The AVC Digital Program

Robotic competition not enough for you? Not to worry -- this year's AVC promises so much more.

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By now you have heard a lot about AVC this year (you can still register your team for PRS and Combat Bots!). We’ve talked about Power Wheels, watermelons, fighting robots, prize money and weight limits, but today we have another big surprise.

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In addition to all four of our competitions, AVC will also include opportunities to learn more about electronics and robotics, get hands-on with kits and materials, take a tour of our headquarters and meet local makers.

September 17

9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

SparkFun Headquarters Niwot, CO

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Buy your kit and sign up for a workshop to learn how to make a circuit, use conductive thread, or solder a new badge!

Otto the Rolling Robot Pin


Use conductive copper tape to complete a circuit and make a little robot light up with an LED and a coin-cell battery. When you’re done, pin the robot to your shirt to show your support for robotics!

Otto Light-Up Badge


For those who want to try their hand at sewing, assemble a light-up badge using a needle, conductive thread, an LED and a coin-cell battery.

Top-Secret Soldering


Programming and soldering come together with our BadgerHacks! Solder together your BadgerStick and LED board, and then learn to program your creation to spell out words and secret messages.

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Classroom Sessions

10 a.m.: Introduction to Robotics with Shawn Hymel

Learn robotics basics with SparkFun’s own Shawn Hymel. Consider this a primer on getting started in an exciting field!

10:30 a.m.: FIRST Robotics

Learn about the competitive high school robotics club and see a few robots in action! You’ll find out how the competition works and how you can get involved.

11 a.m.: Introduction to Hacking (Autonomous) Vehicles with Josh Datko

Learn about hacking embedded systems, your car and autonomous vehicles! Get briefed on embedded device security, the threat model for autonomous vehicles, the latest research in car hacking from this year’s major security conferences – HOPE, BlackHat and DEF CON – and ongoing open source projects.

Noon: Poison Arrow from BattleBots with Caustic Creations

Meet the team behind ABC Network’s “BattleBots” competitor Poison Arrow, see the robot and learn what it’s like behind the scenes of the hit ABC TV show. The bot makers will share stories about building Poison Arrow and offer tips on taking your combat bot to the next level.

1 p.m.: Meet AVC Mexico Champion Jorge Cordero

Want to win AVC? Come learn from someone who has! Jorge will be flying in from Mexico to compete in SparkFun’s AVC challenges and talk about his experience, the international autonomous vehicle scene and what it takes to be one of the best!

2 p.m.: Quality Control at SparkFun

How do we ensure our products work? What is the magic behind our our quality? QC manager Pete Lewis will detail our cool test jigs and methods used to ensure quality fun!

3 p.m.: IoT Myths and Realities

Join SparkFun’s director of Software Development and IT (SWIT), Timm McShane, to learn about the history of computing and how IoT isn’t just another fad but the true next step in computing. Timm will debunk myths left and right as he uncovers what’s real and where the field is heading.

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Maker Alley

Autonomous Robotics & Perception Group (ARPG) CU

An important goal in mobile robotics is the development of perception algorithms that allow for persistent, long-term autonomous operation in unknown situations (over weeks or more). Learn how ARPG CU uses real-time, embodied robot systems equipped with a variety of sensors.

BHS Robotics

Join the Boulder High School robotics team and check out some of the cool projects the group has been working on. This includes THING, a giant robotic hand controlled by Beanie Babies, a remote-controlled shopping cart and the competition bot from last year’s FRC.

Catalyze CU

An 8-week summer startup accelerator designed for CU students and faculty, Catalyze CU combines world-class mentorship and equity-free grants with the university’s most promising ideas and technologies.

Caustic Creations with Poison Arrow

If you’re a fan of ABC Network’s “BattleBots” show, you’ll want to visit Caustic Creations, one of the show’s top teams. They’re at AVC to talk about their experience filming and building one of these fierce fighting robots!

Colorado Maker Hub

If you’ve ever been to a Denver Mini Maker Faire, then you’re probably familiar with the Colorado Maker Hub. Stop by their tent to hear about all the different events and educational programs happening in the state.

FIRST Robotics

Our local high school FIRST Robotics teams have come out for the day to show off their competition-ready robots. Check out these cool machines and find out ways to support robotics and electronics in our schools.

Maker Boulder

Boulder’s vibrant maker coalition hosts the Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest every spring! Come say hello and learn about ways to get involved.


Based in Boulder, RoadNarrows is developing a diverse set of robotics research platforms for universities and other research groups, including Hekateros robotic manipulators, Laelaps mobile research robots and Eudoxus 3D Vision.


ROBAUTO is a local robotics startup with one mission: to provide low-cost, intelligent social robots to students and makers. Robots for the people!


Learn how you can implement an embedded-vision system on Digilent’s ZYBO, a low-cost Zynq-7000 All-Programmable SoC development board. Xilinx will demonstrate the distinct advantages of FPGA technology for implementing realtime, high-performance image processing for autonomous vehicles.

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This year at AVC we’re dedicating a space specifically for shop talk. Come meet engineers from our team, ask them your burning questions about our products and resources, or share your projects and ideas.

Shawn Hymel, Creative Technologist

Mary West, Engineer

Nick Poole, Creative Technologist

**Office Hours:* **

1 – 2 p.m.: Nathan Seidle, SparkFun Founder

10 – 11 a.m.: Richard Parker, SparkFun CFO

2 – 3 p.m.: Glenn Samala, SparkFun CEO

*Office hours are subject to change. Keep an eye out for these folks wandering around!

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We encourage all of our friends and special guests to join us on September 17! Bring your toughest questions for our engineers, your brilliant project ideas, and spend the day with us celebrating robotics and electronics!

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