a team, or is it solo only? My school has a robotics class that has a pretty good stock of Actobotics parts, so if teamwork is allowed I'd love to show this to our teacher.

    • Black Angus Rocket Storm / about 9 years ago / 1

      You're welcome to participate as a team!

  • Member #40813 / about 9 years ago / 1

    Must the climber be autonomous or is radio controlled ok? The term robot is used so autonomous is assumed.

  • Member #403458 / about 9 years ago / 1

    A lot of complaining going on :-) When designing your bot, design in some Actobotics/Sparkfun parts that you can re-use later in another project. Gee-wiz people, they're giving away some great prizes here!!

  • Duke3k / about 9 years ago / 1

    Regarding these two requirements: - Use some (or all) Actobotics parts. - Use some (or all) SparkFun parts.

    Does that mean: (a) You must use some Acrobotics Parts AND some Sparkfun Parts or (b) You must use some Acrobotics Parts OR some Sparkfun Parts

    For example if my climber is built using an Arduino that I bought from Sparkfun and has no Acrobotics parts can I enter it?

  • Member #561013 / about 9 years ago / 1

    Can the robot launch a grappling hook to pull itself up a flight of stairs ? What material are the stairs to be ? Cement, carpet, wood all would give different approaches to this ?

    • Black Angus Rocket Storm / about 9 years ago / 1

      As long as they are approximate to a standard stair in height the material is up to you. And innovative solutions are not out of the question.

  • kirby g / about 9 years ago / 1

    Can we enter more than one robot?

    • Black Angus Rocket Storm / about 9 years ago / 1

      Yes, however only one would be eligible to receive a prize.

  • Would Tetrix parts be eligible instead of Actobotics?

    • Black Angus Rocket Storm / about 9 years ago / 1

      You're welcome to use whatever you like for the bulk of the robot so long as there is at least one Actobotics part involved.

      • Do HiTec servo motors count as Actobotics parts? Thanks.

        • Black Angus Rocket Storm / about 9 years ago / 1

          Unfortunately the HiTec servo motors are not part of the Actobotics line. Thank you for the quesiton!

  • Larsoe / about 9 years ago / 1

    Any chance that the parts list and description for the tennis ball launcher in the background will be available? Or maybe a short video on it?

    My dog would so love it!

    • Hi! That was mine project. :) As Member 602208 pointed out it was ping pongs, which are fairly light compared to tennis balls. However, you could build a shooter with tennis balls. You are going to want to use motors with high RPMs. I doubled up with the Precision Disc Wheels on each side to shoot the ball. I also used two Aluminum Channels to control the direction of the ping pongs, because they were so light and I was super short on time. I would not recommend my build of the shooter, since we had less then 60mins to build and test our projects and I would do it differently. (It was based on a random challenge between co-workers) I would add ball bearings and more support on the bottom structure. Totally, doable though and would be a fun project for your dog!!


      Note that the balls are ping pong, not tennis balls.

  • xsk8rat / about 9 years ago / 1

    Mr. Grady, to make it clear: Must the robot climb UP the stairs or can we pick the direction vector?

    (I may have a single-use down-climbing robot ready to enter now.)

    • Black Angus Rocket Storm / about 9 years ago / 1

      Up is indeed the direction we are looking for. Good question though!

      • Member #286247 / about 9 years ago / 1

        The word CLIMB is key. They didn't say descend.

  • FlowerAskew / about 9 years ago / 1

    I would totally do this if I didn't have a research paper and another robot to build by March 7th.

  • ME heat o nator / about 9 years ago / 1

    any guidelines on stair dimensions? I am pumped!

    • Member #346094 / about 9 years ago / 1

      My dad was a carpenter and he informed me that average stairs have a 7 inch rise (height) and an 11 inch tread (depth), but that can vary. He thinks OSHA rules are a maximum 8 inch rise, and minimum 10 inch tread if you want to make a robot that will climb real world, and not Barbie dream house stairs.

    • No specifics - whatever stairs you have available are fine.

      • andy4us / about 9 years ago / 1

        For those of us who live in ranch houses in CA ( no basement ), does a ladder count ? Otherise, I have no stairs ? Unless the 2 or 3 steps up to my porch count !

        • Black Angus Rocket Storm / about 9 years ago / 2

          You can definitely prototype on your 3 stairs, but you may want to take it to a library or community center to show its true prowess!

Related Posts

Recent Posts


All Tags