Looks like the website has gone online and can now accept orders. Congratulations Andy & Mark. :]


Since I don’t know where else to post this, there’s an error on the trick wheel page.

I believe the word you’re looking for is “propulsion”. Or “motive force.” Or just “movement.” Though I think Mr. Lavery would be interested if you could actually provide directional propellant…

Nice website and great products. The gearbox seems like it would be great for rookie teams who do not have enough skill or experience to design and build their own (although many great engineers have requested them in this thread). I wish you two luck with this endeavor.


For the omni wheels, the assembly drawing and the step file show the inner 6 button head screws at 60 degrees installed from one side; the photo shows 3 at 120 degrees. I’m guessing the other 3 are on the other side, since it allows both plates to be the same part by clocking it (the step file shows the clearance) - is that correct? Could made a difference if someone were putting that face close to a mount bearing and didn’t leave clearance for the screws.

Looks pretty sweet, for sure. We’re still working on Mod 3 to our omni wheels - depending on resources we may use yours come build season though.

Thanks, Gary. You are correct. Those 3 screws on the step file need to be on the other side of the wheel, as shown in the picture. I will update the CAD info soon.


The difference is that these products are designed and manufactured specifically for FIRST robotics. They would not be used for anything else.

I admire the entrepreneurial spirit, and I’m tempted to use the products myself, but I’m afraid that this could eventually lead to a situation that would compromise FIRST’s objectives.

Now I can buy a transmission component, or an entire transmission. Why not a chassis, or a chassis with transmissions, wheels, axles, chains, sprockets? It might come in four wheel, six wheel, or omni wheel versions. All I would have to do is drop in the kit parts and I’d have a box that moves. Then I could focus on designing and building the appendages. Or maybe I could buy those too, with a guarantee that they’ll get to me before the ship date. The deluxe package would include two sets of everything, one to ship and one to practice with. If I were on a tighter budget, at least I could buy a “Game Analysis Report” a week after kickoff, to save me the trouble of coming up with my own strategies.

Maybe I’m stretching the possibilities too far, but maybe not. Might the focus of FIRST move away from engineering? Is it possible that teams would spend all their time raising money to buy the best “standard” components, at the expense of the design experience?

One could argue that “standard” components allow under-resourced teams to build something that moves. But FIRST already does a pretty good job of providing the components for a very basic robot.

Andy, I’m sure that you’re started your business intending to benefit FIRST, and not just to make a buck. I would hate to see you lose time and money, but I’m honestly concerned about what FIRST-custom products might mean for FIRST over the long term.

Question for Dave Lavery… Should the rule makers consider disallowing products that are designed and manufactured specifically for FIRST robotics?

What these products will mean for FIRST over the long run is that a team that would never in a million years be able to make a shifting transmission, or omni wheels, can now do so, and THAT levels the playing field. The teams with all the resources will be able to do more and more every year, while the teams without will fall behind at the same rate. This isn’t going to make the powerhouse teams stronger, it’s going to give the teams that struggle to put a moving robot on the field a chance to be much more competitive, and that’s what everyone loves to see.


We have only been selling products for 2 months, and people have already inquired about using our product on non-FIRST applications.

Having a box that moves… this is a good thing. I have seen countless teams show up to a competition with a box that does not move. Many of these teams don’t come back to FIRST the next year. I don’t see how providing teams with competitive assemblies is compromising FIRST’s objectives. Part of engineering is inventing and creating while another part of engineering is using the tools available to you as a creator. These gearboxes and omni-wheels are nothing new. Many teams have used them over the past few years.

Appendage design will greatly depend on how the game changes from year to year, so this seems unrealistic to me. Also, if this would happen, teams are again only buying standard parts that anyone can buy. While this may get them a good robot, it would not provide them a decided edge or unique ability. Also, your “Game Analysis Report” you can get for free on this website, in the form of opinions, Excel spreadsheets, and scouting reports.

One of FIRST’s goals is to change the culture. I enjoy hearing Woodie speak of celebrating what we want to honor in our culture. FIRST honors FIRST teams. FIRST honors entrepreneurs, designs that work well, and a competitive spirit. FIRST also honors those people and companies who have supported FIRST and teams over the years. You are now proposing that a company should be disallowed to create parts for FIRST and FIRST teams? We want more FIRST teams, more kids affected by FIRST, but companies can’t make parts targeting those teams? This seems back wards to me. I would think that the FIRST community would embrace a company who targets their products to help FIRST teams.

