How to Enjoy FIRST Robotics from the Comfort of Your Home

Recently, I almost went to the Minnesota Robotics Invitational. Instead, I procrastinated on multivariable calculus, got anxiety over how much I had procrastinated over multivariable calculus, curled up into a ball in the corner of my room, got more anxiety over the fact that I was curled up in the corner of my room procrastinating, and did absolutely nothing that Saturday. This is the modern life. Always procrastinating, then freaking out over how much we’ve procrastinated, then freaking out over how much we haven’t gotten done while freaking out, and then skipping the things we love—which is to say, robots. If only we could enjoy the robots during our times of being a hikikomori. Lucky for us, we totally can.

If you, like me, missed seeing the Minnesota Robotics Invitational on October 14, you should know that all eight hours of it are on the KnightKrawler team YouTube channel for your watching delight. This channel is a great place to catch up with your favorite Minnesota robots from the comfort of your home, and it’s not the only one. There are also YouTube channels for other Minnesota FIRST Robotics teams, including the Green Machine, FireBears, and King TeC. Chances are, your hometown robotics team has a one as well. There is also the official FIRST Robotics channel.

A brunette midlength haired person with a grey sweater watching robots on a field on a computer.

The author, watching the MRI stream.

“But Amethyst,” you say. “I go to robotics competitions to meet strangers who also enjoy robots. I can’t do that from my home!” You totally can. One option is Chief Delphi, a vibrant forum for the FIRST Robotics community. Or, if forums are too ’90s for you, not only is there a vibrant FIRST Robotics community posting under the hashtag #omgrobots on Twitter, there are also unofficial Facebook groups, like FIRST Robotics Network and FIRST Robotics.

“But what if I just want the scores?” The Blue Alliance has what you seek. This is basically the ESPN of the robotics world; it not only publishes scores but often has livestreams of events. You can find the scores from the October 14 event here.

And what if you want to build robots from the comfort of your home? Some aspects of robot building are much easier than others. To actually complete the robot-building process, you need metals, power tools, wire strippers, wheels, motors, wires, and much more, which gets expensive quite quickly. (Buying parts from a reseller, such as VisualEdge, is one way to cut costs.) Don’t worry, though—it’s very easy to explore the wonderful world of robotics code from the corner of your room! Most robotics teams have a Github account free to peruse, like the Fighting Calculators, the Errors, and the Cobalt Catalysts.

So don’t let the misery of the modern world get in the way of your love of robots. There are many ways to get involved with robots while keeping your chair warm.

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