Resources to Help You Build

Required Resources

Delphi Forum Community

The DelphiForums pages for all of US Robotic combat are where builders meet to review ideas, talk about events help each other out, and generally talk about bot and tech stuff. My favorite forums are The Robot Fighting League and The Northeast Robotics Club. There are other clubs that are specific to particular geographic regions. Canada, Seattle, and The South Eastern US all have their own forums. The RFL and NERC forums get the most activity.

Also check out the growing RFL Facebook Page!

Event Registration

Event Registration is most often carried out through the Builders Database . The site is a little flaky, but the event calendar there shows dates and locations for upcoming events. You can also search for robot builders in your area and scope out the competition. It's a pretty cool tool.

Resources for Building

Design Software

I highly recommend some form of 2D Computer Aided Drawing tools. My personal favorite is E-Machine Shop. All of my bots use this tool for laying out the parts. It is especially good for small bots because you can print parts out at 1:1 scale and tape them to a plate to mark cutouts and hole centers. I do this for almost every part I make. When it is too big for my printer, I print to PDF at 50% or 25% scale, then have Staples or Office Max blow it up to full size for me. All of my baseplates are cut this way.

For 3D layouts, I always start by doing a 2D layout in E-MachineShop, but then convert parts over to Alibre Design. I also have SolidWorks Personal Edition 2004 from a sponsorship deal a long time ago.

Alibre runs a little faster than SolidWorks on my slow computer at home, and they offer a Personal Edition that is inexpensive. I do all of my current designs in Alibre. It is a little buggy, but it works well enough for me. If you can get an educational license (or shell out the cash), I've heard great things about AutoDesk Inventor but I've never used it myself.

General Help

Kyle Singer wrote a great list of tutorials about skills that a bot builder should learn. Youtube also has many tutorials on how to work with materials and equipment. You can get an awful lot done with a small drill press, a hand drill, and a hack saw. I also recommend a jigsaw. For really tough materials or complex parts, it can be a good idea to have a machine shop make it for you. This gets expensive but can be worth it if you use it in moderation. Waterjet cutting of weapons is a good example. If you want the weapon to be tougher than your opponent, it is probably tougher than cheap tooling too.

Manufacturing Services

You can get a lot of work done locally. The shells on my 30 pound shell spinners were all done at local shops. Below are some online services that will make custom parts for you:

  • Team Whyachi - high quality, good service for custom parts and waterjet, no quotes
  • Speedy Metals - good reviews on metal supplies. I've personally never used them though
  • Harbor Freight Tools - very cheap, moderate quality machine tools. I have several


These are all places I have used or have had recommended to me by other builders. The first couple are combat-bot specific parts, and the rest are parts that are useful for multiple hobbies and industries. I especially like McMaster because they have a fantastic website, huge inventory, good service and fast shipping. They only service the US though.

  • The Robot Marketplace - for bots of all sizes
  • Fingertech Robotics - for bots 3 pounds and under mostly. Fantastic service from somebody who understands the sport.
  • BaneBots - for bots 30 pounds and under
  • McMaster-Carr - for parts and materials of every kind. Ridiculously fast shipping. My favorite store of all time.
  • Team Whyachi - good gearboxes and power switches for combat bots
  • BP Hobbies - cheap brushless motors and controllers, US-based.
  • Hobby City - very cheap brushless motors, controllers, wire, connectors, and batteries. Slow shipping from China

Materials and tools

  • Online Metals - for metal supplies. Don't buy UHMW from them, it ships very slowly
  • Speedy Metals - good reviews on metal supplies. I've personally never used them though
  • McMaster-Carr - for Garolite and UHMW. They have other materials, but they can be a bit more expensive than the above listed.
  • Harbor Freight Tools - very cheap, moderate quality machine tools. I have several