Andy B.

ps… off the subject, we just lowered our 8" Trick Wheel price to $70 each.


I believe that there is still a lot of engineering going on with the rest of the robot and assembly. NASA didn’t develop all of the parts on the Mars rovers, but they had to integrate them all together which is still a huge part in engineering. Also, I expect to see many teams continue building their own gearboxes, because they have the resources and the will. As mentioned by Cory, this will help the teams with fewer resources. This includes any teams that may have only a handful of members and struggle to get a robot completed because of the lack of man hours. I think that these teams with fewer resources will be able to focus more on a certain part of the robot and will gain a more complete engineering know-how from a more in-depth design of other parts. I see no problems with this, but as you mention, if appendages and such become available (I think this is a long ways away) then FIRST might have to look at revising some rules, but until then, I think that AndyMark is benefitting all of FIRST.

I see your point. I understand that the competition provides a lot of the motivation for participating in FIRST, and that under-resourced teams can get frustrated (from personal experience), but the competition is just the frosting on the cake. The design/build experience is the important thing, and the availability of off-the-shelf robot parts discourages home-grown design.

Our own team is a good example. We designed and built a shifting transmission our second season. It was a big stretch for us, and given the choice, we very well might have chosen to purchase transmissions, especially if “everyone else” were doing it. We would never have learned how to choose gear ratios, whether to use roller bearings or bronze bushings, how to keep keys in their shafts, and a thousand other things.

As an engineer, I use components every day without knowing every detail of how they were designed, because I can make better products in less time that way. But my company is in this to make money in a competitive world, not to educate me. If FIRST were all about winning competitions, I’d say bring on the best components money can buy, and I’d tell the students to get out of the way while I did the design.

I don’t think that a few “standard” components available today are ruining FIRST, but think of how it might evolve. One company today, (that I know of), why not a dozen? Transmissions now, why not complete moving boxes? Where do you draw the line?

If FIRST is doing it’s job, then any team can build a box that moves from the kit of parts. The Andymark components can help a team exceed the basic requirements of moving, and have a better chance to win, but FIRST isn’t all about winning, it’s about learning from the engineering experience. If we’ve lost teams because they can’t win, then I would argue that they need to set their expectations realistically, learn patience, and remember why they’re in this. We’re a small high school, with only juniors and seniors. We’ll never be in the big leagues, but we’re growing the program anyway.

Maybe the frustration of struggling teams can be reduced by giving them their own competition class, a class for FIRST-standard drive trains only.

I would like to start by saying that I believe that teams will lose out a lot by buying all of their parts premade. I am against a robot that has all snap on parts. I believe that we, as teams, should be attempting to improve every year. We must be seen as inspiring the students not providing a model car kit to be put together the same as every other kit.

That being said, our team has purchased a set of wheels from AndyMark. Thanks Andy for the reduction in price. We purchased these for the express reason of trying out something that we figured might help reduce friction on our system and lengthen battery life. We could have made them but it would have taken countless hours and expense. This gave us a tool to start with. If they work out we may modify to our needs. If we don’t like them then we have saved a lot of work that could have been spent on other projects. For this tool I am grateful. For a new team starting out I can see these Items as a great kick-start to their team.

I guess the main concern would be that a team uses all things as is and don’t try to grow and use their own ideas. We are here to inspire. We are here to try and open the minds of students. We are trying to show the limitless possibilities that can be attained. By being exposed to the products of AndyMark then the students can see and experience different areas of expertise. From there the mentors should be working with the students to design, build and add their own signature to their robots. What we do with the tools we are given is a personal decision to be made by each individual and each team.

I know that I have spoken out about this before and even received well earned negative rep points. I have since reviewed my position and what you see above is my latest stand. It can be noticed though that I have changed and that may be for the better. What I have learned is that there are a lot of ways to look at every challenge. Just go to any regional and see how many different robots and strategies that are implemented.

The most important issue (in my wee mind) is how we as mentors lead the students when we see this type of challenge. Is AndyMark good for FIRST? Only time will tell. I do know that our team will grow one way or another by the experience of working with this company. We WILL learn from the technology and will be back at the 2005 competitions better than we were last year. Because of this I thank Andy. The question that remains is, how will your team benefit from your experiences and attitudes on this and other challenges to come.

We’ve beat this issue like a dead horse but I’ll re-iterate.

