SPARC Getting Started Guide

How do I get involved?

This is a question that gets asked by almost every new roboteer when they get started. For a long time the answer to that question has been messy. Depending on who you ask, you may get the better part of a dozen different websites to look at, an email address, or a hurried speech discussing some of the ways to get started. The SPARC Getting Started Guide is an attempt to pull together the information that would typically be spread across the internet and the minds of experienced builders and put it into a single location. This is by no means a detailed instruction manual for building a fighting robot. It is however a guide that will help you move from “I want to build a fighting robot” through to “I’ve just finished my first event.”

The guide is broken up in to six major categories to make it a bit easier to find the answers you’re looking for:

Part 1 discusses what to do before you build your robot including finding an event and determining the route you’ll take to your first robot (be it custom, kit, or complete purchased machine).

Part 2 looks at the major components involved in a typical fighting robot as well as some of the more common construction methods and locomotion systems.

Part 3 covers a wide range of common weapon systems found on fighting robots of all sizes.

Part 4 provides information on many of the common custom fabrication resources available to fighting robot builders.

Part 5 focuses on the tools you should bring to your first event.

Part 6 goes through what you can expect when you’re at your first event.

The SPARC Getting Started Guide is and always will be a living document. As the sport, rules, and resources change over time these documents will be updated to reflect the current state of things. If you’ve got questions, comments, or suggestions for additional material please post them to the questions section of the SPARC Forum:

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Using the SPARC Documents

The SPARC Tournament Procedures, Match Rules, Judging Guidelines, and Robot Construction Specifications were created with the goal of balancing flexibility with consistency. They’re designed to allow for alteration to suit the specific nature of each event that is using them while also maintaining a reasonable baseline document so competitors can quickly and easily determine what differs between events.

When altering the documents to suit your event SPARC suggests the following procedure for clearly presenting the alterations that have been made.

A SPARC Compliant icon has been created to make it easy for competitors to identify when the SPARC documents have been used for the basis of an events ruleset. The icon is located at If you are posting your rules on a page that allows it then it is suggested that you place the SPARC Compliant icon at the top of the rules section.

Following that, a summary of any specific changes made to the rules/procedures should be posted. This summary can either spell out the changes or note where in each document alterations have been made.

This should be followed by links to the complete documents with any additions highlighted and a strikethrough on any portions of the document that are not being used.

If you have any questions on how to use or distribute these documents send an email to, comment on this post, or post on the SPARC Forum (

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What is SPARC?

SPARC was created to provide a common resource for event organizers and builders alike.

The goals of SPARC are to:

  • Supply event organizers with standardized tournament procedures, match rules, and judging criteria
  • Provide builders with easy access to building guidelines that will ensure that they’re building a legal machine
  • Accommodate the wide range of unique event circumstances under consistent guidelines
  • Respond to the questions that need to be answered when someone is preparing for an event
  • Capture upcoming event information from multiple sources and provide an easy means of accessing it

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