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  #61   Spotlight this post!  
Unread 03-27-2018, 07:08 PM
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Re: Inexpensive tools that changed your build

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Originally Posted by rpaulsen View Post
This might be on the outer edge of "inexpensive" but a handheld, battery operated band saw will change your life. We bought one for last competition season and fell in love with it immediately. Here is the model we have: https://www.homedepot.com/p/Milwauke...9-20/205198632

They cut through aluminum like butter, can fit in a tight spot if needed (like cutting a protruding hex axle to acceptable length), and are perfect to bring to a competition if you need to cut things in your pit. We actually intend to get the smaller M12 version for our pit, and leave our M18 one for shop use only.
This. If you can deal with a cord and you're willing to try it, you can get one at Harbor Freight for just under $140.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bjtheone View Post
If you use rivets, get a air riveter. You can get a decent one fairly cheaply and they turn riveting into a job that (a) any student can do, (b) speed up the process significantly, and (c) produce much more consistent rivets. Couple it with a smallish pancake compressor and you are good to go.

I think all teams should have at least one small compressor. No replacement for shop air, but they allow you to setup anywhere, and are also fabulous to pair up with a pistol grip air nozzle and blow nasty aluminum bits out of all the nooks and cranies of your robot.

I think we set like 4 rivets this year by hand, as we could not get the air riveter into a confined space.
+1. In addition, small pancake or hot dog compressors can drive air staplers and nailers, and inflate pneumatic tires or other inflatable objects (you never know when we'll see inflatable game pieces again).
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Unread 03-29-2018, 11:35 PM
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Re: Inexpensive tools that changed your build

For portable Milwaukee cordless saws, I will throw a vote to the Hackzall series saws. I have the 18v. My saw came in a kit, with a drill. Very handy, cutting metal, or trimming trees. We had to do a little kitbot sculpting in 2016. One of the students didn't think we could make a certain cut, made him a believer.

18v $99.00 tool only
https://www.homedepot.com/p/Milwauke...5-20/202196547

12v $89.00 tool only
https://www.homedepot.com/p/Milwauke...0-20/100672230
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Unread 06-08-2018, 08:36 AM
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Re: Inexpensive tools that changed your build

I just picked up a few of these 6" strap duplicators: http://www.aircraftspruce.com/catalo...?clickkey=7128

I think they will prove to be rather useful. Here's how they're used: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eK-d00TAJ1g

Our team also uses clecos quite a bit, but I hadn't seen these: http://www.aircraftspruce.com/catalo...ickkey=3009801

They can help get into much tighter areas than you can with normal cleco pliers.
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Unread 06-08-2018, 03:04 PM
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Re: Inexpensive tools that changed your build

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Hill View Post
I just picked up a few of these 6" strap duplicators: http://www.aircraftspruce.com/catalo...?clickkey=7128

I think they will prove to be rather useful. Here's how they're used: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eK-d00TAJ1g

Our team also uses clecos quite a bit, but I hadn't seen these: http://www.aircraftspruce.com/catalo...ickkey=3009801

They can help get into much tighter areas than you can with normal cleco pliers.
These are awesome, thanks for the links. We'll probably buy some before next season.
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Unread 06-10-2018, 02:27 PM
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Re: Inexpensive tools that changed your build

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Originally Posted by SenorZ View Post
Going to Ferrule connections has been great this year. All those pesky weidmullerereser (spelling?) ports on the VRM, PCM, and PDP are less prone to failure now.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
"Currently Unavailable", but was $27.99 when I bought it.
I second this... We went from being dead for 1-2 matches every event to not being dead in 3 events this past year... We credit this tool for much of the gain in reliability.

It is also faster than tinning every wire and easier to teach the students.
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Unread 06-10-2018, 02:43 PM
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Re: Inexpensive tools that changed your build

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Originally Posted by GreyingJay View Post
After 2 years of building massively underweight robots (and adding steel plates to ballast them), this year's robot clocked in at around 123 pounds on bag and tag day. We spent the next couple of weeks figuring out how the heck we were going to make weight using the 6-hour unbag window the week before our first competition.

One of the first things to go: our big, beautiful, spacious, lovingly wired -- and very heavy -- 3/16" Lexan electronics control boards. Each had a sizable chunk lopped off with a Dremel cutting tool, then the cut was dressed with a utility knife. Components were quickly relocated and zip-tied down. It's all fine, but it was a bit painful.
In the last 2 years we have started using this stuff for our boards.

https://www.menards.com/main/buildin...4208633&ipos=3

It is very light weight, reasonably ridged, and best of all we just use wood screws to hold down our components... Just a quick poke with a screw and it is started. We cut it with a cordless circular saw.