FIRST’s main objective is partly education, majorly inspiration. The program is intended to inspire students to pursue a technical field after school. This is done through a variety of ways: completely student made robots, COT (commercial off the shelf) assemblies, engineer designed- student manufactured, and some that are sent to engineering firms and made by a sub-contractor. Basically, any way you decide to do FIRST students will still be inspired because “robots are cool.” Your job as a mentor is to give them a basic understanding of what is happening technically on the robot, that’s the education part. It’s usually up to the individual student to really gain an education out of the program.

Again… the idea isn’t to win competitions (that’s just a bonus). The idea is to immerse the students into a competition that celebrates engineers, scientists, and technology and makes it fun and exciting. Win or lose the events- everyone wins because students have been inspired.

I have to admit, in the beginning, I was completely against our team buying transmissions for the same reason Charlie B has mentioned. However, we are a rookie team, with a lot on our hands, NO Mechanical Engineers, and a few students that have Inventor design experience (but perhaps no knowledge of gearing and transmissions etc), not to mention considering going to three regionals and nationals. Our guess is that 4 competitions will take a really rugged transmission to survive all of them. So we are considering these transmissions as an option.

I myself am a systems engineer, and only once in a great while actually do a design from scratch. I more often take working power supplies, components, cables etc, and put it together to make something new. I see the point that my company is in it to make the money, but this is real world engineering, and what the students would actually be getting into if they decided to pursue engineering.

I think if done right, these transmissions can be a help to a lot of teams. Instead of trudging through trying to make your own transmission in your rookie year, why not buy one, teach the students (education & inspiration) exactly how that one works, and then in your following year, improve upon the design or just design your own?

I see where this whole thing is going, and as I said, I think I was 100% against it in the beginning (having gone from being a FIRST student, to a college mentor, to now an engineering mentor), I was worried about the inspiration side of things, but I am starting to see the benefit now.

My proposal, instead of limiting snap on parts, would be for teams to be forced to return to the $450 spending limit, so if you wanted to buy two transmissions for $200 each, you only had $50 left to spend on the rest of your robot, and you couldnt buy the snap-in arm(Besides, with so many teams sharing designs now, you dont really have to design your own transmission or arm, or roller anyway, you can just look it up on CD, and manufacture it yourself). The smaller spending limit is more like real engineering, and is a compromise between the teams who dont have sophisticated design ability, and the teams who have unlimited spending capacity. My guess is that there are a lot of rookie teams this year who cant afford to spend the $3500 on the robot anyway.

Not really though. I would hazard a guess that over 60% of FIRST teams have limited or zero machine tool access, and an even lower percentage have enough members qualified to operate said tools and produce such a product.

I agree with Kim’s statement. I know that my team will be tightly funded for this year’s build. I wanted to point out though that in the past three years, FIRST has proved a tranmission in the form of the drill motor/reduction drive combination. There has been some effort to remove the antibackforce components and rebuild the gearbox discussed and documented on this website. I have not seen any discussion about adapting the drill gearbox to a shift on the fly two speed transmission. Maybe this illustrates how off the shelf parts may shift developement time to other robot systems where innovation is required.

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Just a quick reminder to the new teams out there that were not around when we used to have limitations as silly as 300 or 500 dollars. You may sit here and think, hey that will level the playing field, well think again! Back in 1999 and 2000 I saw robots that were every bit as complex and expensive as anything I have seen lately and they easily met the rules of the time. The low dollar amount ONLY hurts teams with low resources, THATS IT. For $300 I can buy almost unlimited raw stock and have it machined, water-jet, wire EDM’s, laser cut you name it all in house and the total expenditure by the team was under $300. Back then, if gears and sprockets cost too much to buy, you made them out of any material you want. Look at the pictures in the gallery of the early Chief Delphi, Wildstang, Technocats robots and you will change your mind about what the $300 limit really means. What it means is that unless you have resources you are out of luck. With a high limit you can now get transmissions like the one from Andy that will rival what the high dollar teams will have regardless of the dollar limit for a realistic cost.

