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Unread 03-25-2018, 11:00 PM
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Inexpensive tools that changed your build

The last few years, we have added some inexpensive (less than $100) tools to our inventory which have changed the way we build. This thread is to share these finds among teams. Pics and links are preferred!

This year's new tool is our rod bender, pictured below. Straight out of the box in our vise, we are able to bend 1" wide x 1/4" thick 5052 aluminum "bar" to a 1/4" radius. By adding a 1+" long segment of 1-1/2" galvanized pipe as a die and moving the piece every 20 degrees of bend or so, we can bend the same bar to about a 1" radius. We used this for our hooks to climb, and to build the first iteration of brackets to support ramps.

Bonus: as we do not have a vise on our pit workbench (and it has wheels so is not suitable for this tool), I purchased a 24" adjustable wrench at Harbor Freight for $25 the night before Bayou. Using these two together, we were able to adjust the bend of our hooks while they were on the robot!
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If you can't find time to do it right, how are you going to find time to do it over?
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Robots are great, but inspiration is the reason we're here.
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[Quoting brennonbrimhall]: We design a new robot every year, but we can't forget that we also design a new team every year as folks come and go.

Last edited by GeeTwo : 03-26-2018 at 08:01 PM.
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Unread 03-25-2018, 11:05 PM
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Re: Inexpensive tools that changed your build

Last year's new build-changing tool was the simple deburring tool. We obtained our first one through a voucher, but have purchased several locally since. This is a much faster way to clean up cuts and holes in aluminum, steel, and polycarbonate than a file. OBTW, you'll find them in the plumbing section at hardware stores and home centers.
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If you can't find time to do it right, how are you going to find time to do it over?
If you don't pass it on, it never happened.
Robots are great, but inspiration is the reason we're here.
Friends don't let friends use master links.
[Quoting brennonbrimhall]: We design a new robot every year, but we can't forget that we also design a new team every year as folks come and go.

Last edited by GeeTwo : 03-25-2018 at 11:11 PM. Reason: added image
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Unread 03-25-2018, 11:09 PM
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Re: Inexpensive tools that changed your build

These are amazing: https://www.mcmaster.com/#8526a66/=1c4rgte
McMaster also has ball-end versions, but the balls tend to break. Super cheap and useful.
Also, gun (or spiral point) taps. Spiral point and spiral flute taps change the way you tap. We tap all of our plates with a 1/4"-20 tap either in a power drill (carefully) or with our janky tapping head. Throw it in the 7x10 lathe at minimum rpm in low gear and there's our shafts.
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Unread 03-25-2018, 11:10 PM
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Re: Inexpensive tools that changed your build

2016's new inexpensive tool was the Dark Soul chain tool, or as I like to call it, a chain splicer. This lets you not only break chain, but splice it together without master links. It's great to have chain with no high spots to snag and no weak links. We have since purchased a similar tool for #35 chain, and Vex has introduced similar tools.
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If you can't find time to do it right, how are you going to find time to do it over?
If you don't pass it on, it never happened.
Robots are great, but inspiration is the reason we're here.
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[Quoting brennonbrimhall]: We design a new robot every year, but we can't forget that we also design a new team every year as folks come and go.
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Unread 03-25-2018, 11:44 PM
cad321 cad321 is offline
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Re: Inexpensive tools that changed your build

For me it was the discovery of cleco fasteners. They come in multiple sizes and are great for working with sheet metal. 2386 has used them the past number of years to dry fit the chassis and make any adjustments that need to be made before final assembly.
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Unread 03-25-2018, 11:54 PM
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Re: Inexpensive tools that changed your build

Get a simple arbor press if you haven't already. Extra calipers, cleco tools, and a good rivet tool.
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Unread 03-26-2018, 12:07 AM
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Re: Inexpensive tools that changed your build

We found these flexible drill shafts and they are pretty helpful for reaching awkwardly placed bolts.
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Unread 03-26-2018, 12:13 AM
GreyingJay GreyingJay is offline
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Re: Inexpensive tools that changed your build