We also use the 8mm version for other side panels that we need.
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Unread 06-10-2018, 08:02 PM
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Re: Inexpensive tools that changed your build

Heat shrink shrinker (currently $12)

Helping hands for your PanaVise
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Unread 06-22-2018, 11:49 PM
GeeTwo GeeTwo is offline
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Re: Inexpensive tools that changed your build

Oh, not a tool per se, but definitely an inexpensive way for teams with just a drill press (or even hand drill) to control hole placement. It doesn't work in all cases, but with a bit of creativity, you can usually get what you need.

Shortly before getting into FRC, I started buying plain 0.1" perf board to do templates for control panels and LED grids - label holes to drill with a sharpie, clamp, drill with 1/16" bit, then remove the perf board and drill real holes. Good enough to (with a drill press or steady hand) do an odd number of small holes every 0.2", drill pilots, then drill 1/4" in the first, last, and every alternate holes, then finish up with the other holes. Then, a bit of work with a file and possibly a deburring tool, and you have a 1/4" slot, suitable for chain tensioning or a clevis.
https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/14...g?v=1478052123

Note - by drilling 1/16" first, you are able to re-use the board to drill 3 or 4 pieces with the same template. If you want to do more pieces than about 4, I'd recommend using the perfboard to make a template in metal at least 0.1" thick [that is, metal at least 50% thicker than the hole diameter) which will be used to make the actual pieces.
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Last edited by GeeTwo : 06-22-2018 at 11:56 PM.
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Unread 06-23-2018, 06:32 PM
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Re: Inexpensive tools that changed your build

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Originally Posted by bjtheone View Post
... but we are very very happy with Bondhus. Great machining, very strong, and they have a true lifetime warranty. They are also made in the USA, if that matters to you.

They certainly are not the cheapest, but once you experience the joys of removing a shaft collar with a cammed out setscrew you become a believer in better tools.

Their long shaft T Handle ball end allen keys are the go to in our shop. The screwdriver versions are also very good, and faster to use when you don't need the higher torque application.

http://www.bondhus.com/bondhus_produ...ndles/hex.html

http://www.bondhus.com/bondhus_produ...vers/ball.html
I second the recommendation for Bondhus in terms of general quality, but my go-to set is still the Pittsburg T-handle set from Harbor Freight. The solid hex key set into the handle is the most fail-safe and comfortable way to really torque down or loosen up stuck bolts. And for less than $20, it's pretty easy to justify.

https://www.harborfreight.com/hand-t...set-63166.html

The Husky set from Home Depot is similarly good.

Quote:
We also use insert bits in 12V Dewalt drivers for disassembly work (like removing skid plates). Tend not to use them for assembly as "tighter is gooder" seems to be a mantra that many of our students are fully committed to.
While it can be a bit frustrating to keep reminding people about using the clutch settings on the drivers, it'll produce the most consistent results. A bit of colored nail polish on the clutch ring can help remind people to use it, mark about how tight of a clutch they should use, or just put a big "NO!" over the drill setting. You could even go the extra mile and make some hard stops that would have to be removed to set it to drill setting. Definitely wouldn't want that at competition, but might be nice when you get a large influx of freshmen who've never been taught how to use a driver properly.
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Unread 06-23-2018, 06:47 PM
Marcus Q Marcus Q is offline
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Re: Inexpensive tools that changed your build

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Originally Posted by Cothron Theiss View Post
I second the recommendation for Bondhus in terms of general quality, but my go-to set is still the Pittsburg T-handle set from Harbor Freight. The solid hex key set into the handle is the most fail-safe and comfortable way to really torque down or loosen up stuck bolts. And for less than $20, it's pretty easy to justify.

https://www.harborfreight.com/hand-t...set-63166.html

The Husky set from Home Depot is similarly good.
I actually own all three of theses sets. Thar Harbor freight ones sucked. Managed to crack a handle and they'd round out all the time. Stand was really annoying to use. Thankfully they were cheap

Husky set has this really impossible to read tiny lettering and are really difficult to tell apart unlike the Bondhus set since the handles stay roughly the same size. Stand is non existent but they do have a good warranty, I give them a meh out of 10.

The bondhus set is nice. I like the bright colors for visibility and the lettering is easy to read. The stand is nice too. They always feel really solid in the hand though maybe a little less ergonomic.

My favourite T-handles are the Wera hex-plus wrenches. The hex is optimized so it won't strip out which is great because I'm a big fan of button head bolts. They fit in the hand well and are of great quality. They are the most expensive of the bunch but are well worth it if you can afford it.
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