I am really hoping that people will come around to what Andy & Mark are doing here. They have been a part of FIRST since the beginning and know as well as anyone what it takes to be competitive. I have built MANY transmissions for FIRST and I would be surprised if they were making much if any money on these. If we had to send the machining outside to somewhere I estimate that we would probably be paying well over $1500 for our transmissions. Lucky for us we have a machine shop in the lab and a machinist who can show us how to use the machines. FIRST doesn’t really include everything you need to be competitive and build a box. They give you some wheels, some aluminum tube, and some motors. For every team that I have been able to talk to, FIRST was overwhelming for their rookie year. Most teams have no concept of time management for the entire build season. And while no one seems to want to admit it, having a robot that can’t even move for every match not only is a downer for the entire robot team but also for your alliance partners. In my mind I don’t feel good teaching my students about designing and building a robot yet in the real world not being able to also show them the results. I am not even the least bit concerned if someone wants to build an off the shelf chassis or drive system, it is almost already happening. People like Andy have posted their engineering prints for others to use in their entirety. Programmers have posted their whole code for complex movements. I remember there were something like 13 teams last year that had the identical drive base, one that was robust and actually worked. This particular base gave every team out there good competition which is what I think FIRST is about.

In my engineering world I also believe that this should be real world, that kids should learn, but I also believe that my team should at least have a fighting chance out on the field. This year my team won’t be buying a transmission from Andy-Mark :frowning: (Sorry Andy) but I will without a doubt make sure that any team I am helping that either can’t make their own or doesn’t have the time looks at this and strongly considers it as an option, as should your teams.

Several of you have made very good points about the positives of allowing “standard” FIRST robot components. Thanks especially, Mike, for reminding me that FIRST’s mission is to inspire as much as it is to educate. I see advantages now that I didn’t see before, but I still have some concerns.

Purchase of pre-builts feels like a way around the six week rule. A company may offer “standard” moving boxes, maybe one version with low ground clearance and one for climbing obstacles, with my choice of high and low speeds. There are no rules in place now that would prevent it, and it wouldn’t be too hard, logistically, to pre-build a bunch of them. I take delivery on January 10, and get five weeks to practice driving and to design and build appendages. What about the teams who can’t afford the pre-built robot? Even if they are on the ball and get a design done pre-season, and buy transmissions, they still have to build the chassis, drive train, and appendages. Pre-building doesn’t seem to eliminate the disparity problem between rich and poor teams, it just moves the problem down the economic ladder some.

Andy, will your transmission plug into the FIRST-standard chassis? That might help alleviate the disparity.

Consider the team that’s debating whether to do their own innovative drive train. If their competitors are buying pre-builts and focusing on appendages, maybe they’ll skip the risk of innovation in favor of being safely competitive. Might pre-builts discourage innovation? I agree with Steve that pre-builts could be a great way to expose students to the state-of-the-art, and I hope that mentors, or students, will push teams past settling for “good enough”.

It’s fun to watch a robot do well in competition, just like it’s fun to watch my favorite baseball team win a game, but being a sports fan doesn’t make me want to play sports as a career. The pride and inspiration that I see in my team comes from knowing that they designed and built the robot, that they can fix it between matches because they know every nut, bolt, gear, wire, and tube. They learn that engineering doesn’t have to be distant and esoteric, it’s something that they can do. That’s where the inspiration comes from. Pre-builts seem to lessen the opportunity for that kind of inspiration. Like many teams, we usually have one design group on chassis and drive train, and another group on appendages. Only so many people can work on appendages. If teams can buy pre-builts, doesn’t that decrease design engineering opportunities? Even if the mentors have them take the pre-built moving box completely apart and put it back together again, they won’t get the design experience. Engineering design will still be something that other people do.

It may sound like I’m on a crusade to stop Andymark, and I’m really not. I just think that we are at a crossroads here, and that the FIRST community should consider the negatives as well as the many positives before going too far down the road of pre-building.

Maybe if you look at the other thread that I started a while ago you will see things from both sides. There were a lot of good posts and ideas that were thrown around. Enjoy the reading. :slight_smile:

Thanks. Note to self, search before you post.

I take no issue with AndyMark biz in its present form, and I feel like most people here are primarily concerned that copycat programs might take things “too far.” I feel as though if this sort of program ever did encourage abuses, the FIRST community could respond in the next season. I don’t think this two man effort itself can rock the boat enough to begrudge a few rookie teams their gearboxes.

What I might like to see from AndyMark would be competitively priced unassembled gear boxes, or even some individual key parts. I imagine there are a lot of teams out there for which the only thing holding them back from making these on their own are one or two parts they don’t have the capability to machine themselves. If my team had a gear cluster and dog like that at our disposal, we probably would have build a shifter by now ourselves.