Best Drivetrain Types for Newer Teams

Second this. If I could turn back time, I would have my team use WCD for most of our seasons.

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I would work up to a WCD from the KOP chassis. It’ll probably take multiple seasons, fair warning.

Offseason 1: Upgrade to KOP on Steroids drivetrain, with shifters etc. This will help you learn about building shifting transmissions and how to get the right ratios.
Season 1/2: Use the KoS effectively. Do research on Versablocks and live axles if you haven’t done that already, maybe use them in non-drivetrain applications.
Offseason 2: Build a WCD using VersaFrame and Versablocks.
Season 2/3: Use the WCD, or a slightly improved version.
Offseasons after that: Improve WCD, and/or develop other drivetrains. Use those on demo robots until you’re sure you can make them work.

The big lesson a lot of people will tell you is: Don’t use a drivetrain in the season that you haven’t tested in the offseason. It often ends up hurting you. And the other thing I’m suggesting is: Start small and build up. You could accelerate the timeline I’ve laid out, but that may end up hurting the team in the long run (all this COTS stuff has a price tag, which means more fundraising, which means more time needs to go to fundraising instead of building the robot… you get the idea.)


WCD all the way. It is simple, reliable, and works with all the games I can think of. Mecanum and H drive are both not very useful in games with heavy defense or tight lanes. Octocanum and Butterfly and both fairly complicated to make yourself so I wouldn’t do it as a new team. Swerve is just on it’s on tier of complication. It definitely has a lot of benefits but you also have a ton of drawbacks like complexity both mechanically and coding wise, cost, and time.

This summer we made an instructional video series for teams just like yours, who are looking to make the next step of competitiveness by upgrading to a west coast drive train. You can download our robot CAD for reference. We walk you through all the steps necessary to build it. It makes a great summer project. We’ve gotten lots of feedback from teams this season saying how much it has helped them out.


Of course the “best” drive system varies from year to year and is the subject of considerable debate.

After doing KOP for years 1 -3 we threw together an H drive using Vexpro 6 inch omni wheels for this year’s robot. It is an attainable goal for a newer team. The costs will be five wheels, some drive system for the H wheel and a way to fine tune tension. It can be built “into” your existing KOP frame.

Having said that, the love that WCD is getting is well founded. I think that will be our next project. And like the transition from KOP to H, you can reuse many elements. That is the great thing about being around for a few years. You don’t have to buy everything to try new projects.


What are your priorities? Do you want to lead alliances that win Blue Banners or do you want to claim that you build your own custom chassis?

If you want the former, stick with the KOP chassis until you are LEADING winning alliances.

Last year, I volunteered at Ontario Provincial Championship and got to study a lot of really great robots up close. In addition to the world leaders such as 1114, 2056, 610 and 1241, I saw a whole group of high performing robots with highly sophisticated scoring mechanisms installed ontop of KOP chassis. One of them had two mentors who worked as machinists and easily could has taught the team members how to make a custom chassis and shifting gearboxes. But they DID NOT because the team felt that they could not build anything better than the KOP chassis and because they could get one driving around in a couple of days. Instead, they focused their time energy and resources on better scoring mechanisms.

The teams I have talked to at Ont Champs and at Houston Champs that have LED winning alliances. They said they do a custom chassis because they can have (a good) one designed in a day or so and have the manufacturing resources to build it and have it running in another day or two.

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All aboard #TeamNEO

Also, I am not with 2451 anymore, but they went to 6x 775pros and what I believe less or no limiting with a lower ratio for the 2018 season from my understanding. I don’t know what exact gearing they ran and do not know for sure if they were limiting at all, so Kevin or someone else from the team would have to comment on the changes they made in 2018.

Simple. West Coast best coast.

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