I want to build a robot! 

This invariably is the first thing someone says after watching an event live. It's all so exciting, it is hard not to want to be involved! And I would encourage anyone who was interested to go right ahead. This is an amazingly rewarding hobby, teaching a wide range of skills, and gaining friends that will last a lifetime. So, how would someone get started?

For many people, the idea of starting out in any sort of robotics involves buying a kit and building it. A quick Google search for “robot kit” will end up with hundreds of robot kits to assemble, most of them reasonably priced and fairly high quality. And if you have any experience with FIRST robotics (For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) you may know that in some competitions the use of the official kit is mandatory so that everyone starts out with the same general parts. 

As it turns out, there are a few kits out there that are specific to combat robots. For example, Kitbots sells a kit for the 3 pound beetleweight class, Robot Revolution sells a kit for the 15 pound class, and Battlekits sells kits available for the larger 60 pounds and heavier classes. Other kits are available, or will become available over time. Each of them are starter points for a combat machine that you can customize to make your own. But the use of a kit is certainly not required, and in fact most combat machines are not kit based.

Virtually any current builder will be happy to tell you about his or her creations, and one of the best ways to learn about the sport is simply to talk to them. When you are at an event, ask questions. Take pictures. Look at many different designs. Usually I would recommend starting simple at first and working your way up to more complex designs. I'll try to cover some basic building techniques in my "Tips" section above, and if you have any specific questions feel free to email me.