They’re becoming more common in my estimation, and I pin a lot of that on AndyMark. Just as the Kitbot has allowed for everyone to get a functioning drive system, the AM Shifter has allowed for anyone with $660 to go two-speed. Even as they get more common on the field, more teams are now able to get up-close and personal with a design known to handle almost anything FRC can throw at it and draw some ideas.
Are they easy enough that rookie teams feel super confidant in them? I know it’s not easy for some rookie teams put together a dominate robot, even thought they can and do, and I don’t even know if some rookie teams have used 2 speed transmissions.
AndyMarks: Absolutely. If you can assemble the Kitbot, you can get the AndyMarks going.
Custom designs: That depends. If you’ve got mentors that can help you with the design (or, even better, provide a baseline setup to help get moving), I’d say it’s within reach. But if your team hasn’t ever seen an FRC robot before, I wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole.
Can FIRST Design, or have someone design, a 2 speed transmission that is just as reliable as the KOP transmissions from 05’ and 06’? And will they become affordable enough to be in the Kit Of Parts?
Someone has designed a two-speed that’s just as reliable (in my experience) as the Copioli kit transmissions, and even taken it to market. Still, I see no way on earth that the price difference between a BaneBots (or even a 2005 gearbox) could be made up.
However, it would be interesting to see someone come up with a solution that uses components from the kit gearbox. (The older transmissions would work better for this than the BaneBots, obviously.) I suspect such a design, if it could be done and brought to market, could swing a more attractive price than the current magic number ($660 for an average robot). This, in turn, draws in the teams whose reservation price (marketing-speak for the most they’re willing to pay) is at some lower number–a team might not be willing to pay $330 a gearbox, but they may be willing to pay $250 or $275. The difference buys a lot of pizza.
Furthermore, if these new BYOG (Bring Your Own Gears) shifters stuck, it might move the reference price (which is used to judge the acceptability of a price in the mind of a consumer) lower altogether. Suddenly, the barriers to going two-speed shift (pardon the pun) from technical and financial to the need for it in the game, weight, and personal preference.
(This, ladies and gentlemen, is what you get for having marketing courses as half of your course load in a year.)