We finally bought the equipment (crimper) to use Anderson PowerPole connectors. These work SO much better than the spade crimp terminals we had been using for years prior.
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Unread 03-26-2018, 12:28 AM
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Re: Inexpensive tools that changed your build

+1 to Andersons. Lever nuts are also great for CAN, although I'm leaning towards solder now.
Sorry for making a new post but this deserves its own spot IMO:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/DEKO-Rivet-...item44111f231d
1072 bought one of these this year and it has changed our lives. When I was on 115 they were more expensive or only available from China, now there are US distributors. Rivets are done with far less pain and crushed fingers than by hand, and you don't need compressed air, just a power drill. We did nearly every single rivet on both robots with an extremely similarly priced model off Ebay that I bought five months ago. It has definitely worn down a little but I'm planning on buying two or three more.
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Unread 03-26-2018, 12:29 AM
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Unread 03-26-2018, 12:30 AM
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Re: Inexpensive tools that changed your build

This shear. Cuts lexan, aluminum and steel up to 1/8" thick like butter, safer and quicker than a jig saw or band saw. Also trims bolts and cuts 6 gauge wire. https://www.amazon.ca/Kaka-Industria...al+shear&psc=1
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Unread 03-26-2018, 12:56 AM
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Re: Inexpensive tools that changed your build

Quote:
Originally Posted by GreyingJay View Post
We finally bought the equipment (crimper) to use Anderson PowerPole connectors. These work SO much better than the spade crimp terminals we had been using for years prior.
To add onto this, this tool is great for inserting powerpoles onto troublesome wires. Getting powerpoles onto CAN wires is impossible without this...
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Unread 03-26-2018, 06:09 AM
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Re: Inexpensive tools that changed your build

https://www.amazon.com/DEKO-Cordless.../dp/B06Y62WSB7

Unless you've got pneumatics going everywhere and an expensive pneumatic rivet gun or two, this is amazing. Turn any cordless drill into a rivet puller and ditch the manual ones! Easily worth ten times the $17 Amazon is asking for it. Easily handles 5/32" steel rivets (which we used for everything this year), and has held up through an entire robot (although we already did our practice robot manually before we got this).
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Unread 03-26-2018, 07:40 AM
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Re: Inexpensive tools that changed your build

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Stratis View Post
https://www.amazon.com/DEKO-Cordless.../dp/B06Y62WSB7

Unless you've got pneumatics going everywhere and an expensive pneumatic rivet gun or two, this is amazing. Turn any cordless drill into a rivet puller and ditch the manual ones! Easily worth ten times the $17 Amazon is asking for it. Easily handles 5/32" steel rivets (which we used for everything this year), and has held up through an entire robot (although we already did our practice robot manually before we got this).
Maybe it was just bad luck, but we used that exact tool last year and had more trouble with it than a standard rivet gun such as this. The drill rivet gun had a habit of not pulling the rivets properly which led to some issues. We did buy a pneumatic rivet gun this year and we've never been happier.
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Unread 03-26-2018, 09:23 AM
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Re: Inexpensive tools that changed your build

There is one correct answer for rivet tools: the Astro 1423. Allen Gregory got me on it, and the last two teams I've been on have bought them. They are easy to use, super smooth, long-lasting, and cheap as dirt. Quit buying those $20 ones from Lowe's that you consider consumables.

If you're doing anything that calls for pressing pinions onto NeveRests, RedLines, 9015s, or 775pros, AndyMark's pinion press tool is mandatory. You can certainly get it done with other (surely more janky) methods, but this makes it dead easy and pays for itself the first time you don't wreck a motor pressing a pinion on. Only complaint was that we couldn't use it with our smaller travel press, but at home in the shop it's money.

A Cricut or other vinyl cutting machine lets you do a lot of stuff pretty quickly. For a little over a C-note, you can make a lot of things look ten times more legit.

And if you don't have a Dremel, well, get a Dremel. Ours saved us a lot of heartbreak this year.
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Last edited by Billfred : 03-26-2018 at 09:26 AM.
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