Helpdesk is the teams' primary source of support. Volunteers are expected to advise teams in a similar fashion to mentoring - that is they should not tell teams what to do, but offer advice and guidance. The volunteers also help with kit related issues that may or may not be caused by a problem with the kit. It is the responsibility of the Helpdesk volunteers to assess teams' problems and, if necessary, swap out bits of kit hardware. In some situations teams may need to be put in contact with a person with more in-depth knowledge of the kit to help diagnose and fix issues.


  • Two copies of the rules - one attached to a desk by some means
  • A copy of this document
  • Issue forms for both Helpdesk Volunteers and Roving Helpers
  • Kit Swap Forms
  • Spare kit in the 'spare kit box'
  • List of spare kit
  • Broken kit box
  • Issue Form box
  • Laptop to view documentation and the IDE
  • Red insulating tape
  • Permanent marker
  • Large post-it notes
  • Radio
  • Emergency contact number for the Health and Safety Coordinator
  • Spare robot flags/badges for teams to borrow to try for size (must be clearly marked and returned to helpdesk ASAP)
  • Spare robot flag pipe fittings to give to teams
  • Saturday evening battery/charger loans

Volunteer Requirements

At least one volunteer on Helpdesk must have prior experience of the use of the Student Robotics kit.


Almost all of Helpdesk's operations are covered by the following procedures.

Handling of all requests

Whenever a team comes to Helpdesk with an issue that cannot be solved instantly, create a ticket. This ensures that no problems get dropped while they are being investigated. When the issue is resolved the ticket will be closed.

Handling of requests for robot safety checks

The robots require safety checking before they are allowed to compete in the competition. Teams will not be given their hi-viz vest until their robot has passed the safety check procedure. Helpdesk volunteers should direct teams enquiring about safety checks to the Health & Safety Coordinator.

Handling of general robot development requests

Many teams will come to Helpdesk requesting help with the development of their robot or, more likely, help using the Student Robotics kit and associated software. As mentioned earlier, Helpdesk volunteers are not expected to tell teams what to do, but rather offer advice. Helpdesk volunteers should strive to answer questions about the use of the kit and software.

Some queries may require a volunteer to visit the team in their pit to observe behaviour in situ. This must only be done by a Helpdesk volunteer if it will leave no fewer than two volunteers actively manning Helpdesk.

In some rare situations it may be necessary to request the assistance of a person with more in-depth knowledge of the kit to help solve an issue. Escalate the issue to the head helpdesker.

Handling suspected damaged kit requests

If a team comes to Helpdesk with a suspicion of some of the Student Robotics kit being damaged then the following procedure should be followed:

  1. Request that the team take a freshly charged battery and see if the problem persists.
  2. Request that the team tries swapping the USB and power cables to the device in question, where applicable.
  3. If the kit contains multiple of the device in question (e.g. USB hub, motor board), request that the team tries swapping it with the other one in the kit.
  4. Request that the team tests the device in question with a very simple code project that only attempts to control that one device.
  5. If all previous steps indicate that the device is probably faulty then continue with the kit swap procedure.

Swapping out kit

After determining that a piece of kit is most likely faulty it must be swapped with a working spare. Helpdesk has a supply of spare kit. To swap a piece of kit please fill in a Kit Swap Form and follow the instructions on there. Since there is a limited quantity of spare kit, all attempts must be made to verify that the issue being observed is not caused by something else.

Swapping out batteries

See Battery charging

Handling requests for batteries/chargers/bags on Saturday evening

See Overnight battery loan.

Handling requests for flag fittings

Teams may request a pipe connector to use on their robot for the purpose of attaching the robot flags. As we have a limited supply, make sure that you only let each team only take one, so that they can't keep coming back for more.

Also, please show teams how to remove the fittings, as they are very strong and need to be released in the correct way (Press down on the center ring)

Handling of team name changes

Teams are allowed to request that the name on the scoreboard is changed. This is an action that needs to be performed by a volunteer that is trained to use the SRComp software or GitHub repository.

Changes of name should be reviewed by the team supervisor before being actioned, to ensure the change is accepted by the entire team.


The name is the name of their "team" not the name of their "robot".

Frequently Asked Questions

Based on issues handled in previous years, the following may be helpful:

Key phrase Resolution
Need to initialise servos to non-zero position Use Custom Robot Object Initialisation and set position between Robot(wait_for_start=False) and .wait_start().
How to access starting corner/zone number in code Use (On 'Programming / Robot API' page of docs in the 'Other Robot Attributes' section)
Where can I find out when my matches are On our website:


This page is based on work done by Richard Barlow, originally published at, which was under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit or send a letter to Creative Commons, PO Box 1866, Mountain View, CA 94042, USA.